Diane Elliot was an enigma to most. The attractive, middle aged woman had been on the island since the start. But it appeared she’d made few connections with anyone. She was always friendly and polite, but other than small talk, few people knew much about her. Rumor has it, she used to be a scientist of sorts, and did some vaguely similar work now in the Facility. But even her coworkers there knew little more than her predictable comings and goings, and typical sightings at mandatory events across the island or occasional dining in the Marketplace.
Of course, it was all a finely calculated ruse. Diane had connections and was deeply involved in resident life on Destruction. She didn’t seem like a people person, perhaps she wasn’t, but she was working for the people with that mysterious group that was even more secretive now than ever. There was no proof of that, of course, and there never would be. The Faction learned well from their past mistakes and were determined not to make them again.
Today, Diane enjoyed a break from work to stop in at the coffee shop in the Marketplace. Seated at a small table near the window, she enjoyed a bit of alone time and people watched as she sipped her cappuccino. But the peace did not last long.
“Hello, Diane.” The frail looking brunette approached quietly from behind, and took the empty seat at the table without invitation. “It’s been a long time.”
Diane nearly choked on her drink when she heard and saw who’d joined her. Recovering quickly, she put on a slow, carefully rehearsed smile. “Doctor O’Conner. It has been some time. It’s so good to see you. How have you been?” The cordial conversation others could overhear was less important than the one going on beneath the surface. You shouldn’t be here, Daryn. You should go.
Daryn didn’t smile, and she didn’t move to leave as directed. “I’m not a doctor anymore. That’s how I’ve been.” If you’d bothered to see me sooner, I wouldn’t be here. Things really have changed, haven’t they? The power’s gone to your head, you’re too good to see your old ‘friends.’ I should have expected as much.
Pursing her lips in a tight frown, Diane looked at Daryn with pity. “I’m so sorry to hear that. Maybe it’s for the best. You look like you could use some rest.” You know that it’s too risky for us to be seen together. They’re still watching you. Are you trying to compromise everything? Go home, Daryn. I’ll be in touch when it’s safe.
Shifting at her words, Daryn pulled her sweater closer around her thin frame. Her hand brushed lightly over the handle of the gun she had tucked in her back waistband. Despite it being July, she found that she was always cold. Inside and out. This was what it felt like to be completely numb. “You’re right. I do need some rest. And some peace of mind. I was hoping you could help with that.” I’m trying to figure out why I ever trusted you, why I ever considered you a friend. Remember when the risk was worth it? Remember when you cared about the people, actually cared? Now it looks like all you do is delegate. Does the Faction actually help anyone anymore?
Sighing, Diane abandoned her drink and stood slowly, casting a glance at her watch despite knowing exactly what time it was. “I’d love to help. We’ll get together sometime soon. But for now, I’ve got to run. You understand.” She laid a hand gently on the other woman’s bony shoulder, squeezing it lightly. “Take care of yourself.” Remember when you had your shit together? You’re off the rails, Daryn. I know you’ve been through a lot. But you’re not doing yourself, or any of us, any favors. I have things under control, you’re not running this ship anymore and it looks like it’s for the best. Once you’re back to yourself, we can talk. Until then, don’t ruin this for everyone. You know better. Keep your distance.
Daryn looked up, watching Diane take her leave. Taking a deep breath, she met her gaze and nodded once. “Yes. I understand completely.” There was nothing else to say. Daryn tried to reconnect with her, as disjointed of an attempt it was, but was ultimately pushed away. Maybe rightfully so. Daryn didn’t know what to do anymore, other than to do what she was told and stay away.
Diane turned and walked out of the cafe, heading off on her predictable route back to work. Finding her cell phone, she looked to be checking the weather, but instead she sent a secure, encrypted text message to the higher level Faction members. We have a problem.