Cassandra and the brown shaggy dog stood over Rick as he lay asleep on the bed.
"Why can he remember anything?" asked Cassandra. "Well for starters, it could be a multiple of things. But, I believe because of the procedure performed on him years ago. But I can't assure you of that." he answered scratching the back of his fuzzy head.
"Procedure?" asked Cassandra.
"I'll get to that"
"He could have only temporary memory loss, but it's hard to say." he answered. "Do you think bringing him here was a good idea?" she asked.
"Well I don't know, it could jog his memory or cause it to collapse entirely. He'll have bits of his past, but it'll be like a dream to him. A clean slate, so to say" he said looking at Rick.
"What happened to Rick all those years ago? Before he disappeared" Cassandra said, stroking Rick's hair.
"Rick was in a worst state mentally than the rest of his squad. He had to be "removed" from normal practices when he was released from a sabotaged operation where he was taken hostage. He was believed to be brainwashed, speaking about strange machines, symbols and lights constantly. Nothing he spoke was coherent. This could explain why the terrorist organization left him for dead in the middle of a busy street with a bullet wound to his chest." He continued as he walked pacing the room.
"the rest of his squad was either dead or dying from starvation or a bullet wound to the chest. Many of them died. His body was slowly shutting down, his body had lost the will to live on its own accord"
"How many lived?" asked Cassandra.
"Out of 9, 4 made it home. The rest perished. The nature of the mission was never known to anyone. Only a few knew. During his time in the medical labs, a new method was to be practiced on him. It had a very low success rate but a high fatality rate"
Cassandra was taken aback from the information she never knew existed.
"His body was failing, his mental state was deteriorated, nothing seemed to work, he was a perfect test subject for the Z.A.Y.R. Project." he said looking at the floor.
"Z.A.Y.R was illegal, how? I don't understand. Anyone under that research branch was discharged from the military" responded Cassandra. "I know Rick served in the Cornerian Army, but as a soldier. Nothing like this ever crossed my mind, what was he?" Cassandra said taking a new look on Rick.
"Rick had been through years of military training and top secret operations, he was a member of an elite task force that never existed. When he was captured, he was mentally broken. He was a valuable fountain of knowledge. By the time we recovered him. Nothing seemed real to him." he said as he paced around the room.
"To this day, we don't know what information they tortured from him.
"But, Z.A.Y.R, that was a doomed and tragic accident. It was a catastrophe, killed so many people..." said Cassandra. "Who enlisted him under that?"
"it pains me to say, but his father" he said looking at her. "His own father?" she said confused.
"Do you remember the explosion in the Cornerian Research Labs a few years back?" he asked.
"Yes, that's what killed his mother" answered Cassandra.
"It wasn't an explosion in the military base that killed over half the staff for a different research project, it was Rick. The explosion was a mere cover up for disaster his father had created."
Cassandra looked at the old man in confusion as he explained. "This doesn't make sense to me? There's so many things that just don't add up"
"General Kaj Zira, Rick's father, wanted the best weapon against any enemy, the common soldier. Kaj's idea was rejected from the board. So he and others worked on a so highly sought mobile healing unit, which was to cover up the Z.A.Y.R. Project." he said looking ashamed.
"Kaj's ambition was so great, that he used his own flesh and blood to test it. Rick had no idea he would be the test subject." he continued.
"Since Rick wasn't mentally stable, Kaj thought it could fix up his son and be able to successfully use Z.A.Y.R. Two birds with one stone, so to speak. Rick had unknowingly become patient Zero for the Z.A.Y.R. Project"
"I don't understand, what is Z.A.Y.R?" she asked.
"Zero Aid Yield Recovery, or Z.A.Y.R is an enhancement to the body that could increase the victory rate of the military tenfold; a genetic enhancement that meddled in the affairs of life and death. Militaria High Command knew it was a bad idea, so it was banned through the board unanimously. That's where Kaj took it into his hands." he said.
Cassandra listened to every word and was shocked at the fact that Rick's own father, Kaj could do such a thing to his son.
"Another thing I don't understand is how you know all of this?" she asked him.
"I, was the head of the Z.A.Y.R procedure to be completed on him" he said turning away from Cassandra. "You?! How could you?!" she then said yelling at him.
"I know! I've lived with the burden of guilt all of these years!" he said pulling a chair to sit. Cassandra looked at Rick; she was full of anger now.
"You were a part of his family, and you betrayed all that? The one you need to ask forgiveness is from Rick, not me."
"please let me tell you the rest of Rick's past, after the Z.A.Y.R. was started, he reacted badly to it. He tried to escape the restraining straps, he yelled in pain. Then suddenly, he seemed lifeless." he said as he looked at Rick.
"So we stopped, then the second part of the process began. It consisted of multiple body enhancements, budget was no problem. Kaj wanted a 100% functional prototype."
"Several open surgeries where done to him, all without anesthetic. The anesthetic would interfere with the neurological procedures, which could be a reason he doesn't remember anything. He was believed to be in a coma like state, suspended animation" he explained to her.
It took hours, but painstakingly, it was completed. He was finished and taken to a reanimation chamber, the "healing chamber".
"So they did create a healing chamber?" asked Cassandra.
"Yes, but it wasn't intended to heal just anybody. It was only meant for Rick. He has a life support that is unique; he could be revived if he were to be killed. But if his internal life support is destroyed, so are his chances of survival."
"why? I don't see the benefits?" she asked him.
"He would be made into a prototype to try and change the minds of the Cornerian High Command board" he responded.
"After we transferred him, the chamber was filled with a chemical gas to activate his breathing and life support" the old dog said taking a drink of water.
"After the gas entered his blood stream, the chamber was electrified to re-fire the normal operations of the heart and brain, alongside his life support" he stood up and continued to pace around the room once more.
"Within a few minutes, the process what completed. It seemed we had failed. He continued lifeless. After a talk with Kaj, the project was terminated. We were ordered to remove his body and have it buried. The military base would handle any public information regarding the death of Rick." he was cut off by a question from Cassandra.
"But then why is he alive?"
"well this is where it's hard to say. After he was released from the restraints, he suddenly sprang to life; he was extremely aggressive and violent. Killing at least 3 staff members" said the old dog as he rubbed his eyes.
"He was a well-trained soldier and that aided him on his energized psychotic rampage. Rick's body had mutated in a strange way. Massive energy surges radiated from him, we believe from the electrical pulse used to jumpstart his heart. Destroying over half of the lab and killing numerous staff, he was tranquilized and then relocated to max security station in space, where he escaped, we failed to retrieve him. How he managed to find you is beyond me. You were told of his death on the field after he was taken to the Z.A.Y.R. Labs."
"Your life with him was slowly erased to prevent Rick from being traced back to Kaj and the Z.A.Y.R. Team. He might not ever recover his memory. But it seems he's back to how he was before his mental deterioration. Maybe you could try to help him understand who he is."
"How can someone like him be simply erased? How is that possible?" asked Cassandra.
"Kaj pulled many strings in high places. Fear ran high after the catastrophic mess. Everyone was more than willing to forget, especially Kaj" he continued.
"But now listen, I've been here for far too long, I must leave. No one must know I was here. Understand?" he then said standing up and grabbed his coat.
"Rick will never be the same again, but there is a small chance he will remember someday" said the old man as he walked out the door consumed by the darkness.
Cassandra then rested her head on Rick's shoulder. "Rick, you must remember," she whispered softly.