1 Chapter 1: A not so normal job interview

Thicc clouds blotted out the sun from the sky, casting a dark grey color on the world. Adriano looked up to the sky and thought in his heart: "it's true, there are no half-seasons anymore." he then nodded sagely like any other old man who spoke such words a million times. This image would have had nothing wrong if Adriano hadn't been over 22.

In his mind, bad weather in August could only be caused by global warming or other side effects of pollution and overpopulation. He looked around for encouragement. However, only skyscraper and swarms of people appeared. The sight of civilization which usually would fill him with pride for belonging to the same race, today just oppressed him.

He missed the beaches of his hometown, his dear ones and the warmth of people entirely missing in a metropolis like Berlin. He stopped for a moment to buy a hot dog and continued walking being careful not to spill on his suit the mix of curry and ketchup that Germans used everywhere.

After minutes more of walking down the busy streets of the city, he stopped in front of a giant building, he checked his watch once and then made his way in. A four people reception stood in the middle of the hall, a dozen leather couches stuck to the walls decorated with paintings.

"Guten morgen, I have a job interview with Herr Schlagg." the receptionist shone a bright smile before typing in something on her terminal. "Very good, and you are Herr?" she asked in a formal tone. "Adriano Meis," he replied "I'm slightly early, hope it's not a problem." Slight early was an understatement, feeling anxious about arriving late he had come with a 30 minutes advance.

"No problem whatsoever, actually Herr. Schlagg can meet you now." her petite hand pointed to the elevator. "twelfth floor, good luck." the receptionist winked at him a last time before he made his way upstairs. For the whole trip until Herr. Schlagg's door, he felt as if he was knowingly walking in a beast's jaws.

Inside the elevator, he looked at himself in the mirror. 1,90 meters of height, well built after many years of swim and martial arts, light brown short hair fashioned like a wave going to the left and lively green eyes. He considered himself to be above average regarding looks.

Finally, he was there. The metal door of Herr. Schlagg's office had a grey and dull color, giving it the septic feeling of an operating room. Steeling his nerves, he knocked on the door. Shortly after the door opened by itself, Herr. Schagg's office looked exceedingly spartan, one simple wooden desk, two chairs on wheels (one currently occupied by Schlagg) and the window behind Herr. Schlagg.

Even the word "Spartan" would be unable to describe the empty office, recovering from the shock of having his expectations broken, Adriano stepped in. "Guten Morgen Herr Schlagg, a pleasure to meet you," Adriano said offering his hand. "No need to be so courteous, take a seat Mr.Meis ."Herr. Schlagg politely shook his hand and waved for him to sit.

He was a big man, over 2 meters in height and squared like a bunch of different sized bricks put together to build a man. His shiny head reflected the light coming from the window like a lamp, yet Adriano felt that if he were to stare too much, those icy azure eyes would smite him.

"I'm both a busy and straightforward so let me ask you a few quick questions." Herr. Schlagg immediately cut the formalities and took a business stance with his hands cupped on the table. "First, do you have any combat experience?" Adriano looked a little taken aback.

"Yes, I've been practicing mixed martial arts for eight years now, I've also participated in a few tournaments." This question was still within those that he had expected for the security officer position he was vying for. However, the next surprised him.

"Do you enjoy fighting?" Herr. Schlagg's icy gaze penetrated deep into his own, he felt that lying now would spell doom. "Yes sir, I do very much," Herr. Schlagg grunted in approval, Adriano could even see the corner of his mouth going up. The puzzlement kept increasing as the questions got even weirder.

"Can you survive in the wilderness alone?" "do you have any problem with scuba diving?" "have you ever used fire weapons?" "Are you confident in driving a vehicle you've never seen?" "From a scale of 1 to ten, how much would you rate your ability to find a solution out of the box creatively?" "Do you have talent in learning different languages?" "Is your sense of direction very developed?" "Do you believe in Aliens?"

At some point, he just stopped being surprised and mechanically answered everything. At the end of the ordeal, Herr. Schlagg seemed very satisfied; his head bobbed up and down reviewing the notes he had taken. "Now for the last question, would you be able to say goodbye forever to everyone you know to get this job?"

