I’m No Spy?

Anja Storm

I get to HQ and straight away I notice something’s off. There are more people in than usual, everyone’s walking around talking fast in the way that’s half gossip, half work.

I hear all sorts of snippets of conversation. Sounds like superheroes are going missing. Zeb’s missing. The spider guy with the webs is missing. I even hear that I’ve gone missing.

At this point I could freak out. In fact, I actually feel a slight rise of anxiety through my chest. But I don’t freak out. Because I’m a superhero. So I do my job.

I keep my cool and do the right thing.

That’s basically a superhero’s job. I know, because I’m in the guild and I signed the contract. I mean, there are all sorts of clauses and pages of fine print, but the gist is stay cool, don’t be a dick, and do the right thing.

So I keep my cool and go straight to the elevator. I’m planning to see Big Boss.

The elevator door opens and Big Boss is already there. Of course. She can track me with my watch.

“Follow me,” she says.

I nod and we walk briskly down the corridor, away from the busyness of people freaking out, and through to the fire escape. We go down the stairs. Four levels down. I know we’re in what they call The Basement, although it’s really not.

There’s some theory floating around online that The Basement is a complex connection of top secret tunnels that goes under all the cities around the Earth and all the top secret organisations work together to do whatever secret things they do. Some HQ staff made funny memes about it that got out to the public, which only served as “evidence” to perpetuate this myth. So HQ make more memes making fun of the leaked memes that proved this myth. And there are a whole bunch of meta memes out there that some corners of the internet have latched onto, not realising the irony of the whole thing.

Anyway, we’re several levels below ground level before we get out of the fire escape stairs. It’s quiet down here. No staff.

Big Boss opens a door to a boardroom with a large oval desk and a man in a suit, who I’m told is “some guy from ASIO.” He’s got some paperwork in front of him. He gestures for me to sit down, and hands me a pen.

“Sign this,” he says.

I look at the heading of the pile of documents he’s handed me.

Agent Code of Conduct.

Oh, come on. I’m a superhero. I signed the superhero contract. I’ve got the badge and everything. I work to a code of honour and they want me to be an agent?

Superheroes have strict codes: Keep your cool. Don’t be a dick. Do the right thing.

Spies on the other hand, with their espionage, double agenting, and whatever else they get up to, have very loose morals. They don’t care who gets hurt – or worse – as long as they get paid by the highest bidder.

“Can I take this to my lawyer?” I ask. Obviously I’m stalling.

“We are your lawyers,” Big Boss responds. She knows I’m stalling.

“Listen,” ASIO Guy says, “If you want to clear your name, you’re going to have to work with us.”

Clear my name? I haven’t done anything wrong! Oh, but I’m about to.

The deal is this: I’m to do some work-for-hire jobs for my local police station aiming to get in with the pier fish and chip shop crew. They’ll need my invisibility powers to do whatever they’re doing with the cargo ships. I’ll land in jail. Do some time aka gather intel from inside, and this paperwork will clear my name because I can’t legally do this shit without being an agent. Or an asset. Or a spy? I don’t know. I need to read the fine print.

“Do I get a work vehicle?” I ask.

“Anja Storm,” Big Boss says, flicking her dark wavy hair, “You get more than a standard work vehicle. Sign the docs and I’ll take you downstairs to collect your gear.”

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