Hello, everyone. My name's Mengde. I write mostly for the FFVII fandom, but I have been a huge fan of Deus Ex since I was thirteen or fourteen, and Human Revolution is a worthy successor to the original game. I loved it.
My friend Sylla's birthday is today, and as a gift I told her I'd write her a DX:HR fic with Adam and Sarif. That being said, I don't own any of these characters or augmentations etc. A little background: this fic assumes you go with Sarif's ending, placing the blame for Darrow's attack on the Humanity Front. This fic also assumes Adam isn't a total pacifist. Beyond that, if you like Adam and Sarif, I think you'll find something to enjoy here. I've rated the fic T for language and graphic violence.
Sorry's Not Enough
A DX: HR Fanfic
For Sylla, by Mengde
Adam Jensen couldn't remember the last time he'd had a good day.
As he stood on stage behind David Sarif, running security and projecting an aura of menace for the cameras, the thought bubbled into his mind unbidden. He knew he was supposed to keep his arms crossed, or at his sides, or behind him, but he raised his right hand to his face to stroke his beard at the thought. Adam could see it now: the media descending upon the small gesture, correlating it with whatever Sarif was currently saying – something about government regulations not applying to such and such a product for these and those reasons. Does the face of Sarif Industries disagree with the company's master? Does Adam Jensen think differently than David Sarif?
He didn't care. The polymer shell of his fingers felt smooth against the skin of his face as he pensively ran them down his chin. His fingers were built well enough to detect pressure, but the sensation of individual hairs between them wasn't something his hands could pick up. Adam was beginning to forget the feeling after more than a year like this.
That was it, really. When Adam stopped to think about it, having a good day – or even a normal day – was like a dream. He would drift along, unaware of the fiction of his reality, until something jarred him into consciousness. He would burn his tongue with scalding-hot coffee because he hadn't felt the heat of the mug when he'd picked it up, or he would bump into someone in a crowd and bowl them over with his sheer mass. Isolated incidents would add up and combine to create a sense of unease, of displacement, which ruined any good mood Adam might try to foster.
It didn't help that Megan was away so much of the time, working on projects she couldn't talk about. It didn't help that he had to be careful whenever he touched her, because a playful shove could send her staggering and giving her hand a squeeze could break it.
When people asked Adam how he dealt with the power, he told them he merely exercised caution. He didn't tell them how it wore on him, always being cautious, always having to deal with the drawbacks of something he'd never requested. That wasn't what they wanted to hear.
And when they said how sorry they were that he'd gone through such trauma, that he'd had to deal with such heartbreak, Adam didn't tell them that sorry wasn't enough. That wasn't what they wanted to hear, either.
Letting his hand drop, Adam shifted his gaze, hidden behind mirrored lenses, to Sarif's back. No, that wasn't what they wanted to hear. They wanted to hear what Sarif was telling them right now – that his company was dedicated to the ethical and moral promulgation of augmentation technology throughout the globe without sacrificing progress and innovation. Everybody won, nobody lost. Fun for the whole family. Adam felt his lip curl and wondered what the media hawks would make of that.
He liked his boss, and trusted him, and felt intensely loyal to him, but at the same time, if Adam were totally honest with himself, he knew he was more than a little resentful of Sarif. Adam's contract had named Sarif his medical proxy. It had been Sarif who'd ordered Adam's extensive augmentations when the opportunity had arisen, without seeing if Adam had even wanted the upgrades.
In a way, it was Sarif's fault that Adam couldn't remember the last time he'd had a good day.
Adam snapped back to reality as Sarif waved to the crowd with his right arm, the steel chassis of the augmented limb glistening in the light of the cameras. "Goodnight," Sarif said. "And remember: we're building wings for a better tomorrow."
He turned and strode off the stage. Adam lingered for a moment, waiting for his boss to precede him, before he followed, his coat billowing behind him as he moved.
"Buncha vultures," Sarif said as soon as they were heading down the hallway to the rear entrance.
Adam blinked, glad the involuntary sign of surprise wasn't visible through his shades. "Boss?"
"Weren't you paying attention, son?" Sarif asked, glancing over his shoulder as he passed between two black-suited security guards who opened the rear entrance for him. Adam's enhanced vision picked up on the way the light slid across the discreet grooves in Sarif's forehead, the only sign of the man's social implant. "Some of those reporters have to be on Taggart's payroll. Jumping on every hot-button issue when all I'm trying to do is hold a press conference about our expanding operations in Asia, picking up where Tai Yong Medical left off."
