Rachel Ariel stood in the Laboratory of the Mind's lounge with Matthew Rockwell. Rachel worked overnight, not having that many people to accompany her. Rockwell arrived some minutes ago, preparing for his shift.
"Brownlee allowed some new people and an inexperienced assistant to share a dream?" Rockwell asked.
Rachel thought of the entourage brought in by Samuel the previous night. "They persisted, apparently," she explained. "Originally, he was just bringing them here so they could sleep, but I guess the girl persuaded him."
"Yea," Rachel responded, "Hopefully they're fine."
Rachel's mind drifted off, reflecting on the occurrences of the night before. Blossom Cane, an assistant at the laboratory, was very oddly overjoyed by a boy brought in by Samuel. Rachel wondered if Brownlee allowed Blossom and the boy to share a dream.
"Before you go," Rachel asked as Rockwell was preparing to leave. "Did you see the big guy that just came?"
"Um, John Fontaine? That's what he introduced himself as. He was pretty creepy, wore a mask. I wasn't planning on letting him in, but he seemed to know about those people."
"Ah, okay," Rachel nodded, "Bye, Matthew. I'll be downstairs for a few more hours."
"Alright," Matthew bid his farewell to the woman and left the room.
Marshall Rooke and Wen Li
Li and Marshall exited the truck and took the plants with them. They made their way to the door, noticing the white Malura bushes and cobblestone path surrounding the building in front of them. Marshall tried opening the door, but it wouldn't budge. He then set his plants down and aggressively yanked on the doorknob. Nothing. He then pushed himself up the door, knocking himself backward in the process. Marshall grunted. Li walked over to the door and pressed the doorbell.
Surprised at a visitor this early, Matthew Rockwell approached the front door. He prepared himself to give a generic welcoming to whoever was at the door, before noticing a figure behind the glass. Opening the door, the assistant welcomed in Marshall Rooke. "Welcome back, Mr. Rooke and..?" Matthew began, noticing the old man beside Marshall.
"Oh, I am Wen Li, Mr. Rooke's guest." Marshall ignored Matthew, entering the laboratory and placing down plants on a nearby table.
Li also entered, motioning Marshall to the side to get out of the assistant's way. "Mr. Li, nice to meet you," Rockwell said, shaking the old man's hand. He kept his conversation with Marshall and Li short, observing what Marshall placed on the table. "Nice plants. Your friends should be waking up now, if you want to see them."
The protagonists and John Fontaine
Chris sat up in the bed and finally let go of Melissa's hand. He was greatly surprised to see the entire world intact, after such a frightening experience. Memories of the ominous encounter with Savannah, the fake Gabriel Alchemilia, and even the melting car made it hard to get out of the bed. He glanced over at the others, who seemed to be regaining consciousness.
Blossom rubbed her eyes, still shaken up about the contents of her dream. All she could remember was Atticus placing the blade against her throat and slicing it, leaving her to die. Through her thoughts of this, she barely noticed the footsteps until Chris' gaze snapped her out of her thoughts.
Melissa woke up having felt Chris slip from her grip. She slowly got up, blinking a few times to clear her foggy vision. That dream had been really strange and bothered her on a deep level. She was too focused on remembering the details of the dream to notice anyone around her.
A strange man in the room mumbled to himself, a person which no one in the room recognized. He was tall and towered above the group in an intimidating manner. He was seemingly unaware of Blossom's identity and finally spoke up, gesturing towards her.
"Who is she?" he let out, flat and serious.
The words the man uttered caused Chris to jerk around. "Who are you?" was all Chris could muster, as he stared at him.
Blossom looked up at the man, trembling a bit. For a moment, she was unsure of how to reply to the strange figure.
"Um, I'm Blossom Cane," she started. "I'm an assistant here."
Steven and Samuel took a moment to look at each other, silently attempting to figure out the identity of the man. Both of their faces were bewildered, unsure of why the man singled out Blossom. As they searched their minds, the man spoke again.
The man said six impactful words, "I know where Savannah Whitesmith is."
"You do? Where is she?" Chris spoke up, surprised and relieved. Unfortunately, the mask he was wearing stopped Chris from being able to see his facial expressions, so he could not tell if the man was lying.
"Who even are you?" Atticus said in a suddenly rushed tone, slipping off the bed he was in. Feeling uneasy and sweaty, he placed his hand against the nearby wall for support. "How do you know about us? Where is she?"
The man pulled at his mask. "Lying in some Silivian gutter. I don't know what killed her, the angels or Alchemilia, but I know the top brass ordered some soldier to take all of you in, dead or alive."
