She found herself in Toronto. This story was everything she wanted it to be. The Wolf was about as secretive as one could be. Her clearance with the Empire got her into security archives. She wanted to get early footage of her. Right now, she could talk to her, and still was. Her relationship with Wolf was going strong, as she gave them what they wanted. But that was going to change. Sure, when the story broke, she knew that she had better be miles upon miles away, but still, it was the opportunity of a lifetime.
The earliest data she could find on her was camera footage. It was vague, but there were reports of someone helping a group of insurgents. She scoured every single bit of camera footage she could get. Had to do a couple “favors” for the guys who had the camera data, but it was worth it. In spades. The ghettos had little camera access. What they did get they often lost, from Runners and common crooks. Elena was in her element as she poured through each and every file. She saw the battle with the Imperial forces, how the Runners were transporting things to specific places. Who could order the Runners? They answer to nobody. That question led her to track them. They had to be in contact with Wolf. They had to.
Sure enough, she found what she was looking for. One of the Runners, a young woman. She was meeting up with the person leading them regularly. All I need is a face, then I’ve got her! The lack of camera access was more than a little frustrating at this point. But she was patient. Hours into the night, she finally found what she was looking for. The Runner met up with someone. It was a young woman with very short, spiked hair. But she never showed her face. Dammit, one of these cameras has got to get me this! It became a war of wills at this point to get the footage she wanted. Finally, after the sun came up, she found what she was looking for. She was looking into the face of a young woman with red eyes. She used an algorithm to search through various databases for the face in the image. It wasn’t a complete image, but she was willing to bet that something turned up.
Something did. The machine beeped when it found a record. That was when another piece of the puzzle fell into place. It found a couple of records. The first was from 14 years ago. The name of this girl was Cecilia Fontaine. She was the adopted daughter of a wealthy family in Area 7. They lost their own child to “causes unknown.” Their original daughter just up and got sick, very suddenly. The cause of her death was never determined. Then, they adopt this other girl, who vaguely looked like their child. The machine only caught it due to the red eyes. Odd. The next time that the data on the girl turned up, it was in the Royal Academy of the Empire of America, Area 7. A school for Honorary Americans and children of the Aristocracy who wanted to study abroad. Only this time, the girl had a different name and looked exactly like the one in the photograph. Stranger still, the family who sent her there had no record of adopting this girl. Her new name was Quinzel Wolfe. Something not right here. Elena knew her next destination. She was headed to meet the Fontaine family and get some answers.
The house of the Fontaine’s was a very upscale one. An old house from a rich estate, Elena drove up to the gate and buzzed it.
A butler came on. “Yes?”
She smiled into the camera. “Hey there. My name is Elena Aronno. I work for the Imperial Office of Honorary Registration. I had a couple questions for the residents here, since a couple of indiscretions came up in their paperwork. Nothing serious, but we would like to have it cleared as soon as possible. Are the Fontaine’s home, at the moment?”
The butler nodded. “They are. I’m sure that they would be happy to help clear things up with your office.”
“That’s very good. Hopefully we can clear this matter up and they will have nothing to worry about.”
The gate opened and she drove in. The husband of the house met her at the door.
They shook hands. “I’m glad that you came in person, Ms. Aronno. My name is Morgan Fontaine.”
She smiled at him. “A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Fontaine. Since you are one of wealthiest benefactors, we felt it was only right to do this in person, so you don’t have to be too inconvenienced.”
The man’s wife came out as well. “Ah, you must be the one that our butler talked about, the woman from the Office of Honorary Registration?”
Elena held out her hand. “Yes, My name is Elena Aronno. I promise, this will only take a minute. Nothing serious, but worth talking about. Sorry to disturb you, but it had to be dealt with.”
The woman shook her head. “Think nothing of it. We’re happy to help the Empire! We are Honorary citizens, after all.”
“Excellent. Well, if we could just go inside, I can be out of your hair very soon.”
They were very cordial as they went inside. These people were loyal to the Empire, in the extreme. But their wealth had come from it, so Elena wasn’t surprised. These people’s loyalty was bought and paid for.
They went into their den, which was a very cozy place with large windows for viewing the lake that they lived on. Their servants brought them some tea and dessert. It was a quaint little affair.
Elena took a file out of a briefcase she had with her, looking very professional.
“Well, I’m sure you’re both wondering why I’m here. I’ll get right to it. We had some indiscretions with your registration paperwork. I don’t know how it slipped our notice until now, but things fall between the cracks.” She set out copies of the registration paperwork that she had copied from the Office of Honorary Registration. “Currently, you have only two people registered as Honorary Americans. However, your paperwork originally had three people registered.”
The Fontaines looked very confused. She set out the paperwork for Cecilia Fontaine.
“This person was registered as your adopted daughter. Does the name Cecilia Fontaine mean anything to you?”
Both of them looked more confused.
The husband took the paper and looked it over. “Not a thing. We never had an adopted daughter. Our actual daughter, Celia, was killed in a car wreck.”
She even used a name close to their daughter! But how did she get them to forget?!
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Elena replied somberly.
“Yes, it was a terrible incident. As for who this woman is, I can’t say.”
The reporter picked up the paper, putting on a look of deep thought. Though she already knew part of the story.
“Hm, well then it seems that you two are the victims of identity theft. Probably the strangest case of it that I have ever seen!”
Mrs. Fontaine looked a little upset. “Whoever would do that to us?! What a cruel thing to do.”
Elena nodded. “Most certainly. What the objective of this thief was is unclear. I will have to do more digging. I will keep you posted.” Suddenly, she had a thought. She took out a picture of Quinzel and placed it in front of them. “Does this person look familiar to you?”
