Veilstone Grand Hotel, Evening
Dropping the coin-ridden bag the moment she stepped through the door, Callisto kicked off her shoes and walked straight for the bed, falling face-first into the neatly pressed sheets and pillows. Letting the blankets sink around her, she squirmed around until she had completely cocooned herself in the sheets. It helped her feel secure, feel that everything was real and that she had to face it soon, but not now. Just, soon.
The plain gold chain was still around her neck. Worming an arm through the sheets she twisted it between thumb and forefinger. The loose, broken link was still there, and it poked her thumb when she pressed it. Callisto wondered why she still kept this thing, why she let herself keep a token of that day when her life was uprooted for perhaps the third or fourth time of her life and still hasn't settled down into any sense of normalcy. She twisted the covers tighter until she couldn't move. It was simple, really. She kept it as a sign that this was real, that everything was real, so she would stop having to squeeze her eyes tight and tell herself that this is a all a bad dream, that she would wake up and hear her family, maybe a mom and a dad and maybe even a brother or sister, and they would yell at her for sleeping in so late and to get going for school or else she'd miss the bus and she wouldn't mind the tiniest bit because she would have a house and a family and a normal life where she could go home and hug them and tell them she loves them and they love her too..
But she could feel the broken link poke her thumb, and see the velvety dark paint of the walls, and hear the coins settling in her bag, and know that this is real, that when she closed her eyes there was nothing to wake up to, nothing to see but the insides of her eyelids and maybe an occasional dream that always ended eventually.
Callisto sniffled and rolled out of her blanket cocoon. She grabbed a tissue from the nightstand and wiped her face. “Okay you crybaby, that's enough now,”
she crumpled the tissue and tossed it into the dustbin, missing. “Ah, well.”
Tossing it in properly this time, she dragged her bag further into the room and let it lie against the foot of the bed.
Now was the time to face reality, though looking around she hardly knew where to begin. “Just follow routine then,”
she thought, while she fetched the key to the door joining her bedroom and Julien's. Stepping in she stomped hard around the perfect, unspoiled carpet, walked into the washroom and tossed a towel over the shower head before turning the shower on and let it run. She made sure the towel was getting wet before she stepped back outside and proceeded to jump on the bed. She giggled and did a belly-flop before tumbling off and punched in the pillow, making an indent as if a head had lain there in the night, as both she and Julien knew that none will ever. With Julien staying out all hours of the night, every night, there soon came a problem of how to explain why her own bed had been slept in, while his wasn't. After a close call one time when the housekeeper had actually called the police, fearing some sort of under-aged, well, something (she was registered as fifteen while he at about nineteen)
, it was clear that they needed to make more of an effort to appear human, even behind closed doors.
At first she feared it would be a drag, but it soon became as routine as brushing her teeth or combing her hair, just something extra to do before retiring for the night. As she passed by the night-stand she noticed them. A pair of silver-grey gloves and his hat. It was an old-fashioned top-hat, a silver-grey colour like his gloves but a touch darker than his hair, with a yellow band running above the brim. It was bent askew in the middle, like something heavy had fallen on it right there, but Julien never seemed to pay notice. Callisto picked them up. “Boy, he'll be pretty pissed when he finds out he forgot these.”
She briefly considered going out to bring them to him. She knew he spent most of his time at the lost tower, though the place terrified her. She replaced the hat and gloves on the night-stand. “He can get them himself if he misses them so badly,”
she stormed back to the washroom and shut off the shower, wringing out the towel and tossing it onto the rod. It slumped to the floor. She snorted. “Whatever.”
Storming back to her own room she reflected back on what had happened that day, trying hard to skip past that, unfortunate, encounter with Alex. “Why did he have to be there?”
But she pushed that aside and went back to what Julien had said. They had to leave, but what for? They were fortunate enough to appear almost completely human, and they had money, things most morphs would dream of having. They had almost nothing to worry about when it came to the 'normals' detecting what they were. But the urgency in his voice, there was something that was frightening him a great deal. “But what?”
The answer was right at the forefront of her mind, but she ignored it, denying it entirely before collapsing back into he own bed, clothes and all, blanking everything out of her mind. In the morning she would wake up in her own room in her house with a family, maybe a mother and a father and maybe even a brother or sister. She thought this with earnest, slipping out of the reality she lived in and into her own, if only for the night.
Veilstone outskirts, Evening
At first, when she saw his hand, it seemed like the morph girl was going to accept his help. Then, just as suddenly, she flinched away, clinging to the flareon boy for shelter. Julien flinched back himself, drawing his hand back. He looked at it, curling and uncurling his fingers, seeing the memory of blood and more blood dripping through his fingers and falling in little zig-zags across the snow.
Julien looked up, and immediately regretted it. The boy stared back with unimaginable repulsion. “[You've done enough.]"
"[Yeah, just go.]"
Julien winced, rubbing his fingers. They never seemed to be able to warm up. Why wouldn't they ever be warm? "[I'm sorry, so sorry, I...I...]"
