CHAPTER FOUR - SEARCH AND RESCUE
Freyr’s eyelids fluttered open. He squinted almost immediately as white fluorescent lights beat down upon him. He tried to raise his right arm to block the light from his eyes, but he couldn’t. Something was holding it down.
He was able to lift his head and look down at his wrist. A trickle of dread and shock ran through him as he saw a soft-padded restraint attached to the metal frame of a hospital bed. He yanked, but the restraint held firm. He tried to move his other hand, but it, too, was secured to the bed in the same manner. Everything came back to him at the moment he saw these restraints.
His mother was dead.
He was a Survivor.
He had been captured by the United States government.
Unless Kei Wakahisa could save him, he would never be free or see his friends and family again.
Grief was shoved to the background by panic even as his chest heaved with Freya’s loss all over again. But Freyr furiously blinked away any tears and took in deep breaths to center himself. He couldn’t give way to mourning or fear now. He had to survive this like he had survived the Ghost attack. Kei would find a way to rescue him if he could just hold on long enough.
If Kei can even find me. They could have taken me anywhere. Whoever “they” actually are. Survivors are never seen again by anyone who knows them. Maybe they kill them. Freyr swallowed sickly. I can’t think like that. Besides if they were going to kill me wouldn’t they have by now?
Through squinting eyes still smarting from the bright fluorescents, Freyr looked around him. He was in rectangular shaped room about ten feet wide by fifteen feet long. He could glimpse the edge of a holo-display of his vitals hovering a few inches from the wall above his head. An IV was attached into the wall beside it which would dispense fluids and drugs. The wall to his right was all semi-tinted glass. He could see a corridor through the glass and another room with a hospital bed opposite him. There didn’t look to be anyone lying down or in the padded chair by the bedside. He turned towards the other walls of his room. They were all blank. There were no windows looking outside so he might be able to recognize where he was. There wasn’t even some bad holo-paintings of fish or wildlife. They were simple blank and white and forbidding. The smell of antiseptic and another smell, something he associated with government buildings, flooded his nostrils.
Damn Jake! If he would have only listened to me! If he hadn’t been such an asshole and called the cops!
But though Freyr was loathe to admit it now, he knew that most people’s reactions to Survivors were the same as Jake’s. Most never knew any Survivors personally like he had with Kei. It was drilled into people from an early age that if they found a Ghost Survivor that they were to immediately call 911. The “disease” was said to be incurable. The authorities were “working” on a solution for it, but as of now, there was none.
Because it isn’t a disease! How can they be so blind as to think it’s an illness? How many people do they have to talk to that give them the exact same story before they recognize that this isn’t a health crisis?
But these sounded all like academic arguments to Freyr at that moment. He was trapped himself in a system that “disappeared” people. Panic fluttered again inside of him and for a moment he thought he saw an orange-red color appear around his hand.
An aura. Oh, no, am I getting a migraine?
His head ached enough for one. Lucy used to get them when she was a teen before she went on birth control. She talked about seeing auras of light around people and objects. That seemed to be what he was seeing. He squeezed his eyes shut. It really was so bright in his room. So very, impossibly, terribly bright. Did they have the lights turned up to this unbearable level to torture him? But why?
At that moment, the door to his room whispered open and his eyelids shot open in response. He immediately squinted again with a groan, but he was able to see a severe looking African-American woman in a doctor’s coat stride into the room and come to his bedside. He She smiled at him, but the smile did not reach her eyes. Her aura was a dark, unhealthy yellow streaked with red.
“You’re awake, I see. Far sooner than expected,” she said crisply.
“Who are you? Where am I?” Freyr tried to sit up, but the restraints kept him down. He frustratedly slammed his head back against the pillow. His headache blared to nauseating life again and he shut his eyes tightly for a moment. “Could you turn the lights down? It’s so bright. I can’t bear it.”
“My name is Dr. Maya Kimble, Freyr. I am your doctor and here to assist you in recovering from your ordeal. It looks like you are having an adverse reaction to light. This is not abnormal so do not be overly concerned. For most it ceases after a week,,” she said, attempting to be soothing, but it only made the skin between his shoulder blades tighten. There was something about her that he did not trust and it wasn’t only because she was part of a government that intended to lock him in some dark hole forever.
