Warning: Friendly reminder that Niko has a real potty mouth
Entering the Hans building stripped me of the disguise I’d needed for this mission. Once I crossed the barrier I added glamour on my arm. I really dislike these new security measures, sometimes it feels like its only purpose is to counter my power. Cherry dismisses this worry and says it doesn’t affect me. Any wards and spells a witch or fairy casts on themselves gets torn away by these.
Still I’m the only one who walks through those doors and feels the effects.
I made my way upstairs – straight for the artifact lab. Cherry is in a meeting right now – and she’s the only one constantly suspicious of me. Now was the ideal time to go grab Nikolas’ rings.
I don’t really care if he makes it out or not, and I frankly am pretty sure the rest of the company doesn’t either. We have hundreds of people already with powers and he’s just a small side project. They even complain about not having enough space!
So if I do get caught, I doubt the consequences will be severe.
“Gloria, hello! What brings you here?” Svenson asked as I carefully leaned against the counter.
“I’m looking for Cherry.” I said, my hand wrapping around the two rings.
“She’s in a meeting you know that.” He said.
“Ah shoot right, sorry I’ll come back later.” I said. As I turned I purposefully shot my arms out, causing the artifacts on the counter to be thrown on the ground. “Ah! Oh no, I’m so sorry!”
I slipped the rings into my pocket and bent down to help Svenson as he lectured me on my clumsiness. He was quick to kick me out after, but I’d gotten what I came for.
I stared at the wall, counting my reply.
I tapped on the left once for ‘A’ and paused. I knocked on the left four times for the number 4. I did the same for the number 1. As for the last letter, I knocked twice on the left and five times on the right. 25.
I leaned back content.
I hadn’t expected a hallmate – and mostly certainly not a smart one.
I really thought knocking was the extent it was going to go, but an idea struck me. Using the corresponding numbers with the alphabet, and using a knock left and right technique, I’d asked
Can u read me
It felt like a wild attempt. It was a lot of numbers and I suppose not that obvious. I repeated it twice just in case before waiting. And sure enough after a while, I heard knocking. The same kind of knocking which resulted in
From there we’d exchanged a few questions to pass the time. Well it was a few jokes at first – some really stupid funny stuff in the knock knock joke category. I snorted remembering the irony.
Nothing personal had come up, so I didn’t know anything about who this was. I guess I could’ve gone to see who it was with astral, but I probably wouldn’t recognize them anyway. Not knowing was passing the time as well. I’d already alerted Ashlynn that I might have a way out. I was just waiting on Gloria, who’d already made me wait what felt like hours.
I asked, keeping it as short as possible. Just as I finished, the door to my room opened and the scientist walked in.
I watched curiously as he didn’t even cast a glance at me.
“Here’s your meal.” He said and I slowly smirked as I heard the clink clink of my ‘food’. She turned around and left and I dove for my rings, slipping them on my hands.
Ah yes I can do something with this! I took in a deep breath to help me concentrate. I had magic blockers around me – this was going to be even more difficult than usual. At the same time however, this was a spell that I knew very well. It wasn’t a spell that my father had taught me, nor was it one that Aleccas had needed to.
This was a spell I’d spent years working on in an attempt to unlock the door in my parent’s basement. This was the one and only spell I felt I had mastery over. It’s a spell I eventually had ease casting when I only had my old wand. Now with these tailored wands the spell was a piece of cake.
I felt the pressure on my magic, but my confidence was well placed. The door to my cell opened with a soft click.
I resisted shouting my victory. Fuck yes! I’m busting out!
I heard my hallmate knock their reply then. I listened and counted.
Oh shit, that’s long. That was…they must’ve been one of the first people to get caught after the Hans took over.
They’re right next door I mean…
I walked to the wall and started knocking a reply.
“Hey Ashe.” I quietly said in astral as I knocked. “I made it out, I have my rings.”
Wonderfully on cue, Ashlynn appeared beside me.
“Great job! I’ll be your eyes and ears. All you have to do is concentrate on not getting caught, I’ll guide you through so you can avoid guards.” Ashlynn said.
I grinned. Yes I am going to make it out after all.
“Do you have any spells for cameras?” She asked.
“I have one that can maybe make them glitch for a bit, but I have to see them.”
