A short man with slicked backed blond hair entered the shiny, steel elevator, impatiently tapping his foot after passing through the retina scanner and identification. The ride continued over multiple floors, employees entering and exiting at each stop.
Once at the top, the man left the elevator and hurried down the hallway. One side was walled; the other a balcony. He took no time stopping to look at the portraits of Alchemilia Corporation executives and decorative potted plants lining the hall, keeping to his busy schedule. Nearing the end of the hall, he entered Gabriel's office on the left. The door was open, and Gabriel was facing a large tank of water, watching his shark as he sipped an unknown green liquid from a mug.
"Hermann. You're earlier than expected. Good job. We can get to work now," he said, placing his mug on his metal desk and turned around.
"What needs to be done with this room?" Hermann asked, leaning on the dark green chair in front of Gabriel's desk.
"My bookcases, have Admirals Guillo and Landau gather up a few men and see to it that they are properly transported. There, move them into Loading Dock C and have them taken to my new office. Same as my desk and chair. Take my portrait to the main hall.. Give the guest chair to Baptiste as a gift from me. Keep the box of items here. I will personally retrieve that upon leaving. Got it?"
"Yes, however, your shark?"
"It needs to be taken to the Resolution. A shame I never had a proper aquarium installed at Remnant Rock. It'll be done eventually," he answered, wiping the condensation from his mug.
"Yes, have some of Guillo's men unscrew the roof panels and have Mr. Udin and a few other scientists remove and package my shark. I want Mr. Bowman to transport it to the Resolution quickly and smoothly. If any of this is unclear, tell me now, Alfred."
"It's all clear. I'll get the men to start at it today." Hermann straightened his posture as Gabriel grabbed his mug and walked from behind his desk and past him.
"Good. Save my shark until tomorrow." Gabriel stood in the doorway. "One more thing, Hermann. In an hour or so, Director Rousseau will inform you of our new employee. You might even get to meet him," he finished, slowly walking down the lightly-carpeted hall.
Even though he was an android, Chris Wellington was nervous. The plan had been formed, and would soon be put into action. Staring across at Dexter, still seated on the other couch, he could think of only one question now.
"But why are you helping me escape?"
Dexter smiled and leaned forward, whispering out of fear of being overheard somehow. "Why am I helping you? Several reasons for it.
"First off, Gabriel Alchemilia. The man acts like he's a gift to the world, helping cities around the globe fight off those pests. When in truth, he's nothing but a thug."
Dexter paused, letting Chris absorb his words before continuing. "He flexes his military muscle whenever he doesn't get his way until people cave to him. Likes to sweet-talk to people as well, went on and on about how I was such a great scientist and how I would be a great asset to his team. He was only interested in my work due to my last name. Nothing would bring me more joy than to see one of his plans backfire on him."
Chris nodded. "I see, I understand. Gabriel was so nice to my friends and I when we first met him. But then he had me locked me up here when I didn't want to join his conquest."
"That's exactly what the bastard does," Dexter replied. "Now, I'm not an emotional or easily moved man, but I feel compelled to help you personally. You see, you and I? We're all that's left of the Wellingtons. You're the closest thing to family I have."
"I am?" Not used to interactions with humans or understanding their feelings, Chris thought for a few seconds before replying. "I guess you're like family to me too."
A slight smile appeared on Dexter's face, quickly overtaken by a look of certainty. "Now let's go. It's time."
The two stood up and silently made their way to the door. The most perilous part of their plan was the beginning.
Walking into the white corridor filled with numbered doors, the two barely spoke, intent on their plan. Dexter made turn after turn, clearly an expert of the building's layout. Eventually, the two descended upon a set of stairs that led to an upper part of the building and walked up them quickly, landing in yet another series of doors and hallways.
Walking past a slightly opened one, a short blond man stepped out of the door, spotting them. Dexter paused upon seeing the man before he began to speak. "Ah, Hermann! Long time no see, how ya been?"
The man — Hermann — reached his hand forward and was soon met with a handshake. "I've been alright, just here doing orders for the boss. Who is this young man with you?"
Dexter waved his hand, dismissing the question. "He's new, just an assistant for me. No need to concern yourself with such."
Hermann stared at Chris for a few seconds, making the android uncomfortable, before turning his gaze back to Dexter. "He looks rather young, but alright. Good luck with him, hope he suits you well."
