Numbers

Everyone in this new world has a number. From 1 to 789000, that is a person's name. The Evens are the police force, the government, the rulers - the Odds are the criminals, the rebellions.
I am 987. This is my story.

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14. Briefing

The briefing room consists of beige carpet, white walls, no windows and one door. A large pine table takes up much of it, surrounded by eight black leather swivel chairs. Five of these are occupied by Rosetta, Dan, a very thin, pale young blonde man called Alan Cavey, a young, smiley black woman with pretty black beaded braids called Hada Jervis, and then Fabian, looking as stony-faced as ever.

I take my place beside Rosetta while Tess goes to the opposite side and sits next to Alan.

Sixty seconds later, Mercy walks in, looking the same she always does. Tight grey skirt, black vest, black heels. Black eye makeup, dark red lipstick. She sits down in her chair elegantly and says after a pause, 'good morning.'

'Good morning,' we chant back in a mismatched jumble.

'This mission,' says Mercy, smiling, 'is what I call Communications Down - Comm Down for short.' She presses a little button by her side and the lights dim, a projector suddenly switching on with a click.

Mercy stands up and picks a small wooden rod up from the corner.

'This,' she says, pointing at an enormous concrete boxy building in the image on the wall, 'is the main communications centre for this whole country.' The image suddenly changes to a back view, a slightly blurry close-up of a black exit door and a black metal rusty ladder. 'These are our entrance and exit points. Daniel and Amarie, you shall take the ladder up to the roof and set up the bomb. Hada, Alan, Tess, Rosetta and Fabian, you shall be taking the stairs. Alan and Hada, when you get up there, start the wiring to activate it. Tess, Rosetta and Fabian, keep lookout. Once the bomb is ticking, all of you get out of there via the ladder, it's quickest. Pearl!'

A small thing in the corner jumps and I jump too. Pearl has been standing in the corner this whole time.

'Yes, Mercy,' she says in her respectful voice.

'Pearl has designed your mission suits,' Mercy says. She presses the button again and the lights come on. The projector switches off. 'Amarie, Dan, Rosetta and Fabian, you shall all be recieving weaponry and maps of the area. Pearl, take them through and fit them, please.'

Pearl nods and motions to everyone. We get up and follow her out of the room.

We walk down a long grey corridor then turn left through a door. A big cubicled changing room, different to the showers, is there. Pearl hands us each a black silky thing and herds us into the cubicles.

I change quickly out of my clothes and into the silky one-piece. It's when it's on I realize it's not really silky, more leathery. I step out of the cubicle and Pearl hands me chestnut brown lace-up walking boots. I sit on one of the benches and put them on as Tess and the others emerge.

I take a look in the mirror.

I am in a tight, smooth pitch-black catsuit, covering me from head to toe - the collar begins at my chin, the legs end as they curve over my heels. Pearl fits me with a small pale brown belt with a darker brown button purse and gun holster attached. Then she combs back my hair and puts it into two pretty little buns on either side of my head. I look admittedly great.

Tess has the catsuit and boots as well, and attached to her belt is just a large purse. No holster. Tess seems to realize this and looks disappointed. No weapons. Her hair is in two instead of one plaits.

Hada's hair is in a single thick plait and her belt has two small purses.

Rosetta probably looks the best of all. Catsuit, boots, and instead of a purse, her belt just holds two gun holsters. Her startling red hair is in a topknot and she looks stunning.

The boys are wearing tight black t-shirts and loose black trousers and boots. Thick belts and gun holsters for Dan and Fabian, two medium-sized bags on a thin belt for Alan.

I notice Dan looking at me. We both blush.

Again; why?

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