Chapter Two: Resurrection
"Open your eyes."
Slowly and painfully, I open my eyes, expecting a white light to envelop me, but instead I see a grey ceiling with fluorescent lights staring down on me. I try to lift myself up but I quickly find myself tied down to a gurney with only the ability to wiggle my fingers and turn my head.
"No, I'm not God," a voice calls out somewhere around me, "and this is far from heaven."
I look around to try and find the owner of the voice. To the left, only shadows; to the back, a wall; and to the right-
A guy stares back at me through eyes that are just screaming in pain. He's hooked up to some kind of machine exoskeleton. He tries screaming but it's muffled by the gag in his mouth. I look him up in down with a mix of horror and curiosity and see his hand glowing red, the glow slowly spreading up his arm.
"Pay no attention to Mr. Bubeck," the voice says. "Right now I need your full attention. What is your name?"
I continue to stare at the guy in the machine, still not comprehending what I'm seeing.
"What. Is. Your. Name!?"
I force myself to look away and answer in a scared voice, "J-Joshua Kern."
"Where were you born?"
I tell him Indigo City and my birthday.
"What's your mother's name?"
"…Good. Brain function seems to be working perfectly."
"What's going on here?" I ask, still hearing the guy's screaming but not turning to look at him. "How am I not dead?"
The voice pretends that he doesn't hear me. "'Joshua Kern. Carrier class Gamma, Sowilo (P). Possessed the ability to chill the water molecules around him and literally create snow from thin air. Active during the Blight Wars and patient of the Carrier Research Camps. Worked odd jobs ever since and dealt heavily in volunteer work. He was selfless and was given a reward in the form of a bullet to the chest and a fall from a six story building.' That is your file here at the CBTF in a nutshell, Mr. Kern."
"How am I still alive!?" I demand, getting frustrated.
"You can thank Mr. Bubeck for that, Mr. Kern." The voice says. I hear the sound of footsteps approaching and I turn to the left to see a man in a military-like uniform stepping out of the shadows. "You may also thank me for getting you to him. My name is Director Morris Pfeiffer of the Carrier Blight Task Force and right now I need your help."
"My help? What, you want me to become a member of the Response or something?"
Pfeiffer laughs, "No, not even close."
Pfeiffer looks at me and then to Bubeck, who's still screaming under his gag. "Before I explain, I'm going to need you to make the choice to help me or not. Choosing 'No' will result in Mr. Bubeck using his powers to return you to your lifeless state. From there your body will be returned to the city morgue and will remain until it's claimed and buried. Choosing 'Yes' will result in your freeing of those straps and living the rest of your life as an employee of the CBTF."
The director waits for my response, like it's any kind of choice whatsoever.
"Yes, I'll help you."
Pfeiffer smiles. "Excellent."
He personally releases me from the gurney and helps me to my feet, which are a little weak. We walk through the shadows and find a ramp that leads to an elevator door and start on it before the director suddenly stops.
"Oops, almost forgot."
He turns back to Bubeck and presses a button on a remote in his hand. The machine whirls to life and moves Bubeck's hand to another gurney, which I never noticed until now. Bubeck's hand rests on what I guess is a body underneath a sheet and almost immediately the sound of breaking bones fills the room.
"Best not to see what's going on under that sheet, Mr. Kern." The director says, turning me towards the elevator. "We've got too much to discus anyways."
A Short Elevator Ride Later
We walk into Pfeiffer's office and almost immediately he closes the blinds.
"Take a seat, Mr. Kern." He says, locking his door.
I do so and he takes his seat opposite me. He looks at me with a look of fierce concentration on his face and then hands me a picture, one of a spray painted wolf on a brick wall. I immediately remember seeing something like this on the news a few weeks ago.
"That image began appearing on buildings all over the city," the director says. "Those said buildings were piles of brick and mortar within the hour of that image being displayed on them. After the bombings, a CBTF officer ran into a gang of Carriers who attacked him and fled the scene. The officer wasn't able to determine who the leader of the gang was and right now that remains our only lead."
I look up from the picture at Pfeiffer, expecting the answer for why I'm here. He takes a breath and continues:
"Our agents on the streets have heard talk of a secret camp in Kingsville that houses many dangerous Carriers, many of whom are accustomed to the type of violence that it takes to terrorizing a city. I believe that the gang seen after the bombings and this secret camp are somehow related, but I can't do anything to prove it."
He picks up a folder from his desk and tosses it to me. I look at the tab and read my name.
"These people won't trust a regular person. THAT I'm sure of is true. Any attempt at finding this camp by my agents has failed miserably; some have even turned up dead. I need someone in that camp, Mr. Kern. Someone that I can trust and someone that I know they'll take in."
"How do you know they'll accept me?" I ask, fearing that I'm way over my head.
"A Carrier who was mortally wounded by a Carrier-hating old man? Mr. Kern, they'll welcome you with open arms."
"But why me?" I ask the obvious question.
I suddenly see a wave of exhaustion roll over the director's face. "Because this city's about to tear itself apart. Gangs of Carriers are coming together and claiming their share of the city. Sooner or later we're going to have a full scale gang war on our streets and my resources are stretched too thin to deal with it completely. If and when it starts, I will need someone like you to give me eyes on the inside. To tell me what it is that I will have to do to keep my city together. That is why I chose you, Mr. Kern."
Pfeiffer's exhaustion floods into me and I suddenly feel for the man all that he's had to go through to get to this moment. As of right now, I'm his only hope.
"Will you help me, Mr. Kern?"
It's not like I have a choice.
To be continued