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The general approached Gabriel Alchemilia's door. He was an astute, stern man. Having served in the military for many years, he knew several things about how to run an effective operation. He knocked on the door after removing his hat. "Doctor Alchemilia?"
Gabriel stood in his office, his arms folded as he watched his shark swim in its tank. "Come in, general, the door's unlocked."
The man entered the office and shut the door. The sight of the room was a bit unsettling. The office was now a barren place, only Gabriel and his shark's tank left standing. The move to Remnant Rock was almost complete and this made the general's task even more urgent.
The general began to speak quickly. "Thank you for allowing me in. Listen, I've read the briefings — I believe we need to rescind all of our operations in Silivia immediately and leave the android alone."
Gabriel slowly turned around, stopping once he was facing the general and staring him directly in the eyes. "Why?"
"This is madness. You're piling in resource after resource just to retrieve a single android. To make matters worse, I have received reports that Director Rousseau has long abandoned his plans for the android and is now chasing down the fugitives you met yesterday. This would be fine — if Rousseau actually considered using his bullets. This entire thing is, simply, an embarrassment."
Gabriel stared at the general with an intense glare. This was a show of power, and Alchemilia would not let himself lose. "Then kill him." He spoke, disinterestedly. "I'll have Fontaine take care of Baptiste after he takes Wellington back where he belongs."
"I..." The general was a careful talker, able to persuade people with his words — but this time, it was different. He nodded and began to approach the door. "Thank you for the information, Doctor Alchemilia."
"Do not leave yet." Gabriel raised his voice, maintaining a calm tone.
"General, haven't you wondered why I do what I do, despite being easily able to retire? I could live out the rest of the world's lifespan completely comfortably. I can crush anyone under my metaphorical boot, but I don't. I do what I do, General, because I am the only man who can do it. There are those who are 'strong,' and those who are 'weak,' but strength only belongs to who is more ambitious. Those who are strong are those who create the justice that the world follows. I must maintain my strength, and keep justice in this world. It is through I, uncorrupted as I keep myself, that we will maintain order. Peace on Euclid can only come by my hand."
The general listened closely, hesitating and unsure of how to proceed from here.
Gabriel looked the man in the eyes, yet again. "My ambition, dear general, will not be challenged by your dissent."
The rain continued to pour down heavily. Fontaine stared Chris down, the red glass over his eye reflecting the rays of the setting sun as raindrops glistened on his coat. His dark skin was visible only on his scarred hands, which tightly gripped a pistol in each. He stood straight, preparing to take a shot at Chris, his right arm outstretched and his finger on the trigger. A drop of sweat fell down his face under the hot mask.
Knowing that he was being followed now, Chris was desperately waiting for entry to the house ahead of him. Unfortunately, there didn't seem to be anyone inside. He wiggled the doorknob frantically, with a nagging feeling that he was being watched. The android looked around, attempting to spot an assailant anywhere. For a second his eyes met with Fontaine's, and that silent second seemed to last an eternity. Like a western showdown, only one of them would leave. The ensuing gunfire was almost less intense than the moment they saw each other, as Fontaine fired wildly and Chris lept behind cover.
Fontaine found himself unsure if he had hit Chris in the confusion, as his scanner could not identify life in androids. He advanced, crouching and holding his unfired gun in his left hand, ready for confrontation. The dirt beneath his boot squished, wet from the rain, and muffled his footsteps. He hadn't seen where Chris had hidden. Was he behind the house, the garbage can nearby, or perhaps he had found some other escape? Fontaine continued on.
Chris clutched a piece of broken glass like a knife, shadowed by the cover he was behind and full of fear. Fontaine was approaching the empty house now, and he was sure to take notice of the windows he'd shot. At any moment, he would realize Chris had jumped into the building. Chris had seen the trajectory of the bullets, though he already knew where Fontaine was coming from, so that was irrelevant. It was nearly night, and a rainy one at that. Chris needed to avoid being outdoors at all costs, or else the results could be catastrophic.
Fontaine knew this much, and knew that the android was not at all waterproof. He was an ancient, rudimentary mockery of Alchemilla's designs, after all. The Alchemilia operative had reached the porch, and was currently scanning the surroundings for movement.
Chris was recovering from the rain, regaining his composure. The glass cut into his skin, revealing the mess of circuitry beneath. The circuitry! He thought to himself. That's it, I'm not just a human! Chris had previously worried about winning this fight, limited like a human. But he was, in fact, more than a human. Recalling the trajectory of the bullets, he swiftly used his mechanical limb to throw the glass much harder than any human could in the same direction.
