Pain. This was more pain than he could remember, and he could remember a lot of it. The world was swimming around him and he couldn’t get a grip on it. What’s the last thing I remember? There was a bright light, a door, a small boy. Was I dead? Dying? He’d talked with the boy, he was sure of it. A long time passed while they’d talked, but he couldn’t remember any of it. Except, the boy said something about… Jared. There was a Jared, trying to save his sister.
“Did his sister live?” he croaked out. He could hear now, alarms in the background. There were men in white coats rushing about the room, which was still spinning. Must be a hospital. Damn it, why does my hand hurt so much? He looked down and saw a bandaged stump. Well, guess that would explain it. He was in too much shock to process the horror he knew he should be feeling, though he’d always managed to take traumas in stride before. The loss of a limb was a cut above usual though.
“Relax Dustin,” said a familiar voice. He looked around and saw Dr. Marco standing over him. “It’s good to see you awake, but exerting yourself too much might kill you. So try not to get too excited.”
Obviously they’re treating me, but where? The base’s hospital? No, I’ve been there and the ceiling tiles are two inches smaller on each side. What happened? His thoughts were confused, but he was starting to piece things together.
“I was shot, 9 millimeter bullet. By one of those kids that came back from Redarctica, the one who was five foot ten. What do we know?” he asked, transitioning back to his professional self in a heartbeat. Need to focus more, no one cares about the numbers. Questions about how he lived could wait. He needed to know who the enemy was and what threat they still posed.
“A surprising amount, from what little they’ll tell me,” Marco replied. “I don’t know how much of it’s true, but it seems your suspicions regarding Black Rain may be correct.”
“Black Rain? So they were using Redarctica as a fall guy then, or Redarctica learned we were investigating Black Rain and is trying to pin their botched assassination attempt on a defunct organization. Do we have prisoners?” Hargrave asked. He was somewhat surprised. It wasn’t unheard of but, in his experience, most gifted that turned criminal weren’t taken alive.
“Yes. All of them. Patrick Williams arguably tried to surrender before you were shot, but was turned into a bomb. Fortunately, Yves and Johanna managed to contain him. Jared Butler shot you through the heart. He was impersonating Steve Foster with hologram technology. But he also saved your life, though it might not have been intentional like he claims. He got you flash frozen by Johanna, which helped prevent brain damage but… well, you can see the after effects of the frost bite.”
Hargrave certainly could. He was missing one hand in its entirety and his pinky on the other. He was pleasantly surprised to find that the ring finger upon which his wedding ring rested was unharmed.
“Jared also seems to have intentionally left some of his DNA in your wounds. It adapted to your tissue like stem cells but then went out of control. If Eric Choi had not boosted my abilities enough to figure out treatments for that and a way to reverse the flash freezing in all of five minutes… well, you’d be quite dead. Ironically, according to our prisoners, he was in on it. Given his sudden disappearance, they might be right about that.” Hargrave nodded his understanding. “My family –“
“Are safe,” said Marco.
“Casualties?” asked Hargrave.
“About a dozen and a half. And if they’re to be believed, those were unintentional,” said Marco.
“Do you believe them?” Hargrave asked. Marco hesitated before answering.
“Director Levitt has been conducting most of the interviews and I am not privy to all of the details. The only reason they let me know as much as they have is because of my involvement with the investigation of Black Rain. But from my own observation, they could have easily killed every single person in that room. May Molokov, a Redarctican agent impersonating Katherine Foster, formerly Katherine Pleasantry before the fake marriage was set up, made a surprise attack on us with helicopters and 50 caliber guns and didn’t kill a single person. Patrick could have incinerated the lot of us and instead tried to warn us. Jared Butler… well, an unthinking clone of him took out over a dozen armed soldiers and several of Blue Skies’ members. If he’d been trying to fight instead of escape… You should speak with Director Levitt for more details, but I could believe it when they say they weren’t trying to cause casualties.”
“But for the part you were there, can you walk me through exactly what happened?”
Marco grimaced at the memory, but then sighed. “Ok, let’s start where you got shot…”