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Agent Rider: Chapter 3 - Burns

by VengefulReaper


Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language, violence, and mature content.

Author's Note: I recently made some heavy changes to chapter 2, so if you are following please skim over it again otherwise things may feel disjointed. Thanks.

"You did what?!" hisses Jim into his commlink.

"Well, I didn't actually break in, per se..." suggested Ethan. "But I got a blueprint scan of the bioweapon and the inoculant," Ethan says with the little pride he has left.

"We already have those! You scanned OUR bioweapon sample, remember?" Jim whispered in frustration.

"But SEKT stole the actual samples and the inoculant... so the only sample you have of the pathogen would be the scan Nexus has," argued Ethan.

A long silence followed. Ethan let out a small chuckle while Jim was attempting to decipher this feeling of anger and confusion. "Fine. I'm glad you robbed our facility. Is there anything ELSE you want to tell us?" Breathed out Jim finally.

Ethan whispered, "I kind of stole the rapid-fire energy bow too..." He winced as he said the words expecting the worst from Jim.

"Just stop by tomorrow. We could... Use that..." uttered Jim hesitantly, his voice dripping with irritation.

John began twirling his gun-blade in boredom. "The kid's not bad," John said raising an eyebrow to Jim's fuming face. "Give him some credit. He found out about us, merged with SEKT technology, robbed our warehouse, and dodged a SEKT raid on the facility unscathed all in one night. He's got balls."

"Okay, Jim. I need to go. Housekeeping knocking on my door like they're trying to break it down" jokes Ethan.

"No, dumb shit! That's not housekeeping! It's 2 am. Don't open that fucking door!" yells Jim into the commlink.

The call had already been cut by Ethan. An infuriated Jim nods to John and they dart for the nearest teleporter.

"SoS just came in from Nexus. We need to hurry..." said John as he runs towards the teleporter station.

"What's the nearest teleporter station to Ethan's house?" asks Jim desperately.

John punches in a station and waits impatiently for the teleporter to start.

The room door breaks open and splinters of wood fly into Ethan's hands as he shields himself from the blast. The two men are from the group of SEKT burglars that broke into the warehouse.

"Did you really think that arrow you clumsily shot didn't alert us to your presence?" one of the men stated as he walked up on Ethan.

"Didn't seem like you two were bright sparks, to be honest..." Ethan mutters to himself.

"Now, where is the Alliance base you were retreating to?"

"What?" replies Ethan in confusion.

"The base! Where is it!" yells the second man throwing Ethan across the living room and into his glass table. The table shatters and glass shards scatter across the wooden floors and slice Ethan in multiple places on his face and arms. He then picks Ethan off the ground and holds him against the white, tiled wall in the kitchen threatening to drop Ethan onto the heated stove below him.

"I don't know," Ethan says feigning innocence, hoping they would believe him.

The man pauses. His grey eyes peered into Ethan's soul before grabbing a glass shard and driving it into Ethan's thigh and bringing the side of his face, so close to the stove he could feel the hot air suffocating him as the intruder slowly turns up the temperature on the stove. Ethan can feel one of his longer hairstrrands burning as it touches the stove

"Okay, fine, fine, I'll tell you! I'll tell you whatever you want!" yells Ethan in desperation.

"Just hang in there a little longer..." says Nexus as he tracks John and Jim's movements across the street.

"For what?" says Ethan, a hint of confusion in his desperate voice.

A smoke bomb fills the room, making the man holding Ethan panics and he drops Ethan to escape the smoke. Ethan lets out a cry of pain as the right side of his face burns on the stove until Ethan can turn himself off the kitchen counter and onto the floor.

All Ethan can hear with his one good ear is the sound of a blade slicing through the smoke and making contact with flesh. There is a silence before Ethan hears a shotgun shot and blood splatters around his kitchen with his assailant's head rolling towards Ethan.

The remaining man catches a glimpse of Ethan and runs towards him to grab Ethan and uses him as a hostage. As he turns to face Ethan a pale expression overtakes the intruder's smug face as Ethan sees Jim's swords pierce his back and emerge from his stomach. The intruder coughs blood before collapsing to the ground, his stomach bleeding from the wound.

John sheathes his gun-blade and Jim tucks away his dagger while holstering his pistol.

"We need to get him to the hospital," says Jim, examining Ethan's burnt face and bleeding thigh.

