Isadora never entered her apartment. Instead, she stopped once at a bar and had a pair of drinks. The first was a shot of straight vodka. Her plan, in the beginning, was to stick to the most potent of beverages to take the pain away. She did not want to be drunk, only mildly intoxicated. But her rational side stopped her from executing this plan. Her second drink was a glass of Applejack brandy, a beverage very special to her.
This drink meant the world to her because it was on a bottle of it that her relationship with Paul Holdsworth, the father of her son, began. It was on Air Force One that she drank this bottle and, once drunk, went too far with him. She eventually fell in love with Paul, despite hating him when first meeting. The Applejack brought memories of Paul to her. The fear she felt of Goodwin was replaced by a distant grief and nostalgia. It was not a cure for pain, but a replacement with one she had long since dealt with.
She stayed at the bar for an hour to let the alcohol wear off and then got in her black Mercedes and drove. Her destination upon hitting the gas was her home and she made it to her street. She even stopped the car and looked at her building. For fifteen minutes she sat with the engine idling before pulling away and driving. She did this at 11:22.
With still nearly three hours until her scheduled meeting, Isadora went down to the old warehouse district anyway. As she drove through the quiet, mostly abandoned area, Isadora turned off her headlights. She could barely see in the dark, but wanted to keep the lowest possible profile. Three block away from the Parkwood Warehouse, Isadora turned off her engine. She could see the front of her destination from where she parked, but the meeting point was the back. She knew she needed to scout the area, but could not do so from her car.
Still at her side was her Walther P99. She unholstered the pistol and removed a silencer from her messenger bag. Using the internally-threaded barrel, she twisted on the hollow metal tube and chambered a round. From her bag, she drew her smaller PPS and concealed it in her jacket. Having a backup would not hurt.
When her door popped open, Isadora stepped out into the cool, early-fall air of Boston, Massachusetts. A light breeze blew, the sort that is normally inaudible, but the air was so quiet that she heard its whisper. The silence frightened Isadora, but it left her freedom to think. She reasoned through what was about to happen. She had no idea who it might be feeding her information. Before today, she thought it was Stanley, but that no longer made sense. She assumed it was someone she knew.
Orumov? She knew him to be one of her best allies on the board of directors. Always she suspected him of him knowing much more than he led on, but the math simply did not add up. Orumov was not the kind of person to arrange shady late meetings such as these. The man was far too simple and, if he had information, would likely just come out and tell her.
Duckett was another possibility, but he was a longer shot than Orumov even.
Isadora sighed as she silently snuck to the meeting point. There was no way of knowing what she was walking into. In her mind, she danced around the idea that his might be an ambush. Perhaps the informant was actually working for Goodwin, or even Goodwin himself. Perhaps this was where the trap was to be sprung. Perhaps this was the end.
She pushed those thoughts aside. Though she could be ready for the worst, she should not expect it. She had to operate on the assumption that this what it appeared to be. It was the only option with any hope whatsoever. Isadora needed hope.
The meeting point, to Isadora's surprise, was right next to an interior point of the city's protective fence. Boston's defensive wall was made up of two fences. The first, the exterior, was the stronger of the two. It was electrified and had never been penetrated. Five-hundred feet into that fence lay the interior, which was not electrified and made of a simple grate. If the first fence fell, the second would only buy the city time should zombies break through. Having the fence there lent Isadora a stark reminder of the world in which she lived.
Fortunately, along the fence were streetlights and one just happened to be directly over where Isadora waited. She scouted out the area and quickly figured out why this spot was chosen. It was very simple, with only two ways to get there: to the left and to the right. Isadora had come from the left. It would also not be difficult to tell if someone approached. Isadora reasoned that she could sneak up on someone at this place, but then again, no one matched her ability at stealth.
It was at a quarter until one when Isadora heard footsteps approaching. They were heavy and solitary; just one person and a fat one, likely obese This revelation defied all of her expectations. She did not know very many fat people and she would not place a single one of them as the shady informant type. Isadora put her hand on her gun, but no longer held any expectation of violence.
It was a man, an obese man with glasses and a strangely lopsided goatee. In an exaggerated English accent, he said, “Fleming, Isadora Fleming. You and I are friends.”
“Usually friends know one another. I've never met you.”
