"I'd like to a get a blood sample from you."
I wish I had cat ears or something so I could do that little 'perk up' move when I hear something out of the ordinary like that. I just feel like raising my eyebrows and shit just isn't enough, you know? Like, I need additional body parts to display my general confusion and displeasure with this scenario. Because you have got to be fucking kidding me.
But no, I'm standing in the middle of a sterile lab environment being shown this and that because I asked Third about the big locked rooms or whatever, so I'm touring around one and suddenly "Hey, I'd like some of your blood." Because that doesn't sound suspicious or anything.
I remember just staring at him for a little while like he was crazy and him staring back at me like "What?", like I was the weirdo asking for bodily fluids. Finally, I just spit out, "Swan warned me about this kind of shit you know? I mean, what, did you think I haven't noticed the cameras all over this place? You're not using them to keep an eye on yourself, that's for damned sure."
"It's standard security measures, I'm not using them specifically to spy on you." he replied, looking more tired than annoyed by our exchange, "Don't act like you're so important that I'd set all this up just for you. I have much more important matters to worry about. Now then... all I'm asking for is a blood sample. It's completely voluntary. I'm not going to strap you to a table and take it by force." He smiles, "Though I might wait and take one while you're sleeping... depends on whether the mood strikes me."
I'm taking that last bit as sarcasm, but I threw my arms up regardless and just dropped myself into a damned chair. "God, just fucking take it. I don't care."
"Much appreciated." Third practically sung the words as he turned and began gathering supplies from around the room. I watched him prepare for a bit, examining the room a bit further before speaking up again.
"So what's it for?"
He looked a bit confused, "What's what for?"
"The blood sample."
"Oh. Standard procedure really, I want to run some tests and see how heavily contaminated you are. You've kept your distance for a few months, so I'm hoping the infection has subsided a bit. I need to know if I should strengthen the barrier or not. A few of the more extreme cases have caused.... Problems, in the past." He explained while bringing over a small tray of medical tools and setting it down next to me. "Roll up your sleeve will you?"
"...." Minor hesitation, then I complied, shoving my shirt sleeve up over my shoulder and hanging it there. He went to wrap some rubber strap thing around my upper arm when he stopped. I wasn't looking at him. Took one glance long enough to catch his expression. I think that's the first time I've seen a legitimately confused look on his face. Bit of curiosity and surprise, I guess.
"Hm... what's all this then?" he asked, still hovering in place with his little rubber band.
"Hardly seems like nothing." He jabbed my shoulder with a digit, seemingly just to get my attention. "Ahh... that one. Now I get it. Not sure I follow the rest though. What's the significance?"
"It's none of your business, now leave it alone."
"Very well, I'll ask again when you're feeling more cooperative. Hold still now." Without much ceremony, he went back to his work and a few seconds later I'm trying to ignore the fact that there's a fucking needle thing in me. I'd have continued small talk, but I was trying to just maintain normal breathing for a little while until it was over. The words "just one more" and "there we go" couldn't come soon enough. "No, don't bend it, keep your arm straight and hold it on there. It'll bruise if you bend it."
"I didn't realize you cared..." sarcasm
"Eh, habit. Don't take it personal." That I'm pretty sure was not sarcasm though...
So now that he's got his vials of red stuff and I'm watching him go back to dancing around the room fiddling with gizmos and whats-its that I couldn't even begin to tell you what were. Seemed as good a time as any for my next question. "You've got an awful lot of nice things around this place. Pretty expensive I'd imagine. How exactly does someone like you get the money for all of this?"
"Hmm... well, I've had a number of dealings with certain... Individuals... who have been more than willing to pay for my assistance in their little... Projects. Knowledge is quite the valuable commodity in this business and I'm holding a lot of rare cards. Comes in handy when you're in need of cash."
There was a pause. "You're connecting the dots between what I told you earlier and the cure your Proxy 'friends' have been mentioning lately... I won't deny involvement. I've been on Goldstien's payroll before and I did provide him with a wealth of research, but his cure and mine are not quite one and the same. We have something of a difference in opinion in regards to how we operate... I felt it best to cut ties before things went south. Personal interest takes precedence."
"Working for rich bastards and Fears isn't the only way to make money while on the run though." he continued, "I've learned you can make quite the killing with the right investments. You just need to have a little insider information." I remember him tapping the side of his head as he said that. "Any stock owned and operated by Highers within the Proxy structure is sure to increase in value over time. They have a way of keeping their numbers up, if you know what I mean. And in a pinch, you can usually count on options run by the upper ranks of alternative servants. Pharmaceuticals run by those... mad doctors or whatever... Oathbreakers? Yes, that's it. Oh, and almost anything the Wooden Girl has her hands in... She has the most charming way of pulling strings from behind the scenes. Hee, heee~"
"Great... why am I not surprised?"
"Well, it's not that hard to figure out if you think about it." Third replied, "Once you know they have such a massive bureaucracy in place, it doesn't take much to start connecting the dots back to where they're getting their money from. Though if you're really clueless, all it takes is a bit of investigation into general public records. They have a habit of keeping paperwork on Everything after all. The money trail isn't very hard to track if you know what to look for. With all the records they keep, if it weren't for their lawyers and assassins, then their whole operation would have exploded into the public eye ages ago. Isn't that funny?"
"Oh, you're no fun." He starts waving at me in a 'Shoo, shoo' fashion. "Why don't you find something else to entertain yourself with for a while. I'll need some time to concentrate on this. I can answer more of your questions later."
"Right... you just... have fun playing with my blood then." I got up and took my leave. He stopped by sometime later to tell me "He's seen worse" and then just turned and left without bothering to explain what that was supposed to mean at all. Didn't see him for the rest of the day.