DI&R workers scurried to and fro to avoid the hunks of flying glass
thrown about as Red smashed Charles's car through the floor to ceiling glass
windows and doors of their lobby. The car skidded spinning to a halt, Red's
door feet from the security desk. He launched himself out of the vehicle at
the two shocked guards behind it. They were still ducking for cover from the
glass when he reached them. His sword was already out and swinging, not cutting
them of course, but using the blunt hilt to knock them unconscious before
they could do anything against him.
He returned to the car, got the keys out of the ignition, shut the door,
and activated the car alarm. "Make sure no one touches it, ok, guys?" he
said to the guards.
When Red and company had arrived back at the warehouse Father Patrick and
his rabble had been occupying after leaving Alison to her life of depression,
Red felt numb all over his body. After shrugging off Father Patrick's concern
and Kimmy's affections, Red locked himself in the room they'd decided was
his. He didn't sleep.
As he lay awake, he found the numbness slowly being replaced by a burning.
Around five in the morning, he rose. He crept into Charles's room and took
his keys. He left no note.
About four hours later, he was at the same DI&R Argento had brought him
to in his underwear one week before. The night he had arrived there he'd spent
some time reading the materials given to him about the facility, which, in
addition to ranking the on-site restaurants from best to worst, had also taught
him where it was located. It was still in the process of growing light out
when he arrived. His mood had not improved any from when he'd left the city;
if anything he'd grown angrier the more he thought about things. Hence, his
choice of parking.
The main lobby of the building was large two-story room with many hallways
branching off from it and twin staircases leading up to the second floor where
a balcony overlooked the whole area. Red ran up the stairs on the right. The
day after Christmas or no, he knew there would still be work being done here.
He wove his way through corridors he'd been through only twice before, but
he remembered the way well enough. Eventually, he came to a door with a full-length
glass window labeled "Gerald Hayden, Vice President, Conscription and
Enlistment". His sword made quick work of shattering that window.
Hayden's secretary, Georgie, jumped up from her desk in shock. She backed
up into the corner, saying, "Oh, God, he's back!" Red pushed his
way past her to the door to Hayden's inner office. A corner of his mind noticed
that they had finished the repairs as he brought up his sword again and slashed
directly through the door, his sword leaving wedges gouged out of the wall
on either side. A second swing brought the door to the floor. Red burst into
the office and immediately sliced Hayden's desk directly in half, his sword
swinging down right between the executive's legs. The two halves of the desk
fell inwards, spilling his computer, photographs of what Red assumed was his
family, and other miscellaneous things upon the floor.
"Jesus, not again!" Hayden said. "Listen, I finally got this
furniture in earlier this week, can we not destroy it all this time? Please,
just have a seat, we can talk about this."
Red looked around him. The office was much better decorated than last time.
"Georgie, it's alright," Hayden said. "Don't worry about this,
don't bother with security. Actually just go grab us some coffee if you would.
What do you take?"
"I'll pass," Red said.
"Just for me then. Thanks." Hayden was still sitting behind his
broken desk. He looked up at Red expectantly. "So, what seems to be wrong
"Wait, what are you talking about?" said Red, "What 'this
"When we went through this unpleasantness two weeks ago Argento assured
me it wouldn't happen again, but of course I had my doubts. And rightly so,
it seems, because here we are."
"Two weeks ago? But I-"
"Oh dear…" said Hayden. "You don't remember. I had assumed
that you… well, it appears I've said too much. What is it you wanted
"What did you do to Alison? Why can't we bring her back?"
"Oh, that! From what I understand, Argento had noted that Father Patrick's
abilities only healed away our most recent batch of memories. We simply implanted
the same version twice. I'm afraid we can't have you bringing her back again.
She has her place, and you yours."
"Your coffee," said Georgie, returning.
"Thank you," Hayden said. He took the mug from her and sipped it.
As she went out to her desk, Hayden looked around. "You haven't left
me anywhere to put this down, have you? Hmph." All of a sudden the mug
burst, sending the hot coffee all over Hayden's lap. Hayden shrieked in pain
and jumped up from his seat before he noticed that Red had shot the cup with
his now silenced gun. "Jesus, be careful with that thing!"
"You're going to tell me everything," Red said, "and you're
going to tell me now. I might not be able to hurt you with these weapons,
but there are plenty of other ways. Broken coffee mug. Couple of nice picture
frames. Fancy tie you're wearing. You said we could talk. So have a seat.
"Alright, I suppose that sounds fair to me," Hayden said, slowly
returning back to his seat.
"Oh, Georgie?" Red called. He saw her head peek around the doorframe
into the office. "Take the rest of the day off, ok?" She quickly
picked up her purse and left.
