Dexter Wellington considered Manta to be Silivia's finest dining establishment. He was not a frequent customer, but never left unsatisfied. It was too expensive to come regularly and too risky to come whenever he could afford to indulge: Alchemilia had many connections to Silivia's wealthy elite, not to mention his well-paid generals. The only man he could trust there was the owner, Aaron Fontaine.
On his last visit, a heavily intoxicated Dexter had asked an operative why the Lepton series was taking so long to complete. He should have been taken in for interrogation, then executed for treason. Aaron stepped in and informed his brother that the Lepton series was supposedly common knowledge for the upperclassmen of Silivia.
Dexter was not eager for a repeat of this incident, but there was no other way to celebrate the destruction of Remnant Rock.
A dark-skinned man stood at the counter, monotonously wiping a glass with a rag. He glanced up as Dexter entered the building, ringing a bell with the door.
"Dexter! My man!" He smiled. "Good to see you're doing well after, well, you know."
"Yeah, it's been tough, but I'm getting through it," Dexter walked over to the bar. "One Ambassador, on the rocks."
A group of three entered the bar. There was a tall girl, with dark brown hair down to her shoulders and bangs that reached her eyebrows, another girl with black hair and a prominent blue highlight and a guy, a bit shorter than the first girl, with dark skin and short brown hair. The trio stopped and looked around the place. Savannah turned towards the other two.
"So," Savannah began, "what now?"
Aaron poured a drink, looking up again to see Jordan and the others. He waved, before pointing over to an empty booth.
The other girl, Lisa Fiss, stepped forward and took the lead. Walking to the booth, she sat down in it and pushed her hair out of her face quickly. She patted the table, telling the other two to hurry up.
Savannah followed Lisa's lead and sat down. She reached for a menu and scanned the contents, even though she wasn't very hungry.
Lisa quickly grabbed the menu and slammed it down on the table. "There's no time for that, let's begin. Tell me everything you know, and tell the truth this time."
"There's no need for this hostility. Calm yourself," Jordan requested as he sat down next to her.
Savannah narrowed her blue-green eyes at Lisa and sniffed. "I already told you the truth," she said. "It's not what you expected to hear, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. Who are you anyway?"
For a brief second, Lisa looked shocked at the tone in Savannah's voice, but it was quickly replaced by a look of anger.
"I've already told you my name, so there's no point in repeating that again. But if you must know, I'm friends with Jordan and Atticus' ex-girlfriend. He broke up with me when he decided to leave Silivia and join that group with the Cloverdale boy."
"I am sorry, but your story is complete bullshit. I mean, you found Atticus and some girl in a random barn, both with no memories? And with a robot hiding behind hay? Please." Lisa laughed quickly, before continuing. "I could probably come up with a better story on a whim. How do we know you're just not trying to get attention due to Atticus being on the news? Or even worse, a terrorist."
"You don't—" Before Savannah could finish, the scene was interrupted by a loud ringing.
Reaching into his coat pocket, Jordan pulled out a small gray cell phone and carefully flipped it open, placing it to his ear. "Hello, what is this about?"
"Hi! This is Park Chae Lynn, I'm the secretary for Mayor Rosington," a female voice replied. "Can you come to the capitol building for a meeting soon? The mayor wishes to speak with you, I believe it's about the news of his son."
"His son? I'll be over in a few moments," he affirmed. "I'm at my uncle's restaurant, which shouldn't be too far," Jordan said goodbye and hung up. "I'll have to be leaving at any moment. The mayor wants to meet me about Atticus."
Following Jordan's departure, Savannah continued. "You don't have to believe me. It's not like I'd buy it if I was in your position. We didn't even come here to discuss this: Jordan and I wanted you to help us find the supposed 'terrorists' behind Remnant Rock." She paused. "That offer isn't off the table, by the way."
"Can I take y'all's orders?" Aaron interrupted before Lisa could respond.
Savannah was a bit startled, having not noticed his arrival. "Just water." She still was not hungry.
Aaron wrote down her order and turned to Lisa.
"I'll take some chicaro ribs," Lisa said, not looking towards the man and keeping her gaze on Savannah. Once Aaron walked away, she continued. "It should be clear that I don't trust you, but of course, I'm going to help out where I can. I trust Jordan and I still want to find Atticus, regardless of what he's done."