"Thanks!" Dexter said, faking a smile before turning away. "I must be on my way now, come on, Farlo."
Realizing that Dexter was referring to him, Chris followed in pursuit. Once they were away from the man, he began to question him. "Who was that man?"
"Eh, just one of Alchemilia's henchmen. Hopefully, he doesn't talk about what he saw, someone might realize what is going on. We're almost there, by the way."
"Ah," Chris said, unsure of what else to say.
Eventually, the two came to a dimly lit and slightly smoky area, lined with metal walls and various trash chutes.
"Okay, we're here now. Remember the plan? I'm going to stick you inside one of these and send you flying to the outside garbage bins, then you make a run for it. Get to the woods if you can, don't look back here at all." Dexter lead Chris to one of the walls and pulled the metal lid of the trash chute down, revealing a large opening in the wall.
"But… what is going to happen to you if they realize you helped me escape?" Chris asked, hesitating about going any further.
"Don't know, don't care anymore. Get in."
Nodding again, Chris slowly placed his legs into the chute, before sitting down and placing his whole body in. He looked up at Dexter one final time as Dexter slowly placed the lid back in place and darkness surrounded Chris. He heard Dexter slap a button and the chute began to make a churning sound and Chris was being pulled forward in a fast manner. Barely able to keep track of what was going on, Chris froze.
Fear was a strange thing for him to feel, but currently, he felt it as he continued to be teleported in various directions in the pitch black. Closing his eyes and clenching his hands, he took a deep breath. Slowly a thought began to form in his mind.
He could soon see the barn again, yet this time it wasn't faded with age or missing windows. He was walking into its entrance, looking around in wonder as the man behind him — with his hand placed warmingly on Chris' back - walked him in. Various machine parts and bundles of hay laid around the enclosure.
"Father! What are we here for?" Chris asked, looking up at the man.
The man stared back at him. He was slightly short, but well-built and muscular, with short red hair and a trimmed mustache and beard. He wore a shirt patterned with squares of blue and white and blue jeans.
"Well, you're going to stay here. Until I come back for you." The man said, walking away from Chris and towards the bundles of hay.
"Why? Am I waiting for something for you?" Chris began to help his father move the bundles of hay.
"No, you're not."
"Did I do something wrong?"
"That's enough questions for now. Just do as I said." The man, completed with his work, looked over at Chris. "Come here for a second."
Chris hurriedly walked over to the man. His father then placed his arms around him, hugging him, as the world around Chris suddenly became solid black and all his thoughts ceased to exist.
Opening his eyes quickly, Chris was surrounded by darkness again and still hurtling towards the earth in his metal containment. Suddenly feeling claustrophobic, he began to pound on the sides, wanting out as fast as possible.
Quickly, he felt air beneath him as he shot out of the end of the chute and was falling at a quick speed. He felt the cool night around him before he saw it. Feeling nothing below him, he kicked his legs out as he landed on piles of trash, feeling them give away beneath him as he sunk through them.
Baptiste stood in front of the two doors where Dexter and Chris were supposed to be. His armor was now removed in favor of a red business suit — the precaution was hardly necessary for an android like Chris.
In the time Dexter was supposed to be undergoing his analysis, Baptiste had received a personal order from Gabriel to deliver Chris to him. When the two were on the phone, Baptiste shared Gabriel's confusion. After the analysis was finished, Dexter was to either inform Gabriel or Baptiste so that Chris could be prepared for the next step. Dexter did explicitly state it would take a while, but thirty minutes without any word seemed odd.
Baptiste opened the double-doors in front of him and walked into the large room. He was prepared for Dexter to look up and be confused by the interruption, only to find that the room was completely empty. His eyes dotted around the area, but it seemed there was nobody in sight.
Baptiste walked over and stood above the two empty couches where he had left the two. As he began to think about what could have happened and why Dexter and Chris were not there, a voice called out and broke his train of thought.
Baptiste turned around and saw a blond man at the room's entrance. He walked over to him, quickly recognizing who he was.
"Alfred? Evening. Nice to see you," he called out.
"Same to you, Baptiste. I was just on my way to your office for our meeting, and I saw you walking into this lounge. Was I interrupting something?" Hermann asked.
