Author: Vivace.Assai PM
Nightmares. Whispers. Murders. And here she thought nothing could go wrong. But then again, being quarantined in suburbia for nine days tends to do things to a person's sanity.Rated: Fiction T - English - Mystery/Fantasy - Chapters: 6 - Words: 19,884 - Reviews: 37 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 6 - Updated: 07-24-12 - Published: 04-28-12 - id: 3017636
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Unlike the last few chapters, this chapter contains events directly related to the last story, A Cry for Trust. The basic explanation is:
After the end of the last story, Group members S. and Cirasu Millieu realized they lacked information on Him, the main antagonist for the series. To better battle this mysterious figure, the two decided to begin research on Him and his plans. S. is researching alone. Cirasu has enlisted the help of Sareyah Irash and Tsacharia Rhi.
For more thorough understanding, reading the very last chapter of A Cry for Trust could help.
Time: 8:05 WL (when light) - Emerison Time
concerning researchers and their attempt for some degree of concentration
Sareyah's nose itched from the dust. Her eyes were strained from the library's poor lighting. The hair on her skin stood up; she was freezing from the lack of heat. Her tongue was dry, in dire need of water or something to replenish her taste buds. But out of all her senses, she was most acutely aware of what she heard. She noticed laughing the most.
It was a light, airy laugh belonging to children. She tugged on her red hair, discomfort edging on her.
Laughter was a paradox for Sareyah. Her mother once told her it was the best medicine in all the fragments; she was both right and wrong.
True as her mother predicted, mirth made Sareyah happy. Most people survived each day through ignorance and negativity, while Sareyah thrived on smiles and chuckles. She followed the code of optimism, but for some reason, her happiness didn't prevent laughter from taking on a woeful tone. There was the contradiction. Finding delight and humor was as important to her life as the air, and yet, it made her heart wrench when a laugh hit her ears.
Her problem's fault lay in her memories. Every event in her past was connected to a certain type of laughter; every giggle brought relapses of her old life. It was joyous and made her current means dim in comparison. The exultation of remembering the past was short-lived. After each recollection, she was brought down from her flight in the clouds, brought down to the harsh realities of her situation. She had been a fragment traveler from her birth, but now she was also a detective, an avenger of dangerous plans, and a woman who wished for an impossible dream.
At the moment, memories of days with her troupe resurfaced. Different sounds mixed into the laugh: the heavy beat of the drums, the pats on the tambourines, the cheering, and the tap of her feet on the ground as she danced. Oh how she twirled through her life those days! Growing boys and young men would come; after some bashful stares, they would compliment her, ask her out for dinner, and maybe treat her to a pretty hairpin or new shoes. Her troupe called her a tour-de-force and she was promised a good future even after her retirement.
Everything had been set. Everything had been ensured. Why had she abandoned the luxuries of her performing troupe?
A soft chime, almost like a whistle, made the memories rush away. A growing smile disappeared from her face. There it was: the sadness.
She picked up her communicator, the source of the new noise, and answered it.
"Hello," she greeted.
"You sick, Sayi?"
The voice was unmistakable. Despite the concerned question, the speaker's tone bore amusement more than anxiety. She rolled her eyes realizing who was calling her. The caller had wonderful timing; he always contacted her when she didn't want to talk to him the least.
"What do you want, Yuriy?" She made no effort to hide her distaste.
"What? Do I sense displeasure in your voice?" Yuriy sounded overdramatic with his enunciated words. Sareyah could imagine his orange eyes widening in mock hurt. "And after I called you to give you some of my attention?"
"I don't want your attention."
There was a pause and Sareyah wondered what the blond was planning. If she knew the trickster, he was probably formulating a witty response. When Yuriy spoke again, his words contained a playful tint – so playful it felt provoking.
"So I assume this means you don't want Dmitriv's attention either?"
"What?" She straightened herself at the name. Her heart skipped a beat.
A chortle broke out from the communicator's speakers. Realizing her slip-up, she reddened and sunk down on her chair. Even though Yuriy wasn't looking at her, it still felt as if she was naked in front of his eyes. She hated the sensation.
"Stop laughing, Yuriy Vlase Erhart!" she scolded, using his full name for better effect. "This is embarrassing."
Yuriy didn't hear her. His chuckles grew louder and she ducked under the table. There was nobody around her, but in her flustered state, she needed to hide herself from the humiliation. She covered her face with her free hand. Each snigger prodded her, making the heat rise further up her cheeks. He had to stop. She had to make him stop.
