Tyger sat in his bed reading over one of the several books he had acquired from the Order of Enoch's emergency infirmary. He would much rather be anywhere else than confined to the Spartan and rather uncomfortable bed, especially since he was not really bedridden. Granted, he had come into the clinic with a fair share of physical injuries, but most of them were superficial: bruised and stretched muscles, cracked bones and more than a small amount of bruises and scrapes. Those were already healed under the talented care of the Order's medical staff. Most of his injuries however, were directly to his central nervous system, thanks to the massive feedback from the Blue Steel Zero. He could not find fault with the mecha; that was the nature of the technology, as the mecha takes damage, the pilot suffers as well. A necessary evil. For the mecha to be as quick and responsive as they are, for without the neural linkages, they would be no more responsive than Power Loaders at best.
Because of those extensive internal injuries the doctors had warned him that he needed to take it easy for a few more days to let the medicines and nanites to do their work in mending the damage that was done to him. It was a slow and boring process. And it forced Tyger to get hooked up to a variety of machines and IV drips for several hours each day. He hated it. But he knew that unless he was taken care of properly, he would not be able to perform as well as he needed to.
To fight the monotony of these therapy sessions, Tyger took to either reading or watching television. Despite the distractions, his mood was foul, for he had already been made aware of the first of speech from Coordinator Hart about his current plans for Angelus. He hated it. There had been several moments where he genuinely considered the idea of just picking up and leaving. Fuck Hart, fuck Cadbury, fuck Angelus, fuck everyone! But he knew he had unfinished business. He could never just turn tail and run. That was just not how he did things. He would see this through to the end. And after dealing with Gurzorath, he could just take the Blue Steel Zero (for who could stop him?) and go back to piracy. Or, perhaps become a mercenary. He knew Marcy would have a hard time understanding that, but perhaps he could convince her to join him...or maybe she would convince him to settle down somewhere. Somewhere far from Angelus.
He frowned then and looked out the window. That was odd. The sun was out and it was pleasantly warm at that. His initial instinct was to allow a smile to tug at the corner of his mouth, but then he remembered that things seemed to be reversed in Angelus. Everywhere else around the world it seemed to be a good omen, or at least a showing of the status quo when the sun was out, and a cool, cloudy stormy day was the harbinger of bad times. In Angelus however, the signs of a normal day was one that was cloudy, slightly rainy and more often than not humid. It seemed that whenever the sun was shining on Angelus that always meant that bad tidings were afoot. "Backwards portents for a backwards city." He mused aloud to himself.
Tyger closed the book after folding the page he was on at the corner to mark his place. He watched the activity out the window, his mind barely registering the hum and beeping of the advanced medical equipment he was currently hooked up to. A sheer fit of curiosity (and the annoying sounds of the diagnostic equipment and the overwhelming desire to drown them out) caused Tyger to turn on the small television that was situated so that he and a few others could watch from their beds. It was not the best setup, but it was by far better than nothing at all.
It took a few moments for the picture to come into full resolution from the old monitor. "...organized military force violates the strictures of the treaty of 2088. As such, the AVDF must disband."
"Great. More of Coordinator Hart. Fuckin' bastard." Tyger grumbled to himself. He fought the urge to either turn off the television or simply change the channel. The former was overridden by the bothersome beeping and his desire for something to occupy his mind with. The latter was discarded because he was more than certain that this would be broadcast over every frikkin' channel.
"I invite all members of the AVDF to join the city's new initiative for peace and security - the Sentinel Watch. It is my intention to branch the Sentinels into a new arm of the government: the Ministry of Peace. I stretch out my hand to the AVDF. If you seek to make a difference, if you wish to build a better tomorrow, join me and join the Sentinel Watch. Angelus needs good, courageous people like yourselves."
Tyger scoffed visibly at those words and the offering. He knew that more than just a few of the AVDF would actually buy into that and join up. He also knew that those that were on "The List" would not be accepted and would merely be incarcerated, or worse. The applause from Hart's statement died down after a time and the Coordinator resumed his rhetoric.
"I now wish to introduce Angelus's Special Administrator, Councilman Roger Davies."
'Special Administrator'? Now what in the bloody hell did that mean? Hart giving new ranks to his cronies?
Davies took the stage, shook Hart's hand, and smiled to the camera. "Today begins my tenure as Special Administrator. When Coordinator Hart asked me to take charge of dealing with the city's most difficult issues, I was both awed and humbled. It is a great honor, and a great responsibility to be invested with this position, and I intend to do all that I can to carry out my role in a manner consistent with the best traditions of Angelus."
