Faith and Betrayal
Lost Solace - Part Two
A loud tremor rocked the dingy lab as a large explosion erupted from somewhere beneath Hive Solace. The rattling glass and shifting papers did little to distract Hadrian from the data slate in his hands. Overhead, a small glow lamp swung back-and-forth, illuminating small portions of the darkened room and causing shadows to dance across the lab’s walls.
Flak swung his legs over the edge of the metal cot as he sat up. His chest heaved with his heavy breathing as his hands dug firmly into the cot’s sharp edge. A small trickle of blood, already dried and caked on his skin, begun at his left eye and ran down his chin. Slowly, he blinked and opened his eyes. While he was barely able to see in the dim light of the lab, Flak was overwhelmed at the sensation of finally seeing the world with two eyes again.
“Look up.” Hadrian’s voice cut the silence and Flak’s neck snapped to attention. “We need to calibrate the implant to make sure it’s functioning normally. I want you to follow this with your eyes.” Hadrian taped the date slate and a small servo-skull began darting between them. Flak followed the skull for nearly two minutes before Hadrian was satisfied that the implant was calibrated successfully.
“This bionic was not a perfect match, too large for your skull, but it was the best we could come up with on such short notice. With my modifications, it should perform adequately until we return home to Scintilla and I can find a stable replacement. You will undoubtedly experience some swelling and minor headaches while your body adjusts, but I want you to inform me immediately if you have any intense pain around the implant. I have a few more tests I want to run while we’re here…”
As Hadrian continued to talk, Flak allowed his eyes to wander his surroundings. He took great pleasure in watching the shadows dance along the wall and seeing the glass beakers on the table rattle around atop their stands. In the end, he found himself staring at his own reflection on the surface of a large MRI machine. The face staring back at him was older than he expected, but it had been nearly two decades since he laid eyes on this man.
The reflection sat perched atop it’s own medical gurney, and for good reason. Blood and burns covered the tattered flak armor that barely clung to its frail and withered body. Deep gashes and lacerations cut into the reflection’s torso causing fresh blood and puss to drip endlessly onto the lab floor below. The reflection’s hands, twisted and claw-like, dug deeply into the gurneys sides as its entire body shook in pain.
Flak looked into the cold dead eyes of his reflection. He saw hate and anger staring back at him. He saw the deep bruises and cuts that littered the pale skin of the reflection’s face. Its mouth, dripping blood and spit, hung open and a low moaning wail came from its throat. The shaggy black hair which clung matted against the reflection’s skull, barely hid the brain matter that was spilling from multiple fractures.
As Flak looked on, the reflection began to push itself from the gurney. It grunted in pain as it’s broken legs drug across the ground. Its claw-like hands stretched forward, prying themselves from the metal surface of the machine and grasping at Flak’s body. Flak could feel the cold grasp of the reflection on his arms. He could taste the stale breath pouring into his own mouth and felt a sharp pain in his torso, as if his heart was being pried out of his chest. As the reflection’s face drew closer to Flak’s, the low moaning slowly turned into an audible word.
“Brother…” The reflection’s grotesque face was inches from Flak’s, it’s broken and moldy teeth chomping at the air in an attempt to bite the guardsman. With great force, Flak managed to clench his eyes shut and instantly felt the tightness in his chest go away.
“What did you say?” Flak’s voice was steady as he opened his eyes. He was staring at his own reflection in the metal structure with Hadrian standing a few paces away.
“I asked if you were experiencing any hallucinations? Perhaps hearing voices or sounds which aren’t real? These are common side-effects of excessive chem use.”
“No, nothing like that.” Flak shook his head, never lifting his eyes off his reflection.
“How about nightmares or increased fatigue?” Hadrian tapped the metal tubing protruding from Flak’s neck. “How many times do you inject yourself on a daily basis?”
“Enough to get the job done.” Flak responded, pushing Hadrian’s hand away. “I’m fine, are we done here?”
“Your test results would suggest you are not fine. You seem to be suffering from the early stages of chem poisoning. I suggest we take the time to inspect your injection rig when we return home as well. If it took damage, it may be leaking unchecked into your blood stream.”
“Fine… That sounds fine…” Flak muttered. He continued to stare at the face of his reflection as the dull glow of the lamp overhead blurred the image in shadow. While it was subtle and difficult to see, Flak could still make out the soft purple glow emanating from his right eye.
“About the other thing, I will be informing Inquisitor Sand immediately. It would probably be best if you were there when it happened.” The Tech-priest looked back at the silent guardsman as he turned to leave.
“I thought you might say that.” Flak replied as Hadrian began making his way out of the lab. For a few seconds, Flak felt relieved as he looked into the cold lifeless bionic eye in his reflection. It looked so normal and harmless. But after a few seconds, Flak could see the deep purple runes begin to bleed across the eye’s surface, and once again he was left with the eyes of the warp staring back at him.