Chief Gnaeus wasn’t the most well versed man when it came to advanced sciences or medical technology. He couldn’t tell you which end of a Nano-Med Injector was up, nor could he truly admit he understood everything Dr. Foxfire said half the time. But he had always been a man willing to trust his gut, it was something that had always seen him through many a dark moment. And right now it rolled with reservations.
“I am afraid I have further news with which you might not enjoy hearing,” Dr. Foxfire began bluntly. “There have been complications regarding the wounded worker; Marcus Gabriel Vincent. Gabriel has begun to manifest an accelerated healing rate that exceeds anything I could have anticipated. I believe it is a combination of the experimental nanite treatment and some effect of the terrible trauma he has faced. In either case the end result is that Gabriel has been altered down to the genetic level. All my tests have been able to prove that he is in control of his faculties, Chief. And as the only known survivor of an attack from this thing I think he may be our only real hope at identifying this threat.”
The Chief allowed the good Doctor to plead her case completely before he even considered uttering a single syllable. This wasn’t the time for a snap judgment or a hasty decision. He had to consider everything carefully, and he certainly had to weight her remarks against his own instincts. And what they told him was that for everything he was being told there was a handful more tucked from view.
It was like the stories he had been told as a child of these fabled clever conjurers who used to ply their trade to dazzle unsuspecting travelers with trickery. While you watched on at the marvels that mystified your eyes there was deft gestures that hid the truth from your view. That was at least in part what was happening here. He couldn’t pin the Dr. Foxfire’s motivations down to being involved, blindly manipulated or just simply naive but he was sure there was more to this.
“Chief,” Dr. Foxfire called out to return his attention so that she might continue. “Gabriel has agreed to submit himself into your custody on a single condition. He has requested the opportunity to enlist into service for the night-patrol to help combat this threat. In exchange for this probationary chance he is willing to forgo his freedom and surrender his fate to your judgment willingly. If you deem him to be a threat liken to this midnight monster you may do with him as you please. All he asks is the chance to help hunt down the beast that has so maimed him and prevent it from harming others.”
Papers ruffled out of sight from the screen’s view as Chief Gnaeus referenced a handful of updated reports. Something had sparked in his mind that toyed its way around to connect several loose dots of thought that demanded to be put together. “Ah, yes,” Gnaeus finally purred victoriously. “Does this have anything to do with the recent news of your patient’s previous employer vanishing like some of the others? Or perhaps the violently vandalized work site he was last seen at before this fabled attack made by some fictional furry fiend?”
Before Dr. Foxfire could address the matter Gabriel stepped into view himself to answer Chief Gnaeus’s implied accusations. He couldn’t let the Doc fight all his battles for him; it was time he stood up for himself. Besides, if he didn’t do something to face the matter he feared his own frustrations might betray him to his already building furious frenzy once again.
“Forgive my frankness, sir,” Gabriel pleaded ingratiatingly. “I know I have no right to ask for your trust or to beg for any measure of your consideration. These strange events are your responsibility to resolve, and you have a duty to do so. I also understand how my own claims must sound, especially as the only person claiming to have survived this bizarre business. But be that as it may; that was my handiwork at that job site that was destroyed. You can ask anyone who ever worked with me or whom I did even a trivial task for – I take pride in my work, I could never willingly dirty my reputation by destroying something I crafted.
Please, sir; give me the chance to help. If not for me to clear my name then at least let avenge the other victims who fell before this beast. Once everyone is safe once more then I will willingly share the creature’s fate if you so decide. But for their sake let me help, if there is even a single chance this bent nail might be driven in straight to be of some use.”
“You are the grandson of Thael Vincent, are you not?” Chief Gnaeus inquired with a raised inquisitive eyebrow. Craftsman Thael was a common name among the older residents of Gallu; there were incredibly few who didn’t know the name let alone the respectable reputation he had commanded. With Thael there was never a flicker of doubt with the degree of quality from the skilled master craftsman when you brought a task to his work table.
But if his memory hadn’t failed him yet completely Thael had had a son who was as far a cry from his own lofty ideals as ever there could have been. Whatever became of him was a blur at present but he did recall vaguely that Thael had been forced to take in and care for a grandson. Something about the child’s mother falling terribly ill; the whole matter had been a saddening shame. The old master had been in the twilight of his years and he had been pressed into caring for those of his kin that should have been the ones in role reversed.
“I am,” Gabriel confirmed proudly with only a slight glimpse of grief hinted in his tone. If this boy truly was the blood-kin of Thael himself and raised likewise by the man then there was at least the chance he inherited his fore-bearers character. For that reason alone he decided he would grant him the consideration he requested.
“Thael Vincent was a respected and admittedly great man,” Chief Gnaeus declared easily. “I knew him well and never once found a single reason to think badly of him. In his memory and for the sake of his good name I will give you the opportunity to prove you are made of similar stuff. And for your own sake I pray that you took his teachings to heart.”
Old wounds threatened to tear themselves open inside Gabriel as his grandfather’s name brought with it painful memories. Thoughts of his ill mother and her struggle, of the long nights filled with tears. But worst of all was the empty space where his father should have been. The knowledge that his grandfather was toiling endlessly each day in his place and continuing to do so every night when he should have been able to enjoy the rest he so richly had earned. He had wanted so badly to be able to do more, to ease the burden then but he was just a child. There was nothing he could do then, and even less he could understand at the time.
But now he could appreciate the matter, now he could understand what his grandfather had said back then. The words drifted from his memories to find their way into his waiting mouth. “If a job is worth doing then it is worth doing right, and you never leave a job left undone,” Gabriel recited. “Thank you Chief, for giving me the chance to finish this job and I can assure I will not disappoint.”
For a second, Gnaeus had to admit that this boy almost sounded every measure of the man his grandfather had been. Only time would tell for certain though.