I have been challenged to write about Inception once a week until the end of the year. Not that this really changes anything because I was planning on doing that anyway.
This week, we continue my adventure into the world of fan fiction. It’s probably safe to say we won’t be getting any more Inception stories from Nolan and the Blu-Ray doesn’t come out till later this year. So in order to get a fix, I’m pretty much gonna have to make my own so hopefully, you need a fix too.
“The Human Vault.”
As the van reached the terminal, Nathan tensed. In truth, he’d never done well taking orders. The responsibility of an extractor – in most cases – was to be a leader. The extractor comes up with the general strategy and the rest of the team fills in the details relating to their specialty. The extractor’s skill is in seeing the whole picture, how the gears will fit and work.
Right now, Nathan was in the back of an econovan, holding a black bag in his sweaty hands, waiting to throw it over someone’s head. He never did that kind of stuff, never expected he would. This was something his point man or his forger would do, Nikolai or Carson. Nikolai might have even relished it. But on the whole, he never got his hands dirty. Well, not until he got into the dream.
“You ready, Mr. Thomas?” Emma’s question reached him just before the screech of the brakes washed over his ears. Nathan said nothing, did nothing, faced only his front and – prone on the floor as he was – felt the warmth of his breath returning to his face in short order.
The sliding door opened and the pastiche of traffic sounds from outside burst into the van’s small space.
“Santa Monica please, by Third Street – the Promenade,” a voice said, neither Emma’s nor Richter’s. A nearby car’s engine idled.
“Thank you,” said another voice, female, different still from the other three. Someone honked their horn, their hand lingering on the steering wheel, stretching it out.
It was at that moment Nathan realized he knew nothing about what the mark looked like, was equally clueless about what the arriving architect would look like. He had only once chance to bag the mark. The wrong move would compromise everything – panicked, the mark could jump out of the van or, if armed, well, that situation speaks for itself. If there was one thing Nathan had learned the hard way, it was that just because someone wasn’t trained in subcon security doesn’t mean they didn’t know how to shoot a firearm. He gripped the bag tight, squeezing them, trying to wring out the tension from his own hands in the process.
With the brief zip of metal cutting through wind, the van’s door slid shut. All the sounds dulled immediately, returning them to the vacuum of the van – only with two more people than before.
“It’ll be about 45, 50 minutes with this traffic,” Richter called out as the van started up on its way.
Once he popped out from the back of the van, there would be no time to wait for a signal from Emma. There’d only be a chance for that if he got up and she was already signaling. But that would be far too conspicuous, a risk in and of itself.
He was going to see two heads and he was going to throw the bag over the right one. Or so he hoped.
Nathan closed his eyes, took a breath, and got up off the floor. He looked dead ahead first and, as he expected, Emma faced forward, bearing no signal. He shifted his eyes down to the two heads right in front of him.
One had long and beautiful black hair. The other was looking right at him.
The man was in his mid-thirties with fledgling gray hairs peppering his scalp. Nathan froze for a moment, at a standstill with the stranger, making direct eye contact. Then he saw the man’s eyes gesture to the person next to him. And that was enough.
Nathan threw the bag over the other person’s head, the one with the beautiful black hair, and this person began to struggle, throwing limbs up in defense and futile attempts for freedom. Emma left the passenger’s seat and produced a vial, dabbling its contents over the bag. The person went limp in Nathan’s arms.
“You want to start giving me a little information?” Nathan asked her sharply. “I mean, we can always just wait until we’re dreamsharing-“
“Okay, that was a bit of an oversight.”
“And that was a bit of an understatement.”
“What’s the problem?” Richter joined in. The architect watched on quietly.
“Nothing. There was just a breakdown of communication.”
“How diplomatic,” Nathan chimed. As he made to pull the bag from the person’s head, Emma motioned to stop him.
When he lifted the bag from the mark’s head, he found a young woman, no older than nineteen. Her eyes were closed; she seemed unconscious, appropriately enough. He looked up from her to Emma, just in time to catch a fleeting look of relief leave her face.
“What? You weren’t gonna tell me?”
“She’s a girl! What could Elliott want with a young girl?”
“She’s seen some things, privileged information. That makes her valuable. Things people would pay to know. Like Mr. Elliott.”
“We need to start prep,” the architect interrupted. Both Nathan and Emma stopped to look at the man who, as of yet, had not introduced himself. “They’ll be looking for her in two hours. With the sedation compound we’ve got, that’ll buy us about a day in the dream if we don’t waste any more time.”
Nathan looked over at Emma. “He’s right. But when we get down there, I need to know everything.”
“I don’t plan on holding anything back then,” she answered.
“The name’s William, by the way. So you don’t have to call me ‘the architect’ the whole time.” William put out his hand to Nathan. “I don’t think this is exactly the best time for introductions but you take what you can get, yeah?”
“I have to agree with you on that,” Nathan said, shaking his hand. He pulled the PASIV up off the floor and jumped over the seat, landing between William and the mark. “Here.” He passed Emma the suitcase. With deft hands, she promptly opened it and unwound the cannulas.
Everyone took their respective IVs except for Emma, who was working on attaching the mark’s. William was already lying back on the seat, relaxed, while Nathan sat forward, tense.
“And done. There.” Emma ensured that the mark’s IV was secure before putting in her own and lying back in the seat. “Everyone else good?”
William flashed her a thumbs up and Emma’s hand went to the PASIV’s activation trigger.
“See you on the other side.” Emma’s voice was the last thing Nathan heard as he felt his eyelids get heavy, falling irresistibly. And as his head fell, in those last moments of consciousness, he could’ve sworn that the mark’s eyes had opened.
That’s it for the third installment. Check back the same time next week for part four of “The Human Vault.”