"Today I will announce some of the new policies and initiatives we are putting into place. First, a curfew is enacted to keep our citizens from being targeted by the rioting mobs. Citizens are to be off the streets by no later than nine p.m. Second, we will be introducing new security measures in the wake of these terrorist attacks. We will be focusing our initial efforts on espers and clades - both classes of citizen are required to register with the local civic center in order to help us ascertain the loyalty and security of each sector. Citizens are encouraged to contact the Sentinel Watch with any information regarding renegade espers and clades who may be acting against the welfare of the city. The recent invasion and actions by insurrectionists make it clear that we must focus our attention on these groups, however personally distasteful it may be to segregate ourselves in this manner. Nevertheless, the needs of the city are paramount."
Register? Assess the "Loyalty and Security" of the citizens? Tyger shook his head slightly. He expected Davies to target clades and espers. That much was a given. After all, the man tried to have him crucified at one point based on his race alone. "Fuck. There goes the neighborhood. Leo, Yiska and Nate are gonna love this" Tyger grumbled, narrowly resisting the urge to hurl the remote control at the screen.
. "Now comes the time in all men's lives where we must decide how we can best defend ourselves, both from the enemy within and the enemy without. We barely weathered the invading
forces, and until recently, it was decidedly unclear WHY the invasion took place. Recently, evidence has come to light that suggests the invasion was an effort to conquer Angelus in order to form a terrorist state."
"What the bloody HELL?" Tyger shouted at the screen, drawing the attention of several nearby patients. "Like HELL you didn't know who and why! Masada hacked the media and made one hell of an announcement you fucking asshole! Those were his guys and you fucking know it!" Tyger roared at the screen even as the view changed to a portion of the video showing Brogan and himself disassembling Masada's nuclear bomb. Great, they were flashing their histories now. Brogan's seemed clean enough, but Tyger's was rife with numerous incidents and it seemed that his past as a pirate ranked up there in the top five of his infractions against the City.
"...spiring with a known enemy of the state, making threats involving a nuclear device. At this very second, Clades hold human prisoners hostage in the tunnels beneath our streets. For too long we have ignored the warning signs."
"Threats? THREATS?" Tyger was halfway out of his bed at this point. Much of the cabling pulled tight against his body and the machine that monitored his heart began releasing warning tones as Tyger grew more and more angry. "We fucking told you we didn't trust you with the fucking core! You fucking bastards, what the hell do you mean 'Human Prisoners'?"
"...to create a clade nation, ladies and gentlemen. A place where no human would find refuge. Our fathers and brothers, mothers and daughters died for our freedom. Now is the time for us to finish what we started and remove the threat once and for all."
"YOUR freedom? What about OUR freedom you bigoted cock-smoking son of a bitch?" The heart rate monitor began screaming its warnings now. To the simple machine, the being that was hooked up to it was going into cardiac arrest. Of course Tyger was only livid, not that the machine would know that. "What about my people that you persecute and demean? Of COURSE we want a place free from assholes like you!" Almost as soon as the heart rate monitor began issuing its cries for assistance, the other machines began to follow suit in a chain reaction like a shelf full of auto-reactive toys.
"I have been granted full authority to use any means necessary to end the riots within the city... and below it...
"Therefore, the Sentinel Watch will be taking any measures deemed appropriate by the office of the Special Administrator to secure the safety of our citizens. We will rescue our brethren from the terrorists in the so-called "Underworld." We will put a stop to the rioting and the madne..."
Tyger did not even acknowledge the fact that Leo was now branded a Terrorist, a "Jihad Organizer", whatever that was. The other images did not even faze Tyger. Further talk from the television was cut off by Tyger, who was on his feet, roaring with unbridled rage. As he surged from the bed towards the television, Tyger forcibly tore himself free of the various monitors, some drawing blood in the process. Every single machine sounded off at once with a wailing flatline tone. To them, the disturbing brainwaves, heartbeat and the sudden cutoff of all data told the machines that their patient was dead.
"I'm gonna shove that core up your fucking ass sideways you goddammed motherfucker!" Tyger stormed towards the television, ultimately silencing it by sending his fist through the glass. With a roar of pain and anger, Tyger sent his other fist into the television, damaging it, and his hand further. He did not even acknowledge the pain and damage to his body as he turned and grabbed the squealing heart monitor and silenced it by throwing it at the remains of the television.
