Welcome, Asset. The system prompt felt like sunlight after long darkness. Bishop, Michael, Asset 108. It has been three months and six days since you were last activated, Michael. Do you require full initialization protocols?

“No.” I spoke out loud before realizing I looked like a crazy person talking to myself in an alley. No, I linked. Please only play my selected datastream. 

Typically I chose this selection. I had heard the thing so often I had it memorized, but the system preferred that a booting Asset perform at least a modicum of initialization. 

Will comply. I felt the system click in my mind. Now preparing preselected introduction protocols. The cool voice felt like a fresh breeze. Initiating playback in three… two… 

Moments later, the smoky words of Gideon DuMarque, the Asset who had trained me in my early missions, grumbled into my mind. It felt as if he stood right next to me. 

“It’s always the same,” Gideon growled. “You won’t remember when you’re in torpor. You’ll just prance along like an idiot, living whatever life they give you.”

“Why can’t I just be active all the time? Or remember? Cops remember. Security agents and espionage agents remember their regular lives, and they go to work.”

“Their work is nothing like ours,” Gideon replied. “Their work won’t shatter a mind, won’t leave a person depraved and raving. It’s better that we forget.”

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