The back door to Henry's office was unlocked so I let myself in, quietly closing the door behind me. I crept down a darkened hallway as I listened for voices. I saw a light on in one of the rooms so I poked my head in the doorway.
Ranger was leaning against a desk with his arms crossed. He was staring at Henry with no emotion on his face. They didn't see me so I just watched in silence.
Henry, apparently had been rushing around gathering papers and didn't see Ranger waiting for him until it was too late.
"Hank," Ranger said quietly. Uh oh – the scary Ranger quiet voice.
"Ranger!" Hank said, as papers flew from his arms. "Whaat are you doing here?"
Ranger said nothing and just looked at him.
"Look," Hank said. "This wasn't my idea, it was my partner's. I didn't want to do it, I have nothing against you."
Still Ranger said nothing, but his gaze never wavered.
"I fixed it though, looks like you're feeling better," Hank said. Actually, I thought Ranger looked a little pale, and I suspected his leaning against the desk was for more than just show.
"There are lots of pieces to the puzzle that need to be filled in," Ranger finally said. "And you are going to tell me everything."
"Uh…" Hank stammered.
"Either you are going to tell me on your own or Tank and I are going to make you tell me. Your choice."
Hank let out a sigh and sank into a chair. He ran his hands through his hair and rubbed his face.
"What is the drug?" Ranger asked.
"It's something I've been working on for years. It's my own formula."
"What does it do?"
"It makes one feel like they have a really bad flu and incapacitates them for a short duration."
"I'm aware," Ranger said. "How does it work?"
"Well we all breathe in oxygen and breath out carbon dioxide. The drug bonds to the carbon dioxide in the body and prevents some of it from being exhaled. The compound in the drug actually needs oxygen to work so the more oxygen you inhale, the stronger the drug gets."
"Pretty nasty side effects too," Hank continued. "Headaches, fever, and cough. The cough is as a result of the excess carbon dioxide though."
"How does it wear off?" Ranger asked.
"It's supposed to metabolize in a few days, at least that's what all the test results showed. I still don't know why it didn't work. Maybe it's because I used injections with all of my tests instead of an inhalant. Maybe inhaling it is too fast for the body to handle."
I thought I saw a muscle tense in Ranger's jaw. He must be using a lot of self-control to stay calm right now. I'd have the guy in a headlock by now.
"Why me?" Ranger asked. "Not happy with our security agreement?"
"No, not at all!" Hank said. "We needed a test subject and when that bounty hunter showed up and said she knew you, well, we figured it would give us a chance to test the product because we figured it wouldn't take long for you to catch on to what we were doing."
"You sold the product?" Ranger asked.
"We tried, but the test results were not satisfactory to the buyer."
"And what was this buyer planning to do with it?"
"Hell if I know. There are endless options. Gets people out of the way and makes them not want to leave their bed. Anyway, the buyer is out. I have to tweak my formula and try again." Hank said that last part more to himself, lost in his thoughts I think.
"Well that's never going to happen," Ranger said. "It ends here."
I was having a hard time hearing everything that was being said so I leaned closer, placing my hand on a pile of boxes. I accidentally knocked the boxes to the floor and everyone turned to look at me.
"Steph?" Tank and Ranger said at the same time. I gave them a little finger wave.
"What are you doing here?" Ranger asked. He had an edge to his voice so I knew he was short on patience.
Tank looked uncomfortable and said he was going to wait outside. Hank was obviously no threat.
"Why did you leave when you told me you would stay at RangeMan?" I said. "I have questions for Hank too, you know."
"Like what?" Ranger said, the edge to his voice replaced a little with amusement.
"Like who is this partner and what is his involvement in this?" I turned to Hank and said, "Fred is your partner, right?"
"No, I told you, I haven't seen Fred. He actually hasn't been answering my calls for a while, but I haven't had any time to worry about it. I figured he was just laying low until things blew over with his skipping out on bail."
"If Fred isn't your partner, who is?" I asked.
"Funny you should ask," said a voice from the doorway. We all turned to see a gun pointed at us and guess who was holding the gun?
"Mrs Postuli?" I said.
"I told you to call me Lisa."
"You're the partner?"
"You were expecting someone else? Someone like my husband?"
"Hold on," Ranger said, his eyes not leaving the gun. "Someone want to fill me in on this?"
"In due time," Lisa said. "Right now, I have some unfinished business here with my ex-partner."
Lisa forced Ranger and I into the corner of the room after she made Hank confiscate our weapons.
"Where the hell is Tank?" I quietly said to Ranger.
Before I could ask any more questions, my world went black.