Awareness came to Ingrid slowly. First she realized she was laying on a bed, and not the hard ground at the river. Second came a deep, aching soreness in her chest. She breathed in, and exhaled when it got too painful for her chest to expand anymore.
She cracked open her eyes and winced when the light was a little too bright at first, and waited for her eyes to adjust. A semi-blurry face came into her line of sight and focused. Valerie smiled softly. "Welcome back, Ingrid."
"Wh-where am I?" Her voice was soft, and rough. Valerie handed her a small glass of water, and helped her drink it before answering.
"Society infirmary." Ingrid rubbed her eyes.
"How long was I out?" asked Ingrid.
"Two days. Your Author wheeled you in." Valerie replied, then took out her Communicator, to call for the Librarian, and then propping Ingrid up. Ingrid laid her head on the soft, white pillow. She thought on what happened that day; the caves, the boat chase, the waterfall, the stab, and finally, the kill. The last images of the kill included a knife through Aryan's head and a very unconscious Doug. Two men tried to revive him; she remembered the man beating Doug's chest in frustration. Her thoughts were interrupted when Tash entered the ward.
"Young lady, you almost got yourself killed out there," lectured Tash. Ingrid bowed her head down apologetically. The leader then hugged Ingrid, which surprised her completely.
"Thank god you're alive. I don't want to lose another Agent this way. Promise me you won't do that again," said Tash. Ingrid gently nodded as the leader let go. Then, a burning question came up to Ingrid's head.
"What happened to Doug?" asked Ingrid. Both the healer and the leader stood still, stony-faced expressions; they daren't say another word.
"What happened? Tell me," said Ingrid weakly, desperately wanting to know what happened to her mentor.
"Doug passed on, hon," said Tash softly. Shock and sadness crept through Ingrid's mind; all those times where he helped her to her feet as a new character to the world; she was very grateful to him. Now he's gone just as easy as the rogue author she killed. She lowered her head, fighting back her tears and bit her lower lip. Valerie patted Ingrid on the back and spoke.
"It's okay. Let it out." Ingrid grabbed onto Valerie and bawled out, tears streaking down her cheeks. Valerie patted her on her head to calm her down.
"There. There." Valerie's motherly voice calmed Ingrid's emotions as she cried more and more. Valerie looked up to Tash and nodded to her, notifying the leader that she's got this. The leader turned and went out the ward, thinking on what she said, or more correctly, what the Author told her.
The Author was covered from head to toe, not much showing other than his eyes and fingers. He stood in front of Tash desk, explaining his situation.
"I've brought Ingrid here to get treated, since the Wanderers are finally disbanded and the facilities are now in the hands of the military," said the Author.
"Where are you and your characters going to go?" asked Tash
"I'll be wandering around my world while my characters enter a secluded civilian life. The people won't know about them, and I can call them up whenever I need them," the Author stated. He then took out Doug's Society badge and placed it on her desk.
"I know he was retiring from the Society, so I've delivered this badge to you," the Author said.
Tash picked up the badge and questioned him, "Why isn't he here to deliver it himself?"
The Author lowered his head and replied, "We couldn't bring him back alive, Tash."
Tash was shocked when she heard the words. "You're kidding me, right? He took a spike through the body before and he was alive," Tash spoke, remembering Doug's near-fatal second mission. She thought that the Author was pulling her leg.
"He was near death when we found him. He wasn't even healed partially during the short break between his rescue and the next mission. That guy... he pushed himself over the limit," explained the Author. Tash's jaw dropped in disbelief. She then cursed under her breath and took the badge.
"Thank you for taking care of Doug. I'm sure he had a happy time in the Society," said the Author before leaving the room. Tash stood there, looking at the badge, gripping it, and then keeping it into the drawer.
Tash pinched her forehead as she thought about the meeting. She didn't want to be reminded about another Agent's death at this time. It reminded her about Adrian, and she wanted to keep it shut for as long as possible. She shook her head, followed by her stomach's innocent grumbling. She sighed, and then strode off to the kitchens.
A few days into her recuperation, Ingrid was reading up history books when Kyle went in to deliver her lunch.
"Are you alright?" asked Kyle, setting the tray on the beside table . Ingrid looked up and noticed Kyle.
"Yes, I am. Thank you for asking," replied Ingrid with a smile. She then returned to her history books, squinting as she tried to read. Kyle couldn't help but ask.
"Got a problem reading?" asked Kyle. Ingrid looked up and replied.
"Yeah. Somehow I can see far ahead but I can't see anything within a foot's distance," replied Ingrid, giving a weak smile.
"You must be long-sighted. You can get Valerie to get you prescription glasses," said Kyle.
"Yeah, I should. And while speaking about sights- " Ingrid whipped out a USP .45 pistol from the bedside table and pointed at the doorway. She fired a shot, and a sound of a portable image-catcher dropped to the ground."- I believe it is too early for the Society to decide this shipping." She placed the pistol on the table, then became red-faced, realizing what she had done.
"Oh no, Valerie's gonna kill me for damaging her infirmary!" Ingrid blushed in embarrassment. Kyle burst into laughter.
"H-Hey!" stammered Ingrid. Kyle covered his mouth and settled down.
"I'm sorry, that was pretty cute," Kyle spoke out his mind. Which wasn't a wise move as he was last seen running out from the infirmary, dodging bullets from a fairly enraged British Agent.
In a very dark cave, a set of computers blipped. The 'Active' word appeared on the screens as gas started wheezing out from a nearby cryogenic chamber. The case opened, and a being came out. Naked, he stood before a blocked cave entrance. By touching the rock with a finger, the entire cave entrance blew out, allowing light to enter. The figure stood at an imposing six feet, ripped muscles and an extremely broad chest.
The being walked out, looking up at the sun and then his surroundings. It was the ruins of Site Hotel Bravo; many soldiers lay dead and the stinking smell was putrid. Smoke columns rose from scattered fire all across the base. The figure walked towards the nearest dead soldier. He took the soldier's clothes and wore them; his muscles stretching the linen and showing off his biceps. He took the soldier's M60 machine gun and slung it to his back. He then took the helmet and wore it. The visor came down, blocking the face of the Society's next big challenge.