Yuki laid in bed with Serren, staring up at an unfamiliar ceiling. She turned to Serren and quietly rolled out of bed, slowly moving so as not to wake him.
Silently, Yuki padded out of the bedroom and stopped dead once she reached the kitchen, finding Rezzolina out near the railings of the balcony.
Rezzolina was wearing a simple shirt and a pair of loose-fitting and worn shorts. A light robe fluttered in the breeze which wafted in through the open balcony doors. Rezzolina had her back to Yuki, facing the night sky.
Yuki hoped she hadn’t been discovered. She turned just as Rezzolina called to her.
“Even if I couldn’t feel you, Yuki,” Rezzolina turned to Yuki as she inhaled the end of a small cigarette, blowing out a cloud of blue luminescent smoke from her nostrils, “I’d hear your clumsy footsteps in my
Yuki sighed, “hi, Rezzolina.”
Rezzolina turned back to look out over the balcony, “sneaking out, are you?”
Yuki walked towards the balcony, stepping out into the warm humid air and moving to the railing, “Just wanted to look around.”
Rezzolina gave a nod, inhaling another drag from her cigarette and exhaling more plumes of colorful light blue luminescent smoke. “Do you smoke?” Rezzolina offered a pack of blue cigarettes.
Yuki smiled, shaking her head, “no. Bad habit to have on a spaceship.”
Rezzolina nodded, inhaling again, “disgusting habit, to be honest,” she exhaled once more through her nostrils.
“Then why do it?” Yuki asked.
“Stress,” Rezzolina said, taking another inhale and looking upwards towards the sky.
Yuki looked up towards the Niten sky as well, smiling at the familiar sight of an evening sky framed by skyscrapers. “I like to come out to my
balcony and look at the stars back on Dei.”
“It’s relaxing,” Rezzolina turned to Yuki, “So, what do you love about my brother?”
Yuki smiled, looking up, “he’s got a very compassionate heart,” her smile weakened, “and yet it’s so wounded.”
Rezzolina nodded, “Allia really did a number on him.”
Yuki turned to Rezzolina once more, “oh?”
Rezzolina nodded, “refused to have children for the first few years. Not really something most couples do,” she took another inhale. “I thought she was a little selfish, at least towards Serren.”
“I didn’t think an empathetic race could be selfish,” Yuki chuckled, “are you all connected?”
“Yes, in chains,” Rezzolina inhaled again, now blowing the smoke out between her lips through the end of her snout in a single stream of pulsing blue smoke. “Allia’s chain was attached strongly to her purpose, her job,” Rezzolina leaned against the railings a little more as lights twinkled in the air and across the glass of the large buildings.
“So she was focused on her hunting?” Yuki asked.
“She was,” Rezzolina extinguished her cigarette, “it consumed her. It was all she cared about. Not that it’s bad to care about your profession but…” Rezzolina trailed off.
Yuki laughed, “you shared that trait with her?”
“I did,” Rezzolina nodded, turning to Yuki, “But I also don’t do anything so selfish as taking a mate when I know I do not have the time to give them.”
“The time?” Yuki asked.
Rezzolina smiled, “I barely have time to see my brother when he stops by for the first time in years. Do you really think I have the time to dedicate to a mate?”
“I guess not,” Yuki sighed.
“It’s lonely, at times,” Rezzolina stood up, stretching, “but I get respect at work, luxurious accommodations for the stressful work environment, and the knowledge that thanks to my
efforts, the people of Nite don’t go hungry and can sleep soundly,” as Rezzolina spoke, her smile widened, looking up towards a large building across the street from her own.
Yuki smiled, “To me, I’m just looking for minerals to sell to feed my own family, I can’t imagine working hard to feed others.”
Rezzolina’s smile faded, “and that, Yuki, is why Dei is a primitive wasteland,” she turned to her, “and why you’re
“But, can’t you reconsider?” Yuki pleaded.
Rezzolina shook her head, “No,” she stated as she walked back inside, “I cannot.”
Yuki sighed, “Rezzolina-”
“Good night, Yuki,” Rezzolina said as she passed her kitchen. “There’s some evening tea bags in the cupboard if you need some help sleeping.”
Yuki heaved a sigh and took a seat on a large chair on the balcony. She looked out over the city and could hear traffic down below and the occasional shouts and noises of the large city. She closed her eyes as the white noise relaxed her.
Yuki got up and returned to bed, shutting the balcony doors before she crawled back into bed with Serren. “I guess that’s that. I can’t see Geoffrey,”
she frowned, cuddling up against Serren, her eyes watering. “That can’t be it, can it?”
she sighed, closing her eyes. Falling into a heavy sleep. …
A fog-filled field greeted Yuki and she seemed to be all alone. Out in the distance, there was a scratching noise. Almost like metal scraping against metal.
As Yuki moved towards it, she felt as if she were floating.
A red Nite sat clad in white robes, gently tinkering with a small object. He seemed very young.
“Serren?” Yuki asked softly.
The young Nite turned his head to Yuki and gave her a warm smile, “He's at work.”
Yuki frowned, the boy looked familiar. “Oh. Who are you?”
The young Nite laughed and went back to his tinkering, “You must not have gotten much sleep last night again, mother.”
Yuki just frowned and sat next to him, “My dreams are getting troubled it seems.”
The boy looked at her and frowned, “It’s probably due to your acclimation. From when you used to be a normal Dei Angel. The Doctor told you not to worry about those weird visions
“Used to be?” Yuki asked, looking to the young Nite. “What do you mean, used to be?” she reached out to touch him, but when her hand crossed her vision, she noticed it had bluish claws at the end. She examined her hand curiously, confused as to why her fingers were tipped with claws.
She then looked to her wings. Blue Niten wings! She turned and found a short and slender tail behind her. “Oh, my Guardian...”
The young boy looked very concerned. “IS there something wrong, mom? Are you all right?”
Yuki went pale, “Wh-What did you call me?” She said, her mouth agape. No! It can't be possible, can it...?
The young boy frowned, “I said 'mom'... is something wrong? Should I call the doctor?”
“N-No!” she gasped, “No, no... I'm... I'm fine.” she closed her eyes. “Mommy's fine.”
The young Nite placed his hand on hers. “I know what you saw in your dreams is troubling you mother... but I promise nothing like that can happen – The Guardians would not allow it.”
Yuki looked at him, “The Guardians?”
The boy nodded, “And you can trust me, I’m the Scribe Lord, Mother.” he said with a bit of pride. “I’ll make sure to protect us all, in the name of The Guardians!” He must have gotten that pride from me... unless he's a hunter... what's a Scribe Lord?
The world began to fade to darkness as the fog thickened, the only thing that remained was the boy’s shimmering blue eyes, her eyes
. The world was plunged into complete darkness.
Yuki sat up, gasping, confused, and in Serren’s arms.
“Shhh, just a dream my love,” Serren whispered.
“Oh, Serren!” Yuki grabbed hold of him, burying her face in his chest, “I keep having dreams of my son! I have to bring him here!”
“But how?” Serren whispered, “Rezzolina won’t allow it.”
Yuki grinned, “there’s more than one way onto a ship.”
A heavy base beat thumps in a dark room as a number of imps and angel men alike cheer and shout at a stage with a number of chrome poles running from the stage to the ceiling.
An angel woman in nothing but a thong gyrates and thrusts along the pole, her dark wings catch the light from time to time, sending fractals of light bouncing through the humid club air as she twists, spins, and flips around the pole.
In the VIP room, towards the back of the club, surrounded by a pair of strippers and several off-duty cops, Palma finished inhaling a line of powder off the table.
He shouts excitedly and thumps his chest, “Yeah! That’s the shit!”
he cries as he pulls one of the girls tight against him.
She winces at his tight grip.
“You wanna come home with me babe?” Palma grins at the girl getting especially close.
She beams to him, “Sure daddy, as long as you can keep up,” she winked at him.
Palma pulled several large bills marked ‘100 Lumens’ each out of his pocket and placed them in his mouth, as he leaned over the girl.
She bit the bills out of his mouth and grinned up to him, stuffing them in her ample cleavage.
Palma got up and let loose another scream, his heart hammering in his ears as the drugs in his system fueled his evening activities.
The night continues with more lines of his new preferred drug, even sharing with his newly met lady friend.
Before he knew what was happening, he was in a hotel room. Palma and his new acquaintance both cried out in ecstasy, sweat drenched the pair as the drug surged through their veins, fueling frantic lovemaking.
After that, Palma blacked out and awoke staring up at the ceiling of the hotel room, his head pounding and his mouth and throat dry and his ears ringing.
He rolled off the bed, stumbling to the bathroom where he finally managed to pull himself up to the sink and get a drink directly from the tap.
His phone was buzzing, loudly. Far too loud.
He took another swallow of water, leaving the tap open, as he staggered his way to his jacket, which had landed somewhere on the floor of the hotel room.
Palma picked up the phone and found he missed the call.
