Strings of Retaliation – 16a – Lamb

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My number one priority was to get a first meeting with Saskia and assess how hard it would be to break her out without making it look like I did. Gabriel wasn’t particularly forthcoming on that matter, and the FBI stalled. Though it didn’t surprise me, the sudden backtrack to their usual less-than-cooperative selves tried my patience. I forced myself not to bite. That would only re-engage our destructive power struggle and give another occasion for the mole to hang me.
No. No more growling and bearing teeth. I was a good little lamb, bleating now and then to remind them of my presence.
The days at MerriTech blended together, force feeding me a mix of meeting, paperwork, and Tanzanian beans, Italian Roast, Dead Eye with a shot of hazelnut syrup. Gail, my ever-so-chipper shepherd, led me from one obligation to the other from sunrise to sunset — and oftentimes beyond. By the end of the week, I had a baseline for every people I actively worked with.
“I’ve done all I can do without Saskia,” I said to Gabriel when he stopped by on Saturday. “Get me my visit.”
He didn’t argue, didn’t try to blame his bosses. He was a good little lamb too.
How long can we keep up the lie?
Another seven days passed during which nothing moved except for the pullout couch from the reading room. Vexx and I brought it up to my bedroom so we wouldn’t have to share the bed. To preserve our privacy even further, we agreed that he would sleep in his bed when I came home late. We could easily use our conflicting work schedules to justify separate bedrooms to the press, should it come to that. All in all, neither of us had to give up too much to make this masquerade work.
Then, the second week came to an end. What little patience and motivation I had found in deciding to remix Operation Chimera’s tune was withering under the lack of advancement.
Fortunately for everyone involved, Gabriel came through and I finally stepped inside the special facility where Saskia was held. Buried deep into the robotics district, the old plant had been redesigned as a black ops hospital and prison.
“Is this as big as it seems?” I asked Gabriel as we made our way from the enclosed garage to the main entrance. If it covered the complete grounds of the building, the facility was a lot more extensive than our small Operation Chimera base.
“Yes.”
I leaned closer to him. “So what’s our cover?”
Gabriel looked at me sideways. “What do you mean?” I stopped walking and cocked an eyebrow. Gabriel shook his head. “What?”
“Come on. You can’t tell me that Operation Chimera didn’t redact some stuff out of Saskia’s file before stuffing her in this corner.”
“There’s no need.” Gabriel motioned for me to keep walking. “All the prisoners and patients have highly classified files. Only a handful of key personnel knows their content. The general staff doesn’t need the details to perform their duty.”
I refrained from commenting on how naive this security structure was. “You’re still escorting my very recognizable face in here.”
“We’re going through Chimera-operated channels. We won’t meet anyone who didn’t already know about your involvement with us.” Gabriel sounded very confident about the whole thing, but I cringed nonetheless.
“No wonder we have a mole problem!”
“We can’t keep your siblings at the main base. We have no clue how many we’ll wrap up and they could do too much damage.”
“Sure.”
“I advised against this,” Gabriel added, grabbing my arm and attention. “They said the proper security and medical attention couldn’t be arranged at the base.”
“Maybe there’s a little of that. Probably a little problem with my proximity too.” I shrugged. “Let’s just go.”
Scanners and guards welcomed us into the facility. While Gabriel passed through the process quickly, I was thoroughly searched. No doubt the FBI requested this special treatment.
The man I had assumed to be a biotech consultant at the van’s incident met with us. His light blue scrubs had ‘Dr Emmerson’ embroidered on the left breast. “Miss Beyer, Agent Walker. Please follow me.” His demeanor was the same Saskia’s seizure brought to the surface weeks ago: the confident, composed and calculating doctor. He still glanced at me every five seconds, as if to confirm I wasn’t preparing to slash his throat.
Checkpoints barred the passage between sections of the prison-hospital. Dr Emmerson flashed his access card three times before we reached the corridors labeled “FBI-03”. We had went through one for the CIA and one for “GP” which I assumed meant ‘General Population’. In any case, the white corridors looked all the same.
“Here we are,” Dr Emmerson said when we reached door G7-001. “Her condition is stable.”
A chill ran down my spine before the door swung open and confirmed my worry. Strapped to a hospital bed, Saskia laid, a respirator steadying her breath and a long needle stuck in her right tear duct. A first monitor showed the usual heartbeat and blood pressure while another on top displayed brain patterns and a radio wave.
“When your boss limited our discussion topics, I assumed that meant she was conscious.” I walked up to Saskia’s side. “What’s her status? Don’t bullshit me.”
I heard one of the men shift his weight, probably Emmerson. I couldn’t look at either him or Gabriel. If I gave it an out, the all-too-familiar stir in my chest would annihilate all I had managed to achieve in the past few weeks. I focused on Saskia’s pale sweat-coated face and the clamps holding her head in place so a jerk wouldn’t ruin her right eye.
In the nervous movement behind her close lids, I saw the nightmares I struggled with for years.

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About Aheïla

Somewhere in Quebec City, Aheïla works as a Game Design Director by day and writes by night. Known for her blue hair, unyielding dynamism and tasty cooking (quails, anyone?), she’s convinced “prose is the new crack”. She satisfies her addiction daily on The Writeaholic’s Blog and weekly on Games' Bustles View all posts by Aheïla

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