Easily the part of Titan with the highest crime rate. An endless row of warehouses, small factories and sweatshops and airports. More then half the goods sold in the city moves out from this part of town. While well policed, it's well known that most of the patrolmen in this part of town are in the pocket of one or more of the crime families.
Not long after drifting off to sleep, Anson found himself in a world surrounded by fog. The air almost rippled as if you'd find rising up for a sidewalk on a hot summer day. Slowly, shapes began to coalesce and form.
The room he found himself in was dark but clean. It smelled the burning scent of isopropyl alcohol and ether. There were no windows. One of the lights at the end of the room buzzed and flickered on and off. There were several rows of beds, with head boards made of cast iron painted white. A sign near the door advertised the importance of the staff washing their hands. He had been here before. Ten years ago.
Most of the beds were empty, with one notable exception. The boy who occupied the bed had a bandage over his head. He was about fourteen or fifteen, his face swollen and puffy from the surgery. He didn't move. Surrounding him was a group of perhaps half a dozen men, in a semi-circle of wooden folding chairs. Most of them wore the white lab coats that were standard issue to the infirmary of the Titan City Home for Boys. One of them, an older and overweight man who looked vaguely eastern European and wore a white beard in the “Van Dyke” fashion, was examining one of the patients. He ran a metal probe along the patient's feet, then his hands, looking for a reflex response. Oddly, there was a man in the back with a frock coat and an ash gray fedora, who paced back and forth. A single quail orange-red quail feather stuck out of the hat band.
Oddly, there was a man in the back with a frock coat and an ash gray fedora, who paced back and forth. A single quail orange-red quail feather stuck out of the hat band.
“It's been twelve days. What if he doesn't come out of it?” said the pacing man.
“He will. It was a complicated procedure. You should expect it would take longer to recover than the others.”
“He may be in a coma. A vegetable of use to no one.”
The examining physician then produced a bottle of smelling salts from his pocket and waved it beneath the boy's nose. The boy responded by attempting to turn his head away.
“He's coming around. Young man, can you hear me?”
He couldn't open his eyes. Even with them closed, it seemed as if he was staring into the sun. Each word hit him like a hammer, cracking his head apart.
“Son, can you hear me? I'm going to ask you some questions. Do you remember my name? I'm Dr. Hiram Insfeld. I saw you before your procedure. Do you remember that?”
The boy shook his head.
“Do you remember what the date is?”
Again the boy shook his head.
“What's the last thing you remember?”
The child couldn't seem to find the words. The last he remembered was feeling part of himself being taken from him, losing something of what made him who he was. Everything before that was like a memory of a memory, something that happened to someone he vaguely knew.
“Mr. Montaigne, I believe the child needs his rest. I'm sure that the Bureau can wait a few more hours.”
“I need to know now, was it a success?”
“It's difficult to say. He seems much more docile now. He also doesn't appear to remember anything that occurred prior to the surgery. Whether this is permanent or not...only time will tell. The other cognitive alterations will take even longer to assess.”
“We'll have to watch him. See how he develops.”
“Alright, young man. You've done very well. I think we'll let you rest for now, Isaac. You can go back to sleep.”
“Isaac's gone.” The boy replied. “You took him.”
The doctors looked at one another.
“What do you mean, child?"
"He's not here anymore. Only pieces remain, an empty room inside my head where he used to be."
"I see.. And who would I be talking to now?”
“Really...and who, might I ask, is Anson?”
“Anson is what was left behind.”
Anson Nullmann awoke back in the hotel room, gasping for air.
Emily had always been a light sleeper, and when Anson woke abruptly, gasping, it was enough to wake her as well. Despite having slept for an hour at best, she felt much better. It took her a moment to gather herself and remember where she was. When she did, she sighed and approached the sofa on which Anson had been sleeping.
"Mr. Nullmann?" she asked in a soft voice. "Are you alright?"
Emily did not know what to make of than man. He was an odd character - obviously quite apt in his field, whatever that may be, though he seemed harmless, to the point of helpless, in everything else. She wondered if this is all an act designed to earn their trust, but Anson Nullmann did not seem capable of such a scheme. Despite herself, Emily found that she was quite fond of him.
"Anson, it's alright, we're safe," she said soothingly, as if she were apeaking to a child. "You're safe."
(OOC - What happened to Erich?)
(OOC - joint post conducted via PM. I'll give Erich a holler. I'm sure he's still with us.)
Thanks. I'll be fine. Just give me a minute.”
Anson sat up. The springs in the old sofa creaked. His head was awash in the new found memories, still bubbling up to the surface of his consciousness like froth on the ocean tide.
“Why didn't I...how could I have forgotten....” He turned and looked again at Emily. “Sorry, it's all still coming back.” Anson wiped the sweat off his forehead and felt his scar again.
“You noticed this scar before.”
"I, uh..." Anson's reaction gave Emily pause. She had no idea how to react to that. She was beginning to think he might be insane after all, and the disappointment she felt at that was much more than she had expected. "I did," she said eventually in a cautious tone.