"Nothing too important," Baptiste said, walking over to Hermann. "I was just trying to find Dexter for something."
"Oh, Dexter?" Hermann replied. "I saw him passing by a few minutes ago with an assistant."
Pulling himself out of the dumpster, Chris landed on the ground next to it. Looking around, he noticed he was in a large area filled with dumpsters, dozens of trash chutes above them, and that a long metal fence hugged the enclosure. Thick woods could be seen beyond the fence.
Seeing the entrance of the gate open close-by, he slowly made his way to it, hoping that no employees were around. By the time he reached the entrance, he glanced back, seeing the large shadow of the Alchemilia Corporation building illuminate the scene.
All's well that ends well, but I hope Dexter is going to be alright...
Looking towards the woods in front of him, he began to run towards them, leaving Alchem behind him.
Staring at the beings, the group was at a loss on what to do. The beings moved oddly, quickly and seemingly in unison with each other upon every step, their identities hidden by their armored suits. The leader held the lance to Marshall's throat still, his armored face staring directly at the boy.
"Mulciber?" Marshall asked, glancing down at the weapon. "Who the fuck is Mulciber?"
"That would be me," a mysterious voice growled. A tall skinny creature with two sharp horns, inhuman scarlet skin, and ripped clothing that barely covered its body emerged from the shadows, causing a loud stomp every time it set its foot down. The being towered over both of the groups, even the leader. It carried a long, serrated blade about half its size. The appearance of the being caused the group to go silent, both in awe and fear.
Melissa was the first to break the silence, as she slowly stepped back. "What is that thing?"
Nobody in the group had an answer for her, more silence greeting her words in a tight embrace.
With a plan coming to her as the being continued to step towards them, she quickly turned and started to dash towards the way they had come. "Come on, let's go!"
The group could hear the beings pursuing them as they ran through the woods.
"Who are those people?" Savannah asked, dodging a low-hanging tree limb. "What was that thing?! I've never seen anything like it before."
"Why are they after us?" Melissa joined in. "Are they with Alchem?"
Choosing to keep quiet, Marshall continued forward, pushing tree limbs and bushes aside in a hurry, the sound of the beings behind them suddenly going away.
"Sounds like we lost them?" Atticus asked, from the right of Marshall.
"Maybe, but just keep going."
The group continued to run through the forest, barely able to see their way forward in the night. They soon found themselves in a clearing, a break from the thick patches of wood. A large lake lay in front of them, marshy and covered with fallen leaves.
"The city should be on the other side of this lake," Marshall told the rest.
Melissa looked around, noticing how large the lake was. "But how are we going to get across it? It's too dark to see where it ends."
"We're going to have to swim across it, of course," Marshall replied, stepping closer to the shore of the water. The other three looked towards him in unison, their expressions showing they viewed his idea negatively.
"But it's too cold!" Savannah protested.
"I don't even know if I can swim," Atticus put forward, glancing towards the dark water.
"We don't have a choice," Marshall said, walking into the water and pausing when he was waist-deep. Looking back at the others, he pointed towards the water. "Are you coming?"
The group followed after him, slowly getting into the water and moving forward until they had to swim towards the other side.
Melissa shivered at the coldness of the water, but kept pushing her way forward, fearful of pausing.
Finally reaching the other side, the group poured out on the shore, encountering an even grassier area. The forest continued its reach ahead of them.
"Look? Simple swim." Marshall said, looking over at his shivering companions.
"Please shut up," Atticus replied.
As the group stood there, a rustling was heard from the trees near them. Before they had time to react, the giant from earlier, "Mulciber," burst from the forest and stomped towards them, blocking their entrance into the forest. It began to lumber towards them, blade in hand. Mulciber raised the sword. He prepared to make the killing blow as Marshall called out, "Wait, stop!" The creature lowered the blade and tilted his head.
"Don't kill me, please," Marshall fell to his knees. "I'll do anything, anything!"
"You will do anything in exchange for your own life, hornless child?" The offer intrigued Mulciber. He looked over at Atticus, Savannah, and Melissa. "Kill all of your companions and I will spare you."
Marshall contemplated Mulciber's words. After a moment, he stood up. He grabbed Atticus' arm, and kicked him in the back of his knee, forcing him to his knees.
"What the fuck are you doing?" Atticus asked, struggling against Marshall's grip.
