“Are you out of your mind?!? Hell, NO!” I screamed.
“Jared, it’s his right.” Raiden answered.
“BULLSHIT! He’s the one who killed her!”
“She’s still his wife…”
“She’s my sister!”
“Unfortunately, his legal relationship trumps yours. I’m sorry, Jared. We have to send her body back to Chicago.”
It had been three days since the battle on the rooftop. We had flown immediately to Seattle, but I didn’t remember much of the flight. I held my sister’s body the entire time, sobbing like a child. Olivia had been closer to me than any other person on the planet, and now she was gone. I had one living relative left, and she wouldn’t be alive much longer. The thought of Lena’s illness was just as heartbreaking as Olivia’s death.
“No. She’s not going.”
As you can see, this conversation was not getting anywhere. I don’t know what I thought we would do with Olivia’s body, but I didn’t want Trystix to have possession of her again. Ever. Raiden and I had been at it for an hour, neither of us giving ground. Despite his dislike and disdain for Trystix, Raiden was still a politician. He had to do whatever he could to keep the peace between East and West. Trystix had made it clear that he had to have Olivia, and would accept nothing less. He said little more than veiled threats directed at Raiden and some, shall we say, un-veiled threats towards myself. It was Olivia’s body or else.
Trystix would probably pretend everything was fine in their marriage, at least in the public’s view. He’d probably build her a statue; she deserved nothing less. But that wouldn’t buy me off. Liv never should have been on that rooftop. Trystix was the one that was supposed to die. Somehow, the cockroach hung on to the edge long enough for his security goons to pull him up. Trystix was one lucky bastard. But luck eventually runs out. His clock was ticking. How’s that for a veiled threat?
“No. It’s not happening.” I continued to hold my ground.
“It’s already done, Jared. I gave the go-ahead before I even told you.”
“You did WHAT?”
“I knew you wouldn’t allow it, so I preemptively made it happen.” Raiden said.
“Are you insane? I should kill you!”
“Please, Jared…I just saved you off of a rooftop where you should have been killed! You held Olivia’s hand and spent her last moments of life with her. You did everything you could to save her! So did I. But aren’t you forgetting something? Lena. She never got to say goodbye, Jared. She had to hear of her mother’s death on the five o’clock news! Don’t you think Lena deserves a chance to say goodbye to her mother?”
I hate to say it, but the man had a point. I hadn’t forgotten Lena; I’d even begged Raiden to go back for her. But it was risky. Too risky. Raiden promised me I’d see her again. I decided not to refute him, even though I knew better. I would never be able to hold my niece again. The Red Rose Fever would see to that. She didn’t have long left, and I knew it.
“Fine. I’ll concede that much. Lena deserves a chance. What about the blood packs I found? Did you ask Trystix about them? Does he know about Lena?”
“He claimed he had no knowledge of any blood work on him or his daughter. He said neither he nor Lena have the fever. He called you a delusional madman. He’s got a laundry list of charges he’s considering filing against you; murder, kidnapping, attempted grand theft, trespassing…You name it, and he’s got it on his list. The only way he wouldn’t press charges is if we sent Liv back to him. Even still, I think you might consider laying low for a while. Stay under the radar.”
“Fine. What’s next? ”
“Don’t tell me we’re going to sit on our hands and do nothing.”
“We have to lay low. The risk of any rescue for Lena is too risky.”
“I know how damn risky it is! I am well aware of it! But she’s dying, and you are the only one who has the resources to help her!”
“We don’t have a cure developed…”
“But you could slow it down, right? Buy some time?”
“Perhaps, but we’d have to take her from the Tower. Trystix has Lena with him at all times now, high up in his offices. You’d have to get in undetected, find her at a time when Trystix isn’t with her, then get out without stirring up trouble. We still don’t know how he knew you were there the first time! He could have extra security or more cameras or something worse. That could get everyone who goes into the Tower killed.”
“But the blood…”
“We don’t have the blood, Jared. All we have is what you’ve told us you saw. I wish you could have understood what was on those logs. Then we’d have a better idea what exactly was happening there.”
“So we do nothing.”