He had missed 35 calls, to be exact.
The phone rang once more and Palma winced as he saw the number.
He cleared his throat, and answered as best he could, his voice cracking slightly as answered, “Y-Yes, So-orjoy?” He managed to sputter.
“By the Guardian wherein Oblivion have you been?” Sorjoy barked over the phone.
Palma looked around the room, “That’s a great question, I’m wondering that myself,”
Palma thought. He didn’t recognize the hotel. It wasn’t cheap, sure, but he wasn’t familiar with it. “Uh… busy?” he stammered.
“Busy?!” Sorjoy growled, “You work for me,
Palma! Don’t forget that fact!”
Palma took a deep breath and rubbed his head with his free hand, “yeah, yeah.”
“Where the fuck are you? I need you here yesterday
!” Sorjoy screamed into the phone.
“Yeah, yeah,” Palma grumbled, getting to his feet and staggering to the bathroom to get another few gulps of water.
“Don’t you ‘yeah yeah’ me, Palma! I will hang you out to dry!” Sorjoy threatened.
Palma grumbled to himself, finally sneering to the phone, “Sorry, sir
“Daddy…” the young buxom woman cried softly from the bed, her head in her hands, “oh… Guardian… I-I don’t…” she fell to her knees and vomited.
“Fuck…” Palma grumbled as the girl unloaded her stomach contents on the floor. Palma spotted the remains of pills in the mix of her excess.
“I-I don’t… feel… too good… I-I…” she whimpered, tears streaming down her face as she wiped the vomit from her lips.
“Palma, where the fuck are you?!” Sorjoy screamed on the phone.
Palma splashed some water on his face from the sink, and cleared his throat, “What do you need, Mr. Sorjoy?”
“Finally,” Sorjoy relented, “I need you to get an escort for the delivery of the Heart of Lucifer to Mr. Trueman’s estate.”
“A private company can’t do that?” Palma protested.
“If I wanted
a private security company to do it,” Sorjoy fumed, “then I wouldn’t have a need for you
in my back pocket, now would I?!”
Palma flinched at the volume coming from the phone.
“Now be a good pet,” Sorjoy growled, “and heel
!” the line went dead.
Palma closed his eyes tightly and gave a powerful exhale through his nostrils, trying to clear his head, “fuck that shit hit me hard.”
“I-I gotta go to a doctor…” the feeble angel kneeling before him sobbed, “I feel like my head is going to explode…”
Palma walked to his clothing strewn about all over the floor and collected it, dressing as swiftly as he could. He reached into his wallet and pulled out a few bills, “go to the hospital and if you talk about this? I’ll find you and gut you myself,” he tossed the girl several large bills, “go get fixed up.”
The young woman whimpered as the bills fell to the ground, a few landing in her own sick, “b-but I… I think I’m dying…”
“Then do me a favor and do it somewhere away from me,” Palma stated, turning on his heel and rushing out of the hotel.
Cleo sat at her desk while Sorjoy paced back and forth in front of his office door.
“Sir,” Cleo began, “would you like me to have someone install hardwood in front of your office?”
Sorjoy glared at her, “Why would I want that, Cleo?”
“Because you’re going to wear out the carpet with that pacing,” Cleo said, jokingly.
“This is no joking matter,” Sorjoy hissed as he continued to pace, “Trueman is expecting the gem today and I’m not going to risk something so valuable being transported by anyone other than the police.”
“Because they can’t
be corrupt,” Cleo sighed, tapping away on her keyboard.
Sorjoy chuckled, “when they are my
corrupt cops, it doesn’t matter. They know not to bite the hand that feeds them.”
Cleo gave a nod. Sorjoy had been opening up to her lately regarding how much power he had. She was unsure why he was doing this. Posturing? To instill fear in her?
Whatever his reasons, Cleo had not felt that they were affecting her in the ways that Sorjoy desired.
Cleo’s phone rang and she answered quickly, “Erik Sorjoy’s office.”
“Chief Palma told us to help escort the Diamond. Said he would be waiting at Trueman’s office. We have several officers at your HQ,” the officer stated.
“Thank you so much,” Cleo turned to Sorjoy, “we’ll join you. Please come around back to the loading bay, we’ll be leaving from there.”
Sorjoy turned to Cleo, “Good news?”
“Our police escorts are here,” Cleo informed Sorjoy.
“Good,” Sorjoy heaved a sigh, he made his way towards the elevator, “let's hope no one tries anything stupid.”
Several officers flew around the back of the large Fondsworth building, all surrounding a pair of black limousines.
Naberious cleared his throat as a few of the officers landed near him. He tipped his hat to a few of them as they approached.
The second limo was in front of Naberious’s, the other driver looked far more nervous than Naberious.
One officer approached the second driver, “you got clearance for this?” his badge read “Officer Grant”
“What?” The driver squeaked.
“ID, asshole,” Officer Grant said, pushing the driver’s shoulder.
The driver flinched and pulled out an ID card, handing it over, “I’m a professional transporter! Shit man.”
Officer Grant looked over his ID, “Bade Trenner?”
Officer Grant swiped the ID through a small card reader, looking it over.
Bade hemmed and hawed.
Naberious kept his eyes forward as the officers paid him no mind.
Officer Grant grinned, looking to Bade, “Hey, asshole, wanna take a guess as to what I just found?”
Bade gasped, “I can explain-”
Officer Grant punched Bade across the face, then pulled him out of the limo as another officer pounced on him, forcing him to the ground. “Take him in for questioning!”
Bade shouted in protest as he was carted off by a pair of officers. Officer Grant chuckled, “who can drive one of these?” he asked his fellow officers.
A young eager to please officer volunteered and climbed into the limo.
Officer Grant now moved towards Naberious, approaching him menacingly.
Naberious pulled out a cigarette and lit it, taking a drag and blowing the smoke away from Officer Grant.
“Hey, you!” Officer Grant said as he approached Naberious.
“Yeah?” Naberious asked calmly.
“Mind if I bum one of those off of you?” Officer Grant asked.
“Knock yourself out,” Naberious offered the pack of cigarettes to the officer, who took one gladly.
“Have you ever worked with that guy before?” Officer Grant asked.
Naberious shook his head, lighting the officer’s cigarette for him, “Can’t say I have. He’s new. He was supposed to be the lead car. The armored truck is getting loaded in the loading dock. Once you boys give the okay, the big boss comes down and we make our way to wherever it is we’re going.”
“They haven’t told you yet?” Officer Grant asked, taking a drag.
“Man, they don’t tell me shit
,” he grinned to Officer Grant.
The pair laughed.
Officer Grant’s radio soon squawked to life, “Address enroute, heading to 1000 Prestige Lane,” Palma’s voice called out.
Officer Grant nodded.
“Never heard of that address,” Naberious noted.
“It’s a code,” Officer Grant smiled, “VIP estate. We gotta verify now with dispatch on a secure line.”
“VIP, coming in hot,” an officer shouted as Cleo and Sorjoy walked out of a small door to the left of the loading dock.
Cleo grimaced at the uneven concrete in front of her, taking mincing steps in her heels as she moved gingerly towards the limo. She steadied herself on the back of the limo, looking to the lead car, her brow furrowing as she saw an officer sitting in the opened driver side door.
“Where’s Bade?” Cleo asked.
“Who is Bade?” Sorjoy countered.
“He’s the other transporter I commissioned for the lead car,” Cleo explained as Naberious assisted her towards the limousine door.
“Why did you commission a transporter? We have Naberious,” Sorjoy questioned, “granted we are not tight on funds.”
“Because,” Cleo explained, “the lead car is a dummy car.”
Sorjoy gave a slight nod of approval as he slid inside the limo, “well thought out, Ms.Walters.”
Naberious leaned into the back of the limousine, “Bade acted nervous around the officers and they arrested him.”
“For acting nervous?” Sorjoy frowned.
“He was a fully vetted transporter!” Cleo complained, “I hired him myself!”
Naberious shrugged, “you act suspicious around some cops, they’ll take you in until they find something, anything
, to hold you.”
Sorjoy chuckled, “I’m sure your transporter will be fine, assuming he’s done nothing wrong.”
Naberious grinned, “I saw the scan, his ID checked out and he had no priors. Cop baited him and he fell for it. The only thing that kid is guilty of is being green.”
Sorjoy nodded, “well then I am glad he’s no longer working on this project.”
Cleo sighed, “he was just the dummy car, sir.”
“Noted, but do fire him, Cleo,” Sorjoy smiled, leaning back in the limo.
“Yessir,” Cleo said, tapping on her tablet.
Naberious closed the door and got into the driver's seat.
Soon a pair of large armored trucks rolled out of the loading bay.
The first truck passed the limousines, while the second stopped long enough to allow both limousines to travel in between.
“Well, I must say,” Sorjoy smiled, “I do feel rather safe.”
Outside of the limousine, three police officers per armored vehicle stood on top of the large trucks.
