Before the start of V5, this behind-the-scenes preview was released by the staff, covering the introduction of Abby Soto, a new member of the Arthro Taskforce.
Abril opened her eyes. The sun was glaring and she blinked a few times before shielding her eyes with her hand. A few beams of light escaped around the spaces between her fingers. She squinted and waited for her eyes to color correct from the blown out blue tones of the harsh light.The grass beneath her was sticky and itchy. She rolled over onto her stomach. Her hair was in two long braids, tied at the ends with yellow ribbon and hair ornaments with smiling birds. Abril rubbed her puffy eyes and sniffed. Her numerous yellow, plastic bracelets and dangling earrings, sad half-eaten popsicles, jangled.
“Hello there... just waking up?”
Abril’s eyes widened and she clambered up into a seated position. Two unfamiliar, imposing men were standing above her and the one had spoken English. The speaker wasn’t much older than many of the people on campus, though his manner of dress pointed to him carrying himself a bit more formally than a student would. The other man, a balding figure who had stayed silent thus far, was even more formally dressed. She assumed they must be officials from somewhere and leapt to her feet, brushing the grass clippings off her school shirt.
“I am sorry. Is sleeping on the grass pro-prohibited? I did not think that it was,” she said nervously.
The man who had spoken, the younger of the two, just laughed. “No, no...” he continued. “I don’t work here or anything. I’m speaking to a... Ms. Abril Soto, aren’t I?”
The girl looked around to make sure that others were around before answering. A few people were reading at the benches, some were kicking a ball.
“Yes, that is me. What happened now? Did I forget to sign something with the wills?” she said sadly as she pulled on one of her braids.
“Oh, uh... no, it’s nothing like that,” the man replied, one of his hands idly scratching his forehead near his hairline. He took care to return it to its former position at his side before continuing. “Actually, my name is Dennis Lourvey. Pleased to meet you.” The same hand extended towards Abril for a handshake. “I’m a mechanical and electrical engineer in the field, and I’m here to hopefully discuss something with you. I’ve seen your resume.” He smiled again, eyes turned up as part of a relaxed grin behind thin-rimmed glasses.
Abril gasped and clasped her hands together. “De verdad?! A job?” She’d been to a number of job fairs, hoping desperately to secure employment after she graduated in the Spring, handing out her resumé as much as she could, but not many companies were willing to wait so long for a hire, and many entry level jobs didn’t pay well enough for her to be able to support herself and her siblings.
“What type of job?” she asked. Abril seemed to notice the hand for the first time and rushed to shake it.
The man named Dennis laughed again like he was greeting an old friend. “There will be plenty of time for talking. I was actually hoping we could discuss this over a drink or something. There’s a cafe or two on campus, isn’t there?” Abril’s hand was released after a solid handshake, and Dennis reached into his pocket to pull out a black phone of some sort. He looked over it for a moment or two, hummed blankly, and put it back.</span>
Abril looked across the table at the two men. When the waitress asked for her order she shyly said she would just like a glass of tap water and looked at her hands.
Dennis was sitting directly across from Abril while the other man, who had still not introduced himself but had spoken a few words to Dennis on the way to the cafe, was sitting somewhat off-center at the table.
“So, right here...”Lourvey started, taking out a piece of paper and sliding it gently across the table. The document was familiar; it was Abril’s resume. “... It says that you’re a rather gifted engineer yourself, specializing in hardware with an interest in security systems?” He himself also ordered a tap water, while the other man was quietly sipping on his coffee and staring out the window.
“Yes. I did my internship last spring part time and during the summer that just happened full time with a company outfitting an art museum with new security technology,” she nodded. “It...was not intended to be a specialty, but that is the company that accepted me so it became a specialty,” she nodded. “I did work with surveillance equipment and alarms.”
“Well, it’s perfect either way, so I guess we should be thankful!” Dennis folded his hands and rested his chin on them. “It has come to our understanding that you’re actually going through a hard time right now.”
Abril stared at him, eyes wide. “Are you with one of the cartels?” she blurted. “Are you looking for someone to help set up security and work for one of the narcos?” she whispered. “I....I know they pay well and I guess I’m not above-”
“Woah, hold on now...” Dennis held up a finger and shook his head. “I’m from America. We’re not with... ah, any of that business, alright?” He took a sip of his water and set it down before continuing. “So... here’s what’s on the table for you right now.” The second man at the table put down his coffee mug and seemed to return to paying attention. He and Dennis looked at each other, and then Dennis looked to Abril.
“The company I work for... Innistech Industries... is willing to front up the money to take care of your tuition fees and loans. We’ll also ensure financial and home security for your siblings.” Where he had been fairly easy-going up to this point, Dennis also began speaking more quietly and seriously. “They won’t have to be sent into the system. They won’t go to an orphanage. All we ask in return is that, once you graduate, you work for us.”
“Oh...” she said, dumbstruck. “Oh, yes! That...that sounds too good to be true. I do not care if you ARE narcos. You, you have no idea what that would mean to me. It would save our lives. Y-yes, of course,” she stuttered and shook the man’s hand. “If you pay for lunch, consider me your employee! I’m really hungry,” she said, dazed.
“Is that why you haven’t ordered anything?” Dennis asked with a grin. “Sure, go nuts. My treat.” He finished off his water with a few hearty swigs, setting it down. “Don’t worry if this all sounds too good to be true. In the long run, we’re paying you just as much as we’d pay any other employee, we’re just putting a bit more of that up front to take care of you and your family.” With a quick adjustment of his glasses, Dennis extended his hand once more.
“Camera test #276,” Abby droned into a recording device. She turned over the camera in her hands and inspected the parts. She turned it on. A light at the front turned red and on her screen was the image of her hand. “Camera test #276 successful and completed.” She put it in a box with dozens of identical ones.
“Alright, we’ve made great progress tonight!” Lourvey looked up from his work, the locking mechanism for the collar. It was his personal favorite component, one that he had expressed pride over on more than one occasion. Setting the trinket down, he stepped over to where Abby was and leaned on the wall. “Might as well get some rest. We’ve had a long day.”
Abby nodded slightly. She put the things on her desk away into their drawers methodically, without looking back up at Lourvey. “I’m sleeping here. I’ll finish tomorrow.” she said flatly. Her single braid tied with a black band slumped over her shoulder when she leaned forward. She looked a picture of her brother and sister as her hand limply grabbed the pull string of the lamp.