“Welcome,” Robert said with a certain twisted smile that sent a shiver through Hoc’s entire body. “Stop looking so worried, my friend,” he said turning to Hoc, “This is exciting. You’ll get to see first-hand what we’ve done with your research.”
“So this is the infamous Hoc Chen.” The Suit said with a smirk that revealed his brilliantly white teeth. He stepped forward and held his hand out to Hoc as if he expected a warm greeting.
Hoc didn’t move. “I’m confused,” he muttered. “What’s going on? And what are you doing with that poor man?”
“Robert just told you,” he said. “You get a front row seat to what will be your crowning achievement. In fact,” he paused in speaking and sauntered up to each one of the scientists, looking them in the eye, “I’d like to personally thank all of you for your years of tireless work. You have all been categorically instrumental in changing this world forever.” He smiled wide and clapped his hands together three times in a one-man applause.
The scientists offered narrow smiles in nervous appreciation. Hoc met the eyes of the female scientist, the youngest of the group. She immediately looked away, as if shamed. Did they all know what was going on? Are they all keeping secrets from me?
The Suit’s electric blue eyes locked on Hoc’s. “Tie the prisoner to a chair,” he commanded. His gaze didn’t leave Hoc’s, as the soldiers went to work.
Hoc looked away as one of the soldiers dragged a metal chair across the room, while another removed a backpack from his shoulders and pulled out a power drill. He immediately began bolting the chairs legs to the floor.
Hoc watched in silent terror as the two men subduing the hostage, ripped off his shirt, sending buttons flying in all directions.
“I haven’t done anything wrong,” the Hawaiian cried out. “Why are you doing this to me?” No one responded, and the helpless man was forced into the chair. His struggle was in vain as they cuffed his wrists to the arms, and tied his ankles to the legs.
When their work was done, the four soldiers clutched their rifles and backed up to surround the silver haired man in a protective square.
“Please,” the poor man called out. “I have a family, babies.”
“Alright Dr. Lyra,” The Suit called. “This is your team. You do the honors.”
Hoc looked at Dr. Lyra, the oldest of the scientists, and one of the most respected names in his field. He hesitated before taking a step forward. He glanced from the prisoner, to Hoc, to The Suit.
“Wait,” Hoc said. “What are you doing?”
Robert smiled and held one hand out at him, “Just watch.”
The soldiers raised their rifles, pointing them at Dr. Lyra.
“Get on with it,” the man in the suit demanded. “Remember, this is what you were hired to do.”
“Come on,” Dr. Lyra called lowly to the others. They moved around the lab gathering medical equipment. Hoc stood, frozen. He was confused. What the hell is happening? He couldn’t shake the heavy weight of knowing that somehow he had contributed to what was taking place in front of him.
Dr. Lyra rolled a medical monitor over to the prisoner, who continued to struggle against his restraints as the Doctor attached several electrodes to his exposed chest. The female scientists turned on the infrared body thermal screen, which revealed the man’s body temperature that was two degrees above normal, probably due to the stress, struggle, and terror he’d experienced when he was abducted and dragged through the lab.
Robert carried over a small black case that Hoc had never seen before. He took out a syringe, its barrel filled with swirling red and black liquid, reminding Hoc of magma.
Dr. Lyra stared at it, but didn’t take it. He looked back at the silver haired man and gave him a pleading look, but his silent plea was met with irritation and impatience. The soldiers looked as if they were ready to rain bullets at his command. Robert’s emerald eyes, were wild with anticipation as he held the syringe out to Dr. Lyra.
He was enjoying this.
“Take it Lyra,” Robert said pushing the syringe into his hand. “The boss is giving you the honor.”
Hoc stepped forward, and in an instant of reflex, two of the machine guns were pointed at him. He froze. He could do nothing, say nothing. They were all just pieces on a chess board, used for their different skills to win a game they didn’t fully understand.
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