I entered the artifacts lab, to give my report to Mrs.Blossom on my latest case. I waited patiently by the door as she and another scientist fussed over a new object they’d gained.
“Are you sure this is a wand?” Cherry Blossom asked.
“Positive. Actually this is half of a wand.” He clarified. “It’s a pair of rings see! It’s made to channel witch magic and in a very specific manner.”
“It’s so small.”
“Convenient and it wouldn’t work for anyone else except the owner it was crafted for. This kind of wand making was common before the Witch War. The art died in that battle, I’m surprised a teenager had that on him.”
“Who could possibly still have that kind of knowledge, to teach it to such a degree?” She wondered out loud.
“If I had to guess, I’d say Aleccas Keeper is the only one who could feasibly know how to make specific wands in this day and age.”
“Why would the Keeper witch be interested in this boy?”
“The boy is Nikolas Whitelight. It’s his father that Aleccas Keeper snatched during the trial.”
“Fascinating.” Cherry said, placing the ring back down. “Gloria back already?”
“Yes, I’ve finished the mission.” I said, my eyes darting to the rings on the counter.
“Come with me to my desk.”
I gave the wands one last glance. That means he’s here, they’ve caught him!
I need to tell Salandra. She’d want to hear this.
Oscar, Nato and I watched with concern as Zac talked with Niko’s astral form.
Well, they had concern, I had annoyance.
“I don’t know how we’re going to get you out, I can’t teleport in there.” Zac said, pausing as Niko replied. “Yes for sure, I’ll talk with Annie and the others. We’re going to do our best Niko, but…” I watched as Zac grimaced.
I got up, more than annoyed now. “But the thing is you shouldn’t have gotten caught in the first place!” I shouted, catching Zac’s attention and hopefully Niko’s as well. “We told you, you’d get caught. We told you, it’s your fault and you should get out yourself.”
Zac’s expression shifted.
“What did he say?” I demanded.
“Nothing.” Zac grimaced at his blatant lie. I glared at the empty space beside him.
“Niko,” Oscar said. “Just sit tight we’ll do our best to help you!”
Zac shook his head. “He went back. He left.”
I slumped down. “Typical.”
I tiptoed over to the familiar room and reached for the door – when I heard voices. My hand shot back and I pressed my ear to the door.
Yup, there are people in Salandra’s room.
Rats, I’m not allowed to go in anymore. I’ll have to wait till it empties.
I probably shouldn’t be trying to see Salandra again. Everyone and my own logic would say she was only vaguely attached to a mission that I’ve finished. But truthfully she’s the most entertaining, non-strict thing I’ve ever had. And she’s the closest thing to a friend I’ve ever had.
She’s weird and a little crazy, but she’s straight and honest.
And unavailable right now.
So instead, I tiptoed over to the room right next to hers and took the folder hanging by the door. I already heard the rumors, but I was still looking for confirmation – which I found by reading the name Nikolas Whitelight.
I gave the door a gentle knock and waited, but no one came to answer. Glad to know the room was empty, I opened the door and slipped in.
Yup, there he was in the flesh, leaning against the wall like he was taking a nap. They’d dressed him in the usual ‘subject’ clothing, though his clothes were on one of the counters. Maybe they weren’t planning on holding him for very long? He was a Red though, that wouldn’t make much sense.
Is he sleeping? He looks like he is. He must be really sure he’s not going to stay here if he can actually sleep his way through it.
I bit my lip, but agreed with the irrational idea that came to me. I pulled out my phone and approached the cell.
This way I can have something to show Sal when she calls me a liar! Not that she would – no she probably would. Actually I don’t know, but just in case.
“Ah!” I screeched nearly dropping my phone. Nikolas had gotten up too fast!
“You’re that girl.” He practically snarled, pointing his finger on the glass and narrowing his eyes.
“Me? No…” I choked out, my heart still beating fast. I made my way for the door. “You’re mistaken.” I said, one hand on the door.
“Were you trying to take a picture of me?” He asked, this time with confusion.
