Mission of Mercy (poetlore and dunruffle)

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PoetLore

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Marcus groaned and narrowly managed to remain standing though he was leaning against the wall gasping for air. His eyes fixed on the director with such hatred, until the man spoke of a newscast. Then his attention was riveted to the screen on the wall. Treason? What could they possibly have found...and then it began to speak of him. Where had they found that girl? How did anyone know about those sales? None of it was wrong, he was guilty of all of it, but there should be no record anywhere of any of that. His father had buried it all in the deepest darkest ocean, or destroyed it altogether.

The director then spoke of poking the sleeping dog and his eyes returned to the man, "You expect me to believe this is all your doing? that you have this kind of power?" He shook his head and spat on the floor in his general direction. "You don't own me...you'll see...you will the one groveling at our feet once the Edwards' family allies come for you."

Meanwhile his father was coming to a very different conclusion. There was no escape now, and he had finally crossed the line his wife had often warned him about in the past. She'd always said he would come up against someone with more clout and better connections, but he'd never believed it. He looked at the walls of his cell and sighed. He wasn't going to spend the rest of his life here, that was for sure. He reached into his mouth and wiggled a false tooth. It came free after a few tugs. He pulled a tiny pill from inside it and put it in his mouth and bit down on it. The strong neurotoxin spread quickly though his body, and before anyone knew it he was lying lifeless on the floor of his cell.

Mrs. Edwards was complaining about being detained, but once the gravity of the situation was explained to her,s he was content to be held in the safe house away from her husband's 'friends' and associates. She was well aware that their name was irrevocably compromised and that her husband was not going to emerge from this lily white as he was accustomed to doing. So, she was cooperating with the authorities in every way that she could, throwing her husband and son under every bus that came at them. Was she innocent? No, not in the least. She was part and parcel to everything that happened to protect the family, but she had not threatened the Director, and she had no intention of doing so. Unlike her husband and son, she was aware of when to back away from an enemy and let something go. This was that time. She was going to be given a new identity and any remaining assets of her husband's once it was all liquidated. She was totally content with that arrangement...totally.

Some time later the 'guards' delivered Marcus to the hospital. They lied, oh how they lied, but at least they made it sound like he'd put up a good fight. He was oddly grateful for that, since he didn't want them to think he'd just took this kind of beating without putting up a fight of any kind. He stiffened when the guard put the baton to his neck and fell to the ground.

Point was trying not to laugh. She knew that was completely inappropriate, but damn this was funny. She was smiling and nodding to the guards covering her failing attempt at concealing her laughter behind her hand. They left and she waved. Poking the comm button, "Hey doc...Mr. Moron is back...might wanna come help him."

Cassandra was in her room sending files to Doctor Sechen on Ray's amazing recovery. She wanted to know if he wished to see Ray before she sent him home, or if the detailed information she was sending was enough for him. She'd do either and be glad to continue working with him. She also included that, ad asked if there were any other projects he was working on currently that she could collaborate with him or be of help furthering. She had just hit the send arrow when Point's voice came over the comm. Mr. Moron? OH, Marcus. She sighed and left her desk and saw Point standing over Marcus' twitching body. "What happened??"

Point was just watching him twitch, "Oh...Genius here decided it would be a wise course of action to attack the Director's secretary and then threaten the Director." Her eyes rolled as she looked at Cassandra, "So...how are we going to pick him up?"

Cassandra looked at Jen and the corner of her lips curled up for just a second before her professional face was plastered there again. "I can handle it," she said as she crouched down and slipped her arms under him. "Get a cot," she said as she used the implanted leg to stand with him in her arms. She laid him on the cot and then they pushed him into an empty bay. "Well Marcus, this was one of your more stupid moves." she said to his unconscious form. She stitched him up and wrapped his cracked ribs in a tight fitting brace. His left tibia was broken and after setting it she held it immobile with a a transparent boot. She figured he'd be unconscious for some time, so she began to clean up his secondary wounds when she noticed an odd substance on his hand. She frowned and scanned it with her eye and gasped. She put his hand in an airtight sealed glove and then left him. "Point....strap him in and keep an eye on him..."

Point nodded and gladly strapped him in ..tightly.

Cassandra tapped the tablet but then thought better of it and grabbed the phone. "I need to speak to the director. it is urgent." The secretary sighed but before she could give the standard message Cassandra spoke again. "This is a matter of life and death...for the Director. Put me through."
 

Dunruffle

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With no reply the Secretary hung up. Less than a minute later alarm claxons began to blare as red warning lights flashed overhead. With a booming sound, the doors to the medical wing slammed shut. From beyond the doors, echoes of other blast doors closing went on for a few moments before going silent. The native guard standing by the door put a finger to his ear and after nodding several times went and stood in front of the closed entrance. The normally quiet and pleasant guard now appeared very on edge, he gripped his shotgun tightly and any movement in the lobby was met with a growl and pointed weapon.

After several more minutes of blaring alarms, the wailing speakers turned off with a click. The red flashing lights persisted, adding a surreal strobing effect to the bright clinic. There was a sound of static as the speakers came alive with a synthesized monotone voice. "Code Red, attack has occured inside the base. Stay at your designated posts. Any personnel found outside their designated areas will be killed without warning. If you are in a recreational area, lay down with your hands on your head. Do not move until directed by security personnel. This is not a drill. If you attempt to pass by any guards you will be killed without warning."

The automated message repeated four more times before shutting off with a burst of static. The red warning lights stopped flashing and instead maintained constant a bright red glow. Five minutes slowly went by as the nervous guard eyed Cassandra and Point warily. Suddenly there was a loud knock on the closed doors and the sound of a passcode being entered. The thick metal doors unlocked and slowly slid apart to reveal a squad of heavily armed and armored security officers. "HANDS WHERE I CAN SEE THEM! AGAINST THE WALL NOW!" Before Cassandra or Point could protest, they were yanked away from the operating table and shoved against the nearby metal wall. After a thorough pat down, the two women were escorted into the lobby and forced to sit on the floor. "Keep your eyes on em, the try to run you shoot them." The guards nodded and put their fingers on their triggers as the senior officer went back outside.