Fontaine, who had moved in a straight line, was quickly struck by the shard of glass. He had worn no protection, knowing it would restrict his movement, so it quickly pierced the glass eyepiece of his mask. It shattered as the glass pushed through into his eye, accompanied with an agonized grunt through clenched teeth. Chris was now standing in front of the window, and Fontaine had dropped his pistols in his pained state. Swiftly, Fontaine pulled two long knives from his boots and lept at the android, whose only defense was to flee. A knife made contact, however, and tore the skin off of Chris' arm.
Chris kicked Fontaine as the inner wiring of his arm was revealed. Fontaine could barely see, his only visible eye being injured, so he tore the black facemask off. Normally he was composed, though his dark face was twisted in rage and pain. He threw one of the knives at Chris, knocking him through another window in the house and back into the rain.
If it weren't for Chris' robotic state, the knife would have killed him, but he was still alive. He pulled it out and held it like a sword, grabbing the lid of the garbage can next to the house like a shield. He looked down at the knife, noticing blood decorating the fine silver. Unbeknownst to him, this blood was that of his accomplice Savannah.
Fontaine rose in front of the window, staring Chris down and breathing heavily. He had grabbed one of his guns from the ground and fired at Chris again. The shot missed, as Fontaine only had one eye to work with, so he needed to improvise. He gripped the back of a chair beside him with one hand, throwing it at the android to knock him off-balance. Once the garbage can-shield was knocked aside, Fontaine jumped out and delivered a kick to Chris' chest. He held Chris' head down in a puddle, as the two were collapsed on the ground.
Chris had to act fast before he was entirely destroyed. Small electric shocks coursed through the water as Chris began to scream. He wasn't proficient with the knife, but he was still holding his shield. The water was making him malfunction, though; he could barely think. Fontaine was bleeding. Bright red. Target. Bullseye.
Without much thought as to what he was doing, he threw the shield like a discus. It made contact with Fontaine's face, knocking a few teeth loose and making the man crumple to the ground, unconscious. Chris fled, still malfunctioning in the rain, and disappeared into the night.
"The Alchemilia announcement?" Steven began. "What are you talking about? What network problems are we having?"
The girl, Beth as Steven had called her, laughed softly. "Well, I guess you've been busy with...whatever is going on here. But earlier, Alchemilia broadcasted that they were searching for someone. It went to everyone's phones and computers. Things are just going a bit slow since it finished, so I thought you could help."
"Wait, what?" Melissa asked, suddenly alert and looking at the two. "Why are they here? Did they say who they were searching for?"
Steven glanced at his sister, a puzzled look taking over his face. "Thanks, Beth. I'll help soon, just let finish up here."
"When is Alchem not here?" Beth answered, smirking at the question. "But this time, they're looking for someone named 'Chris Wellington'. They're offering some reward for his capture."
With that, the girl turned around and returned to her work on the other side of the room.
Without a word, Melissa got up from her seat and began to walk towards the entrance of the building, intent on her new mission.
"Melissa!" Steven yelled out, standing up and following after his sister. Catching up to her, he stepped in front of Melissa and quickly put his hands on her shoulders. "I don't know exactly what's going on, but something's up. Your tone, your face — listen, I'm pretty sure you know Chris, but you can't go; I'm telling you, you can't!" he exclaimed.
Melissa pushed her brother's hands off of her shoulders, making him step back. "I didn't ask you. Yes, I know Chris, he's one of my friends from the barn and you can't stop me from going out there."
"You're being irrational," Steven told her. Stepping forward, he once again grabbed Melissa with a tight grip. Others looked in shock at the confrontation.
"You don't know what I do! You don't know the things I know about Alchem, the experiences I had with them. I got separated from Chris before due to them, I can't let them take him away again."
"Enough! Listen, yes, you care about your friends, but you just came back here! You'd be dumb to even think about leaving again with whatever plan you have now. I've known you your whole life, and I will not stand as — " The man lessened his grip slightly, his voice beginning to shake. His eyes watered slightly.
"I will not stand as you go out there, get in the middle of this, and possibly kill yourself."
Melissa stared directly at her brother as he began to fall apart. What once began as a great scolding and an affirmation of Steven's role as her protector, now became a pitiful display of tears and regret. She could see that he cared about her, but she also knew she had her own goals and objectives. Her friends were in danger. The only people she knew anymore were in danger, and to her, it was her duty to save them.
She pulled away from Steven once more, but with no great speech to shout. Steven could only provide a muffled and weak "sorry." She shook her head and slowly walked to the door.
Melissa spoke nervously in the tension-filled room. She crafted her words carefully, attempting to remain calm in the face of her future endeavor.
"I'm going now. I'll see you all in a bit."
She ran out the door, leaving her sibling behind. Her head held high, she set out, her boat against the current.