“Bye now.” I said, slipping out. I leaned on the wall as my heartbeat calmed down. Did I wake him up? Was he even really sleeping?
I tried to play it cool as a familiar scientist arrived and entered the room.
“Hello Nikolas,” He announced. “We’ll be running several simple tests today. If we get what we need you’ll be out of here and on our containment levels in no time!”
“Fuck to you too.”
No one’s POV
Lakeisha Boyle, head of the tattoo department, studied the new project her team was requesting as her friend Cherry ate her lunch.
“Is it an interesting project?” Cherry asked.
“It’s a risky one.” Lakeisha admitted. “You know the project Nathan Hans was working on for the last year? His one man team did extensive tests and experiments on the female subject.”
“The girl who blew up right?” Cherry confirmed, and her friend nodded.
“The results are really promising. It shows she’s one of the few to have a distinct affinity with tattoos. She’d be an ideal subject for my team to test their new formulas on.”
“Then what’s the problem? You’ve been looking for a stable subject for a while now.”
“Mentally she’s a time bomb. Unpredictable and far from submissive. There are notes here claiming she fakes submission to toy with people. She’s been here for a year and she’s still as rebellious that’s a lot of trouble – and a lot of risk to be giving a tattoo to.” She said.
“You’re not going to advance in your projects if you refuse materials because they seem a little erratic.”
Lakeisha gave no replies – unconvinced.
“I’ll tell you what.” Cherry began. “We’ve got a stronger lasting prototype now. I could lend you a Goldmind to keep her under control.”
“Really you would? You still barely have a handful of those.” Lakeisha looked at her friend with a smile.
“Of course I would. I think your work with these tattoos is going to be extremely useful. I see a lot of future prospects. Hell if we could control what the tattoo gives as a power we could permanently tag everyone with markers that let us control them from a distance.”
“That’s a sweet dream, but first I have to get a formula that actually works on more than half of my subjects.”
“Already pretty satisfactory if you ask me.”
Ashlynn paced in the room pondering the best course of action. She’d already scanned the layout of the place, she could help Niko make his way out, but that was dependent on him getting out of his cell.
Overextended with the tests they’d already put him through, Nikolas angrily kicked at the door. It didn’t budge, not even with a shiver.
“There’s no way out.” Nikolas pessimistically groaned.
“No, no, there has to be something. No system is perfect.” Ashe said.
“They already had a hoot elaborating on why I can’t get out. They’ve taken my rings and even if I had them, they’ve put up anti witch things.” Nikolas said. “Oh and not to forget these are the strongest doors there ever was.” He said the last part as a cheap imitation.
“How did they detect your rings were wands? Agh, if at least you had your rings. They may have anti witch devices set up, but they didn’t do anything against your father at the trial.”
“I’m not my father.”
“No, but you’re still in the top 5 strongest witches right now.”
“Aleccas did make sure to teach me a spell to call my wands, but…” Nikolas made an attempt anyway, muttering the words under his breath. He strained, feeling the block on his magic, and failed to call his rings. “Nope, the anti witch things are actually working.” He slumped on his bed.
“Maybe the Dragons will come up with something.” Ashlynn said, sitting down beside him.
Nikolas let out a dry laugh. “I doubt they’ll be able to do anything. If they couldn’t save James then, they certainly won’t be able to save me now.”
“You’re being too pessimistic.”
Nikolas sighed before turning to look at her. “Thank you for help. I’ll keep brainstorming and I’ll tell you if I get any ideas.”
“And what if I get an idea?” She asked.
“I won’t be muting you.” He specified looking away. Satisfied, she left.
Nikolas actually found himself too optimistic. He held out the hope that the Dragons would find a way, that he wouldn’t be like the dozens of people they’d already lost to the Hans.
He found it ridiculous that he was thinking and hoping he’d be the one they managed to save. As if him being him meant they’d work twice as hard to save him. As if they didn’t work at their maximum every time someone got caught.
“It is a score of INCREDIBLE proportions!” Salandra exclaimed after hitting an imaginary baseball.