Less than a minute later, Harrison was dragged in and shoved to the floor next to Cassandra and Point. A dark purple bruise was already forming on Harrison's jaw where he had been hit by one of the natives. "He us lucky we had orders to take him alive." The senior guard spoke with a tone of disgust, like he was disappointed Harrison had been spared. The sounds of crashing and objects being thrown around emanated from Graves' work area as the supply assistant was dragged from his room and roughly shoved into the group on the floor. Once all the hospital staff had been collected, the group of prisoners was forced to stand against a nearby wall as the sound of massive footsteps came closer.

The source of the heavy footsteps rushed through the entrance and roared in panic. In his arms, Brutus carried Director Valentine protectively as the older man laughed weakly. "Oh calm down Brutus, I will be fine." Seemingly reassured from the Director's voice. Brutus walked further in and carefully set the pale-faced Director on an empty operating table. Coughing wetly, Director Valentine motioned for the staff to be brought over. With gun barrels shoved into their backs, Cassandra and company were made to stand in front of the sickly looking Director. "Well it seems that little cretin managed to..." Director Valentine was interrupted by a coughing fit and cleared his throat. "Anyways, it seems my life is in your hands Doctor. Hopefully you live up to your reputation."
 

PoetLore

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Cassandra heard the alarm and was grateful her call had been taken seriously. She sat nervously on the floor with Point glancing at her watch ever few seconds. Her foot was tapping and her mind was screaming for them to bring the Director to her, or her to the director. Stupid Marcus. This was the most stupid thing he had ever done, and she was not going to save him from the consequences of it. This time Marcus was completely on his own, if he even survived his own attempt on the director's life, which he might not.

Harrison was shoved through the doors and she winced at his face, "You ok?" she asked and her reply was a curt not of his head. She could tell he was a bit put out, so she didn't attempt to speak to him further. Graves was next and she could tell he looked a bit antsy. Well hell, what had HE done? She sighed. Of all the members of her team, graves was the only one that she ever had a problem with as far as breaking rules and being a bit...shady. She kept him though, because he seemed to be able to get things no matter where they were and she was a bit ashamed that she never cared where the stuff came from when it was saving lives. She always gave him a bit of space to be what he was. But here, that wasn't going to fly, and if he'd stupidly helped Marcus, he was on his own as well. To her, that was a step of total rebellion against her personally.

The doors slid open again and a large native was carrying the Director. She shot to her feet quickly and didn't even care that there were guns at her back. "Oh thank God," she said as she quickly moved to his side. "I called as soon as I saw the toxin on Doctor Edwards' hand. She grabbed an air syringe as her eye scanned his lungs. "Sorry..no time to remove my eye..." She pulled a bottle from beneath the table and loaded it into the air gun and held it to his neck. Take as deep a breath as you can..." She watched and then pressed the release button. "She touched his fingertips, "Can you feel that?" she asked, And then his ankles, "How about here?" She was scanning his vitals and his major organs constantly for signs of paralysis. "Thankfully, he didn't touch you...it works far slower if it's airborne." She was watching his chest intently and loaded another bottle of the antidote, "One more time...deep breath..." She instructed and watched for him to inhale and then released another dose. This antidote was a precious commodity, and she only had four vials of it. Hopefully they would be enough. She hadn't given any to Marcus, and had no intention of doing so. She had effectively isolated the toxin in his hand and wrist, which, if he managed to survive, he would likely lose to amputation.

There were thirty minutes of very tense and watchful care and another dose of the antidote before Cassandra let out a cleansing breath, "Normal heart rate and respiration...lungs look as well as they normally do...How are you feeling? Any nausea? Any tingling in your fingers or toes?" Point had been dabbing at his forehead with a cool cloth to keep his temperature down and Harrison had been handing bottles to Cassandra and working the table to keep the director's body positioned to slow the effects of the toxin. Feet up and then down, then arms up and then down. It seemed they'd encountered this before and knew what to do without being instructed. It was easy to see that these three were used to working together and that they each knew their job perfectly.

Graves however was looking a bit pale sitting on the floor in the lobby. He had taken a risk, something he did often and usually without incident. He had a feeling though, that this time, his luck had run out. It had been a very lucrative run, maybe this Director guy could be bought? He could offer a good deal of money for his life...maybe it would work and he could finally go home and enjoy the fruits of his nefarious labors.

In the next bay, Marcus woke up and began thrashing around in his restraints. Point had tied them very tightly, and his movements were only making him more uncomfortable. "What the hell is going on! How DARE you tie me to a bed...!!"

Cassandra groaned loudly, "I have not treated him beyond stitches. Do as you will with him. I will not condone or defend his actions. Nor those of my supply officer if he has aided Doctor Edwards in any way. I must admit that I am aware that Graves has a tendency to bend protocols to get items, and that I largely look the other way because of my need for what he can get to save lives. This however...is inexcusable. We save lives, we do not use things that take them. Also, I will have Harrison permanently attach the mechanism he's developed to my eye, so that no other incidents can occur from this department."

She was going to have a massive period of adjustment to not having the instant diagnosis tool available,but she felt this was necessary.

Harrison frowned, "The scan blocker?" he asked and then turned to the Director, "Before I do that may I have two days to see if I can find another way? I may have accidentally stumbled upon a way to sever the feed back to Doctor Haser without harming Doctor Brandford. May I attempt it?" He had been actively seeking out a way to free Cassandra from Doctor Haser for three years. He was sure his improved implant would function at a higher level and would not cause her the pain that this one did. The two of them had also developed much more precise instruments for working in small spaces, and he was sure he could sever the feed and remove the eye before the fail safe triggered and before there was any damage to her brain. He waited for the Director to reply. He'd do as ordered but he was hoping for a chance.
 

