The Hidden--Episode 4: Awakenings

This is your future and your present. Treachery and deceit are common staples in this world, sometimes squeezing loyalty and truth from existence. Or so it seems. In my experience, I have found that they merely make loyalty and truth more difficult to find, not non-existent. It is all a matter of searching in the correct places, of searching for the right things. Dedication and love can be found in very strange places, just as betrayal and lies can be found in familiar locations. Enmity and brotherhood are sometimes side-by-side.

Be prepared for anything.


Jim Eastman heard the screams immediately. A girl's screams, shrill and quick. He paused, and listened. The sounds were coming from just ahead. The man took a deep breath, and then plunged ahead. The screams continued, and then were interrupted by a gunshot. As the echoes of the gunshot died, the scream came back, piercing and desperate. Jim lifted his submachine gun, and then began to run forward. He whipped around, into an alley-and tried to take in the scene.

He saw a teenage girl, pressing herself into the corner of an alley, and thugs with guns. Jim bit his tongue, and opened fire. Two shots, and the last two thugs turned around. Jim hit the third man, and then the fourth began to fire. The black man tried to dodge, but the first bullet hit him. He shot back, three times, and the last assaulter went down. Jim fell back against the wall, and slowly saw everything come back into focus.

The teenage girl had golden hair, and was covered in makeup. Now, though, the makeup was smudging, because she was crying. Next to her lay the body of a man in a trench coat, not one of the thugs. And then there were the four men with the guns. And then there was the blood, the blood and the pain. Jim clenched his teeth, looking down at his leg. There was a gaping bullet-hole in it. Whatever the ammunition had been in that gun, it had made a good-sized wound.


He looked back at the girl, who looked back up at him with fear and something else in her eyes. She rose, clutching a leather jacket closely around her; then, quickly, she looked over, and Jim followed her gaze. At the entrance of the alley stood four thugs, Danzer submachine guns aimed at Jim. He lifted his own weapon, and took a step backward towards cover in the alley.

"Don't shoot!" screamed the girl. "No more shooting!"

"Come on, Jenny," one of the men said.

The girl slowly began to move, and Jim leapt forward. "Don't touch her! I know what you want!"

As he raised his gun, he felt two blows on his head, and saw the four men clustering around him as he fell into darkness.


"Senator Prowetts, you have the floor."

"Thank you," replied the Senator, rising in his seat, turning to address the Senate. We're almost at a full session here...that's incredible. It must be all of the publicity. Well, not much more to go, this already got passed in the House... "My fellow Senators, I have sponsored the current bill that is being debated: the government contract with Neolabs to provide the bulk of our armed forces. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a move that will substantially decrease the amount of manpower required to operate the military, meaning that fewer of your loved ones will be in harm's way..."

As the speech dragged on, Prowetts stole glances around the chamber, watching certain other Congressmen. As they caught his glance, they nodded to him. He continued with his speech, stronger and more confident. As he sat down, there was no applause, but the sounds of affirmation slowly spread through the room. It had been a good speech...although perhaps it had been the bribes which had produced that effect.

And then came another voice, a voice that Prowetts knew well. That of Senator Jon Young. He gritted his teeth as the charismatic politician began his counter to Prowetts' claims and calls for support. He clenched his fists tightly, and breathed slowly...but he only barely managed to control his temper as Young ended his speech...to light applause. The older Senator shut his eyes, and slowly let a smile cross his lips, as he thought of the man he had talked to.


Arthur Branning took a deep breath, and walked to his window, feeling the sun warm him. He smiled, looking out at the view from his window, the view of the countryside outside of the city...now that had been fairly expensive. The CEO of Neolabs nodded, and smiled. He felt a swift breeze blow by, and then looked back inside. The house was empty for now; his son had left to work in the offices for the day. Branning grinned, and looked outside again.

"Well, I'm free for the day," he murmured. "It's nice to have a vacation like this once in a while...and to think that Thomas is learning how to take my place at the same time...delightful. Perhaps I'm going to go for a walk."

He stepped back from the window, and tried to clear his mind of everything, of his work, of the protesters, of the money...and to focus on what he had. Life could feel good, couldn't it?


"What was last night all about, Troy?" Ashley asked her husband, as he dressed in the uniform of the police force. "I don't understand...you were acting like something had happened. What's wrong?"

"Nothing, beautiful," the man answered. "Please...don't worry about a thing. It's alright. Trust me. I just...am trying to forget some things...bad memories..."

She nodded. "I see. Is it Bob, again?"

"Yeah..." He swallowed.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to bring it up again..."

"No, I'll be fine. Thanks."

"All right, come here," said the redhead, smiling and sitting up in bed.

He turned around, and bent down, kissing her. "Thanks. I'll see you in a while. Give Jaime a kiss on the cheek for me."

Ashley nodded. "Will do, sir!"

He had finished suiting up; Troy left the room, and shut the door. Ashley stared at the wood for a few moments, and frowned. Every day, he would always look back and blow her a kiss. Every day. But today...he'd simply left. She got out of bed, and slowly dressed. Shaking her head, she looked in the mirror, and shut her eyes.

Maybe it will be all right, just like he says. Maybe. Please, God, let it be all right.

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