He heard her moving around and he risked cracking his eyelids open. He admitted to himself that he was afraid that she was going to do something to him. But all she did was to pick up the controls for the bed. She pushed a button and there was a faint whirring sound as the back of the bed rose so that he was in a sitting up position. She also adjusted the lights to dim them. Freyr blinked and realized he could open his eyes all the way for the first time since he woke up. He could, however, still see the aura shimmering faintly around her. He frowned. He had assumed that would go away when he was able to see clearly, but evidently not.
“Where am I?” Freyr demanded as he tugged at the restraints that held him on the bed. “And why am I restrained?”
“You are in the Sanguinal Army Base just outside of San Francisco. It is an Army medical facility,” she answered in that cool, even voice that made him want to strangle her. “The restraints are there for your protection and ours. We find that many Survivors are … aggressive when they first get taken into custody.”
“I’m feeling aggressive, because you’ve tied me down!” Freyr cried even as some tension bled out of him when he heard the location. Just outside of San Francisco. Kei was likely nearby! If he could use his connections to find Freyr, he could be here at any time.
If Kei knows I’m nearby.
He pushed the thought away. He had to believe that if anyone could find him and save him, Kei would.
Dr. Kimble looked down at him with a detached expression even as her voice was a soothing monotone, “I realize that you are in great distress and I sympathize with your feelings, but the restraints are necessary. You might try to get out of bed and injure yourself. Your sensitivity to light is but one of a constellation of side effects that are seen together in people such as yourself.”
“Survivors?” he asked.
Her expression stilled but then she qualified slowly, “Certain Survivors. You are rare among them, too, Freyr, if our preliminary testing is correct.”
“Preliminary -- how long have I have been unconscious?” Freyr asked, wanting to add that time to his potential rescue and to know how long they’d had him to poke and prod. He didn’t know what she meant about certain Survivors being more special than others, but he didn’t care at that moment.
“About four hours,” she answered.
Freyr was both disturbed to have lost four hours to whatever drug they’d given him while at the same time it meant he was that much closer getting out of here.
If Kei can get me out. If Kei can find me. If, if, if. Freyr mentally shook himself. He couldn’t let despair overwhelm him. Kei needed him to be strong. His father needed him to be strong.
“You’re not in a hazmat suit,” Freyr suddenly realized and blurted it out at the same time. Wasn’t she worried about becoming contaminated from being in the room with him?
“No, I am not,” she said, her dark brown eyes stared into his for a moment while she continued to review his vitals.
“You’re not a Survivor either,” he said. She had brown eyes instead of cobalt blue told him that. Contacts nor holograms could hide the cobalt blue of a Survivor’s eyes from showing through. It was unclear why.
Kei had once told him, “The spirit is far stronger than the body or any technology, Freyr-kun, that is why the cobalt blue will always break through. A Survivor only survives because of his or her spirit not their body.”
“I have not had exposure to the entities known as Ghosts,” Dr. Kimble answered. Before Freyr could fully process what she just said, she was speaking again, “Your vitals are stable. I see that your G-Line continues to climb. Even initially, it was off the charts. Now it is far beyond anything we’ve ever seen.”
“G-Line?” he asked despite himself.
“Ghost Line,” Dr. Kimble said and continued in her clipped way, “It is an energy signature that appears after one is exposed.”
“Those who survive, you mean?” Freyr qualified.
She nodded her closely cropped head. “Yes, exactly. Those who perish after exposure have no such signature.”
“What does the signature mean?” Freyr asked.
“We find that it indicates the level of side effects -- both beneficial and detrimental -- that a Survivor can expect to experience during their lifetime,” she answered.
“Side effects? What side effects?” Freyr couldn’t think of one thing Kei had ever said about side effects. In fact, Kei was incredibly healthy and nearly eternally youthful or so it seemed. The man hadn’t seemed to have aged since Freyr had met him so long ago. Freyr had never even known him to be ill. But the auras Freyr was seeing flared to life again around Dr. Kimble and himself again and his head pounded. Maybe Kei was fine, but he might not be. A cold, hard knot formed in his chest.
“We find it best not to discuss these potentialities until later when the patient has a chance to assimilate all the other changes in their circumstances,” she said and again gave him that smile that never reached her eyes.
Freyr struggled to sit up straighter. He hated being beneath her like this. Helpless like this. But his head throbbed whenever he moved, but he still rattled his arms. “You mean that accept that I’m a prisoner? That circumstance? That’ll never happen!”