Dunruffle

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During the entire procedure no less than 15 various weapons had been trained on each of the medical staff. Brutus to his credit behaved more like an anxious puppy, nervously pacing in the lobby and occasionally peeking over the heads of everyone to see how is boss was doing. The tension almost palpable as Cassandra and her team worked, luckily none of the guards had twitchy trigger fingers and everyone relaxed once the Director was seemingly cured. The entire time he was being treated, Director Valentine barely made a sound. His piercing stare was more akin to a snake eyeing lunch than anything else. Shaking his head in response to Cassandra's questions, Director Valentine slowly eased himself off the operating table and stood up. Straightening his collar, the unflappable man turned to Cassandra and her team. "Well it seems everything went smoothly all things considered. Captain Sokolov should be here shortly since the crisis is now over. Hopefully there were not to many casualties among the base personnel, you never know how people will react in an emergency."

He was interrupted by Brutus shoving his way to the front and growling happily at the now healthy Director. Giving a rare genuine smile, the older man patted the hulking giant's arm appreciatively. "I am fine now Brutus you can stop fussing." Brutus responded with a series of guttural noises that only Director Valentine seemed to comprehend. "No it is not your fault, stop being hysterical you did your job just fine." Suddenly the hospital entrance doors were slammed open to reveal Natalya. Stalking closer, everyone save the Director shrinked back fearfully upon realizing how angry she was. Natalya was beyond angry, beyond furious, the best adjective to describe her current mood would be pure rage. Crossing the lobby in a flash, Natalya hoisted Graves up by his throat and slammed him against the metal wall. "You...you filthy cowardly scum!" Her bionic eye seemed to glow a hellish red as she tightened her grip on Grave's throat. "You are going to pay for this! I am going to make you wish I killed you right now after I am done with you!" Unceremoniously dropping Graves, Natalya whirled around to glare at Cassandra. Her eyes full of not just anger, but betrayal and hurt. "Consider yourself lucky I do not feel the need to interrogate the rest of your staff. Consider yourself on notice, for I will not let you off easy again." A group of elite guards in their distinctive faceless blank masks marched in and put Graves in handcuffs before roughly escorting away. "Give that sniveling brat whatever medical attention he needs to recover. I dont want him to die just yet." Giving Cassandra a now cold and emotionless glare, Natalya straighted her ruffled uniform and stalked out of the hospital.

The room was silent for a moment until Director Valentine stepped forward and snapped his fingers. "Alright everyone back to your posts. Security leaders, I want a full incident report on my desk in two hours. As for you Doctor Brandford, you have my thanks. But you understand that a thorough investigation will be needed before you and your staff are cleared of any wrongdoing." Not waiting for a reply, Director Valentine leisurely walked out followed by Brutus and shortly after the various guards followed suit.
 

PoetLore

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Cassandra watched closely when the director stood, readying herself to give and steadying hand if necessary. He was made of study stuff it seemed, or he was extremely good at faking it, either way she was relieved. He said Natalya would enter soon and true to his words she seemed to miraculously appear. Her expression was understandable and expected, except for the look Natlaya flashed her way. She felt that look as keenly as if she'd been physically slapped. Tears immediately welled up in her eyes before she could contain the emotions. When they fell to her cheeks she was shocked but they kept coming.

She turned to the director and nodded, "I understand," she managed to croak out as she stood there trying to collect herself.

Harrison almost stopped Natalya before she left but he went to Cassandra instead and moved her, physically moved her to the chair at the desk. "If you move I will tie you to that chair." He went to the bay where Marcus was strapped to the table. His impassive gaze moved to the other man's face and then he leaned very close and whispered for only Marcus and whoever or whatever the Director had listening in, and he HOPED they were listening this time. "You are a worthless sack of gyndl shit under a Kavian slime worm. I am going to heal you, and then I am going to hope to hell Major Sokolov lives up to her reputation and that she tortures you for at least a year for what you have done." He grabbed the last two vials of antidote and injected them both into his arm above the place where his hand was already turning back. Then he grabbed a laser tool and without bothering to numb him or prepare him, Harrison cut off Marcus' hand and wrist.

Marcus stopped screaming when he saw the big man enter. He would have continued to berate Point or Cassandra, but this guy he was afraid of, especially in his current state of helplessness. He knew his charm wouldn't work on him either, so he tried to push his head back into the bed when he leaned close. His whispered words settled into his mind slowly and he realized this was not going to go well for him. before he had a chance to plead for mercy, he was screaming in agony as his hand was slowly severed from his arm. "Damn you! That wasn't necessary...."

Harrison used the heat sealer to close the nubby end of his arm shut, "Yes it was. I was told you treat you, and I have." He left the bay and went to the doors where he knew guards would be posted, "He is healed and ready to be taken to Major Sokolov. Feel free to use the cot since he's already restrained. We have another." He then went back to Cassandra and Point, "Both of you...go to your quarters. I will keep watch out here."

Cassandra began to protest, "But I need you to ..."

Harrison level a look at her and did not blink, just pointed to her room.

Cass realized he wasn't going to take no for an answer so she stood and walked to her room. She sat at her desk and pulled up Grave's files and started to sift through them. Sure enough, there were the ingredients to make the toxin. She felt anger well up inside her. She had worked her whole life to help people, and develop the means to be of use. Her good name and stellar reputation were worth more to her than all the money and acclaim in the universe, and these two men had single handedly smeared both in a matter of weeks. She highlighted the entries and kept looking. She found forty such entries, some for making toxins, some for making explosives, some for creating what she believed to be a nebulizer that could make the toxins airborne out in the open. How many people had Marcus been planning to kill to exact his revenge? She scoured the requisitions again to make sure she didn't miss anything and then sent the files to Natalya. She noted what crates should contain the items in question and add a short and succinct note to the attached files. It read simply, ~This should aid your investigation.~


Point was exhausted and feeling very vulnerable and disappointed in everyone and everything at that moment. She wasn't sure what to make of anyone at the moment, not even Doctor Brandford. Had she known about any of this? Did she knew Graves was part of Marcus' plot? Did she know Marcus was planning to attack the Director? her brows furrowed as she quietly made her way to her room without comment. She grabbed a notepad and wrote in it, pondering her thoughts and suspicions and disappointment. What she wouldn't give for a giant hug from Dante right now. She felt more alone than she ever had since leaving home. Once she finished her journal entry, she grabbed a book and held it to her chest and let everything wash over her as sobs wracked her body.