"The ball is in your court now, as they say," Hayden said. "What
is it you want to know?"
"That two weeks ago crap, what's that all about? I don't remember knowing
you past a week ago."
Hayden smiled and laughed under his breath.
"What's so funny?" Red asked.
"Red, you've been working for us for four years."
"We recruited you just after you finished High School."
"But… but I remember going to college…"
"Yes," said Hayden, "And Alison does not remember you. Ironic,
considering you were almost married."
"What?!" said Red. Hayden laughed. "Look, you better cut the
crap and tell me the full story, or so help me God-"
"Alright, alright," Hayden said. "Here we go. We recruited
you in the summer of 1997. Since then you've been partnered with Argento working
in the field of Interventions, just as you were this time. Your record was
impeccable, four years of assignments and only four failed missions- fortunately
nothing world shattering, of course. The problem was, of course, your relationship
"I don't understand," said Red, "If I was working for you,
wouldn't she have forgotten me?"
"No," said Hayden, "Because she was working here too. That's
how you met."
"You're telling me we didn't grow up together?"
"Not at all. You met her for the first time, oh, I don't know, a month
or so into your duties."
"What was she doing here? I mean, was she a Saint?"
"No. Besides, you can't stop being a Saint- you're on a one way tract
to Martyrdom. No, she was one of our prophets."
"Oh my God…" said Red.
"Things making sense? Heh. She was the prophet who discovered you, in
fact. It turned out there was some sort of connection between the two of you-
once you were aboard her prophesies were almost solely related to you and
your missions. As soon as Argento introduced you both, you became close. As
time went on, you began seeing more and more of each other. You officially
started 'dating' around three years ago, I believe."
"Alison and I…"
"Yes, it must be awfully exciting. The problem came just under a month
ago when you asked her to marry you."
"What happened?" asked Red. "What, are people not allowed
to marry in the company?"
"Of course they are," said Hayden. "Quite the opposite, actually-
we're not allowed to marry anyone outside DI&R. My wife is a doctor down
in the medical facility. No, there would not have been any problem with it,
had Alison not decided to break protocol and go directly against our orders."
"When she became your future wife, guilt began eating away at her. She
found it increasingly hard to mislead you and eventually told you the truth
about your conscription."
"And what is that?"
"When she first identified you as the next Saint and we brought you
in… you refused. You were unwilling to give up the life you had made
for yourself- too many people you cared about, too many prospects for the
"But I didn't…" began Red. "Oh, my God."
"Exactly. You had too much holding you to your life, so we rewrote your
life. We took it all away from you and gave you a life you'd be much more
willing to leave behind. We made you an outcast with more interest in memorizing
works of literature than in making friends. We gave you life without ambition
leaving you with little to no prospects. Then we just had one last thing to
take away from you. Your parents."
Red's eyes widened. Then they narrowed.
"Wait, now, hold on a second," said Hayden. "It's not like
that. We didn't kill your parents."
"Then what did you do?"
"We just took you away from them."
"Then… my parents are alive?"
"Well, yes," Hayden answered, "They're just not Mr. and Mrs.
Cain. We found the Cains, who had died eight months earlier, and when we gave
you your new life we made them your parents."
"Who are my real parents?"
"What difference does it make? The loving parents you remember are dead,
that was no lie. Your real parents won't even remember you. It doesn't matter,
the point isn't who they were, the point is your reaction. I imagine it's
similar to what you're feeling now. That's what happened two weeks ago, she
told you and you were outraged. You came smashing and slicing your way into
here, destroying my entire office, demanding an explanation."
"And then what?" asked Red, "You did it all again?"
"Basically. We took you to rechristening and gave you a college career.
We couldn't have Alison waiting to refresh your memory when you came back,
so she went with you to be returned to the outside world."
"I don't understand," said Red, "Why didn't you bring her
"We didn't bring her back for a few reasons. First of all, sometimes
there can be trace memories from a previous life. When it comes to prophets,
their abilities make them a bit more prone to getting senses or emotions from
their previous lives. We didn't want to risk her remembering or somehow discovering
what we'd done. Plus, prophets are a dime a dozen. Saints are rare. It was
her or you. We chose you."
"Then why did you have us grow up together?"
"We didn't. At least, not on purpose. Rechristening, either of an individual
or of the collective memories, is a miracle. We make happen what we need to,
but a lot of it is up to Him to sort out. I'm not really sure why He wanted
you to know her, but He must have. Hence the trouble when she forgot you."
"So why make her forget me again?"
"If it really is His will that she know you, He'll find a way no matter
what we do. For now, we're more concerned with the consequences of her death."