"Glad to hear it," Savannah said. "We'll pick up Jordan, pack some supplies and then get going."
The two sat quietly for a moment, before a tall man walked over to the table and tapped his hands on it. "Excuse me," he said. "You're looking for the people behind the attack, right?"
Savannah froze. "Uh, no, we aren't. We were — well, that's not really your business. Why were you eavesdropping?"
"Sorry," the man laughed. "I was actually a part of the company, I was a bit curious. I only hope your intent is to bring them to justice."
Savannah chose her words carefully. "We'll do our best."
How long has he been listening? Did he hear what I said about the company?
"That's nice," he responded dryly. The man turned to Lisa, who was listening intently to the conversation. "By the way, you should tell your friend it's disrespectful to take a dead person's identity."
"What?" Lisa asked, her gaze darting back and forth between the man and Savannah.
"I'm not impersonating anyone," Savannah said. "Your hitman didn't kill me."
"As if I needed to buy John Fontaine," the man quickly responded. "You're not giving him enough credit if you think he was a sloppy amateur."
"Maybe you're giving him too much credit?" Savannah responded.
"You and I both know the truth," the man snapped back.
Dexter knew Baptiste was probably harmless, alone and unarmed. He was concerned about his survival, but Alchemilia no longer had a warrant for his capture, as it was defunct. In the end, he decided he could not stand by as Baptiste harassed the poor girl.
He stood up, walked over and greeted his former boss. "Did anyone ever tell you to mind your own business, Baptiste?"
Baptiste turned around, adjusting his rose-patterned tie. As Baptiste stood in front of Dexter, he bitterly recalled the man's actions at Gladea. "I'm afraid it is my business, Wellington. As director—"
"—of a department that no longer exists," Dexter interjected.
Baptiste was taken aback by Dexter's insolence. He knew he was tempting fate. "Remnant Rock wasn't Alchemilia Corporation."
Dexter smugly smirked. "It was a good start."
Baptiste grimaced. "Honestly, I'm a bit surprised," he began. "I was hoping that you still had a shred of decency, Dexter."
"Oh, I'm the indecent one?" Dexter dropped the smirk. "You're hassling some girl because she survived an attempt on her life."
"Decency is..." Baptiste almost raised his voice, but he quickly cut himself off. Before he spoke again, Baptiste looked to a woman at another table. She nodded and Baptiste turned back. "If you'd like, both you and your friend can come with me."
"We're not going anywhere," Dexter growled.
"I see," Baptiste swiftly removed a silver pistol from his pocket and aimed it at Dexter. “Does this change your mind?”
An ache abruptly affected Savannah's head. She groaned and tightly closed her eyes. When she reopened them, Baptiste's expression had changed to confusion. His gun had been wretched from his hands.
Savannah noticed a new weight in her hand: Baptiste's pistol.
"What the hell are you doing?" Baptiste shouted. "I'd tell you to put that down, but we all know you're not going to use it."
"I'll use it," Dexter offered.
The group heard multiple clicks. They saw multiple patrons had retrieved guns and set their sights on the table. The woman Baptiste had looked to earlier had a 12-gauge shotgun pointed directly at Dexter's head.
Chaos followed as the customers and staff fled the building. Aaron came out from the kitchen, processed the scene, made sure the evacuation was complete, then went over to the table.
"Rousseau, would you mind explaining what this—" he motioned to the assembled crowd. "— is all about?"
"We're dealing with something. Just keep walking, Fontaine."
"I ain't gonna keep walking if you keep threatening my customers. Get your goons out of my diner."
Baptiste cracked his knuckles. "Goons? We're the ones dealing with the criminals here."
"Oh, really?" Aaron pointed to one of Baptiste's accomplices: a short, scruffy man with a shiny silver revolver. "'cause I seem to recall this fella bein' a suspect in the Salinger home arson."
The man's eyes grew wide. He was not expecting to be recognized.
"Got quite the bounty on his head. Her's too," Aaron looked to the shotgunner. She barely noticed.
A shot rang out. Aaron rushed the scruffy man, pushing him to the ground. He picked up the discarded revolver and shot its former owner.
Dexter went down to the ground, Savannah and Lisa following. Savannah gave Dexter the pistol, which he used to make quick work of Baptiste's henchmen. Most of them were focused on Aaron, who avoided their shots and returned fire.