Cassandra closed the communication and leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes. She was never going to trust anyone again. She was going to have to go over everything with a fine toothed comb and make sure there was anything else she didn't know about going on right under her nose. It was very clear to her at that moment that she had was deeply at fault for allowing Graves so much freedom. She felt a stabbing pain slice through her and she rubbed at her temple. Her brows furrowed as she felt something odd happening. She tapped the intercom, "Harrison...." She managed to say weakly.

Harrison lifted a brow at the intercom and made his way to Cassandra's quarters. The doors slid open and he saw her slouched over in the chair to her desk. He scooped her up and carried her down the hall. He kicked Point's door, "Point..get out here..." he called in a deep loud voice as he laid Cassandra's unconscious form on a cot in an empty bay. He grabbed a scanner and started to move it over her.

Point appeared wiping the tears from her red eyes. She saw Cass on the table and blinked, "What happened?" she asked urgently as she grabbed gloves and readied herself to give Harrison whatever he needed. She had never seen Cassandra like this. What else was going to go wrong today?

Harrison frowned, "That eye is coming out, right now..." He said as he began to get his instruments ready. "Watch her, I'll be right back..." he ran over to his area and grabbed a few of his specialized tools and a prototype as well. he'd been trying to perfect it but there was no time now. He was back in less than two minutes but when he rescanned the area around her eye, he could already see the damage being done. "Damn it to hell..."

They worked for an hour, carefully removing the eye and the burned tissues around the implant. Apparently, something had happened to make Doctor Haser flip his fail safe from his end. Luckily he had surrounded the implant with a second casing some time ago, just in case such a thing occurred. It kept the damage to a minimum, but there was still damage. He implanted some of their artificial tissue to hold his implant in the socket. He had to replace the interface into her brain as well and sealed off Doctor Haser's. He could not remove it without killing Cassandra, but thanks to Sammy's technology for the suit, he found a way to seal it off totally enclosed so it could not hurt her or send any information from her. He covered the eye with a bandage and then wrapped another long one around her head to hold everything in place while the tissues assimilated. He looked at Point, "Keep her sedated...I don't want her to wake up until I say so. Understand?"

Point watched all of this, and gave instruments when asked without comment. She'd watched the Doc operate many times, and Harrison was obviously taking note and developing as a surgeon as well. His hands were large but his surgery was precise and almost dainty in its exactness. She was impressed, and she knew Cassandra would have been proud of him as well. "Understood."

Harrison went to the desk then and sent a message to the Director informing him of Doctor Haser's attempt to kill Cassandra Brandford and his subsequent attempt to save her. He hoped the Director would take this matter into up and somehow find a way to punish the man who had kept Cassandra on such a short leash all these years. He dragged a weary hand through his hair and leaned back in the chair. If they hadn't taken grave's he'd been pummeling the man himself right now for his part in this. And he had NO doubt Graves had a part in all of this. He was almost growling he was so angry, but he needed to stay calm and in control in case there were casualties from this alert.
 

Dunruffle

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Ten minutes later a message appeared on the console directly from the Director.

"Thank you for informing me, let it not be said that I neglect my staff. A team has been sent to interrogate and dispose of Doctor Haser. All recovered information will be sent to you and Doctor Brandford. Please attach a list of any items needed to help her recover such as medicines, specialty parts, etc. Thank you for promptly notifying me. As for the two soldiers you enhanced, they have been released and are unharmed. They have been told to report to the medical wing tomorrow for you to disable their implanted weapons. As for the two Force Recon soldiers Doctor Brandford brought back, they have signed confidentiality documents and have returned to their posts."
 

PoetLore

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Harrison saw the blip and lifted a brow. He was shocked the Director had responded so quickly, but he probably shouldn't have been. he was on top of everything it seemed. dispose of Haser. He read those words probably ten times. The Director had just gained a loyal and dedicated ally in him. "Bought damn time," he said aloud He'd been trying to get someone to do something about Cassandra's situation ever since he found out about it. As far as he was concerned this Doctor Haser deserved whatever he got and then some.

He gave the Director's other requests some thought. Did he need anything? His eye, which he'd implanted already, had been made while they were still on the Andromeda where he had access to a lot of technology. He didn't believe there was anything better anywhere, but he did know they used every vial of their antidote, so he started walking around the hospital and making a detailed list of things. Apparently Graves had not only been working with that idiot Edwards but he hadn't been keeping up with their regular supplies. Nothing they'd used since arriving at the medical bays had been replaced, not even the things they'd used on the missions. He punched the empty chair Graves usually sat in with enough force to send it across the cage and leave a noticeable dent in it. "Damned waste of space.." he muttered.

He went back to the desk and sent the list to the Director.

~Thank you for your prompt reply and any actions you take regarding Doctor Haser. As requested, place find the list of materials we need that Cpl. Graves has not been requesting. I would like to take this opportunity to formally apologize for my presumptuous actions in building the implants for Dante and Ritkof. I will remove the weapons and work through Doctor Brunel in the future to create similar items that can be easily added before combat away from the facility. I will watch for them tomorrow, thank you.

Also, I think you should know. I have Doctor Brandford sedated, and she will remain so until I am certain the implant is stable and that she has assimilated the artificial tissue. I am by no means her equal, but I am well trained and we will be available to care for anyone who may be in need.~
He sent the message and stood and moved back to Cassandra.

Point looked up and furrowed her brows, "She's stable. Steady vitals and no fever. At least not yet." She put a hand on Harrison's arm, "You did good. Saved her life."

Harrison covered her hand and patted it with his own much larger one, "I hope so. it's too early to tell, but at least the Doctor who did this will pay." He looked at her then and for the first time noticed that her eyes were red. "You ok?" he asked.

Point shrugged, "I don't know. This has shaken me. Do you think Doc knew about what was going on?"

Harrison shook his head, "No. She would have reported them. But I don't think that's going to make any difference to her. You know she's going to blame herself for all of it like she always does. But Graves is lucky they took him...he'd been in one of these beds in life support if I could get hold of him right now."

