The puppet is unlikely to be HB but its plausible that HB could still be alive at the farm. Not only is the MC an unreliable witness but everyone in the incident is.
Yes even Ortega, remember Charge is imune to mind control but still recalls there was an explosion. Its clear that Ortega and Steel didnt go downstairs right away and the only explanation is that the explosion did indeed happen.
Their accounts of events dont add up i mean steel says his shields held but that he could feel the mind control. But if he could feel it, doesnt that mean he’s controlled already?
I’m thinking this is how it really happened:
HB attacks the rangers in reverse order of entrance because of Steels shields. Anathema at the back is attacked first and dies horribly.
Sidestep is attacked second but something short circuits and he percieves HB 's location instead.
Sidestep confronts HB in some manner and either jumps from the window or tries to shoot himself while resisting, surrendering, observing or alternatively shoots Hb (in some scenarios Hb suffers repeated shots.)
HB regains the upper hand and likely has a lot more training and experience overpowering other telepaths, and focuses on the remsining two.
If Sidestep tries to Shoot himself Ortega is right there to save him so hes the closest ranger in any scenario. Ortega likely didnt percieve the threat to sidestep until too late because mental fights are not colorful to the telepathically impaired.
HB attacks Ortega and fails. He likely wonders if Ortega is a robot or a zombie or a zombie robot.
Ortega likely approachs Hb to beat the Bajeebus out of their persona and exsorcise whatever devil possesess them with electrical fists.
Hb panicks and brute forces throug steels shields and forces him to fire ze missiles inside the buildibg incapacitating everyone.
Very likely Hb died here or was recaptured by the Farm. Hb could gave escaped but then why did the killing stop ? Escape seems unlikely unless something about the mind battle fixed a a part of their mind and he stopped being a walking bomb.
Ortega and Steel where briefly taken by the farm. I think this is the only explanation. Ortega must have seen Hb yet somehow that image was erased from their.mind.
But Ortega isnt imune to mind control, just telepathy. More than likely the farm added.some amnesia inducing drugs to the explosions trauma to erase his and steel’s memories.