As he spoke, Sarif walked from the rear entrance to the waiting limo, nodding to the driver as the man opened the rear door for him. Adam followed him into the back of the car, settling himself on the seat opposite Sarif.
"Sorry, Boss," Adam said. "I was – somewhere else, I guess."
Sarif shook his head. "I know you're ideally not supposed to have to deal with the press, Adam, but I want you on your toes if the eventuality does come up. You're an important figure at Sarif Industries, you know." He popped open the minibar in the back of the limo, began to fix himself a gin and tonic.
Adam shrugged. "You're right, I know. It just seems…" He trailed off, searching for the right word. "Abstract. Like I'm supposed to watch out for something that might happen to someone else."
When he said that, Sarif paused, his glistening right hand poised above the cap for the gin. "Something you need to tell me, son?" he asked as he resumed his movements. "I've been lax on the whole psychiatric-checkups bit since you gave the last professional I hired a nervous breakdown." He finished his drink, moved on to Adam's.
"It's nothing, Boss," Adam said, seeing if he could deflect the question through bluntness. Still, he doubted it would work. Sarif's CASIE implant would feed him data suggesting that Adam didn't mean what he was saying. It couldn't see Adam's eyes through his lenses, which was the only reason Adam knew it wouldn't be flashing an alert that he was lying.
Sarif finished Adam's Scotch on the rocks, handed it to him. "You sure?"
"Positive," Adam said, tipping back the glass. As the smooth burn of good Scotch worked its way down his throat, he fondly remembered when he could have more than one of these without getting seriously drunk. There had been more of him, then.
For the moment, Sarif seemed deflected. He settled back into his own seat, the ice in his drink clinking as he did so. "Fair enough, Adam. But I'm serious. I don't bring you along to these press conferences just so you can stand in the back and look imposing, you know. You're the face of Sarif Industries. Brand recognition's a powerful thing, and people will want to know what you think." He made a distinctive motion with his augmented right hand which activated the television screen in the back of the limo, then began circling his thumb, moving it through channels.
Adam watched as the press conference appeared on the screen. He saw Sarif mention government regulations concerning load-lifting limits on arm augmentations for civilians, then watched his own image lift a hand to his beard, stroking it pensively.
"See that?" Sarif asked. "They're going to wonder if you have an opinion about this issue now, Adam." He gestured with his flesh-and-blood hand, the gin and tonic sloshing in the glass as he did so. "I don't know what you were pondering there, son, but it's little things like this that the press jumps on."
"I know, Boss," Adam murmured, taking another sip of his Scotch. He could hear helicopters in the distance, which was strange, considering that Detroit after sundown did not see many of those.
Sarif shook his head. "Knowing is one thing. Doing's another. You have to be careful, Adam, because eventually you're going to get ambushed."
As if to punctuate Sarif's statement, Adam felt the front end of the limo leap straight up into the air.
A split-second later, the sound and concussive shock of an explosion flattened him into his seat. Adam swore and caught Sarif as the man, propelled by the twin forces of the explosion and gravity, fell from his seat straight toward him. The limo began to fall back to Earth before a second explosion sent it tumbling end over end.
It was a testament to just how much armor the manufacturers had managed to layer into the car's construction that Adam and Sarif were both still alive when it came to a rest upside down. Adam had managed to take most of the car's blows, shielding Sarif with his body. His dermal armor weave meant that impacts which would shatter a normal man's bones barely left a mark.
"Where the hell did our police escort go?" Adam growled, more to himself than to Sarif. With one arm he bashed out one of the reinforced windows as though it were made of cardboard. He hauled himself and Sarif out, taking cover behind the upended limo, then stuck his head over the top to assess the situation.
He saw the answer to his question in the shattered wrecks of police bikes littering the streets, some of them still burning bright. Adam saw the choppers he'd heard earlier making a wide one-eighty at the far end of the boulevard, coming in for what had to be a second pass. They were jet-black with red stripes horizontally bisecting their fuselages.
"Who the hell are these people?" Sarif demanded.
Adam felt his throat tighten as he recognized the colors. "Tyrants," he said. "Illuminati death squad." He desperately cast his gaze around the street, looking for a building that he thought might withstand a missile barrage and also didn't look like it was occupied. "Looks like Taggart isn't the only one unhappy with us buying up most of Tai Yong."