"Oh come off it, Yuriy!" she shouted. "It's not like you don't admire someone, or to be more specific a certain lea–"
"Okay I get it." The laughter stopped in a snap. Yuriy didn't sound amused as he added, "You didn't have to bring her into it." He mumbled a few incoherent words before saying, "And here, Dmitriv wants to talk to you about something."
Sareyah grinned in triumph at her win, though her smug smile was replaced with a nervous one when a new voice rang from her communicator.
The voice was deep, as deep and as bountiful as the sea. There were so many facets and possibilities from it. It could adopt a harsh lilt. It could become comforting. It could bear gravity and sadness. It could be hopeful and loving.
Why had she abandoned the luxuries of her performing troupe? The answer was simple. On the day that voice's owner walked into her life, she had been ensnared. She had known her twirling days were over.
"How are you?" Dmitriv continued to say.
"Fine, fine," she replied. She wanted to add more but nothing was fitting for the situation.
"And how are you doing with that secret project Cirasu assigned you?"
"You're not planning on telling me what Cirasu is planning, are you?"
"Sorry Dmitriv," she replied, "I can't. Cirasu wants everything to be a secret."
"I thought so." He sighed and the exhale was drawled out. He was tired. She hoped he wasn't too stressed. Questions about his health flew in her mind but she couldn't find a way to make it sound nonchalant – not too prying. She didn't want to be pushy or bothersome. With another sigh, he said, "I have some troubling news to report to you."
"Troubling?" She paled. Various scenarios came to her mind. Deaths. Torture. Accidents.
"Yes," he said. "It appears we won't be arriving in the city anytime soon. We got quarantined in this neighborhood for nine days. Can you pass the message to Tsacharia and Cirasu for me?"
She wrapped a hand around the leg of the table and raised an eyebrow. That was Dmitriv's troubling news? She loved the man but he had the strangest notions concerning what was bad. Pressing her face onto the leg, she said, "Sure."
Another thought came to her, or rather another person. Her mood deflated. She couldn't understand why she remembered him. She never talked to the man, only stared at him with loathing. But of course the Group's scientist would be the one to destroy her good mood. More frustrating was the fact he wasn't there and he could ruin her day.
"But what about S.?" she asked. Her words were forceful and reluctant. "He's also in the city, though I have absolutely no idea what he's doing. Do you want me to track him down and send him the message?"
She prayed Dmitriv's answer would be a decisive and resounding 'no.'
"Yuriy contacted him first," Dmitriv answered. "He says he'll be fine. But I hope this isn't too much of a disappointment. Will you be okay for a few days without us?"
"Yes." After a pause, she was able to add, "More than okay. In fact, now I have more time to finish this project Cirasu assigned. It's rather difficult."
"She always likes to be difficult," Dmitriv replied. He sounded amused and she was curious to understand why. Before she could continue the conversation, however, he quickly said, "Best of luck."
The call ended. The hand holding her communicator went limp and Sareyah breathed out a sigh. Her insides down to her very core felt warm. Every talk with Dmitriv produced a similar feeling and she shook her head, trying to clear her mind.
What was she doing? How was she acting? She replayed the discussion in her mind, analyzing every thought she had. She breathed a sigh of relief when she realized she had acted with some decorum. Most of the time, she would become a mess, mustering up only one worded answers. Maybe her greater time with Dmitriv had made her more immune. She sighed, clearing the thought of the lead detective from her mind. This was foolish. She needed to stay grounded and focused on her work; she couldn't be swept off her feet by a man who only viewed her as a friend.
"Sayi?" A head poked under the table. A petite girl stared at Sareyah with sparkling green eyes. "Why are you sitting under the table?"
"Just taking a communicator call," Sareyah answered.
"Under a table?" Despite the skepticism in her voice, the girl did not pursue the subject. Most of the Group liked to be nosy but Tsacharia was the type to accept an answer without further questioning. Offering a hand, she pulled Sareyah out from the space.
"So how did your reconnaissance go?" Sareyah asked. Her question was answered as her eyes met stacks of folders covering the entire table.
"A lot, huh?" Tsacharia pushed a loose strand of her golden brown hair behind her ear. "But this is only a quarter of the census data for all the deaths in the Sphere from 895 years ago." She picked up a folder and looked through it. "You do know how many people die in this place."