As she ran through the streets aimlessly, she did not know what to feel. She had an air of confidence and determination as she planned to find her friends. In this, was mixed with sprinkles of nervousness; as she wondered how she would confront Alchemilia Corporation. Surrounding these, was a pinch of sadness for her brother. She did not feel any connection with him anymore, she didn't know him anymore, yet to him, she was still his sister that he cared for deeply and protected.
Breathing heavily, Atticus ran down the street, pushing into people and skidding on the slippery road a few times. Behind him, he could hear Marshall running to keep up with his pace and the shouts of various Alchem aggressors. Eventually seeing a road leading behind a series of shops, Atticus took a sharp turn towards it and shouted for Marshall to follow.
Pedestrians watched in shock as the chase continued. Panicking, some screamed, and others ran away from the guards, too. They noticed the attempted diversion of the two boys, and Alchem kept in close pursuit.
Marshall started to sprint faster than Atticus. He yelled to Atticus and pointed to a pet store. "In here!"
It had been a quiet day at Harlan's Pet Store so far and Lalisa was sitting behind her counter, having checked on all the animals and locked most of the backroom doors. She was preparing to close the store down for the day when she stopped to look at the small TV located at her desk. The local news station was continuing to broadcast some story about Alchemilia Corporation and their search for an android, something that utterly bored Lalisa. Sighing, she turned off the TV and turned to place the shop keys on the wall behind her when she heard a jingle as the front door of the store opened. "We're closed, you can just leave now," she called out.
Hearing the jingle again, she turned around to see two teenage boys running from the entrance with frantic looks on their faces. "Hey, uh, what are you two doing?!" She called out. They ignored her call and the shortest of the pair, pale and with dark black hair, yelled out to head to the back of the store.
"Hey, wait up! You can't go back there!!"
Suddenly, the glass doors of the entrance shattered to the ground and caused the shorter boy to trip and land against a large cage of birds, crashing it to the ground and sending the occupants flying around in a terror. Quickly shooting around to look at the entrance, Lalisa noticed a group of nine men wearing metallic red and green suits, all armed with guns and pointing them directly at the two boys. The room was filled with the sounds of dogs barking and birds squawking.
"That certainly was a good jog, wasn't it? We really got the blood rushing."
Baptiste was panting, but a smile was on his face. After many minutes of soaring through wet streets, the game was completed. With the eight crew members pointing their rifles at the two boys, two guards began to approach them. "It's over. Come with us, I'm sure Doctor Alchemilia has something nice prepared for you."
"Get up, Marshall!" Atticus yelled, glancing down at him. The sound of dogs barking filled the air as the Alchem guards pointed their weapons at the two boys.
Lalisa, seeing the conflict, walked from behind her counter and walked right up to the leader of the Alchem guards and stopped furiously. "No! We are not doing this here. Not at all. My family did not work hard building this place so you guys can play some screwed up game here and mess everything up! Get out! All of you!!"
Lalisa's words were met by Baptiste tossing her aside with a punch to the face. The girl quickly fell to the floor, Baptiste looking at her. "None of that. Be lucky — someone else might've killed you."
The two guards were amused at the commotion, but they were now behind the two boys, preparing to restrain them in handcuffs.
Marshall crawled pitifully on the floor, drenched in rainwater and mud. The two boys were appalled at the treatment of the shopkeeper, but they could do nothing. Atticus desperately looked at the guards, then to the window. He looked at the woman writhing in pain, then to Marshall. He looked at the ruined store, hearing the sounds of skittish animals. He looked to the glass, the guards, then stared at his companion one last time—and sighed greatly.
His head held down low, he placed his hands in the air. Marshall was shocked, and could only remain on the ground in shame. The Alchemilia guards placed handcuffs on them both, walking them out of the store.
"Sorry, you two," Baptiste told them. "That's just how it is." As Atticus was walked into the rain, he hit himself mentally, wondering how exactly he arrived at this point.
Baptiste looked at Lalisa, who was still on the floor crying. "Get yourself an ambulance if you need it." He turned his head and walked outside into the rain.
The clouds parted. Blinding light shone through and pierced through armor. It all was a blur, it all seemed so strange, but Atticus could barely make anything out before his skull made contact with the pavement.
|Season One:||Awakening • White Room • Bare Trees • One Night in Gladea • Ceasefire • Hide & Seek • Exit Music • Reunion • In Somnis Veritas • Carpe Diem • Primo Victoria • Don't Fear the Reaper|
|Season Two:||Crumbling Castle • Roaming King • Safe Haven • Marked Map • The Less I Know the Better • Riding the Wave • Centuries of Damnation • House of the Rising Sun • The Master • Everybody Plays the Fool • Loyalty|