“Jerome, it’s me, Jason.”
Soulman’s arm relaxed and dropped like it had a fifty pound weight attached to it. He had to struggle just to speak. “Jason…I knew you’d find me. I’ve been trying to hold on until you got here. I tried the transmitter; it must have gotten shot away. I didn’t want to die alone.”
“Die? Hey, don’t start talking like that,” Jason said as he crawled closer to his friend.
“I already know, it’s bad, man. No use blowing smoke; I’m done.”
Jason wished he could argue with him, but he knew Jerome was probably right. He plugged an interface cable from his micro computer module on his left bicep into the same on Soulman’s arm. The two units communicated briefly and then when Soulman’s unit acknowledged Jason’s unit as that of the team leader, Nightstalker, it surrendered all of its relevant data.
Physiologic data, coming from Jerome’s uniform, confirmed his self diagnosis. He had shrapnel lodged in his heart, tears in both iliac arteries, liver damage and several small and large bowel perforations. Jerome’s blood pressure was displayed on Jason’s CLD. It was steadily dropping below critical levels despite the auto tourniquet system. Jason could smell the foul odor of blood collecting in pockets under his friend’s uniform.
“Jerome, you’re dying, my friend.” The words cut at his heart to say them, but it was true.
Jerome nodded his understanding and acceptance of the situation.
“Is there anyone—?”
He smiled through the pain as he labored to breathe. “Now, you know I’ve always been more of a player, man. There’s no one ever been waiting at home for me.”
Jerome grabbed Jason’s arm, then he found his hand and squeezed it tightly. “Jason,” he said with great urgency. “Theed’s men, they knew I was coming.”
“I know, but it’s true. They were waiting for an assassin to come into that hospital room and you can see they were ready for me.” It was difficult for him to get the words out.
Jason contemplated what his friend was telling him. If it was true, then they had a mole within BABYLON.
“I’m afraid.” And with that, Jerome Brown’s stare became blank and the tension in his face became slack. His grip on Jason’s hand lost all strength and he was dead.
Jason turned away from him, still holding the man’s hand. It was one thing to kill a man targeted for assassination you had never met and a completely different experience to watch your best friend die. It made him glad that very few individuals held such a close connection to him, because he never wanted to experience this again.