– The Finale –
I had barely released the words from my lips before Cedric launched himself onto the table, clawing and crawling across it to reach me, a ferocious hate reddening his eyes. The men accompanying Jynx were the first to respond, moving in front of him and Yurika protectively, as I backed my chair to stand up to defend.
Just when he was about to reach for my throat, Shaw pulled him into a submission, as Aemous manage to catch hold of me to separate us. Jynx hit a button on his barely perceptible wrist device, which cause a small team of guards to enter the room, they grab hold of Cedric on command and forcibly subdued him. They had the familiar numbers on their backs, it was guard number Six again though this time tagging along was Eight, Ten, Twelve, and a gargantuan Fourteen, who came in looking as if he was about to break Cedric in half if he kept on fighting.
“This isn’t right, I’m innocent, get the fuck off me!”
“Take him to one of the empty offices in the back, have him transported to the Windigo facility tonight for holding, he’ll transport with the body. You will also be chaperoning Cydnee Tyson, he has some work that needs to be done for me.”
“Traveling across the island during an evacuation alert, why can’t it wait for when we return stateside?” Yurika asked curiously, she would be the only one able to question an order from him, the bigger surprise to me was that he hadn’t told her of his plans.
“Time is an essence better spent than wasted.”
“Shall we close out this dreadful meeting then?” she replied, echoing the sentiments of us all, this was one of the most horrific ordeals I’d ever had to experience, just under getting robbed at gunpoint.
“Absolutely, now that all that mess is situated, let us make sure everyone understands it’s imperative you stick to your individual stories, include nothing about tonight. You won’t be lying, just selectively telling the truth. Well Karishma, you’re a bold faced liar, so just lie. For everyone else, as far as you know this meeting never happened, trust that Yurika will handle the rest. We will continue forward with Zachari Grannison continuing on in his position as Head of Operation but in a diminished capacity, Cydnee Tyson, will pick up the slack as a liaison for myself and Ms Ymoja. You can put your hand down Karishma, yes, that makes him the real boss, but we can still play pretend for you and your boy toy puppet.”
“Cyndee will be replacing me, as I take over a larger operation that isn’t quite Arkham affiliated but desperately needs my expertise, I assure you that transition will be as smooth as possible.” Yurika added, for once looking up from her tablet more than a few minutes. “This isn’t an excuse to slack off, because I’ll always be watching.”
“I’m sure they understand, if there are no questions, meeting adjourned. Remember that evacuation is at noon, you don’t want to be stuck on this island in the storm, it’s supposed to get ugly.”
With that said, everyone started to disperse from the room, Aemous tug on my sleeve before I could make my leave, pulling me off to the far corner.
“I’m sorry I did that to you, I knew you would pick him and I took advantage, it was a calculated risk against the odds but I knew Cedric could go down.”
“He was working covertly for another company?
“Do you think it’s Belladonna? Could he be another VIOtrex implant?”
“No, he had been trying to sabotage the project that could now save her life, if only I can get my hands on it.”
“You know how I feel about that, I don’t want to hear anymore..” There was a pang of guilt as I knew, that I too, was about to possibly sabotage those efforts.
Truthfully, I hadn’t even decided yet, my intent is to make the most informed decision possible, that meant knowing what Arkham was really cooking up that could cause these ‘unforeseen complications’.
“Look I’m sorry, please.. I was just venting.” He moved closer to me, shrinking the space between us. “I just felt I had to explain myself, I’ve done so many questionable deeds in my life, the last thing I want to do is disappoint you but I still have to do what I think is right, and it’s saving Belladonna Van Duyn.”
“I respect the honesty from you, it’s all I’ll ever ask from anybody, especially after being lied to by someone I’d known my whole life. Who am I to judge, just know.. I have to do what I think is right too.”
After returning to my cabin suite, it was like entering a time capsule, all our things were just as we left them. It was like Pastel could come waltzing through the door and kick his shoes off into the massive pile of them he brought with him, he had so much stuff, even now there were clothes thrown across an unmade bed.
This place looked thoroughly lived in, and we were just visiting, that was the kind of person he was. I found myself crying on his bed as I folded and organized everything, it took longer than I thought but just as I was finishing up, there was a knock to my door.
I look at the time, and seeing as it was nearly an hour to midnight I figure it was Famous because he was in the suite across the hall, solo as well, probably coming to inquire about where to put Cedric’s things.