As the caravan made its way down the street, the officers held on to the roof with handles and quick release straps. The officers each carried with them heavy assault rifles.
After a few minutes, a voice shouted from a side street: “Cerberus comes for you!” a large bottle filled with gasoline crashed against the first armored car.
Naberious spotted the flames on the first car and shouted “Shit!” He quickly took a right while the front limousine took a left, each of them heading down the wrong road. Eggs pelted the windows and sides of Sorjoy’s limousine.
“Problem?” Sorjoy asked as Naberious turned the limo.
“Someone just tossed an incendiary device at the lead armored car,” Naberious shifted the limousine into gear, and Cleo and Sorjoy were soon shoved into one another as the limousine picked up speed. “Hang on back there, getting us out of the hot zone!”
Cleo yelped as Sorjoy caught her.
Sorjoy looked down, realizing he was gripping Cleo’s hips tightly.
“Mr. Sorjoy!” Cleo narrowed her eyes on him.
Sorjoy released her, “you’re welcome,” he cleared his throat as he attempted to brush off the awkward grip.
Outside three of the police angels leaped off the top of the lead armored car and flew towards where the bottle was thrown from.
“Hands up!” an officer shouted to one angel wearing a dog mask.
The dog masked man held up his hands, “holy shit - I’m unarmed!”
“Good,” a second officer snickered, gunning the man down without any further warning.
Other angels in dog masks jumped out of side streets and alleyways.
The three officers soon opened fire, taking out another pair of angels and tagging another before they ceased fire.
“Three down, one tagged, flag the nearby hospitals, anyone comes in with gunshot wounds, make sure it’s reported,” Officer Grant shouted, “come on, let's collect the dogs,” he laughed.
A radio buzzed in Naberious’s car, “Disturbance has been quelled, follow the alternate route. Sending it to you now.”
Naberious took the radio up and slowed the limousine down, “got it.”
Cleo sighed, “well, thank the Guardian that’s over.”
Sorjoy nodded, “This is why you make sure you have cops you can trust.”
Palma sipped a coffee as he sat across from Bade. He was looking over a file, then glanced up to Bade as if it was the first time he had noticed him there, “oh, you need something to drink?”
“What am I being held for?” Bade swallowed hard.
Palma looked back to his file and took another calm sip, “you know what you’re here for.”
Bade went pale and began to sweat, “okay list-”
“Who put you up to it?” Palma said, looking at the paper still, “you’ve got no priors, so either you’re very good,” Palma looked up to Bade, “which is doubtful…”
Bade frowned, “Listen, I want a lawyer.”
“Oh, me too man,” Palma said, laying the paperwork down on the table, “me too. I bet I could get all kinds of compensation from the department from this fucking jobs. You know how many times I’ve been shot in the line of duty?” Palma shook his head.
Bade looked down at the table.
“A cop died today,” Palma lied.
“What?!” Bade looked up, shocked.
“Yep. Some fucking bastard in a dog mask threw a bottle filled with gas at an armored vehicle,” Palma shook his head, “poor bastard was burned alive in his gear.”
“I-I,” Bade stammered, sweating even more now.
“What a shitty way to go,” Palma shook his head, “I’d prefer some drug dealer just pop me in the back of the head, myself. One second I’m busting some imp prick for selling drugs to kids, the next second I’m shaking hands with the Guardian Lucifer.”
Bade looked away.
“So, Bade,” Palma said, finally looking at Bade, “who’s your contact?”
Bade was silent, “I was called onto the initial job with a legit contract. Low balled, sure, but it was just to drive the dummy car and I’ve got no experience so I figured: bite the bullet and take the shitty contract.”
“Mmhmm,” Palma nodded.
Bade heaved a sigh, “then some guy contacts me and says he can double my pay if I just make a right down a particular road instead of a left.”
“I’m listening and you’re doing well here, you are,” Palma grinned.
“That’s it,” Bade admitted.
“That’s it?” Palma said, standing up. “You sure?”
“Listen, if you’re scared of these guys,” Palma smiled, drinking the rest of his coffee, “I have to tell you, that’s the wrong way of looking at things.”
“What?” Bade said, shivering.
Palma smashed the coffee mug on the table and pressed the broken porcelain against Bade’s throat, “you should be way more afraid of me
Bade gasped and tried to step back, but found Palma’s hand on the back of his neck. “C-Camera!” Bade said, pointing to the camera with a flashing red light in the corner.
Palma turned to it and smiled wickedly, “Make a choice, Bade, who are you more afraid of? Guys in masks who run around killing cops in the dark…”
Bade whimpered as Palma pressed the jagged porcelain against his throat.
“Or a cop like me,” Palama whispered into his ear, “who has no problems killing you right here, on camera, with my face on full display?”
Bade began to piss himself.
“Make your choice Bade… I haven’t got all day… and my hand’s starting to cramp,” Palma hissed with a devilish grin.
Bade stammered, “I-I don’t know his name! B-But I know he was a co-worker of that miner who fell! That’s all I know about Cerberus
, I swear to the Guardian!”
Palma smiled, pulling the coffee mug away from Bade’s neck, “thanks for being co-operative,” Palma slammed Bade’s face down onto the table with his other hand.
Bade’s head bounced off and he recoiled, falling back against the wall, collapsing to the floor in a heap as Palma strode out of the room.
Two officers stood there in shock.
Once the door shut, Palma burst out laughing, “Holy fuck! These Cerberus guys are a joke!” Palma grinned wickedly as he looked to the closed door, “I was literally just fuckin’ with him!”
One officer chuckled, “So were we!”
Palma grinned to them, “Just goes to show you boys,” he walked past the pair of officers, “everyone
is guilty of something.”
“I’m sorry,” Rezzolina frowned, “you want… what?”
Yuki beamed, “I want to see the shuttle, you know before it’s decommissioned.”
want to see the shuttle?” Rezzolina lifted an eyebrow.
“Yes,” Yuki smiled wide, “Is that a problem?”
“It’s an odd favor to ask, from you
, all things considered,” Rezzolina thought out loud as she drank from a cup of hot amber colored tea.
“Is it?” Yuki asked.
Serren smiled, “she is a pilot, sister. Maybe she’d like to see how the shuttles operate?”
Rezzolina leaned back in her chair, “the shuttle does leave in a week. It’s not like you’re going to stow-away in that time.”
“Awesome! So that’s a yes then?” Yuki beamed at Rezzolina.
Serren joined Yuki in smiling at Rezzolina.
Rezzolina heaved a sigh, “Fine!” she stood up, placing her mug down, “but only because I haven’t seen you in a few years, Serren.”
Serren grinned, “Oh my, spending time with my sister! This is a new experience.”
Rezzolina narrowed her eyes on Serren, “Don’t push it, Brother.”
Yuki smiled, “Part one of the plan is coming together…”
she thought to herself.
A few hours later Rezzolina, Serren, and Yuki landed near a large staging area. A rather large ship was taking on crates and Niten dragons of all sorts were walking along the fuselage inspecting the craft.
“Wow,” Yuki remarked, “that’s a big shuttle.”
Rezzolina nodded, “yes it is, it has to be to transport goods from Nite to Dei.”
Yuki wondered why she had never seen a ship like this on Dei. Surely she would have had to see it? Someone would have seen it, right?
“I don’t suppose I could meet the crew, could I?” Yuki asked.
Rezzolina shrugged, “Why not, they’re inspecting the ship now.”
“They are?” Yuki smiled, “you actually let the flight crew inspect the ship?”
“Who else would do it? They’re the ones whose lives are on the line,” Rezzolina pointed out in a haughty tone.
“Ugh,” Yuki lamented, “I wish they had let us do that on Dei. There is a separate crew that does the maintenance.”
“It is like that on Dei,” Rezzolina pointed out, “in order to prevent the transmission of any foreign disease to the crew members, the crew quarters is on lockdown when it’s docked.”
“Really?” Yuki frowned, “That would explain why no one has ever seen a Niten piloted shuttle land on Dei.”
“Honestly the only intelligent thing I’ve heard a Dei Angel say over a conference call,” Rezzolina said, approaching the ship.
Yuki’s mouth hung open, “excuse me?”
“I stand by that statement,” Rezzolina said as she continued towards the ship without looking back. “Come on, if you want to meet the crew, they’re this way.”
Serren sighed, “I’m sorry Yuki.”
“Yeah,” Yuki glared at Rezzolina, “me too.”
Rezzolina stood next to the large shuttle and shouted, “Anyone see a lazy pilot and her buddies anywhere around here?” she joked.
A large female Niten dragon, with brown scales and green eyes, chuckled to Rezzolina, “Chairwoman! What on Nite are you doing here?”
Rezzolina smiled and motioned for her to come down, “inspection.”
The brown Nite jumped down from the large ship, which stood a good ten meters off the ground. About halfway through her fall, she flapped her wings and slowed herself enough to land safely, “To what do I owe this pleasure?” she said, hugging Rezzolina.
