The group lands in a new continent and funerals are held.
All stories must have a beginning. Ancient fables, historic epics, all grow from one empty page. A world of darkness — No, emptiness — precedes a story before any other. One moment, or perhaps a thousand moments, and there was nothing. Then, there was something. If darkness was emptiness, then light had been born.
Light, an electric thing. It sparked, fizzled, and then shot out in every direction, leaving in its wake life. The symbiotic relationship that life and light kept would not be forgotten after this moment. As life grew, so too did the light, until perhaps the light had a form.
Life, in its primal form of stardust, could not feel the impact that had been wrought. Where once was energy, there was now a form and a mind. The first mind, if you will. From there all minds grew, and all minds were connected.
First was an arbiter among nothingness, a figure made from the darkness and emptiness that once ruled the universe. A being who felt the fate of every bit of stardust, who knew more than life could ever know.
Then, a brother to that darkness. One who could keep the light and the dark from intermingling. The concept of order, which kept the fate of the world in line.
Order had an arbiter of his own, one who would make sure fate remained on its path. Each life, each soul, each speck of energy drifting through the cosmos, was watched and looked after.
And the stardust was not stardust for much longer. Like the gods they would come to worship, the stardust combined and grew together until bodies and minds were born. The lifeforms were divided, separated by the younger gods into species. Species were separated into worlds, and worlds were closed off from one another. Where once stardust intermingled, there now was a wall. All stories must have a beginning, and so thus the story had begun.
Dusk began to start as the sun fell into the horizon. Snow fell from the sky like confetti. The Hummingbird flew at a steady rate over a large, snow-covered rainforest. Within it, Atticus sat, holding Blossom close in his arms. Next to him, Melissa sat crying with Chris standing next to her, his hand on her shoulder in hopes of providing her comfort. Marshall watched the landscape pass through the window. Li stood behind Samuel in the pilot's seat, carefully watching his moves. Complete silence apart from the sounds of Melissa's sobs and the two engines.
"We're flying over Muné now," Samuel informed the group.
Minutes later, Samuel broke the silence once again. "We're low on fuel. Very low."
Li looked to the rest of the passengers. "Chris, Marshall, check for extra fuel cells."
"There's nothing here! Just a mop and bucket, nothing else!" Marshall said, panicked.
"I'll find a place to land," Samuel said. "Like there." He pointed to a clearing.
"Is that a mansion? I think we should land there," Chris suggested.
"Manor," Samuel muttered under his breath. As he slowly turned the wheel, the Hummingbird began dropping in altitude. "We're out of fuel."
Li immediately grabbed the wheel, helping Samuel try to pull the plane up. The passengers began panicking. The landing gear began brushing against the tops of a few tall trees, followed by the fuselage. It descended into a thin tree, cracking the windshield. The trees tore up the paneling and electrical wiring of the underside of the aircraft. The Hummingbird descended into the clearing, the landing gear digging through the layer of snow and embedding themselves into the ground.
The aircraft settled, the passengers all relieved. Marshall pried open the doors of the Hummingbird and fell into the cold snow.
"It's fucking cold out here."
Li walked up the slightly tilted craft to doors. He stood looking back at the group. "I remember when I was last in Muné. It was around ten or so years ago. There was a massive heat wave hitting northern Thales. Yu and I closed Plant Empire and moved here for two months. Funny enough, we were hit by a blizzard during our stay here." Li jumped from the plane and into the snow.
"Amusing story," commented Samuel, unbuckling his seat belt and following after Li.
Walking to the edge of the opening, with Blossom still in his arms, Atticus stared across the area. Jumping down, he landed beside the three men.
"Graceful start here. Any idea of where we should be going?"
Chris followed the rest of the group out of the Hummingbird. "I think we should head for that mansion," Chris replied, glancing over at the snow-covered building. As he looked, he noticed that it was somewhat decadent.
Melissa slowly got out of her seat, the panic and fear of the plane's current situation fading slightly. She was still grieving over watching Steven die. "I... don't know anymore," she said, guilt settling in over whether she could have saved Steven. With that thought, she jumped out of the plane to join the others.
With everyone out of the hummingbird, Samuel pointed towards the large structure everyone was eyeing. "This way," he said. He dusted off his coat and began to lead the way.
Samuel chose not to admire the black, ornate metal gate that everyone found themselves in front of. The pieces of the gate that had not already fallen in the snow stood tall, each edged at the top and covered with rust. The fence-gate opened with a creak as Samuel shoved it open.