The boy muttered, pulling himself off of the ground. "[Get out of my face.]"
he said, as if the words were a swear.
Julien flinched away, shoulders hunched and shaking. "[I-I-I'm sorry...please, I-I-I...]"
Finally, opening her mouth again, the morph girl breathed in deep and let loose a strong jet of flames. Julien let out a small cry as the flames wrapped around him, falling to his side and shielding his head with his arms as the flames lapped around and over, fanning out in a brilliant burst of flame against the tree behind him. Every bit of skin hurt, though his clothes were only coated in a layer of ash. Odd how these morph-clothes worked. He whimpered in pain, feeling as if his flesh had touched dry ice and was burning and freezing away. He curled up further as it looked as if the morph girl was about to attack again. However, her newfound strength had been drained all-too-quickly for her and she was blacking out before long.
"[G-go away... please...]"
She weakly managed to utter before unconsciousness fully gripped her.
Julien shuddered, backing up further, clawing back across the ground, not unlike how Alex had tried to escape from him just a few minutes ago, getting away from the trio. His breath was depleted, coming in short, halting breaths as he pulled himself up and looked pleadingly at them. The girl was unconscious, the boy he knew to avoid. The flareon? No, her answer was just as steely and cold as death.
"[Yes, please go.]"
It felt like an age before he could move, but it was only seconds after the word were uttered when he was sent into a running sprint deep into the woods, far, far away from the city and the path and not stopping even when the trio were long disappeared from sight. The words, no, the voices swelled like an explosion in his chest, a strange, alien pain like a nail run through his heart. What was it? He clutched his chest, hoping to pull it out but only grabbing a handful of his jacket.
His feet stumbled and tripped, sending him crashing to the ground. Arms shaking he clumsily got to his feet, swaying to rest his weight on the cane. The cane's end rattled against the dead leaves at each laborious breath.
“Monster, demon, devil, murderer,”
The thoughts pursued each other around his brain. A quiet, pitiful whimper escaped from his throat as he let his head collapse against the silver cane topper. Threads of his silvery gossamer hair fell around him, like a curtain of tears and rain. “What do I do now?”
Julien raised his head and looked around him. Pure silence, and solitude. Only an illusion, he could 'see' the souls of the three far away at the edge between city and forest, the corpse he had left in the alley, and the life bustling in the streets of the city.
"A breath away from life, but never living,”
he breathed for no one to hear, quoted, from somewhere he heard long ago, “A heartbeat away from death, but never dying."
His finger automatically traced the crescent curve of the silver hook on the cane. He clutched it close to his heart. It didn't offer any comfort, but it gave him some sort of protection, of reassurance of something out of his control. His cheeks felt damp. He rubbed them, and found that the water was coming from his eyes. He didn't know he had a function to cry.
“Miserable bastard, you can only cry for yourself, can't you?”
He rubbed the damp away with the back of his glove. No, not his glove, his skin, cold and smooth as glass and soaked from tears. Like snow. So much like the snow...
She was cold, cold as the ice and snow in which she lay, fallen like a rag doll with her eyes wide and empty and staring.
“Oh god,” he breathed, “Oh god please, please wake up. Please, I'm so sorry, please, don't, no, no, don't, don't be, please...”
The screaming started. Oh how he hated the screaming. Screaming of rage and anger poisoning the fear, rising higher and higher like the screaming of a banshee with each word.
"YOU MONSTER! MONSTER! MONSTER!"
He clamped his hands over his ears, feet carrying himself away, farther and farther away as the voices still followed, a dark shroud over his own grave as the salt and icy air stung his eyes. "I'm sorry, I'm so, so, sorry. Please, stop..."
Branches and tree trunks passed through him, as if they were mist. Or he was. He let himself materialize, hands scratch against the rough tree bark, letting himself glide up and above the reaches of the voices and the screaming.
The branches barely rustled as he curled up against the trunk, high up in the tree. Julien often retreated to somewhere high and remote when he need time to think, or to simply forget what he had been thinking about. High up in the cold, cozy darkness of the branches with nothing to see but a clouded night sky, a plump gibbous moon rising in the east. He let his cane, now a normal cane, hang by its silver topper on a whip-like branch above while he pulled his knees under his chin as he did when he was a child. The moonlit shone off his silver hair, spotlighting him uncomfortably, but there was no one to see. If there was, he could easily meld into the shadows, disappear into the darkness leaving nothing behind. There was no Callisto, no boy and flareon with the hateful stares, no unconscious morph-girl, no dead boy lying in the alley, and no Riley. Only him and an endless night of solitude.
He found it easy to delude himself this way, to forget everything else in the world. Maybe it should have concerned him, but he reminded himself that there was no reason to, as there was no one to care about him, and no one to care for. Caring seemed so complex, so confusing, something that necessitates practice and patience. Julien let his mind clear, eyes go blank and staring, falling into a kind of sleepless, coma-like stupor that sometimes overcame him when reality became too much to bear. When the memories reared their perished heads.