"What?" His faked composture finally crumbled.

"Accepting this job means cutting all ties with anyone or anything you know. It's only fair to let you know straight away, years ago I was faced with the same choice, and I can assure you it was all worth it." A hint of anger rose inside Adriano's heart.

"I'm starting to think you might have lied about what kind of job you are offering here." Accused Adriano, the displeasure he felt clear in his voice.

"I cannot tell you anything about it, except you'll be able to save a lot of innocents and you will never worry about money anymore. This is what we are offering you, a purpose."

Countless calculations went through Adriano's head. Should he or not? The proposal was as enticing as it was mysterious, however, was it worth paying such a steep price?

"I'm sorry, I can't say goodbye to my family without even knowing what I'm trading it for." Adriano in the end refused, if his father were here, he would be mad at him yelling something like: "You are an idiot! One day you'll have to let us go anyway!" and then he would hug him anyway because, in the end, that's family.

"I'm very sorry to hear that, I would have gladly accepted you as my subordinate. If you ever change your mind..." Herr. Schlagg took a metal card out of his breast pocket and offered it to Adriano. "Just call me." Adriano accepted and took the card.

On his way out Adriano thought about all those weird questions, if he were to take a guess, the job he was being offered was something akin to the one of a secret agent. "Was this how spies were recruited, in a public interview by sketchy individuals?"

His mind kept wandering around, imagining scene straight out famous spy flicks with his as the protagonist, "I'm Meis, Adriano Meis.".

In his mindlessness, he didn't notice he had missed the elevators and gotten lost in the maze of the offices, after a few more minutes of walking around he timidly entered an office looking for directions. However, it was empty.

What piqued his curiosity was that the layout was the same as Herr. Schlagg's office, one desk, and two chairs.

"Hey you!" he suddenly turned around, a man in business attire was calling him. "Did you just finish your interview?" he asked in an aggressive tone. "Yes, I-" before he could ask for directions he was grabbed by the hand, "come then, the others are waiting at the elevator."

Shrugging mentally Adriano followed his savior to the elevators, a group of people was waiting impatiently in front of the elevator. The first to see him asked in an angry tone "What the hell took you so long?", Adriano could only scratch his head, "Sorry, I had gotten lost." he replied chuckling in embarrassment. At a second glance, he noticed that all of the presents were well built and with a dangerous air around them.

'wait, were they waiting for me, why?' he thought.

"How did you even get accepted with such a sense of direction?" another guy asked. He tried to refute "well, I wasn't-" however, he was interrupted. "You guys will have time to lollygag later, " the guy who had dragged Adriano to the elevator handed everyone an odd metallic object. "Take it and don't let go no matter what, they are waiting for you guys."

After handing Adriano one of the objects, he then was shoved in the elevator, impressive enough it could fit all 16 of them. As the doors closed Adriano saw the guide giving a military salute to the people in the elevator. "thank you for your sacrifice." he said before the doors were shut entirely.

A horrible doubt suddenly appeared in Adriano's heart, he turned around and looked at the other people happily chatting. "Have all of you been hired?" he asked, in response, the people looked at him as if he was retarded. "of course, what else do you think we are doing here? all the rejected left five minutes earlier."

'oh ******! I need to get out as soon as I can!" as he tried to press the button to open the doors, the elevator went for a free fall.

Gravity started working in reverse for a second and Adriano felt the lightest he had ever been, then his head hit the ceiling. Instinctively clenching his hands around the metal object Adriano Hoped everything was just a nightmare and that he wasn't really going to die in an elevator full of wannabe spies.

He closed his eyes and waited for death. One second, two seconds, five seconds, ten seconds, twenty seconds. 'How long is this elevator taking?' he thought, then slightly opened his eyes.

He was not in the elevator anymore; he was laying on a bed, his suit replaced by some kind of black overall with a lightning bolt symbol on his shoulder.

Looking around her wondered whether he had died he found no answers. The room he was in seemed very simple, the bed, a desk with chair and what looked like a big glass case. There were no windows and only a metallic door in front of the bed.

He slowly got up and cautiously approached the door. when he opened it and saw what was on the other side, he couldn't help but mutter: "I'm definitely not in Kansas anymore."

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