Adam Jensen dodged another lunge by Namir, the heavily augmented mercenary surging past him at inhuman speed among the animated cadavers in the gallery. Namir blended in nearly perfectly with his flesh-colored artificial prosthetics. After himself, Namir was the most heavily augmented human Jensen knew. Adam was so close to finding Megan Reed and the answers he sought... and the hulking man who had all but killed Jensen 6 months ago was the last thing standing in his way. Since their previous encounter, Jensen had been remade and now he was at least Namir's match, if not superior. For once, he was grateful for the excessive augmentations his boss David Sarif had fitted him with while he was unconscious in the operating suite. Jensen's optical HUD showed his energy cells blinking – his stealth camouflage was about to lose power. Seconds later when it did, he extended his nanoceramic combat blades from his forearms, timed perfectly with Namir's next attack. Suddenly Adam felt his arms weaken to near uselessness, and he fell limply upon his back. He tried to lift the blades but it was as if all his augments had been simultaneously deactivated. Namir pinned Jensen's debilitated body down against the ground and menacingly growled at him, "You should have stayed dead! Besides, men like us – we never get back the things we love." With a blinding flash of pain, Namir blasted his plasma rifle point blank at Jensen's chest.
Adam shot out of bed, sweat beading along his neck muscles to his collar bone and dripping down his sternum. As he sat up, he felt the sheets clinging to the moisture on his back peel away gradually under the tension. Another nightmare. It wasn't the first but instead of flashbacks of the first attack, now he was reliving the last showdown before finding Megan Reed at Omega Ranch. His head throbbed and he almost felt deafened by the beats pounding in his ears from his mechanical heart. Bending forward and pressing his forehead against his knees, Adam took several deep breaths, closing his eyes again tightly. It's over, he reminded himself.
He hadn't had much time to relax since the last several missions. Last night was the first good sleep he'd had in ages. As he ran his hand through his short brown hair, he looked beside him at Pritchard, sleeping soundly between him and the wall. He took a moment to admire the skin of her bare shoulder peeking through her shirt collar and the fine gossamer locks of brown hair falling over her neck. Smiling inwardly, he noted the time on his heads-up display.
He hadn't set an alarm in months since he barely slept through the night anyway. This was the first morning he had slept past 3am since he'd been discharged from the hospital. Without sleeping pills, that is. The doctors had sent him home with a plethora of medications – uppers and downers, sedatives and painkillers. He had used the sedatives for a little while, but eventually ran out and didn't feel like asking for more. He already felt like a guinea pig without constantly popping pills just to keep the demons at bay. At that point, he didn't want to feel normal – after all, nothing about what happened to him could be called "normal." The remaining prescriptions were still sitting unused in their original boxes on the white linoleum counter by the bathroom sink. Adam contemplated just calling in a personal day and staying in bed with Freya for a little longer, but he doubted she would approve. Besides, Sarif would want them at their desks today, and every day for the next few months. After the debacle with Hugh Darrow and Panchaea, which Jensen could scarcely believe had only happened the day before, everyone at Sarif Industries would be on full damage control.
Adam stood and stretched beside the mattress, trying to make as little noise and movement as possible as he got up so as not to rouse Freya. He moved into the bathroom and tossed his boxers to the ground, making a sidelong glance at his still shattered mirror. Adam turned the silver nozzle for the shower and stepped inside the steaming stall, sliding the glass pane closed. He rested the palm of his black prosthetic hand against the wall and hung his head forward, letting the water rush down his neck and back. In the corner of his vision his picked up a rustling movement and saw Freya entering the bathroom, rubbing her eyes groggily.
"Do you mind if I join you?" she asked, blinking a couple times to clear the haze of sleep.
"Come on in," he said, moving aside and making room as she tossed her shirt and panties into the corner near the doorway. She slid the fogged up shower door open and stepped through the escaping cloud of steam into the hot rain from the showerhead. Adam's eyes quickly scanned down then back up, admiring her naked form as the cascade of water fell along her body. He pulled her close and grabbed his shampoo from the corner shower ledge, squeezing some onto her long wet locks and taking enjoyment in working up the suds and feeling the bronze strands slip between his fingers. She curled her arms up against her chest and fell back into his embrace familiarly, already comfortable with his body after just last night.
"Thanks, Adam," she spoke leisurely, closing her eyes reveling in his touch. She turned her head towards him barely as she spoke, "but you should have woken me, you know. Did you want Sarif to give me the third degree for being late?"
As he rinsed her hair, he turned her to face him, running his hands along her slick, gently sloping waist. Her hands rested along his shoulders and pulled him down so his mouth met her lips, water running down the sides of their faces. Freya wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him even closer, pressing her sopping wet breasts up against his chest. His breath caught in his throat and his hands tightened involuntarily on her skin, savoring her soft warm flesh and hungrily pulling her hips to his. Abruptly, he grasped her thighs and lifted her up effortlessly so her legs straddled him, eliciting a short cry from Freya.
