Warning: Pg-14 for blood and talk of death
No one’s POV
Started 8 years ago, the project’s original goal was to create an interactive dream environment that could regroup several individuals. A year ago, it conducted its first human experiments.
Salandra groggily woke up to several people installing new equipment in her room. “You’re finally redecorating? It only took you five years.”
“Look at that you’ve finally woken up. Had a nice sleep?” The familiar scientist smirked.
“Pillows would’ve been nice.” She yawned.
“We’re starting your new project! You should be excited. We’re going to grant you a tattoo and it’s going to be a very long and painful process.”
“Place seems cramped. How are you going to move your fat ass around here?” She said, her sharp eyes taking in the new set up.
A slight thunk brought the man’s attention a way. “Careful! That’s expensive, I won’t get another one if you break it.”
Salandra leaned back, fully awake now. “They couldn’t get you a better room huh? You’re just a step above me in the food chain here aren’t you?”
“We’re just running out of space.” He grimaced.
“Don’t worry peanut, I’m sure they’ll give you a promotion this time.”
It uses a modified formula of the ink used for permanent tattoos. This version was made to be temporary and to further enhance the connections between the patients.
Side effects were revealed. The tattoos still granted temporary powers to the patients, at varying degrees of strength. Another problem arose concerning the conflicts between the Mindscape and supernaturals.
With these elements, the ink formula FXI-1392 was adapted and tested. It gave us complete control over how a tattoo appears on the body and removed any power-giving qualities.
As it stands now, Mindscape no longer forces a reality on the user. Mindscape is constructed according to the user’s own mind. By allowing the mind to fill in what it believes the world should look like, it drastically reduces the user’s capacity to notice the world isn’t real. The mind interprets the Mindscape like it would a dream and naturally ignores or sets aside things that seem out of place.
Prolonged exposure in the Mindscape increases the chances that the user will become aware on their own. We’ve found that by adding an additional subject that the user knows is real decreases these chances.
The injection of pain relief drugs has been shown to cloud the mind further into accepting the Mindscape as reality.
By allowing the user to create the world, Mindscape becomes an impressive replacement to interrogation techniques. With some guided input, the user can be easily led to reveal anything without any resistance.
Mindscape is the technique that was used yesterday, to retrieve the exact location of the Dragons who were successfully weeded out this morning.”
I reached the Dragons and got hit instantly by the state of the place. It was always chaotic, but now it was destroyed. Things had been strewn on the ground and the walls had marks of struggle.
And worst of all, I couldn’t see anyone.
But this was the Dragons. A lot of them were naturals, but several of them had tricks up their sleeves and others had tattoos! They had to have managed to fight back, they’re just…recovering now.
In a horrible cue, I heard voices.
“I think I found an artifact! There might be some value in this trash heap after all.”
The Hans had already invaded and they were already scavenging.
The horrible thoughts invaded my brain and in one smooth movement I rapidly rewound time to this morning. Right when the Task forced their way in. Right when I wasn’t there to warn them.
I watched, cringing, as people were ruthlessly shot down.
They’d had no warning and the task force had swarmed and wasted no time in disposing of anyone they saw. People were getting shot down too easily, too quickly, it was sickening.
It was when I heard and saw Aleccas that I started to get some hope.
“Atris can teleport five people at a time, hurry up hold hands!”
I felt relief, that’s right Aleccas can teleport, and so can Zac.
Some of them were saved. I don’t know where they teleported to, but at least some made it out. I replayed the day, drifting from room to room, anxious to know who’d made it out.
And which of the people I’d spent a year with, who’d taught me so much, hadn’t, because of my slipup.
At least half of the Dragons had gotten shot down.
Because I couldn’t realize they’d stuck me in this Mindscape. It’s not my first rodeo in one of those. Why didn’t I realize sooner?
Salandra had. The details of the dream were already getting murky, but she’d figured it out way way in the beginning. So why hadn’t I!?
If only they’d had a warning at least.
I was awake this morning. Why didn’t I go check what this Mindscape was earlier?
I could’ve helped them. I could’ve.
Warning, just needed a warning.
You’re not locked up. You weren’t drugged up.
Why didn’t you help them?
Why didn’t you warn me?
“I’ve also got 2 houses on Petunia road who said they’d gladly join us.” I declared.
Jason smiled and nodded. “And I’ve got 3 on this one and that one. I think this is starting to be a sizable force.”
“You think it’ll be enough to be listened?” I asked.
He took in a breath. “I don’t know if the Hans will even look at our protest.”
“But at least it’ll get more people on our side.” I affirmed. I highly doubt this would lead to the Hans finally stopping, but if we can wake more people up…
“Precisely.” He grinned. “So many people still don’t realize everything the Hans do.”
“Most of their ignorance might be just fear. It’s easier to be blissfully ignorant.”
“Then we’ll have to show them there are ways to fight back without being afraid.” Jason grinned.
I sensed a prickle in astral then, and I asked Jason to give me a second. I got up, quickly put a net over the curse and forced in a corner.
Just in time as well, Nikolas came barreling in via astral with little warning.
“Why didn’t you warn me?” He asked right off the bat.
“I could’ve helped them at least, we could’ve helped them escape. What, since I’m locked up I’m completely and totally useless?”
“Nikolas I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.” I said casting him a very confused look.
“The Dragons.” He replied with a lot less force.
“Did something happen?”
“You don’t even know. What the fuck am I doing?” He groaned, his initial anger completely dissipated now. “I fucked up. I didn’t even know – the Hans figured out where the Dragons were hiding because of me.”
“Oh no…” My eyes widened. They could’ve gotten this information from anyone they’d captured from the Dragons – what was protecting them was the fact that the Hans didn’t know who’d been in the Dragons.
“This morning the Dragons got raided. I just went and watched it all happen. They killed over half Ashe. Half of them are dead! It was a massacre. And the rest escaped by teleporting to – god knows where.” He said in exasperation.
“Oh god Niko…” I muttered, worry rapidly growing. Half? Half?
“It wasn’t my fault – well it was, but – I didn’t know – which was the point. They’re dead because of me Ashe, because I couldn’t fucking figure it out earlier. If I’d figured it out just a little bit beforehand, just a few seconds – if I’d just listened to – god why didn’t I listen.” He chastised himself, no longer really talking to me.
He drifted to the floor, and I cast a glance at Jason who gave me a reassuring nod.
I followed suit, dropping to the floor as well.
“Did Zac make it out?” I asked him, trying to not sound too worried. If Zac had died Niko would be a lot more distraught right? He would’ve said that first right?
“Yeah. To where though, I have no idea.”
I relaxed a little more. “When they’re safe Zac will call me to let me know what happened. I’ll tell you when I know.”
“Right, of course you would. Sorry, I shouldn’t have accused you earlier.” Nikolas said.
“It’s fine. Don’t worry about it Nikolas. The Hans have been at this for a while, you didn’t stand a chance. The Dragons certainly won’t blame you.” I added.
Nikolas scoffed then, making eye contact before disappearing without another word.
As I got back up, Jason did the same, walking around the table to join me. His hand came out to touch my arm and I sighed.
“Our protest couldn’t have fallen at a better time.” I said. “Nikolas just told me the Dragons got attacked.”
“Maybe if we hit downtown again, with this new info we can get more people to sign up with us. We didn’t ask a lot around the fourth quadrant.” Jason proposed.
I smiled and nodded. “That’s a great idea.”