He settled on a squat, eight-story office building with most of the lights off. Tugging Sarif to his feet, Adam made for the entrance, pulling his pistol from his coat as he moved. He only had it and a stun-gun on him; he hadn't expected to be fighting an insane paramilitary force today.
Combat software brought his arm up with surgical precision and held it perfectly still as Adam pumped six rounds into the lock on the building's front door. It was a good lock, armored against this kind of assault, but six rounds hitting precisely the same place in rapid succession did the trick. With a swift kick, Adam broke open the doors.
He got himself and Sarif inside just as the helicopters began another strafing run. Staccato explosions sounded out behind them as the choppers peppered the street with more missiles. Adam half-led, half-dragged Sarif toward the elevator. It wanted a key card, so Adam set his hacking suite loose on it.
"Why the hell does the Illuminati want me dead?" Sarif demanded. The fact that he didn't display any surprise at the existence of the group, despite Adam having never told him about them, was enough to make Adam raise an eyebrow. Sarif gave him an impatient look. "You don't get to a position like mine without being in the know, Adam. And you haven't answered my question."
The elevator opened and Adam gave Sarif a shove into it. His enhanced hearing could pick up the sounds of two of the helicopters alighting on the roof, so he stabbed the button for the eighth floor. "I don't know if they are here for you, Boss," he said. "They might be here for me."
"Adam, that's nonsense!" Sarif said. "It's been months since you stopped Hugh, and since you had that fight with what's-his-name."
"Namir," Adam said, trying to ignore the unpleasant shiver that worked its way up his spine as he spoke the name. "But you know why I'm special, Boss. You know what Megan found out about my DNA and used for her research."
Sarif said nothing at first. He looked surprised for a moment, then his expression shifted to one of regret. "Adam, I…"
The elevator lurched to a sudden halt and the lighting flickered out. A bloodred emergency light came on inside the elevator a moment later. The Tyrants had cut power to the building.
"Shit," Adam growled. "They knew we'd come in here. The choppers were just to herd us." He slapped a new magazine into his pistol and activated his smart vision, peering through the solid roof of the elevator car. It didn't look like the Tyrants had rigged the shaft in any way. This car had no roof hatch, though – a grievous design oversight – so Adam motioned for Sarif to step as far away from him as he could.
He switched his pistol to his left hand, then activated his wallcrusher subroutine, aiming for the ceiling. His right arm leapt forward like a striking snake, crushing into the roof in a snap blow which spiderwebbed the metal with cracks. He swapped the pistol back to his right hand and hit the roof again with his left.
Bits and pieces of it exploded out into the elevator shaft. Adam moved to shield Sarif from any stray debris as several large chunks of metal landed in the elevator. His smart vision let him see in the near-total darkness of the shaft, but he knew Sarif would have no clue what was happening.
"Boss," Adam said softly, slipping his pistol back into the holster he wore beneath his coat. "You trust me, right?"
"Of course I do," Sarif replied. "What kind of a question is that?"
"Just a precautionary one," Adam said.
Without further warning, he scooped Sarif up off the ground, his augmented limbs easily taking the man's weight. Routing power to his legs, Adam leapt the eight feet straight up out of the elevator, landing with a heavy clang on the roof, then walked right off the car into the empty space of the shaft, the ground already four stories below them.
As soon as Adam fell more than ten meters, his Icarus Landing System cut in, bathing him and Sarif in glowing golden light as it generated an electromagnetic lensing field to push against the Earth's gravity and slow their descent. The Icarus held up to Sarif's extra weight with aplomb, depositing them gently on the bottom of the elevator shaft in the basement level.
The emergency lighting down here shone orange-gold, painting everything in a flat, lurid hue. Adam tried to get his fingers into the elevator doors to force them open, but found it impossible. With a growl, he clenched his left hand into a fist. The nano-ceramic blade built into his forearm slid smoothly over and past his knuckles, coming to a halt a good half-meter beyond them. He wedged it between the doors, planted his feet, and pushed.
With an unpleasant whine, the doors parted enough for Adam to get his hands inside. He forced the doors the rest of the way open. As he motioned Sarif through, he heard voices coming from the top of the shaft, eight stories up.
Not wasting the breath it would take to swear, Adam rushed after Sarif. The basement level was a maze of piping, service tunnels, and breaker boxes. Adam's HUD had no map for this location, so he said, "Just pick a path and stick to it. Anywhere is better than here right now."
