Chapter 11- Compound DR567R-4

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Dried blood coated Darith's hands as he wheeled his chair from the mansion. Annabelle slept in his lap. There remained no reason to look back. There was no one alive in the mansion. They'd dug their own graves. He'd said his last respects and nothing more remained to give to the corpses of his parents. The police could sort the rest out.

"Holy..." Darith said. His eyes swept out along the driveway. Everything was dead. Every blade of grass, every flower. The leaves on the trees were brown and their trunks papery as if the slightest wind would turn them to dust.

I ravaged my home. No... that's Annabelle's handiwork. I provided a focus point.

As far as the horizon, only death met the eye. A butterfly lay still in front of the wheel of his chair. How far had they drained the land? The destruction travelled to the edge of the Cortanis estate but the dried husks of tree blocked any further view. In the graveyard stillness accusations whispered. Blind and careless he'd used the world around him like it belonged to him to plunder. It was not his father's appetite, but the act reminded Darith of dear old dad's actions.

I lost control.

A muttering noise separate from Darith's internal recriminations teased his ears. Darith rolled forward.

His driver prayed to some plebian god inside the car. The driver's folded hands shook as if sensing Darith's attention.

Darith laughed, his head thrown back.

***

Berrick felt the tap of his case against his leg as dragged his feet in one step after another. Did he look as guilty as he felt? For all the emotional security that remained to him, he might as well walk under a neon sign saying, 'I stole classified files,' but he couldn't leave the sheath of paper.

What to do with the files was hazy. If he sent them anywhere or spoke of the contents he was putting his confidant in danger of losing their life to a metaphorical firing squad. A few hints to Darith perhaps, to give the boy a fighting chance in his own searches but nothing more.

I'm an outlaw now. What if I'd given in sooner? Could I have saved Polly? We could have run, fled as outlaws with our children. With Petyr. Berrick cursed himself, cursed every choice he ever made. To wind up where he was, even now, even in breaking the law he was heading off to enforce the High Council's orders. How pointless to make his stand now, after everything he loved was gone.

The ticket machine flashed at him as he approached. Hopefully Silvia and Halis were still on that moon colony. That pale woman, Allison, maybe she lived. If she dies, that's on me too.

A ticket mark imprinted itself on his palm. From his other hand he took a deep drink of a liquor that tasted of nothing. He much preferred the warm burn of whiskey, but this starched colony didn't carry anything similar. The weight of the flask calmed him, gave his hand something to grip. Something to ground him in reality. Aware the switch of talismans from his badge to a flask signaled nothing good in the long run, he excused the change as inconsequential.

After all, he wasn't planning on the long run. The weight of deaths was too much for him to survive under. It would crush him.

As he walked across the platform, he took several more swigs, indulging in the respite of fog over his brain. The case tapped against his leg in rhythm with his step. The beat spelled out the name- D.R.A.M.B.I.S.H.

Not even alcohol kept words and phrases from the files from surfacing. Entire passages floated up taunting him.

Dr. Alroy Drambish's project on Revia must be considered unrecoverable and taken as a loss. With reluctance, the decision of the council is to dispose of the remaining samples of compound DR567R-4 and to terminate all subjects exposed. Due to Dr. Drambish's state of contamination, all inhabitants of Revia must be considered carriers of compound DR567R-4 whether or not in direct exposure to the compound.

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