Johto Medical Research Centre, Late Afternoon
...is very busy telling off an underling so we'll come back to him later...
“GET THIS DEAD **** OFF ME!!!”
Recon agents A and B
New Mauville, Afternoon
He screamed, dead, burned sockets pressed against his face as he flailed and kicked the dead body off of him.
“OH QUIT YOUR WHINING,”
she spat back, still shooting red sparks down the hall after the plusle morph. The sparks raced each other and danced along the walls before becoming confused and dying in explosive little collisions. She grunted in frustration and clenched her fists at her sides. Looking down at her partner, who had squirmed out from beneath the corpse, she gave him a light kick to the shins to knock some sense into him. “YOU *******, YOU LET HER GET AWAY!”
He screamed out in pain from the kick. She had misjudged her strength entirely. "You *****, I don't see YOU doing anything useful."
"Did you even manage to get the tracker on her?"
He rubbed his shin some more and took out what looked like a pokenav. He examined the screen for a moment, then looked down at the corpse, knelt down and plucked a pronged barb off its shoulder with a*minuscule, blinking light on the tip. He held it up in front of his partner. "That answer your question?"
She growled and slapped it and his hand away. "**** you, now we have a rogue morph*with*no stable location, AND,"
she pulled back her sleeve and examined her watch. She was silent for a while, long enough for the man to walk over and try to see what she was looking at. She whipped back her hand in a wide slap that caught him across the cheek. "AND it's 3:57, the middle of rushhour! ****..."
She pushed a hand back through her hair as she paced in a small circle, still cursing under her breath.
He had gotten up and was stretching lazily, rolling his shoulders as if a dead body hadn't been thrown into his face. “Well, coin-toss for who stays and cleans up and who tells Wattson to close down the bike-route for about an hour?”
She fished around her pocket and pulled out a golden pKe coin, flicking it into the air with her thumb. It spun and twirled to the ceiling. “Call it,”
Like a flash, both drew out their pokenavs and aimed the antennae at the coin. Jamming their thumbs against the centre button, the antennae shot out in pronged grappling hooks, hurtling out towards the coin. One clamp curled around the coin and snapped back with the crack of a whip, leaving the slower grappling hook trailing to the ground. She grinned widely at her partner, waving the pokenav with the coin firmly anchored onto the antenna. “See you later sucka!”
She saluted as she led her nosepass back through the twisting maze of pipe and panels.
He grumbled, heaving the body against the wall and counting up all the damaged panels and dig-tunnels and short-circuited wires. He gave the finger to the empty hall where she had walked down, rolled up his sleeve and got to work.
Mossdeep Space Station, Afternoon
...is very busy staring at his reflection in the radar screen so we'll come back to him later...
North Veilstone, Evening
The doors finally slid open to a hallway dotted with doors on either side. He ignored all of them and headed for the barren wall at the end of the hall. He placed his palm against it. An invisible scanner activated, accepting his handprint, and a pad to enter a code slid open.
He resisted the urge to waste the energy to roll his eyes. “Useless formalities,”
as he jammed in the code with little patience or regard for the delicate nature of the keypad.
The wall started to flicker, and a full-wall screen came to life, showing a professor in a lab coat accompanied by an electrive. He beamed at the screen. "Ahh, Master Dubois, it's been ages since you last visit! Or do you prefer I call you Riley
tapped his foot impatiently as his frown creased several more degrees. He didn't even bother to glance up at the professor's face. "Neither, professor, I need to check a certain weapon, I have reports of malfunctions and I need to perform a report myself."
The professor sighed and shook his head with a coy smile. "Riley, Riley, Riley, the eternal workaholic. You know, you're still a young man, a free bachelor, you should take some time to yourself, go out and see the world. Find a nice girl maybe, settle down for once."
Riley gritted his teeth, too pressed for time to even waste a breath correcting all the idiotic errors made in those few sentences. “After I finish my work. Professor. The door. If you please."
The professor sighed again. "Of course, Master Dubois. Electrive, the door!"
Electrive activated the panel to open the door with an immensely powerful thunderbolt. The wall slid open and revealed an enormous laboratory, a plethora of metallic walls and floors all buzzing with electronics, lined with racks full of weaponry that would shame an alien race, computers of all shapes and sizes making all electronic noises imaginable. Riley disregarded everything around him. The object of his intent stood most impressively at the centre of the grand room. The main computer. It towered nearly thirty feet above his head, encrusted with wires and screens and hard drives, with beams and more wires sprouting from its crown and trailing into an abysmal tangle that weaved and laced the ceiling, the walls, the floor, the building, and outwards to the far reaches of the earth. The central hub that linked all of the weapons laboratories in the world, sitting right in front of him.
Riley glided his fingers lightly across the keys. “The most sophisticated and impermeable product of computer engineering to date.”
In a flash his fingers began flying over the keys at lighting speed, entering streams and streams of data into the computer's gigantic electronic brain. “We'll just see about that.”