Well first off MERRY end of the YEAR! Here we COME 2019 hohoho, and we’ve got a lot of interesting movies coming out this year. I’m quite excited.
So for this last day of 2018 folks, I bring you a chapter! Yay! Haha, and also an announcement that we’re almost done Arc1 of Volume 2. The next chapter is going to be the end of Arc 1.
As always, thanks for reading and I do dare hope you have fun 😉
“This is taking forever!” The dumb badly shaven asshole groaned.
“You can work on your other assignments. The machine will tell us when he uses his power.” Prissy show off said, flipping through her pages.
“I don’t have other assignments. I’m not an overachiever like you. I only have the one project not a gazillion.”
I can’t even tell them to shut up – let alone shout in pain from this treatment. Whatever shit they’re attacking me with has my muscles painfully locked – including my jaw muscles.
“You’re just jealous your results didn’t let you in on the Goldmind project.”
“Obviously! That’s the project to be on right now. It’s got limitless possibilities, from controlling people to their memories to deep suggestion. It could be used to make insane people get sane again. Hell maybe we could wake people from comas with this technology.”
I don’t know what’s more painful now, this never ending pressure on every cell of my body or hearing these two fuckers have a casual conversation while it happens.
“Or the Hans can have the capacity to control anyone in any way they want.”
“Haha oh come on, they wouldn’t do that.”
“It would make accomplishing these projects a lot simpler.”
“That’s true. Come on little guy, just use your power.” He said, turning to me and gesturing in his arms. “We just want to see how we can detect it. We’ll stop the machine. I swear it,”
I struggled against the force – or attempted to again – but it did nothing. The ass slumped back on his chair – continuing to have the audacity to look bored.
The intense desire to beat him up is keeping me going.
Per usual the session lasted several hours, and per usual I didn’t use astral. I’ve already done enough, giving them access to my power is giving them another way to sniff out any supernaturals still running for their lives.
It’s the least and only thing I can do right now.
No really, what the fuck else am I supposed to do?
And I probably won’t be able to do even that soon. I’ve overheard them talking enough to know the Goldmind project is advancing well. In a few months they’ll be able to control anyone they want – including pesky subjects who don’t want to give in. Even sooner than that if they manage to catch my uncle Benjamin and my aunt Catarina – the only two golden eyes left at large.
It does beg the question: what’s the point?
But that’s depressing as fuck so I’m just going to do whatever I can until I can’t do it anymore.
I don’t know when, I don’t really care when, but my door opened to let a girl with an orange pigtail in. It’s not an easy thing to explain, but I swear when I recognized her it’s like happy adrenaline rushed through me. Hope or whatever. This was the girl who’d helped me escape the first time – and granted I’d squandered that and she was probably not going to be willing to do it again – but she’d come to visit me which meant there might be a chance.
A tiny sliver of hope between all the mindless tortures.
“Gloria! Welcome to my humble abode. I’d offer you tea, but they only give pills here.” I said, being dramatic.
“It’s good to know you’re thriving. It means me sticking my neck out for you really was for nothing.”
“Well you seem to be right where you were beforehand so the repercussions can’t have been that bad.” Her eyes widened and she stared at me until I corrected myself. “That was a bad reply, I have no idea what they put you through. I really appreciated you were willing to help me out the first time. I’m kind of hoping you’d like to repeat the experience.” I tempted.
She grimaced. “Really not.”
“It was worth a try. Was there a reason for your visit?”
“Just wanted to be angry a bit.” She muttered.
I paused and couldn’t help myself. “I’d hate to see you calm.”
“Have a nice day.”
Oh come on!
“Wait, just one thing before you leave.” I asked and she thankfully wasn’t too offended and decided to wait. “Have you gone to see Salandra yet?”
She frowned at my question but avoided answering it. “Why?”
“I know you two – well I’m guessing pretty accurately I’m sure – that you two used to talk. She’s going through hell right now. They’re giving her a tattoo and it’s a horrible process – well you have one I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.” I said. She looked down at her smooth arm. “I’ve seen people go through this before.” I added.
I remember Dexter all too well. I remember him going through painful seizures even after the tattoo had settled – seizures that inevitably killed him. And I know Salandra remembers him too.
“I know only a few of them survive the process.” I continued. “I can’t help her, but maybe you could. Maybe you have tips or tricks or I don’t know, something to help her get through this.”
She held her arm and seemed pensive. “I’ll try.”
“That’d be fantastic, even better if you succeed.” I cast her a grin, but she rolled her eyes and left.
Going to see Nikolas itself was risky. The Goldmind hadn’t worked and the next step was imprisoning me – or worse, I’d rather not think about it.
I’m starting to feel reckless. I need to do things a little more risky. Temporarily blocking my memories doesn’t feel like a threat, it feels like a motivator.
