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Old 03-02-2018, 07:37 AM   #228
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Iceland*
Default Shark Tank Interview

Amidst jocular laughter and joking from the women in the living room, LCDR Wendell Dao and Dr. Michael Anderson walk to the home office in the ‘cottage’. It is a nicely appointed room furnished in oak and old books. The signs of a recent and enthusiastic cleaning are still evident, though whoever went through the book shelves obviously didn’t remove the books from the shelves before dusting.

Setting up a video feed with a camera pointing at the oaken desk is the armed man in the cowboy hat, ‘Tex’. He says ‘Howdy’ and continues his work. Dao pulls up a chair for Dr. Anderson and takes a seat to the side.

LCDR Dao: “If you’d like more coffee or somethin’, I bet we could get you some before we start.”
Dr. Anderson: “No thank you, Wendell. I am quite content.”

While Anderson and Dao wait for the interviewer/s from Onyx Rain, they chat inconsequentially about the scale of the emergency response, speculate about the length of time that they are likely to be quarantined and commiserate with each other over being stuck on an island off Maine in February, where even the fine, clear days are freezing cold.

‘Tex’ quickly finishes his setup process, but instead of leaving, sticks around leaning against a book shelf, following the conversation and contributing nothing. Anderson finds this odd and odder still that Dao doesn’t order him out, but chooses not to mention it.

After a fairly long while, there is a knock on the office door. Dao apologises and stands up to open the door. His man, Mack, with the curly hair, informs him that Agent Richardson is there and wants to start the interview. Dao confirms that they are ready and a tall and spare middle-aged man in a nice suit walks in.

Agent Richardson: “How do you do, Dr. Anderson? I’m Special Agent Gerald Richardson with the Department of Homeland Security, Joint Task Force Onyx Rain.”
Anderson: “A pleasure, Agent Richardson.”
Richardson: “I understand you’ve been through a lot since last night, Doctor, and that you probably just want some peace and quiet. I’m sorry to have to put you through any more trouble, but we’re going to have to go over things with you at some point. Not only were you witness to a number of felonies, but you were working as a consultant for us at the time. We’d be remiss if we did not debrief you fully.”
Anderson: “No apologies necessary. I quite understand.”
Richardson: “That’s a relief. I’m sure that with your education and experience, you’ll be able to contribute valuable insight.”

Agent Richardson takes a seat opposite Dr. Anderson. Tex takes a free chair and pulls it to a place behind Richardson, with a clear view of Anderson.

Richardson: “I hope you don’t mind, but since we are a Joint Task Force and in light of the situation in Mexico, we’d like to have the military experts charged with planning the operation at the border sit in on the debrief. You know Lieutenant-Commander Wendell Dao and this is Captain ‘Tex’ Trevino of the US Army.”
Anderson: “Indeed? Captain Trevino? Of the Special Forces?”

Tex Trevino gives his folksy, and Dr. Anderson now notes, entirely superficial grin, as Dao and Agent Richardson look at each other.

Richardson: “Something like that.”
‘Tex’ Trevino: “Oh, I’m not as exciting as all that. Just think of me an’ mine as tech support for them badass Rambo types in Commander Dao’s team.”

From what Dr. Anderson can tell, Dao and Richardson do not give this any more credence than he does, but neither of them contradicts Trevino’s description of his role. Anderson notes that like many recruits who make superb commandos for the US military, ‘Tex’ Trevino appears to be a tough, leathery, outdoorsy type from the rural South or West states, with the light-coloured, blue or grey eyes that so many Medal of Honor winners and sociopaths are said to share.

While the statistics behind that assertion are questionable, Anderson has no difficulty believing that ‘Tex’ Trevino could kill without hesitation or remorse, or that he might continue to grin that friendly grin no matter what ruthless acts he committed. Most people probably assume from the folksy accent and outfit that CPT Trevino is a bit slow of wit, but basically funny and well-meaning. Anderson recognises that there is not a trace of warmth or humour in the icy eyes behind the grin. There is, however, a ferocious intelligence and the hunting focus of a dangerous predator.

Special Agent Gerald Richardson might be the most obviously well-spoken and educated man in the room, other than Dr. Anderson himself, and there is no reason to assume that he is any less intelligent than he seems. Dr. Anderson suspects, however, that the other two men might be every bit as smart, but quite a bit more lethal.