The shotgunner knew better. She blocked out the sounds of gunfire and the sight of Aaron. Her only focus was a clean shot. She focused her sights on him, put her hand on the trigger and—
A bullet went through her shoulder.
With the situation turned against them, Baptiste sat hidden behind a restaurant booth near the entrance. He knew he could be discovered in a moment's notice, with Dexter and Aaron searching the rest of the area.
He set his sights on an escape from the front. He got up and prepared for a quick exit, when he heard the sounds of firearms clicking once again.
Baptiste sighed and turned around, slowly raising his hands. Dexter and Aaron were some feet away, pointing their guns directly at him. Both of them wore confident expressions.
Baptiste scowled. "Try me."
In an instant, the man turned and ran out of the store. His lackey followed.
Dexter was about to give chase, but Aaron held him back.
"It's not worth it," he explained. "We got a lot of explaining to do already. An Alchemilia official ends up dead and we'll never hear the end of this."
Dexter sighed. "Yeah, you're right."
The remaining goons surrendered or quickly met their end. After the authorities were informed of the attack, Aaron, Dexter, Lisa and Savannah sat at a table.
"First off, I have several questions. Is there any reason you left Fontaine out of your story?" Lisa asked, examining her new sitting area.
"I didn't think it was a good idea to mention an Alchemilia assassin tried to kill me," Savannah responded. "I had to leave a few events out of my explanation."
"And you," Lisa began, looking at Dexter. "What was your issue with that guy? Why did all of that happen?"
"I used to work for him," Dexter explained. "Let's just say I didn't leave the company on good terms. Couldn't stand to see what he was doing today, so I had to step in. Now, I have a question of my own, if you don't mind — you were talking about tracking down the instigators of the Remnant Rock attack, correct?
Lisa glanced at Savannah, before taking the lead. "Yes, we are. We have personal reasons for doing such."
Savannah nodded and began to speak. "We believe that we might've known these people," she said. She licked her lips, wishing that she still had her glass of water. It would help her wrap her head around what just happened. She was still baffled about what happened with Baptiste's gun.
"You're not alone," Dexter said. "I knew one of the perpetrators, Chris Wellington. He's an ancient android, made before the great war. He was made by my ancestor, Andrew Wellington. I asked about your search because I'd like to see Chris again. Do you have anyone accompanying you with basic firearms training?"
Savannah glanced at Lisa. "No..." Savannah said, "but I doubt we will run into any big trouble. Though, we could always use someone who does."
"He's not the only person here with that," Dexter added. "Before I settled down, I served in Alchemilia's military."
"And I suppose you also have some connection to the attackers?" Lisa said.
"It's complicated. See, my brother John was assigned to Silivia not too long ago, he came to visit a few times. I called him a few months ago, and—" Aaron paused, tapping his fingers against the table idly. "—That wasn't my brother I was talking to. His tone of voice, his behavior, everything was off. Took a second before he recognized who was even calling him. I thought it was stress. I couldn't imagine what they had him doing.
"Then he stopped responding altogether. Complete radio silence. It's not a coincidence Remnant Rock happened soon after. No way that was coordinated by someone on the outside, there were soldiers fighting their comrades through the facility. John could have snapped. He might've been forced to help them. I don't know, but I have a feeling the Port City Eight might."
As if I needed to buy John Fontaine. Baptiste's words echoed in Savannah's head. The man who had killed her was Aaron's brother. If Aaron was right, the man who had killed her had helped her friends deal a crushing blow to Alchemilia.
Da sat on a wooden stool at the counter, patiently waiting for the next customer. Broken glass and a shattered ceramic vase was still scattered around the floor, albeit behind the counter. With his employer having left for the hospital, he was left to care for the building. Then — a customer entered the doorless entryway. A woman with red hair done up in a ponytail — a worried look plastered on her face.
"I need your help, Da," the woman said.
"Jocasta? What are you doing in Silivia?" Da questioned, getting up and hastily walking over from behind the counter. Jocasta came closer to him.
"They killed Nicodemus. I need you to get me back to Aiola, or maybe I could stay with you a few days. Just — something," Jocasta replied.
"Who killed Nicodemus?" Da queried, stuttering.