She stared back at him. Impassive. Implacable. Waiting to see what more he would say.
“You know that Ghost isn’t a disease! You’re not wearing protective gear!” Freyr shouted at her, feeling his face turning red. “Maybe you can pull off crap like that with guys like Jake --”
“Your roommate? Yes, he’s been placed in quarantine,” she said.
“For no good reason!”
“For every good reason, Freyr,” she said quietly. “You and I know that Ghost is not a disease, but how do you think the general public would react if they truly knew that actual entities -- spiritual entities -- were stalking and killing people? While a cure for a disease is always possible, there is no cure for a worldwide haunting by murderous ghosts.”
A worldwide haunting? Is that what this is? Yes, yes, maybe that’s the truth.
Freyr went silent and still for a moment, but then he said, “Is it worth ripping people from their lives and families? That’s what we’re talking about, isn’t it? You haven’t said definitively, but I know that you don’t intend to let me go.”
“You’re right, Freyr, I’m afraid we can’t make you go, but you can make new friends --”
“And new family?” Freyr scoffed. He imagined his father sitting with that gun in his hand again. He could never accept her offer.
“It is a sacrifice,” she agreed. “But that is offset by the great benefit you would be doing.”
“What benefit?” Freyr scowled at her.
“You will be serving your country,” she answered. “By protecting its citizens.”
“What are you talking about?” Freyr would have crossed his arms over his chest, but he couldn’t move them. He yanked on them though.
“Survivors repel Ghosts,” she answered.
He had heard some of this from Kei. The Japanese businessman had explained that Ghosts avoided Survivors if at all possible. That was why the Yakuza Clans of Neo-Tokyo welcomed all Survivors to the highly insular country no matter their race, religion or creed. They understood the Survivors’ benefits outweighed anything else. Clearly, the United States government knew this as well.
“We place Survivors strategically all over the country,” she said. “We’ve been able to minimize Ghost attacks in many large cities and to protect incredibly important people such as the President, Vice-President, members of Congress and the Senate, industrial leaders and so forth. You will be assisting us in this.”
“Or Survivors could be allowed to choose to help and to choose where they lived. I bet many would do as you ask voluntarily,” Freyr said. “But you aren’t making this voluntary. We’re prisoners for life!”
“We discussed why, Freyr. I know that your experience with Kei Wakahisa has shaded your understanding of Survivor’s lives, but--”
“You know Kei?” he interrupted her.
“Oh, yes,” she said, her lips thinning for a moment as if she disapproved of him. “We know him quite well. We are well aware of him and his army of Survivors.”
Freyr had met many of Black Ocean’s security forces. They were all Survivors as she said though to call them an army seemed overly much though Freyr did not know the full extent of Black Ocean’s assets. For example, Kei currently had a young blond woman as his bodyguard with the telltale cobalt eyes. She hardly spoke but would smile and nod at Freyr though to no one else. He had always assumed that her silence had to do with the seriousness with which she took her job of protecting Kei, though the man was a Judo Master, crack shot and generally all around bad ass in Freyr’s opinion. He had also figured that her greater attention towards him stemmed from Kei’s obvious affection for him. But now that he had survived himself, he had a feeling that her silence might stem from more than that.
“You would like to lock Kei up, too, and all the security force” Freyr replied acidly. It was just as Kei had always said.
“I would have them serve the greater good than to be at one man’s beck and call,” she answered with a tilt of her head.
“Black Ocean does a lot of good,” Freyr said again acid dripping from his words.
“You would think so as your father is one of Kei’s top lieutenants. But though I think it would do little to belabor this point, Black Ocean is rapacious. It seeks to devour as much as it can,” she said. “Kei Wakahisa is in the mold of Japanese empire builders. It is an empire that he seeks not just a company.”
“If in his empire Survivors are free and respected not tied down to beds, I’m all for it.” Freyr glared at her.
“You won’t always be restrained, Freyr. It’s just for now,” she answered. “The side effects that plague you right now will subside and others will take their place. And these other effects … well, those, too, can be useful to serve others.”
“How can side effects help anyone? I’m sorry but being sensitive to light isn’t a benefit,” he snapped.
“That will go away Freyr. There are other things that will develop, that usually develop when a Survivor experiences that first symptom,” she answered.
“What other things?” Freyr found him chest was tight. For some reason, he remembered that first meeting with Kei and the boiling cauldron of Ghosts that he had drawn in the corner of the room.