Sarif did as he was told, running off in a seemingly arbitrary direction, Adam hot on his heels. Sarif was in good shape, so he talked as he ran. "How'd you figure they wanted us to go into this building?"
"Profiling. They knew I'd pick a sturdy building without anyone inside, to minimize casualties. This was the closest one that fit the criteria." They turned a corner, ran into a dead end, doubled back to the previous intersection. "They wanted to bottle us up in the elevator by cutting the power. Didn't count on me being able to break us out of it as fast as I did."
They hit another dead end, but as Sarif moved to make a one-eighty, Adam motioned for him to stop. The wall was too thick for his smart vision to penetrate, but on the other side… He put his ear to it. There it was: the sound of running water, or at least running sludge. One of Detroit's expansive sewer tunnels was on the other side of this wall.
Adam holstered his pistol again. "Stand back, Boss," he said, engaging his wallcrusher subroutine on both his arms this time.
He struck the wall with a pair of hammerblows, automatically calculated to land in precisely the weakest spots. It caved in spectacularly, a storm of debris exploding out into the sewers. Without hesitating, Adam grabbed Sarif and pulled him through the breach.
As he cleared it, he heard the familiar beeping sound of turrets acquiring targets.
The two turrets that the Tyrants had placed in the sewer opened up on Adam and Sarif, spraying them with a hail of high-velocity armor-piercing rounds. Adam immediately hurled himself into Sarif, pushing the two of them out of the line of fire and back through the breach, but not before he felt several rounds tear into him. One of them hit him square in his left elbow. The forearm went flying, clattering to the ground several meters away.
Adam caught himself with his remaining arm, steadying himself against a wall to keep himself from falling. Sarif, propelled by Adam's mass, was not as lucky; he hit the ground hard, the impact knocking the wind out of him. As Adam blinked away the damage reports scrolling across his HUD, he saw the crimson seeping through Sarif's vest at his right shoulder. "Boss!"
"Got grazed," Sarif groaned, clutching at his shoulder. "If you hadn't been as fast as you were, probably would have gotten worse than this."
Swearing again, Adam turned back toward the hole he'd made, then hesitated as his radar began pinging him with approaching contacts. At least four Tyrants were on their way, navigating the twisting corridors of the basement level. He estimated he had about twenty seconds before they got here.
Reaching into his coat with his remaining arm, Adam tossed Sarif his pistol. "Hold onto that for me," he said. "I'll be right back."
With a thought, Adam engaged his Glass-Shield Cloaking System. The world distorted around him for a moment as light refracted around and through him, then the cloak stabilized. Adam rushed back through the hole into the sewer tunnel, taking a sharp left toward the first turret. It sat nestled into a corner, oriented perfectly to mow down anyone trying to navigate the tunnel.
Fortunately, Adam's guess that these turrets used a visible-spectrum detection system was correct; the machine ignored him as he charged toward it, cloaked. Adam grabbed one of the turret's barrels, yanked it away from the wall to give himself some room, then got behind it and started pushing.
He would have preferred to lift the turret, but with only one functioning arm he didn't care much for his chances. So he gave it everything he had, shoving the turret down fifteen meters of tunnel in less than ten seconds, pushing it all the way down to the other end where the Tyrants had placed a second turret. He positioned the two turrets nose-to-nose.
Then he decloaked.
Adam bolted back for the hole in the wall, knowing the Tyrants would be on him and Sarif at any moment. He didn't bother to look back as the second turret detected his presence, spun up its guns, and proceeded to riddle its counterpart with bullets until the first turret's power cells exploded, taking both of them out.
As he charged back into the office building's basement, Adam saw that Sarif had managed to pick himself up off the floor, but his wound was bleeding badly. He would need medical attention soon or he wouldn't last.
"Come on, Boss," Adam grunted, pulling Sarif's left arm over his shoulders and walking him out into the sewer as fast as he deemed safe. The man had Adam's pistol in his augmented hand, clenched in a deathgrip. "The cops and our own security forces'll be on the way. We just have to get back to street level and we'll be fine." That wasn't necessarily true, but Adam doubted the Tyrant choppers had stuck around this long.
"I know, son," Sarif said. His voice was low, soft, the voice of a man who was losing a lot of blood but knew he had to stay awake. "I've been in deeper than this. You remember that game we played against VersaLife back in March?" Adam nodded, but Sarif continued as though Adam hadn't been there. "Bottom of the ninth inning, bases loaded, we were trailing by three points and I was up to bat. My choices were hit a homer, or go home."