Wendell Dao seems to be one of those exemplary soldiers who defines himself by old-fashioned notions of warrior honour and courage. He may be frightening to his enemies, but Anderson finds such men comforting to have on his side, rather than intimidating. Looking into the eyes of CPT ‘Tex’ Trevino, on the other hand, doesn’t feel like looking into the eyes of a soldier. It feels like staring into the eyes of a shark wearing a human skinsuit.

Agent Richardson: “I was thinking that you might start by describing what happened, how you experienced it and everything you noticed about the people you were with. I’m sure you recognise that we don’t really need evidence to convict dead men like Dr. Bruce Cotton and Deputy Warden Brad Tyrrell. What we need to know is mostly about the living. We need to plan our next steps and to do that, we need to know what role, if any, can be played by certain people here.”
Dr. Anderson: “It would probably be best to start with my testimony. I do not know if it would be professional of me to speculate when it comes to people whose records I have not reviewed and whom I am not treating.”
Richardson: “I wouldn’t dream of making you uncomfortable, Doctor. But you did come here, did you not, to report on the mental state and competence of Ms. Bell?”
Anderson: “I did. Unfortunately, events intervened and I have had no opportunity to formally interview her. As for her psychological records, I understand there might be some difficulty about accessing them…?”
Richardson: “As far as we can tell, most of the records that were kept by Dr. Cotton burned up in the fire of his office. Apparently, he was very security conscious and refused to keep patient files anywhere except on a secure computer drive or on hand-written notes in a locked cabinet. Both of which burned up. All we have are older records, some progress reports or memos responding to queries from the Chief of Psychiatry here.”
Anderson: “Most unfortunate. Well, would you like to begin our story as we arrived at Jewell Island or would you like to go back even further?”
Richardson: “Let’s stipulate, like David Copperfield did, that everyone involved was born and that they grew up. Start with meeting Mackenzie Chase Taylor in DC.”

And so Dr. Anderson starts recounting the events that led to the quarantine crisis on Jewell Island. His presence at DHS headquarters in Washington D.C. as a newly hired consultant for Homeland Security and his meeting with the people he would be working with. The meetings and planning sessions having to do with a proposed operation to offer the outlaw Raul Vargas and a team of AWOL Special Forces soldiers down in Mexico conditional amnesty if they will accept employment from and surveillance by Onyx Rain. And the journey to Portland, Maine, to visit the Manhanock Asylum for the Criminally Insane, on Jewell Island outside the town.

Anderson is not a spellbinding orator and his diction is more pedantic than engaging. He spends more time laying out the reduced scope of operations at Manhanock Asylum from the time he served his residency there than he does on describing vivid scenarios like the first meeting with Sherilyn ‘Cherry’ Bell or finding a brutalised kidnap victim in a cell, covered in his own faeces. Nevertheless, his reporting is substantially accurate, well organised and perceptive.

The only thing he leaves out of his narrative, strictly speaking, are details having to do with Cherry Bell’s supernatural gifts for creating mental illusions and the mostly unspoken conspiracy to keep this from Onyx Rain, as well as, obviously, his own secret abilities and any information he gathered using his gifts. He also doesn’t speculate much on events he did not witness or what motivations may have been behind various acts.

The fact that Terry Amiti was a patient during Dr. Anderson’s residency at the asylum, but had definitely been transferred before he left clearly arouses their interest. As do the details that Dr. Anderson can provide about the powers exhibited by Dr. Cotton and the information from the hypnotised nurse.

Richardson: “Sounds like Dr. Cotton would have been an important source of information, whether from a security perspective or scientific one.”
Anderson: “From a scientific point of view, I regret his death extremely. I cannot help but note, however, that Dr. Cotton was reciting what seemed to be a post-hypnotic suggestion phrase as he died. Given that he had drugged the food and drink supplies of most everyone on the island and spent literally years implanting false memories and control mechanisms in the staff here, I would not like to predict what could have happened if he had not been killed before he had a chance to do any further harm. Almost certainly the low death toll was a direct result of his instant incapacitation.”
Richardson: “Are you saying that Taylor killed him in self-defence?”
Anderson: “I was not present when Dr. Cotton died and I should not like to speculate.”
Tex Trevino: “Why doncha try, doc? Ya can see why we’d feel a mite obligated to investigate whether the convicted murderer we’re using as an asset is goin’ to murder indiscriminately?”
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