Root drove quickly with Harold in the passenger seat. She felt panic as she saw the sniper and she fired her handgun at him, she swerved the car and she felt a bullet hit her body. The Machine, her God was already consoling her, so I’m going to die, She wouldn’t do this otherwise.
“ Analogue Interface. You. Will. Be. Okay. Protect. Admin. There. Is. A. Contingency. ”
She looked down and she could see blood oozing out but she knew she couldn’t stop if she did, Harold would die too. Her friend would die, she couldn’t let the one who brought her to the light die.
Her vision started to go dark, she tried to keep talking to Harold and she heard him tell her to stop.
“ Listen. To. Admin. Contingency. Active. ” Her voice sounded worried but also hopeful.
Root put her foot on the brake pedal and her vision turned black fully.
A calm voice telling her that she would be alright
Lionel’s voice despairing, why?
The calm voice came back and she realised that they were young, they, no he. It was a guy.
Consciousness. Root could feel the fabric of a bed under her lying body. She heard the beeping of an ECG machine and could smell a lit candle. She didn’t open her eyes and kept her breathing even, she didn’t know where she was. She couldn’t hear anyone talking but she could hear someone pressing buttons. It sounded like a handheld game device. No other sounds were in the room and She wasn’t speaking to Root but that could be because She was back in hiding from Samaritan or distracted by other projects.
She opened one eye and saw a small part of the room. She saw an office chair with a small shape in it. A young boy, maybe eight years old, he was holding a DS in his hands, he seemed completely engrossed in it. She opened the other eye and saw more of the room, a desk with three monitors on it, all off. A strong wooden door, no sunlight, so either no window or it was night. She rolled her eyes around to see the edge of her vision, still not moving her head. Definitely no windows and no one else was in the room.
She pushed herself up and instantly the boy’s head snapped to look at her. His expression was strange, his eyes dark for a moment then light, happy then calm and childish.
“Hi! You're awake. I was getting worried. The doc said you should have woken up by now.” The kid was excited and blabbering with an accent she couldn’t place but she was still finding it hard to place everything, “Oh wait do you want something to drink? I only have water but that’s best right?”
She nodded and tried to speak but her voice was weak, “Y-yes please.”
He jumped up and put down his DS, he grabbed a jug of water and a disposable cup filling it quickly before running up to her.
He looked strange when he looked at me the first time, like he was a lot older than he looks but that’s definitely a kid, and where am I? His voice, that’s British, maybe a Scottish accent though it sounds suppressed, he probably hides it trying to fit in at school or whatever.
She sipped some water keeping her eye on the kid who pushed a small table next to her so she could put down the cup.
“Who’s that doctor you mentioned?” She asked, smiling gently.
“Oh, doc? I think her last name is Enright or something. Mum said that doc’s wife was saved by a friend of yours and she wanted to help out.”
Mum? Who’s that. Whoever that is knows way too much.
“Who’s your mum?” She asked a little less gently.
The boy’s eyes hardened immediately, “Rusts, you’re just as smart as God said. Well, of course you are. If you want to feel more comfortable, under the bed a handgun is taped to the bottom.” His voice was hard and adult, controlled and calm.
She put her hand under the bed and found the cold metal of a gun. She ripped it off and quickly checked the magazine. The gun was full of ammunition and wasn’t sabotaged that she could tell.
He nodded and a playful smirk seemed to try to force itself onto his face, “By the way when I said mum, I might have been kind of lying. I really meant God.”
“What God?” She asked her voice equally hard, this kid was dangerous.
“The one who doesn’t want to practice eugenics, who else.” He said sounding almost insulted though the small smile on his face said the opposite, “Just to make it clear that means we have the same God.”
“Who are you then?” She asked in disbelief.
“I am the Contingency. God and I met under complicated circumstances. Now I’m her tool of last resort. I mean why do you think she was back to normal so quickly after you finished bug fixing her resurrection?” His voice turned contemplative, “She had already left a few large pieces of personality and memory with me. When she disappeared for a while I injected the files back in place for her to access. She called me to organise faking your death and saving your life. I’m good at that.”
“What? Faking deaths? Or saving lives?” She asked jokingly.
He snorted, “Both. By the way, being eight years old makes my work really difficult. Dr Enright was so difficult to work with but I convinced her that you were my mother.”
“WHAT?” She wasn’t able to stop herself from shouting.
“Well I was the only person here and a random kid wouldn’t be allowed to stay and watch a surgery so I pretended that you adopted me after my parents died. I mean legally one of your safe covers is my adoptive mother. The Machine needed me to have a safe cover in case of emergency and no one else could be trusted with that responsibility and could be updated in a moment’s notice.”
She tried to stand up and she felt a flash of pain, the ‘boy’ just rolled his eyes, “Root. Don’t be stupid. Rest and recover, you were shot through the chest and you just woke up after weeks of only waking up for a few minutes at a time.”
What? Weeks? How long has it been?
“About three weeks.” He said.
“Do the others know that I’m alive?” Does Shaw? “What happened with Samaritan?”
He pulled the chair close to the bed before sitting back down, his expression softening, though he still looked far older than he should, “No, I’m sorry they think you’re dead. It was part of the Contingency, if you were injured severely or any member of the team for that matter. I would fake your death for everyone then take you here to recuperate before waiting for Her to tell me that it’s safe.”
“And Samaritan?” She asked, hopeful.
His smile became cruel and his eyes seemed to dance with sadistic joy, “Dead. Purged from every corner of the internet. Operatives on the run and being hunted by everyone who’s anyone. Tried to run, the Machine’s hunting him down and fought him.” His smile turned sad, “I don’t know who won in their contest yet. I think that we’ve won at long last though.”
“How long till we know?” She asked, trying and failing to keep the stress from her voice.
“Three days then a few hours during which the Machine will be assimilating her memories and personality from the back up. She will contact both of us the moment she can.”
“Three days.” Root muttered, at least we’ve won, “Wait, did anyone die?”
“Other than you?” He joked before turning somber, “Yes. I think John Reese is dead. I was keeping watch as long as I could over them and he was the only one I wasn’t able to find after the final battle. Harold is in Italy with Grace, Shaw is hunting down the sniper that ‘killed’ you, Fusco is recovering from his injuries and is looking after the dog”
She froze, the Big Lug is dead? She shouldn’t have felt so upset and shocked but after Shaw had been captured, the two of them had gotten closer, instead of being colleagues they were now friends. Focus.
“Who are you? What’s your name?” She asked pushing for more information.
“Call me… Sentinel. I suppose you want some information about me? Ask our God, she already knows everything, well, everything relevant.” Sentinel walked over to a drawer and pulled a laptop out with a mouse and a headset.
He handed it to Root with a smile, “For you my dear. I will organise your trip back to New York, I have a few contacts who can get you there under the radar. I think that I will be joining you from now on.”
Sameen Shaw with Bear’s leash in hand, heard a pay phone ringing on the southwest corner of 49th Street and 6th Avenue. She turned her head towards it and picked it up, feeling a feeling that she had felt rarely in her life, hope.
She lifted the phone to her ear and heard a familiar voice, “Hello Sweetie. Meet me at the Library.”
A beep sounded and the call ended, she put down the phone and turned. She looked up at the camera and smiled at it then walked away down the street. Root’s jacket no longer felt so tight on her and she felt like she could breathe properly again for the first time in weeks.
Root was alive and so was the Machine. This was definitely real.