Monday, March 31, 2014

Chapter 103: Hyperion Is Manipulated

Sun, December 13, 2074 3:02 am: Facility 18, Idylewilde, Strangetown

Hyperion's prayer mat was tucked away at the foot of the bench that he was sitting on, but he hadn't the heart to unroll it. There were times in his life when the world went so still that he could hear nothing save for his own measured breathing. It was during those times that he felt the least alone and there was some comfort in that, however irrational. It was as though someone were watching, waiting the moment that he would establish communication. The possibility of it thrilled him, but when the time came to prostrate himself before some unseen deity, he only ever faltered. His prayer mat had never been unrolled.

In truth, he had his doubts about whether Deus Rex listened to the prayers of something like him. Having been born apart from nature, apart from the Creator's design, who was to say that Deus Rex even knew to listen for his prayers? Perhaps when Hyperion finally made up his mind to pray, his thoughts would vibrate at a frequency that only devils could hear.

Born apart? Even to say that he was born seemed like a stretch. He did not know the particulars of his manufacture and doubted whether he would understand them if he did. However, he did know where he came from. Over the years, he had discovered that some relics from the event of his birth survived and were accessible if he knew where to ask. He had seen the incubation tanks, still stained with amniotic fluid and some trace amounts of blood. Once, he was even able to bribe a technician into letting him view the well-preserved remains of his biological mother, Subject#367801. I brought a chick back here once, little Ken-Sé Ib slut. Scared her so bad she nearly wet herself. See, people think that this stiff is still alive because of the abdominal compressions-- makes it look like she's breathing. Yeah? Really it's just a spasm left over from the butchery that you see here before you. I read this opinion a couple weeks back that Dr. Beaker wrote. It basically said that life energy can exist as a series of echoes post-mortem if the ecstatic product is introduced into an energetic system in sufficient quantities. So if she's moving, it's because to some infinitesimal degree, the life force is still attached to the body. Pretty cool, hunh? Hyperion had the urge to be sick at that moment and had to leave the laboratory. What he had seen and heard, he was certain, no person should know. Sita had decided not to come with him on that little adventure. In the end, she had been right.

Hyperion never had the opportunity to get within a hundred yards of the thing that the staff jokingly referred to as "Nervous Subject", a moniker that he had earned because of his habitual noncompliance. For a guy in a coma, he managed to make his thoughts and opinions felt just fine when it was time to do routine lab work. Hyperion was sure that he had even dreamed of Orion once. His sister, on the other hand, claimed to have never had a dream in her life and could not understand the concept.

Now Sita was gone, lost somewhere in the wilderness with that thing. Hyperion had been all over the world, but Sita had never so much as left the thirty-six acre military base. She could not survive out there. Hyperion could feel her exhaustion, her desperation, her fear. She was not so far away, but Orion had a preternatural cleverness that went beyond all human understanding. They would not be found until the creature was good and ready, unless of course Hyperion himself had anything to do with it. Magical energy left echoes and traces just like ecstatic life energy did. Hyperion would sniff Orion out like a dog because it was what he had been synthesized and trained to do.

The door cracked open then, but Hyperion did not look up from his lap.

"This room is private," he called out.

"Then might I suggest you place a lock on the door?" Hyperion jumped up to attention, but dropped his posture when he saw just whom he was addressing. Selket Redding glided into the locker room with her hands folded over her stomach. Her body language was just as meek and pious as ever, despite the impropriety of her deliberately walking in on a man in his underwear.

"What could you possibly want?” Maybe this was not the most appropriate greeting for an RDI agent to give to a former Magus, but there was something about this woman that irked him to no end. Selket shrugged her shoulders.

"I am here at the request of the Magister Templi. You, on the other hand, have your orders and are presently in insubordination,” she said.

Hyperion could have laughed then, and would have if the situation were less serious. She was so external to the operation of the Royal Department of Investigations and yet so convinced of the relevance of her role here that it was comical to him. Selket made a habit of inserting herself into places where her influence was nil. Hyperion knew where he was meant to be right now, and it was not chasing vampires.