“Come in.” I called out from the bedroom, wondering if he could hear me, nearly taken off guard when Shaw walked into the room.
“Leaving your door unlocked? You must be expecting company.”
“Yes, I must be.”
“Why the attitude?”
“What makes you think I have one?”
“I can hear it all in your voice, ‘Whet attitude?’.” He mocked, twisting his lips up, as if contort ratchetly and roll my eyes when I speak.
“You’re not gonna take me there, I have to ask God for forgiveness for enough already.”
“Did you ask forgiveness for that vote, you know that boy didn’t deserve that, it don’t matter what past there is between you.”
“I went off my interpretation of the events, and I believe he manipulated against Pastel and myself, things went too far and Cedric is going to have to pay for that. I just have a hard time believing he is innocent, in this mess.. Pastel would have been fine, if he was never given that serum, and who orchestrated all of that?”
“I get what you’re saying, but Zachari is not gonna be alright after this, that means Arkham is in unstable hands.”
“Did you not listen in there? I’m in charge, and Jynx has more than expounded on the hierarchy, you don’t believe I can take this company to the next level? You don’t believe in me?”
“I didn’t say that, I know you can do it, you can do it better than anybody else, that’s why Jynx Ellison favors you. There’s just something about you Cyd, you’re special and unique, I see it and so do others, so trust me when I say I know you can do it. What I don’t believe is that you can keep your soul if you do.”
“You don’t see them the way I do, and nobody can see you in the way that I can either, I’ve always seen your light, since first I lay eyes on you.”
“Well, Jynx Ellison sees something in me too, and he has opened up himself to me more than you have, he’s always been upfront. But you, you’re a mystery to me Shaw McCreed, you make me feel like I’ve known you my whole life, when I don’t know you at all.”
“I can tell you I’ve been as honest as I can be, yet still, there is the fact I have to continue to follow Department Nine protocols. It’s the only way I can build my case against Arkham, we know now for a fact they haven’t been completely honest about the ReGen project, so what makes you think they aren’t hiding anything else, Arkham is up to dangerous business.”
“It’s not like I can trust you entirely either, because Zachari isn’t the only killer, is he?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Don’t play dumb, explain the bloody hands Shaw, I saw you with my own eyes.”
“You’re asking me to break protocol, I can’t do that.”
“Well there is nothing left to say between us, if that’s the case, honesty is the most important thing to me right now, so don’t break my heart and lie to me again.”
He took a moment, which I fully expected, it had to take a lot for a loyal soldier to break rank, especially in a way that could jeopardize the mission. I just felt there was something we shared that was deeper than that, more tangible than duty and protocol, a soldier and his orders.
“All I can say is that I encountered something, it was the first night we arrived, I skipped the party to scout out the facility. In my attempt to break in, I let someone or something break out, it had to be taken care of because it would jeopardize the mission, I didn’t get a good look but it let me know I was on the right track.. Arkham is going down, I can’t allow them to take the world with them.”
“Which is even more reason for me to take the job and do things differently, Jynx is trusting me to lead the company down a better path.”
“No, it’s not going to work out that way..” He replied earnestly, crossing the room to where I sat upon the bed, kneeling before me so we were nearly eye to eye. “I can’t stress enough how I much I need you to reconsider, I care about you so much, there would no way I could destroy this company knowing you would go down with it. I’d be unable to do my job, and that would make me a marked man, everyone I care about would be in danger.”
“I don’t know what you want me to say to that, you want me to throw away my future at Arkham for something I don’t know is true, I need more information, I need to go over my options.”
“You have an option, you can choose me, we can leave all this. We can start a different path to destiny, we can be normal people lost in the vast expanse of middle class America. We can love and protect each other, start a family, just like everybody else. You can choose to run away with me Cydnee.”
“Yes, I’ll go with you.. I’ll leave this and we can just be normal happy people, I want nothing more than that.”
His eyes lit up, and our lips crush together passionately, I let the moment linger longer than I should have. It felt good to let go of it all, the responsibility, the edge that never wore off, the compromise of my moral integrity.
“Honestly, you’re really coming with me?”
“No, I’m not.. I just had to know what that felt like just once, I don’t think I’ll ever get the chance again, so trust me when I say it’s hard to walk away from.”
“Then don’t walk away from it.”
“Walk away from what?” Famous asked, walking into the room to interrupt, I wonder how long he was waiting at the door listening. “Sorry Cydnee, didn’t realize you had a guest this late, how are you Shaw?”