Adam's HUD flashed an update at him as the two of them staggered up the sewer tunnel toward where the smoking remains of the two turrets lay. There was a ladder up to a manhole thirty meters from here. They just needed to get to street level, as he'd said. Once they were there, they'd have more options.
That particular happy thought was followed by his radar screaming at him that a contact had just exited the hole into the sewers, five meters behind them.
Loath as he was to subject his boss to further injury, Adam had no choice. He threw Sarif to the ground in front of him before tucking into a reverse roll. The maneuver saved both their lives as the heavy trooper who'd emerged into the sewers sprayed the walls at chest level with a burst of LMG fire.
Adam came up from his roll, turning as he did, drawing the stun-gun from his coat, his augmentations letting him do it all inside of a second. The Tyrant trooper was just as augmented as he was, though, so even as Adam drew a bead on him with the stun-gun, he swiveled his LMG down to point squarely at Adam's chest.
The trooper's eyes rolled up in his head as the stun-gun hit him with enough charge to bring down a rhino. He was already pulling the trigger on his LMG; as he fell, the movement swept the gun's aim up toward the ceiling, tracking a line of rounds up Adam's torso. He reeled away, his dermal armor barely holding against the shots, and landed hard on his back. The stun-gun landed on the ground next to him, a bullet buried in its barrel rendering it useless.
That was when the second heavy trooper rushed through the hole in the wall. He also carried a light machine gun. Adam's smart vision let him see the man's face through his black mask; the trooper's mouth curved in a smile as he sighted in on Adam's head with his weapon.
The smile disappeared as Sarif blew away half his skull with Adam's pistol. The trooper staggered, his augmentations still driving him to action even as he underwent sudden and violent brain-death; his LMG's sight drifted another inch toward Adam's head. Sarif wisely put two more rounds into the man. The first one blew cleanly through his remaining eye socket, while the second exploded what was left of the dome of his skull. For a long moment the corpse lolled grotesquely back and forth, its limbs twitching, before collapsing to the ground.
Adam clambered back to his feet, cast a glance over his shoulder. Despite the blood soaking the right side of his vest, Sarif held his pistol in a steady, two-handed grip. He had one eye closed while he sighted down the gun with the other. His expression was alert, at least for the moment. When he saw Adam looking, he managed to give him a pained wink.
His radar reported two more incoming contacts. Adam rushed the hole in the wall, catching two regular-grade Tyrant troopers with SMGs as they began to make their way through. He deployed his right-arm blade, neatly slicing it across the throat of one of the men. The other moved to smashed the butt of his gun into Adam's face, but as he stepped in Adam thrust the stump of his left arm forward. The polymer casing was jagged and harsh where the AP rounds had torn through it, and it shredded the trooper's dermal armor like tissue paper, punching through his ribcage into his heart.
With a grunt, Adam shook the man off his arm, then turned. He scooped up one of the heavy troopers' LMGs, confident that its owner no longer needed it. Wielding the weapon one-handed would be tricky at best, but what they needed right now was distance and firepower. Adam awkwardly got the weapon's strap over his head, arranging it so it hung diagonally across his chest, then offered Sarif a hand up.
"Come on, Boss," he said, hauling the older man to his feet. "You were telling me about the game against VersaLife."
"Bottom of the ninth," Sarif murmured, his voice even quieter than before.
"Bases loaded," Adam encouraged him as they half-walked, half-staggered down the sewer tunnel toward what he sincerely hoped was an exit. "Trailing by three. You were up to bat."
Sarif nodded weakly. "I knew I had to get a homer or we'd lose the game. It was the kind of situation you see in a vid, Adam. I stepped up to the plate, and the VersaLife team switched in a new pitcher."
They turned a corner. At the far end of the tunnel Adam could see the ladder his HUD had advertised, leading up to the manhole. Their escape. He checked his radar; no Tyrant activity yet. If there were more troopers coming – and he was sure there were – they'd initially taken up positions in the office building and were having to descend multiple floors to pursue him and Sarif.
He abruptly realized that Sarif had stopped talking, and that he had begun to sag noticeably as he walked. "Who was the new pitcher, Boss?" he asked, trying to keep the man awake. "Who'd they switch in?"