"That's another thing," said Red. "What does she have to do
with the end of the world?"
"That's what we need to find out. Just before the rechristening, Alison
warned us with her final prophecy. She said that if she ever died, the apocalypse
would be scheduled for less than two weeks later. That's why we had to get
her out of your way and memory. This is the apocalypse, Red. Someone needs
to intervene, someone like, say, the top agent in our interventions division.
We need you out there helping to make this right, not lamenting your lost
love and mistrusting your bosses."
"So, why are you so willing to tell me all this now?" asked Red. "Hoping
that I'll decide you're good and trustworthy just because you told me about
all your lies after the fact?"
"No," said Hayden. "I just figured 'why not?' You won't remember
it for very long anyway." He pushed a button on his watch and ten guards
came running into the office, their guns, presumably not Holy, trained on
Red. "Drop your sword, please."
"Easy guys, easy," Red said, lowering his sword. He angled it downwards,
trying to be subtle about the fact that he was actually sinking it into the
floor. He quickly spun on his heels, cutting a circular hole in the floor
around him. He, and the circle, immediately fell through the floor, smashing
through the ceiling tile of the office below, much to the surprise of the
office's occupant, now coated with broken bits of the ceiling. Rolling with
the impact, Red hopped up and out the door as he heard Hayden call out "Hold
your fire!" behind him.
He ran to the office across the hall, luckily unoccupied, and slashed his
way out the window, leaping out onto one of the grass lawns between buildings.
He ran around the building back to the shattered front entrance where he had
parked the car.
The two guards he had knocked out were now fully conscious, presumably ordered
to guard the car. They were standing near it, but must not have touched it,
since the alarm was not going off. Red sheathed his sword, pulled his gun,
lay low near the broken entrance and aimed up at a sculpture on the second
floor balcony. He fired, shattering the bust to bits.
The guards jumped to attention. "Check it out!" one said, "I'll
cover you." As the other ran up the left-hand stairs, the first one covered
him with his weapon. Red crept up and slid himself under the car, trying to
avoid cutting himself on the broken glass. He managed to avoid any serious
wounds but picked up a few minor ones.
A cluster of footsteps entered the area. "What's going on?" came
a voice. "Has he come through here?"
"We think he went that way," the guard who had gone up stairs said. "He
knocked over this… thing."
"Alright, let's go," said the first voice. "You two stay close
to the car." Red heard the footsteps run off down the upstairs hall and
the guard came back down the steps. He slipped his keys out of his pocket
and watched their feet under the car. One of them walked towards the driver's
side of the car to stand guard.
"Step away from the vehicle!" Red said, attempting to make his
voice boom as much as possible. "This car is protected by Viper!"
The guards' feet turned, startled. "Crap!" one said. Red hit a
button on the keychain setting off the car alarm. "Oh, crap! What do
we do?" the guard called over the wailing.
"I don't know," the other replied, "I think we have to back
away from it." Once they were a few feet away, Red turned off the alarm
and shot his gun down a hallway off the main lobby. The bullet went through
a door that was ajar just a crack, pushing it closed as the bullet passed
out of it. "Jesus!" the guard said as both of them spun to face
the door. The one near the driver's side door moved towards the hallway.
Red rolled out from under the car and threw open the car door. The guards
spun to face him as he leapt within and started the car. As he stepped on
the gas, the guards each got off one shot. Both pierced holes in the windshield,
one pierced a hole in Red's shoulder. He yelled in pain as the guards leapt
out of the car's path. He drove down the hallway they had been facing, breaking
off both side mirrors as he occasionally got too close to the walls. Up ahead
and fast approaching was the end of the hallway, a large picture window set
in a wall. Red floored it and the car had very little trouble crashing through.
The impact took the already weakened windshield out entirely. Red steered
the car off the lawn and onto the main drag of the compound.
Before long he was speeding out of town on the interstate, which he found
was surprisingly difficult without a windshield. He soon stopped at a rest
area and felt really really guilty about car jacking some professional looking
guy in a suit who parked a little further from the main building than he should
The interior of the car was fairly bloody by the time Red pulled into the
warehouse garage back in the city. As he drove up the others all came out
to greet him. He heard Father Patrick shouting, "Where in heaven's name
were you? We thought you'd betrayed us! Where did you go?"
"Hey…" said Charles, "That's not my car."
Red opened the car door and fell out onto the floor. "My God," said
Father Patrick, "what happened to you?"
"I was shot," Red managed weakly. "Went to… DI&R.
Had to find out about… Alison."
"Alright, lay still," said Patrick, kneeling down by Red's side. "This
should only take a moment."