"Yeah, millions must drop dead like flies every single day."
Sareyah also grabbed a folder to examine. The lists included the name, age, gender, and fragment of the deceased. She took passing interest in the cause of death. Murder. Murder. Murder. Murder. Murder. Murder. Murder. Murder. Deep Vein Thrombosis. Murder. Murder. Murder. Murder. Murder. Murder. Murder. Murder. Murder. Murder. The word repeated perpetually like a broken record.
"Why do we have to go through these folders again?" Sareyah asked as she threw the folder back onto the table.
"Because Cirasu asked us to," Tsacharia answered while taking notes of her work.
"But what's the use of searching the census data for the past 1000 years of all the deaths in the Sphere?" Sareyah threw herself onto her chair. "How is this going to help us against Him? What are we even looking for?"
"Cirasu just told us to look for anything peculiar from the census data, anything out of ordinary."
"So I guess this means people who didn't get murdered?"
"Maybe," Tsacharia said absentmindedly as she focused on her work. Her eyes widened as she caught something. "Or maybe…"
She pushed her folder towards Sareyah. Her finger was on a specific name and Sareyah read through the details.
Name: Unknown. Age: Unknown. Gender: Male. Fragment of Death: Marsiope. Cause of Death: Idealism and regret.
"Or maybe she wanted us to find something like this."
- Day 1 -
"I don't understand what you're planning, Boss, but I don't like it."
Cirasu readjusted her lace fingerless gloves, pretending not to hear her subordinate's words. Finished examining her clothes, she directed her attention to her surroundings. People scurried past her bench, most of them men in their slick suits and greased hair. Every few moments, a rare woman, dressed in poorly woven skirts and dresses, appeared – from the poorer class probably, since women preferred to be at home in the kitchens as dictated by Emerison's feminine norm.
"Boss, are you listening to me?" A young woman waved her hand over Cirasu's line of sight. She tugged on her floral printed skirt. "Karian has been passing news to me and apparently, Parliament is absolutely furious about your decision to relocate the Group to Emerison. They say you're wasting the Group's time when they could be at other fragments where Him is certainly attacking."
"Parliament will always be Parliament," Cirasu responded. "Nothing we can do there." She flicked off a bug from her pencil skirt. "But you can tell Karian to ask them why they are so certain Emerison isn't susceptible to Him's influence."
The woman started to play with her curly blonde hair. "But why must you assign Miss Rhi and Miss Irash to research? That must be why you chose this country and fragment; Emerison, Misaveta is known across the Sphere for its extensive census collection."
"The answer is obvious if you understand how I work," said Cirasu. "And I expect you to, Rhianne, after working as my right-hand woman since your childhood."
Rhianne folded her arms across her chest. "It's related to Him, right?"
Cirasu's eyes lit up but she didn't answer. She leaned back on her bench and gazed up at the clear, blue sky. Rhianne tapped a finger on her arm, waiting for a response, but seeing nothing, she groaned turned to her bag. A yellow manila folder was pushed under the silver-haired leader's nose.
"You got the information I required," stated Cirasu as she opened the envelope. She pulled out several pieces of paper, crammed to the borders with small black text. Her eyes scanned the words, her mind absorbing everything. She didn't even need to process or read the information; she could easily understand it.
"I found nothing of significance though," Rhianne said. "Really, reconnaissance on Him is impossible. He's hardly anywhere on the records."
"Him is a lunatic but also a genius," noted Cirasu, "and a genius knows to be everywhere and nowhere."
Rhianne rolled her eyes. "It's impossible having a normal conversation with you."
"We aren't normal people, so we never have normal conversations," retorted Cirasu. For some reason, the corners of her lips twitched upwards.
The next moment Rhianne's face was close to hers, so close she could hear the woman's breathing. Pale brown eyes narrowed as she scrutinized Cirasu. It was like she was an art enthusiast examining a new painting. Cirasu raised an eyebrow but continued skimming through the pages. She worked like a machine, fluid and never ceasing to function. Her mind took in the words, analyzed them, and made conjectures simultaneously.
"You've changed," Rhianne said, penetrating Cirasu's concentration.
"I've changed?" she asked. Her attention on the research didn't waver.
"You've gotten a lot more open, less cold than before. It's easier to talk with you. I don't feel off the edge as I used to. Being with the Group's done you some good."