Ashlynn nodded and motioned for me to follow her outside.
I could feel the adrenaline already pumping in my veins. I glanced at my next door neighbor, taking a decision. I touched the door with intent to open it.
Ashe gave me a look.
“I know, I’m not going to save everyone. I know that’s impossible, but there’s space for one person.” I explained. She wasn’t convinced, but I was already opening the door.
One year, that’s incredibly long. I can’t consciously-
“I’m sorry.” She said.
I’m sorry she said.
My fists clenched. “You’re selfish.” I snarled.
Her face twisted in anger.
“Yeah well so are you.” She snarled back.
Ashlynn placed her hand on my shoulder. “Niko there’s someone rounding the corner, you need to move on.”
I did as Ashe suggested and left, hearing an angry Fuck you! before the door closed.
I followed Ashlynn doing as she instructed me to do as we weaved through the corridors. All the while I was steaming, until I could barely contain it.
“Sorry?” I muttered. “Really that’s what she says?” I bet she only said it because I’m her ticket out right now.
“Niko keep your voice down.”
“What does that even mean?” I grumbled, rounding the corner. Sorry. Sorry for what? Sorry for, for, for – the words got lost in my rising anger, such that I didn’t hear Ashlynn tell me to stop.
I went face to face with a guard. On reflex I took a step back and slapped my rings together. A physical protection spell Aleccas had taught me – and the one I sometimes use against Ara – shot out and slammed him back.
Obviously I put a little more force into this one than I would during sparring.
“God you fuckers too.” I grimaced at the guard.
“Do you get some sick pleasure out of this?” I demanded the unconscious guard. I felt my rings respond to my magic stirring.
I was suddenly so very acutely aware of everyone in this building. A building I’d visited often. I’d seen the outrageous amount of people being used as guinea pigs.
“Niko we have to hurry.”
“Ah fuck it.” I declared. “I’ll break her out. I’ll break them all out.” Would a selfish person do that?
“You can’t-” Ashe tried to get me back on track, but I was already swinging a door open.
“You’re free!” I announced, unlocking the guy’s cell with a movement of my hand. I didn’t waste any time moving on to the next.
Ashlynn stopped time and placed herself directly in front of me.
“Nikolas don’t do this. You can’t save them all. Just leave while you still can.”
“I’ve already been more useful in the last 2 minutes than I’ve been in the last year.” I snapped, resuming time and opening another cell.
Ashlynn seemed to get the message and she reluctantly backed away.
The task force piled in as I was freeing the third one.
Turns out I hadn’t freed them for no reason! They fought back, resisting the guards.
I raised my hands up to help, but one of the guys pushed me forwards. “Keep freeing.”
I narrowly dodged an attack and flipped the next door open – freeing someone else.
I could feel it when I gripped the next door, this is going to work. The task force are prepared, but not for a mass volume of Reds. I opened the door just as I saw reinforcements rounding the corner.
A tall woman had spotted us – one adorned with various jewelry that sent an uncomfortable magical shiver down my spine.
As I saw her raise her arms, it dawned on me that all that ‘jewelry’ could be artifacts. I slapped my rings together and focused on creating a shield around me and my new hallmates. It effectively countered the shots from the task force, but her shot burst right through.
Her magic wrapped itself around their heads, making them pass out.
In a matter of seconds she’d downed the few people I’d managed to save.
I stopped time.
“Shit.” I looked at Ashe, who was as shocked as I was. “Any ideas?”
“I – I think – ”
“I’m screwed aren’t I. Maybe if I duck…” I let out a breath.
God I’m screwed.
When time resumed, I dived for the side, hoping bodies would stop whatever it was she was shooting out.
Unfortunately it wrapped around my head like it had the others and my vision went black.
No one’s POV
The CEO of the Cloverfield Lab walked towards the mess.
“Why did this happen?” She asked.
“The boy somehow managed to escape and he started freeing everyone.”
Using another of her artifacts, she lifted the boy in question. She looked at his hands, sensing the magic resonating from them. She took his rings off and gave them to her closest employee.
“Someone gave him his rings. I’d like to know who. I’d recommend more effective witch blockers. This is Xavier Whitelight’s son, you have permission to use the highest level blockers.” She said, never taking her eyes off the boy. She could sense something off about him. “I’ll take care of this one.” She declared, leaving the rest of the subjects for everyone else to clean up.
