Navarro groaned loudly as he placed his right hand to his head. He felt as if someone had attempted to crack it open, but failed and decided to punch it repeatedly instead. Slowly, he propped himself up and opened his eyes.
“Well then…” he mumbled to himself as he looked around.
Navarro was on top of a large polished steel platform in the center of what appeared to be an otherwise empty warehouse. At least three spotlights were shining down on him from somewhere above, making it difficult to see his surroundings. His jacket had been replaced with a black metal breastplate. The symbol of the SCP Foundation was engraved above his heart. Looking down, Navarro could see his reflection in the surface of the platform.
“God damn it, they made me art again, didn’t they…” he said as he rubbed his temples and very carefully got to his feet. It was then that a man’s voice pierced the darkness.
“If you value keeping your head and limbs attached to your torso, you’ll stay on the platform,” the voice said. “That breast plate has been rigged to seal off all holes in the event you step down from there. The same will happen if you try to remove it yourself. You’ll need someone else to do that for you. Oh, and don’t try anything magical. That will trigger it too.”
The voice was deep, and surprisingly non-threatening. Almost like a game show host. Navarro squinted against the spotlights and could barely see a tall figure standing in the distance, presumably the voice’s source.
“So what, the armor protects me, but is also deadly in and of itself?” Navarro addressed his host as he watched the figure meander closer.
“I call the piece ‘Reflections of Daniel Navarro,’” the man replied, stopping his gait just far enough to keep his face obscured in the darkness. He was dressed in a black business suit. A single leather glove covered his right hand. “Quaint, don’t you think?”
“A little too obvious if you ask me…” Navarro began as he looked down at his reflection in the platform. “I take it you’re JTH?”
The man didn’t respond. Instead, he pulled a small, black, leather bound notebook out of his pocket and quietly flipped to a page near its center.
“June, 2004. Daniel Navarro is apprehended by the Suits. He is assumed dead by a majority of his friends and family. A funeral is held for him in Portland, Oregon,” the man read aloud. “November, 2005. Daniel Navarro is spotted, both alive and well, leading a Suit raid on a studio in Seattle. The raid results in the destruction of at least $100,000 worth of art and materials that I had personally provided, and the arrest and presumed death of artists Francis and Elizabeth Baker, both of whom were acquaintances of Navarro prior to his apprehension, and were dear friends of mine. The local anart community is both in shock and pain from Navarro’s apparent turncoat nature.”
“They were building giant, lead sculptures of spiders that easily could have killed hundreds of people if they were…” Navarro protested, but paused as he felt the breast plate tighten around his torso. Looking up, he saw his host pointing at him with his gloved hand.
“Please, Daniel, if you’d be so kind as to let me finish, that would be appreciated,” the man said. He then flipped to the next page in his notebook. “March, 2007. Navarro personally leads a raid on a cache of supplies, which was due for shipment the following morning. The clay is subsequently destroyed, resulting in the stalling of at least five different projects, and a net loss of nearly five million dollars on my end.”
The man paused and looked up at Navarro before shaking his head.
“I lost a lot of ‘friends’ after that one,” he chuckled. “It’s pretty astounding how fast some people will drop you when the weather turns foul. It didn’t have to be that way though…”
The man then snapped his head back to his notebook, and proceeded to read.
“June, 2008. Agent Navarro leads an effort to destroy a piece titled, ‘The Folly of the Censor,’ killing its creator, Damion Cartwright, in the process,” the man continued, stopping as Navarro laughed to himself.
“Let me guess, another friend?” Navarro asked, stopping as he felt the armor tighten again.
“A very, very, close friend,” the man said between clenched teeth, his gloved hand clenched tight as he held it at Navarro. “And if eyewitnesses are to be believed, you engulfed him in nuclear fire, and then shot him in the fucking head.”
The man then relieved the pressure, and looked down at his notebook again, chuckling as he then shook his head.
“All those incidents are enough for me to hate you, Daniel. The fact that you are a turn coat, the fact that you have cost me more money than most people see in their lifetimes, the fact that you have killed some of my closest friends… but this last one is what really takes the cake. November, 2010. Agent Navarro leads a raid on a warehouse in Portland, resulting in a standoff between Foundation forces and the warehouse occupants and contents. The occupants, Tanya and Eric Hill, are slain. The latter was my brother. The former was my wife.”
“Wait…” Navarro said as the man stepped into light. He had short blond hair and was clean shaven. His eyes were bloodshot and his lips were curved into a regretful smile. “Jericho…”
Navarro’s mouth hung slightly open. When they had last spoken almost a decade prior, Jericho T. Hill was a wealthy businessman who had found a hobby as a patron for both anomalous and non-anomalous art within Portland. He had been a kind soul, but seemed to fade out of the public eye around late 2004 for reasons unknown. Now, however, the kindness was gone. Standing before Navarro was a man entirely drained of energy and emotion.
“Hello Daniel,” he said. “It sure has been a while hasn’t it? I don’t think there is anyone else on this planet you’ve screwed over more than me and my friends.”
Jericho then removed a pistol from his jacket pocket, holding it loosely in his ungloved hand. Navarro recognized the sidearm as his own.
