Chapter 16: Shatter

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"Wake up!"

Trent gasped awake, felt something painful and sharp in his arm. Everything was out of focus. He was aware that he was sitting. His head throbbed like he had a massive hangover. A brilliant, powerful light cut directly into his eyes, seeming to pierce his very brain. Beside him, he heard a familiar voice groan in pain.

Drake.

That gave him a start. Trent jerked upright, only to discover he was bound very firmly. His arms and legs were tied to whatever he was sitting in. He jerked again and heard someone laugh. "Well, they're up now."

The owner of the voice sounded cruel.

The world slid into focus. He found himself staring at a short, squat man with a square jaw and an evil grin. His mouth was full of very white, small rows of teeth. He was dead pale, his head and face clean-shaven. He wore a midnight black uniform and had his hands tucked behind his back. He seemed immensely pleased with himself. Beside him stood a much larger, unsmiling man with a buzz cut and a face that seemed to be carved from granite. He wore a pistol on his hip. Behind them was a table with what looked like many different medical instruments. Trent's heart began to pound harder. This wasn't a good situation to be in.

"Gentlemen," the short, squat man said. "My name is Captain Moore. Welcome to my ship. I'm so very glad you could join us."

"Where's the others?" Trent asked. His voice sounded cracked and broken. He cleared his throat, coughed.

"I'm afraid we only had room for two. But don't worry, we took care of the others quite swiftly. If anything, their...accommodations are significantly more comfortable than yours are about to be," Moore replied.

"Good lord, you really get off on this 'evil antagonist' bit don't you?" Drake asked.

"Isn't that kind of redundant? Evil antagonist?" Moore replied.

Trent subtly tried his bindings. They were metal clasps fit firmly over his ankles and wrists. Nothing on the legs, they wouldn't budge a millimeter. Neither would the right hand. But the other...he thought the felt it give, ever so slightly. Not the clasp itself, but the entire rig that was attached to the arm of the chair.

"No, not all antagonists are straight-up evil," Trent heard himself say. "If the writer is any good, their goals are at least morally ambiguous."

"Looks like we've got a couple of critics on our hands," Moore said to his silent bodyguard, who said nothing in reply. "I'm a reading man myself, gentlemen, but don't you find a bit of straight-up evil refreshing in the face of all this moral ambiguity lately? A bad guy who's just evil and he knows it and likes it?"

"Maybe," Trent replied.

Moore stared at them for a moment, then sighed. "I'm afraid we're going to have to cut to the meat of the matter. Although I'm the man in charge of this ship, I do have a boss, and he's been getting rather impatient lately. And when the boss gets impatient...people suffer greatly. So, I'm simply going to ask you point blank to tell me everything you know about Dark Operations. We already know about Hawkins and the Atonement and," he leaned and smirked, "I even know about Allan's special treatment for his special illness."

Neither Trent nor Drake said anything, but Trent's mind was working furiously. There was no way they could have that much information.

Not unless-

"I can see from your icy demeanor that you may have guessed what's coming next. Yes, we have a spy aboard your ship! One of your own, turned on you. Who could it be? Why did they do it? How long ago did they turn? All questions I'm afraid you won't get the answers to. Miserable, isn't it? Either way, like I said, not much time. So, will you tell me?"

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