to red I rise…

Anders should have known from the very moment that Giles accompanied two guards up to his private quarters that he should have ordered a passcode put on the isolation tank. He’d been woken up just fifteen minutes earlier by the sound of his phone ringing to alert him that Rena was cavorting around the place in search of clothes and freedom, and clearly clothes took a higher priority as she was apprehended in a changing closet a few hours later clutching the outfit that had once belonged to Miranda.
“Master Shew, where do you want AT-679 taken to?” Giles inquired at the front doors to the private suite, offhandedly shooing away the extra hordes of staff who’d followed the three up the stairs in curiosity. “Preferably somewhere that isn’t loaded with expensive stuff.”
“Just follow me, Giles.” Anders stepped out of his room and led the convoy all the way back down the stairs and to the south wing, where he found the interrogation room and gestured for Rena to be thrown in on one side of the glass. When Giles and the two who had kept Rena immobile sauntered away, he entered and assumed a standing position on the interrogator’s side.
“So, Argentina, it’s good to finally see you back on the side of the living,” he taunted, gazing at her desperately trying to open the door she’d so disgracefully gone through. “There’s no point trying to escape. That door won’t open unless either Giles or I send the command to.”
At the sound of his voice, she stopped wrestling with the door handle and stood up dead straight, glaring directly at Anders. “You’re alive?”
He spread his arms out like a parent lovingly welcoming his child home. “Are you impressed? I’ve managed to outsmart death.”
“Not particularly,” she answered, although her hardset jaw and clenched fists betrayed the contrary. “So about your servant… did you play with his life too, or did he come like that?”
“Giles is a good friend of mine who is helping with the more mundane tasks of running this place in exchange for me saving his life in a campus fire, among a few other catastrophes that warrant longer stories than I have time for. I hold him in quite high esteem, and I’d prefer for your own sake that you don’t trashtalk him.”
“I’ll do what I want, thank you very much.”
“Alright then. You’re acting strangely calm for somebody who clearly wants to kill me.” She took a few steps back, murder still in her eyes but not to the point of raging against the bulletproof glass separating the two. “Maybe your time-out did you some good after all. I no longer see a wannabe assassin-for-hire in front of me. Or was it the illusion of an anarchist? I never could tell the difference.”
“Is there a point to this, or are you just going to flaunt the fact that you’re not dead and that I’m helpless to change anything about that?”
“Tamahagane doesn’t destroy thick sheets of glass, unfortunately. Please sit down, Argentina. I have the feeling that this will be highly detrimental to your ego, and I wouldn’t want any injuries from falling unexpectantly.”
When Argentina had settled herself on the floor, probably contemplating her quickly-crumbling plan for avenging Samhain, Anders adjusted the shirt that he’d sloppily thrown on in the rush to get dressed and cracked his knuckles. “So you already know that I had an interest in using Samhain for experimental purposes, although they would be infinitely more humane than the people you were running from would have treated her. I never liked those people, to be honest, them being part of the original staff here before I became more involved. I would like to think that the treatment of people under my charge here are treated better than they would have been had they been created back in 2012.”
“So throwing a teenage girl into isolation is supposed to be humane?”
“I’m still working out the little kinks. But if you had been here back in the previous overseer’s reign, you’d have been subject to surgeries and brutal endurance tests with only a cheap and cold steel cage to go back to at the end of the day. Switching to a dorm system is much less of a stressor on everybody here, and then they can perform much better. And we’re getting better all the time.”
“Uh huh… And knowing that I’m going to choke the living hell out of you as soon as I possibly can, why are you telling me all of this?” Argentina’s face had softened a little bit, and for a brief moment, she could have almost been the innocent sophomore she used to be.
“Because you seek release from the pain of Samhain’s death, and I happen to have some right here. Is there any way that I can make that any clearer?” He reached into his back pocket and pulled out a clear plastic bag with a single crimson pill in it, crouching and holding it to Argentina’s eye level. “If I slide this into the slot on the floor, will you take it without a fight?”
“What does it do?”
“It will provide the peace you’ve been seeking without killing you.”
“And how can I trust that you’re not just giving me cyanide in pretty colors to kill me?”
“That’s the beauty of it.” Anders slid the little packet into Argentina’s side of the room. “You don’t know that you can trust me. You get to make that decision all your own.”
She picked up the packet with one slender hand, only contemplating the matter at hand for a moment before taking the pill out and swallowing it whole. Anders’ throat lurched a bit as she coughed from the potent berry flavor that he’d infused along with his special mix of drugs, and she wiped her chin as he pulled out his phone and called for Giles to escort her to an unassigned bunk and keep her there for the rest of the day.


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