Point sighed, "I saw there chair...but really...we all knew he had no moral compass...that guy was all about the buck and always has been."

Harrison nodded, "But I didn't think he'd stoop so low as to help someone like Edwards..." He moved the scanner over Cassandra's head and set it back down. "Stable for now...let's hope she stays that way." he started to leave and stopped at the door, "Well this will cheer you up I think. Your wall of muscle is going to be coming in tomorrow so I can remove his weaponry."

Point looked up and lifted a brow when he said she would cheer up. She blushed brightly, "he's not my wall of muscle."

"Right...of course not." he said as he left.
 

Dunruffle

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For the rest of the day nothing eventful happened, it was almost peaceful. Around 1am local planet time, a drone delivered a large box full of the supplies Harrison requested. The top of the metal container was labeled "delivery 1, more to follow" in blue marker. The next morning, the senior security officer named Jerry walked in with several insulated food boxes. "Hello everyone! I know you two are occupied caring for your friend so I took the liberty of bringing you both breakfast." Jerry set the boxes on a nearby table and pulled out his datapad. "I know Doctor Brandford was not happy when I was assigned to you, but I am only here to help. Considering recent events we dont want any more misunderstandings right? I certainly do not want to give Captain Sokolov a reason to interrogate you. Now then, you two eat up. Working on an empty stomach is not healthy."

Sitting down in one of the nearby rolling chairs, Jerry ran a hand through his gray hair and yawned. Once again he revealed his rows of serrated metal teeth, clearly implanted and modeled for maximum ripping and tearing. "Pardon me, I was up late getting some documents ready for you all. Now then, I know you both are stressed but I need to ask you some questions. Don't worry nobody is in trouble, these are simply to help create a suitable security plan." Jerry's amicable and friendly attitude was a stark contrast to his teeth implants. Whether it was intentional or not, none of the other security officers could ever quite decide.
 

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Harrison and Point had not taken a break at all. Both were keeping a close watch over Cassandra, and neither would agree to rest until they knew for certain she was out of danger. Harrison was keeping a very detailed log of vitals and any minute change in condition, because he needed to stay busy, and because he knew when she woke up Cassandra would be more than a little upset with him for keeping her sedated so long. It couldn't be helped though, so he was prepared to face her wrath, and happily too if it meant she was going to emerge fully functional and without any brain damage as a result of Doctor Haser's diabolical implant.

He had just finished the latest of these entries when the security guard entered. He stood expecting the man to have some sort of injury, but then he smelled the food and his stomach immediately reacted. "That was very thoughtful. Neither of us have eaten since yesterday." He carried one of the boxes to the bay where Cassandra and Point were. Point had no left her side at all and even for food she was only willing to slide a stool to the edge of the room where she could see the other two men and Cassandra too.

"Thank you for this, Jerry?" she inquired, "Am I remembering your name correctly?" She dug in and ate heartily and was going to go back into the room when he began to speak of questions. She waited. "Ask away. Neither of us have anything to hide and I doubt Doctor Brandford does either."

Harrison ate quickly as well and regarded Jerry for a moment, "Doctor Brandford understands the need for security, I think it may be the listening devises she resents though I dare say after last night she may have a change of heart about even those." He was all for a workable security system in here. "I'll answer any question I can. I can also give you access to our rooms if you need it."

Point bristled at that a bit, but did not say anything.

Harrison nodded to Jerry, "No problem...we totally understand being tired after an all nighter." Though he imagined he and Point were a bit more used to such an occurrence than Jerry was. They were trained for it, but even so, the added stress of the events of the day made that coffee a welcome thing this morning.
 

Dunruffle

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Jerry nodded respectfully when Point remembered his name, "You are correct Miss Point." Tapping his datapad a few times, Jerry laughed lightly and waved his hand dismissively when Harrison offered up their rooms. "No need for that, they have already been searched and frankly i was never that good at finding hidden things." Cracking his knuckles, the sharp toothed officer looked over at Point. "Alright, first of all i would like to hear both of your opinions on Doctor Brandford. You three have obviously been through a lot together but sometimes it is those closest to us that are the most dangerous." The obvious statement referring to Graves and how he had fooled them. "Now, what would you say are some of the good doctor's characteristics that would make people oppose her? Be it ideals, personal opinions, and the sort."
 

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Point was relieved he didn't want to search her room, she had just been in there crying and there were tissues everywhere. "My opinion of Doctor Brandford is that she is the best doctor I have ever worked with ever. She's smart and tenacious and never gives up on anyone. I didn't know about Graves...maybe she did...I don't know..but I do know he was always able to get everything we ever needed." She furrowed her brow, "But to do anything for Slime ball..." he head shook as if she was very disappointed and the seasoned guard would no doubt see the disillusionment in her eyes.

Harrison however was as stoic and stone faced as always. He let Point talk and was a bit upset with what she said, but Point was generally a little bit out of the loop and living in her little rose colored bubble. He figured it was best for her to be so, since knowing things tended to cause the melt down he'd noticed when she joined him in the bay to care for Cassandra.

Jerry's attention moved to him then and he tipped his head just the tiniest bit to the right and turned in the office chair to face the man and then leaned forward with his elbows on his knees. "The only people who ever have reason to oppose Doctor Brandford and those who are disgraced by her work ethic, or proven wrong in their diagnosis by her genius instincts, or who are jealous of her acclaim. She is the most selfless person I have ever known, though she does push herself to unrealistic limits at times because of it. She is stubborn, especially about her patients as you have already witnessed here when she brought those two officers back for emergency surgery. She is the very best kind of doctor for this facility and its needs. Do not judge her by Graves and Edwards...especially not Edwards. That Asswipe has been getting himself stationed with her for decades and claiming much of her successes as his own. He's incompetent and privileged." He took a breath and looked at the floor before looking back at the man, "Now Graves has always been a little ...'loose'... with his interpretation of right and wrong, and I knew he was doing a few side things here and there and I'm sure Doctor Brandford was at least suspicious if no aware as well. However, we have been in some tight places, where supplies were difficult to come by and people were dying of diseases or toxic environments and we needed things. Graves was always able to get anything we needed in those situations. If she pretended not to notice his indiscretions it was for that reason. I will say this though, I knew he was an money grubbing liar, but ever I did not expect this from him. None of us like Edwards, and we all know what he is capable of as you have now seem. For Graves to step over that line means he's a lost cause now and I know Doctor Brandford would not tolerate his presence any longer."

