***

After twenty minutes of driving, which could be shortened to ten or even five minutes if I was the one driving, we finally reached the airport. When we got out of the car with our luggage, Jett pressed emarce on the control and his Porche 911 shrunk into a keychain-size car. This is one of the reasons why I’m proud of our technology unit. They developed a method that could reduce the size of and spaces between atoms which is deemed impossible by the humdrums, though, it is only applicable for non-living things, as of now. I think that research started 50 years ago or even more than that.

“Now that I think about it, we should have brought our own car,” Cliff said and that was what I thought, too.
“I know you two would say that. Here.” 

All of a sudden, Jett tossed something to us and before I caught it, I already knew that it was my Lamborgini Aventador Roadster and looking at Cliff’s grin, I was sure he was holding his matte black Audi R8. Yes, we have our own cars but we rarely use them because of the nature of our missions.

“Let’s go. Matti will be mad if we’re late,” sabi ni Cliff kaya naman dumiretso na kami sa loob ng airport. Pumunta kami sa leftmost side dahil nandoon ang plane namin. Yes. The CIA has its own plane inside the airport.

Bumungad agad si Matti sa amin at buti na lang at meron pang natitirang two minutes before our call time kaya hindi pa nakakunot ang noo niya.

“I’m surprised. You’re very early today,” sabi niya habang nakangiti nang nakakaloko.
“For a change,” sagot naman ni Cliff.
“Anyway, I spotted some intels from that CIA. Be careful.”

Naging alert naman kami agad nang sinabi niya ‘yon at pumasok na kami sa plane. Well, the CIA he was talking about is the known CIA-Central Intelligence Agency, the intelligence service of the US and our agents say that they might know our existence-the Erityian’s existence. But before that agency was formed, our own CIA, the Custos Intelligence Association, was already established, but of course, in secret.

“Are you ready?” tanong ni Matti habang papasok siya sa cockpit at nag-okay sign kami sa kanya. He’s actually our pilot and he’s one of the best when it comes to aerial battles. He even evaded one of the most notorious mafia group in Italy because of his skills.

Pumwesto naman ako sa tabi ng bintana at inopen ko kaagad ang laptop na dala ko. Nilabas ko rin ang folder na binigay ni Dad kahapon at binuksan ko ang database ng CIA para tignan ang updated profile niya.

Nigel Grand
Male
49 years old
Class A (demoted from Class S)
Went missing in the Philippines 12 years ago during the Nox Organization case

Nox Organization, huh?

“Isn’t that the most elusive org in the world?” biglang singit ni Cliff at umupo siya sa tabi ko.
“Even their members are shrouded in mystery,” dagdag naman ni Jett na nasa likuran namin.
“So, what’s the case?”

Pagkatanong no’n ni Cliff ay kinuwento ko sa kanila ang sinabi sa akin ni Dad kagabi. Tahimik naman silang nakinig at naging interested din sila kay Nigel Grand dahil isa siya sa top agents noong mga bata pa kami.

“He went missing for twelve years and we just got his whereabouts because of this photo,” sabi ni Cliff habang hawak ang picture na binigay ni Dad. “He’s got mad skills if he managed to hide for a long time.”
“Question is, why did he hide? Why didn’t he go back to the headquarters? Is it connected to his demotion?” Jett added.

True enough, he was demoted from Class S to A and maybe it was because of what had happened to his team. After all, he was the team’s Keeper. His job was to keep his members alive.

“What I want to know is what really happened during their case and what happened to my Mom,” sabi ko naman at pare-pareho kaming natahimik.

I searched for the cafe where his photo was accidentally taken and I read the news about a murder that happened there few days ago. A 26-year old woman died because of cyanide intake and the people inside the cafe were the suspects. A group of young detectives arrived and solved the case in just a few hours. The murderer was caught but those who were inside the cafe were still questioned by the police and inspectors.

“Must be Senshins,” bulong ni Cliff sa akin at nakasilip pa rin pala siya sa laptop ko.
“Yeah,” sagot ko naman.

Senshins have their main base in the Philippines and those detectives were probably from that tribe. Also, they solved the case within a few hours and identified the criminal right away. Those deduction skills were enough proof that they were, indeed, Senshins.