"Maybe." She hesitated before adding on a whim, "I prefer it this way."
"Having some positive connections with other people?"
"Yes." Her answer was terse, forced. Admitting her desire for good relationships required confessing to another fact about herself. Intimacy made her feel more human.
"Well everybody likes that," said Rhianne. What followed was another case of her need to impart knowledge on others. "The Hierarchy of Needs says belonging is crucial for finding self-fulfillment."
Cirasu blocked out Rhianne's explanation. She returned to the documents in front of her. As she passed a section, two words caught her attention. She froze for a moment before backtracking and rereading the same paragraph. Everything was so specific. And the last two words. There was only one person who would say those words, only one person in all the fragments. But nothing could be that easy. And the world couldn't be that small.
She grabbed Rhianne's arm, pulling the woman away from her ramblings.
"A paragraph here is quite curious," she said. "To paraphrase, a source says an obsession will never die even when the creator is killed."
"Sounds a lot like Him and his plans, huh?" said Rhianne.
"Yes but what is most curious is how this source ends his testimony." Cirasu pointed at the last line and quoted it. "That is simply one of the sad facts about life. But we must live. Vivamus debemus."
She closed her eyes, trying to block out the onslaught of images. A girl weathered and nearly destroyed by grief and frostbite. A group of scholars seeing the world. A man with penetrating green eyes. And then darkness, the result of her repression. Once again, there was false peace within her. Opening her eyes and placing a blank expression on her face, she turned to Rhianne.
Silver eyes locked with brown. A message passed between them. Brown eyes widened in amazement. A gasp came from Rhianne's throat.
"You can't be saying?" The woman had paled considerably but a smile was forming on her face.
Cirasu turned away and started straightening herself. Handing the envelope and its contents back to Rhianne, she stood up.
"Find the source of this information and then report back to me." She began walking, but she glanced back to offer a grimace. "And I want you to do it as quickly as possible."
- Day 1 -
S. kicked open the gate and stepped inside. Pushing the slip of paper containing the address, he proceeded towards the door. The derelict surroundings barely registered in his mind, though he was acutely aware of the dead plants and cracked pavement. The neighbors had told him he was about to meet a nice man, always ready to serve at a time of need. But they had also said he was a strange recluse. Their eyes had shined with fear as they added those words. As he remembered the terrified glint, S.'s skin tingled in anticipation at the meeting.
Arriving at the entrance, he rang the doorbell. A brief, reflective silence passed before the door swung open. A middle-aged man regarded him with wise, green eyes – eyes that matched S.'s in color and intensity. A flash of recognition passed through his face and the man began grinning widely.
"So you've come?" the man said. His voice was a silky tenor, a deceptive ploy. A powerful man stood before S., deserving of a deep, booming voice; and yet, he hid his potential under a high pitch. It was tricky business and S. gulped.
"You knew I was coming?" S. asked.
The man's grin grew wider and S. found it familiar. He had seen it somewhere before. The man said nothing and another wave of déjà vu fell over S. Yes, he had seen the man's exact response somewhere before.
"What or who told you I was coming?" S. said, rephrasing the question.
"I just knew," the man answered. His green eyes pierced him. It was as if the gaze could stab deeper then the flesh and muscle and bone. It could puncture deeper then the heart. It could reach S.'s soul. Despite his discomfort, he stared deep into those sharp eyes.
"I'm here for business," he explained. "Important business about a certain figure and his plans, so I would appreciate it if you helped."
"So I'm told," the man replied. The ambiguous response was like an obstacle on the road; S. couldn't decipher how to drive past it.
"Let me introduce myself and explain further," he said, trying to get a favorable response out of the man. "Like who this figure is."
The man's smile faltered; a knowing look passed his face. He rested his head on the doorway and the beam returned, daring S. to continue. His mouth moved, spelling out his thoughts towards S.'s comment.
S.'s next words hung in his throat, incapable of being spoken, as he read the statement.
Are you certain you have the strength?
His blood chilled at the taunt. Presentiment washed across his body, delving into his very essence. He understood the true power of his situation; once he said the next words, he could not return. Go back from what, he did not know. Uncertainty scared him more than anything else in the world.
But he didn't back away. Cowardice was not the way S. worked. Before any self-doubt could strike, he said his last words. He sealed his fate.
"I'm Dr. S. and I'm here to talk about Him."
A/N: Next update will be in about a week.