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Broken Faith: The Awakening
The biggest lie ever told in all of history, the grand deception is about to be revealed!
[ UNDER CONSTRUCTION ]
Chapter 4 - Inception
Pedro later woke up to the odd ticking coming from the Geiger counter and medical banter from what sounded like Darth Vader. The smell of heavily powdered medical gloves and plastic filled the air, which made Pedro feel sick to his empty stomach. He was at the medical bay in a restricted part of the building on the second floor surrounded by four men in hazmat suits. Mr. Takahashi was nowhere to be seen. The one that held the gently ticking Geiger counter over Pedro turned to his associate and spoke.
“A little extra, but nowhere near lethal. Not like the other one,” reported the first guy.
“What about his patch?” asked the second one.
“A couple of small dots. He was barely exposed,” said the third as he inspected the patch on Pedro's sleeve.
“How could that be! He was closer,” the second one pressed, in surprise.
“No clue, but he's all clear,” said the fourth one.
“How ya feelin, son?” asked the first one, as he placed the Geiger counter at his side.
“Aww crap, I feel fine except for this headache,” Pedro grumbled.
“Alright, hang on; we'll send the doc in here,” said the second one.
They packed their gear and left. Pedro sat up on the side of the bed. He felt woozy, light headed, and hot, so he wrestled the heavy jacket from his back and placed it beside him on the bed. He peered at the corners of the ceiling that he could see, looking for a BDU; by now, it was second nature. He spotted one in the left corner by the door. The room was well lit, but not as bright as the others he'd been in before. Despite that, the light still hurt his eyes. It was a single 'Isolation' bedroom and was very plain and clean. One fancy automatic bed, one large chair, one x-ray board, no sharp objects. The walls and floor were made up of white, reinforced plastic tiles, no doubt equipped with motion sensors. Various state-of-the-art medical equipment lined the wall. There was a red phone by the door next to a chair with a small, white bin on the seat. When he saw the phone, Pedro thought about calling WarFairy to tell her all about what happened. He couldn't remember much though, other than blacking out. He checked his pocket for his cellphone, but couldn't find it. He checked his other pockets and noticed everything else was missing as well. Pedro looked over to the bin on the chair by the door.
Must be in there. He stood up from the bed, and with each swirl of dizziness came a hard thump of his headache. Pedro put his hand on his head and walked over to the bin, listening to the hum as the camera followed him across the room. As he reached the chair, he took his hand away from his head and noticed his headache was gone. Pedro looked into the bin and saw all his stuff was in there. He grabbed his phone - no service - then checked the time - 6:23 P.M. -. He returned all his personal belongings back into his pockets. Pedro walked away and stumbled around a bit, wondering whether he should be scared or relieved. Just then, the doctor came into the room.
“Hello there, young man. My name is Dr. Jefferson. How are you feeling?”
“Fine.... What happened?”
“Thank God...." Dr. Jefferson stood at the door in anticipation with a twisted and stern look on his face - brow oddly raised, and weird look in his eye.
Concerned about his long pause and cynical look, Pedro responded with hesitation, unable to help his confused tone, "Thank you, Jesus?" Thank you God in heaven? What the hell?
Dr. Jefferson sprung back to motion and continued as if nothing happened. His face brightened, erasing any concern he'd shown. "During the test Mr. Takahashi was conducting on the 19th floor, some of the equipment malfunctioned, and you may have been exposed to minor radiation,” he answered quick and smooth.
It sounded rehearsed. Like something he was told to say.
“So, that's what the Geiger counter was for.”
“Yes. Have a seat - I'd like to ask you just a few questions before I let you go.”
Pedro sat back down on the bed.
“Can you tell me the last thing you remember?”
“It's all a bit fuzzy... Mr. Takahashi was asking me some psychological questions, about some people stuck on these train tracks... ahhk, damn. I can't remember much else from there on. Can you help me fill in the blanks?”
“Yes, well, like I said, shortly after that, you entered another room which contained some lab equipment that malfunctioned. It's all been moved to a safe area and is being looked at now.”
