An hour later and everyone was saved. Forget-me-not was detained and NHN agents were called to take her away. The town still had resentment to what the mayor easily described as “a false product”, and the schedule was altered but no casualties were created.
However, I’d gotten in trouble.
Alliance, Aim and Vortex were the agents sent to take Forget-me-not, and Alliance was not happy at how I handled the situation. I can understand that.
“…sing NHN agents as hostages the a reckless and irresponsible move, Ryan!” Alliance finished.
I didn’t quite catch that, but I understood the point he was making.
“We’ve been bending our backs trying to help you, and you not only take advantage of it, but do something like this? Hold on, let me list what we’ve done for you. The Sacrifice situation; you and I agree on that, she’s unfit for trial. The war incident three years ago is still yet to be resolved, but until today we were looking at an official pardon for you!”
He was flustered. I didn’t say a thing.
“Finally, there is the three villages project and the Expedition. You’ve already fucked up this by doing the worst thing ever, and now I’m seriously considering cancelling your partic- no. I’m considering heading to the board to incarcerate you.”
I didn’t answer to his comments. Somehow, the only thing that was going through my head was the fact I hadn’t done the worst thing. I could have pressed the button at any time.
“Tell me why I shouldn’t?” Alliance asked, his tone more calm now.
“There isn’t,” I replied. “I don’t have a reason or an excuse, sir.”
“Then why do it?”
I thought, opened my mouth to speak, closed it and tried again. Nothing.
“I… I don’t have a reason.”
“Ryan,” I could hear the fatigue draining in the sigh that followed my name. “This is the sort of thing that we were worried about,” said Alliance.
I had a clue what he meant. The masked man looked unlike his PR photos; he was tired here, not triumphant. There were no mounds to stand on with his short cape flowing behind him, no babies to hold.
“I’m not a sleeper agent,” I said. “I’m not.”
Alliance took a breath. “Then what are you, Ryan?”
I didn’t say anything, which was worse than what I could have said. I guess I fucked up again.
Alliance… Didn’t do anything. I don’t know why. I was taken off the expedition team and sent away for rehabilitation. There was a risk, they said. They already were worried that I was a sleeper agent, and the distinctive scar on my chest isn’t helping. That and my almost murder of seven people.
I wished I was. Then everything could be explained away and it would all be normal, I’d be back as me. I could actually grieve over my parents without feeling like it’s a hollow chore, or I could face Michael and Ri- No.
No. I’m just hiding behind my faults again.
I sighed and slumped back in my chair. Jackson Correctional Facility had a few staff, but the wait for one to see me was getting irritating. After shifting my position again, almost getting out of my seat the door opened and somebody finally came in.
“Apologies for the wait Mr Anderson, one of the patients was acting dangerously.”
I thought about spreading my power, but didn’t.
The staff member was a guy with short hair. His uniform was reminiscent of the scrubs surgeons wear than a trained ward.
“Hey,” I said.
He sat down, opposite me. The folder was thin, but I knew what it had. I’d grown accustomed to seeing my existence held on a clipboard or file.
“It seems as though you were doing fine up until recently,” he said, clicking a pen and pulling out a notepad.
“Things don’t go perfectly,” I responded.
“You are right, but that’s still understating what you did.”
Some part of me thought it was amusing how the NHN were so negligent at some things and so strict with others. Maybe that’s the result of government sponsorship? Maybe the fact that the army, the police force and many other government institutions felt as though capes were taking over, the only supported avenue was crippled in very specific places?
Actually, nevermind that, I’m here for a reason.
“Can we get to the important part…” I left my sentence hanging, prompting his name.
“Dr. Wiles. Call me Dr. Wiles.”
“Okay, I can do that,” I said.
“Okay. You understand why you are here right?”
I understood clearly. Even if I didn’t want to admit it, every now and then thoughts would pop up, asking me questions. Why don’t I tell them about why I have the scar on my chest? I ask myself. Why do I neglect to tell anyone that New Austin will open up soon?
“Because I’m a sleeper agent,” I finally admitted. “I’ve got something in my head that’s hiding away, and it’s subtle enough that I don’t notice it. There are these rules and commands I’m following, but not hearing.”
Dr. Wiles nodded at me to continue, writing down what I said on the notepad.
“I um… I guess I had an idea, but I put it off. I didn’t think about it, or avoided the subject.”
“You didn’t want to consider the idea?” Dr. Wiles clarified.
“I still don’t,” I responded. “The idea that he still has a hold over me, I don’t…”
The words drifted off and out of my mind. Dammit.
“What can you do?” I finally asked after a long silence.
Dr. Wiles was stoic. “With your powers? Nothing legal.”
Ah. My awareness. Taker bypassed that, and I can’t nullify it while being aware due to the fact he’s not easily accessible. Any mind tinkering that they’d do here is a no go, due to the fact that my required consent means I’d be aware for the most part.
No, that’s not right, I still have range limits, right?
“What do you mean? I still have range limits on my powers, right? Just create a distance?”
“We’ve actually tried accessing your mind already. It seems Taker has specialities in creating nearly impossible to remove psychic suggestions, not without his help, or help from…” He caused to consider his next words. “More dangerous sources of aid.”
“There’s nothing, right?”
“We are trying to trigger it in a controlled environment. Most sleeper agent triggers are built around one time activations, especially when the victim is unaware they exist.”
I was dumbfounded. “You’re saying what I need to do is actually set it off?” I asked.
“No,” Dr. Wiled answered. “We need to set it off, in a place you cannot do harm.”
“How long would that take?” I asked, taking my hands off my chest and putting them on the table.
“It could take years.”
I looked away and smirked. “Damn,” I said.
Dr. Wiles gave a nod and left, gesturing to let me leave the room and collect my stuff. I was thinking of leaving the building and fixing myself the fast way, but there are things that need to happen first.
I need to see Samantha.