Sarif started a little. Not a good sign, but at least he wasn't gone yet. "This Japanese player of theirs," he said. "Full right-arm replacement, like mine. The man could throw a ball like a howitzer. He'd wind up for what felt like forever, and then bam, the damn thing was in the catcher's mitt before you knew what the hell." He coughed, a rattling sound from deep in his chest which did not bode well.
The ladder was only about ten meters away now. "What happened?" Adam asked.
"What happened?" Sarif asked. He managed to crack a grin. "Superior Sarif engineering happened, Adam. His first two pitches, I was watching his arm, not the ball. He got in two strikes. But I saw enough to know that the way his joint was articulated, he could only use his full power with one of those long windups, and the path of the ball would be predictable."
"So you got in the hit?" Adam guessed as they reached the ladder. He gently pulled Sarif's arm off his shoulders so he could begin to climb.
Sarif laughed, then broke down into another series of coughs. "Right out of the park," he replied. "You remember, right, son? You were in the stands, brooding. You've been doing that a lot, the past few months." He laughed, then shook his head. "Sorry."
Adam bit back the urge to tell him that damn right he'd been brooding, damn right he should be sorry. Not that sorry was good enough. "I remember, Boss," he said instead, carefully balancing himself on the ladder as he reached up with his one good arm to slide the manhole cover away.
He poked his head up, surveyed his surroundings. The manhole opened up into an alley just off of a main street. The alley dead-ended just behind him; its only notable features were a large dumpster and several scattered trash cans. Adam nodded – this was good. Less chance of the Tyrants seeing them here, for the moment. He pulled himself out of the manhole, then helped Sarif up as well.
Since they seemed to be safe for the moment, Adam tried raising someone at Sarif via his Infolink. It was no good; there was some kind of jamming or interference which kept him from getting a clear signal. The Illuminati had done their homework, all right. Adam wrestled the manhole cover back into place, then grabbed the dumpster and laboriously tugged it over the cover, his systems straining with the effort.
He turned to look at Sarif, then realized the man's eyes had closed. "Shit," Adam muttered, leaning forward to grab Sarif's uninjured shoulder. "Boss," he said. "Boss, it's Adam. Wake up. You need to stay awake."
"Just… resting my eyes," Sarif murmured. "Didn't mean to… worry you, Adam."
Adam helped him to his feet. "Let's go, Boss," he said. "We'll get out into the street, there'll be a police presence, we'll be fine. I can't hear the choppers anymore; they must have bugged out."
As the two of them hobbled toward the street outside the alley, Adam allowed himself to feel some hope that they would make it out of this alive. It hadn't been pretty, and the boldness of the attack was frightening, but he and Sarif just might survive the assault.
The alley opened up into a wide boulevard, which was lined with more unlit, seemingly-unoccupied buildings and lit by the omnipresent amber glow of streetlamps. He could hear sirens several blocks away, but none here. That made a certain amount of sense; after all, the chopper attack had taken place a good distance away from where he and Sarif had emerged from the sewers.
Then the two Boxguard mechs leapt down to street level from the roofs where they'd been waiting, and Adam realized just how thoroughly they'd been played.
He'd been right about having been herded into the office building. More than that, though, the Tyrants had planned for him and Sarif to escape the elevator lockdown by descending to the basement level, and from there finding a way out into the sewer tunnels. He was willing to bet that they'd stationed Boxguard mechs at every possible sewer exit he and Sarif could have taken from the building, and these were the ones they'd run into.
The Boxguards stood on four articulated legs, and their dual miniguns extended up from their fuselages like a pair of lethal antennae. Without thinking, Adam leapt back into the alley, pulling Sarif with him, as the mechs opened up with a withering storm of fire. Bullets tore into the asphalt where the two men had been standing, sending shards of it flying everywhere. Adam felt several rebound from his back, slicing through his coat with ease.
He felt desperation grip him. The alley was a dead end, and he'd cannily blocked access to the sewer with the dumpster, which meant he couldn't drag Sarif back down there before the Boxguards could advance forward enough to get firing solutions – and in the cramped confines of the alley, that would end in Adam and Sarif being chopped into hash.
Even as these thoughts raced through his head, Adam could hear the Boxguards advancing, could see their images on his radar.
Then he heard Sarif say, "Adam, I'm sorry."
He looked at Sarif, their immediate danger forgotten for the moment. "What?"
