Poison of the Aconite

            By Erebus Darkness

Chapter 2: Interrogation

A/N: Yeah, I read Farenheight 451. When I tried to think of a face name for her, Clarisse McClellan jumped into my mind. Thanks for reviewing!

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When I first came to, my head was aching with a painful buzz. My foot and hand had a slight throbbing pain that seemed to grow more painful as I became aware. I opened my eyes, squinting because of the sudden bright light, and as my vision started becoming in focus, I saw mother standing over me, her face flushed with a mix of happiness and sorrow. She was crying and laughing at the same time.

            "Oh Jim!" she exclaimed passionately, "Oh sweetie, I was so worried!" She flung her hands around me and gave me a kiss on my cheek. Her hug made my pain worsen. I would've have screamed if my throat wasn't too dry or my jaw was clamped together.

            I was in a hospital—a private one-bed room that was usually expensive. Needles with pipes were stuck in my arms, stuck on with some cheap, faded tape.

            When she stopped hugging me, I cleared my throat. My voice was hoarse and broken. I looked up and muttered, "Ma?"

            "Yes?" she responded immediately, her face was anxious and looked as though she would jump to do anything I asked her.

"Wha—"

            She interrupted me before I finished my first word, "Don't worry Jim. Everything's okay, everyone's fine." She smiled and continued on before I could speak, as if she was reading my mind, "Eli rushed in a moment after you collapsed. Ethel, probably because she was surprised, shot him. If he didn't run into the room quickly like that, maybe he wouldn't have get hurt!"— at this she chuckled but stopped immediately and looked solemn, "Eli's okay, she shot him in the arm."

            "Eli…" I muttered vague. Eli was one of my Academy friends. It sounded like him to act before thinking and getting shot afterwards. I looked up again, "What about—"

            "Ethel?" she cut in again with a grim smile, "They captured her."

            "What happened?" I asked quickly.

            "After Eli came in, a group of police, agents and a lot of people came in and surrounded her. There was no way for her to escape. She's in a observation confinement and interrogation." Mother paused and sighed, "She hasn't spoken a word for 3 days."

            I nodded faintly. 3 days, I thought, that's how long I've been out? That was slightly embarrassing, after I all, I only got shot.

 "Are they going to execute her?" I questioned slowly.

            Mother looked surprised by the question, then she frowned sadly. She sighed and said, "Well, there is enough crimes for an execution. But she's only…15."

            I laughed softly at this. Mother looked at me with a strange expression.

            "What so funny?" she asked sharply.

            "15." I answered, "And you though I was bad when I was 15."

            "Well, you weren't brought up that way, you just were because you were." Mother said almost defensively, "She was brought up that way, trained to be what she is. You're not." I didn't know what to think of this. It was true but she still had a choice. I became angered suddenly, remembering the day she had killed Grace. It was her mission, yes, but she killed her and I could never forgive her, no matter how much she begged or apologized.

            After a few weeks I was able to get out of the hospital thanks to great healing technology, I was near healed. Doc and Amelia had come to me the same day I had awoken with get-well gifts. They didn't mention a word of Ethel. Little Morph snuggled on me and was cute as she ever was. I also received visitors from school: Giggling, but generous girls (with lots of sweets and flowers), boys from my class that teased me and fooled around. Eli and Greg (very close friends, both human) gave me private and entertaining visits with Eli telling me of his account of the event, changing little things in each time. Greg was a modest boy, quiet, virtuous but adventurous.

            "What's the news with Foster?" I asked Eli one day. He looked at me for a while then answered, "Won't talk, still in interrogation. That lil' wench has an irritable habit of ticking off the interrogators."

            "I think I can interrogate her." I muttered before I could stop myself. I probably said that because I felt so vengeful I had a moment assurance that I would be able to beat her head in and make her talk.

            Eli grinned his sly grin, one he usually uses when he's scheming or to irritate others.

            "Well why don't you?" he said, " I can arrange it." I argued a bit, only a bit. Somewhere inside my mind I wanted to talk to her and yell and shout at her for ruining my life. The next day, I was off to interrogate the Aconite agent.

~@@~

            Her black hair was disheveled and some fell on her face. There were dark circles under her eyes that suggested she hadn't been sleeping. The bright orange jumpsuit she was wearing reflected on her pale face and teasing green eyes and made her look really strange, sitting almost expressionless in the interrogation room. Her hands were cuffed and secured with a special alarm. When she saw me, nothing in her expression seemed to change but her eyes did suddenly shift to the floor.