"You may tell the Magister Templi that we have a hostage situation here, and I have intimate knowledge of both the captor and the hostage. Thanks for stopping by to check in. I would open the door for you but as you have just demonstrated, you are more than capable of doing it yourself." Selket snorted.

"Agent Tvaud, you have is a responsibility to the Garrison case."

"All due respect Mistress Redding, but I fail to see where that is any of your concern." And he meant it. The Garrison question would be solved when the Sheut returned to the palace. Prince Puck had agreed to debrief him about the situation and to ask for guidance on how to proceed. Until then, Jareth Garrison's activities were being monitored, and the palace was on alert but no more. The case was officially stalled. Selket closed her eyes and exhaled through her nose.

"Sit," she said.

"No." Selket paused to scrutinize him. He could see where she might have been intimidating to most anyone else. There was a deft superiority about her that saw through to the weaknesses of others. It was almost leonine. He did not know what she saw in him then, but would waste no time in proving that his power could match hers pound for pound.

"The Magister Templi has intelligence that the daemon is hoping use Colonel Tvaud to bait you into tracking him down to someplace remote, where he will then use you to get to Jareth Garrison." This time he did laugh however mirthless, however choking.


"He thinks you know where to locate Garrison." Her tone was matter-of-fact. Hyperion shook his head.

"How can you know that? How can he know that? Orion Specter was locked in a freezer for eleven years."

"A freezer that your sister guarded." This explanation only plunged him deeper into disbelief. The Garrison case was classified, and he had never discussed it with Sita. Even if he had, that would not explain what Orion Specter wanted with a fugitive vampire. But there was a sense of victory in entertaining Selket's hypothesis. He had been attesting that there was something different about Jareth Garrison from the offset of the investigation. Only Pandarus gave him the time of day when he reported sensing a near-divine magical footprint in the places where Garrison had been. Hyperion cleared his thoughts.

"What exactly are you insinuating? Colonel Tvaud has no knowledge--"

"Let's not play games." Selket waved his objection away before he had even finished making it. She did not seem agitated, only eager to get the point. This too riled him.

"Why would I have communicated the details of that investigation to her?"

"Why indeed? You see, I think you discovered a very unexpected piece of intelligence during the course of your investigation. Maybe even the sort of intelligence that would stop you from so much as batting an eyelash when I said that Orion has taken an interest in Garrison." Here, Hyperion turned his back on her. On the one hand, he was curious about what she knew or thought she knew. On the other, she had done nothing but accuse him of dereliction of duty from the moment she walked in the door. If he had a third hand, it would be wringing her neck. He was being manipulated with all the subtlety of a mine blast.

"I don't know what you're talking about," he said.

"The Magister Templi and I believe that having you in this search party will jeopardize the safety of everyone involved, and potentially pose a threat to civilians. Moreover, if the vampire is not detained for the Fae attacks and something happens to him because you were off scampering after your sister, she will no longer be a viable hostage. The daemon will kill her, Agent Tvaud. You know this as well as I do." Selket thought that she was frightening him, but there was a glimmer of amusement hidden within this information. In a simple turn of phrase, it was Hyperion that struck gold.

"Do you have reason to suspect that something might happen to the vampire, Mistress Redding?" He glanced at her over his shoulder. Her expression did not change, and she said nothing. This in itself was telling. Hyperion smirked at her. He understood what her interest was now. He did not know what Garrison was or even what his relationship to the vampire Sheut was but evidently, the Magister Templi wanted him in custody so that he could dangle it over the Sheut's head. What was even more curious was Selket's fear that Garrison would be compromised before all of that could happen. She needed Garrison alive. Thea, Hyperion presumed, wanted Garrison dead. What an ineffective lot of toddlers they were, all squabbling over the same toy. "Do I sense some dissent among your Dissenters, Mistress Redding?" Still nothing. She was too haughty to admit defeat, but too stupid not to walk into it. "You will not find the daemon without me."

"We know."

"So what do you propose?"

