Chapter 19: Complex Beings

The loud noises all around her extended a hand deep into her consciousness. It gripped her very life and began to pull it out from her silent world to the reality around her. Her eyes slowly opened, but with a sudden jolt of panic she sat up to study her surroundings. She was in an ambulance. A mask providing fresh oxygen was placed over her mouth. Carolina took full advantage of the fresh clean air to help soothe her mind.

In the distance she could see the wreckage of the construction site. That's right, she suddenly remembered everything. Madison's body was nowhere to be seen. She gripped her blanket in frustration. If only you would have stopped, if only you would have been willing to give life a second chance.

Thank god you are finally awake! Epsilon shouted with relief in her consciousness. Carolina simply smiled and apologized for making him worry. Damn right I was worried! Seriously, I don't want to even think about losing you sis. Carolina removed the mask and looked down at her hands apologetically. "Sorry Church. I guess the situation got the better of me. I really wanted to-"

I know. But nothing you said could have saved him. He was already head deep in his pit of despair. No words of reason, logic or hope could reach him. Carolina felt the sting of defeat and more so loss of a friend course though her body. Outside were several police car, fire trucks and ambulances on the scene all created a symphony of noise. Her world seemed so loud, and yet so numb. "Have I really changed on this journey? I can't even save one friend."

You have changed! Epsilon interjected surprising her once again. Just because you couldn't save Madison, it doesn't mean you haven't changed. You have gained clearer insight into yourself through this journey. You have grown stronger as an individual and thus you have changed. She threw the blanket to the side and slid forward to the edge of the ambulance. "Thanks, Church."

A man entered her field of vision. Said man held up a detective's badge affiliated with the police. "I see you are up and active again Carolina Church."

Carolina's felt somewhat irritated at her last name being muttered. He held up her purse and threw it at her lap. "Sorry, but I had a peek through its contents."

Carolina defensively took it and made sure everything was in its proper place. The detective let out a sigh with the shrug of his shoulders and explained. "I didn't take anything if that is what you are searching for. The situation calls for me to take these types of steps even without the owner's consent."

She quietly put away her wallet and looked up at the detective with an understanding look. He thanked her for showing signs of trust. "I know this is sudden but do you think you can answer a few questions for us?"

"Yes," she agreed and he pointed to his car. "It's best if we conduct our interview back at the station. Too much noise around here will be bad for concentration."

At the police station, upon Carolina's request she was given time to lie down and rest in a private area of the office. In her rest she had dozed off slightly only to awaken to the grey clouds of the mid-day. She heard knocks from the door to the room and saw the detective enter. He held a box of Chinese noodles and offered it to her.

Upon smelling the delicious aroma, her stomach let out a demanding growl much to the detective's amusement. She felt her cheeks light up a little in embarrassment as she thanked him for his treat and quietly ate under his watchful gaze. "I haven't introduced myself yet. I am Detective Thomas Edgar. Call me Tom for short, everyone else does."

Carolina quickly finished the noodles and with a satiated hunger she looked up at the detective. "Thank you again for your kind consideration. But I know you are looking forward to our session together. If you are ready, I would like to get started right now."

"Are you sure?" he asked and pointed out the door. "We will be switching rooms."

She stood up fine answering his question for itself. The detective gave a playful smirk as he led the way to the interrogation room. She sat on one side and him on the other. But quickly he stood up and reached for the door. "Give me a few minutes here. I need to grab a cup of coffee. I am always on the verge of falling asleep without my trusty coffee. Would you like some as well?"

"Sure, yes please."

Minutes later he re-entered the room with two freshly brewed cups of coffee. He placed one by her hand and took a sip from his with a satisfied groan escaping his mouth. "Nothing like a fresh hot cup of coffee on a cool day like today."

"So, what questions did you want me to answer Detective Tom?"

He activated a holographic panel and showed her a few reports. But the one he focused on the most was a detailed profile about Madison. "I want for us to focus primarily on Madison here. All other questions are really secondary at this point. Take a look through the report and let me know if you find any discrepancies."

Carolina browsed the various sections, but spent the most time on the accrued history of his life. She was shocked to find truth in his words involving his family's incident. This is insane, how could the government even get away with doing something like that? She continued to read and the more she read, the more shocked she felt. "Detective…why is it that the government never mounted a rescue mission for the incident in space involving Madison's family?"

"Ah that," he lowered his gaze in a sign of respect for the dead. "As sick as this may sound, the government never saw it fit to assume responsibility. They never believed that they were at fault. They weren't held accountable either, even after all those court cases the government came out the victor."

"Then who would be blamed here?"

"Officially, it is stated that the company contracted to produce the various sensors in that region of space. Those sensors help protect that region of space for public shuttles. They were held accountable. It was their responsibility to protect the people by ensuring their devices actually worked, but as the report suggests, the outcome was different."

"That is just…sickening considering how advanced we have gotten. But we still play in the dirt pond of politics every day."

Tom took control of the report and scrolled down to a specific part. He pointed at the psychiatric report and asked. "Did you ever notice anything strange about Madison, like the way he acted around others perhaps, for example, was he suspicious at all?"

She shook her head. "No, never. He always seemed like a kind, caring, gentle father and a family man to me. At the same time, he was also a good friend."

"He must have had quite a lot of time to perfect such an image then," the detective retorted as he pointed out to the various instabilities in Madison's mentality. "He even managed to keep something as big as his alliance to the mysterious terrorist organization a secret. Most people would crumble under the pressure and squeal, but he must have had some damn good acting skills."

"Acting or not, he seemed so genuine," she remised before being interrupted by the Detective. "I know this isn't easy for you Ms. Church. But how much did you know about Madison's family?"