That’s the Hans golden child. The laziest most unprofessional man you will ever see in a place like this. Also the apparent heir to the Hans throne. He’s rather unprepared for the golden child. That’s only because his appointment is recent of a few years. He reached the age to take care of the company a while ago but he was never raised with that intent in mind.
I ended up following him.
Not a lot of people know this, but it was his cousin who was meant to take that throne – that’s before all the family drama happened. Now this bumbling idiot who can’t even adjust a microscope is already starting to make important decisions concerning the Cloverfield lab. Soon anything that happens here will be his responsibility.
I stopped and leaned on a nearby wall as someone came over to talk to Nate.
“Mr.Hans we’ve picked up a strong magic reading again.” The newcomer said.
I took out my phone.
“We don’t believe these are glitches. We’ve had several sporadic and random readings consistent with that of a witch ever since we booted up the scanner.”
“Some of these are really strong.”
“Yes today is a strong one and we can now tell that it seems to originate from the other continent.”
“We don’t have any authority over there. Man that’s worrying. Means they have a really strong witch over there that’s capable of controlling whether they emit auras and shit.”
“Maybe they can turn invisible?”
“I don’t know, but good job on keeping me informed. I have to head out now, but really great job!” Nathan Hans said, before escaping away.
Could they be talking about Xavier Whitelight?
But it’s been known for a while now that Aleccas Keeper teleported Xavier Whitelight to the other continent. It’s no surprise.
Third to Xavier Whitelight and Aleccas Keeper, Nikolas is the next strongest witch alive and he’s detained here. And he isn’t considered even close to the first two.
Even there the first two became the strongest under unlikely situations. Xavier wasn’t born this strong; at some point during the road he received an external boost. As for Aleccas Keeper, he wasn’t even born in this time. The Hans found him unconscious in the Witch War crater a few years ago now. It’s still unknown how he even got from then to here.
There were rumors of a time machine once, that time travel could be possible, but there’s no proof or trace of any kind of machine – and especially not near the Witch war crater.
Some food for thought.
I tried not to grimace as Nathan Hans silently examined the documents concerning the rapidly advancing Goldmind project.
It’s a truly impressive project that joins both Maxine’s and my department. With some help from Darwin’s. Just the other day, a task force was sent out to retrieve James Whitelight’s two vampire children. While their strength is much closer to Alec Whitelight’s than their father, the advancements expected with their contribution will propel the project forwards to the official final stage. Intel also suggests that James’ daughter possesses one of the 5 anti-mind control beads originally crafted from a previous version of the Hans. Retrieving it would give us access to 2 of the beads. Suspicions were that James Whitelight had had the 3 remaining beads in his possession – most likely in his home in Stonebridge. Thankfully, the beads weren’t well known. If anyone stumbled onto them, they wouldn’t know what to do with them which gives us time to retrieve them.
For all intents and purposes we are ready and equipped to begin the next phase and to finally exterminate the remaining rebellions – as well as start looking at the other continent where the Talent Troupe is hiding.
I’d be more hopeful if Nathan Hans wasn’t the appointed king. His parents were attempting to shed the company’s responsibility on him as quickly and rapidly as possible. Which is a depressing thought in itself – especially if you’re one of the few who knows of the tragedy that happened several years ago. The Hans family has usually been quiet and reserved but very dutiful on who carried on the important decisions. The successor was handpicked and trained for it, but the true successor was rumored to either have died or abandoned the family. The task was left to their sibling who had already created the man before me and decided to appoint him as head. For some ridiculous reason.
“I say we wait a bit more.” Nathan finally declared, stepping back from the file.
“Wait? Wait for what?” Lakeisha, who was seated on my right, demanded. “The Goldmind is ready for preparations.”
“I was thinking we should wait till it’s strong enough for everyone. Including uh,” He hesitated, trying to remember the name. “The Gretel creature.”
“She could very well be an impossible task.” I cut in.
“A fascinating one as well.” Darwin said. “I’ve still yet to isolate any kind of wavelength from her – she might not have any at all!”
“She’s cooperating now, but what if she turns on us and we’re not ready?” Nathan pushed.
“Precisely why we should start the Goldmind now. So we have all the resources available to us to counter her if it happens.” Maxine pointed out.
Nathan found himself on the spot. We could be lenient and make a compromise – give him some illusion to a good decision, but the time hardly called for niceties. Enough silence and Nathan eventually nodded and agreed that beginning the Goldmind preparations now was the best move.
Several more decisions were given to Nathan to make – under our supervision – on projects and actions to move most of Lakeisha’s tattooed subjects to the new facility.
