Anatomy of a Confession

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Escobar awoke blurry-eyed, his head throbbing with pain. His hands searched for a wound, then his memory began to return. He felt the small bump on his neck where a tranquilizer dart had hit him expertly. He remembered following that pilot bitch and hearing Jackson calling after him. Neither of them was responsible for this, so who? His eyes began to adjust to the light. He wasn't bound, he wasn't wasn't wounded other than the tranq. Where was he?

"Good morning, Pedro," said a voice, familiar but distant.

"Who are you, where am I?" he called out.

"You don't recognize me?" The voice spoke gently. "No matter. I sometimes don't recognize myself."

The blurry light slowly manifested itself into a form. A man, scarred across his face with one glassy eye. He was wearing a shepherd's collar, and was missing an arm. Still with all that, the face was unmistakable.

"Captain Baylin.." he whispered, uncertainly. Was Baylin part of the organization? Had Trane put him on this?

"I go by Faria now, my son." The shepherd spoke softly. Escobar was made more nervous by this tone. He was used to hearing barked orders, angry accusations, and demanding inquisitions from this man. But this tone, it had a finality to it, as though he were there to administer last rites.

"What do you want, why am I here?" He spat angrily... he thought to stand but his legs were like rubber. "What have you done to me?"

"A mild muscle relaxant. Nothing permanent." Faria spoke calmly.

Escobar thought back to Voodoo Company's use of muscle relaxants in the war. They were helpful when extracting information through so-called 'coercive methods' (aka torture). They could inflict pain via electrical shock without the subject damaging themselves in response. They were helpless witnesses to their suffering forbidden even the involuntary reactions of their bodies. It was usually effective. And here he was now. He felt a soreness in his muscles, like he had run for miles on hard ground, a dryness in his throat as though he walked across a desert. He sensed he had been here much longer than this. His vision started to get blurry again.

Time passed... How much he couldn't say, the Shepard was still there looking intently at him. He realized he was drooling slightly.

"What do you want?" His voiced quavered a bit. He didn't see any sign of equipment, just the shepherd, a bible, and the bare room.

"Pedro, you and I have sinned. I have repented, and I want you to join me."

Escobar was gobsmacked. Juh Shi Suh Mo Go Dohng Shee? (Mandarin: What the hell?)

Before he could respond to the shepherd the man wheeled around behind him. Even in a wheelchair, or perhaps because of the wheelchair, he was menacing.

"You've done many terrible things Pedro, but there is still a chance for forgiveness. But true forgiveness can't just float on your lips my son, it must come from your soul." There was a long pause. "Do you wish to make a confession?"

"What do you mean?" he stammered. "About what?"

"Your sins, my child, do you wish to confess your sins and be cleansed?" The shepherd spoke so matter-of-factly, like he was some frontier preacher, but Escobar sensed something more ominous hiding behind his words.

"My sins? You mean like killing folk? Taking the lord's name in vain, that mi tian gohn? (Mandarin: Excrement)" He started to giggle a little. Where to begin?

"Are those your only sins my child? Or is there something else you want to tell me?" Faria's tone got more serious, he knew something.

Escobar started to sweat, what was this? Did Baylin know about the side deals, the skimming from the top. That was standard operating procedure. Everyone did it. Or did he know more... did Gaduchi flip? Damn unreliable sah gwa. (Mandarin: Fool) Maybe he was just fishing. He needed to get control of this interrogation.

"Why don't you tell me my gorram sins, Baylin!" He shouted. His voice echoed in the small room, he felt small and childish for doing so, when the shepherd was keeping so calm.

"Do you want me to show you your sins, Pedrito, do you?" The shepherd wheeled adjacent to Escobar so that his breath was in his ear.

If word got back to Trane he had tried to communicate directly with a client, that he tried to negotiate his own deal, punishment would be swift and brutal. Trane demanded absolute loyalty. When Zero returned to the ship with a case of cash instead of evidence of that rancher's death Trane explained to him what the mission was, then took the ship far off course, just to to strand him on a shuttle in Reaver space. He played the last comm-wave from Zero's shuttle over the ship's intercom. Even Escobar couldn't get that out of his head for weeks.

"I don't know... I just did what would have been done anyway. I'm no worse than the rest of them, than anyone. You don't know, you can't judge me!" He started crying.
"Only God can judge my son." The shepherd's voice was back.

The shepherd rolled back opposite him, he pulled a small syringe from a bag under the table. It had what appeared to be a little blood in it. Escobar looked puzzled, what was this?

"Have you heard of TSEB34, Pedrito?" The priest asked "You may be more familiar with the name 'Reaver's Disease'. Although that is not really accurate. Or at least wasn't accurate when it was discovered. Of course, you know all about that, don't you Pedrito?"

"I.. I don't know what you are talking about, you gonna infect me with that needle? I thought you were a shepherd, you can't do that!" Escobar started to sweat.

The Shepherd looked a little embarrassed for a moment. "I'm sorry to say, Perdito, that I already did."

He was wong duhn (Done for).. he didn't understand, why tell him, why do this?

"Rest assured Pedrito, I would never infect someone with a disease for which there is no cure... but wait, there is a cure isn't there Pedrito.... your friend Dr. Gordon, he has a cure doesn't he?"

Escobar's eyes dilated. He thought back to the freaks at the mines, the 'stitches'. He wasn't particularly interested in the details of that business, but he knew enough. Brain surgery to 'cure' the prion, those chwen (retarded) zombies sent on to BlueSun, like blank chip to be reprogrammed. He had a hunch Blue Sun was trying to manufacture some kind of super soldier, again, but it never worked. There was no substitute for a veteran soldier with the proper motivation. Still, they took it very seriously.

"I'm sure Dr. Gordon will be happy to perform the operation on someone like you. Your skills, and physique would no doubt make you a formidable subject. And with the operation, infinitely more reliable..." The shepherd's tone was menacing.

Escobar's mind flashed to the hunk of fleshing lumbering around the courtyard with his men taunting them like bull-fighters. Keeping them on the edge of that mania, and then running for the hills when they'd snap. It wasn't even pity he felt for them, just disgust. They weren't human anymore, just a mockery of a person. He felt his mind getting cloudy, it was hard to think, he needed to get out, he struggled with his useless limbs and succeeded in throwing himself to the floor, blood ran from his nose, as his vision faded again.

Time passed. He awoke back in the chair.

"I'm sorry, tell Trane I'm sorry. " He sobbed hoping for something, he wasn't sure what was worse, death or becoming one of those things. But he knew he wasn't going to be walking out of here himself.

"What do you want from me?" He managed to get himself together.

"Repent and you will be saved my son." He said soothingly.

"Repent...." Escobar repeated. "Yes.. anything... " He managed again though the exercise of speaking was starting to drain him. He felt like his brain was slow, like the neurons weren't firing. Wuo Duh Tian Ah (Oh my god!) he thought to himself, it is already happening, how could it be so quick?

"Pedrito... I want you to sleep now. When you awake, I will hear your confession."

"Yes Shepherd, sleep." He managed to squeeze out before the doors on his mind began to close.

Shepherd Faria