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What was I really looking for? It was supposed to be systemic change at first. Or at least systemic containment.

That was the mission they sent me on anyway. We couldn't let things get too far out of control, and I was sent to hold things back.

If necessary.

Things had been shuffling around quickly those few weeks though. Maybe that was the nature of the beast. They wouldn't have sent me at all if stuff like that wasn't going to happen, so in some ways it was expected.

The problem with expecting out-of-the-box change was that we could never predict where it would go. And what was changing now was the mission they sent me on. Disagreements had began to take a toll on the brass. Where they once had agreement on common objectives, they were becoming increasingly divergent in terms of what they wanted to see happen.

As a result, my orders became increasingly complicated, the goals of which would change week to week, depending on which faction had managed to gain the upper hand. And that was to say nothing of my personal goals. Originally I had just wanted to make a decent salary, and maybe support my own retirement, and as long as I followed my orders, that's what I was promised.

I wasn't so sure that was the right way to go anymore. Maybe I was too caught up in the internal politics of the brass. It was getting increasingly difficult to remain detached and non-judgmental. I could no longer be sure I was going to follow my orders, regardless of what they were. Granted the opposing opinions I was exposed to internally did not help.

It was no longer about just the pay or the benefits the agency promised me. I was becoming entangled in the mission. I could no longer keep my personal opinions apart from the orders I was given. I'd seen too many alternatives - alternatives that did not involve the system from which I came.

I had never expected to be disloyal to the organization, but now there was real doubt casting a shadow over my thoughts. I tried not to dwell on it. It meant that my own agency could potentially become a threat, whereas before, they were supposed to be only a source of support and protection.

Contemplating going against the agency was no small task. I had to weigh just how much I thought they may be making the wrong decisions, and how that would affect my own life. Switching loyalties without adequate backup could be deadly for me, but on the other hand, remaining loyal might create long-term threats that none of us would be immune to.

I became increasingly frustrated by the shortsightedness of some of those giving us our orders. They just wanted their pensions. They just wanted to hold off until they could retire comfortably. Where would that leave me then? Where would that leave the rest of the world?

They taught us the importance of critical thinking at the academy, but in practice, that's not what they wanted. They wanted blind obedience, even if their orders reversed direction from one week to the next.

If they wanted a robot to do this job, they should have sent one. I'm not sure why they claimed to be looking for the most talented agents, then tried to stifle us as soon as we were on the job. I didn't want to take it anymore. I wanted to do things my way.

But there was basically no survival rate for those of us without organizational backup. Even traitors had the enemy organization to protect them, but I would have nothing. It was going to have to be a road I travelled alone.

Not that I wouldn't have supporters or friends on my side, but their access to official protection was laughable. I would have to move carefully from where I was, without drawing attention to the fact that I was doing anything other than following orders. Maybe I could even claim any suspicious activity on my part was ultimately going to bring us closer to our mission goals.

The skills I had learned in training would no longer only be directed outside the agency, they would have to be directed inwards as well. That was the world I was walking into. It wasn't something I really wanted. If only things were going to be as easy as I originally imagined. Instead, I was stuck choosing between the lesser of two evils. It shouldn't have been that way, but the organization was in no shape to do things correctly.

I finally understood the previous agents who gave up in cynicism. The boulder was rolling, and we were grains of sand in its way. We were not going to be able to stop it. We would have to get out of its way, and if we were lucky enough, get other things out of its way as well. That was the only way to save our future.

I suppose they realized the danger as well, or I wouldn't have been sent there in the first place. Maybe they even knew I ran the risk of abandoning my mission. I wouldn't be surprised, but it wasn't going to be easy turning back anymore. Maybe I could still have saved myself and the rest of us by convincing the brass to let us go, to allow us to do our own thing, to convince them we were not as big of a threat as they imagined in their minds.

It seemed like a dream that was so far out of reach, yet also so close I could almost wrap my hand around it. There was so much conflict among the brass by then that I might have simply been ignored. But that was not enough. It did not guarantee any safety. If they ever united around some decision, perhaps the wrong one, they might still have come after us. That was a risk I didn't want to live with.

I knew what they were capable of. That had sent me after all. Risk minimization measures would have to be implemented to ensure the sword would never be pointed our way. But it was a new world. The old methods I had been trained on had little place in the new world. That was one of the reaons I saw the old world as doomed to extinction.

We were going to put something new in its place, but I was used to operating in the environment I was replacing. That made me a dinosaur. It wasn't the most secure feeling in the world, but what we would be building had so much promise that it even moved dinosaurs like me.

If only the brass saw it that way too. But they were high up in their ivory towers thinking they could see everything, not realizing they couldn't tell a donut from a bagel up there. I needed to get them down, but they thought we were beneath them. They were too good for us. This was not their world.

But if they refused to enter our world, I would have to bring our world to them. And that really scared me. They did not like intrusions of any kind. Their dogs were aimed at the peasants, never themselves. And if we looked like we were heading in the wrong direction, they would likely panic.

And nobody wanted to see them panic. You never knew what they would do.

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