“For now.” Raiden gave me a sad yet reassuring smile.
I spun on my heel and slammed the door to Raiden’s office on my way out. Raiden’s staff had learned to stay out of my way by now, each of them slid out of my way and pretended they were occupied with something. I stormed down the halls and corridors to my room. My room here was nice, if not a little sterile. The walls were painted a subdued blue, accented by white upholstery and gray accents. I walked into the bathroom, also the same bluish color with white porcelain fixtures. I turned on the faucet and splashed water on my face.
I looked into the mirror then, watching the water drip down my face. I wondered who it was I saw as I looked into the empty, soulless reflection. At times I looked so much like Olivia did. Others I looked like someone completely different. I didn’t know who I was at this moment. I just wanted vengeance; justice. If that made me something less than human, so be it. I stared at the aberration in my left eye, the ‘evil twin mark.’ The one that my niece also shared. Maybe I should just let her go…Maybe I should just lay low like Raiden said. Something in my head clicked just then, and I turned away. I grabbed a towel and dried off, then went looking for a television. Trystix would be on soon.
After flipping through a few channels, I found his daily broadcast. He was discussing the state of crime in the East, saying that instigators would be found and punished. This made me smile. Catch me if you can, you big elephant. He went on, talking about the abduction and murder of his wife.
“A man in power has many enemies, and man’s family sometimes gets caught in the crossfire. Such is the case of my beloved wife Olivia. She was abducted, beaten, and murdered on the roof of this very building. I arrived too late to save her. I..” Trystix began to feign crying. A young woman, probably a secretary, put her arms around him and led him back to a chair. She then returned to the microphone.
“That’s all for today. All you need to know is we’ve obtained her body and will give her a televised funeral tomorrow at dusk. Thank you.” The secretary said.
This was exactly what I’d been expecting and hoping for. I could go to Chicago, sneak into the funeral, and find Lena. I ran down the hall to Raiden’s office, a plan forming in my mind the whole way. I burst through his door and closed the distance to his desk in seconds. He barely seemed to notice. He was deeply consumed in something he was reading. I couldn’t tell what it was, but he looked at it grimly. He raised his eyes to mine, then back down to his project. He sighed and stuffed it in a drawer.
“Heard the broadcast, then?” He asked. Apparently he had been expecting me.
“Maybe. What was that about?” I motioned towards the drawer.
“I don’t know. Maybe nothing. We’ll see. So what’s your plan? You might as well tell me.”
“Go to the funeral. Probably something like a limo driver. Get Lena out. No big deal.”
“You can’t save the world, Jared. She‘s out of reach. I can’t let you go to her. You would put her in unnecessary danger, and that plan would just make you a kidnapper. A dead kidnapper, once Trystix caught you. I can‘t let you play into his hands.”
“What do you mean?”
“He knows you’ll try. He’s counting on it. He has snipers all around the cemetery. Been there since yesterday.”
“I won’t be seen. I know how to blend in.”
“Jared, we’ve tried it your way. You couldn’t hold to your own plan. Your emotions rule you. You should have called me and told me instead of trying to do it all on your own. I know about Stu. I’m sorry about your friend.”
“Yeah? Where’d you hear that?”
“You remember your buddy Johnny Michaels? He gave me a call. He’s the one keeping an eye on things in Chicago for me. He’s the one who told me you’d been caught that day on the rooftop.”
“What? Johnny…How do you know him?” I hadn’t heard from Johnny since Stu died.
“It shouldn’t surprise you much. I worked for Trysticorp a long time before you did. He and I have stayed in contact.”
“I guess it really is a small world. Interesting. I really don’t care. I’m going to Chicago.” I said.
“Sorry, Jared. You’re not. Forgive me.” He said. Before I could respond, I felt a sharp pain in the side of my neck.
My head started spinning. Raiden’s office was distorted as I tried to turn and see what had stuck me. Johnny himself was standing behind me. He smiled sadly as he put a syringe back into his pocket. I lost my balance and fell to my hands and knees; the world going black.
“Sweet dreams, Jared.” Johnny said as I lost consciousness.