The clade had had enough. He had taken far too much, far more than anyone should. Jama had broken down in the parking garage, Carpenter started to lose it at the mall after dispatching the first Soul Stealer and Hemelshot in the aftermath of rescuing his family from the second Soul Stealer. Richard never said anything, but the man's body language spoke volumes. It was Tyger's turn now. Jama fell to her knees and cried when she reached her limit. Carpenter began to question his faith and received that 'Thousand Mile Stare'. Hemelshot just became numb, almost like an automaton. Tyger became inconsolably violent.
Though he had no weapons other than his hands, Tyger was obliterating everything within his reach. Many patients who were able to do so put as much distance between themselves and the berserking clade. A few patients and those who responded to the cries from the automated machines attempted to restrain Tyger. They quickly found it useless as he lashed out at them as well with destructive intent. It was not until several guards came onto the scene and two of them physically restrained the rampaging clade, allowing the head caretaker shot him with a concoction of depressants and tranquilizers.
The seething red that had flooded Tyger's eyes slowly faded to black as the cocktail quickly took its effects on his body. It was not long before his rampage was at an end and Tyger was out cold.
Malachi Brogan was sitting next to Tyger when he regained consciousness. "They wanted to strap you down, but I promised I'd restrain you myself, if necessary." Tyger's wounds had been cleaned up and he was once again hooked up to half a dozen monitors.
Brogan stood up and leaned over Tyger so the clade could see the stern look on his face. "Do I need to restrain you, Sergeant Tyger?"
Tyger groaned as he slowly regained consciousness. A barely audible string of curses slipped past his lips as he held his head with one hand. "What kinda truck hit me..." He blinked and looked up to see Brogan's ruined face and jumped just slightly. He had seen a lot of horrible things, but something about the burns and scars of Brogan's face was just disconcerting.
"Stow it Malachi" Tyger grumbled. "I ain't a Sergeant of nothin'. In case you missed the news, XSWAT's been disbanded and the whole lot of us are fuckin' Enemies of the State. To top it off, those bastards are blamin' ME for the invasion.
"I know my record ain't the shiniest out there. Fuck, it's downright abysmal. But that don't mean I'd set up somethin' like that. Fuck. They want me to be a renegade? Fine. I'll give them their renegade. When I get outta here I'll show 'em just what this renegade can do."
Brogan sat down again, giving Tyger some space. "That's what I wanted to hear. You go on another rampage, people might start thinking clades are dangerous, or something. Someone's spreading rumors to that effect, you know."
"For what it's worth, you're still a Sergeant in the Angelus Volunteers. While you were out, I told a lot of the AVDF guys here that Hart's full of it—that the Treaty doesn't apply to private citizens. I think some of them will leave anyway, but some of them listened, and they'll spread the word. I also told them about the rest of Hart and Davies' lies—all of it. They know what you did at the Wall, and afterwards, Tyger."
"Eventually, we'll expose all their lies, Tyger, and I know how to do it."
Tyger shook his head slowly. "I'm just an ex-pirate Malachi. Without XSWAT or Marcy, I've got nothin'. I got the Blue Steel, and that will get me places, but not everywhere. The only reason why I'm still around after all of this is because I gotta see this through. I ain't gonna cut and run just because XSWAT ain't around to keep me here. But when this is over, when we beat Gurzorath, I sure as hell ain't stickin' around.
"Those bastards have been showin' me off as a renegade for a long dammed time. I've taken it and I've given a whole hell of a lot more than most other folks and I've shown Angelus time and again that I'm just as good as they are. And yet they still give me their bullshit.
"I've eaten it for more than three years Malachi. I've turned the other cheek, I've bit my tongue and I've done everything that I could to try and be the better person... but they just see me as a renegade, a pirate, a criminal, a threat.
"Well guess what? I'm fuckin' sick an' tired of turnin' the other cheek. Fuck, I'm all fresh out of cheeks by now, and my tongue's holier than a preacher's socks! They want a renegade? Fine. I can be a renegade. They want a pirate and criminal? Cool with me. I can go back to that. They want a threat? I will have them so fuckin' scared of me that the only rest they will get is when they are hangin' with Davy Jones!
"I'm sick of it! If I see that fat fuck Hart or that rat-bastard Davies, they are fucking through! The medics will have to scrape what's left of them off of my boots to figure out who just got turned into paste."
Brogan didn't know what to say—the clade was having a full-blown melt-down. He had no idea where the rest of 9th squad was, but everybody had their hands full these days.
I got nothing. Okay, time for extreme measures.