“And finally something was brought to my attention,” Nathan said just as everyone expected this insufferable hand holding reunion to end. “The long range scanner, the um,” He scrambled a bit with his papers, clearly nervous about bringing up an element that wasn’t in the plan for today. “We noticed a witch on the other continent. They seem to be moving with intent towards this continent, um-”
“Yes we know that Xavier Whitelight is on the other continent. If he comes here we have more than enough defenses against him now.” Lakeisha cut in.
“No, well yes, but no it’s-” Commotion outside interrupted the fledgling and caught our attention. We can hear insistent shouting as the door creaked open a bit.
The noise was annoying to say the least and relentless, so our CEO declared the end of the reunion – as we’d already gone past our appointed time for it.
“You don’t understand! You have to let me in! That is my project. They stole my data! Look I have-”
“Ma’am you need to leave.” The guard attempted again, grabbing her arm and earning himself several harsh shoves.
The frantic move changed targets as Darwin made his way out.
“Mr.Dudley! It’s about one of the projects you have. I discovered that wavelength first! I have all my data right here-” She began, and Darwin cut her off sharply.
“Which you kept to yourself?”
“You’re part of a whole. Either you copied my work, or you’ve kept this information secret from the rest of your peers. Either way you deserve no credit and this is a waste of time.”
The woman clenched her jaw, but had no reply.
No one’s POV
Salandra Grace stared at the pill between her fingers. It’s the highly efficient and clean method they’d developed to feed their subjects. The ones who refused to swallow the pills were force fed until they accepted to do it of their own accord. The blue-haired knew by experience.
The pills were different these days. They were supposed to be stronger. Contain more nutrients. Allow her to support the cackling pain a little longer.
The one that was beginning to take form in black lines and fissures on her shoulder. The tattoo is forming! They excitedly share. Soon its function will manifest. We need to increase the treatments to make sure we catch the first appearances!
Make sure to swallow these pills. We need you alive and kicking and screaming and squirming and-
Salandra inhaled sharply, her muscles having a spasm as the ink pushed itself further to the surface of her skin. Her body just as intensely relaxed, leaving her feeling unbearably tired.
What if she didn’t eat the pills?
Dexter came to mind often these days. The tiny boy would get seizures before he died. She was starting to have convulsions. She woke up every night in the middle of an attack, squeezing herself until it passed. Seizures were just around the corner for her.
It’d be so much simpler not to eat them.
They’d just force feed her. She was likely to die from the experiment either way.
“He was right, you’re in a really bad shape.” Gloria said.
The only response she got was a blank stare.
“I’m sorry I haven’t been able to come see you.”
“What are you doing here?” Salandra asked, her voice betraying the intense fatigue inhabiting her.
“I wanted to check up on you. I heard they were going to move you.” Gloria said. Salandra gave no answer. Actually, it even seemed like she’d fallen to sleep. “Offer you some company or comfort.” Gloria drifted off, realizing this was a bad idea and served little purpose now. They’d chipped away at her too much, Salandra was barely there.
However, the blue-haired girl burst out in a strained and tired laugh. “Your company offers no comfort. You know what would be comforting? This stopping. Don’t fake caring about me.”
Salandra forced herself up. “We work in a manner of deals you and I.” She said in a low voice. “You had something to offer me before, now you don’t. I won’t entertain you with company if I have nothing to gain from it.”
“What can I do? There’s nothing I can do for you. I can’t ask them to stop, they wouldn’t listen.” Gloria said.
Salandra went rigid then, clenching her jaw as the tattoo pulsed again sending painful waves across her entire body. When it passed, Salandra slumped onto the rigid bed.
“Oh boohoohoo, poor Ice Queen.” Salandra snapped sharply. “Whatever shall the poor privileged girl do?”
Gloria grimaced and got up to leave. The conversation had reached a dead end. “Good luck.”
A harsh knock hit the wall, causing Gloria to freeze in her tracks. She turned back around to see Salandra looking up at the source of the noise.
How had…? Gloria was shocked. That had to have been Nikolas, and Sal’s gaze confirmed it. He’d somehow heard their conversation, he somehow knew Gloria was here now. And clearly wasn’t happy with the way the conversation had gone.
Gloria made her way back under Salandra’s curious yet still tired gaze.
“He wants me to share tips on how I survived what you’re going through right now.”
Salandra snorted, turning to stare at the wall. “If you survived this, then my chances just went up tenfold.”
“Your situation is worse.” Gloria said, tiptoeing on the subject. “I had…a peculiar situation which made the treatments easier. I was younger as well. The younger you are the higher your chances. You’re older, much older.”
Salandra had no reply. Little did Gloria know that Dexter was occupying both Nikolas and Salandra’s minds. The small, innocent, young, very young boy.