David Sarif was pale, pale as death, but his mouth was drawn into a firm line, his eyes defiant and alert. "I'm sorry," he repeated himself. "When you were wounded by Namir, I… I made the call. I had them put in all the augmentations I thought you'd need, everything I could foresee being useful for helping you figure out who attacked us and apparently killed Megan.
"But that question you asked me in the elevator – 'You trust me, right' – well, I realized I wasn't being fair to you, son. First that business with the background check and the hole in our defenses, and then this… If I really had trusted you, I would have let you make the choice to get these augmentations. I'm sorry for that." He grimaced. "I'm sorry for everything, Adam."
The Boxguards were getting closer. Adam knew that if he was going to fight, he would have to move very soon, or one of them would get an angle on Sarif. But what the hell was he supposed to say? If they were being honest with one another because they were about to die, should Adam tell Sarif the truth – that sorry wasn't enough, that he resented the man for what he'd done? He didn't want the last words they exchanged to be angry ones.
Screw it. Adam lowered Sarif, who by now was having trouble supporting his own weight, to the ground, leaning his back up against one of the walls of the alley. "I'll be back," he said.
If he was going to die, he was going to do it fighting.
Adam activated his cloaking system, turned, and sprinted straight toward the Boxguard mech to his left. The machines, operating on the same targeting software as the turrets he'd destroyed earlier, couldn't see him, so he got within two meters of the mech without dying an abrupt and unpleasant death.
This had better work.
Dropping into a crouch, Adam activated his Typhoon Explosive System. All along his back and upper arms, he could feel the ports in his polymer casing opening, glowing a bright orange as his capacitors surged. A powerful electromagnetic repulsion field rippled through him, ejecting a multitude of steel ball bearings from his body in a lethal and explosive spray of shrapnel.
The Boxguard, heavily armored as it was, stood no chance. Adam's Typhoon attack ripped into it, shredding its internal mechanisms and blowing through its power cells. The mech dropped to the ground, killed instantly.
Unfortunately, the Typhoon drained the last of the power from Adam's capacitors. His cloak flickered and died. The other Boxguard gave a wordless, mechanical whine as it locked onto him; he could hear its miniguns spinning up.
Adam whirled behind the corpse of the first Boxguard as its partner opened up on him. Its rounds tore into the dead mech, but the hunk of metal gave Adam cover, at least for a few seconds. He hefted the LMG still slung across his chest, then twisted around one of the fallen Boxguard's limbs into view of the remaining mech.
He opened up, holding down the trigger of the rifle, relying on his augmentations to keep it braced and minimize recoil. Adam's fire tore into the left-antenna minigun of the Boxguard, ruining the barrel of the weapon and setting off some of its ammunition. He swept the weapon to the right, intent on completely disarming the mech, but the LMG clicked empty just as he drew a bead on the other minigun.
The Boxguard took full advantage of his vulnerability, spraying fire at him from its remaining minigun. Adam dropped the LMG and threw himself out of the way, landing hard behind the dead mech. Secondary explosions ripped through the corpse as the remaining Boxguard's fire detonated ammunition somewhere in its chassis. Adam's cover was being rapidly eroded.
There was nothing for it. Adam scrambled to his feet, then charged around to the left of the dead Boxguard, sprinting toward the live one. It swiveled its minigun to track him, but Adam crossed the distance between them in a fraction of a second, his augmented legs letting him leap seven feet into the air onto its back.
The Boxguard began to buck and shake, trying to throw Adam off-balance, but he steadied himself on top of it, then activated his wallcrusher subroutine, aiming for the remaining minigun.
This time, the results were less than satisfactory. Adam's arm lashed out at the mech's antenna, but the thick armor plating stood up to the attack and then some; his HUD flashed multiple warnings at him as Adam's hand shattered from the force of the blow. His fingers went flying in every direction and his palm broke clean off at the wrist, dropping to impact against the Boxguard's dorsal plating before sliding off to the ground.
Adam stared, dumbfounded, at his right arm for a moment, then nearly lost his balance as the Boxguard continued to buck about. The sudden motion snapped him out of it. Catching himself, Adam felt his anger hit a fever pitch. He'd never asked for any of this. Being Megan's Patient X, carrying all of Sarif's Goddamn augmentations, becoming the Illuminati's public enemy number one, any of it.
And for that, David Sarif was sorry.
"It's not enough," Adam growled. He spread his stance, crouched, and wrapped his arms around the base of the Boxguard's antenna in a makeshift bear hug, the only thing he could do with two broken limbs. "Sorry isn't enough!"