She touched his forearm. Her fingers were cold. She looked down at him meaningfully, without blinking. “I know that you are focused on what you are losing by becoming a Survivor, but you are going to find that you’ve gained so much more.”
Freyr wasn’t going to argue with her. What was the point? The fact that she could believe that losing one’s family and friends was somehow minimal compared to what he would mysteriously gain was ludicrous. But since she was willing to talk and trying to reach him, maybe she could tell him what he really wanted to know beyond Kei coming for him.
Freyr wet his lips even as his mouth was dry and his eyes blinded with tears. “Have you contacted my father --”
“He will be informed of your --”
“Not me. My -- my mother. Have you told my father about her?” Freyr asked. He envisioned his father’s handsome bearded face faced with the reality of Freya’s death. He would be beyond devastated. His father did not show emotion readily, rather like Kei, but he felt it deeply just as the Japanese businessman did. Freya had been his father’s world outside of his business. He worshipped the ground she walked on and had since they had met twenty-five years ago. “Did you alert the police as well to her murder?”
“Murder?” For the first time, Dr. Kimble looked surprised, but Freyr didn’t have time to appreciate the fact that he had shaken her.
“Yeah, she was murdered,” he said, placing the emphasis on “murder”.
She blinked and finally said, “Freyr, your mother was attacked by the same Ghost --”
“No!” Freyr shouted, but then lowered his voice as she jerked back in surprise. “No, she wasn’t. She was -- was killed before then. I found her body and then the Ghost came.”
“I don’t understand.” Dr. Kimble’s forehead furrowed. “That can’t be possible. You must be mistaken.”
“I’m not. She was dead before the Ghost appeared. Somebody or -- or something else was in that alley,” Freyr argued.
Her forehead smoothed out and he knew that she didn’t believe him. It was the “something else” that had confirmed for her that he hadn’t really seen what he thought he had. If he hadn’t been in that alley and seen what he had -- and what exactly had he seen? a green light? a phoenix emblazoned on her chest? -- he might not have believed him either. But he knew in his bones that something incredibly and terrible had happened to his mother.
“You had an incredibly psychic shock, Freyr,” she patiently explained. “I am certain you believe what you saw --”
“My mother’s -- mother’s body, where is it?” Freyr interrupted her. He didn’t need to be condescended, too, not when he ached with the loss of Freya. Saying the word “body” struck at the core of his being, but he forced himself not to allow the tears that wanted to fall.
Again, he knew he had shocked her. She didn’t jerk back this time, but her eyes did widen though. “Her -- her body?”
“You have it,” Freyr suddenly knew. Her aura had flared a darker yellow and he just knew the truth of it that this doctor knew where his mother’s body was and could get to it. He knew that if anyone was ever going to believe his mother had been murdered there had to be an autopsy. He didn’t want to think about his mother being cut open, but he knew it had to happen. Instead, he imagined her by his side telling him in logical terms what was needed to prove his case.
“Evidence, Freyr, that is everything. Juries might convict on emotion at times, but as a prosecutor, you have to be certain through cold, hard facts that you know the defendant is guilty,” she had told him once.
That’s what he needed for her. No one was going to believe his words. But her body with the phoenix emblazoned on it would prove that she was not attacked by a Ghost, but by someone or something else.
There was a furrow of consternation between Dr. Kimble’s brows again. “I don’t think it would be helpful for your recovery to discuss --”
“WHERE IS MY MOTHER’S BODY?” Freyr suddenly roared as she tried to placate him once too many times. He strained against the restraints. He knew his face was red with fury. His hands balled into fists. The bed’s railings rattled and he pulled and pulled and pulled against them.
Dr. Kimble twitched back, but then as if realizing showing fear before him was a bad idea, she stepped near again. Her eyes went to the holo-display of his vitals above his head. “Your blood pressure and heart rate are rising, Freyr. This is not good for you --”
“Fuck what’s good for me! Where is my mother’s body?” he shouted. “The police have to found out who did this to her! They have to arrest her killer! She was murdered, don’t you understand?”
“No, Freyr, she was not murdered. She simply did not survive,” she answered him quietly.
“You’re wrong.” Freyr fell back against the bed as his head hurt so much it felt like it was going to crack open like an egg and spill his brain on the floor like a yoke.
