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 first is a story in parts. Part 1 is here. This would be Part 2. It’s called
“The Human Vault.“
As much as he hated such ridiculous terms, Nathan knew a magic number when he saw one and the client had definitely hit it. He’d been promised a quick mark – in and out – with instant payment as soon as he delivered the intel. A job was a job for a reason. Sometimes, you do things you don’t want to.
Nathan turned right into the alley. It had seemed a lot narrower from the outside. Further in, it opened up enough to accommodate both his car and the econovan that was already there. He parked his car next to it and made his way to the open back doors of the van.
“You Nathan?” The warm, cough-punctuated greeting came from a scruffy piece of work clad in a torn-up wifebeater.
“And you must be the classy dresser?”
“Oh, good. Good. You’ll fit right in,” the scruffy man answered. “The name’s Richter. I’m driving. And the lady back here is–”
“I’m more than capable of introducing myself, Rich.” A woman popped out from behind Richter and extended her hand to Nathan. “I’m Emma. I’ll be your architect this evening.”
“See what I mean, Nathan? Cheeky!” Richter patted Nathan on the shoulder and headed to the front of the van. “You’ll be right at home.”
Nathan climbed into the back and watched Emma tinker with the PASIV. Their dream machine was packed into a nondescript suitcase, much less ostentatious than the ones he’d seen before – even compared to his own. It was hard leather outside, but inside, of course, it was all the same. She was removing all the canisters from the device, examining them closely.
“I’ve never seen anyone perform such a thorough maintenance check on a PASIV before.”
“This is thorough? I’d hate to see sloppy. Just making sure the compounds will catalyze in the right order, in the right amounts. See that?” Emma held up the PASIV, pointing at a long steel cylinder inside. “That regulates how much of each compound goes into which person’s IV at any given time. It’s a release control.” Emma held another glass canister up to her face, carefully eyeing the settling fluid inside. “Without it, we or the subject could wake up prematurely from a chemical imbalance. We can’t have that. Not on this job. This one’s got a wealth of information we need to extract.”
“Mr. Elliott told me I’d be informed about what we’re extracting on site, so as to avoid any unnecessary risks.”
Emma returned the canister into the PASIV, its locking mechanism producing a low hiss. “And so you will be, Mr. Thomas. On site.”
“This isn’t ‘on site’?”
Emma laughed, shaking her head while closing the PASIV. “Aren’t you a veteran? Then you should know that ‘on site’ means in dreams.”
“You’re saying I’m going to dreamshare without even knowing what we’re looking for?”
“Does it really make a difference, Mr. Thomas? Whether you’re told now or later? You’re a professional. You put your name on the dotted line. The deed’s as good as done. Just a matter of time catching up with us. This is just another precaution Mr. Elliott is taking, a means of reducing variables, you understand?”
“At least tell me you know what we’re doing,” Nathan said, drawing a cigarette from his pocket. His lighter ate the tip and sizzled lightly. Eyes to the floor, he took a long drag before blowing it out the open back. When his sight returned to Emma, her eyes were already looking right at him.
“Mr. Thomas. I know exactly what is going to happen.” She hopped out of the van but her eyes were still set on Nathan. “You’re in the best hands.” She shut the backdoors on him. Emma entered the front passenger side of the van as Richter revved the van and drove out of the alley.
Nathan grabbed the PASIV and hopped over the backseat, planting himself there. “Where’s the rest of the team?”
“There’s only one more,” Emma answered. “William. The point man. We’ll be picking him up with the mark.”
“That makes three of us,” Nathan said, counting on his fingers. “An extractor, a point man, and an architect.”
Richter waved a hand out from the front seat. “Yeah, go ahead and forget me over here.”
“He meant in the dream, Richter,” Emma intoned.
“Sure. That’s what he meant.”
Emma turned back to face Nathan. “We’re short a forger, but thankfully, we don’t need one. There isn’t much espionage required. Our mark – and I can tell you this much – hasn’t been trained in subcon security.”
“You’re absolutely sure his projections won’t be armed?” Nathan’s idle hand played with the PASIV handle.
“Positive. And our point man – he’s been undercover, talking with the mark over the last couple of weeks and the trust he’s gained should buy us some advantages within the subconscious.”
Nathan nodded. “Where is our rendezvous point?”
Emma pointed to the near distance, where some planes were just taking off. “We’re literally picking them up. As far as the mark’s concerned, we’re an airport taxi service. Once they get inside, we’ll immediately subdue the mark, after which we’ll have two hours to get the intel before anyone becomes suspicious.”
“Two hours?” Nathan ran his fingers through his hair. “And we’re only going one layer deep? That’s not enough time, presuming the mark is as important as you’re making me think he is. Even without subcon training, he’ll probably have buried this information deep. We’ll need more time or more layers to penetrate his mind. Can you at least tell me the method of extraction we’ll be using? Interrogating projections? Finding a safe?”
“We’ll be using the one most conducive to our situation, which we already know and have prepared for and that you will know in just a little bit. As long as you can take orders as well as you can give them, we’ll be okay.”
Nathan sighed and sank to his seat, resigned. There was no point in arguing because, one way or the other, he’d have to complete the job to pay for the procedure. Emma reached out her hand and patted his leg.
“When this is done, you won’t be worrying about anything,” she reassured him. “That’s a promise.”
That’s it for the second installment. Check back the same time next week for part three of “The Human Vault.”