“What about Mr. Takahashi. Is he alright?”
Dr. Jefferson's face went from 'witty' to 'I-just-ate-a-sour-lemon-while-watching-a-man’s-skin-melt.' “I'm afraid not. He suffered quite a bit more from the malfunction. He's being treated in isolation now, in a specialized area. That's all I can tell you.”
“Jesus ... is he okay?”
“Yes. Don't worry, he's being treated by some of the finest doctors in the country. He's going to be fine. A little anti-radiation meds and he will be right as rain. However, I am a bit more worried about you, young man. To be on the safe side, I would like to draw some blood and run a few tests.”
“Naw, I feel fine. I really just want to go home now. It's been an extremely long and disastrous few days.”
Dr. Jefferson stepped closer. “Young man, I insist--”
“Listen Doc, thanks for the hospitality, but I will have my doctor check all that,” Pedro explained as he stood up from the bed.
Dr. J placed his hand on Pedro's shoulder, not light enough to be friendly, but not hard enough to be forceful. His twisted smile crept over his face as he spoke, “I assure you, you are in the best care with some of the finest doctors in the US.”
Pedro pulled his shoulder back in mild protest, “Yes, but none of which I can trust. And I believe it is my right as a citizen of the United States of America to have my own doctor check into it,” he reminded Dr. J with a firm gaze.
“Yes, of course ... I understand," he glanced over with a deep stare at the SR-BDU, then snapped back. "At least let me check you for a concussion. You were thrown quite a distance. Okay? With just my penlight here, so you don't take another nasty spill on your way home.... Please?” He pointed at the bed.
Pedro looked up at the camera as he spoke. “Sure, that sounds like a good idea,” he agreed, trying to hide the uneasiness in his eyes as he took his seat again.
The doctor reached for the penlight in his chest pocket and clicked it on. It shined brightly into Pedro's eyes. A second later, it began to flicker and then went out as he was checking Pedro’s vision.
He held the penlight closer and examined it. “That's strange... it's brand-new. Okay, just look straight and follow my finger, alright?” He instructed after placing the penlight back into his pocket.
Over in an unknown, restricted area of the building, a man attached to various medical equipment lay in bed. Only a silhouette was visible behind the airtight glass from the soft orange glow cast from a light above him. Jenny walked into the dimly lit room after greeting the Angry-Twins, who stood guard at the door. Only her face could be seen through the darkness by the light her PDA was casting across her face. She looked curiously into her device, which had exclusive access to the surveillance cameras throughout the building.
She jerked her head back a little as she watched her PDA, “Mr. Takahashi, sir? You wanted me to notify you when he woke up? Well, he's up ... and about,” She explained with surprise.
“Re-mar-ka-ble,” he replied with a cough at each syllable.
“He refuses to have his blood drawn by our doctors, and is requesting to be released....” she said firmly.
There was a long pause. Mr. Takahashi tried to clear his throat, but began coughing up blood. The sound of him spitting into a tin pan could be heard through a small automatic two-way speaker system in the isolation room, which Jenny was using to communicate with him. There was another long pause.
“How can that be? What did Dr. Davidson say about his condition?”
“Sir? You mean Dr. Jefferson?”
“Oh, he's Jefferson today, is he?” He said curiously.
“He said the boy shows minimal signs of exposure,” she whispered.
“That is quite impossible!” He said, gasping for air. “I must get to my lab. He has a connection t-to the box. We must study him and the b-box,” he sneered through bloody coughs.
“Shall we detain him then?” Jenny asked as she flicked her finger around the PDA screen, readying commands.
“We can't make him disappear - too many people have seen him here today. No. Let him go, but put a tail on him. He might leave - but he can’t escape from us. I w-want him under full observation. Send the specialist in here after you; it-it's getting worse,” he squelched in pain.
“Right away sir. I will let you know if anything new happens.”
Back over in the med-bay, Pedro prepared to go home. Dr. Jefferson had finished his tests.
“You seem to be just fine," he said. In a more serious tone, he added, "If you develop any dizziness, upset stomach, throwing up blood, loss of hair and/or skin, be sure to let me or your doctor know immediately." He smiled like the Grinch.