"Maybe I want to be late," he suggested, grinning mischievously and kissing her passionately, her lips curving up in a smile in response.
An hour later, Adam and Freya passed into the lobby of Sarif Industries, barely concealing guilty smirks. Freya stopped off on the second floor and ran her hand down Adam's arm in parting as she went to the Tech Lab. Jensen was passing through the door to his office when David Sarif commed in, "Adam, where the hell have you been? Meet me in my office, we need to talk."
"What about, Boss?" he asked, sitting behind his desk. The mahogany table top was covered in half-opened envelopes and magazines. In the far corner, his nearly-empty whiskey bottle was sitting neglected behind an old picture of him and Megan. Angrily, he snatched up the picture and threw it in the trash basin at his feet, making sure to crumple it in half; glass, frame and all. It had been taken shortly after they first met at a fundraiser hosted by Versalife, which his sergeant had sent him to in order to represent the department. Even back then, many members of the force had relied on augments and as part of a tax write off, Versalife donated huge quantities of neuropozyne and discounted services to them. He recalled that was the first time he'd seen Bob Page speak in public.
"Hugh Darrow. I'm going to need to send you on an errand," Sarif continued.
Adam logged onto his computer and saw a couple new messages in his inbox. One message in particular caught his eye, the subject titled "White Helix." It was a forwarded message from Pritchard from a few days ago just before he left for the Rifleman Bank Station and Singapore. The inline text contained a copy of a correspondence between Hugh Darrow and David Sarif, with Sarif asking for more information about White Helix, the company that was responsible for the experimentation on Adam that gave him supercompatibility with augmentation technology.
"Freya, you there?" Adam commed.
"Yeah, what's going on?" she asked.
"I just saw your message about White Helix. Do you have any additional information?"
"No, I didn't look more into it after I ran into Windmill again on a hidden server where I was asking about White Helix. He said it's way too hot, and if I go there then 'they' will start hunting me down. Immediately after that I saw a tracker rifling through my system. I happened across those emails between Sarif and Darrow when I looked into that background check Sarif did on you. Maybe you can get some more out of him…"
Adam agreed and closed his computer, heading straightaway to Sarif's penthouse on the top floor. As he walked past Athene, still sporting bruises from Darrow's catastrophic signal, he spied Sarif on the phone behind his desk. Jensen approached him and he rapidly wrapped up the conversation and threw the phone back on the receiver.
"That was the secretary general of Interpol, Hans Bauer. Looks like Hugh Darrow survived that disaster in the Arctic and they have him in custody in his homeland. I'll need you to go there and find out who was involved, if there was anyone inside Sarif. I've already debriefed Megan and she only knows about Zhao Yun Ru and Darrow, but no doubt there are others," Sarif instructed Adam.
"I have some questions for Darrow myself. Namely about White Helix," Jensen stated, his CASIE carefully monitoring Sarif's response. He quickly noted sparks of apprehension, guilt, and deflection in the boss's demeanor.
"Look, I'll tell you what Darrow told me when Megan wanted more information. White Helix is better left in the past," he said paternally.
"Maybe that worked fine for you before, deciding what I did and didn't need to know, but I'll decide that for myself now. Do you know anything more about it, or am I going to have to get it out of Darrow?" asked Jensen threateningly.
"Darrow never told me more than was necessary for Megan's research, which wasn't all that much. Your DNA provided for universal supercompatibility, particularly in the form of novel biofilms and biochips. How it became so special wasn't relevant. The geneticists weren't much more helpful, all they could tell us was that the sample came from someone who was one step ahead in human evolution, whether by chance or someone's design."
Adam wasn't satisfied by a long shot, but could tell Sarif wasn't withholding any information. If he knew anything, his conscience would have made him spit it out. David Sarif had been able to ignore the ethical ramifications in using Jensen's DNA without his knowledge until Adam directly confronted him about it at Panchaea. Now, Sarif's misgivings were finally catching up to him. David Sarif had treated Jensen in a fatherly manner since hiring him, and maybe moreso since fitting him with all of their top line augmentations. He probably thought he was doing Jensen a favor. He wasn't a schemer, Sarif. If anything, he was an idealist, which was uncommon to most CEOs. He really believed their company had a bright future to offer the world, and had great faith in science and progress. Sure, he wasn't above making a lot of money on the side, but his motives were as pure as they got in this business. Though perhaps that wasn't saying much.
"I'll see what I can get out of Darrow," said Jensen, turning and leaving before his boss dismissed him officially.
On the elevator ride back down to the main floors, Jensen was somewhat relieved to see the blazes throughout the city were beginning to be contained. There were fewer columns of smoke and the blaring sirens were less prominent. When Adam turned toward the helipad where Malik was waiting for him, he commed Freya to let her know he was heading out.
"Where are they keeping him?" she asked.
"His home country, Great Britain," he announced. "I'll want you to listen in on the conversation we have and record it."
"Will do," she replied.