Rezzolina hugged back, chuckling, “Well Brigg, it seems we’ve got tourists.”
“Tourists?” Briggett, the large brown nite said, turning to see Yuki and Serren approaching. She smiled, “Well hey there, little lady!”
Yuki smiled, for once not feeling spoken down to. Granted Briggett was the largest female nite she had run into, “Hi!” Yuki said.
“I’ve seen you on the news,” Briggett smiled, “Yuki, right? You must be a pretty skilled little pilot to keep one of those little bubble shuttles from melting on reentry.”
Yuki beamed, “It wasn’t as difficult as roughing it for a week in the wild.”
Briggett nodded, “it’s a miracle that you’re alive!”
Yuki nodded back, “So, mind showing me around your clunker?”
Briggett beamed, “I’d be honored! Come on board. My name’s Briggett, but please, call me Brigg. I’m the ship’s captain.”
“Nice to meet you Brigg,” Yuki grinned, “you already know my name but, Yuki Karkade,” she offered her hand to shake.
Briggett smiled, shaking her hand, “Pleased to meet you, Yuki.”
Yuki headed with Briggett towards the ship.
Rezzolina turned to Serren, “You’re not interested?”
Serren looked over the massive ship, “the less contact I have with it the better.”
Rezzolina smiled, “want to have lunch while Yuki and Briggett talk trade?”
Serren smiled to Rezzolina, “Yes, I’d love to.”
Rezzolina grinned back, “Good. Then you can explain to me how on Nite you mated with this Dei Angel.”
Serren laughed, as he shouted to Yuki, “I’ll catch up with you later!”
Yuki smiled back, “okay love!”
Briggett smiled, “Love? I’ve never heard that as a colloquial on Dei.”
“You speak Dei?” Yuki grinned.
Briggett nodded, “Have to! The crew that we land with are Dei angels.”
“Explains why you’re the only one who hasn’t called me a primitive,” Yuki remarked.
Briggett sighed, “I’ll apologize on their behalf: They don’t understand. Dei is kind of…” she sighed, “further apart than Nite.”
“How so?” Yuki questioned.
“You know, when you come to a big city like this,” she motioned to the city behind them, “you get used to knowing lots and lots of people. Everyone’s right on top of each other. This entire city was the first city ever built, you know.”
“Wow, really?” Yuki smiled.
“Oh yeah, back then Metro Prime was just, well, a little city, but everyone worked to protect one another and build it into the center of our society that it is today,” Briggett laughed.
“And I guess moving the city walls out is hard?” Yuki noted.
“Rarely happens,” Briggett motioned to the large buildings, “but it’s easier to build up than out. So that’s where things went.”
Yuki laughed, “I’d imagine.”
“But it’s different on Dei,” Briggett noted, “On Dei, no one had to live on top of each other. Folks could set out on their own, do their own thing, and not have to worry about some horrible giant lizard stomping them to death in their sleep.”
“Yeah,” Yuki shivered, recalling the terrible sight of poor Fammel, “that’s… not a pleasant image.”
Briggett shook her head, “It’s not. But,” Briggett smiled, changing the subject as they neared the rear of the ship, “because of that, I’m well aware that Dei society is just different. Not primitive.”
“It’s great to hear that,” Yuki smiled.
“Besides, my co-pilot Tarabetha?” Briggett leaned down to Yuki, whispering, “she’s got a crush on an air traffic controller named Thomas on Dei.”
“You don’t say,” Yuki said, wondering if Thomas knew she was a dragon and not just another pilot.
Cleo and Sorjoy’s limo soon came up to a large gate with a monogram on the front of a large and ornate “RT”.
The gate opened slowly and the limousine rolled down a long road leading towards a massive palatial manor.
At the center of the driveway was a large fountain, where the drive circled around, leaving a stretch of road between the fountain and the staircase leading to the massive mansion.
Cleo looked up at the huge manner from the limousine and lifted her eyebrows in surprise.
Sorjoy was less impressed, clearly having seen the sight before.
Once the limousine came to a stop, Naberious moved to the door and opened it, assisting Sorjoy and Cleo out of the limo.
As Cleo stepped out she craned her neck upwards to see the whole sight of the massive manner. “Wow.”
“It helps to publish books on The Guardian’s works,” Sorjoy said, approaching the armored vehicle.
A few imps and angels alike came from inside the estate and helped to unload the large crate in the back of the armored truck.
“Be careful with that,” Sorjoy barked, “it’s worth more than any of your lives.”
Cleo stood there, clicking at her tablet, her brow furrowed, “seems three are dead after that attack.”
“Good,” Sorjoy sneered, “then they’ll know not to fuck with us again.”
“Or they’ll be out for blood,” Cleo sighed, “either way I think we’d better keep security beefed up.”
Sorjoy nodded, “I think we’ll need to hire a security advisor then.”
“Have you considered Naberious?” Cleo suggested.
Sorjoy turned to her, his eyebrow raised, “Naberious is our driver.”
“He’s a veteran, transporter, and bodyguard,” Cleo pointed out.
“Let’s seek someone with some more leadership experience,” Sorjoy ordered.
Cleo nodded, “I’ll have a shortlist for you at the end of the day.”
“Very good, Cleo,” Sorjoy praised as the Heart of Lucifer was loaded onto a pallet.
The wheezing voice of Trueman came from the steps, the click of his cane announcing his presence before his voice had reached any of them. “Very good indeed,” Trueman announced with a smile, “I must say, Erik, I’m very surprised to see you here in person.”
Sorjoy smiled and approached Trueman, “well, I figured it was only right for me to be here to deliver the diamond to you personally.”
Angels and Imps grunted behind Sorjoy as they hoisted the heavy diamond onto a wheeled jack and began to carefully move the item around a side door of the manor.
“Of course,” Mr. Trueman smiled warmly to Cleo and Sorjoy, “Please, come in. I would be a terrible host if I were not to invite you in for tea.”
“Thank you, Mr. Trueman, but that isn’t necessary for the least,” Cleo smiled pleasantly.
Sorjoy frowned, “Cleo it’s not polite to refus-”
Trueman cut Sorjoy off, “on the contrary, it’s often impolite to impose, and as such,” he smiled to Cleo, “I find it no bother at all, please do come in.”
Sorjoy narrowed his eyes on Cleo’s back as she made her way up the steps.
“This is a truly phenomenal home, Mr. Trueman. I’m astounded by the size and grandeur,” Cleo gushed.
“You flatter me,” Mr. Trueman laughed, “inheritances, some minor intelligent business moves and all of it for what?” he laughed, “so my porters and butlers can live in luxury alongside me.”
Cleo laughed, “Some lucky butlers!”
At the top of the steps was a dark blue-skinned imp with orange eyes and red hair who bowed low to Mr. Trueman and his guests, “Welcome to Trueman Manor,” he looked up as he ended his bow, glancing between Sorjoy and Cleo, “may I take your jackets?”
Trueman shook his head, “no, that’s fine.”
Cleo grinned at him warmly, “afraid I don’t have a jacket.”
The imp nodded, his smile fading a bit when he saw Cleo.
“Oh, this is my head butler and personal assistant, Malik,” Mr. Trueman smiled to Cleo and Sorjoy, “a most capable man.”
“A capable Imp
,” Sorjoy clarified.
“Indeed,” Mr. Trueman said, smiling, “Malik, if I may introduce the CEO of Fondsworth Inc, Erik Sorjoy, and his lovely assistant Ms. Cleopatra Cassandra Walters.”
Malik bowed again, “lovely to meet you both.”
Mr. Trueman grinned at Malik as he came up from his bow, looking Cleo over as Trueman walked by. “Mr. Sorjoy, would you come with me so we can discuss things in private? I believe Ms. Cleopatra and Malik can ready our tea and handle any additional logistics in the transportation of my new diamond.”
“Of course, sir,” Sorjoy said as he walked off.
When Trueman and Sorjoy were out of earshot, Malik turned to Cleo.
“It’s fairly insulting, so you know,” Malik said curtly.
Cleo smiled at him, “Yes, invite us in for tea and then order me to help you prepare it.” She grinned, “Don’t worry, I don’t mind.”
Malik seemed off-balance from the odd comment, but continued, “I meant the hair. Dying it white? And the wings?”
“Why would that be insulting?” Cleo asked.
“It mocks our savior,” Malik answered, leading Cleo towards the kitchen.
“Ipswella said something about that,” Cleo said in thought, “But I suppose I should let you know, it’s natural.”
Malik stopped, allowing Cleo to walk past him, “What
Cleo turned and smiled, “It’s not dye, it’s natural. I was just born with a form of albinism. No pigment in my wings,” she motioned to her purple eyes, “and a lack of pigment here too.”
Malik seemed stunned, but soon caught up to her, “well… my apologies then.”
“You’re forgiven,” Cleo chuckled as they made their way to a kitchen, “now where are the tea bags?”