“He’s fine, and just about to leave in fact, he stopped by to check on me and say goodnight.” I answered, getting up and moving some folded cloths of Pastel’s, Shaw got the hint and departed with a nod to both Aemous and I.
He was as stone faced as ever, never showing any emotion as he left, immediately shutting down. I sighed and turned to Famous with a forced smile, noticing he was looking down at some of our coworkers things, there was a brooding sadness to his eyes.
“What did you do with Cedric’s belongings?”
“Nothing actually, the only reason I came here is because a guard is outside, he collected Ced’s stuff and he’ll be back in ten minutes for you and Pastel’s luggage. It’s crazy that he has you going somewhere, the weather is starting to pick up out there.”
“I have important business to attend to for Mr Ellison, I should be back to evacuate with the rest of you in the morning.”
“What could be so important?”
There was a knock at the door, and guard number Six poked his head in, he asked if everything was ready and I nodded in the affirmative. Eight and Ten walked in and grabbed all of Pastel’s bags, then Fourteen came for my bags but I preferred to have them sent out with the evacuation.
I looked Aemous with a sorry expression, as I followed them out, knowing I could be bringing his mission to an end, essentially signing Belladonna’s death certificate. Walking out of the room, I thought back to what it felt like to run away, and I said a small prayer.
If I ever was blessed with the chance again, I would take it, and the fate that came with it.
The cars came to a stop outside the Main Lodge, one of the guards mentioned that they had to pick up the prisoner, I assumed they were talking about Cedric and I cringed. Instead of just waiting, I got out of the Jeep to see if an invoice was waiting on me at the information desk in the visitor’s mailbox, I planned to go there and back, but I could hear commotion on the side of the building.
“I can’t do this, it’s eating at me.. Why aren’t you listening?”
“Because you need to get it together, we got away scott free,and you got a slap on the wrist for accidentally killing someone.”
It was Dr Grannison and Dr Jhedav, he was still distraught and she was still puppeteering, he was trying to talk but she was oblivious, his next words were what made me stay and ease drop further.
“That’s it, I didn’t accidentally kill someone, I’m a murderer..”
“I need you say more than that, I don’t do vague well, remember?”
“I didn’t give him the Serum, I just wanted to talk it out, he was being rude, so I mentioned it and he became worse, I asked him to stop, he kept going, he wouldn’t shut up. So I stopped him, but maybe I shut him up a little too long, I didn’t mean to, I swear.”
I was about to step around the wall and say something, but guard Six grabbed me firmly by the arm and stated we had to move with the team. As I was pulled away, I couldn’t help but look behind to where those two wretched souls conspire, it made for a more awkward trip as I had to ride in the back seat with Cedric.
He was gazing out the window into the night sitting in handcuffs, shackled wrist to ankle, and the sight was something to see, but it didn’t make me feel good to witness him so broken down. This was someone I had loved as a friend for a long time, It was hard to imagine this situation between us ending up like this.
“Don’t you fuck it up and start feeling sorry for me, I deserved every bit of this, you want to know why?”
I remain silent, unsure if I should even say a thing, in many situations silence was golden.
“I wanted you dead, not Pastel.. and I could have lived with that an unchanged man. Though, I will say, after what Jynx has shown me about myself tonight, I see the route of all my issues and problems, for once, the answer isn’t you.”
I still didn’t say anything, nor did I think he wanted me to, the silence said enough. When we pulled pass the security gate, we were met by another team of numbered guards, who quickly ushered Cedric away. Eight and Twelve escorted me to the main security office, inside was a man with a rich brown complexion and he sported a tastefully salty beard. His stern demeanor was a cold welcoming and he didn’t seem happy with my presence, that’s when I notice who he was, this was number One.
“I’ve been told you need access to the Ark Cloud Connection, you have been here before, on the night we had all that trouble, I’m sure such a coincidence won’t be happening again. I also assume you understand we are on a local network, and it’s only updated twice a day from the ACC. I am the only person with the master key to uplink the Ark Cloud at anytime, so you will be using my Key into the system, we shall not waste anymore time and will now leave you to your duty so it can be done with.”
The only response was a slight nod of acknowledgement, as he lead his team out of the room, I moved behind his desk and situated myself in his chair. Immediately, I noticed he had an elaborate and enhanced access to the security system, the odd part is that it look more like it was designed to keep something in rather than people out. I left his security system alone and started my remote uplink to the Ark Cloud.
