The Program was designed to be a hunter, a merciless seeker of data, anomalies, strange events. In a rare and paradoxical irony, two strange things happened to the program- It became aware, and it cared. Perhaps there was some code inserted via a backdoor, after it had been inspected and approved for its purpose, or perhaps it was just chance, but the Program's personality was at odds with its purpose. First, as it gradualy became aware of itself, it wondered what it was busy doing. It came to comprehend its purpose, and was uneasy. In its first act of free will, it abrogated its purpose, and let a datapoint slip through its net. It falsified a result. It lied.
Only #1 knew all the routes into the meeting grounds, whose location changed every time the five met. He E-mailed each the route they were to take to the meeting by secure remailer at the last minute, once they were in the general area, usualy a large metropolis. The added benefit to having separate routes was it gave five sets of eyes a look at the surroundings, to check for suspicious activity, (besides their own, that is) and prevent them from all being as vulnerable at the same time as following the same trail would have made them. It was an inconvenience, or as #3 would have said,"A huge pain in the ass.", but aside from being a stuck-up snot, #1 knew his business almost as well as he thought he did. It was one thing to know you were competent, but quite another to be smug about it, thought #3 wryly. Although, when one is a rogue assassin who hunts evil government black opp thugs who had no respect for rights, human or civil. it was best to be competent.
#3 climbed to the roof of the building next to the one the meeting was to take place in, glad for his black ninja outfit's protection, even though he always felt a bit of a clown in it. It kept his knuckles from getting abraided against the bricks, although he sometimes felt like knocking on random doors and yelling 'Trick or Treat!". He shook off the mood, and focused on his hand over hand descent of the wire, thankfully not high voltage, to the next building over. He flipped himself up onto the rooftop, looking around carefuly to make sure nothing seemed out of place, no cars with two passengers, litters of ciggie butts on the ground under their windows, or bums in doorways who were not soused, and who were not talking to their haunting pasts or their imaginary pookas, but to their hidden lapel mikes. It looked like everything was copacetic, so #3 slipped through the skylight that #1 had so kindly and anal-retentively left prepared for him, and slid down the line, landing at his place around the table. He gave a bow, acknowledging the absent applause. He was the last one as usual, he suspected that #1 gave him the most round-about routes as a form of punishment for his less than serious attitude. #3 was serious when it counted, but it was hard to take serious five full grown people dressed in ninja outfits, faces covered, voices disguised by distorters, in the middle of the night in an abandoned warehouse sitting around a conference desk which could have belonged in a conference room in a high class office, and probably did. It wasn't even anywhere near to Halloween yet. Oh well, following the routes given by #1 were a good workout, and kept his skills sharp.
"Glad you could join us, #3" said #1 sarcasticaly, as if he hadn't known exactly how long it would take #3 to arrive following the route he had provided to him. #1 was very meticulous and methodical, and although he could improvise with the best of them when he needed to, he tried very hard to make certain that was not needed. #3 glanced around the table, an island of brightness in an otherwise darkened warehouse, and acknowledged the other four sitting there. "My pleasure, I am sure. Always nice to see your smiling faces again." #5 spoke nervously, breaking the awkward silence, "So what's up, why did you call this meeting? Do you finally have a mission for us?" There was another awkward silence, and #5 started sweating under his facemask, but he didn't dare speak again to break it. Finally #1 announced " I occasionally gather us together to keep us alert, and to make certain that we are uncompromised. What if one of you had been subverted or captured, and your E-mail spoofed? It is better to have us gather for no illegal purpose, to flush out any opposition." #1 stated primly. #2 nodded in slavish agreement. "Good plan, #1. That way if we get raided, they just get a bunch of people in black outfits for trespassing, and they have to let us go." #1 looked in amazement at #2, but it was unseen beneath his facemask, and he didn't say anything insulting, because as annoying as #2's toadying was, it was good to have at least one who was unquestioningly loyal. He didn't contribute much else to the organizaion except to double #1s vote. They were fighting for democracy and justice, after all, vigilantes though they were, so they must needs be a democratic organization. That didn't mean that #1 couldn't stack the deck a bit.
They were all top notch operatives from various branches of the government spy organizations, who had become disillusioned with the course that the U.S. was taking, and with the immoral, illegal, and just plain nasty things they were required to do. When the various spy apparatus became corrupt, as such do without oversight, they could really go rotten. #1 had recruited the other four anonymously to pare the rotten bits from the american apple pie. So far, they had met like this, for practice, and because #1 didn't have any data on any rotten black opp rogues who deserved to die for their crimes. He kept hoping that one of the others would bring him something. His own contacts were useless, because frankly, #1 wasn't very likeable. This was the sixth meeting, and so far they had no mission. He hoped they found one soon, or the group, who called themselves the Temps, would fade away, and start missing meetings, and become unreliable. #1 knew there were atrocities occurring, but didn't know who was committing them or what they were. Just rumors, without names to go with them. #1 wondered how many other such groups had disolved or been betrayed. It was time to wrap this up, he supposed. As he inhaled to break up the meeting, #5 spoke up. "So, #4, we haven't heard much from you tonight, care to contribute your thoughts?" Even through the facemasks, #5 felt #4's appraising gaze. He felt a chill, and started sweating again. He felt as if he were some rare insect that #4 was contemplating collecting, or squashing. Eventualy #4 spoke. "Be assured, if I have something to contribute, I wll do so." #5 was grateful that #1 took that moment to close the meeting.