Chapter Nine

Hyperion stood on the observation deck of a tall building with a helipad. Behind him, people were rushing to refuel the helicopter. The wind mussed his wispy white hair. Normally, this would’ve bothered him, but he was too furious to care. He had just received word from his secretary that his assassin had failed. As he stared out at the wasteland, gloved hands gripping the rail, he debated whether John was worth another attempt or if he should just let him go. As much as he hated to admit it, Polus was right. Since he started pursuing Rocco, he had taken a heavy financial blow.

“Mr. Hyperion, sir?” said a young soldier. She sounded nervous.

Hyperion turned his head. “What?”

“We’ll be taking off in ten minutes, sir.”

“Good.”

“Do you need anything before you leave, sir?”

“No. Dismissed.”

“Yes, sir.” She saluted and walked away.

He turned back to face the wasteland. It irritated him that he felt nervous about meeting Themis again. They were only a few hours out, somewhere in northern Colorado. He had hoped to never see her again. Their last meeting was less than pleasant. He blamed her. She didn’t seem to care enough to assign blame anywhere. It was one of the many things about her that annoyed and angered Hyperion. Her laconic, lazy attitude toward anyone or anything. It wasn’t even selfishness, just a remarkable indifference. She was like a snake, listless and venomous.

Polus stood beside him. He gazed on the wasteland. Hyperion glanced over at him, and noticed that he looked older than he did a few hours ago.

“You ready for this, Mr. Hyperion?”

He scoffed. “This is going to be a waste of time.”

“You might be surprised. People change, you know. Well, maybe not you. But some of us.”

“I find it hard to believe that in a few short years she’s stopped being a conniving succubus.”

Polus gave him a sharp look. “I never said that. But she and I spoke not too long ago. About setting up this meeting. She was less reluctant than she might’ve been.”

“So you two keep in touch?”

“Dammit, Hyperion, let it go. That’s what this meeting is about. Letting go and starting again.”

“So you expect me to just forget everything that happened?”

“God no. But I do expect you to cooperate. She may be a conniving–what’d you call her, succubus?–but I’m sure you can see the benefit of having her on your good side, and being on hers.”

“I wasn’t aware she had a good side.”

Polus sighed. “And you’re a real peach too.” They stood silent for a moment, staring at the dead land that was their kingdom. “Come on, we’ll be taking off soon.”

* * *

Myers gasped, filling his lungs with icy water. He choked, and gasped again for air as he was thrown back out of the water.

“He’s awake, boss,” said a gruff man that Myers couldn’t see.

Myers coughed and blinked, trying to get the water out of his lungs and eyes. It was completely dark. Pain shocked his jaw and he fell sideways to the floor. He tried futilely to get up, but found himself tied to a chair. Someone set him back up. A hand gripped his hair and pulled his head back.

“Light,” said a different man. A light clicked on, and Myers saw that he was in a large empty room. The man in front of him was wearing a gas mask and a radiation suit. Myers could only see his eyes. They were bright blue, and furious. The eyebrows furrowed deep.

“There we go, Mr. Myers.” His voice was soft and deep. “Take a few deep breaths. You’re going to do me a favor. And in return, I’ll give you your life. Sound like a deal?”

“Pretty one-sided if you ask me. You’ve got me at a disadvantage.”

“You can call me Oscar. Not my real name, of course. But… Why are you laughing, Mr. Myers?”

“You’re funny, guy. I’ve got nothing to say to you.”

“You’ve plenty to say. And I’ve plenty to ask.”

“Doesn’t mean I’m telling you.”

“I can hit pretty hard.”

“Yeah? Go for it.”

Oscar knocked the chair over again with the force of his blow.

“Here’s the thing, Mr. Myers… oh, is this funny to you?”

“You don’t even know my name, asshole.” Blood and tears streaked his face. Oscar set the chair back up. “It’s a first name, and if you’re too stupid to know that, I’m not sure what I can do to help you.”

“You can tell me what Chimera is planning in Los Angeles.”

“I can?” He laughed. “I didn’t know I knew that much.”

Myers’ face slammed into the cold ground again. He coughed out a tooth that slid away on a stream of blood. Oscar pulled him up again.

“You can’t… beat out information… that I don’t have.” He coughed and gasped and spat out blood, trying to catch his breath.

“That’s not good enough, Myers.”

“Yeah?” He coughed again. “Look, since you’re such a nice guy, I’ll tell you this.” He choked, fighting for air. “I’m new, and they don’t give sensitive information to new operatives.”

“What were you doing? What was your mission?”