Hargrave had never seen President Robins so tired, even after Sunlight city. He wasn’t sure she’d slept in the last few days and, unlike Raphael, she needed it. He’d scarcely gotten any shut eye himself, busy as he was trying to help keep some semblance of order. Given the state of his health after the assassination attempt, he probably shouldn’t have been out of bed, much less coordinating massive relief efforts that amounted to no less than restructuring societal order following so many deaths.
“What’s the latest status?” she asked him.
“The Hydra Chain Protocol helped most major relief organizations stay organized enough to do some good and prevented a significant number of transportation and medical disasters. There is still looting though across most major cities. The body count is nearing eight percent of our population. Our military was decimated, but at least the ground forces were not impacted at a significantly higher rate than the rest of the adult population and they’ve managed to quell all major riots. Good thing they kept their numbers up, considering Alistair wiped out over a third of our air force in all of forty minutes.
“He’s still at large, as is Reacher and the woman known as Transfer. But we’ve caught or killed several more founding and active members of Black Rain per the data files that Alan sent out before he killed himself. He’s protected some of his closest comrades, but doesn’t seem like the rest of them were expecting his last-minute betrayal,” he reported.
“Why do you think he gave us so much information on them?” President Robins asked. “Aliases, bank accounts. He handed over half the organization on a silver platter. I didn’t get the sense he was the type of man prone to a guilty conscience.”
“I think they were a tool he didn’t like but needed to use,” Hargrave replied.
“Once they’d served their purpose, he made sure they could be properly disposed of. It was a rather cold way of tying up loose ends.”
“A rather token gesture towards cleaning up the catastrophe he made. Sunlight City was a fender bender compared to this wreck. How are we ever supposed to recover? And we got off easy. Over half of the Indigo Empire’s adult population dropped dead. Hundreds of millions of people in one nation alone,” said Robins, the distress on her face clear. Hargrave couldn’t blame her. Most of the world was distressed, to say the least, himself included.
It probably wouldn’t help to tell her that the actual death toll among the Indigo Empire was closer to seventy percent, according to his own estimates. Right now she needed hope if she was to lead the nation as the effective leader he knew her to be.
“A quarter of the world is dead, and the collateral damage in less developed nations could take another quarter with it, but we are not without silver linings,” he said solemnly. “Every sign of every type of cancer has vanished without a trace. Several of the harshest deserts are suddenly blooming with life and a couple of the most polluted rivers on Earth are now flowing with clean water. This is going to be hard to come back from, and some of the new gifted are going to have dangerous powers, maybe even catastrophically so. But others will change the world for the better in ways we cannot even imagine right now.”
Especially given that Eric Choi has so graciously agreed to boost anyone whose powers would help prosper our nation if he wants to avoid a bullet to the back of the head.
“Always the optimist,” said Robins. “But speaking of dangerous, any leads on the whereabouts of Jared Butler?”
“None,” replied Hargrave. “We believe he returned Krieg Mirkov to his grandfather, but don’t think he returned to Grey Snow. My professional recommendation would be to pardon him and solicit his help to track down the rest of Black Rain.”
“He killed over half a dozen soldiers. He nearly killed you,” she said incredulously.
“And Eric Choi is almost as responsible as Alan for the events that have transpired and we’re still using him,” said Alan.
“Yes, but he’s not a free man,” said Robins. “You’re suggesting a pardon.”
“I don’t think he meant to kill those men, and he ended up saving my life. He and Patrick Williams have two of the strongest combat oriented gifts in existence. Patrick might turn himself back in without a fight, but Jared wouldn’t and I’m not sure we can afford to lose the rest of our air force. You saw the video; he’s got to be almost as powerful now unboosted as Alistair was with a full boost. We can either try to get him to work with us, or leave him be. But if we make him our enemy we will regret it. For all intents and purposes, the boy is untouchable.”
President Robins rubbed her temples.
“I’ll consider it,” she told him. “But for now I think I need some sleep, at least a few hours of it. He might be dead, but it’s going to be a long time before we recover from Killjoy handing our asses to us.”
She dismissed Hargrave, who left wondering what the future held. But if there was anyone who could make a brighter one it would be her, and he would be there loyally by her side.