A wave of sweat appeared on those who were barely waking up. Heartbeats slightly increased. Steven let out a silent gasp, wondering if this man was telling the truth and if Savannah was really dead. Remembering her short-lived friendship with Savannah, Steven turned to Melissa.
Melissa's jaw hung agape in shock, her voice stuttering and quivering as she processed the information. She wiped tears that already began to well up away with her forearm. No words came from her.
Atticus stood in silence, processing the news — he hadn't known Savannah for long or very well, but he certainly felt a bond with the girl after she found him in the barn. The boy felt a sense of anger.
Looking around at the others and seeing their shock and solemn faces, he clenched his fists and stepped towards the masked man.
"What do you mean? How do you know this? Who the fuck even are you? How do we know you're not with Alchem?!"
"Is she really gone?" Chris asked, shocked. He couldn't believe the upsetting news that this man told them. As he thought of this revelation, he remembered his dream with the amnesiac Savannah.
"I can answer all of your questions — if you would cooperate. I'd like to deal with the Alchemilia problem just as much as the lot of you," he paused. "I know what went down a few days ago right before the angels came down, you all have my... sympathy. I can't imagine what it's like to go through all that at such a young age."
Melissa held back more tears as she looked at the man. Being in agreement with Atticus, she yelled at the man. "You're lying! Savannah isn't dead! How do we know you aren't just tricking us?!"
"If I wanted to hurt you, you'd already be dead. I've been working with Alchemilia for years — As a revolutionary. Through using this —" The man pulled a small red tablet from his overcoat. "— I was able to intercept the orders they gave to a few soldiers, to kill a few teenagers." He grunted. "Savannah Whitesmith included. Though I couldn't stop it, I did find her body. It was taken away with the rest of the angels' victims, though... I was able to get a picture." The man gripped a small photograph in his pocket.
"I don't think that's necessary," Chris said quickly before he could show them. "Evidently, if she's dead and you have a picture, that might be enough evidence."
Blossom looked around at the commotion, confused as to what was going on. "Excuse my ignorance," she whispered to Chris, "But who is Savannah?"
"Savannah was a girl who we met a few days ago," Chris replied, keeping the details short, "She was a part of our group for a few hours, but we got separated from her for various reasons We didn't see her again after that."
"If you have a picture of her body, please show it. I'd like to see actual proof, not just seemingly empty words from an Alchem operative," Atticus told the man.
Without any hesitation, the man tossed the graphic image onto the ground, fully visible.
Chris decided not to look at the image, turning his head away. Melissa froze and stared at the bloody image of Savannah. She started crying harder, feeling as if she had failed the girl by letting her leave when they first entered Silivia.
Nauseated, Blossom looked down at the image. Even though she didn't know the girl at all, the sight of gore and knowing that she was once a living person made her sick to her stomach. Staring at the image made her once again remember her painful death in her dream. In fear, she glanced over at Atticus, keeping her head low.
"So, she really is dead." Atticus said.
Stepping away from the image, he looked down at the ground, various thoughts going through his mind. He wasn't sure if he should be angry or upset. He had barely known the girl, but at the same time, she was one of the few people he had known since waking up at the barn.
"How do you even know of this? What is the purpose of even telling us? You don't know us, we have never seen you before," asked Atticus.
Just as Atticus addressed the masked man, a familiar voice could be heard as a door swung open.
"What in the hell—"
Marshall Rooke entered into the room, confused not only at the masked man but the emotions on his friends' faces, with an old man standing behind him. "What is going on here?" he asked, quietly.
Some turned to Rooke as he welcomed himself inside. Having been observing the altercation for some time, the feeble man that introduced Fontaine to Samuel decided to intervene. "Maybe you should do this another time, sir?" he said to Fontaine, hoping to ease the tension within the room.
"I already answered your questions, Atticus." The man addressed as Fontaine began to get annoyed at repeating himself. He turned to the assistant. "They'd be stupid if they didn't at least hear me out."
"Come on, they're clearly hurt. Give them time to think, then we can let you do this downstairs," replied the assistant.
"Fine, then," said Fontaine, giving in to the assistant's request. "I'll let them wake up a little, first. Maybe eat a quick lunch..." Fontaine ducked and stepped out of the door, past Marshall. The old assistant looked at those in the room, sighing. He gave them a nod. "I'll — I'll make you a meal downstairs." He exited and shut the door without anything further.
"Well—" Samuel weakly spoke, attempting to make sense of the recent occurrence. He could say nothing. The man who had announced the death of Savannah left the room as quickly as he entered, leaving the grotesque image of the girl on the white tiles.