The two examined the picture and both of them nodded. “Yeah, yeah it does. I remember a few years back, a girl who looks like this was at the house. Can’t remember why she came, but it was a very somber day. It’s so strange, ever since that day, it’s like we have forgotten some huge part of our lives. But the girl was very courteous, so I didn’t think much of it at the time.”
Quinn walked back to the house. It was a place where she had spent so many years. She always did feel a little guilty, using these people for her own ends. She used the death of their daughter against them by obtaining her DNA. The child was a victim of Nova Particle poison. It was a new condition that manifested very rarely. But, it was something that worked for her. Now that she had gotten the talent she wanted from the Viceroy, she knew what had to be done. It was a feeling that did not make her feel good.
The door opened and the two of them lit up.
“Cecilia, you’re home!” Meredith exclaimed, running over and hugging her.
“Yeah, mom. I am.” She hugged her back, knowing that this was going to be the last time.
She had them gather both the parents and servants in the den. She told them that she had a surprise for them all.
The group was gathered and everyone looked excited. These were people that Quinn had known for years and were all friends. But this was for their own safety.
“So, what is this surprise, Cece?” Morgan asked.
She felt like she was going to cry. “For years, you all have been kind to me. Treated me like I am one of your own. I want you all to know, that means everything to me. So, with that in mind, I have something for all of you.” Everyone looked on the verge of tears. Quinn closed her eyes. When they opened, they were glowing blue. “I want all of you to forget about me. Completely. Forget who I am. Forever.”
There were noises of confused protest until everyone suddenly calmed down. They looked up at her, very confused.
“Well, what are we all gathered here for?” the butler asked.
Quinn put on an amused face. “I’m from Empire magazine, taking a picture of one of the wealthiest families in Area 7, remember? It’s for an article on what Honorary citizenship can do for the Numbers.”
The lot of them were confused, but then took to the idea. Quinn came prepared. She had a very expensive and good camera with her. It was made for professional photography.
The lot of them made themselves look very presentable, smiling. Quinn took the picture, thanked them. As she was leaving she looked back at them.
“Thank you, for everything.”
“We never saw her again after that,” Mrs. Fontaine said. “We saw the article a few weeks later. It was very good. Still, an odd day.”
Elena sat there, both confused and amazed at the same time. How did she do it?! How did she get them all to just up and forget about her? The family hadn’t remembered her telling them to forget, but it was clear as day to her what had happened. Now, more than ever, she was determined to know who this woman was.
The next stop was at the Academy. When she arrived, she was in shock. The entire place was closed! There wasn’t a single soul on the the grounds. The entire place looked like something out of a horror film. She got through the gate by squeezing through the bars. Getting into the building wasn’t hard. Crooks had gone to work on the place, so she only had to slide in through one of the busted windows.
This place was in ruin. The classrooms, hallways and dormitories were torn apart. It made Elena a little freaked out. She heard the wind echo through the Academy and it was like ghosts passing her by. She ran to the office, looking to see where student records were. They were all online, and thankfully the computers and databases were intact. Guess the common criminal has no use for government computers. Who knew? The power was still running here, so she booted up the system. The student records were all there, and she knew what she was looking for. After a bit of digging, she found what she wanted.
Place of origin: Area 7, Toronto
Hair color: Red (when not dyed)
Eye color: Red
Summary: Transferred from the Imperial Acclimation School, District 21. Preliminary testing indicated near super-human intellect. When asked to transfer to a school for gifted youth, she declined. Declined offer from Empire to be placed in Special Education (as a pretense to induction into the Specials). One known friend, Emily Bequette, daughter of Rear Admiral Bequette. Some reports of the two being closer than friends. Watchers from the Specials have been tasked to look into that. No major issues flagged. Student is quiet, often seems unconcerned and bored and makes no attempt to get involved in the school, outside academics. Repeated tardiness and absences is a minor issue, but she never falls behind in her schoolwork.
There were lists of grades, of which were at the top of her class, academic commendations and some awards that she jilted because she didn’t care (which was something amazement to Elena, as she would never have thought to not even accept an award. Especially not some of the ones that she was placed in). Then, something caught her eye.
Flagged issue: Student was found in the edge of campus. Found naked, locked up in a steel device. Security report attached.
Elena flipped right to it, feeling her stomach suddenly sicken. The girl was stripped naked, raped and left to die. Reports were that no suspects were apprehended and none were even identified. There was suspicion that it was motivated by Imperial arrogance, as she had been a Number. The girl was taken to the East Block Hospital. She copied the file to her drive and left this place, which was now a husk of what it had once been. An abandoned relic that Winter’s Shadow was sure to destroy.
The hospitals all kept data on PRISM, which Winter’s Shadow had given her access to. She got back to the motel she was staying at and got to work. There were a TON of flagged issues on this. The two that caught Elena’s eye were that a Special had been by Quinzel’s side from the very beginning, never leaving it. It was a huge issue, as the Special had maimed and killed a few people who tried to get her to leave. The girl was then blackmailed into leaving by her commanding officer, who used the affection she had for Quinzel as a means to control her. That officer paid for it with dozens of broken bones.
The next issue were the results from a blood test that was done on the girl. According to the findings, they weren’t human. But there was another flagged issue as well. According to the blood, there was one DNA pattern analyzed. She got it loaded up and then was in shock. The DNA was a match to Eleanor Ann Fox. The daughter of the Fox family, but there was something else. She was a direct descendent of the Emperor! Elena nearly gagged on her drink when she read it. The leader of Winter’s Shadow is an American! A fucking Aristocrat?! A fucking child of the royal family?! There were no words. The reporter was in shock. This was the biggest scoop of her entire life. But she needed more. There were some unanswered questions that she needed, and she was going to get the answers, one way or the other.
Until next time, a quote,
“Never tell the truth to people who are not worthy of it.” – Mark Twain