"Tyger, you need to rest. We'll talk about this later. I gotta call somebody."
Brogan called up records from the X-SWAT mainframe: contact information, next of kin, everything. And he created an impromptu cover ID for himself; he just needed a name and a badge number for a few phone calls. With X-SWAT out of business, it's not like anyone could double check these things easily. In any case, using the name "Malachi Brogan" was out of the question. "Hi there, I'm an infamous nuclear terrorist and I need to speak with you for a few minutes." Yeah, right! That was a non-starter.
It wasn't easy to get the call through—Internal Affairs had nothing on these people! They were suspicious, over-protective, and tenacious, but finally, Brogan got a direct number. Even then, it was hard to arrange a private conversation away from the prying ears of Tyger's future in-laws.
Finally, Brogan walked back into Tyger's room. The clade was still in a very foul mood. He looked up at Brogan, ears twitching, with that irritated "now what?" look on his face, and started to say something.
Brogan stopped next to Tyger's bed and held out a mobile phone. "It's for you. Long distance from Kentucky. Make it quick."
Then he handed Tyger the phone and left without another word.
Outside Tyger's room, Brogan paused to breathe a long, slow sigh of relief. But relief didn't last long.
Dear God, please let this work. If she can't calm him down, then who will? I'm just not up for it. Not now. I've got too many irons in the fire as it is. The AVDF is falling apart. The Ministry of Reality isn't even up and running yet. The resistance is completely disorganized. The networks all say I'm a nuclear terrorist. We've still got Gurzorarth to kill.
And I've got an Entity to feed!
It was too much. Brogan started giggling hysterically.
So what am I doing? Getting Tyger's wayward fiancee on the phone!
A pair of Sisters walked past and glared at him. Brogan stopped giggling.
Nuns. <<shudder>> I wonder if they're done yet? I'm gonna need my phone back....
When Brogan left the first time, Tyger simply sat in his bed, seething angrily. By the time Brogan returned, Tyger had cooled off. Not much, but just enough to begin making plans. Mental arrangements and checklists. He may not be able to get out and do something now, but he would be able to soon enough.
Tyger picked up the phone and lifted a brow. He was skeptical of course, but said nothing until the door closed behind the cyborg. "Hello?"
The voice on the other end of the line was the last person he expected to hear from. "Marcy? W... where have you..." He paused for a moment as Marcy immediately began going into a fairly brief explanation of her current events. He found it all but impossible to get a word in, so after the first few attempts he simply allowed Marcy to speak her peace. Granted many more questions were raised than answered, but many of Tyger's fears and paranoia were put to rest. "Well babe..." Marcy could hear the smile in his voice. "...I know you don't have a lot of time, so I really can't go into what's going on as well as I'd like. But I promise you that when this is over, I'll still be waiting for you. We can talk about everything when it's all over. Yes... Yes... I'll behave myself. Ok... fine, I will at least be as good as I know how to be, alright? I love you too. I'll talk to you soon..." And the phone went dead. Marcy did not hang up on him, rather it was a very hurried goodbye.
It was going to be several minutes before Tyger could compose himself after closing the cell phone.
When he had finally calmed down, he pulled himself out of the bed and stalked towards the door, pulling it open suddenly. He looked over his shoulder and quickly found Brogan waiting patiently. "You bastard!" He began as he tossed the phone to Brogan. "I have no bloody clue how you pulled that off... but thanks."
Brogan caught the phone and looked at Tyger. Everything was going to be okay. Thanks to Marcy. And him.
So why was I laughing? What could be more important than this? Nothing, really. Nothing at all.
Tyger lifted a brow at Brogan's lack of reaction. "You don't expect me to hug you or anything do you? I know you helped me out an' all, but that's goin' a bit too far."
Brogan shook his head slightly and put the phone away. "No, I'm just glad you're feeling better. Now I won't have to resort to plan B."
Tyger lifted a brow and shrugged his shoulders. "I'm sure I don't want to know what your 'Plan B' was going to be... but if it is anything like mine, I do appreciate that." He paused for a moment, his tail flipped thoughtfully. "No... I don't feel any better, but I am feeling a lot less homicidal and I have one less thing to worry about. I still intend on turning Davies and Hart into paste when I see them."
Brogan started to walk away. Once he had a good head start, he continued. "It's okay, Tyger. Like I said, plan B won't be necessary. Now that I've got my phone back, I'll just cancel that order for 10 kilos of catnip."
...at which point Brogan's walk broke into a full-speed run, with Tyger in hot pursuit.