“So is that it?” Navarro asked. “Are you going to shoot me with my own gun? “
“You know, I hadn’t thought of that,” Jericho chuckled as he analyzed the pistol. “I suppose it would be easy wouldn’t it? I could pop you in the head here and wash my hands of this. But that wouldn’t bring back all my friends, that wouldn’t bring back Eric, and that certainly wouldn’t bring back Tanya. No, that wouldn’t be the way to handle things.”
Jericho then petted the pistol with his gloved hand, and held the gun to his face as he slowly blew on it. The gun began to disintegrate into flakes of rust. With the gun destroyed, Jericho then gave another small chuckle, and turned back to face Navarro.
“You took away everything I loved, so I’ll take away that one thing you cherish enough to become a turn coat,” said Jericho, “I’ll take away your freedom.”
“How?” Navarro asked, “You going to keep me here forever? The Foundation will eventually find me.”
“Certainly,” Jericho snickered, “But, if I keep putting you into situations like this, how long do you think it will take for them to question your value as an agent? If they are constantly pulling you from incapacitation, when will they start to see you as a liability? What if I silence or kill all of your contacts in the field? What use would you be to them then?”
Jericho’s lips then turned into a devilish smile.
“You’re rather anomalous yourself, Navarro, self-described wizard as you are. If all your utility as a field agent was stripped from you, do you think they’d contain you too? Or maybe they’d just wipe your memory and leave you on the side of the road in Indiana. I wonder…”
Jericho then tossed Navarro a cell phone.
“I’ve rigged this to activate after twenty-four hours. In the meantime why don’t you stay here and reflect on your current situation.”
Navarro eyed the cell phone, and then shook his head.
“You’re not really thinking this through, are you, Jericho?” Navarro asked. “When I get out of here what’s to keep me and my friends from finding you and gunning you down?”
“By all means you’re welcome to try,” Jericho chuckled, “I’d love to see you run around on a wild goose chase. But, no, I don’t think I’ll be around for a bit. I’m tired, and can use a vacation. Do you know how hard it was to track down Pyotr and convince him the best way to reach you was through the casket?”
Jericho gave a small satisfied nod and slowly turned around to begin walking away.
“Take care, old friend,” He called over his shoulder as he slowly disappeared into the darkness. Navarro heard a door open and slowly close in the distance.
“Yeah,” Navarro mumbled to himself. “You too…”
Navarro then sat down at the center of the platform. Looking down on his reflection he uttered a defeated sigh.
It was nearly a day and a half later when Navarro heard the warehouse door open. A short woman with neck length brunette hair and a bright red winter jacket slowly made her way across the empty floor. She stopped just short of the platform and shook her head, a small smile on her face.
“We’ve got to stop meeting like this Daniel.”
Navarro gave a small chuckle in return before flipping her off. Her name was Sasha Merlo. She was a Foundation field agent stationed at the local Site-64, and someone Navarro had worked with on several raids in the past. When Jericho’s phone finally activated, she was the first person he could think of to call who might actually show up to set him free.
“Hmmmmm…” Sasha hummed as she struck a thoughtful pose. “I do quite like the piece, but I do question the artist’s use of color…”
“Sasha,” Navarro sighed, “It’s been a very, very, long day. Can you please just get this off me?”
“I suppose…” she said with a hint of disappointment. “So I just pull the armor off, or, what?”
“That’s what the artist said to do. I’d do it myself, but I quite value having my appendages attached to my torso.”
“Yeah,” Sasha began as she lifted the armor off, over Navarro’s head, “me too.”
She then tossed the breastplate aside, the metal hitting the ground with a loud clink.
“A recovery team should be here soon to pick up the platform and armor,” Sasha said as she sat down on the platform. “You do know there are probably four or five reports, and maybe a committee hearing, or two, you’re going to have to deal with for this, yeah?”
“Don’t remind me,” Navarro chuckled as he took a seat. Within a few moments a team of six more Foundation agents entered the warehouse.
“Buy you a drink when this is done?” Sasha asked.
Navarro gave a nod and quietly waited for the questioning to begin.
Two days later, Navarro found himself sitting at the desk in his office in Site-19. A blank Person of Interest form was displayed on the monitor of his computer. An old photograph was gripped tightly in his hands.
A few hours after Agent Merlo had set him free he was summarily buried under the weight of half a dozen reports that needed to be filed. Taking a break from the paperwork, Navarro managed to find an old photograph among the numerous belongings that cluttered his office. It was taken before he had come to work for the Foundation. The background was an art studio, where a newly made marble sculpture had recently been unveiled. Standing in the foreground was a much younger Daniel Navarro and his old friends, Tom, Jackson, Alexis, Jill, and Jericho T. Hill.
“And you’ll leave? Tom, Jackson, Alexis, and me; we’ll never see you again?”
“If that’s what you want.”
Jill’s words echoed in his head. He looked over the happy faces in the photograph one more time and sighed. He quietly pulled out a lighter and set a corner ablaze. Within moments the photograph was incinerated. Navarro swept the ashes into his office trash can and returned to his work, another bridge burnt.
He then began to fill out the Person of Interest form.
Name: Jericho T. Hill