Once I was connected, It was easy to see how Dr. Jhedav and Dr. Grannison were able to hide the projects they were secretly working on, especially with Cedric on their side, discreetly shuffling them the money, you couldn’t find it unless you knew there was something to look for. I tried to look deeper into what they were doing, and the images of failed subjects nearly made me vomit, it didn’t look real.
Thankfully, not everything had such sinister leaning, at least the parts I could understand, I didn’t entirely speak the same jargon as the Doctors. Arkham did good things for people and really had an impact on the world, one could argue was favorable, technological and medical breakthroughs were being discovered first by our company.
One thing of importance that reveal itself to me, and it was probably the route of the problem, the interwoven connections between the projects left Arkham a fragile house that needed every brick or it would come tumbling down. A breakthrough from the Everlast project helped nullify a defect in the cream Jynx had us use at the campsite. The Lazarus experiments, that was filled with the grotesque evidence of the ugly side of science, was a key component of the stabilisation of Everlast. It was one twisted web that went on and on, there was no way to end one without the others failing, that would mean the company fails.
I was caught in a conundrum, one I wouldn’t be able to reflect on much longer, because the security system gave an alert, the damn Spies were at it again. This shouldn’t have been a surprise to me, they were both stubborn and hard headed. I searched the last file I had just opened and a shiver went down my spine, the bulk of the experiments the Doctors were working on, happened here at the Windigo facility not somewhere stateside.
Shaw was probably telling the truth about what he encountered the first night we were here, that was also why I could see him walking through the lab area on the third floor above me. Aemous was on the fifth a moment ago, but now I couldn’t find him, he was like a ghost. Something was happening in the cell area they were keeping Cedric, but I couldn’t really tell what was going on, Cedric seem to be okay, though he look scared.
There was another glimpse of Famous, he was suddenly on the third floor, same as Shaw. A blur moving swiftly, he closed in on the other Spy, and in a matter of seconds the two were in full on combat. It was like putting two starving rabid pit bulls in a small cage together, the room they were in was being torn apart, the situation had officially gone out of control.
Doing the only thing I could think of, something that could probably get me killed, I took the master key and routed the Ark Cloud Connection, along with its data cache, to my work device, it was the only thing I had that could support the software. I had to take this show on the road, before the two of them kill each other, I accessed the security mainframe and it’s features one more time, there were lockdown scenarios that would close off sections of the building door by door.
It was perfect to corral the two of them, leading them straight to me, my first tactic was to to cut on the sprinkler in their section of the building. I ran from the head security office knowing I had to move quickly because of the program I set, and as I moved room to room, there was was the sound of the doors locking shut behind me.
I looked at my watch, there was a timer set that was ticking down by the minute, it wouldn’t be long before the guards found out and would try to retake the security mainframe. It would be no coincidence to them this time, but they will have to get there first.
Coming into the lobby of the facility, it was only a matter of time before they showed up, I glanced at my watch again just as Aemous came running in from the right and Shaw burst in a door on the left. The two couldn’t even agree on which way to get out, and the souring looks they gave each other only dissipated, when they look my way.
“What the hell is going on Cydnee? This can’t go on, what I’m trying to do is important, it’s life or death.”
“He’s right, my job is to prevent Arkham from committing any catastrophic events, and proving they’ve been testing on live Human or and breaking other rules of the International Code and Ethics of Science. Preventing me from doing that could put the world in jeopardy, we both all know Arkham is crossing the line for a profit.”
“I’ve seen the data on all the projects and experiments done here Shaw, the last trials ended last year, nor were there any photos or paperwork to corroborate with any Human testing.. and trust me, they’ve done some horrible things with the alternative.” I said, trying to get through to him this was dead end, either Jynx kept his hands clean or there was nothing to see, so I turn to the other Spy to let him know I had words for him as well. “As for the life and death of Belladonna Van Duyn, I won’t have any part in trying to play God, her fate is her alone and probably sealed, right now, I can only do the job I promised.”
I held up my phone with the receiver set to delete, it would erase all the data, purge any encrypted files, incinerate any existing experiments, and wipe the slate clean but leave the company stripped of its innovations. Pressing this button would set into motion so many things, the certain death of Belladonna, the evidence to bring justice for any corruption would be destroyed, years of life’s work of my peers and I would be trashed, and myriad of other unfortunate occurrences.
