Silver lies unconscious in the recovery-recuperator. He's not comatose, but he's not opened his eyes or said anything intelligible since East found him. East watches, loyal partner that he is, from the other side of the plexiform viewscreen. Captain Normandy is beside him.
"You don't know what he was doing there?" Normandy is pissed. Silver's often gone off the reservation, so to speak, but never into a dangerous situation before. He's foolish; not stupid.
"No clue, Captain." East sips his coffee. He answers Normandy's questions on auto-pilot.
"How did you know he was there?"
"He didn't answer my calls. Ran his ping."
It's a curious matter. PDP locator apps are typically turned off if an officer thinks he needs to be subtle. Normandy smiles inwardly at the realization. At the very least, Silver hadn't been expecting trouble. Maybe he wasn't being foolish, after all. She doesn't like thinking her best are idiots. Especially when she personally tags them for a case.
Switching off her concern, she toggles on her professionalism. "Any other leads?"
"Just an obscure connection with another rapist."
"That in the report?" Normandy is almost embarrassed she hadn't read their last v-mail yet.
East nods. An ad for prescription micro-endoscopy flashes on the plex in front of him, but before he can step around the obstruction it fades.
"You want me to bump Phillips and Naifeh?" She already knows the answer, but Normandy's long-believed in professional courtesy. Even with her dictatorial tendencies.
East shakes his head.
"You'll stay on?"
East nods. He hates answering questions twice.
"All right. Just don't play bedside manner for too long."
"I'm on it." He also hates being patronized.
Normandy stares at East for a few moments - he doesn't return her gaze, instead takes another sip. She's a tough one, but not heartless. Accepting her detective's detached mood, she leaves.
The wind is not wind, but it whips as violently as a hurricane in the mid-Atlantic. Or a tornado in the American Midwest. There are hundreds of shapes, all vaguely human. It is a dream world that may not be a dream. Time and speed mean nothing here. Only patience.
A blur of a fedora dons what should be the head of one man. One thing. One it. No clue is revealed as to what it is. But it speaks.
"Why was this man attempted?" It does not seem pleased.
Another blur beside him, slightly behind. Or in front. Space and velocity mean nothing here. Only existence.
"He found us. It seemed appropriate." A mistake is realized, but it changes nothing.
"You've risked it all."
"No." The defiance is an unusual tone, for defiance is a rarity here.
The shapes stare at nothing in particular, and everything in particular. Their wards have long been a nuisance and most secretly wish the time was not yet near.
Still, a curiosity remains. "Why did you give him the prism?"
"We had to break the other out."
It nods. Understanding. They don't like not understanding, the concept being more rare than defiance. "Did you?"
There is another nod in return, though it doesn't answer the question asked. Instead, it answers a question implied. "Transcendence will occur soon."
East sleeps in a chair outside of Silver's room, his shirt wet and an empty coffee cup on the floor beside him. East stirs, something's amiss. He opens his eyes to a shadow in the viewscreen. It's Silver. Screaming.
East bursts up and activates the vovomitter.
"Let me out of here!" Silver's voice is deafening as the vovomitter automatically adjusts its line level. "I need to go!"
"What the Hell, Gary? Get back in bed." East doesn't notice the spilled coffee.
Silver glares at his partner. It is a murderous look. Just this side of hatred. "You ruined it. You. Fucking. Ruined it."
Without taking his eyes off of his friend, East calls for a nurse. The nutrichemo feed line taut in Silver's arm, East sees the pumps activate. Silver's eyes go blank and he collapses to the floor.
A nurse, clearly startled from a nap, runs up behind East. "What happened?"
East shakes his head. "He's lost his mind." He isn't speaking to her.
The nurse types her access code in the lock and she and two attendants enter the room. They pick Silver up and place him back in the bed. A few checks. Vitals are good. The attendants and the nurse exit; she locks the door behind her.
"He'll be fine. It was just a reaction to..."
"To what?" East immediately feels bad for his terse response. He knows she's just trying to make him feel better.
She takes the offense, but years of hardening in an oft-thankless job maintain their collective professionalism. "To whatever it is he's reacting to."
East grimaces, then smirks. "Sorry. Long night." He catches her name-pin. "Clare."
The nurse nods and smiles. She catches his coffee stain. "I'll get you a towel."
He nods, but doesn't know what she's talking about. When she returns, she hands a towel to him, but he doesn't take it, still confused.
"Definitely a long night," Clare says, patting down the coffee stain for him.
Dumbfounded and embarrassed, he taps her shoulder and takes the towel. "Thank you."
East needs to sleep. In his own bed.
Silver dreams. The nitrate soporafol does its job well, coursing through his circulatory system like flushed trash on its way to a sewage recycle-return purification unit. He's lost in the dream world that may not be a dream. So lost, he might even be awake. Which should be impossible given how much nitrate soporafol they're pumping into him.
His feed lines disconnect and the patient alarms shut off. He's given clothes and dons them quickly. Nobody seems to notice the well-dressed sleep-walking man leave via the Emergency Ward exit.
The convoy commander has done this dozens of times. Load the prisoner into the Vault Wagon, file in behind the lead vehicle, file in front of the trail vehicle, slow down before intersections while the autobikes run interference. It's run of the mill, and no one at the FBI/E thinks this prisoner - one Dario Ganganelli - is any different.
But that was before not one, not two, but three drunk drivers plowed into the convoy, taking out the lead and trail vehicles and tipping the Vault Wagon onto its left side. All three drunk drivers were killed instantly - each identified as local criminals. One pedophile, one murderer, and one bank robber. None of the FBI/E operators or agents were injured in the crashes, save for a cut of glass along the convoy commander's cheek. The incident seems to be both boon and bane.
Boon because three of Marion County's most-wanted are dead. Bane because Ganganelli is nowhere to be found.
It's almost 3 AM. East's vo-comm starts ringing incessantly, startling him awake. He considers ripping it out of the wall panel and chucking it through his window - a difficult task with a window made of ImpervaglassTM - but stops just short when he sees the ID flash.
It's Marquitez. "Silver's gone."
East bolts into a sitting position. "What do you mean he's gone?"
"Relax, East," Marquitez knows his SIS colleagues well. "Dunno. Feed shows him walking out of the emergency room."
"What?" East toes on his wurby slippers, disconnects the handset from the hang-up, and rushes to his closet.
"Oh, it gets better. The rapist in Fed custody?"
"Disappeared in transit."
*Continued in Gods Playing Poker: A Bold Bluff
The Complete Gods Playing Poker