The Empty Hourglass

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"...When the Deviants and the Public Repository team exposed Slade Enterprises, they discovered an additional link separate from that with Chimaera. Slade was a government contractor who had been partnered with a relatively classified organization within the Department of Defense in 2009. Their task was to create a more efficient way to monitor foreign intelligence and counterintelligence as a way of building upon the signals intelligence discipline.

"The in-house organization was the NSA, and the system they developed would eventually be revealed by Edward Snowden as the domestic surveillance program being used to monitor worldwide communications regardless of threat level. In short, Slade played a pivotal part in one of the greatest international privacy breaches perpetrated by a powerful government to occur in the technological age.

"When this connection was made known, the government retaliated in full force, the brunt hitting the Public Repository. They are still recovering. I made sure my Deviants could not be in any way associated, and at least in that regard, I have so far been successful."

I'd had my gaze focused on the window for so long that I'd almost forgotten where I was, and who I was with. Everything was falling and finding its place among the sand while I stood in the center and watched the pieces sink. There was so much information to take in so suddenly, and it all culminated in something I couldn't quite believe.

"And you think because you exposed Slade, someone is coming after me?" I asked, glancing down at the man in the bed. A person I had without hesitation once called my best friend, a man I had mourned. A man I had buried.

"I'm not yet sure," he said, his cadence casual and collected. "I haven't managed to ascertain the identity of the caller known as DC, so proving validity is difficult. I chose to be safe instead of the alternative."

"You act like I'm not a former soldier," I commented, crossing my arms as I leaned back in the wooden-framed armchair typical to most hospital rooms. "You think I wouldn't have noticed someone stalking me and Veronica?"

"Not if they're as effective as DC claims, no."

I'd prepared my retaliation, but it lost its weight when a pang of anger surged its way through me, reminding me of why I was here. "Hang on. We're way off topic." I stood up and moved to stand at the foot of his bed. "You made me think you were dead, Sheridan. That's not something I can just move on from as if it never happened, or like it was just a big practical joke."

"I can't take back my lie," he replied, his eyes matching mine. "I hope I can work to mend the damage left by it."

I had no response. I'd been coming up short throughout his spiel, only really finding the energy to interrupt at the most vitriolic moments. Truth be told, I had a lot I wanted to say and no way to really put it to words. What do you say to someone who convinced you they were dead? What do you say after they've provided a thorough explanation?

No explanation could be enough was how I felt, but that seemed unjustified given the lengths he had gone to ensure the safety of those he held dear, and Sheridan finding compassion for others was a rarity. I couldn't imagine faking my death so I could then work to dismantle a criminal network that had been harassing and threatening me and my loved ones for years. Maybe it was my inability to put myself in his place that allowed a willingness to forgive.

But not now. Not so soon. I knew that logically, he had done what he thought was right. That couldn't change the emotional turmoil I and many others had experienced after his death.

"Oh my God," I said after a dulled silence had stagnated, broken only by his heartbeat monitor. "You had sex."

He looked both surprised and perturbed by my statement. I knew full well it wasn't what he'd expected me to say. "That is in fact an essential step to reproduction."

Hull - Volume IIIWhere stories live. Discover now