“What happened out there,” Chief Gnaeus bellowed from behind his desk. He had risen from his chair to pace back and forth with a face that was turning redder and redder. “I want to know everything, full debrief; immediately,” the furious Chief ordered as he slammed forward to support himself on his palms against the desk. A scattering swarm of papers flew everywhere at the sudden and violent act in protest.
Officer Corvan was the first to respond in a calm, cool, and collected manner. She trained her eyes directly forward and kept her composure as casual and relaxed as she could. “Mr. Vincent has been confined to a detention cell presently,” Vedia began as she started to deliver her report. Oliver sat quietly at her left and made sure to remain as silent as he could. The Chief’s ire was terrifying to him, and at present he wrestled with weighing which had been more frightening – the Chief or the creature out there. Right now he was leaning towards the Chief.
“Our patrol began without incident at first. We made our way in a wide circuit that directed us inwards to survey the outer streets and then we systematically moved from block to block. The squad made its initial foray out and Mr. Vincent provided us his own intelligence with regards to his experience with his own encounter. However the information proved to be somewhat lacking in tactical value.”
Pausing to look directly at the Chief Vedia dropped some of her usual reserved demeanor to address him personally. “I cannot explain what happened next, sir. I have no real answers for you, but I have to warn you that my report, while accurate and true, is going to be anything but believable. Officer Novius and I were caught from behind by some walking abomination. It bore the resemblance of a recently dead victim but it moved as if it was still alive. The creature came at us as if to attack and Officer Novius declared a warning and then opened fire to no effect. I then engaged the enemy as well and counted all shots hit true to their marks. Nothing stopped the thing, it didn’t even register that we had shot it.
And furthermore, sir; it screamed at us. I can’t quantify it in anyway that makes sense. But it opened its horrid mouth and shrieked at us in a way that left us frozen with fear. If not for the actions of Mr. Vincent then we would both be dead, Chief.” Gnaeus’s patience was wearing dangerously thin and he had just about enough of this prancing around the point. “Then why is this supposed savior of yours locked up in one of my cells?” Chief Gnaeus begged his two officers to explain.
This time it was the rookie who responded with a squeaked answer. “He’s a monster, s-sir!” Was he hearing things? Did this pup just try to tell his superior that they had went out to face some fictional fuzzy threat and return to declare that not only did they run into some walking dead thing but that their only witness was a monster himself? What in all the New Republic was he being forced to deal with here? Was everyone going mad?
“You best explain yourself, and fast,” Chief Gnaeus warned with a snap. He had already decided he wasn’t about to wait overly long to listen any further to these two. “Officer Novius is correct, sir,” Vedia agreed. “As I already stated our own weapons weren’t working, Mr. Vincent was between us and the creature. He protected us, sir; Gabriel faced the monster himself and fought to keep us from its grasp. But when he did so he changed, sir, he isn’t normal. However I can’t quite bring myself to say he is a monster either – he’s something else.
We watched him transform in the moonlight, he became some kind of half-man half beast. Where our weapons failed he succeeded with just a hammer and his bare hands. He drove the creature back from us and tore it to pieces while we were helpless. Without Gabriel we would never have made it back alive.”
“I see,” Chief Gnaeus acknowledged as he tried to digest the peculiar report. “So you are willing to stand by this incident report then, as your own factual interpretation of events? You’re willing to swear by this as a complete and truthful record?” “I am,” Vedia nodded concisely. When the Chief’s eyes moved to focus on Oliver he found himself nervously only able to stutter a “Y-y-yes s-s-sir,” as well.
The Chief’s chair groaned with a slight creak as he allowed it to catch him with its weathered frame. This was all too much to take in and he still wasn’t sure how much of it all to believe. He was going to need some time to make sense of everything but time was becoming a precious commodity that he didn’t think he could afford to waste. “Dismissed,” he said with a weary sigh as he covered his eyes with a hand and hoped that something that made sense might present itself.
Both officers rose to make their exit but as they approached the doorway Chief Gnaeus stopped them for one last word. “Corvan, inform Dr. Foxfire that she may examine our guest. She has been hounding about the matter since you lot returned. And in the meantime, while I try to make a decision about all this I want you to use what you know to inspect our inventory for anything that might prove more effective. I am not saying I believe your story completely, or that you two won’t be sharing a cell yourselves. But if I send anyone back out at dusk to face these things I need some options. And while much of what you report is somewhat out of place for you I don’t doubt your evaluation of the tactical implications. Get on it and get what rest you can, there are only so many hours of daylight available to us.”
Gabriel despised being confined to such a small space. Even if a part of him could understand the reaction the majority of him rallied against being treated so suspiciously. He knew that he had agreed to surrender himself completely to the Chief’s judgment and mercy. But he had hoped that just maybe the Chief would prove to be a little more trusting. In a way he supposed he shouldn’t have been so surprised.
But when the sharp crisp tone of a guard outside ordered him to stand back and announced he had a visitor, well that was a surprise. Obediently Gabriel immediately took two steps back to brace his back against the rear wall of his tiny confines and kept his hands visible. He wasn’t about to give them even a single reason to condemn him any further. Even if it might feel rewarding to show them just how easily he could have overpowered his jailors.
It was an overwhelming relief when none other than Dr. Foxfire slipped through the opened portal to greet him. She wore her white long coat and her manner was every bit the detached local doctor that everyone had come to expect. Even though Gabriel had come to know better, he patiently waited for the doorway to reseal before he allowed himself to ask any of the number of things he desperately desired to know.
For the first few minutes Dr. Foxfire focused herself on a series of routine scans and evaluations using a handful of various devices she had been allowed to bring in with her. And then, just before Gabriel thought he could hold back no longer she whispered the simple words he welcomed completely. “We need to talk.” He couldn’t agree more.