While Cleo and Malik prepared tea, Trueman and Sorjoy walked towards Trueman’s study.
“It has come to my attention, Mr. Sorjoy, that the title you so desperately wish to claim has a requirement I had almost forgotten about,” Mr. Trueman explained.
Sorjoy narrowed his eyes, “Sir, I feel I’ve done everything that was asked of me.”
“Of course,” Mr. Trueman nodded, “but a Great Patriarch must be… well… a patriarch! And you are lacking in family.”
“So is Hoffman,” Sorjoy confirmed.
“It’s that very change that has given me pause,” Mr. Trueman said as they entered the study, “you see, young Sorjoy, Mr. Hoffman is getting married at a small private affair as we speak.”
“Indeed,” Mr. Trueman said, “so I would encourage you to find a proper woman.”
“Like Cleopatra? Is that what you’re saying?” Sorjoy asked.
“Heavens, no,” Mr. Trueman laughed, “no-no, a good match. You’re not her speed, my boy.”
“Not,” Sorjoy said, confused, “her speed
Trueman nodded, “You’re too similar, too driven. A man needs a wife who would support him, not try to outdo him.”
“I see,” Sorjoy frowned.
“As such I feel it important for you, Sorjoy, to establish some form of the relationship prior to you taking your seat,” Mr. Trueman announced.
“I’m rather busy, Mr. Trueman, as you well know,” Sorjoy explained.
“Exactly,” Mr. Trueman smiled, “so I would suggest you take some time off and spend it in the company of a woman.”
“What, do I crawl the bars?” Sorjoy mocked.
“On the contrary,” Mr. Trueman smiled, “you call a matchmaker,” he handed Sorjoy a card.
Sorjoy looked at the card. On it was a simple number, with one name underneath: “Mimi
First submitted by
James was running through a forest. Something was chasing him. He looked back, but saw nothing.
He kept running. He didn't know why he was running there was nothing there.
A howl pierced the night.
James awoke the next morning out of breath and his mind was racing, but he didn't know why. Everything around him seemed normal. After a couple of minutes of waiting he began to calm down again. Once he was sure nothing was going to happen, he quickly got to freshening himself up. He dropped all of his first clothes into the cleaning drawer so they would be cleaned, and then he jumped in the shower. He began to try to figure out why he was worked up.
'Did I have a nightmare?' he thought. 'I don't normally get this worked up though. Was I dreaming about home? I've been so caught up in the new world around me I haven't even stopped to think about home. What the hell even happened? Where am I really? How did I get here? How can I get back? Wh-'
He stopped himself. Getting this worried about something he had no answers to at the moment wasn't going to help. He instead decided to think about his thoughts from last night to stop himself getting worked up again.
‘So… if carbon is what does it, I could really do with testing it out. First, I’m going to need to convince Master Vunasa to let me use his enchanting font. He may be a bit more lenient if I explain that I want to experiment with something I believe he isn’t even aware of. Then, I’m going to need a number of different materials to test the enchantments on. As much variance of carbon content as possible, and try and break those categories he mentioned. High carbon rocks, low carbon organic materials, really put those categories to the test.
‘So sedimentary rocks, or fossils will do for rock, but low carbon organic would probably be bone. Sedimentary rocks with a high enough carbon content to make a difference are going to be hard to find around here, but fossils might be common amongst certain circles. Bone might be a bit hard to find, but I still have wolf teeth on me, so that should do. Now the only question there is how much carbon does each have? I know fossilised remains are one of the highest concentrations of carbon in rock, and bones have very little in comparison to the rest of the body, but will the fossil beat the bone?’
He tried to think of any other potential materials to try.
‘Quartz is mostly silicon, and probably isn’t too uncommon to get my hands on, so that will probably work as a low carbon crystal, but where am I going to get a high carbon crystal from? Diamonds are going to be too expensive. Maybe Master Vunasa has one around for the experiment. But is it even necessary? I already know it will likely perform much better than anything else I can bring. Normal scientific procedure would say yes, but I might not be able to get any. Wait, would graphite work the same as diamond? That’s pure carbon too, but would they have graphite around here? Either way, I should see what I can find around the market today.’
He wished he had an internet connection. 5 minutes of searching and he could find all of the answers he needed for what materials to look for. He finished off in the shower, dried off and put his now fresh clean clothes on and headed downstairs for a meal. The meal today was slightly different to the last few he’d had. This time it was a bit more fruity than before and had a few different types of berries, which made a nice change. He thanked Carthey for the meal and headed back upstairs to grab his guns, as well as both a birdshot and buckshot shell as well as a rifle round so he could better explain the weapons to Master Vunasa. He headed out of the Traveller’s Grove and towards the Kynling Well.
“Master Vunasa?” James called out when he entered.
“Ahh, James, to what do I owe the pleasure?” Master Vunasa responded, appearing from the opening where the enchanting font was kept.
“I remember you asking about my shotgun yesterday, so I thought I’d bring it over so you could have a look at it, see how it works.”
“Ah that’s very kind of you, new things always intrigue me. I can tell there's another reason you visited, you wish to ask me something?”
“I was thinking about enchanting yesterday, and the things you told me about the materials...”
“I may have a theory about why some materials work better than others.
“You do? It’s something a lot of people have looked into, but no-one has ever gotten a solid answer, just general trends and a few outliers. I’m interested to know what you’re thinking.
“I don’t want to start jumping to the conclusion and excite you before I’ve had a chance to test my theory out though.”
“And you wanted to ask me if you could use my font to test it out? You may, but only on two conditions. One, you need to get all the supplies for the experiment, including those that are needed to re-fill the font. And two, Lafalla and I get to view the experiment you conduct, and know the details of your theory, whether it works or not.”
“I think that’s fair. Would you be able to tell me what the font needs?”
“Of course, give me a moment, I’ll write a list.”
“Ah, um, I can’t read your language, is there something I could write it down on?”
“That might be a better idea, yes, one moment” Master Vunasa said as he looked around on a nearby desk, picking up a piece of paper and what appeared to be a pencil, and handed them to James. “Now, you are going to want to get me a bottle of pine sap, a pot of oak bark, a mana rose petal, a small pot of iron shavings and a small bottle of logole oil. They should all be fairly easy to find at the market, which should be open today. You might even find all of them in the same stand if you’re lucky.”
“Ah, that’s good, I was planning on doing a bit of shopping today. Quick question, what is this I’m writing with? James asked.
“That is a pencil.”
“I meant what is it made out of?”
“It is made from a rod of graphite wrapped in wood and tree bark. Do you not have them where you’re from?”
“I thought so, that’s great thanks. We do, but I wanted to double check what it was made from. Would I be able to buy some at the market?”
“I don’t see why not, they aren’t common, but they aren’t really rare either.”
“That's great, it’s going to help a lot.”
“I mean, you can borrow it for a short while if you need to.”
“I need one for the experiment.”
“Now you’ve piqued my interest even more.”
“Later, when I’m ready to perform it.”
“If you insist” Master Vunasa said with a defeated sigh. “Just so you’re aware, we won’t be able to perform the experiment today, but tomorrow should be good. Now then, how about you show me this shotgun of yours…”
James showed the shotgun and rifle to Master Vunasa, giving a similar explanation to the one he gave Lafalla. Master Vunasa did ask quite a few more questions throughout the explanation, but James was more than happy to explain how the different parts worked, such as how the primer on the ammunition interacted with the gunpowder, and why the shotgun ammunition needed a wad whilst the rifle ammunition didn’t.
Lafalla entered the hollow just as James was finishing up his explanation to the latest question. “... and because brass makes a good pressure seal, and then shrinks back down a bit after so it’s easier to take out after it's been used, it is better than say, steel, which was used at one point when it was easier to manufacture them like that, but not really any more.”
“Ah, James, I see that Master Vunasa has got you back for the explanation of magic yesterday then” she said.
“You make it sound like I was plotting some sort of revenge scheme” Master Vunasa replied. “I was merely curious, and as I thought, it looks like it operates like the cannon the Dwarves mentioned, though it seems significantly more advanced than what they were on about. And more practical. Now then, I won’t keep you any longer James, I’m sure you want to have a look at what’s in the market.”
“Of course, I will see you both tomorrow” James replied.
“Goodbye James” Lafalla responded.
James left the hollow, headed back to the Traveller’s Grove to drop off his guns, and began walking towards the Everwood Well, hoping to be able to see the market from there. Luckily he caught a glimpse of a stand on the way there and headed towards it, seeing more and more stands as he approached. He began to look around at all of the stands lining the sides of the street. While it was busy, it wasn’t exactly crowded so he was able to move around with a fair amount of ease. He did get a few odd looks from people that didn’t recognise him, but no-one seemed that concerned and left him more or less alone.
He began to browse the stands. There were maybe 50 stands in total, and over half of them seemed to be selling different kinds of food, but he decided to ignore those. He didn’t have any way to store or prepare the food, so he would be better off just buying meals from other places.