He glanced at the bay where Cassandra was lying sedated, "I am not sure what happened today for Doctor Haser to feel the need to flip the fail safe on her eye, but I am glad she will be free of that now. My implant does not transmit. I hope the Director will feel easier now at least in that regard." He leaned back in the chair then and watched Jerry. "Anything else you need to know?"

Meanwhile Graves was pacing a cell waiting to be...interviewed...and he was frantic. He had no excuse for his behavior aside from pure unadulterated greed. Harrison had warned him on the Andromeda that he was loosing his moral compass and needed to back away. he hadn't heeded that warning and now he was in a very dangerous situation. For the first time he was dealing with someone who seemed more capable of obtaining what they wanted than he was, and who had a far vaster collection of contacts as well. He was on an island alone and he knew it. He had a substantial amount of money squirreled away, over five million last time he bothered to check and here he sat pondering if he was ever going to get to spend even a dime of it as he'd planned.

Edwards was still spewing his vile unknowingly empty threats at everyone who crossed his path. He was still in denial, certain that no one was powerful enough to bring about the fall of someone like his father. His hand was gone, and he was beaten to the point of being slightly concussed and delusional to an epic level even for him. "Where are you Director?? Dead yet?? I bet you are starting to feel it by now...you should have believed me when i said I would get you!"
 

Dunruffle

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Jerry typed away on his datapad as Point and Harrison talked, occasionally making noises of agreement or acknowledgement. "Most of what you said we already know, though it seems Doctor Brandford's compassion is both a strength and a weakness. Especially when it comes to patients under her care. I am sure you both realize how seriously we take our security here. This...incident with doctor Edwards and mister Graves has certainly changed many opinions of you. I am sure you understand how quickly rumours and gossip spread. Be careful about what you say. Now as for Mister Graves, you said he was gifted in obtaining supplies. Have you ever thought about where those supplies came from? In a warzone or hazardous environment it is easy to prioritize your own work over others. How do you know he was not stealing supplies from other medical facilities? Or one could even imagine him extorting refugees and the poor with false promises and lies for their items. A single dose of antibiotics could have been taken from a family with a sick child, or a specialized tool could have been stolen from a facility specializing in rare disorders. You claim to be helping others and the supplies are being put to good use, but how much of your efforts were possible from the suffering and loss of others?" Jerry gave Harrison a blank look, like a jackal watching a trapped rabbit. "All actions have consequences, whether they be bad or good. Doctor Brandford is a classic bleeding heart. She cannot stand by when she sees others in need, but this makes her blind to other points of view. Harrison, if you had been exposed to the toxin along with Director Valentine who would Brandford choose to save? Hell, what if there were a dozen workers suffocating while you were about to be burned alive? Who would she choose if she could only choose one option?" Jerry sat back in his chair and turned his head to look at Point. "You see how not everything is black and white? This world you three have stepped into is not a place where you can save everyone. The Director makes these kinds of decisions every day. He has to sacrifice men he hand picked for recruitment if it meant years later a city was saved from being destroyed. Why do you think Director Valentine is so protective of his job? Because nobody else can do it as well as he can, just like Doctor Brandford. They both are the best at what they do. Doctor Brandford saves individual lives, while Director Valentine saves entire populations. So next time she thinks her job is the most important, remember how she willingly turned a blind eye to Graves' activities." Standing up and putting his datapad under his arm, Jerry gave the two a small bow and smile. "We can talk more later, I am sure you two are busy. Have a good day." Without waiting for a response, Jerry walked out of the hospital, leaving the two to stew in their own thoughts.
 

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Harrison listened to the man. He had often had those same thoughts himself, though he doubted seriously Cassandra had. Medical equipment they'd never had to ask for, because of his personal ability to make things out of almost nothing, but...the comment about antibiotics being taken from a family that needed them for a child stabbed at his heart. Many might not believe that he had one, but he did. He could easily imagine a scenario where graves paid a small sum of money to a family that had starving children, or possibly gave supplies from the Andromeda's galley in exchange for things. What poor family would turn away food for all in favor of medicine for one? None that he knew of at least.

However when Jerry continued he held up a hand, "I have seen Doctor Brandford make such calls. The good of the many always outweighs the good of the individual. She and I have worked together for many years and I know without a doubt that she would have chosen the Director over me, even though she'd have fought like crazy to save me afterward. She is harder than you think, but I do know this has affected our reputation and hers. Graves is one we should be held accountable, but not Edwards. She did try to have him removed when he first arrived."

The rest of the comments Harrison allowed to die in the air. He'd give all of them a god deal of heavy thought he knew, but he didn't believe Cassandra deserved such harsh censure. He had a feeling this place was going to change her though, whether it was for the good or not remained to be seen.
 

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In the middle of Graves' pacing, the door to his cell opened and a man wearing body armor and a medical mask walked in. Right on his heels was Natalya, upon entering the spacious cell the metal door closed with an ominous click. Sitting down in a nearby rolling chair, Natalya looked at Graves with pure contempt.

"I can never understand how idiotic people can be when it comes to money. Surely you knew what would happen if you were caught?" Pulling out a small touch screen device from a pocket, Natalya looked at the screen in boredom. "The silver lining of this incident was that we were able to identify weak points in our security. Specifically the base personell you bribed or coerced into obtaining goods. I am sure you do not care but they have all been killed, no reason to let them do any more harm."

