LXXXV: Operation: Hammerstrike (Epilogue One)
As Jackson Quinn fell toward the black hole and his ultimate fate, surprisingly he had a lot to think about. Firstly, damn it! How could he have been so stupid? He’d played into Mallet’s hands beautifully! She had matched his every move skill and finesse. He was impressed...not that that mattered for long.
As he approached the Event Horizon the gaping black hole before him seemed to expand to fill all of his vision. Deep. It seemed very deep. And so, so cold. He could feel the cold even through his insulated suit. Ice covered his helmet as his breath frosted up the lenses.
The sealant on his hip cracked, and the vacuum leaked in, just a little. Jackson faded in and out of consciousness.
And suddenly he was flying up, up and away, and his eyes closed, perhaps for good.
Jackson Quinn was dead.
No. Wait. The dead didn't feel pain, and his side blazed with a fury. He opened his eyes, slowly, and was almost blinded by the light.
Was this...heaven? Jackson had never believed in a higher being, but the light was brilliant and pure and…
And then he saw the logo on the wall, and he knew he was the furthest from heaven he could possibly be. He couldn't sit up, he was strapped to a medical gurney in an ISB medical center, and standing beside him was Marissa Mallet.
She smiled, smugly, but Jackson thought he saw a bit of real concern there.
“You broke the tractor beam as we tried to haul you out.” She said pointedly.
Jackson blinked. Even that hurt.
Sensing his confusion, Mallet evaluated.
“My ship - we latched on to you with the tractor before you could be pulled into the Maw. You suffered extensive cellular damage to your chest area, but you'll live.”
Her smile darkened.
“How else would you live out your sentence?”
Jackson grunted and pulled on his bonds, but the strength of the straps and the burning in his side kept him down.
“We couldn't catch your droid, you'll be happy to know.” Mallet continued.
“He won't be able to get to you here, however.
Once you're better you will be transported to a maximum-security base to spend the rest of your life. •••
[Transmission Continues Below]