Pedro felt his chest tighten. His left eye developed a small twitch, as images of substantially irradiated war victims raced through his mind. People who had more than thirty percent of their skin melting off, waiting to die a slow, goopy, and painful death, vomiting out their cooked insides.
"Ah ha ha haa, I'm just kidding - you're fine. You can go home."
Pedro snapped out of the horrific visions he was having. Squinting, he imagined his fist connecting with the weird guy's head. The hell man? Sonova bitch! Radiation jokes are NOT cool! With a hard swallow and a calm smile, Pedro stood to leave.
"But seriously though, if you do get any of that, tell your doctor right away. Better safe than sorry. Off you go now; I will show you out,” He looked at the camera again as he turned around and opened the door for Pedro.
Pedro spoke through a clenched jaw, “Thanks, Dr. Jefferson. What about my payment... ? You know - for my participation?”
“Yes, the credit department is closed. I'm sure they will send it to you by courier tomorrow.”
Fak! Not even going to get paid for this shit! Why me? 300+ people and I'm the only asshole that manages to get blown up answering a few questions. What's that abbreviation? FML....
Dr. Jefferson escorted him out of the restricted area and directed him to the nearest elevator. There were still guards on duty everywhere even though there was barely anyone left in the building. It felt strangely empty compared to the morning rush he had to get through in order to get in. The storm looked to have just broken, and the sun was setting. It cast the entire front part of the building in a beautiful orange glow. WOW! What a great way to take advantage of the building's architecture.... God, I just want some food and coffee. I'm taking a cab home, even though I can't afford it. I'll call her when I get home.... Pedro got off the elevator after a short ride. As he reached the front desk, he heard someone call out to him.
“Oh, Mr. Rodrigo, I'm glad I caught you,” she said with a nice, soft smile.
I knew it! They're not lettin' me outta here....
Pedro turned around slowly, “Jenny ... you're still here?”
“Yes. I was just coming to check up on you. Dr. Jefferson told me that you had just left. How are you? Are you okay?” Jenny said, taking a step toward him.
Pedro took a step back. “Yeah, I think I am alright. That glacier water must have given me super powers. Heh heh. I am still a bit dizzy ... what happened?”
She took a step closer. “During the test Mr. Takahashi was conducting on the 19th floor, some of the equipment malfunctioned, and you may have been exposed to minor radiation,” she said gently.
Pedro took note in the story being repeated exactly as before, word for word. He was too dizzy, confused, and tired to make a case of it though.
“Yeah, but what happened?” he pressed.
She took another step closer. “We are still not completely sure. Those are all the answers I have for you right now; I'm glad you're okay... I brought you your umbrella.”
“Oh... thanks... I almost forgot this,” Pedro carefully reached out for it, his hands shaking a bit as he grabbed the umbrella. He backed away a few steps before turning around and reaching for the door.
“Mr. Rodrigo!” she called out to him once again.
A crippling wave of fear swept through him as he turned around slowly. "Y-yeh?" he stammered, half expecting to be tasered.
"I took the liberty of calling a cab for you; it's waiting for you just outside ... and the ride is on us,” she informed with a cute smile and soft eyes.
“Oh ... your way of saying: sorry for blowing you up and exposing you to potentially lethal levels of radiation?” Pedro said with a smile and slight British accent.
Jenny scoffed and laughed a bit.
“Real cute ... no, it's a courtesy, Mr. Rodrigo. We don't have to apologize; you agreed to these risks when you signed the waiver-slash-agreement earlier.... Get home safe, we will be in touch,” she said as she watched him leave.
“Oh, yes, please. You can call me anytime - day or night,” Pedro said with a wink as he looked her up and down, with a cool smirk. Then left the building as quickly as he could.
His face reverted back to its usual emotionless state. Shit, that was close. What the hell was going on? And what happened?
Pedro reached the yellow van-cab and took one last look behind him before getting in. He saw Jenny conversing with two men wearing gray suits with gray trench coats; one of the two men was typing something into his PDA, the other had Jenny's full attention. The security guard that let Pedro in earlier gave him a small nod, sort of a hi and goodbye.