The first stand that did draw his attention however was one selling clothes. The clothes were similar to that of what the other Dryads wore, lots of earth tones accented with colourful flowers. He managed to fit into one of the larger shirts just fine, but there didn’t seem to be anything that would fit his legs. There was an abundance of four legged pieces, but only a couple designed for two legged people, and both sat tightly at his knees.
‘Must be for Dwarves’ he reasoned.
Thankfully, the stand owner offered to magically extend the piece so that it would fit him, and he ended up paying 50 copper for the clothes, and 1 silver for the re-size, but at least he had a change of clothes now.
The next stall to catch his eye was one that had a number of books piled up neatly. He headed over, hoping that there would be some supplies for his experiment tomorrow. He had to ask a bit about what kind of supplies they had, but eventually he was able to buy a small collection of pencils, a small stack of paper, a few paints and paintbrush, which actually turned out to be little more than coloured ink and bristled quills. This set him back 1 silver and 50 copper in total.
The next stand he visited was a reagents stand where he managed to pick up the pine sap, oak bark, mana rose petal, iron shavings, and logole oil, costing him 1 silver and 30 copper. ‘That’s lucky’ James thought. ‘Must be things that are commonly used for the fonts to have them available like that’ he reasoned. He also managed to pick up a liquid that Dryads used to wash their mouths there. Given that he hadn’t been able to properly clean his teeth since he got here, he decided to give it a go.
He began wandering around, but he was struggling to find anything rock or crystal related, either no-one sold it, or they just didn’t advertise that they did. He began to wish Lafalla was here with him, she’d probably know where to find some. In the end, he decided to take a break and put what he had bought away in his room at the Traveler’s Grove when he came back down the main room in the Traveller's Grove, he realised he’d already missed lunch and was getting quite hungry. He saw that Carthey was at the counter, so he approached her.
“Hello Carthey.” he said.
“Hi James, how can I help?” she replied
“I was hoping I could get something to eat, do you do mid day meals by any chance?”
“Of course we do! However it isn’t covered by your room, so it will cost 10 copper for a meal.”
“That’s no problem” he said, handing it over.
“Is there anything in particular you’d like?”
“What you served me this morning would be great thanks.”
“Of course, is there anything else I can help you with?”
James thought for a moment and then asked. “Bit of a different topic, but you don’t happen to know of anywhere around here that sells rocks, fossils, minerals, crystals, that sort of thing do you? I was hoping to find a couple of things in the market, but I didn’t notice anyone selling those kinds of things.”
“Ah, yes those things tend not to sell as well, so you probably have to ask around for them usually. The stall that normally sells enchanted items should have some of those kinds of things if you ask. They like to trade rarer items but they can be a bit expensive.”
“That’s great, thank you.”
“Ok, I’ll bring you your meal in just a moment.”
James took his meal when Carthey returned and sat down to eat it. He began to think over what he had managed to get so far, and what he left to get. Crystals, both quartz and diamond if possible, but he had a feeling diamond would be too much to ask for, a fossil, if they even had any around here, and anything else that caught his eye that might be useful. He finished off his meal, thanked Carthey, and headed back out. It took him a while, but he found the stand that was selling enchanted items like Carthey mentioned.
He approached the Dryad running the stall. “Hello there, I was told you might be able to help me with things that aren’t particularly common.” James said.
“I may be able to, what are you looking for?” the stall owner replied.
“A bit of a variety of things really crystals, fossils, gems, things like that.”
“I do have a small collection of crystals, though I must warn you, they aren’t cheap. We only get them from the Dwarves, and they tend not to sell them too often.”
“That’s understandable. I don’t know what your prices are, but I’m looking for quartz and diamond if you have either.”
“I do have both, the quartz will be between 1 and 10 silver depending on size and clarity, and the diamond will be around 20 gold.”
‘20 gold!’ he thought. “On second thoughts, maybe just the quartz then.” He doubted even any favour he could pull with the teeth would even come close to making that affordable.
“Alright, please wait here a moment while I get some samples” he said, as he disappeared into the building behind the stall.
A few minutes later, he returned carrying a cloth bundle, which he opened on the stall to reveal seven quartz crystals of varying sizes and clarity. James eyed up two that were similarly sized. One was almost perfectly clear, and the other had a bit of a milky colouration to it.
‘So one is more or less pure, and the other has an impurity trapped inside. Wait, isn’t the common impurity for milky quartz carbon dioxide?’ he thought to himself. ‘This could turn out to be a very good experiment.’ For a moment, he suddenly didn’t regret skipping the geology part of his lessons.
“I’ll buy these two please” James said.
“Of course, that will be five silver for the clear one and two silver for the cloudy one.”
James gave him seven silver and took his two pieces of quartz.
“Pleasure doing business” the Dryad said with a smile.
“Thank you very much” James replied. ‘I bet he’s overjoyed someone has finally bought some of his crystals. He’s probably had them for years with no luck selling them. That or I’ve overpaid for them. It’s just a shame I couldn’t get any fossils or afford any diamonds though’ he thought. ‘I’ve spent a lot of money today, I have 8 teeth, 11 silver and 270 copper left. I probably should be a little more careful.
James returned the quartz to his room with the other supplies, and decided to go for a stroll to see what was in the area. While there wasn’t too much of interest as such, he found that he really did enjoy the scenery and began to relax properly, and felt some of the tension leave his body he hadn’t realised he was holding.
‘Now this is a nice place to live, calm and peaceful, and quite cosy’ he thought. ‘Though it’s not quite my home. I haven’t really had much chance to think about home since I got here, I've been so caught up with magic. How do I get back home? Can I go back home? How did I even get here? And where even is here really? And is there a reason I’m here?’
The more he thought, the more he realised, he really didn’t have any good answers. He kept wandering around pondering what he should do. It was a nice place, and he was fairly sure he could settle here if he tried, but he wanted to go home, where he belonged, where everything was familiar. But he just didn’t know how.
‘Once I’m a bit more familiar with this place, I’m going to go searching for answers’ he decided.
He headed back to the Traveller’s Grove, had a meal, checked his supplies and retired for the night.
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 5 submitted by
The service hatch opened to B4 – Manor. We arrived to find a tiny corridor containing electrical wires and a series of unmarked doors.
“Which one do you think leads to B5?” Joe asked.
I shrugged. Nicole picked one randomly, and we gathered around it with our weapons raised. Joe turned the handle and shoved it open.
Five uniformed men turned to face us with dumbfounded expressions. All had holstered weapons. We’d stumbled upon a security station.
“Wait -” I said. But it was too late. The men reached for their guns.
In the cacophony that followed, Nicole shot three of them dead. I got off one round with my pistol before Joe charged into my line of fire. He swung his fire ax deep into one of the men’s heads, pulled it out, and then used it to finish off the guard I’d wounded.
“Holy hell,” I said, looking over the carnage we’d created. Blood covered the walls and the screens of security monitors.
“Don’t act so shocked, Robyn,” said Nicole. “We saw what you did to the hunter upstairs. Now hand me your weapon.” She proceeded to fully load it using ammo she scavenged from the fallen guards and handed it back to me. Joe dropped his ax in favor of one of their firearms.
I looked over the feed on the monitors, which appeared to cover most of B4, though not the service corridor through which we had entered the room. The floor consisted primarily of large, well-furnished wooden walls lined by paintings – several of which portrayed my father posing like royalty. Multiple rooms housed densely-shelved collections of books. Men and women read from them, wrote, and appeared engaged in debate. The bedrooms for the residents here would have fit in in luxury hotels. Hello Robyn,
said the voice of my father’s primary clone over the intercom. You would do well to treat a city named after your own family with a bit more respect.
I rolled me eyes.
No one in the video feed reacted, indicating that his voice projected only into the security station rather than the entire floor.
“Fuck off, dad,” I said. “I know what you did to our mother. You, and every one of the other stupid clones of you, are absolute fucking monsters.” Do you feel that way about your brother, too?
my dad responded. He is so similar to me, after all. He will be me soon, too.
“Mason isn’t like you,” I said. “He’ll never be like you.” You sound awfully sure of yourself, sweetie. We’ll just have to see about that. Assuming you even make it to him.
“I’m feeling confident about our chances,” I said, looking over the blood-soaked room.
“Your little security station wasn’t much of an obstacle,” said Nicole. My security personnel have had an unfortunately high mortality rate recently,
conceded my dad’s clone. Though I do appreciate you exposing the hole in their monitoring system regarding the service access corridor. I'll have a camera added there before sending in a replacement team.
“Who are these guys living and working here anyway?” asked Joe. A combination of the willing and the unwilling,
said my father. I offered stock options to those who would agree to undergo a long-term test of this facility. Others volunteered out of interest alone. Others…were volunteered by me. I need to make sure this place is running as smoothly as possible when catastrophe falls. The only way to achieve that is with thorough testing.