Turning the screen so Graves could see, Natalya opened a file with several identification pictures. The first was of an elderly man with laugh lines on his face and wispy grey hair. "This man got a message from his son that he was now a grandfather last month. It seems he wanted to make some extra money to buy a present when he planned to visit his family next week." The next picture was of a young girl with dark hair and green eyes. "Lauren here seemed to be under the impression that you fancied her and wanted to smuggle in a bottle of wine for your date. I told her what she actually smuggled was a toxin ingredient before she was executed. She said something along the lines of hoping you burn in hell. Hard to tell through the crying." The next picture was of a pudgy man with thick glasses and a thin mustache. "Bronson here was apparently happy that you offered to be his first friend here. He just transferred in a week ago after spending three years working for a promotion. Shame really, the combination of weak lies and small bribes cost him his life."

Putting the device back in her pocket, Natalya yawned and crossed her arms. "As much as I would like to torture you to death. The Director seems to think you could be of some use. His offer is that you give us all your contacts, deals, and information regarding your smuggling operation you have been running over the years. In exchange you get life in prison, a generous offer in my opinion." From the look in Natalya's eyes it was clear she would have had no problem killing Graves where he stood. The only thing holding her back being her loyalty to Director Valentine.
 

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Graves stood stock still when the door opened. The man in the mask confused him and then he saw her. The devil woman, and possibly the last person aside from the director himself, that he wanted to see just then. How he stood there without collapsing into a fit of tears and pitiful begging, he had no idea, but he did feel a bit of moisture in his pants. Still, he felt he somehow managed to hold onto his dignity even so.

ALL of his internal contacts were dead. He did sink into a chair at that point as his eyes welled with tears. One thing he'd always attempted to do was keep his contacts safe from any harm he might face. He was all about the money but he did have a tiny bit of scruples, a very tiny bit. Of course, he knew his business relied upon those connections being happy as well, so it was a mutually beneficial arrangement. As far as he knew, no other contacts and associates he'd ever had were dead because of him. He didn't like that these were now. She began showing him pictures. He knew who all of them were, it was in his best interest to know them better than they knew him. He was one of those people who seemed to know everyone, but whom no one else seemed to know at all. He usually told people he was just a good listener, but the honest truth was that it was dangerous for people to know him. Dangerous for him, and as the pictures being flashed at him like so much fodder attested, dangerous for them.

"I do realize you could kill me with a glance, Major," he said as he leaned forward surprising even himself with this odd and uncharacteristic act of bravery, "But you can shove that attitude up your tight ass. I know all of them, which is more than I can say for you before today no doubt." He flipped a hand at her, "Security risk...those were people who were no threat to anyone." He grabbed her tablet and tapped in his codes and pushed it back across the table, "It's all there...though I dare say you'll need one of your techs to get through the encryption code. I don't have the program here that does that...got left behind on the Andromeda." He frowned, "You killed the wrong people Major. I'm sure the Director knows all about me and figures he can use me at some time in the future and that's fine with me...hell probably the only bargaining chip I have...let me say this...The Doc...she'll likely beat the hell outta herself over this. She knew nothing. None of them ever knew what I was doing...Harrison suspected but he was clueless to the actual extent of my operation. I'm sure the Director isn't though. I bet I'm funding a few programs now..." he leaned back and crossed his arms, "Use some of that money to help the families of those people while you're at it. If I can't use it may as well get used by someone who deserves to use it."

He closed his eyes. "Edwards....if he's not dead I'm sure he will be. You know....the guy's not totally bad. Product of stupid parenting more than anything. Hard to blame him when his father made sure he never paid for anything he ever did. I saw the news reports...the Director is thorough, I'll say that for him. The Senator deserves everything he gets, not sure the kid does. The whipping he got, oh yeah...but what he really needs is a good head doctor...a really good one." He shrugged, "My opinion, though I know he won't be likely to get one." He stood then and held out his hands, "Take me away Major to wherever you keep people, I'm sure I'll see you again some day."
 

Dunruffle

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Natalya handed the information tablet to her assistant as she brought out a set of handcuffs from her pocket. "You talk like you actually care about those you use to make a profit. Surely you cannot be so naive to think that everyone makes it out okay? You probably have the blood of hundreds of lives on your hands, you have just chosen to stay in blissful ignorance."

Securing the cuffs to Graves' wrists, Natalya marched out into the hallway with Graves in tow. After walking through a veritable labyrinth of corridors, security gates, and guard checkpoints, Natalya abruptly stopped in a nondescript hallway lit by lights embedded in the ceiling. Steel doors were spread out at regular intervals, giving the feel of a generic office building instead of a secret military base. Opening one of the doors, Natalya stepped inside while Graves was shoved in by the masked guard. The room itself was fairly spacious with bare metal walls and rubber flooring. But one look at the various furnishings would make it quite clear what the room's purpose was.

Readouts displaying various types of anatomical information glowed softly while rolling carts and bolted down tables were filled with various surgical instruments. In the center of the room bathed in harsh white light was Marcus. Securely strapped to some sort of operating table. Before Graves could make a move, he was manhandled into a metal interrogation chair and restrained with metal cuffs bolted to the chair.

Turning to face Graves, Natalya gave him a smile that was full of evil intent. "Oh I forgot, before you are sent to prison I need to question you a little longer. But please be patient, Doctor Edwards here is going first. I am sure you recognize some of these tools, you did work in a hospital after all."

As she talked, the guard took off his body armor and donned a surgical mask, surgeon smock, and clean gloves. He then went about the room disinfecting tools and turning on various machines. Walking over to Marcus, Natalya harshly slapped his cheek. "Are you still with us worm? Or did you exhaust yourself screaming empty threats?"
 

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Graves heard the words but refused to reply. It was entirely possible she was right, but he wasn't willing at this point to allow her the victory of knowing it. he would have a lot of time to think about the things she had said, and the things he had done, he didn't feel the need to be overly analytical yet. He followed in step down the maze and through all the check points, marveling at the extreme paranoia of this place.

The further they went the more her words crept into his mind. For any of the things he'd requested to get to him, how many of these systems had to be bypassed? He had to believe dozens at least. He had the fleeting thought that his contacts hadn't charged him nearly enough money to get the contraband items to his cage, but it was fleeting as they arrived at an odd looking hall. Steel as far as he could see, odd but invoking the proper sense of ice and doom.