He pulled off Red's jacket and unbuttoned his shirt, pulling it back to reveal
the wound. He placed both of his hands on the shoulder and pushed down hard,
causing Red to clench his teeth and growl in pain. The blood on his body soaked
back up into the wound as the car seemed to miraculously clean itself. Red
felt an incredibly strange sensation which, glancing down, he realized was
the feeling of his body pushing the bullet back out of him. Father Patrick
grabbed it as it came loose from his skin and the wound sealed itself off.
"Souvenir?" he said, holding the projectile up to Red.
"No thanks," said Red, getting up.
"So tell us what happened," Patrick said, following Red into the
main area of the warehouse, the others trailing behind.
"I told you, I went to DI&R."
"And it turns out they're even more full of crap than you said. Oh,
and they told me why you couldn't heal Alison. They double dipped her in the
fake memory glaze."
"Oh…" said Patrick. "That makes sense, I guess."
"Yeah, it's great. Except now we'll definitely never get her back."
"Don't say that, Red," said Kimmy, "You'll find a way."
"Come now, your Holiness," said Father Patrick, "What did
they tell you? If we're on a team you have to share these things with us.
There is no I in team."
"I cannot…" said Red, "I cannot believe you just said
something so incredibly lame. You're right there is no I, but there is a 'me'
and now that I mention it, there's also 'meat' 'mate' and 'mat', so why don't
you and your boytoy go screw around on your bed and leave me alone?"
"You're not being fair, Red."
"No, I'm not," Red said, "But I don't give a crap. It's not
fair that they've taken Alison away from me. It's not fair that they're trying
to take me back and wipe my memory of her. It's not fair that they told me
we were engaged two weeks ago till they decided to punish us. It's not fair that they took my parents and life away from me and made me a friendless orphan.
And you know what? It's not fair that they leave me with no option but to
align myself with a psychotic pedophile with delusions of grandeur, but we're
all just going to have to bite the bullet and live with it. You've got the
bullet there. Bite it."
Everyone was silent for a moment.
"Um… what about my car?" asked Charles.
"Oh, uh… yeah," said Red. "Look, I'm sorry about that.
It's sort of… dead. I drove it through a few walls. And the windshield
was gone. So I ditched it and stole this one. But, you know, this one is nicer,
anyway, it has a CD player. We just have to get new plates, I guess. Or paint
Charles did not look pleased.
"You know what? Screw it. I don't care. I'm the one whose whole life
was stolen from him, so too bad for you. I'm a Saint, about a million times
more holy than this idiot you follow, so you can just celebrate that I even
touched your stupid car and be happy I came back at all. Hell, we've got five
million dollars! Go buy a new car."
"We have need for that money," said Patrick.
"Damn right you do," said Red. "I'm going to need some new
suits, this is the only one I own and it's got a bullet hole in it. Why don't
you send the boys out to get me some? And why don't they pick up some Chinese
food while they're at it? I'm starved."
"Fine, Red," said Father Patrick, "Just settle down. Charles.
William. Take a few hundred dollars from my room."
"Sweet and sour chicken and some pork fried rice," Red said. "No
"Why don't you get some rest, Red," said Patrick. "We can
talk when you're ready. We'll come for you when the food arrives."
"Great. Thanks," said Red.
Red went into his room and closed the door behind him. His threw his jacket
in the corner, unbuttoned his sleeves and began rolling them up. He lay back
on his bed and stared up at the beams in the ceiling. After a moment a quiet
knock came at the door.
"Go away," Red said.
The door creaked open and Kimmy crept inside.
"Did you not hear me?" Red said.
"Red," Kimmy said, "listen, I-"
"Get the hell out of here!"
"No, I've been trying to-"
"What?" said Red, "What? Are you saying no to me? I didn't
think the word was in your vocabulary."
"Just listen to me for one-"
"Kimmy, Kimmy, Kimmy," said Red, putting his arm around her shoulders, "let
me tell you something. There is nothing you can say that will get me to touch
you. In fact, you sort of make me sick, even if you are eighteen. I am a Saint.
I am blessed by God, or so they tell me. Who on earth do you think you are
that you can just barge into my room whenever you please and then say 'No'
to me when I tell you to get the hell out, hm?"
Kimmy backed away from him slowly, tears forming in her eyes. Something about
the way she smelled struck Red as being odd. All of a sudden he found himself
feeling guilty for making her cry. Her hand went up to her face and seemed
to grab onto it, lifting it off. The image went blurry for a moment before
resolving itself into Alison holding a blank plastic mask, tears streaking
down her face.
"Nobody special," she said.