Melissa's teary eyes were trained on the image of Savannah. She kneeled down, picking it up. Melissa could not help but blame herself. Perhaps — if she chose not to drive the car, she thought, they might not have crashed. Maybe they would never have been separated; maybe Savannah could have been okay. Melissa tried to hide the soft sobs as the thoughts crossed her mind.
"It will be okay," Chris said, as he patted Melissa's shoulder, hoping to reassure her. He then looked over towards the doorway, where Marshall was standing. "Where in the world have you been, Marshall?" he asked, curious.
"Where have I been?! What the hell just happened? Who was that guy?! Answer my questions!"
More focused on the thoughts of their dead companion, none responded to the boy's outburst.
Marshall stood, annoyed at the lack of answers. As he looked around the room, however, an answer would create itself. Some feet away from them, Marshall and the old man noticed a crumpled image. As their eyes made out what it was, Marshall chose to save his questions for another time.
Finishing changing into newly washed clothes, some began to make their way out of the room, and to the Laboratory's first floor. Some could smell a buttery bread downstairs, perhaps prepared by the assistant for them. There was nervous anticipation as to what Fontaine would say downstairs.
"Hopefully Piett prepared something good," said Samuel, as he descended down a glass staircase.
As they made their way down, Chris decided to ask some questions. "What food do you have here exactly?"
"Whatever's in the small pantry. I haven't checked in a while, so we'll see." Everyone followed Samuel as he continued to descend the stairs.
Blossom began to slowly walk out the room with the others as she felt her wrist being grasped tightly. She froze for a moment, turning around and seeing it was Atticus. She gasped and tried to pull away from him.
After pulling her back into the room, Atticus let go of the girl, taking a deep breath before speaking to her. "What is your issue? Ever since we woke up, you've been acting odd towards me. And from what I recall, our dream wasn't that unpleasant.." His voice trailed off as he thought about their shared dream more, recalling only the two of them sitting at a table for a dinner date.
"Wasn't that unpleasant?!" Blossom retorted, now frustrated with Atticus. "You murdered me! How is that not unpleasant!" She paused for a second, recollecting herself. "I'm sorry. I was just a bit shaken up after the dream."
"What the hell are you talking about? I didn't murder you, we went on a date!" Atticus stepped towards her again, before stopping himself. "Look, all I know is that we were getting along well before the dream. Now you keep acting like I'm dangerous or something. I've seen the looks you've given me."
"Sure we went on a date, if you call slicing my throat open a date!" Blossom clenched her fists. "It's not like I want to avoid you, but maybe if you had decided not to kill me, this wouldn't have happened."
"What the hell? Look, I don't want to argue with you, Blossom. I just wanted to talk things out," Atticus looked away, rubbing his temples due to a sudden headache.
"I don't want to argue either, but can you just see my point of view on things? Maybe I don't remember that part of the dream, or maybe you don't remember your part, dreams can be hard to recall sometimes." Blossom said, calming down.
With the headache increasing, Atticus turned away from the girl, clenching his fists and tuning her words out.
"Atticus," Blossom moved closer to him, "Please listen to me."
Feeling a sense of anger wash over him, Atticus snapped at her. "Just leave me alone!"
"I'm sorry," Blossom replied quietly, slowly reaching for the doorknob.
"Fucking—" Atticus reached over, grabbing Blossom and throwing her against the wall. He ignored her cry as she collided with it. "Just stop being like this! What the hell is wrong with you?"
"Atticus!" she cried. "Stop!" Blossom struggled to get herself out of Atticus' grasp.
Closing his eyes again, Atticus opened them to see Blossom standing in front of him still, having just finished her sentence about not wanting to argue.
"Er." Quickly, he walked away from her, walking out the door and rushing to catch up to the others.
"Atticus, wait!" Blossom ran up to the door, watching Atticus disappear before her. She sighed, walking out slowly and shutting the door behind her.
All arrived at the laboratory's spacious first floor. The sun shone into the building, reflecting off the clean metallic tiles. Photographs of geography decorated some of the walls, and an indoor water wall was near the glass entrance.
There was a tiny bit of surprise at the presentation before them. Piett arranged a table into a makeshift dining one, with plates of bread and a chocolate mint sauce.
"Looks nice," Samuel grabbed a chair, preparing to sit down. All eyes were on the now unmasked John Fontaine, who sat on the table's other side.
Fontaine was dressed a bit differently. He'd discarded his long coat, opting for a smaller jacket. He wore a pair of sunglasses with only one lens, and his scarred face was partially bandaged around the nose and chin. His forehead was decorated with light burn marks, and his pale eyes were bloodshot. He ignored the group of teenagers.
