Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 7, part 1.14

Posted by harmony0stars on March 23, 2011

The shadow paused as she glared at it, turning uncertainly to its companions and the fallen soldiers around it as if it wasn’t sure it wanted to or was allowed to tangle with her. She snatched at the tendrils which had attached to Redfield from a half dozen different shadows as they fed on the downed soldiers. For her efforts, she was nearly deafened by a static keening which she both heard and felt in her bones. Grabbing the agent by the arm, she pulled him back to his feet, but he was no longer in any condition to walk.

Glory glared at the shadows as she bent down and heaved Redfield onto her shoulders in a fireman’s carry. It was not something she had ever tried before, having only read about it and seen examples on TV. She could not move quickly, but with Redfield on her shoulders, the shadows seemed to take that to mean he was off limits and made no more moves against him. Or maybe they didn’t want her to rip apart any more of their sticky fingers. They converged on the remaining men and women and enveloped them in darkness. Some disappeared utterly, sinking into the floor or walls like black suppurating cocoons that evaporated as if they had never been. Other shadows, perhaps inexperienced, only managed to take their victim, leaving behind weapons and even piles of clothes.

She stepped into the sunlight, still carrying Redfield over her shoulders. There were no shadows in the parking lot, only the hummer sitting with one door open. Bitman leaned forward in his seat and gave her an impatient gesture to get inside. She’d barely shoved Redfield into the open door and climbed in herself before Steiner was tearing away from the building. Glory almost fell back out the open door as Steiner made a sharp turn to the gate. The Colonel grabbed her by the arm and hauled her away from the door, pulling it shut before whipping out what looked like an iphone and playing with the screen. The doctor who had been examining the little girl bent over Redfield’s body. He wasn’t moving at all, though the bleeding seemed to have stopped.

The building dwindled as Glory stared out the window, not seeing the building at all. An old memory, a dream, she hadn’t thought of since she’d been a kid, was clawing its way up from her subconscious, and she didn‘t like the ramifications. A concussive wave from the building rocked the car and startled her from her thoughts. Glory blinked away the stars to see the building had already half collapsed in an inferno that only seemed to be gaining strength. At least it was well enough away from the woods that she was pretty sure it wouldn’t spread.

Bitman slipped his iphone back into his pocket as Glory looked at him incredulously. “There may have still been people in there!”

“I did them a favor,” he said, his attention on Redfield. “How is he?”

“Massive hemorrhaging,” the doctor replied, shining a penlight into his eyes. “If he wakes up, there’s no knowing how badly he’ll have been infected. He might be well on his way to being Hollowed. We‘ll have to quarantine him and hope for the best. I can’t get volunteers to walk the ward any more though. They’re too afraid of being taken when their patient goes. It might be better to let him go. I don‘t want to dump him in there and hope he wakes up to feed and clean himself.”

“I could have saved them,” Glory growled. The colonel and doctor ignored her until she reached down and put her hand on Redfield’s shoulder.

Once upon a time, she’d healed by instinct, probably wasting a lot of energy in the process if her exhaustion had been any indication. Now she could see the holes the things had left in his aura as well as the physical damage of burst and weakened blood vessels, the cellular damage that was already reviving dormant DNA. It was a lot easier to repair the damage to his system than it had been making a shining Trapezohedron for Bho-Rhed. Most of his body still knew how it was supposed to be and worked with her instead of against her as she healed the damage.

Redfield jerked and sat up with a gasp, blinking around the car at his companions. Bitman and the doctor both jerked away, though the old man managed to hide his astonishment. The doctor gaped at the agent, leaning forward despite her apparent horror at his revival. Redfield examined at his hands, scrubbing his face with a sleeve and shrinking from the blood smears on the cuff of his white dress shirt.

Slowly the doctor bent towards Redfield, reaching out a shaking hand to tilt his chin towards the light. He accepted her examination with frightened intensity. “I- I would still suggest quarantine to make sure nothing has attached itself to him,” she said, eying Glory fearfully, “but I think he will be okay. She‘s definitely a POI.”

“What the hell is a POI?” Glory asked testily.

“A Person of Interest,” Bitman replied, his voice neutral.

Glory scowled at the passing scenery. If she’d been thinking, she would have healed Redfield as she carried him to safety. Did she regret healing him? No, he didn’t seem like a bad sort, even if Steiner was a creeper and their boss was an even worse manipulator. But she would have preferred not to give them even that much more information about her abilities.

Well, there was nothing for it but damage control. “Steiner and Redfield… are they cousins of mine?” Glory asked, turning away from the swiftly moving scenery.

Bitman stared back at her for several seconds before giving a curt nod. “We don’t know why It takes some and not others. Do you have any ideas?”

“I’m working on a theory,” she replied, which made the old man frown.

“Please,” he said, his voice dripping sarcasm, “don’t keep us in suspense.”

“Give me a break. I didn’t even know about this thing till a couple days ago, and this is the first encounter I‘ve had with those… things. I’d like some more facts before I start making a fool of myself with unfounded theory.”

“She’s telling the truth,” Steiner said from the front seat. She met his eyes in the rearview mirror, and he actually looked apologetic. How he knew she was telling the truth, she didn’t know; it must have been some function of whatever psychic ability he had. She might have misjudged him, but having him around would make it harder to lie if there was a need.

to Book 7, part 1, page 15

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