Matt Freeson woke up with a start, his hands and legs jerking as if he had had a seizure. To his surprise, he was lying on a steel table in his underwear. The room looked familiar. There was medical equipment around him, but no doctors. He noticed a couple of other similar steel tables, all of them occupied by other bodies. Then it struck him. He was in the HQ’s morgue. “Wait, the morgue?!” He said out loud. He looked around again, panic slowly seeping into him. He tried to get off the table, but his limbs felt like jelly. He could barely stand, and when he tried to hold on to the table, his hold slipped after a few seconds, and he just managed to steady himself by bending over and supporting his arms on his thighs. “Why am I here?” His mind was already back at the job, even if the rest of his body wasn’t. “What happened?”
That’s when it all came back to him. The attack. The destruction of nearly the entire of 17, Lancaster Road, along with the people inside it. Flashes of images came back to him in short bursts. He had to try to rest on the small metal cabinet on the side of the table, to keep himself from dropping to the ground. He looked up at the large electric light above him, but the images kept appearing in front of his eyes, and Matt screamed in pain. His head felt like someone had cleaved it with a jackhammer and then pulled the jackhammer out. Then a single picture came in front of his eyes. And stayed. A figure covered almost entirely in what looked like a dark, swirling cloak. The cloak seemed to be alive, moving about the figure, even through it. But Matt knew it for what it really was. And it was no cloak. It was Dark Energy. Free, unbridled Dark Energy. The figure seemed to not only be swathed in a large cloud of Dark Energy, she seemed to be emanating it, generating it. Matt blinked. “She?” He thought to himself, as he tried rubbing his eyes, but the picture or hallucination or whatever seemed to come into even better focus. The thing was human in shape and size, and he could now see the face that the figure had. She had told him her name was Nightshade. But Matt recognized her face. He whispered soundlessly, just one word.
Several minutes later, Matt Freeson sat clothed and on a stretcher outside, Fred right beside him. Fred did not want to push the old man, he was looking pretty dazed and disoriented. But Matt insisted on telling what had happened to him.
Matt began, “I was in my office, when the commotion started. It took all of fifteen minutes for her to get to my office. Fifteen minutes…that’s all. She was…she was…covered in Dark Energy, it oozed out of her.”
“Oozed out of her?” Fred asked incredulously, “Dark Energy can’t even be generated from humans.”
Matt sighed, “I know what I saw, Fred. I could smell it, its presence charged up the whole room. I didn’t know what to do. Until she unmasked. I mean I could see her face but it was always partially covered with smoky tendrils from the Dark Energy. But then the smoke cleared. And I saw her face. ”
Matt stopped, and he held Fred’s arm. Fred was not sure what to do. After a moment, Matt regained control and spat it out.
“It was Kara!”
Fred looked at Matt as if he had just claimed that he was Elvis. Finally, after an insufferable silence, he managed to blurt out. “The attacker was your daughter, Kara?”
Matt looked at him blankly. Fred regained some of his posture, “With all due respect, sir, not only is that preposterous, it’s also impossible.”
Matt slowly whispered, “I know. I’m not talking about my daughter, Fred. I’m sorry I should have been clearer. The attacker that called herself Nightshade. She’s the other Kara. SS1.”
Fred looked even more shocked, “The first Spirit Soldier? But…But…I thought…”
Matt looked forward, away from Fred, and sighed again, “Yeah, that’s what everyone believed. But…she’s not dead. And my guess is she’s looking for revenge.”
“Revenge? I don’t think that’s…possible…I mean…she’d have to recover her mind…wouldn’t she?” Fred was having trouble saying it out. Matt closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose, taking a deep breath, and then told him. “When Kara…when Nightshade attacked me in the office, she merely said, “My name is Nightshade. And you are going to pay.” Then she shot some of her Dark Energy at me. I don’t know how to describe it. It entered me, it violated me somehow. I don’t think I remember anything after that, but the thing inside me, it took control of my brain…it was powerful. It…it showed me things.” Without warning, Matt turned towards Fred and grabbed him by the collar. Fred saw his strained, scared face. Matt was speaking frantically, “I’ve done horrible things, Fred. Horrible things. Things she…nobody can forgive me for what I did. The Spirit Soldiers…I felt what they feel like. It was awful. And the next thing I know, I woke up clueless in the morgue.” Very slowly, Fred pried Matt’s hands off his collar. Matt seemed to have gone silent again. Fred was about to get up, when the SS controller, Richard Caine, came running out of the building, shouting something, but Fred couldn’t quite make out what it was. Eventually, Richard got close enough for Fred to understand what he was saying. In between gasps, Richard said, “The others …the ones who were unconscious…they’re all …they’re waking up…all of them.”