Ethan is placed over John and Jim's shoulders and then helped out the door, Ethan's legs dragging down the small steps outside his apartment as he fades in and out of consciousness.

"Stay with me, Rider," John whispers as they get to the bottom. They carry Ethan over to the teleporting station across the road and punch in the nearest hospital, KZN provincial hospital.

I open my eyes and see myself on a hospital bed, strapped down and being rolled into the burns ward. I must've passed out while John and Jim were getting me to the hospital. The last thing I remember was being thrown into a teleporting station. Then I hear a voice say, "It's okay Ethan. I checked your vitals, it's nothing too serious. You've just lost a lot of blood, that's all. They'll just do some transfusion, and we should be all good."

Nexus. I flick my eye over to where Nexus is showing me my vitals. Before I can analyze them, my eyes shut, and my vision blackens.

I sit in front of a white hospital bed in the ICU ward. There is a patient on the bed hooked up to an oxygen canister and a drip, her eyes gazing almost lifelessly at me. Her hair disheveled and her eyes sunken in.

Mom.

Steve enters the room and sits next to mom, a worried expression on his face. She asks for the pen to write a message for Steve. I, with my small legs, lean over to see what Mom is writing.

'His name: Ethan Rider'

She turns to me with tears in her eyes and puts a hand over my face. I don't know why she is crying, but I find myself crying too. "What's wrong Mom? Why are you crying?" I ask her through my sobs.

"I don't like you seeing me like this. Promise me you'll be strong, my boy. Keep your chin up, you got that?" She says to me before the nurses enter the room.

"Please excuse us, sir. She'll be going into theater soon." the nurse says as she motions to the door.

"Yes, of course." Replied Steve courteously, pushing me out of the room on his way out.

"Are they putting the mask on mom again?" I say trying to hold back tears.

Steve lifts me up into his arms and hugs me, wiping away my tears and whispering gently into my ear

"It's okay, Austin."

Austin. The name my mother gave me.

John and Jim stand outside the ward while the nurses stabilize Ethan and stop his bleeding.

"I'm calling Steve," says John. "He needs to know."

"You know he doesn't pick up his commlink on a mission. It's no use" responds Jim.

"He will if it's an SOS..."

The SOS signal begins transmitting to Steve's commlink. John and Jim exchange glances waiting for Steve to respond.

"What's wrong?" Steve demands in a frustrated voice. "You know you're not supposed to contact me on missions. I don't leave missions, under any circum—"

"It's Ethan..." begins John.

A long pause ensues before John hears Steve's heavy breathing into the commlink. "I'll be there within the hour. I'll just have to find a teleport station." The call cuts and John can hear static on the other end of the line.

John curtly nods at Jim, indicating Steve is on his way. John and Jim walk towards the cafeteria in the hospital before sitting down in a leather chair on two opposite sides of a small table. Both Jim and John order a coffee when the waitress comes to take their order.

"Steve's going to kill us..." sighs John.

"Oh yeah," Jim responds while taking a long sip from his coffee.

I rush into the hospital and open the doors to the ICU ward trying to find Steve.

"Steve, how's Haley?" I ask him, out of breath.

"She's going into the theater now for her heart transplant. Austin just went to go get some chips from the cafeteria. John, it's not looking good."

"The bioweapon exposure really affected her heart didn't it?" I say despondently.

Steve shakes his head and puts his hands over his face. "How do I tell Austin? How do I tell him his mom's not going to make it? That he's not going to be Austin anymore? How do I protect that boy from him?"

"I don't know. But you'll figure it out. That's called parenting. He needs someone to lean on; he needs a father," I reply, glancing over at the nurses taking Haley's bed into the theater. "What is the name she chose for him?" I ask.

"Ethan. Ethan Rider." Steve says his fingers passing through his beard.

I look at Steve, his hands quivering and his feet shaking. I never thought a man of his stature could feel so weak. In my time knowing Steve I had never seen a more conflicted expression on his face before.

"I will erase all Ethan's files and burn his documents. Just in case..."

"Thank you, John"

John sees Steve approach the table they're sitting at, walking as briskly as he possibly can.

"Where's Ethan?" he demands panting as if he's just run a mile. John notices an expression he had only seen on Steve's face once before. The day Ethan lost his mother.

"Burns ward," Jim states bluntly.

Steve rushes off to the ward maneuvering through all the people in the corridor.

"I told you, Ethan. This world... is cruel."


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