"Only that we allow the Resistance to take over the Garrison situation. Not Thea's sort, ours-- good comrades who are loyal to the Magister Templi. We can divert Orion's attention from there. All I need from you is a location." Ah. It was one thing for the RDI to have Garrison in custody and another to hand him over to Selket. Hyperion had no love for the vampire Sheut, but he did not trust the Dissenters. They were too clumsy and disorganized. There were too many secrets and factions. There were far too many of Thea's sort among them, yes, but there were too many of Selket's sort as well. Hyperion put his faith in Deus Rex and swore his allegiance to the crown. If he handed Jareth to the Dissenters, it would be a betrayal on two counts.

"That's... complicated," he said.

"Alternatively, I could get that information from your good friend Pandarus Wexler." Selket was needling now. It was time for her to go.

"He won't speak with you, not if he thinks that there is even the possibility of this endangering Sita's life or his investigation." A pause. Hyperion could almost feel something brewing behind his back. It was so uncanny and so vicious that he had the very real urge to send the wall locker unit hurtling toward her.

"You know, I saw Agent Wexler's girls at evening prayer the other day. Their mother has been bringing them since the equinox. Beautiful children." Selket had lowered her voice as though she were coaxing a wild animal. The wall locker began to rattle.

"Are you threatening me?" His pulse was surging. Selket was insane. There was no reasoning with insane.

"No, I am bargaining with you. So what is it going to be?" At last, Selket had stumbled into a place where she did have the advantage. "It would not be all at once, mind. I would start with the mother and work my way down." Hyperion squeezed his eyes shut. Selket's energy was fractured. White hot splinters of irreparable damage snaked through her soul. Hyperion did not doubt her, not for an instant.

"Jareth Garrison lives in Yitzenburg with his sister and brother-in-law at 1023 Maple Crest Road, just off of Route T-29. He returned there on December 1st."

"Good boy." The storm at his back was subsiding. Hyperion whipped around to face the woman, his courage rising.

"What about the Sheut? Aren't you concerned about what he might do?"


"No?!" Selket flattened her dress against her body, preparing to leave.

"Good day to you, Agent Tvaud, and good luck in your search." Selket reached for the door handle but seemed to think better on it. "Oh and one other thing before I go-- You are an agent in the service of Her Majesty the Queen. So put some damned clothes on."


  1. Thus begins December 13th. There are 9 chapters that take place on December 13th, for reals. I am so sorry. But hey! Happy 18th Birthday, Jack!

    It was surprisingly hard to come up with a title for this chapter. The one that I went with, I don't like because it tells you what happens. However, I liked it better than "Hyperion Feels Something Brewing", which just did not work.

  2. Nothing wrong with a crowded day! Hell, the novel I'm working on right now only spans about a week.

    (And post titles are hard! Sometimes I almost want to switch the format to simply "#x: POV Character Name".)

    The differences between Hyperion and Sita are striking, despite the fact that they obviously care for one another. He's thought, she's action. While he contemplates his existence, she seems to find it easier to just put it aside and carry on. Both valid ways in their situation, methinks, both with their merits. I would imagine they work splendidly as a unit.

    If I'm remembering correctly, the Dissenters have people in every major organization we've come across so far. I can't say I blame Hyperion for not trusting them. He may not like Kvornan, but from where he's standing, the Dissenters are pretty much a socially-infectious cult. They're the Church of Scientology, only not as nuts.

  3. Yeah, I tend to think of Hyperion and Sita as polar opposites and yes, they are very close. They are each the only family that the other one has. It was interesting writing this too because I didn't have a solid hold on Hyperion's character before this. I expected him to be a lot less sympathetic than he was. As it is, I kind of like him. He has had a tragic life, and he deals with it in silence everyday. Sita, by contrast, doesn't know anything about the world so it hasn't even occurred to her to think of herself as a victim. Quite the contrary, she thinks of herself as all-powerful.

    LOL @ the Church of Scientology! The Dissenters are something of a cult, and Thea has the kind of personality that lends itself to attracting devotees. Let's see... IS there an organization that we've come across that doesn't contain Dissenters? Ehh, maybe Pleasantview's local government. It's funny that you should mention this though, considering what's coming up soon.

    I also forgot to mention in the previous comment that Selket was *not* there at the request of the Magister Templi. She's going rogue like Sarah Palin. This will become obvious soon.