Pagkatapos no’n ay napagdesisyunan nina Cliff at Jett na matulog muna dahil mahaba pa ang byahe pero hindi ko magawang makatulog lalo na’t tungkol kay Mom ang case na ‘to. I wanted to know what happened to her during her mission and what caused her death. Few years ago, I started investigating her case but it was a dead end since all of the information about that were highly confidential. Kaya nga ngayong si Dad mismo ang nagbigay sa akin ng data, hinding-hindi ko sasayangin ang pagkakataong ‘to.

I put my earpiece and dialed Naia’s number. After a few rings, she answered.

“Why didn’t you wake me up?” pambungad niya sa akin.
“Sorry. Ang sarap ng tulog mo, eh.”
“Kahit na.”

Napangiti naman ako. Naia is a British and I always find her Filipino accent way too cute. She’s been my roommate since we were young so she could understand Filipino as if it is her first language.

“Anyway, I want you to gather information about Nigel Grand.” Narinig ko naman ang pag-upo niya sa kama at ang pagbukas ng laptops niya. I could even imagine her movements.
“Nigel Grand? Isn’t he one of those missing Class A agents?”
“Yes but he has been sighted in the Philippines. I need details about him during the time he went missing. Just a few info will suffice.”
“Few info? Are you underestimating me again?” Napangiti ako nang narinig ko ‘yon.
“Well, if you can give me—”
“Call me after three to four hours. Bye. Gotta work.”

In-end niya nga ang tawag at napailing na lang ako dahil sa attitude niya pagdating sa missions. After that ay pinatay ko na rin ang laptop ko at napagdesisyunan ko nang matulog. Dahil si Matti ang pilot, expected na mas mapapaaga ang dating namin sa Pilipinas at siguradong pagdating namin doon ay wala na akong oras para matulog. I guess a few hours of rest would do.

***

“Agents, we only have thirty minutes before landing. Please prepare.”

Nagising ako nang narinig ko ang boses ni Matti sa intercom at ganoon din sina Cliff at Jet. Kinuha naman agad namin ang mga suitcase na binigay ni Matti sa amin kanina.

“Oh. So I’ll be a young businessman named Jeric Tan,” Cliff said after opening his case. Kinuha naman niya ang passport na nasa ibabaw ng mga gamit. “How ‘bout you, Jett?”
Jett did the same and showed his passport. “An exchange student named Red Evann.”
“And you?” sabay tingin nila sa akin kaya pinakita ko rin ang passport ko.
“A rookie actress. I’ll be Sab Rivera.”

We emptied the contents of our cases and started gathering our gadgets. Cliff and Jett both wore the mask and upon contact, their face changed into the person they were thinking of, this time, their assignments. I placed the choker on my neck while Jett put an earring on his right ear and Cliff on his left. My choker and their earrings are voice changer devices that were developed to accurately mimic someone’s voice.

Kinuha ko ang recorder na nasa case ko at pag-play ko ay narinig ko ang boses ni Sab Rivera. I placed the recorder near my choker to register her voice. Her voice frequency was added to the program and when I set it to that, my voice sounded similar to her.

Sinuot din namin ang iba pang device na magagamit sa mission na ‘to. Nilagay ko na rin sa bag ko ang kotse ko, na ngayon ay kasinliit lang ng keychain, dahil baka makalimutan ko pa mamaya. Si Cliff naman, hinanda na ang laptop, phones at swiss knife niya habang si Jett ay inaayos ang kanyang gun set.

“You should change,” sabi ni Cliff pagkatapos maayos ang mga gamit niya.
“Fine,” sagot ko naman.

Tinignan ko ulit ang picture ni Sab Rivera at tumingin ako sa salamin. As I was looking at myself, I could slightly see my red eyes under these contacts and how my face slowly changed into Sab’s. I didn’t have any mask, simply because I didn’t need it. I could be anyone. And that is my animus.

Animus is our ability that differentiates us from the other tribes. Just like how Senshins and Shinigamis have their sixth sense and Huntres have their attributes, the Custos agents have their animus.

And for me, I could borrow anyone’s face and body, his or her outer appearance accurately. That’s why in our missions, I would always be the spy. Because I have the perfect ability to be one.



***