Melissa went and sat down at the table, her eyes down as she was lost in thought. She didn't feel like wanting to be there talking to anyone. She was no longer fearful, rather filled with frustration. She looked up at Fontaine and the others to distract herself.
With everyone sitting down at the table, Atticus was deep in thought, confused about the situation with Blossom. Why did that happen? Is there something wrong with me?
He then noticed he was sitting right next to John. Instantly recoiling at the disfigurement of the man's face, he struggled to talk. "Er.."
Chris looked over at Marshall as he sat in his seat next to the strange Halan man. "Excuse me, sir, but who are you?" Chris asked, quietly.
"Oh," the old man chuckled. "Silly me, I forgot to introduce myself. I am Wen Li, the owner of Plant Empire. And you, young man?"
Chris paused for a moment before replying. "Wellington, Chris Wellington. Nice to meet you."
"Hehe, Wellington. What a funny name. Nice to meet you too," the old man finished.
There were no words at the table for several minutes. The only sounds heard were the clanging of metal forks and the soft typing of laboratory assistants. Wellington's inquiry to Li had brought a brief life to the table, but it quickly dispersed. The only reason most were willing to sit with the man was due to the information he had on Savannah — yet he had said nothing since they got there.
"Suppose that you were sitting down at this table," Fontaine said, finally choosing to break the silence, "The napkins are in front of you, which napkin would you take? You'd normally take the one on your left, right?" he chuckled.
"No... It's determined by the one who takes the first napkin. Whichever side they choose, so must everyone follow. In society, one must make the first move. There must have been someone to first decide laws or the value of money, and everyone must have followed." He'd made his decision, and everyone was going to follow him.
"Uh.." Atticus was the first to respond to Fontaine's sudden lecture. Momentarily, everyone sitting at the table stopped eating to listen further. "But what does this have to do with anything?" Atticus continued.
Chris stared at the rambling man sitting across the table, confused and yet also seeing something in him recognizable.
Melissa looked at Fontaine and then at the others and was relieved to see she wasn't the only one confused.
Fontaine had finished his meal and began to talk again. "It would be an honor if you could join me. I assume that, in your little teenage rebellion against Alchem, you've heard of Remnant Rock?"
Staring at Fontaine as he spoke, Atticus quickly tuned his words out as he began to feel light-headed and his vision shifted. Once it had cleared. every surface in the room seemed to be replaced with a mirror-like replica. He put his hand on the table, feeling it sink through like quicksand, though he didn't seem surprised. An overall apathetic expression rested on his face as he internally screamed.
Though his head had hurt previously and he thought he may have been seeing things, this was an entirely unfamiliar and terrifying situation to be in. Atticus began blinking, attempting to clear his vision as the light was sucked out of the room like a vacuum cleaning dust. Fontaine's sunglasses shattered and the glass hung in the air as two miscolored eyes examined Atticus, unnaturally blue and yellow. Swiftly, the rest of Atticus' companions shifted into tall figures wearing dark robes.
"It would be an honor, if you could join me."
Hundreds of miles away and across the ocean, the elusive Remnant Rock jutted from the seabed like a knife.
Gabriel Alchemilia, the one man behind everything, was engaged in a meeting with various hologram images, each displaying a different chairman of the company. An IV connected to a pulsing vein within his hand as he began to sweat. Though the chairmen were all talking at the same time, making it hard to decipher individual words, Gabriel could tell just from their tones that he was being criticized and spoken down to, presumably over his disastrous decision to hunt down a certain rogue android.
"Alright, I get it!" He gritted his teeth together. "Listen, what about that operative who went missing a few days ago...? John Fontaine, I believe? What's up with the search party?" An old man who looked like a bulldog stared Gabriel down, scoffing.
"We found him in a river with a bullet between his eyes, no doubt a result of those fugitives you were after. In fact, as I was trying to say, I believe we should resume our pursuit of them." With this, the rest of the holograms erupted into arguments, and Gabriel slipped out of the room.
His IV rolled across the floor as he pushed it along the hallway, before grunting and ripping it off. Who do those bastards think they are?! I'm the one in charge here.
|Season One:||Awakening • White Room • Bare Trees • One Night in Gladea • Divided we Fall • Hide & Seek • Exit Music • Reunion • In Somnis Veritas • Carpe Diem • Ticking Clock • Primo Victoria (Part I • Part II)|
|Season Two:||Until Dawn • Roaming King • Safe Haven • Silver Lights • Marked Map • The Less I Know the Better • Riding the Wave • Centuries of Damnation • House of the Rising Sun • The Master|