She carried him towards another room located in the basement as well.
“Rita can I borrow you for a moment.” She asked the scientist in charge of the Goldmind project.
“Yes of course, who’s this?”
“He just attempted an escape and I noticed a particular smell about him. I was hoping to make use of your keen nose.”
Rita stepped forwards and examined the boy. She remembered him from the experiment over a year ago now. He was the one who’d caused an anomaly in the system. His magic had smelled something awful to her then – just from the mere intensity of it. It was a lot more soft now.
“I can definitely tell he’s a witch.” She mentioned, but didn’t stop her analysis. There was something else. “There’s a….it reminds me of teleports…not really but there’s something familiar about it that reminds me of the Keeper witch’s dragon. Or we did have a kid once with a teleporting tattoo. It’s not the same, but it’s the closest I can think of. There’s quite the possibility this is a new type of magic altogether. I don’t recognize it. Mr.Dudley will probably be able to confirm.”
“I thought as much.” She said, casting a look around the room. “How are things going here?”
“We’re working on the prototype for version 4.6. Our female subject has also decided to starve herself. We’re considering keeping her alive with an IV, but she wasn’t that strong to begin with. She may be more useful dead. Still it would make him the last living subject we have. I’m aware James Whitelight had two kids with his eyes. It would make perfecting the artifact a lot easier.” Rita said.
“I’ll look into it.”
As the two ladies spoke, Alec Whitelight slowly woke from his mental numbness. He’d grown used to ignoring whoever else was in the room, but this time he recognized someone he hadn’t seen in a long time.
That was his nephew and the only mind he had access to in the room.
An irrational hope sparked inside him and he focused his power on the boy. Wake up wake up
He mentally shot the command over and over again, until one of the helpers spoke up.
“He’s using his power.” He declared just as Alec had a breakthrough.
Nikolas slowly woke, pausing time for himself to get his bearings. When time resumed, and Nikolas had taken in the situation, he called his rings back to his hands.
Both ladies had turned to Nikolas then – who’d kept his eyes closed.
The CEO’s eyes drifted to Niko’s hands, his rings clear and obvious on them – as well as beginning to shine from his magic.
With a flick of her wrist, she made him pass out again.
“It’s good to see your subject still has some strength.” She said, taking Niko’s rings once again.
“He’s actually gotten better under our tests.” Rita declared with pride. “It was quite pitiful at first.”
I was astral sprawled on the ground, my feet up on the sofa.
I was feeling down to say the least.
“I’m screwed aren’t I.” I repeated for what felt like about the umpteenth time give or take a few. I turned my head to look at Zac, who looked even more down than I did. Or was that some hidden adult annoyance for my non-adult ass? You know, the ass who threw away his one chance at escape.
Would I really have managed it though? I’m three levels down in a maze like basement with cameras at every corner.
“It’s really unfortunate that you couldn’t make it out.” He grimaced.
“How much did Ashe elaborate on my failure?”
“Enough to know your recklessness has gotten you into this mess twice now.”
“Ah yes, that recklessness of mine.” I sighed. I tried something – I took a risk, an emotional risk – and it failed. “I’m very effectively on the inside though. Maybe in between tortures I can sabotage things.” I offered as a joke.
That only seemed to depress Zac more.
I guess the word torture will do that.
“God Niko.” Okay that time, that’s a lot of guilt I’m hearing.
“Don’t beat yourself up over it. I get it. There’s literally nothing anyone can do. Even Aleccas doesn’t have the power to go against the Hans. They’re crazy well equipped. And like you said, I got myself in this mess. Twice. Guess I asked for it.”
“I don’t like this. I feel like I’m abandoning you.”
“Well you are, but you can’t really do anything else. No point fighting the inevitable.” I shrugged.
“Shit Niko.” Zac said getting more and more depressed. I’m not dying.
This is starting to weigh heavily on me.
And here I was trying to keep an upbeat attitude about it.
“It’ll be fine Zac. Don’t worry about me. It’s literally a waste of time.” I said. The look Zac gave me was about as depressing as it gets. I tried to give him a smile, but it didn’t stick so I used that last line as my end credits and went back to my body.