20-8-1-20 23-1-19 2-5-6-15-18-5
Nikolas began to knock then, a series of senseless knocks to Gloria who simply watched as Salandra listened intently.
There was clearly a code to it, though Gloria wasn’t sure what.
23-9-12-12 2-5 6-9-14-5
The knocking ended then, and Salandra hadn’t moved. She was glaring at the wall this time.
“But you’re right.” Gloria said, completely unsure of how the conversation had progressed without her. “You’re stronger than me. I’m sure you’ll make it through.”
“Fuck you both. Your pity makes me want to barf.” Salandra snarled. “Leave me alone.”
Gloria hesitated long enough for Salandra to cast an intense glare in her direction. “Don’t make me waste my energy into kicking the window.”
She did as she was told, leaving Salandra alone, just like she asked.
“Are you sure it’s not just the scanner wigging out?”
“I’m not sure of anything. Something was heading for Cloverfield and now I can’t pinpoint it at all. It’s apparently everywhere.”
“We need to alert Nathan Hans.”
“He’s not here.”
“Then we have to go to the department heads.”
“But what if the scanner is just glitching?”
“What’s the worst case scenario? Getting scolded for wasting their time? Or risking that it isn’t a glitch?”
“That’s right, they need to get the force out and looking.”
“You’re doing well Gloria. Continue doing good work like this and you’ll get a promotion soon. They’ll start sending you to Stonebridge.”
To the most dangerous place right now for a Hans employee. Right in the middle of the rebellion constantly planning to overthrow them. How exciting that promotion sounds.
I’ve gotten comfortable and used to the routine missions I keep getting. Impersonating family members of suspected or unregistered Yellows and Reds. Tagging them and moving on to the next. Sometimes they were just about information retrieval. Getting news on the surviving Dragon members. Snippets about the growing Stonebridge rebellion.
Simple things. Things I’ve gotten good at. Being sent deep into enemy lines? Not a simple thing.
This news in no way motivated me to successfully accomplish today’s mission.
But what else am I going to do? If I don’t do the work, I’ll get punished for it. I’m stuck.
Just like Nikolas and Salandra.
I sighed at the thought. They expect me to help them, hell they demand it. And I want to help? I do, and I don’t understand why.
My parents died in a car crash with me in it just a handful of years ago now. A car ran into us – almost on purpose you could say. I try not to think about it too much, because I always end up glaring at Cherry Blossom when I do. I learned afterwards that my father was already married – and not to my mother, but to Cherry Blossom herself. A cold woman working for the Hans. The idea that she could have orchestrated the death of my small family wasn’t foreign.
I had a past trauma that made it almost ridiculous for me to even sympathize with those two.
Nikolas tore his family apart, dragging them through trials and dangers by his own recklessness.
Salandra voluntarily blew up dozens of innocent bystanders to her attempted suicide.
I have every right to despise them, but I don’t and it confuses me. On the contrary I want to help Salandra. It’s pitiful to see her like this. She’s like a caged hawk.
I idly chuckled to myself, remembering the metaphors I’d mused about to try and explain my fascination. Hawks are beautiful birds meant to be out in the open. Sharp eyed, sly and brutal at times – while gorgeous creatures, they’re also predatory birds. Pretty to watch from afar, or limited from inside a cage.
And then I remembered hummingbirds. My mother had a love for birds and on one of our trips we’d gone on a hunt for hawk nests. When we found one, we found hummingbird nests nearby as well. She explained to me how the hawks had no interest in eating the hummingbirds. The latter were too small, and the hawks were often seen protecting the hummingbirds. So the hummingbirds had taken to nesting close to them. The small little birds inevitably made me think of someone also. The tiny animals are more defensive in nature– their speed and their daring over the top aerial feats are their main method of defense. It sounded a little reckless to me.
It’s a symbiotic relationship, she’d try to explain. An invisible thread connects the two species of birds. They don’t need to speak or interact with each other. They help each other by instinct. The hawk protects the hummingbird, and the latter attracts the type of prey the hawk likes to devour. Life is simpler and easier in each other’s presence.
Maybe that’s why the two interest me so much. They remind me of a better time.
Even if the fear of being caught again and this time locked behind bars, wasn’t there, I still wouldn’t be able to help them. There’s nothing I can do. I can’t pull the same stunt again with Nikolas’ rings and Salandra is hardly in a condition to move. Any of the artifacts that could potentially be useful are too well protected. And my own powers are of no use here.
It’s unfortunate, but there’s really nothing I can do. And in a few days, as her tattoo settles and her fate becomes clear, she’ll be moved to a new facility and Nikolas will stay here.
And I’ll be here, reminding myself how powerless we really are.
“Gloria, right? I’m Serenity. Come sit down, let’s talk about a prison break.”