"All he ever told me was that he had a daughter, who resembled me quite a lot in personality. His wife seemed to be very loving and dedicated towards fostering their family as did he," Carolina stopped to remember the times Madison seemed so happy talking about them. "They all sounded so loving and caring."

"The ideal family, wouldn't you say?" Tom noted and Carolina nodded her head. He took another sip of his coffee and let out a sigh. "It really is a true tragedy on what happened. Madison himself didn't seem like the violent sort. From his profile before the incident, and the comparable profile from after the incident, he changed so much even though he masked it very well. To be driven to terrorism through a personal tragedy, while it's not exactly something new, it still is saddening."

"Yes, it is," Carolina lowered her head in grief remembering the very few times Madison would drop his smile and show a sense of longing. He was always trying to tell us something even if he didn't say it. But we in our idealistic picture of him ignored such signals. Would this have happened if we had caught wind of this and done something to help him? This world is too cruel. The detective opted to take a small breather and allow them both to recuperate.

Once they started again, it was soon dusk. The detective sat back in his chair and stretched his arms. "Sorry, I didn't plan on keeping you here this long. But once we got started, questions just kept on coming to me."

"It's alright," she admitted looking at her now empty cup. "I doubt anyone else from work had anything to do either. I may as well use that time up to help you guys as best as I can."

"Glad to hear it," he replied holding out a card for her. She took it and studied its content. He opened the door for her to follow as he led her out of the station. "Should you remember something or something comes up bearing importance in regards to this case, please don't hesitate to contact me directly on the phone number on that card."

She quietly followed behind him. Minutes later they both stood outside under the watchful gaze of the dark clouds. The detective looked up with the rub of his hair. "Looks like tonight will be an especially cold night."

"Yes…," Carolina gazed up as well. Are you with your family now Madison? The detective turned around to walk back inside but he held the door open and said. "Be careful out there. More terrorist activities have been popping up lately, more so than usual."

"Thank you for your concern," she answered as she put on her gloves and zipped up her jacket. The detective waved back one last time before disappearing into the station. She looked all around at the street, it was mostly empty with everyone now having left work and gone home. The streets felt empty like her heart. Sadness was still ringing strongly in her heart. Those that were on the street however walked as they normally would. People still go about their lives as if nothing happened this morning. How can these people be so calm, or rather choose to ignore the chaos that exists?

Do you want to go on another mini-adventure to cheer up a little sis?

"No," Carolina breathed out some cool air as a gust of wind hit her hair and caused it to dance into one direction. "I just want to get home and get hammered. I don't want to think about anything, I just want to be at peace."

You have been drinking an awful lot lately. Maybe you should consider finding a different outlet sis. This much drinking can't be good for you.

"I have been drinking a lot, yes. But I can't care enough to change that, not with all that's been happening lately," Carolina gritted her teeth and balled her fists in a moment of silence. "Why are humans so fragile, but at the same time complex beings? Why are they so good at deceiving, so much so that even I failed to be perceptive of Madison's internal suffering? I hate us for being so weak. Church, why are humans so weak?"

Don't ask me, I don't understand half the stuff people do sometimes because of how irrational it is. I don't know why people are weak in times like these, and I don't know how such a blessed species could also be so cursed through such continuous conflicts. Perhaps it is simply human nature.

A small snowflake fell atop her head. She slowly looked up and was greeted by the sight of her very first winter on Earth. Just like the grey clouds her mood remained sullen. She stretched out her hand and felt the light gentle weight of the falling snowflakes. She looked up again and her eyes widened at the building opposite to her.

On the rooftop were two silhouettes. They were looking down at her. They were staring at her in her eyes. Surprised she rubbed and blinked her eyes. Was this her illusion? No, it was real. But as soon as she opened her eyes, the figures were gone. They were nowhere to be seen, gone with the wind like ghosts. The snowfall began to get heavier and the chill settled on her skin. She zipped up her jacket all the way to the neck and let out some fog. She looked to her right and began to walk away with her head low in contemplations and questions.

Deep in thought, the most prominent thought that coursed through her mind was that to be thankful for the snow. She knew best how the land humans walked upon so desperately needed purification. She walked and walked into the distance, until finally she disappeared from the street.

~ Season 17 Fin ~ Continued in "Red vs. Blue: Season 18"

A/N: Musical suggestion - "Emerald Dreams" by Koda. Start after the second last break line.

So that's it. Season 17 is done. Not much of an action packed ending now was it? That's because I wanted to approach the beginning of this trilogy from a more everyday life/drama feel. I kept some action, albeit to a minimum in here to not completely change what red vs blue is about, but I wanted to take a more dramatic approach to the story as well. While there was too much drama or not, whether it was too boring or not is really for the reader to decide. Personally I am glad to have taken this approach.

But for those wondering about if the rest of the trilogy will be like this. No, there will be a lot more action in "Season 18" and "Season 19". This season was more about giving Carolina reasons to become invested in a fight against the terrorist organization through her own personal experiences and encounters with them. But the ball can get rolling now with the next phase as the plot will deepen.

For those who were thinking Siris will be in this fanfic, sorry if you were left disappointed. But I did say he would be in the trilogy. He will show up in the next entry alongside many other canon characters as well as original characters.

It will be a while before I get to work on "Season 18" as I want to take a break to plan it out. If you are reading this when that fanfic has already been posted and completed, then ignore this.

I hope you all enjoyed this fanfic and perhaps got you interested in the new trilogy. I also hope you enjoyed a different approach to the start of the trilogy. Catch you all in my next fanfic!

Thanks for your readership and support!

~ Monty