"I'll add a breaking and entering and second count of trespassing to our list of crimes. Terrorism, larceny, grand theft, arson, homicide, assault, treason, vandalism, possession of a concealed firearm and a blade longer than seven inches, flying a Class 4 aircraft without a license, reckless driving, parking in a 'no parking' zone, and jaywalking," Li commented.
Once they were directly in front of it, everyone had a closer look at the building. Though most of the building was coated in snow, it was not hard to notice its age.
The building was a four-story mansion in complete ruination. It was composed primarily of dark Muné wood, though most of it was now completely stripped or collapsed. Only a few of the massive windows throughout the mansion were completely intact. A large clock, most likely decoration for one of the building's dormer roofs, lay nearby on the ground covered in snow. Great portions of the building's spiked and peaked roofs had long fallen off, allowing snow to pour inside some rooms. The mansion looked unlivable, but it was the group's only option for shelter.
"Well," Samuel spoke up, "I'm pretty sure I inherited this place, so cut the trespassing, Li."
"When we first met you at your lab and you were giving your oh-so-grandiose speech introducing yourself, why did you neglect to mention you owned a mansion?!" Marshall grunted, throwing his arms up in the air.
"Didn't need to."
Samuel approached and stood in front of the building's front doors. He had the key to open them, given to him by his grandmother. Of course, the state of the building made it unnecessary. Samuel slowly pushed open the doors and went inside, the others warily following behind.
Everyone was now inside a very dim and open space. Small rays of sunlight shined through collapsed walls and broken windows, allowing them to make-out the room's features. The most glaring thing about the room were large piles of wood and dust in the corners, remnants of staircases and higher floors. In the room's center was a large dinner table, a broken chandelier laying on it. The group took careful notice of the various holes in the wooden flooring.
"What are we doing here?" Blossom asked, looking around the place. "It's kinda... broken down."
"Don't be ridiculous, Blossom," Chris said nervously. "This is a very nice place! I'm sure we’ll have great places to sleep here..."
"Nice place you got here, Sam," Li commended. He poked at a lantern hanging on a hook. "Rustic."
"Nice?" Samuel asked. "The most you'll find here is a warm room. We're probably going to be sleeping on the cold, hard floor tonight."
"How many rooms are there here?" Atticus asked, stepping towards the table.
"I'd tell you more than sixty, but with how old this place is, I expect only ten or so rooms are still standing. But anyway, night's upon us. Why don't you all get some rest?" Samuel added.
"I agree. Muné is filled with all sorts of strange things. I'll go sleep in the Hummingbird for the night," Li said, leaving and shutting the door behind him.
Marshall followed the older man outside. He sat down on the rusty bench on the porch and watched Li trudge through the ever-growing snow. Tiny purple insects marched in a line over Marshall's boots and back onto the scraped-up floorboards.
Looking at the crumbling staircases, Atticus decided to brave them and slowly walked up them. "Night, guys. See you all in the morning, I guess."
"You know, Muné isn't exactly hospitable, are we sure that this is the right place?"
"How much are we getting for this, anyway?"
"You're getting 25 percent, that's what you're getting."
"So where are we going, then?"
"Hummingbird crashed right outside of Headre, you can't miss it."
With the sun rising the next morning, it gave away the small gathering.
Sitting around a wooden spire embedded in the ground, they all passed a cold bottle between them. Not a word was said in the bitter silence, until Chris spoke up.
"Although I didn't know Steven as well as Melissa or Dr. Devlin, I understand he was a great brother and nephew in addition to a fine friend. Steven's legacy will forever be remembered. Fontaine, meanwhile, a good teacher and leader."
Melissa sighed deep in thought as she took the bottle from Chris. She did not pay attention to the others’ reactions as she spoke. "Steven was a great brother... He always wanted to protect me and all I ever did was rebel against him. I thought I knew everything. We were really all each other had, that's why he was against me leaving and I wish I had listened to him... I abandoned my own brother for who knows how long, only to come back and then not even know who he was and be the reason he ended up dying."
It should've been me, not him, she thought. Seated in the wheelchair that Samuel had recovered from the manor during the night, Blossom reached over and took the bottle. Glancing at the spire, she began her prepared words.
"Fontaine was a great mentor, he taught us a lot of things, especially me. Before we began this mission, I was just a spoiled city girl who had no idea of how the real world was. I thank him for everything and the time he spent with us. Steven was a kind person, one of the best I met. He didn't judge anyone, he never took sides in our arguments, he was funny and super smart. It's hard to believe he died, hard to believe that we failed so miserably, that we —"
Choosing not to finish her sentence, she passed the bottle on.