“So, where to kid?” the Italian, middle-aged cab driver asked.
Pedro responded with his address details, eager to get home. The cab driver stalled a bit, as he took his time preparing his prehistoric meter, before driving off. The traffic was light as most of the downtown area got off work around 5 P.M., so the ride home was short. It was dark out when Pedro reached his destination and the cab pulled over to the curb.
“Alright, here we are, yeh?” the cabbie asked as he turned to make eye contact with Pedro.
“Uh, yeh, this is it. Hey, Habeebs, this ride is on the SRC for them blowing me up today, so send them the bill,” Pedro said in a dry and exhausted tone.
“I’m Italian....,” he said nonchalantly after looking confused for a second.
Pedro got out of the van tired and slow. He was starved, miserable, and half blown away. As he walked up to the entrance, he noticed a navy blue sedan slowing down behind the cab. When Pedro got into the building and heard Marty's door open and slam behind him down the hall, he rushed for the elevator. Marty turned the corner just in time to meet Pedro's eye, before the doors closed. He could hear his muffled yelling and screaming through the doors. Pedro took the elevator to the 5th floor and jogged to his apartment, fearing Marty might have taken the stairs to catch him.
He entered in an automatic fashion, took his sneakers off next to the door, hung his keys on the silver wall-hook, followed by his jacket. He walked over to the kitchen and placed his cell phone on the counter and speed-dialed WarFairy's number on speaker. While the phone was ringing, he refilled the coffee maker and put it to work. Then he filled a small pot with water and set it to boil on his tiny stove.
“Ugh ... Hello?” She said, sounding sleepy.
“WarFairy? It's like eight o'clock. Were you sleeping?” He asked with pressed brows.
“Yeah, what do you want?” She sounded grumpy and stressed.
“Well, being that the SRC was your idea, I thought I would call you and tell you how well everything went today,” Pedro said sarcastically, as he poured a cup of rice into the pot of water.
“Yeah, I was sleeping. I have midterms early in the morning... make it quick, give me a sit-rep,” she commanded.
“Oh, the short version? I showed up, got in, got blown up, and was exposed to a massively lethal dose of radiation,” Pedro said as he added a can of pre-cooked pork beans into a separate pot that was over a low fire.
“What the hell? Come on, Massacre. I'm too tired for this shit,” she mumbled after a lazy yawn.
“Oh... You want the long version?... Skipped breakfast, showed up to the SRC, went upstairs and waited around for about four hours with a bunch of immigrants, went through crazy scientific and psychological experiments before getting blown up and exposed to a massive amount of lethal radiation!” Pedro explained, but with a bit more anger in his voice.
“Wow. You son of a bitch! I told you I have midterms early in the morning and no patience for your bullshit, and you just keep joking around. I'm really about to hang up on you right now, you don't even know!”
He sighed as he placed a pan on medium fire on the third grill of the stove. “The funny thing is: none of that was bullshit.” Pedro went to the fridge and pulled out a small tub of butter, two eggs, and a small can of spam.
The small creaking sound of WarFairy sitting up on her bed could be heard over the phone. Then, rattling noises of her lamp switch, nightstand, and glasses. A sip of water sound, presumably from a cup on her nightstand. Then she finally spoke. “C'mon, Massacre. I know you hate the SRC, and you exaggerate your stories when you're angry or bored, and I think you're a bit of both right now. What really happened?”
“Look WarFairy, I know I started this, but I don't know where to even begin. Code: lock-box: that story is so close to the truth I wouldn't even know where to extract the exaggeration,” Pedro said as he took a spoon of butter and chucked it on the frying pan followed by two eggs.
Pedro had a list of codes that he established with most members of his online-clan and closest friends. All of them were based on honor and trust. 'Code: lock-box' basically meant 'in-all-seriousness.'
“Lock-box? But how could the explosion and exposure of lethal radiation be true?”