“What’s the point of this floor?” I asked. “It looks like a bunch of people reading and writing. Let me guess: they’re looking into eugenics, or witchcraft.” The manor houses the future intellectual elite,
said my dad’s voice. It is a place for conducting research and cherishing the finest works of literature. But, my test run has not gone as smoothly as I’d hoped. I started with a broad group of thinkers – all people who supported the concept of a self-sustaining city, but with different ideas about how to achieve that. I thought there’d be strength in this measured diversity of thought, but I was wrong. You’d be amazed just how quickly people’s ideologies can change. They began to demand that I implement better conditions for the laborers – back when the laborers were humans. They even encouraged the workers to organize. I can’t have that down here, now can I? So,
continued my dad, one by one, I had the so-called intellectuals sent down to B5 for doctor’s appointments. When they came back, their minds were…a bit more in-line with a superior set of ideals. They began to make progress again. If only I had invented the procedure years earlier, I could have similarly altered your mother’s psyche. She could have been of use, and I wouldn’t have needed to discard her.
I asked Joe for his ax and proceeded to strike the intercom speaker with it. *Now now, Robyn, don’t lose your temp-” The speaker sputtered and fell to the floor. The voice of my father’s primary clone cut out. “I’ve had enough of this shit,” I said.
A knock sounded on the door – not the one we’d entered, but one that seemed like a main entrance. I checked the monitor. A chubby, formally-dressed woman in a jacket and dress pants waited at the door. She looked unimposing, but we still had our guns drawn when we opened up.
“Wh-who are you? What are you doing here?” she stuttered.
“You tell us first,” said Nicole.
The woman gave her name as Georgia and explained she was waiting for a security escort to take her down to B5, citing that B4 had lost communications with it.
“How about you lead us there,” said Joe, “And we don’t kill you in return?”
She nodded anxiously.
Joe walked directly behind her, keeping his gun wedged into her back as we went. Nicole and I selected the jackets the guards had been wearing that had the fewest holes and bloodstains and partially covered our weapons with them as Georgia navigated through B4.
The denizens of the floor largely ignored us, rarely giving us more than a glance as they continued with their studies. There was something about their total focus on their work and the forceful way they carried themselves that resonated with me as familiar.
Finally, we stuffed into a small room that contained a hatch that led down to B5. “Will you let me go now like you said?” pleaded Georgia. She shook nervously, and I felt momentary sympathy for her. Could she be someone ‘volunteered’ by my father to live here?
“I’ll go down and make sure it works,” said Joe. “If it does, we’ll leave you tied up here.”
“You’ll need my keycard to access B5,” said Georgia. “Can I reach for it without one of you shooting me?”
“Don’t bother,” I said, tossing my card to Joe.
I continued to watch our prisoner as Joe descended. This lady seemed harmless, but I kept my gun on her all the same. Nicole threw off her jacket now that we were out of sight of the others and got down on her knees to view Joe’s progress.
“Is it really necessary to point that thing at me?” asked Georgia. “I’ve been a prisoner here for so long. All I want to do is leave. I can tell that’s what you want, too.”
“After what we’ve been through today, we’re not taking chances,” I said. “Don’t worry. This will all be over soon.”
“I can tell you’ve been through hell,” said Georgia. “If I were in your place, I’m sure I’d act the same way.” She took a seat against the wall.
“It works!” called Joe. “But something’s terribly wrong here.”
“What is it?” asked Nicole, peaking her head into the shaft to get a better look.
“Oh god!” cried Joe. “The Chindra, they’ve-” He screamed horribly.
“Joe!” I called, to no response. “We have to get down to him.”
Nicole nodded and got to her feet, only to immediately shriek in pain.
My concern for Joe had caused me to let my guard down. Georgia had used this moment to pull two syringes of yellow liquid out of her jacket and jam them into Nicole’s exposed shoulder blades. Nicole stumbled and collapsed against the wall.
Georgia dropped the syringes and drew a long knife. I leapt to the side, narrowly avoiding her as she charged at me with it. She grabbed at my gun, and my attempts to pull it back from her resulted in it falling out of my hand and down the open shaft to B5.
The situation had changed dramatically. Only a moment ago, my two friends had provided me some level of protection. Now, I was unarmed and fighting for survival, and I could only hope Joe and Nicole were still alive.
“How many people is it now who have died or who are about to die because of you?” said Georgia, holding the knife out in front of her. “Your dad was right about you. Your problem is that you’re always several steps behind those who are more intelligent. I figured Joe would meet with trouble down there. Three of the independent Chindras are on the loose wreaking havoc on B5 as we speak. There’s be a team of hunters down there to stop them, but you and your friends took that option off the table. It’ll take weeks before we can clone a new team.”
I realized where I’d already seen the mannerisms of the ‘intellectuals’ on B4. Of course, my dad wasn’t going to allow ‘intellectuals’ to work independently; to him, the only acceptable outcome is for everyone on this floor to think the same way that he thinks.
“Yes, you’re starting to understand,” said Georgia, reading my face. She cackled. “I find it so amusing, seeing you work things out when it’s already too late. We used our studies of the Chindra hivemind to make a few neurological alterations to me and the others living here. To get them to think similarly; to follow the path your father laid out for them and build upon his work. My thoughts used to be blurry; now I see the way forward with immense clarity.”
“What did you do to Nicole?” I asked.
“When I heard the commotion in the security station, I nabbed the closest weapons I could find that I could keep hidden on me,” said Georgia. “This knife, and two sedatives. One is enough to knock a grown man unconscious. Two? Probably deadly without medical treatment. But who knows. Different people react in different ways. Maybe your friend will live through the day. Or maybe she’s already dead.”
“I think not,” said Nicole. She shoved Georgia forward, causing Georgia to stumble into the shaft. Georgia’s head slammed violently into several steps of the ladder as she toppled to the floor.
Nicole coughed and vomited. I yanked the syringes out of her back. They were empty; Georgia had injected their entire contents into Nicole.
“Can you make it down the ladder?” I asked. It pained me to see the strongest of us so miserable and sickly.
She nodded. “I don’t know how much longer I can keep going. But we have to get Isha.”
I helped her through the painful process of descending down the ladder. We left her shotgun behind and proceeded with only my pistol, which I retrieved from the floor and stuck into my backpack.
Nicole wrapped her arm around my shoulder as we slowly hobbled through the entrance to B5.
“No,” sighed Nicole. “No no no.” Joe’s corpse lay on the floor in tatters as one of the Chindra ate from it. Its circular form rotated as each of its heads alternated taking bites from his flesh.
“Fuckin kill it,” muttered Nicole. It stopped chewing, took a look at us, and ran away before I could fish out my firearm. As it fled, it camouflaged and disappeared into the corridor ahead of us. “Help me go after it!” said Nicole.
“No, we have to focus on our goal,” I said. “Which isn’t revenge, but getting out of here with Isha and Mason as quickly as possible. If we do that, there’s a chance we can get to a hospital and save you.”
Nicole reluctantly acquiesced. I picked up Mason’s access card from Joe’s backpack as we hobbled through a long corridor. The flickering lights illuminated blood spatter and human bones.
We arrived at a sign pointing to the left for ‘Medical’ and to the right for ‘Reproduction’. So that’s what it meant by “Med/Rep”.
We went to the right.
“Joe and Cheyenne…” mumbled Nicole. Her balance became increasingly worse as the sedative in her took on greater effect. It became exhausting to help her walk, but I refused to leave her behind. “What the fuck went wrong with your father? How could he do this to us?”
“I remember when mom died,” I said. “I was in the hospital waiting room with dad and Mason several hours north of town, near where she’d been hurt – near here, in fact. I think Mason was six then. When the doctor told us there was nothing they could do, Dad gave Mason a few words of sympathy and ran off for a business call. Mason asked me all sorts of questions about life and death and it took all my strength to stop myself from crying as I answered them. I was eleven, and I had to take on a parent’s responsibilities. After a while, I took Mason by the hand and led him outside to a little ice cream store down the street. That cheered him up a bit. When we got back to the hospital, dad had already gone home. He’d forgotten about the two of us completely.”
“Fucking hell,” said Nicole.
“Yeah,” I said. “He’s always been a complete sociopath. I think he thinks that he loves Mason. But I know that he really doesn’t.”
“He only loves this place, and that’s because it’s built in his own image,” said Nicole. “You and me had our own fantasy land once, remember? Our own headquarters to preside over? But we let it go and grew up.”
“‘Grew up’ is putting it generously,” I said.
“But still,” said Nicole. “It’s an odd thing to say, given the horrors we’ve witnessed, but there’s also something so childish about all this. Of course this place was never going to work, no matter how many equations your dad produced showing the opposite.”
I didn’t respond. Nicole needed to apply all her energy just to keep walking with my support.
We arrived at the door marked “Reproduction”. The room inside was humid and filled with steam emitted by a collapsed pipe. I realized we were standing in a scanning station like the one that had killed Cheyenne, but it had been torn apart such that many of the electronic components were out-of-place and shined their red beams onto the ceiling or the upper walls.