“We've never met, this true,” the man said. “But we know each other. You probably know me as ConArt.”
“The world-famous radio show, of course.”
“The name's Constance Leopold. I have no radio show these days, but I still work on communications equipment. I run the Boston side of the Fujikawa-Mitchell Line.”
“Are you the behind the texts?” Isadora's eyebrow skyrocketed.
“Yes, yes, I am,” Constance rubbed his goatee.
She stammered, “Just- just where are you getting your information?”
“Very simple,” Constance started. “You see, I'm an expert in communications technology and I've been tapped into Steelewood's comm systems for years now. I've been listening in. I told Captain Mitchell about this edge and I feed him information from time to time, but he told me to do one thing. He told me to look after you. So, I started feeding you information just to guide you in the right direction. The best way to do it was anonymously.”
“So why are you telling me this now?”
“Because I have something very important to tell, something I do not think you would believe unless I told you in person.”
“What is it, Constance?”
“You've got a traitor in your inner circle.”
Anger flared inside Isadora. “Who?”
“Your assistant, Stanley.”
“What? No, that's- that's not possible. Stanley is a friend.”
“He's been feeding Goodwin information for years. How do you think he's managed to get ahead of you?”
“I don't believe you; I can't.”
“Think about it!” Constance raised his voice. “There is no way Peter Goodwin is smart enough to keep up the grand game of mercenary chess with the likes of you! He's a grunt. He needs that edge Stanley has been his edge for-”
Shots rang out as Constance's chest burst open twice. His eyes widened as he fell down to his knees and then limp on the ground.
With a draw straight from a Clint Eastwood film, her pistol was raised and trained on where the shots had come from. There was dark figure holding a handgun, pointing it straight at Isadora. The figure approached and his face was revealed in the light: Stanley.
“Ma'am,” was all Stanley could say.
“Well?” Isadora demanded. “Are you going to kill me? You've killed him!”
“I don't want to kill you,” Stanley told her. “I don't want to hurt you at all. You're a friend, Isadora.”
“Then why?!” Isadora shook. “What he told me is true, isn't it?”
Stanley said nothing.
“Because Goodwin's right!” Stanley shouted. “The world is in a bad place! Look around you! You're out of touch! Steelewood needs to take control to put things right, to put them back in order! We need to make things right! Sometimes the world needs an iron fist to-”
“That isn't the way!”
“Your way isn't working!”
“The hell it isn't!” Isadora barked. “The world's coming around! Look at the Fujikawa Network! Something as sophisticated and noble as it is being built without our involvement! It will take time, but the world is on the mend.”
“I'm sorry,” Stanley readied himself to shoot, Isadora knew it. She would not shoot first.
But she didn't have to.
Shots burst from elsewhere, eight of them in total. All of them hit Stanley in different places, some headshots and others body hits. Stanley fell dead rapidly, with a look of utter shock. Isadora's eyes shot wide.
She turned to see Constance laying there with a slide-locked Colt 1911 pistol pointed up at her former assistant. He panted and then fell back. Holstering her pistol, she dashed over and sat beside him, “Constance! Constance!” She put his head in her lap. “You'll be alright, just-”
He looked up at her and struggled for air, “I've been shot- I- no, doesn't- doesn't matter. You have to stop- you have to stop Goodwin. He's a- a bad man.” Constance coughed blood.
Isadora put her hands on his wounds. These were the kind she had seen on men either dead or about to die. Constance, undoubtedly was the latter. She asked, “Is there anything else you can tell me?”
“S-Sergei,” Constance started. “Sergei-”
“What? What about Sergei?”
He labored for breath, only to gargle on his own blood. He coughed, spewing the warm, dark liquid all over Isadora's outfit. But still he did not speak.
“Constance! Tell me!”
One last time, he looked into her eyes. His head and his body dropped limp.
“No!” Isadora shook him. “No, no, no! You can't- you can't be dead. What about Sergei? Oh, bloody hell!” She put her hand over her mouth. “Bloody hell.” She put Constance down and closed his eyes. Somehow she expected him to then look peaceful, but he looked anything but. His corpse was a crimson mess.
Isadora forced herself to her feet and looked over to Stanley, whose body was a mangled slop of flesh and meat. She dared not touch him. For just seeing him sent wrath pouring through her veins. Instead, Isadora fled.....