“I can't really remember much of what happened, but what they told me was: During the test Mr. Takahashi, was conducting on the 19th floor, some of the equipment malfunctioned and I may have been exposed to minor, but lethal radiation,” he said as slow and clear as he could. He took the eggs off the frying pan and placing them into a blue bowl and threw in three slices of spam.
“Minor radiation? What about the explosion?” she pressed, sounding unconvinced.
“Right, glad you asked. When I woke up, four guys in hazmat suits were holding Geiger counters over me and discussing their readings. One of them said to the other guy 'readings are minimal, not like the other one.' He made it sound like the other guy was seriously irradiated, and I'm guessing the other guy was Mr. Takahashi. I think the jacket I was wearing was filled with lead; it was an inch thick and hot and heavy as hell. Then, one of the hazmat guys said, 'check his radiation patch,' which is what that patch on the jacket sleeve must've been,” Pedro said, convinced he connected the dots. He turned the spam on the pan and placed a lid on his rice pot.
“Seriously? A Geiger counter? Radiation? From what? And what about the explosion?” The squeaking of her bed frame made it sound as if she were either fixing her pillow behind her back, or leaning in with curiosity.
“Yeh. Yeah and yes, apparently so. I have absolutely no idea what the radiation is or where it could've come from. I can't remember much more, other than looking at some pictures on a laptop in an empty room. The Doctor said I was thrown quite a distance, but I have no real bruises, burns, scratches, or cuts. I feel fine and that's what I told the doctor; he checked for a concussion and said I was okay,” Pedro continued.
“I know you would never betray me on a Code: lock-box; so I'm just really having a hard time taking all this in. I don't know what to say. I want to ask if you're okay, but you just said you're fine,” she said sympathetically.
“My body feels okay, but my mind doesn't. I can't really remember what happened. That's the big issue here. Clearly, I still have all my body parts, so I'm not really worried much about the explosion, but I am worried about the radiation,” Pedro said as he turned off the fire to the rice pot and readied a large serving spoon.
Pedro put two large spoons of the plain, white rice into the bowl and forked the spam out of the frying pan onto the rice. Then he scooped up the pork beans, and placed it over that. Pedro grabbed a cup that still had a little coffee in it from two days before off his small dinner table. He rinsed it out quickly and prepared a fresh cup.
As he went to place his food on the table, Pedro heard a couple shouting at each other, and looked out the kitchen window. He saw the same navy blue sedan that followed the cab earlier rolling slowly down the street. As the car passed under a streetlight, Pedro caught a glimpse of the occupants inside - two men in trench coats.
“Maybe you could ask them to see the surveillance footage. That might give us a better idea about what happened. Did you get the money?” She pressed.
“No. And I think I'm being followed. I think these two guys in trench coats followed me from the SRC in their navy blue sedan.”
“What? Why do you say that?”
“Because they keep circling the block, and I think they were behind me since I got into the taxi outside the SRC.”
“Alright Massacre, you had a long shitty day, and you're getting paranoid. Probably just somebody looking for parking....” Just as she said that the navy blue sedan pulled over to the curb and parked under Pedro's window.
“I don't know. Then how come they're not getting out of the car?”
“Give them a few minutes.”
Pedro's food and coffee grew cold on the table, but after everything that had happened that day, his suspicions were getting the best of him. He couldn't help but stare down into the navy blue sedan parked just below. Everyone he encountered after waking up in the med-bay was acting strange. Even Jenny had an eerily sinister tone. Pedro was hypersensitive to vibes and emotional changes and was really good at reading people. He was convinced that Dr. Jefferson and Jenny were literally 'acting' out orders. He even suspected the taxi driver of being in on whatever it was that was going on.
“Nope. They are still there; I think I saw them earlier at the SRC Headquarters when I was getting into the taxi. They were talking to Jenny.”
“Wait. Who's Jenny?” She asked with a hint of jealousy.
“Oh, she is Mr. Takahashi's personal assistant and secretary. She's British,” Pedro said trying to mimic a British accent.
“Oh, I was just asking because you're like on a first name basis with her and everyone else I hear about is either Mr. or Dr., why not Ms. dumb bimbo?”
