Killing Time OST – 24c – Remission

<< 24b – Remission

Gabriel fought to get me access to a shooting range. While Eliot had been fairly agreeable when it came to getting stuff into our secret base, me going out was virtually out of the question; the army field trip was a hopeless pursuit. At some point, the tension between Gabriel and his boss spilled over the usual dike of Gabriel’s professionalism long enough for him to say “heartless prick”. Though I knew the FBI agent didn’t agree with every decision of the task force, it was the only time he openly communicated it.
In the end, he got me an authorization.
The plasma gun weighed nothing more than a child’s toy – like almost everything since my operation – though the strain estimator integrated in my muscles said it weighed five pounds. I didn’t even feel the recoil when I fired which bugged me. It didn’t make me doubt I pulled the trigger – the whoosh and the hole in the target were obvious enough – but…
Killing people shouldn’t be that effortless.
I spent an hour in the shooting range before I decided it was a waste of time; the exercises were too simple to challenge even to my old self. Nonetheless, I spent the whole morning there because I felt bad for Gabriel. Then, I redirected my energies into choosing the right soundtrack for the mission and dotting an insane amount of “i”. The paperwork drove me nuts. But then, most things bothered me in this last week before judgment day.
And I wasn’t the only one feeling the strain of the wait.
Gabriel’s uniform lost pieces as days passed. He now only wore the shiny shoes, the dress pants and the shirt. Vexx’s face had doubled in length and his dark circles proportionally grew. The guards hoped the task force would finally decide they could help and since no green lit had been given, they paced the compound and growled when someone teased them.
“It’s not very ‘secret ops’ of us,” I complained for the umpteenth time as I signed what should be the last piece of paper. Gabriel filed my disclaimer without a word; the roughness of his gestures was communicative enough.
The paper trail was just an elaborate insurance policy, of course: proofs of who I really was and my agreement with the intelligence agencies, the conditions of my pardon, half a dozen contingency clauses. All on actual paper because it couldn’t be hacked. However, the peculiarity of my situation and the speed at which the documentation had been produced created a few easily exploitable loopholes that rendered the whole thing pointless.
Not that I would flag the inconsistencies.
“See you for a run after your check-up?”
“Sure, fancy pants.”
After leaving the war room, I stopped by my locker to pick up an envelope and hid it against my back before I joined Vexx for my daily blood test. Another boring task taking up my day. If only my new implements allowed me to fast forward time to the moment when I would smack some fear into Merrilyn Tech and be done with this.
“Lab rat, reporting for experiment.”
“Please stop saying that.” Vexx’s tone snapped with an unexpected edginess; he had grown sluggish in the past few days not shark-ish.
I looked him over but nothing seemed amiss. He pointed the chair next to a small dresser and I obediently sat, making sure the envelope wouldn’t rustle.
I rolled up my sleeve. “Are you okay?”
“Hey, that’s my line!” He winked. Something was off; my gut growled a warning.
Vexx took a blood sample and turned his back on me to run it in the analyzer. The outdated model made an insane amount of noise. I swiftly opened the bottom drawer of the cabinet – the one without a purpose – and dropped the envelope in it.
“What are you hiding?” I said once the analyzer stopped its din.
“Nothing,” he said a bit too defensively. “Everything’s fine. Your level of tech by-product is under the addiction threshold.”
I knew that shiftiness and those mood swings.
“But yours isn’t.”
He blanched and opened his mouth to blurt out an unconvincing lie. I saved him the trouble by tearing off his sleeve, revealing the small burgundy dots in the crease of his elbow. Instead hiding the puncture marks with the shameful bow I had grown used to when we first met, he straightened.
I grabbed his shoulders and pushed him against the wall. Maybe I could knock some sense into him before he reverted to his worse.
“We all have our way to get through this week. My doses are under addiction level.”
“Like hell they are!” I yelled an inch from his face. He still didn’t flinch. “You’re an addict, Vexx. A smidgen is enough to send you overboard.”
“You think I want this? Something’s gotta make up for the lack of sleep or you’re as good as dead.” The statement sounded so calm, I almost believed he controlled it. “You need my help and this is the only way I can offer it.”
I had to try a softer approach before the cleavage became irreversible. I hadn’t brought him this far so he could restart from square one. “Vexx –”
“– you, Miss Daredevil and bottled up feelings, are in no position to scold me.”
The harness should have kindled my anger but the steady tone froze me. Maybe I underestimated the toll this endeavor took on all of us. I released my hold on Vexx and took a few steps back.
“Fine.”
I was out the door before he could take back the words. Not that I thought he would. And I couldn’t launch myself into why his “solution” didn’t help at all; he willingly took a path that went against every thing I ever fought for. It didn’t matter that he thought it was a necessary evil; I couldn’t talk to him after that.
That, and Gabriel’s promise he would keep an eye on Vexx, accompanied me into the blaring sun to Merrilyn Tech’s door on judgment day.
That was when I uncorked the bottled feelings.
Anger, betrayal, desperation and heart-break were ultimately my best weapon to get through this. The edges of my smashed soul would bite my enemy and the rock within my chest would deflect plasma more efficiently than my Kevlar suit.
I bent over backward – ‘Ready to Roll,’ as always – and activated my music chip.
“Now playing What I’ve Done by Linkin Park.”
I chose this song for one line that would only come once I was through the revolving doors.
“Whatever pain may come, today this ends,” I murmured to myself.
I took a deep breath until the guitar joined in my swan song. Then I broke into a sprint.

25a – Blast >>

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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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