Chapter 24 – Aftermath
When they returned to the base, Lucian and Jason were given a hero’s welcome, but neither of them felt like celebrating. Hicks brought over a stretcher and Lucian placed Rosaline’s wrapped body on it. Lucian pulled back Deus’ cloak, revealing her face to Raul and Tobias, who were immediately by Lucian’s side, and placed a light kiss on her forehead. “Rest peacefully, dear Rosaline.”
Raul looked at Lucian, eyes cold. “Deus,” he asked bitterness and hatred oozing in his voice.
“Thanatos,” Lucian said.
“What’s a Thanatos,” asked Tobias.
“The Greek personification of Death,” Major General Moore said. “However, I am going to assume that you are talking about someone more human, right Lucian?”
“Anyone who kills innocents in cold blood isn’t human,” Lucian growled, clenching the data card in his fist.
“What happened to Deus and Nova,” Raul asked.
“Nova escaped with this Thanatos,” Jason said. “Deus was distraught over Ms. Davis and left without further incident. Both he and Thanatos mentioned something called the Arcanum.”
“What the hell is that,” asked Tobias. “And where the hell are all of these freaks coming from?”
“I don’t know. Nor do I give a fuck,” Lucian said. “But I am going to find this Thanatos and I will kill him, slowly and painfully.”
“It’s out of your hands now, Lucian,” Moore said. “You can’t be a part of this anymore.”
“In case you haven’t noticed, Moore,” Lucian spat, “but I AM a part of this now, more so than ever! You can’t just take me off this now!”
“I’m sorry, son,” Moore said. “But these are orders even I can’t ignore. You’ve served your sentence. Your sister is getting her operation. Our deal is complete. I’m sorry, Lucian. I truly am, but as I said, these are orders I can’t ignore.”
“So that’s it? You’re tossing me out like some bastard child?!”
“Luke, I’ll get them for you,” Jason said, getting the data card from him. I’ll hunt them down and take them out.”
“This isn’t your responsibility, Jason. It’s mine!”
“What’s in the card,” Raul asked.
“Deus said it contains all the data on the suits, his log, and everything he knows about Thanatos and the Arcanum,” Jason said. “It is the only lead we have and I would like Kayla and VICI to look at it as soon as possible.”
“That’s going to have to wait,” Tobias said. “Kayla is resting and VICI is running scans on her. Raul and I can take a look at it.”
Raul looked at Lucian. Both still held anger in their eyes. “Luke, she was our friend, too. We’ll do everything we can to find the son of a bitch who killed Rosie, and we will break him, one bone at a time.” Raul held out his hand. “But for now, go and be with your family. Go regain that lost year. We will keep you updated, Luke.”
“Why are you agreeing to this, Raul,” Lucian asked.
“The Nox isn’t going anywhere. It is synchronized to your bio-signature No one else can use it but you. Major General Moore and Kayla will do what they can to get you back, but in the meantime, get some rest, my friend.”
“Raul is right, Luke,” Tobias said. “It’s our turn to do some work. When they involved Kayla, they made it personal for us. Now, they have just sealed their fates for what they did to Rosie. None of us will stop until they are dealt with, Luke. Trust us on that.”
Lucian glared at them all, but then the skittering sound of the nanites receding into the wolf pendent broke the silence and the Nox armor disappeared. He took off the necklace and was about to place it in Raul’s outstretched hand. “Promise me that you’ll find him.”
“Not even death will be able to stop us,” said Raul. Lucian then placed the necklace in Raul’s hand.
“Come on, Luke,” said Jason. “Let’s get cleaned up and we’ll go and see your folks.”
It was almost 3 in the morning when Lucian and Jason arrived at the Cathedral Memorial Hospital. They were bandaged up, but Esperanza and the Talbains breathed a sigh of relief when they saw Lucian and Jason alive. Their somber faces, however, worried Esperanza and the others. Lucian broke the news about Rosaline as gently and without revealing specifics as best he could. Esperanza broke down in uncontrollable tears and Lucian sat her down and held her, whispering his apologies to her.
Jason, Lawrence, and Mariela stood in silence watching Lucian and Esperanza. Dr. David Henderson and the other surgeons came out of the operating room. They were about to speak when David noticed the anguish among them. He went over to Lawrence and said something quietly to him. Lawrence’s face lit up, he grabbed Mariela’s hand and the three went into the room.
Jason went over to talk to the doctors to find out the details of Arianna’s condition while Lucian and Esperanza mourned for their friend. He got what he needed to know and dismissed the doctors. He walked over to Lucian and gently interrupted. “Luke,” he said. Lucian gave him a cold stare. “Sorry, but we still have that last thing to take care of.”
Esperanza looked up at Lucian, eyes red and puffy from crying, and asked, “What thing?”
“My division feels responsible for Ms. Davis’ death,” Jason said. “I’m taking the liberty of arranging for her services.”
“I want to help,” Esperanza said, with no intention of taking no for an answer.
“I wouldn’t dream of excluding you, Ms. Ortega,” Jason said. “But I need to take Luke away for just a little longer before he can go home.”
Esperanza tightened her grip on Lucian’s arm as if refusing to let him go. Lucian turned to face her. He kissed her lightly on the lips and said, “I’ll be back in a couple of hours. I only need to fill out some forms to finalize my release from the army. I won’t be getting shot at. I’ll be home soon.”
Lucian and Jason left the hospital as Lawrence and Mariela came back into the waiting room and before Esperanza could say anything. It killed Lucian to leave them at such a crucial time, but Rosaline’s murderer, Thanatos, and the Arcanum were still on the loose. Having been stripped of his suit, Lucian was no longer able to be part of the hunt. He will have to rely on Jason to give him information. Either way, Lucian would like nothing more that to squeeze the life out of Thanatos with his bare hands, just like he did to Carlo Wilson.