“Actually, her intelligence and physique are pretty astounding. She is sharp and smart, and commanding, but it is all done in such a cute way it is hard to argue. She's funny and sassy at the same time--”
“Then why aren't you on the phone with her!” She cut him off.
“She wouldn't give me her number ... I'm kidding. It’s because she doesn't hold the right to wear SCOR as a clan tag and because she is not my trusted third in command, is she?”
“I'm not jealous or anything, but you sound like you're planning to marry her,” she said, sounding snooty.
“Are you listening to me! These guys downstairs are the ones that were talking to Jenny in the lobby when I was leaving SRC. For some reason, they have me under surveillance, and right now, they are staking my bitch-ass out,” he said anxiously.
Sounding tired and pissed off, “Sure, Massacre, let's change the subject. Unless you have solid proof that those are the same guys, I'm going to go with you being paranoid. Everything seems okay. I'm going back to bed now. Midterms in the morning, remember?”
“What? This is the original subject! I have a situation here!” Pedro said in a fury.
Inside the parked car downstairs from Pedro's apartment, the two men in trench coats were leaned together over a laptop with separate earpieces. The screen displayed various geographical data and audio interception data over a SRC wallpaper, the letters spinning slowly in the background. The men in trench coats were exercising their security clearance in the SRC by gaining access to Pedro's account on their communications satellite, whose phone service was ironically CrysTekMobile, a sister company of SRC.
“Wedge, your recording this, right? I think he made us,” one of the men asked almost rhetorically.
“Naw, c'mon, I can't even believe half of the crap he’s saying. Don't worry, it's on record... so Biggs, what do you think of Jenny? D'you see them hoots?” He asked in a sneaky tone.
“Woohoo. Yes I did. I wasn't really typing anything in my phone back there. I was enjoying the show. Damn, why didn't she show up a few months ago before I married my wife, eh?”
“Well, more for me Biggs-old-buddy... shit! That's her,” he jumped as his phone vibrated in his hand, the screen was prompting a video call.
“Crap, you think she heard us?”
“Now, how the hell? No way,” Wedge snapped back as he pressed the talk button.
“Wedge. Mr. Takahashi wants an update on the surveillance.”
“Nothing so far. We think he may have made us, but he sounds like a raving lunatic on the phone with his girlfriend. He told her about what happened and he talking with codes like 'code: lockbox' whatever the hell that means. He said she was with SCOR, but I don't think they’re with them. They can't mean: Special Combat Ops - must be a fan club or sumthin'. And I don't think she believes him.”
“You think? That's not your job, Mr. Wedge. Find out what you can about her and report back to me when you have more information. And keep me posted; if he goes out to so much as check his mail, I want to know about it!”
“Yes ma'am,” Wedge said sounding shot down as he hung up.
“Ahh! You pussy,” Biggs howled, trying to tease Wedge.
“Whatever man. After this call, run a search in the database for information on the girl.”
“And search what? WarFairy!”
“No. Trace her number back, stupid.”
“Oh. Right, well why aren't you doing this? You’re the computer guy!”
“Because, the option is right there on the screen. It says 'trace back/discover location.' You know what? ... Just move your hand,” Wedge said in a condescending tone.
“Jeez,” was all Biggs could muster.
“Shit skittles! ... we need either a much higher security clearance or government security clearance.”
“Because when I put in a trace request it gets routed to another network on another satellite. So in order to even triangulate, we would need their permission. Just tell her all we got is WarFairy and this conversation.”
"Hell no. You tell her, tough guy."
Pedro sat upstairs over a mildly warm plate of food and a barely hot cup of coffee, unaware that his phone was tapped and he really was under surveillance.
“Alright, I get it. Midterms in the morning. Why you always gotta hate me?”
“Because, as my commander, you really say some dumb shit sometimes.”
“Come on, you know I lu ya,” Pedro teased her, never saying a full 'love you' to her.
“Ugh, I hate you Massacre, goodnight!”
“Hey, I'm the victim here! I was just blown up!” he yelled with urgency.
Click. WarFairy hung up.