            "Ethel Foster." I said mockingly. I was swallowing the temptation to strangle her. She looked up.

            "Why!" She started, copying my mocking tone, "Isn't Jimmy Hawkins all alive and well!"

            "Tempting isn't it?" I asked coldly.

            "Very," she responded, the left corner of her mouth slowly rising into a smirk, "Come to interrogate me, have you?"

            "Yeah." I answered seriously. I hated that smirk.

            "Well, keep in mind that I'm still here to kill you."

            For some reason that sentence totally caught me off balance. All I could do was stare at her with a mixture incredibility, annoyance and hate. She was returning me a very faint grin.

            She continued, "You'd have to kill me, Jim, to get anything out."

            "Oh, believe me, I will!" I cried before I could stop myself, my tone was shaking and seething, "I have never wanted to kill anyone else more than you."

            She looked amused. "I'm honored, Hawkins Jr."

            I looked at her sharply, suspiciously. Did she just call me Hawkins Jr.?

            "What?" I asked.

            "Nothing, nothing that's important, Jim."

            ~@@~

            I got absolutely nothing out of her. The more questioned I asked about, the more she angered me. I was fusing, flushed when I came out of that room. I was still angry when I got back to the Benbow.

            The Benbow was empty except for a few night travelers checking in for some food and drink. Mother immediately set her things down and rushed to me when I entered the inn. Seeing my frustration, she asked right away: "What's wrong, Jim?"

            "Nothing. I'm just angry, a little." I said, and forced a smile.

            "It didn't go well?" she inquired.

            I shook my head and sat on one of the nearer tables. Mother took a seat across from me. Her expression was curious and questioning. I watched her and waited for her to say or ask something because it looked like she was about to talk.

            "Foster…" she muttered silently to me, "I know that name, but I can't remember from where…"

            This would've been a great opportunity be witty and joke that she did know that name. It was the name of the girl who almost killed your son! But I didn't say it; I was too tired.

            She sighed in defeat and messaged her temples. She said half-heatedly, "My memory is failing me."

            ~@@~

            The next evening I was back in the interrogation room with Foster. Eli and Greg said that it was hopeless to do anything but I was…well…I didn't know exactly why I still wanted to talk to her. Maybe because I hoped that she'll slip and start talking.

            "Hello James." She greeted with my real name.

            I didn't reply and sat across the table from her. We had somewhat of a staring contest for the next few minutes except that none of seemed to be on the verge of laughing. There was a strange silent, uncomfortable silent. Suddenly, the door opened. I jumped, she didn't, and she coolly turned her head to the door.

            It was Harold, the SCI (Space Colony Investigator) that was supposedly on of the agents of the Aconite Assassination files. He was smart, short middle age man with sharp gray eyes and dark tanned skin.

            "Hey Jim." He said, "A couple of us guys are going to the 2nd floor; there seems to be a problem there. Jesse will be the only one monitoring, is that okay?"

            "Yeah," I answered, "Sure." He gave a quick grin and laughed. After he left, I turned to Ethel who was staring down at the table with a thoughtful expression. She looked up at me.

            "You know." She started gently, "You're such a good person, and I really think it's a waste to kill you."—I snorted at this—"The biggest mistake people do with Aconites is not know who that they are. And when they do, they don't know how to beat them. Our weak spot is probably the hands." That was strange, what she telling me. And why was she telling me anyway.     

            "I'd like to show you something Jim."

            I looked at her with a slight interest and boredom. "Yeah?"

            She stood up and turned her back to me. I could see a straight zip line going vertically down the orange jumpsuit.

            "Unzip." She ordered simply. I stared at her. Unzip?

            "C'mon." she said, "Or you can free my hands." I stood up, a bit hesitant at first, and then slowly unzipped the jumpsuit. I saw the pale flew of her back, her spine and bra, but something right under her bra on the left side caught my attention. It looked like some sort of tattoo. I leaned to get a closer look. It was a flower, intricately designed with a flourishing large black A set on it.

            "A…" I murmured, "For—"

            "Aconite." She finished me off quickly. "Every Aconite agent has one. Also another way you can find out if a person one or not is…Jim, look under my hair on the beck of my neck." I quickly zipped her back up, and look at her neck; there it was, the identical tattoo with the flower and an A. I sat back in my seat and she faced me and sat too.

            "Why—." I began to ask when there came a loud laser shot, and someone screaming; it sounded like Jesse. I looked up into the camera we were being observed by, then at her.

            She grinned and said with great satisfication, "They're here, love, good luck."