"The government of Hala. They're hunting every last one of the Raiders down. I think I'm next. You have to help me, Da," she said, yanking on his sleeve, a tear dripping from her face.
"Come on back, I'll get you—" He began leading her out back to Li's truck, but two men in green robes and wooden sandals entered the shop.
The men walked towards the counter slowly. One of them spoke in a low, monotone voice to Da. "Give us the peppers of Silas' root."
"The pepper? There's very little of it in existence," Da hesitated.
"Do you have it, yes or no?" asked the second, in a similar tone to the first.
"I do. Let me retrieve it for you," Da replied. He walked to the back, to a tall shelf stock with jars and teas. He pulled out the third shelf and in the false bottom, he grabbed a small jar of pepper, scooping a small amount out and placing it into a tiny bag. He walked back out to two men and placed the bag into their hands.
"Excellent," said the second. He dropped the money on the counter, and the two men strolled out of the store. Seeing that the two men had left, Da pulled a large book from a nearby shelf and placed it on the shop's counter. After blowing some dust off of it, he flipped through some pages.
"You can stay with me. You're safe here for now, and I could use some help around here since Yu is busy with other things and Wen is... gone."
"What are you doing?" Jocasta came closer and hunched over the book.
"Those men. They seem to be members of the obscure Resediennes," Da said.
"The Resediennes hasn't been active in millennia. Why would you think this?"
"The way they were dressed — it's almost exact to the way they did thousands of years ago whenever they were in public. They've always claimed to be monks as well. It adds up."
Da closed the book, placing it back on the shelf.
After being greeted by Lynn, Jordan was escorted through the building and finally arrived at a door, with the words "Mayor Rosington" engraved on a black plaque plastered on it. He entered, seeing the office was a room with brown paneled walls and a blue carpet.
In the middle was a large black desk with a green table lamp and several papers stacked up, a dark-haired man with glasses and a hardy mustache sitting behind it and talking to someone on a phone. Jordan grabbed one of two black leather chairs and took a seat. "Greetings, Mr. Rosington."
The mayor motioned for Jordan to wait and eventually ended his call, turning his attention to the boy. "I assume Lynn told you what this is about already, yes? I take it that you also saw the news about Atticus."
"Yes. Don't mind me, but could you tell me why you've called me here?" he asked curiously, "I don't fully understand what you could want from me."
"Well, first, I wanted to know your thoughts on it. What do you think? And be honest about your feelings."
"It's been hard, for sure," Jordan confessed, "he may be a terrorist, but I.. miss him."
Rosington nodded and folded his arms. "Anyways, I wanted you to be the first to know. In accordance with GEU laws, a group will soon be assigned to track Atticus and the other suspects down, so that they may be brought back here and face trial before the courts."
The man paused in his speech and glanced down at Jordan. "If convicted, they'll receive the death penalty. And they will most certainly be convicted, unless, of course — someone else finds them first."
"Are you suggesting someone else should find Atticus before the search team does?" Jordan inquired.
"Of course not," Rosington replied. "As a law-abiding citizen and the mayor of this city, I would clearly not intervene in this case. But if someone were to, say, leave on their own and search for him, a private investigator hired by myself could assist them on their own time."
"Oh, I understand. Purely out of curiosity, who would this private investigator be?"
Laboratory of the Mind
In the lobby of the Masquerade Hospital, Yu and Richard watched patients and doctors go by, until at last Dr. Esperanza arrived. After a brief exchange of pleasantries, Yu asked the doctor, "Can you please tell me how Shen's doing? We've all been so worried."
"We believe Shen to be improving since earlier, but he's still in a coma," Esperanza said.
"We'll come back later this evening and check up on him. Thank you, Esperanza, for all your hard work," Yu replied, positively.
The long black-haired Munese Doctor nodded and smiled, before returning to the clipboard in her hands as the two visitors exited the hospital.
Richard and Yu walked along the cobbled path to the door of the Laboratory of the Mind. Strangely, the windows were tinted red, though, the two did not notice. They opened the door, which was ajar when they approached it and stepped inside.
It was not hard to tell that the laboratory was understaffed. A sparse number of assistants were in the building's ground floor, completing various tasks. One short woman, her name tag saying "Rachel Ariel," walked up to the two and greeted them. "Welcome to the Laboratory of the Mind. How may we assist you?"