Gloria had finally found a time where Sal was alone. She closed the door carefully behind her.
“And what do we see here? A homerun?” Sal grinned.
“You’re doing well! Did you already hear the news?” Gloria inquired.
Salandra prepared herself for another hit. “I’ve heard a lot of things today. Did you hear the news about how puppies get drowned by the task force every day?” She asked as she batted.
Gloria stared aghast. “What!? No! I didn’t! That’s horrible why-”
“I have no idea why, considering I just made it up.” Sal said. Gloria had no reply to that.
“That’s…I have news I think you’ll like!” Gloria attempted again.
Salandra suddenly jumped up and down. “It’s out of the park folks! It’s out of the park! The crowd goes booooooo!” She slumped against the window with a moan. “Why is this room so small. I’m suffocating.”
Gloria approached. “Remember Nikolas?” She attempted to get her attention again.
“Vaguely, very vaguely. Wasn’t he some kind of…boy?” Salandra teased. “Oh no, I must be mistaken.”
It was clear beating around the bush was going to take forever, so Gloria just went straight for the punchline. “They caught him! I mean we caught him.”
That grabbed Sal’s attention, who flipped around to see her visitor’s face better. “Did they now?”
Gloria nodded with a grin. “Yes and they brought him here, actually he’s -”
“Shush!” Sal cut in instantly. With a slightly panicked look, she stepped away from the window.
“I thought you’d be happier. He’s in the room-”
Sal slammed the window with her palm. “I said shush. Ok firstly, I can’t believe you’re assuming I’d be overjoyed that Nikolas is in the same torturing hell hole I’ve been in for a year. During which conversation did I ever lead you to believe I disliked him to this level?”
Gloria found herself shrinking further and further. “I’m sorry I didn’t mean-”
“Secondly don’t talk about him to me again.”
That caught her by surprise again. “Are you sure? Because I even took a picture like you asked me to, so you can see for yourself!” She said, taking out her phone.
Salandra turned away. “Nope, nope, nope. He’s not here.”
“No I swear, I have visual proof.” Gloria said, bringing up her phone. But Sal was determined not to look.
“No you don’t. I am in denial about this, don’t bother me with your non-denials.”
“I don’t understand. You knew we were going to catch him. It’s the reason I was even here.”
“Did you put your visual proof away?”
Gloria acquiesced as she did, and Sal turned back around.
“Truthfully I didn’t actually expect you to. I mean, look at you Gloria. You aren’t exactly the top best in this company. This clearly isn’t a high priority thing. It didn’t even occur to me that you’d even catch him. Shows what a year did for him.”
“I’m not sure if you’re insulting him or me.”
“I am craving some strawberry pancakes.” She clarified.
“Is it because you feel bad? This could be your chance to send your apologies for what happened.”
“Do you want to hear a knock knock joke?”
“Unless he did something and you’re angry at him?”
“Honey.” Sal cut in with a dark warning voice. “If you’re going to try and analyze me, I hope you’re equipped for me to do the same. You have an extensive aroma of deep seated issues and I would love to pick at them and unravel you till you’re on the ground sobbing and wondering why you’re still alive.”
Gloria swallowed, resigning herself.
“Good, now who do we don’t talk about?” Sal asked.
Salandra punched the window making Gloria jump. “I said, who do we don’t talk about?”
“I mean no one. I don’t know who you’re talking about.”
“Aint denial sweet?”
Annie smiled at Aleccas for joining her in the pool table room. He set Atris down to sniff around.
“Zac just informed me that Nikolas got kidnapped.” Annie revealed.
Aleccas went through a few seconds of shock before sighing sadly. “Of course he did.”
“We don’t have the means or the power to help him.” Annie said as Aleccas leaned back. “We can’t save him. Just like we can’t save Allison and Pete and Rudy.”
“Yeah I know.”
“Do you think he’s learned enough from you to make it out on his own?” Annie tempted.
Aleccas’ silence served as an answer.
Nikolas had become just another casualty of this civil war.