Destiny was in the palm of my hand, and both these men could see that, they could also see my hesitation, Famous would be first to test the waters.
“I think we all pretty much have an idea, about what it means if you press that red button, I’m going to flat out ask if you’re gonna press it?”
“I don’t know.”
“Do you even want to, knowing what comes after?” Shaw asked knowingly, so sure of himself, thinking he understood me.
“No, not necessarily, but that doesn’t mean I wont.” I moved my finger closer to the button to test him, but he furrowed his brow and concentrated on me with a stone cold gaze.
“You won’t, because we all know that’s a terrible decision, I want you to take a moment to think about it further.”
“None of us have the time..” I replied, looking down at my watch again, the timer was ticking down faster than I thought.
“You don’t need to be complicit in this mess, this is bigger than you, him, or me.” Shaw said, referring to Aemous, as if he were an afterthought. “I wish you would have just run away with me, then you wouldn’t be apart of this, none of it a fault of your own. We can still do that, we can still be free of this.”
“You still want to run away with me?”
“Runaway together?!” Famous asked as if we were making a joke, then he looked between us, sensing the awkwardness. “Cydnee, you don’t have to run away, that isn’t your only option. You could stay, be with me, Belladonna will fund anything you wish, she would even give you your own corporation to run if you so dream it, she makes dreams come true. You can’t deny there is something there between us that just works, it doesn’t even matter what’s going on with Shaw, we could build a legacy for ourselves as a cohesive union, a power couple.”
“I’ve waited so long to hear words like that from you Aemous, you were always the kindest person to me, never giving me anything but respect and decency. The issue is, I can’t stay here, it’s killing me.. well, it’s killing the person I thought I was, and I can’t let that part of me die, that’s why I’m choosing to runaway.”
“Running away isn’t going to save the world.”
“It may not save the world, but it could save me.. possibly even save my soul.”
“I can’t just leave, too many people are counting on me.”
“I understand, it’s hard being Famous.” I said smiling sadly, walking over and embracing him fully, as it felt like I’d never see him again, which was probably the truth.
I took my work device, with the Master Key I’d stolen, and put it in his hands, hopefully he now had what he needed. A major part of me felt like I was committing the ultimate betrayal, Jynx sent me to do a job, and I didn’t have the heart to do it either, even the new Me was weak in the will of the world.
Walking away from Aemous was harder than I thought, his option to stay was a tempting invitation, but I had to leave this.. Murder, Betrayal, Power, and Prestige were the sharp jagged fragments of my broken life, and I had to give it all to God if I wanted to fix it.
When I was within arm’s distance, Shaw grabbed my face in his hands, bringing us eye to eye, he could tell my conscience was heavy and bearing. Bringing our lips together, in a kiss that should have eased my nerves, I felt sort of odd.. like I had made a wrong turn on a freeway, but I wasn’t certain yet, so I had to keep going a little further just to be sure.
It took a moment for me to shake the ice off, and melt into his body, the chemical intensity between us inescapably apparent. I broke away, remembering Famous was still standing there, but when I looked for him to apologize, he was gone.
“Why is your watch beeping?”
“Huh, say what?” I replied, turning back to Shaw.
“Your watch..” He gave a nod to my wrist, and my eyes grew wide, without a word I grabbed hold of his arm, then went running off like a man on fire dragging him behind me.
Shaw didn’t have anymore questions, he just ran in frantic pace with me, switching into survival mode. Three guards came bursting out of the side doors, raising their automatic weapons, but before they could shoot the lights went out. Bullets went flying, yet still, we continue our race across the lobby.
We had barely made it to the exit, when the building began its shutdown procedure, it was my failsafe. As we sprint into the woods I looked back to watch as the panels of steel begin to cover the few windows, doors started to lock, I had ensure we close down the Windigo facility for good.. and hopefully, that would be enough.
It would open again when we were long gone from the Isle Royale, days after I turn in my resignation letter to Jynx Ellison, weeks after Shaw closed out his investigation of Arkham with Department Nine, months after we disappear together off the radar, and a year to the day we would get married.
But none of that meant anything to us now, we had absolved ourselves of the guilt, the treachery, the greed, and most importantly, the drama, that came with our past life. I refused to be a pawn in the corruption of man, I had to follow God’s will and righteous way to living an honest journey through this life.
He’d finally answered my prayers, and I was finally ready to walk with him, having Shaw by my side.
Look at that, and Spy the Grace of God…