Yu spoke up. "Do you happen to know Samuel Brownlee?"
"Welcome to— to— to the Laboratory of the Mind. How may we assist you?" Rachel repeated.
Richard and Yu exchanged confused looks and Richard then spoke. "Is Samuel in?"
"Alright, that's enough of this foolishness," Yu said, clearly annoyed. She grabbed Richard's forearm and moved past the unhelpful assistant. "Maybe we can—"
Yu noticed a pair of male assistants, one with silver hair and the other with blue, throwing a red ball between themselves. Another female assistant was furiously shaking a vending machine in the corner and humming obnoxiously loud. Ignoring what she was witnessing, she continued.
"—find something useful around here ourselves. These people here seem to be of no help."
"Perhaps Samuel left some sort of dossier somewhere? He was a very organized fellow, I should say."
The two began up the grandiose glass staircase and through the endless lab stations. They approached a large table, with a large city landscape made out of clay upon it. Richard poked at a small figure of a man.
"Intricate, I must say."
"Didn't you know Samuel?" Yu interjected.
"He and I were friends. We collaborated every few moons or so. He's been having me assemble something for quite some time too. He was always such a fine fellow."
"Interesting. What's this?" Yu pointed to a large silver cylinder with tubes extending out from it.
"I believe Samuel referred to it as the 'Allucinor.' It's supposedly a dream machine. I don't see any file around here. Samuel's study might have it. "
The two traveled back down to the first floor and through the kitchen to Samuel's study, now seeing the wallpaper moving. Searching through the drawers, nothing but endless folders of research could be found. They eventually gave up and left, but not before stating the place was a "madhouse."
Shen reached for a glass of water at his bedside table. Taking a sip, he exhaled deeply.
"Yu, I need to ask a favor of you," his aging voice managed to say.
"What is it? More water? Decent food?"
"No, no," he chuckled. His face turned serious again. "I want you to call my wife, Sunshine. I need you to tell her the state I am in and most of all, that I apologize for rash actions, I forgive her, and that I love her."
"I'll be calling Sunshine when I get back to Plant Empire, Shen."
"Thank you." Shen turned over, now facing away from Yu. As Yu clutched her purse and began out, he finished.
"And before you leave, make it a collect call," he smiled.
It was past midnight and the man should have been sleeping. Instead, he stood at his shelf. A large, maroon book with gold trim around the edges was located in front of the man. In gold letters, the book's cover read Hades Amonte.
He opened it, running his fingers down the crinkled pages of the old book. The pages were filled with incantations and enchantments, words not written in any Euclidean language. He had read much of Amonte’s book, yet he had not dared to lay his eyes on the final chapter. The order had always required that the final chapter remain a mystery until all of the prior steps had been completed.
They had not, but he was so close. He had always respected the rulings of his predecessors. He knew he would only have to wait a few more days. The man read over the last page of the penultimate segment once more, hoping for some hint of what was to come. As before, there was nothing there he had not already seen.
Minutes passed before he finally gave up and turned the page.
To the one who finally manifests our ambitions, and perhaps those of untold generations of Resediennes between us, I must give thanks, it began. It is you who will usher in prosperity and complete the path destiny put me on so many ages ago. Be proud, yet maintain your composure. There is still work to be done.
Let us waste no more time. You wish to know the final steps, therefore I will provide all that I have learned in my studies. Recall the story of Silas, as recounted in the fifth chapter. At the time, it may have seemed unrelated to the topic. No doubt you’ve wondered why such a great deal was made of it. Perhaps you have even done your own research into it.
The man was embarrassed that he had not. Amonte had mentioned a great many subjects in his writing. He had assumed Silas was of little importance, brought up to only accentuate a point.
A man of courage, he was. A man of courage, you will be. Acquire the peppercorn of Silas' root. It may be closer than at first glance. Silas may have died, but his courage lived on with the pepper.
Taking note, he turned another page.
No man is perfect. This is a fact of life, which may be hard for you to accept. There will always be mistakes. Recall Nilohes' fluid. The fluid exists in our world with disorder, chaos, and error. It is begat from it, thrives with it, produces it.
You may consider an apparatus for the fluid. A window, of sorts, into what lies beyond our reality. What you will need is a relic from Eden.
|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|