A distorted recording of my dad’s voice played on a damaged speaker system. It slowed and deepened his normally-smooth voice. The sound cut off irregularly. Wel-Wel-Welcome to a lifetime of purpose and contribution. If you are hearing this, our scans have found you healthy and your ----- fertile, which makes you an ideal candidate for ------------- controlled procreation. Your participation is mandatory. But, do not worry. Our medical staff -------------- happily sedated throughout the process, and, upon successful childbirth, you will ---------------- two hours of freedom in the arboretum on B1, redeemable at any time approved by your doctor.
Nicole reached her hand into my backpack and withdrew something heavy from it. Several options ---------------- impregnation are available. Our medical staff will happily discuss each of them with you. When you cease ----------------- contribute to the continuation of our people, you will also be able to choose between ------------------ efficient methods of liquidation. Now, relax, and-
Sparks flew off the wall as Nicole emptied my firearm into several speakers and an audio control system. She succeeded in cutting off the recording.
“Nicole, that was all the ammo we had!” I stammered.
She nodded vacantly, looking even sicker than before. She was barely conscious. “I’m sorry. I’m not thinking straight. Please, help me find Isha.”
We marched onwards even as flickering lights and the heavy mist obscured our vision. I heard something quietly moving out of our sight, likely Chindra attuned to our presence by the sound of the gunfire, as I guided Nicole over small piles of human bones and tattered clothing.
We reached a concrete wall that attached to a mounted fire extinguisher. It also contained a sign with arrows pointing in different directions to “Ladder to B6” and “Patients”. I directed Nicole to lean against it so that I could rest my aching shoulder. She slid to the ground and lay crouched against the wall.
As I recovered, a slithering sound rapidly approached us. I tore the fire extinguisher from the wall. All at once, a Chindra, its outer layer a misty gray, leapt out of the fog.
I swung the heavy extinguisher with all my might, making direct contact and sending it back into the mist. I heard it retreating, but felt little relief. It would be back.
I pulled Nicole up and hurriedly led her in the direction of “Patients”. We arrived at a series of glass rooms. Most contained a vacant hospital bed and medical equipment. The blood and guts of nurses and patients torn apart by the rogue Chindra dripped from the walls and ceiling of several of the rooms.
Finally, we arrived at one that, unlike the others, was sealed shut. A doctor watched us from inside. In the bed behind her was Isha, who was attached to an IV. She was dressed in a hospital gown and appeared semi-conscious.
“Don’t open the door!” said the doctor. “We’re only alive because those things can’t get through the reinforced glass. Who the hell are you? Are you the hunters sent to fight them?” She looked skeptically over our miserable selves.
I needed to act. I let Nicole down against the wall and removed her knife from her backpack. Ignoring the doctor’s pleadings, I hit a button that caused the glass door to slide open.
“What are you doing, you idiot?” said the doctor. “You’re going to get me and the patient killed!”
I charged and held the knife against the doctor’s throat. “Has the operation begun on her?” I said. “Answer me, or I’ll fucking kill you.”
Isha looked at me blankly through half open eyes. She started to make a half-smile, like she recognized me. Her arm wound was thoroughly bandaged.
“No, it hasn’t,” said the doctor, glancing down at my blade. I realized that if I’d made the same threat before arriving at Abernathy City, my target wouldn’t have believed that I’d go through with it. But, now, this doctor correctly realized that I’d slice into her neck without hesitation if she didn’t tell me what I wanted to know. I’d enjoy doing it, too, given what this doctor did here. “She was scheduled for artificial insemination later today. You should be grateful. We have treated her arm wound. It’s practically as good as new.”
“We’re taking her away,” I said. “Get her up and off whatever you’ve got running through her. And hurry.”
I maintained watch as the doctor slowly removed the IV from Isha and helped her to her feet. I needed to do a better job than I had with Georgia.
Isha staggered forward with the doctor’s help. Her composure started to return. She curiously felt her hospital gown and grew anxious as she soaked in her surroundings. “Robyn? You came for me.” She identified Nicole’s collapsed form through the glass and stumbled out to her.
Nicole remained conscious, but only barely. Isha cradled Nicole’s head and gripped her hand as they whispered to each other. As they reunited, I had the doctor stuff Isha’s clothes and other belongings from a drawer where they’d been left into my backpack.
I quickly explained to Isha what she’d missed, as well as how quickly we needed to move if we wanted to have any chance at saving Nicole’s life. “You,” I said to the doctor. “Can you, or the doctors in the medical wing, do anything to help Nicole?”
But it was too late. While I was talking with Isha, the doctor had snuck into one of the other
glass rooms we’d passed that still had an open door. She promptly sealed it shut. I frantically hit at the outer button to open it but, unlike before, the door remained closed.
“Before entering, I turned off the outside controls,” she said. “You can override it, if you can guess the twelve-digit passcode. I’m staying here until this is over. And, to answer your questions, I could have helped her. In fact, I may have been her only chance; the rogue Chindra have likely annihilated the rest of the medical staff.”
I noticed that, contrary to my expectations, Isha had a vengeful smile. I looked inside the glass chamber and realized why. On the wall behind the doctor, the camouflage of a hidden Chindra started to change colors into its natural shade.
Isha and I held Nicole between us as we exited the hallway of horrors while the doctor’s screams echoed behind us.
We followed the sign to the hatch to B6, which I used Mason’s card to open. Nicole had passed out by this point, though she was still breathing and maintained a steady pulse. “We’ll have to carry her down,” I told Isha. “I’ll go first, and you can lower her to me.” When I was halfway down, Isha frantically called for the knife, which I tossed up to her.
When I climbed back up, I found Isha stabbing maniacally at one of the Chindra. It bled all over the floor as it tried to crawl away. Isha pulled it back and continued her onslaught until it stopped moving. From the dent in its side, I figured it was the same one I had injured with the extinguisher.
“It tried to pull away Nicole,” said Isha, wiping away the creature’s blood from her face.
We felt incredible relief when the door to B5 sealed shut above us; the Chindra didn’t seem to have made it down to B6. My iPad buzzed, and I quickly typed up this last summary in a tiny room that connects with the hatch while Isha changed back into her clothes.
I explained to Isha an idea I’d had: we could find one of my dad’s clone’s bodies on B3, cut off its hand, and use it to open the hatch to escape. That way, we could at least bring Nicole to a hospital.
But Isha wasn’t interested in leaving without Mason after I fought so hard to get to her. “Even if I was willing to do that,” she said, “we’d have to carry Nicole so far, and survive so many obstacles. Our best bet is to get to Mason and take the elevator back up.” I was relieved at her decision. I want my brother back more than anything.
This may be the final occasion that I write up one of these summaries. Have you been bluffing about the air system all along, dad's 'primary' clone? You don’t seem to actually have much control over this facility. But, still, I’ll indulge you this one last time. I have no doubt that our next exchange will be in person
The math underlying odds and gambling can help determine whether a wager is worth pursuing. The first thing to understand is that there are three distinct types of odds: factional, decimal, and ... Vegas Odds And Betting Lines For The 2020 Presidential Election. After a previous unprecedented election cycle that included one of the most jaw-dropping Presidential campaign seasons in history and that has unilaterally redefined politics in America, it would take a lot to shock us at this point. Odds Shark began tracking 2020 presidential betting odds when they first opened last summer and explained how to bet on politics during this election cycle and several before it. Way back on July 11, 2019, President Donald Trump was the favorite to win, while Democratic Senator Kamala Harris enjoyed the second-best odds. Donald Trump Odds to Win 2016 Presidency. When Donald Trump declared for President, he was priced at 500/1, or +50000 on betting sites. This means that the implied odds gave Trump a 0.2% chance of winning the presidency. So, if you saw Donald Trump listed as 500/1, a moneyline wager of $1 winning would return $500. Betting odds, tips, free bets and offers for all sports and entertainment events - check, bet and win with whq.ag, the home of online betting Live odds and sports betting lines with point spreads and totals. Sports betting odds including NFL, NBA and NCAA college basketball, MLB and CFL
Your trusted source for sports odds, picks, news and betting info. All the top editorial content, and up to date trends in one place. If you're betting on sports, you'll need to know about the odds and lines. Part of that is understanding that the odds and betting lines can shift, sometimes... In this video I do my best to quickly explain how American style betting odds work. In the video I give an example using both negative odds (-110) and positive odds (+150) to show you the difference. The key is with the sign in front of the numbers. The negative sign shows you that the odds are showing you how much you need to risk in order to ... On October 31st WWE brings us Crown Jewel and we have the early betting odds via Sky Bet Support PWUnlimited by becoming a Member to get exclusive content, special badges and use of special emojis ... In this video from the "How to Bet" series, Greg Blanchard, track announcer for the Raceway at Western Fair District will help you understand what the odds mean at a Racetrack and what your $2 bet ...