“Survivor’s guilt is very hard. People ask: why me? Why did I survive and someone else died? To have seen another -- yourmother -- fall while you did not is a terrible, terrible thing,” Dr. Kimball said in her irritating soothing manner.
“If the Ghost had attacked my mother she would have survived,” Freyr said. “She was extraordinary among the extraordinary. I have no doubt she would be here today, but she isn’t because she wasn’t attacked by a Ghost. She was attacked by a person.”
Dr. Kimble’s right hand rose to portion of the holo-display that controlled the dispensing of drugs. Freyr froze up.
“What are you doing?” he asked, tense as a bow.
“I think you need to rest, Freyr. You’re quite worked up. Quite upset,” she said.
“No! No, don’t --” Freyr didn’t get a chance to protest more as at that moment two men came into the room. He only had eyes for one of them. Because that one was Kei Wakahisa. “KEI!”
“Freyr-kun,” the Japanese businessman said. His voice nearly cracked with emotion, which Kei was so careful to conceal.
Freyr’s heart clenched in response. If this was Kei’s reaction to the news of his Survivor status and his mother’s death, his father would be beside himself. Kei quickly crossed the space towards him, but Dr. Kimble stepped directly into his path. Her hands were on her hips. Her brown eyes were filled with disapproval. She wasn’t looking at Kei though, but at the other man who had accompanied him into the room. Kei’s handsome, aristocratic face hardened at her action. His long white hair spilled loose over his shoulders as if he had not even had time to bind it in his usual ponytail. Against the white of his suit, he looked rather ghostly himself. His cobalt blue eyes, however, snapped with energy and anger.
“General, Freyr Brand is recovering! He is in no state for visitors outside of medical staff!” Dr. Kimble cried.
Freyr’s gaze immediately went to this general. He was dressed in a dark green dress uniform. He was dark-haired with a touch of distinguished frost at his temples. He stood a little under six feet. He had enough ribbons and medals on his chest to serve as an anchor. He regarded Dr. Kimble from unreadable gray eyes.
“Alan, please instruct Dr. Kimble to remove herself from my path,” Kei’s voice was soft, which was always dangerous.
Freyr’s gaze snapped back to him. Kei was staring at Freyr, not at her at all. Freyr abortively reached out to the Japanese businessman, but the restraints stopped him. Kei’s eyes dropped to those padded cuffs and there was a murderous expression on his face for a flicker of a moment before it was smoothed away.
“Remove her before I remove her, Alan,” Kei whispered, but the words seemed to echo in the room.
“No need to get all fired up, Kei. I told you that you could have your boy back,” the general said in a southern drawl.
Boy? What does he mean by that? And why is the general half-smirking when he looks at me? Freyr blinked in confusion.
Dr. Kimble went rigid at the general’s statement. “What are you talking about, General? Are you suggesting that Freyr Brand is to --”
“Be released into Kei’s custody. Freyr Brand belongs to Black Ocean now, Maya,” the general answered her.
“Freyr is mine,” Kei said quietly and he took his right arm and brushed it against Dr. Kimble’s side. She moved out of his way as if he had struck her even though he had barely touched her. But Freyr didn’t have a chance to think more on her reaction as Kei was suddenly by his side. One of his hands linked with Freyr’s right one and he leaned down. He was staring into Freyr’s eyes. His gaze seemed to be saying something, trying to tell Freyr something very important.
Freyr felt overwhelmed in a way he never had before with Kei. His stomach fluttered and a pulse of heat radiated out of his groin. He hoped to God that his cock did not twitch beneath the thin hospital gown. Kei’s possessive words and the look in his eyes that spoke volumes floored Freyr despite his predicament. He found himself lost in Kei’s cobalt eyes as the Japanese businessman leaned down so that their faces were mere inches apart.
“You can’t do that!” Dr. Kimble cried in the background though her voice sounded very faint and unimportant to Freyr compared to the mint of Kei’s breath and the glow of his eyes as his head dipped even lower. If Freyr didn’t know any better he would assume that Kei was going to kiss him. His own lips parted in an unconscious response. Dr. Kimble continued, “The only reason Kei is interested in Freyr Brand is because of the great power this young man could --”
“On the contrary, Maya, Kei’s interest in Freyr Brand has nothing to do with power,” the general interrupted her with a chuckle.
And as if to clarify the general’s comment, Kei kissed Freyr passionately in front of them both.