“Well, I've had it since I was fourteen years old. I was in the Titan Home for Boys, one of the many orphans that reside there. I was told that the scar was as a result of some kind of accident, that I needed some form of corrective cranial surgery. I took their word for it since I had a kind of amnesia surrounding it. I actually don't remember much of my life before it happened. But I think some of it has started to come back to me. I don't know, maybe it's the trauma of recent events....but I think there might something more. I think what happened to me ten years ago might be connected to what's going on now.”
“I think I was the result of some kind of experiment. The left hemisphere of my brain was surgically altered, perhaps some of it removed. It was then that I first began demonstrating a certain facility for higher mathematics. The french call this condition an 'idiot savant', where damage to part of the brain can cause an increased aptitude in another, as the brain struggles to compensate. There were other effects, I have not always been the most...stable, psychologically speaking. If that makes you and Erich decide to part ways, then I understand. But I'm telling you this because you're both risking your freedom when you could have left me with Titan Security. You deserve to know why.”
Emily sat back down on her bed and looked intently at Anson for a moment before replying. "We do," she said. "But, Mr. Nullmann, you have to agree..."
He did not wait for her response, instead continuing with what he had meant to say.
“One more thing. I now have a lead we can follow up. A couple of names we need to look into. The first is one Agent Montaigne from the Bureau of Investigation. He was there to supervise the experiment, I believe he intended to watch over me. I'd hazard a guess he's still involved, and knows something about who these people are with their blue triangle. The second is going to be easier to find. Dr. Hiram Insfeld, who's been my psychiatrist for as long as I can remember. But now I know that he was directly involved too.”
Despite herself, Emily found that she is quite caught up in his story. The way Anson told it made it seem very convincing, but when she took a moment the take in what he has said, she realized it sounded exactly like the rabling of a madman. Still, she decided to go along with it.
"Do you think this Agent Montaigne could have belonged to the agency behind the blue triangle and not to the burea? If so, that card of yours is probably our best lead to him."
“That's a good point. I hadn't thought of that. Oh, one more thing. I want to look into a child named Isaac who would be on Titan Home for Boys records, listed as disappearing around the same time as my surgery.”
This caught Emily by surprise. "Why in the world would you be interested in him? What could he possibly have to do with this conspiracy if he were only a child at that time?"
“Why? Well, I can't explain it yet exactly...but I think he was me.”
"Alright," Emily said, mostly to herself, while rubbing her temples. "alright."
None of this made sense to her. The more she listened to Anson, the more she felt torn: a part of her was desperate to help him, and the other was screaming she should cut all ties with him before it was too late. She has developed quite a liking for him, in a weird, protective way; if it wasn't for that, she knew, she would not have believed a word he said.
"Mr. Nullmann... is it alright if I called you Anson?" she started carefully. "Please don't take this the wrong way, obviously you need help and I will be more than happy to do whatever I can, but, uh... You understand that what you've told me is, uh, quite hard to believe?"
Emily paused to look closely at Anson's face. He seemed to believe what he had said, and she could not find any signs in his expression that he was keeping any information from her. She rubbed her temples again and closed her eyes.
"Alright," she said again. "I suppose I might as well see this through. Where do you want to start?"
“Well, the connecting link in this causal chain seems to be Dr. Insfeld. He's the only one who knows what happened to me. I want the chance to confront him, if nothing else to find out why he's been hiding this from me all these years. Then we'll need to see if there are any records of an Isaac coming into the Home for Boys around 1921 or any traces of an Agent Montaigne. The only problem is that those records would be in Federal Center, placing it firmly within the Information Directorate's control. And I can't go back there...”
"What are you suggesting, then?" Emily asked. Her sleep-deprived state made her less than tolerant toward insinuations like these. "Are you asking me to do that? If you are, just spit it out. I said I'd help, didn't I?"
She paused for a second, realizing how rude she must have sounded. Anson was her only friend right now - she was in a world of trouble even before she ran into him, and she should probably play nice before she lost him, too. It also occured to her that she had no idea whether this is something she actually can do.
"I'm sorry, Anson," she said in a softer tone. "I had a really bad night. I'm tired and I want to go home, but I shouldn't take it out on you. I meant what I said, though. I want to help, just tell me what to do and how to do it."
“I apologize. What I would need you to do, if you're so willing, would be to head back to the 'post office' and see if there's anything you can find out about an Agent Montaigne or this blue triangle.” And with that, Anson Nullmann handed her the only thing of value he had left, the card given to him by his secretary. It was a remarkable show of trust, but no more so than what she had already shown him considering the circumstances.
“I'm not asking you to do this just because they don't know you there as they apparently do me, but also so you can judge for yourself what's going on. I'm not sure I trust my own judgment at this point any more than you do.”
He took up his umbrella and folded his rain coat over his arm.
“While you're doing that, I'm going to go visit herr doktor and see if I can finally get a straight answer. Erich, you're welcome to come with either of us, or follow any leads of your own if you have any ideas. But if not, it would be good if you can stay here. You're the only one here with any experience in these matters so if either of us ends up needing help, we won't have to go looking for you.”
(OOC: Sorry for the light posting this week. Things are a bit hectic in RL here.)