a world of contradictions
“—Sio!” All heads turned up from the table at the latest interruption, the now-legendary ‘Jack the Ripper’ who had nearly died in the last battle, still looking more like a corpse than a man and followed closely by the surgeon Hunter. For a second nobody dared to even breathe, the sets of eyes flickering between the two men and then back amongst themselves, silently daring one another to go first.
“…Jack. It’s good to see you awake.” The Commander, rising slowly from her chair with the help of her cane and Saint-Germain, before making her way to the front. “Take a seat; if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say you probably shouldn’t even be conscious yet.” Next to her, Vidocq looked even more exhausted than usual, the bags under his eyes rivaling that of his teammate’s and the ashtray piled haphazardly with cigarette butts.
The seat was open right in front of him but he didn’t take it. If he was going to gain even an inch in this decision, it wasn’t going to be from a submissive stance. “Thanks for your concern, Commander, but I can stand.” A snort from the blonde’s mouth, but he was long used to this rift between them now; the cold strategist versus the hot-blooded warrior. “Hunter filled me in on what’s goin’ on with Si…Nobunagun.” A pain in his side as he forced himself to remain composed, though the newly-mended scar still throbbed, each aching pulse like a reminder of what he would have to find a way to get through.
The senior members of the board tittered nervously amongst themselves, unsure how to respond while the gaze of Commander Iyo and the alien Dogoo bore straight through him. This wasn’t just a report to be made to the head of Platoon 2. As Jack the Ripper, he was the squad leader. But he wasn’t just a reincarnation, strands of DNA collected and reborn into a man named Adam Muirhead.
Jack was Nobunagun’s comrade-in-arms.
Adam was Sio’s husband.
A dichotomy that had long been a source of both pride and anguish for all of them; and now, it seemed this was yet another situation in which no matter the side he took, he would never find the answer he wanted. “You want to explain to me just exactly what’s goin’ on…?”
“Miss Nobunagun’s condition is currently stable, albeit critical. As you no doubt know, we have not figured out a way wake her without significant…repercussions. And yet, the wounds might become fatal before she awakens naturally…”
“I have agreed to exchange what little is left of my life for Sio’s survival. Although I, too, will not have much time, I believe it is worth it to ensure her existence.” For the first time that eerie figure spoke, its glowing red eyes making it seem sinister somehow, though Adam knew that it was just as concerned with defeating the EIOs as they were. “However, this is ultimately your choice Adam, as sealing her in stasis will prevent her from interacting with you and everyone else for a long time, possibly even a century.” The bubbles constantly roiling up, the only noise to distract him as he felt caught between two decisions, and for once, he honestly could not say which was worse.
Maybe they would be lucky, and she would wake up and they could cure her. But more likely than not, she would probably die first. And yet, the thought of never seeing her again, of her never even getting to meet her new daughter, to see their kids grow up and experience the rest of their lives together…the pain stabbed his side and he fumbled against the chair’s back, Hunter rushing forward to help support him while grumbling something about being a ‘stubborn-ass bastart’.
“Ja—Adam, please sit…! There’s no need for formalities here, not in a time like this. Gentlemen, please give us some space.” At her command, the rest of the board members filled out quietly, leaving only Vidocq and St. Germain.
“Hah…l-like I said…I don’t…need, a seat…” True, the pain was starting to become unbearable now that the medication was slowly dissipating from his system, but he could bear it…had to bear it. “So, in the end, you're basically asking me t’ choose between killing my wife…or condemning her to an endless sleep…” A low growl as he felt the slight rush of adrenaline, Jack's spirit seemingly on the verge of bursting through, if for just a second in his rising anger. “I won’t just let you take her an’ do whatever you want—“
“—it’s the only way we she can be saved! God damn it Adam, can you not just think logically about the bigger picture for a second here?! Why must it always be about her—her her her!” Chest heaving, the cool-headed strategist finally lost his temper, slamming both hands onto the desk as he rose to his full height, face-to-face with the Ripper. “Need I remind you that DOGOO stands for more than just your personal lives, that we ultimately formed to save our planet?! Mon Dieu!” Those icy blues glaring for only a second, before shrinking as their owner unconsciously took a step back, the lethal side of Jack the Ripper coming out in full force now.
“…I’m only going to let you off this one time. But only because I don’t wish to leave your child fatherless.” He didn’t even need to show those emerald glints for the rest of the audience to feel his murderous intent, the killing instinct that was permeating so strongly that he could’ve sworn he smelled the stench of blood. Glaring for just a second longer before backing off, not even bothering to look at the other in the eye or letting Hunter help him, the anger overpowering all the pain momentarily. “Just because that’s what you’ve come up with…doesn’t mean it’s the only way…”
“…That may be true, but we may not have enough time to find it.” The Commander’s voice was softer this time, sympathy from the human who had suffered through countless hardships until now to lead them. “She’s already approaching the limit our technology is capable of…you have to make a decision, Adam.”
Tch. Of course, that was always how things were, weren’t they? He ground his teeth so hard his jaw hurt, but even his e-gene was in agreement, whispering that they’d best take this chance while it presented itself. Glancing over at the mysterious field, Dogoo staring back without any emotion as he tried to imagine her imprisoned in there, no longer a person but like an artifact to be preserved and gazed at in a museum.
“If I…agree to this, she’ll be in there…in this room permanently…yeh?” It made sense that the technology was the center of the organization, the main hub where DOGOO commanded its presence.
“That is correct.”
“An’ what about you ‘ey? Wasn’t it because you’re already deteriorating that you had to wake the Commander up in the first place?” Though Dogoo had never shown any noticeable emotions, facially or otherwise, it was almost chivalric, the manner in which it was willing to sacrifice itself for them. Though at the moment, he was hard-pressed to find any sort of gratitude in this situation—to act like they were doing him a favor, ha—what a bunch of bullshit.
“…It is true that I will probably not last as long as I had hoped, but the time I have been able to spend in stasis these last few years will give me at least a few more decades, if not just enough time for Sio to re-awaken.”
For some reason he had to bite back a smirk, though it was entirely rueful. “Heh…who’d have thought I’d be owing you of all things, a debt…”
“You are mistaken, Adam. You, nor Sio or anyone else, owes me anything. I am simply finding the best course of action in order to ensure your planet does not fall to the Evolutionary Invasion Objects. And to do that, we need all the holders, no matter the cost.” A pause, as if Dogoo was considering for the first time why it really had come here, to their planet “…I may not understand human emotions still, even after all these millennia, and perhaps I will never do. My race did not evolve to have the same capacity as your kind has; in a way, it has its positives and negatives. To tell the truth, even though I will probably never understand your anger, or your sadness…I still believe the ability to feel, to love as deeply as you do, is something that is exceedingly precious and worth protecting.”
That was…entirely unexpected. He’d been expecting some logical explanation, a reprimand at most about speaking out of line, but this… Perhaps he’d underestimated just how much Dogoo had come to observe and learn. Two millennia were, after all, quite a long time. A long sigh, before at last he resigned himself fully to the inevitable.
“…Well, I guess we might as well not waste anymore time then…”