He pulled. He pulled for everything he was worth, hell-bent on ripping the antenna off of the Boxguard. His HUD screamed at him, telling him he was exceeding every safety limit on his augmentations, but Adam ignored it, squeezing his eyes shut with the effort, clenching his jaw hard enough that he felt one of his teeth crack. He bypassed every override on his capacitors, allocated all power to his limbs, and with a sudden, horrific noise of tearing metal he pulled it free –
The Boxguard's antenna snapped off at the base, but the moment it did, both of Adam's arms tore at the shoulder, the sudden whiplash ripping through layers of polymer and myomer like they were nothing. Adam went flying off the back of the Boxguard, landing heavily on the street.
His legs twitched, useless. He'd overheated every component in them; they needed time to cool before they'd be any use again. And his arms – the empty sockets, leaking viscous coolant and throwing sparks, provided mute testimony to his effort.
But the Boxguard was not done.
It raised a massive leg, rearing back into the air, and brought it crashing straight down on Adam's head. The unguligrade foot crushed against his titanium-reinforced skull, driving it several inches into the asphalt. Adam's HUD sparked and died, and he lay there, paralyzed, unable to move as the Boxguard stomped on him again, and again. On the fourth repetition, his vision died completely, plunging him into darkness.
There was a fifth blow, and the darkness became total.
When Adam's vision flickered back online, it came as a surprise to him. In his experience, dead men didn't generally wake up.
He was in a hospital bed, propped up on a pillow, and hooked into a forest of different machines – a life-support monitor, an IV which was being fed through a central line, a breathing unit, several more esoteric-looking devices which he assumed had to do with his augmentations… He was naked, save for a blanket which covered him from feet to mid-abdomen, and his arms were still missing.
Adam blinked, his eyes focusing automatically on the familiar face of David Sarif.
"Don't try to talk just yet, son," Sarif said. He still looked pale, but his clothing was no longer stained crimson and he seemed awake and alert. "Let's have the docs get the tube out of your throat first."
A LIMB technician stepped forward and did just that – unpleasant, but Adam had to admit that having the tube out of his throat was a vast improvement. "What happened?" His voice was weak, raspy, but at least he could speak.
"That crazy stunt you pulled, tearing off the Boxguard's gun, bought enough time for the cavalry to show up," Sarif replied. "Police pulled up, hit the thing with an EMP grenade, and got the both of us medical attention." He smiled, gave Adam a pat on the shoulder. "You did it, son. Saved my life."
"Just my job," Adam said.
Sarif shook his head. "It's more than that." He paused, clearly searching for the right words. "Listen. We're pursuing the people behind this assault. I don't know if it was aimed at me or you, but either way, we're not going to take this sitting down. They clearly didn't learn their lesson a year ago when they attacked us the first time… Which brings us to you."
Adam raised an eyebrow. "Yeah, Boss?"
"I was ready to tell these people to whip you back into fighting shape so you can get to investigating the particulars of this attack," Sarif said. "But then it occurred to me that I did exactly that, a year ago, and… And it was the wrong thing to have done. I should have asked you what you wanted, Adam."
He gestured at the forest of machines surrounding Adam's bed. "You saved my life out there, and I owe you. What's more, I owe you for the mistake I made. So tell me, son. What do you want? Say the word, we'll fix you up, get you some upgrades, and set you loose. Or you could retire, we'll give you some replacement augments, and I'll never come asking you for anything again." He gave Adam a smile. "It's your call."
For a moment, Adam wasn't sure what to say. His initial instinct was to delay, to ask Sarif for more time to think about it, but a moment's rumination made it obvious to him that it was just an impulse born of his own fear. For what felt like a great deal of time, he'd let himself be pulled along by the current of other people's needs and choices. It was only natural that now, when he was finally presented with the opportunity to chart his own course, he would hesitate.
"When you get me some new arms," he finally said, "could you see about hands that can actually feel things?"
Sarif grinned. "Top of the list, son. You've got my word on that."
Adam returned the grin. "Then the Illuminati's going to have to watch out."
Intense relief washed through him. Adam leaned back in the bed, calm and at peace. Now, for the first time since he'd woken up with the body of an alien and the face of a stranger, he felt like he was in control. His missing limbs and damaged body didn't matter.
Sorry was not enough. But one good day would be a start.