Taking it, Atticus stared down at it. Feeling a deep guilt over Steven's death, he was at a loss of words of what to say. Due to his vision, he knew death awaited Steven and had failed to prevent it. He had done nothing to prevent it.
But this wasn't what bothered him the most. If Fontaine died, why didn't I have a vision of it? I spent just as much time with him as I did with Steven. It just doesn't make sense. Unless...
Gripping the bottle tightly as he thought further, he heard Samuel calling his name and shook his head, bringing himself back to the moment. Passing up his turn, he handed the bottle to Marshall. Marshall took it, stepping forward and nudging the spire with the tip of his boot.
"I guess you could say it's an achievement that you both went before me, you two."
Having nothing else to say, he uncorked the bottle and placed it to his lips, quickly gagging at the taste and pulling back.
Samuel felt the cold touch of the bottle as it was handed over to him. "Got to know John during the three months of training. Passionate man. Sometimes, I think about if I would do this all over again — and I absolutely would. Still can't believe he chose us to change the world for the better." He paused. "I met Steven a few years ago when I started work with Richard. He always seemed like he had high hopes for himself. I can't imagine what Richard will feel when he finds out."
A frown fell upon Li's aged face as he received the bottle. "He didn't talk to me much, but, I do know this: he was a smart young man, and his sacrifice will not be forgotten nor was it in vain. Fontaine was something else. Though strange, he was something I lacked in my old age. A friend. Here's to both of you." Li handed the bottle back to Samuel and pulled out his harmonica. Melodic sounds filled the ears of the mourners.
With the funerals ending, Atticus left Blossom's side quietly and marched up to Marshall, grabbing his arm and pulling him away from the group. Ignoring Marshall's surprised grunt, he pulled him behind a small patch of trees.
"We need to talk. There's something I've been hiding from all of you."
"You're finally coming out?" Marshall quipped, smirking at Atticus and rubbing the mark on his arm.
"No, do you remember what we told you about the dream world we were in? With those figures?"
"That shit I refused to do? Yeah. What about it?"
Atticus paused, unsure if he should continue. "Don't tell anyone else yet, but since then I've been having visions. First, it began as violent outbursts towards other people, but slowly morphed into, like, prophetic visions of how people would die and such. I had one about Steven too, right before we left the armory."
"What the fuck, man?! Are you high?!" Marshall yelled.
"No, damn it. I know it sounds crazy, but it's true. Anyways, my point is that I didn't get one about Fontaine, even though I was around him just as much.
A few months back, I had this vision too. He was shown to be the leader of those dreams figures and he was asking me if I wanted to join him. I tossed it off as nothing, but..."
"But what?!" Marshall asked.
"Like," Before Atticus could finish his sentence, he noticed a figure in the distance. Walking through the snow was a short-haired young man with a black jacket and pants, his hands in his pockets. "Who is that? What are they doing near here?"
"Probably just a lost tourist. Come on, the others are waiting. You can tell me about your acid trip dream later," Marshall said, attempting to pull Atticus back to the others.
The figure in the distance seemed to look at something on his wrist, before dropping a backpack on the ground and sitting down alongside it. He looked up at the estate, expressionlessly reviewing it.
"They're here, that's for sure. Which one is Atticus and which one's Marshall?"
No response. He sighed, waiting on the ground and tracing a path to the mansion with his eyes.
Samuel sat propped up against a stone wall, his hands folded. His laboratory uniform was dirtied and his hair unkempt. By now, the shock of what had happened three months ago was long subsided. He sat still, weak and detached. A messy pile of literature lay by his side, full of unrecognizable writing.
Standing above Samuel was a familiar robed figure. Samuel did not care when they first appeared in the room, examining the tally marks sprawled on the stone walls. This space, crafted over the course of endless hours, was a place he could feel at ease. It was his only break from having the eyes of a body he could not control.
The figure bent their knee and looked at Samuel. A strange sound emanated from its hood as its misty face continually moved. Indifferently, Samuel turned his head and spoke up.
"Because you were available," Yaakov said. "You gave us an opportunity, so we took it. Considering what your field is, let's just call it fate."
Samuel continued to stare. After a moment, he asked another question. "What will you do with me?"
"I'm just going to leave you here, Samuel. I brought you here to bid you farewell, and just give a final thanks." The figure stood up. "Your body will decide what happens next. If you don't die, I think you can handle the rest."
With their gaze still fixated on Samuel, the figure's body slowly began to fade. The room followed after, its walls beginning to dissolve. Samuel prepared to close his eyes and accept his fate, but he stopped once he felt the feeling of windblown snow.
|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|