She stepped into a room so he followed, assuming this was to be his new home. Large hands quickly grabbed him and strapped him to a chair. He looked around confused and then he saw Marcus and his eyes narrowed. The major was indeed a sick and twisted thing apparently. He'd seen a lot of gore in his day working along side the good doctor, but the good doctor Brandford would never engage in torture. The major obviously had no such scruples. More interrogation? More like more intimidation and terror to probably deter any future attempts at smuggling or any other activity that might be frowned upon by the high and holy Director. Luckily for him, they couldn't read his thoughts though. he'd probably, more than likely return to his former activities if given half a chance. It was a far quicker way to rebuild what he'd lost than honest labor, and there were ALWAYS people willing to pay to get what they weren't supposed to have..ALWAYS.

Marcus however had actually fallen asleep on the table from the hours of screaming. her slap to his face brought him immediately back to his former state of alert insolence. "Who the hell are you?" he asked looking at the icy blonde standing over him. "Did my father send you to get me out of here? It's about damn time!"

It was about halfway through that last sentence that he noticed Graves firmly bound up like a Thanksgiving turkey not far away. The mirrors over him had the perfect angle to see all around the room actually. He saw the instruments, and the surgical mask on the second person standing over him. "OH, I see....you think to torture me into telling you something about my Father. Is that it?" He huffed indignantly, "The director is dead, so now you have to find out things the old fashioned way...good luck. I will not talk."

Graves was sitting there thinking that Marcus really was insane as he'd purported to the major. he was obviously not in touch with any part of reality, at least not any part he lived in at least. "Dude...you are screwed. Director is alive, Doc saved him before she saved you..." His eyes were full of a pitying kind of look, "You might want to watch your mouth...maybe the Major will take pity on you and let you die quicker."

Marcus glared at everyone, "YOU ALL LIE!!" he bellowed pulling against his restraints, "No one survives that Poison...no one!"
 

Dunruffle

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Taking off her officers cap and running a hand through her short white hair, Natalya pulled on some rubber gloves and rolled her eyes. "You still really believe that you are above the law? You are more deluded than I thought." Her assistant went over to a control panel and after inputting various codes several video screens snapped on. One embedded directly into the ceiling over the torture table for it's occupant to see. The channel was tuned to a popular mainstream news channel, the anchors discussing the recent updates to the Edwards family. While everyone was speculating how Senator Edwards managed to kill himself in jail, they also mentioned the Senator's wife. Apparently she had given up the entire Edwards operation in exchange for protective custody. Dozens of government officials had been arrested on corruption charges and various probes were still going on to ascertain how widespread the corruption ran.

Picking out a scalpel from a nearby tray, Natalya smiled mercilessly. "Don't worry, I am not going to kill you. I am sure after I get bored of torturing you we can find some use for you."

Back in the medical wing, the doors opened to reveal Erik and Dante. "Hey y'all! What's up?" The distinct booming voice of Dante petered off as he saw the somber looks on Point and Harrison. "You guys ok? Me and grumpy over here been locked up for awhile so we mustache missed some crazy party." When Erik noticed the absence of Cassandra he immediately became anxious. "Where is Cassandra? Is she okay?" Letting his emotions get the better of him, Erik did not notice himself calling Cassandra by her first name
 

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Marcus watched the news cast mostly because he had no choice in the matter. He saw the image of his father being taken from a cell, as well as the images of his mother signing her testimony before she was taken into protective custody to start her new life. He glared at Natalya, "This cannot be true." he said but with less conviction than his earlier statements. Surely they'd doctored something to create this, found old images and paid someone to say these things to intimidate him.

Her next words caught his ear and he turned to her, "Not going to kill me?" He laughed then, a kind of laughter that only the slightly insane can create. "You would not dare do so...even what you have already done has placed your life in grave peril. You will learn that no one crosses the Edwards family without paying dearly for it later." He was already planning how he would repay her for this indignity, for being lashed to a table and forced to watch drivel. Oh, he was going to very much enjoy having the tables turned.

Graves was silently begging the man to shut up already, but it seemed those prayers were falling upon deaf ears. That laughter though sent a chill up his spine. This dude was seriously crazy. He was suddenly hoping they didn't place him anywhere near him in their jail system. he didn't want this particular crazy man seeking him out for anything ever again.


Point heard the voice and her eyes flew up to meet Dante's. That usual excitement at seeing him though present was subdued a bit, and her gaze moved quickly to Erik. She bit her lip when he asked about Cassandra and she ran across the lobby and wrapped her arms around Dante and hugged tight. Hell with protocol, she needed a hug damn it.

Harrison stood and motioned to the bay where Cassandra was laying. "Doctor Haser threw her fail safe...He had it built into her eye when he implanted it in case she ever decided to stop sending him research data. I have a feeling he's been stealing her ideas and innovations as well. I have no idea what she said, but it was enough for him to flip that switch. I have her in sedation so that the artificial tissues have time to attach and the optic nerve has time to calm down. She is likely going to be unhinged when she wakes up at having been sedated so long, but I'm prepared to accept that fury."

She looked pale and small lying there. The machines were flashing and producing a constant hum and the expected blip blip blip of her vital signs. Just looking at the bed with her there seemed wrong, especially to Harrison who was used to seeing her be the one who saved other people. "I hope I was on time to preserve her mind in tact...We won't know that until we wake her up..."
 

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Favorite Genres
fantasy, sci-fi
Dante arched an eyebrow in surprise when Point ran over and hugged him tightly. The tall dark skinned soldier gently put an arm around Point and pet her head reassuringly. "What's the matter? You ain't being the happy ray of sunshine you usually are." When Harrison showed Erik to Cassandra's bee, Erik gaped in horror and astonishment. "Wait what?! She had some kind of bomb or something in her head this entire time?! Why the fuck was it not already taken out?! If I could I would find this Doctor shitstain and gut him myself!" The group was interrupted by a delivery drone floating through the hospital entrance and depositing another large metal box full of various supplies Harrison requested. Waiting until the drone had left, Erik sat down in a nearby chair and put his head in his hands. "Is that what the lockdown was about? Someone tried to kill her?"