"I'm getting us out of here," Marshall whispered.
Atticus would have protested further if Marshall had not shoved him under the water. He continued to struggle only to give up.
Hearing the beast in front of them develop a heavy laugh, Melissa was paralyzed with fright at the scene unfolding before her. "W-what is he doing? He's killing Atticus! Is he really going to listen to that thing?"
"I don't know, but I know what we need to do, run!" Savannah exclaimed, hoping that Mulciber was too distracted by the sadistic scene it had set up. Looking at the woods near her, she quickly shot towards them, grabbing Melissa's hand and pulling her with them.
Keeping his grip on Atticus' limp body, Marshall pulled the head of his companion out of the water and glanced down at him, feeling a slight sense of regret.
Without a word, he tossed the boy to the ground and turned to face Mulciber, noticing the girls were now gone. "I believe we have business now."
"Savannah, do we even know where we're going?" Melissa pondered, as the two raced through the forest, skipping over fallen logs and brush. "Not really sure of directions, but I do know one thing. There's bound to be dirt roads somewhere around here, especially leading to a town," Savannah replied, keeping an eye on her surroundings.
"I suppose you're right. But do you think that Marshall and Atticus will be okay, even Chris?"
"I don't know..." The girls continued to walk through the forest in silence, hoping for some sign. Suddenly, in the distance, there was a bright light.
"What is that?" Melissa managed to say, her breathing now heavy and labored.
"Don't know, maybe it's the city Marshall mentioned?"
At this mention, the two began to run towards the light. As they pushed their way through the trees, they came out onto a trail. In front of them was a tall set of steel gates, a bright and shining city sitting behind it. Tall buildings reaching high into the sky towered in the distance, blocking out the stars.
"It looks so beautiful," Melissa commented, gazing ahead of them.
Savannah nodded in agreement, at a loss of words. She had never seen such a sight before.
"Excuse me, girls, are you two lost?" A mysterious voice said. Looking for the owner of it, they soon noticed a tall middle-aged man standing next to them on the trail. He had long brown hair and a droopy mustache, and wore a tailored gray suit.
"Who the hell are you?" Savannah asked.
"The name is Hughes," The man replied. "Warren Hughes. Do you two require assistance?"
Feeling wary of the man, Melissa stepped back. "N-no thanks, we're fine."
"No, we're not!" Savannah snapped. "We're lost, we don't know where we're going, we lost our friends."
The man nodded. "I see. If you want, you can both come with me for the night. I have a big place and I don't mind helping you two, you can leave in the morning if you wish."
Feeling suspicious of the offer, Savannah weighed the possible outcomes before making her decision. "I'll come with you, please."
"Are you crazy?!" Melissa instantly choked out. "We don't know this guy, anything could happen. Please don't forget what happened with Gabriel Alchemilia or even..." Melissa paused, still reeling from the previous event. "Marshall."
"We have no other choice, Melissa," Savannah said, looking towards the man again. "I'm sorry for her, she's just scared."
"No, I'm not just scared! I'm not being stupid. Let's just go into the city on our own."
"And go where? We have nowhere. Please take us to your place," Savannah said to the man.
"Right this way then," Warren said, walking towards the steel gates.
"I'm not going," Melissa said again. "If you're going, you'll have to go without me."
The look on Savannah's face showed her confusion and pain at the situation. But the girl eventually nodded slowly to Melissa, "Okay then."
Savannah then turned her back to her and followed after the man.
Barely any light shone in Gabriel's office, but the man could faintly be seen seated at his desk. John Fontaine, still dressed in his trench coat, stood in front of it.
"Getting down to business, I'd like you to follow Rousseau. He's going to search for the android," Gabriel looked up towards Fontaine at this point, from his previous fixture of watching his wall. "But I don't trust him. He's too focused, tries too hard to prove himself. And this isn't a mission that we can afford to mess up."
Fontaine nodded, he knew this was an important offer. "Alright, I'll do so. I'll head out as soon as possible."
"Good," Gabriel replied. "Just don't let Rosseau know you're following him. Wouldn't want him to feel unimportant now, would we?"
With the man shooting him a smile, Fontaine agreed. "I understand. Where is Rousseau's troop headed?"
"To the most likely place for the android to go from here, Silivia."
|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|