Chapter 2: Taken Away

I pick up the baker's pan again, the handle slippery from blood. Taking deep breaths, I slowly stride up to the four officials. The first one was a small man, wielding a metal baton. He ran at me with a thundering yell and held my arms behind my back. The blood rushed to my head and I thrashed in the officer's arms, shouting incoherent words.

"You're crazy!" He shouted as I struggled. This made my situation even worse. I jabbed the pan against the man's head, and he fell backwards. I used this moment to break free from his grip and run. Unfortunately the other three guards surrounded me and tied my hands behind my back. I could feel the rope scratching my wrists as they made me kneel.

"James Hawkeye, right?" One of them said, kneeling down with me. I nodded and waited for their answer. The guard who knelt smirked as he read off a piece of paper.

"James Matthew Hawkeye. Seventeen years old," I raised my head a little bit, and saw that Takura was bound as well.

"Marked here as Thistan," The officer continued, "And guilty of multiple theft cases. Two murder cases: Yoshiru Kata, 27 years old, on March 17, 6009. Joshua Hours, 48 years old, on July 2, 6012." I closed my eyes and tried not to remember my first murder; It was the same day I had told myself I would change.

The officer spoke again. "Takura Heavans. Eighteen years old. Marked as Thistan, and guilty of multiple theft cases. One murder case: Yoshiru Kata, 27 years old, on March 17, 6009 as an accomplice of James Hawkeye." I gulped and figured Takura was getting the same speech.

"Do you know why we're here?" The officer asked. I shook my head.

"We're here because we want the world to change."

-

I was seated in a dark room that smelled nothing like the city. In fact, it smelled something like oranges and roses. Takura, a blank expression on her face, was seated next to me. I looked over to her.

"Are you okay?" She said nothing.

We had been waiting here for hours. The officer that had spoken to me referred to himself as 'Doctor Hannon' and told me that he wanted something stolen.

It was definitely my thing.

I was told to stand at the station, like anyone else. I did. It was crowded and smelled awful. Like most of the city, because the city I live in didn't have nearly as many resources as the upper-class places, like Montera, and North Eiko - The former being the slang term for the capital of this nation Harkura, and the latter the slang term for the first district. The air was polluted, because Jusio wasn't a very Ether-rich place. In fact, Jusio didn't have any at all. We live like people did in the Age of Oil. But without anything like their cars, or gasoline. All of those fossil fuels are gone. Most of our things are air or steam powered.

Aether, or Ether. It was what we thought saved our lives. Some people think it's what gave life in the first place.

The train arrived. I boarded it as planned and sat patiently, observing the scene.

Coughs, gags, and vomiting. Those were a few of the symptoms of Iron Rashes. It made the city smell terrible and could not be cured without Ether. Of which, Jusio has none. It's created from the carbon monoxide that was already in the air and the dust particles from anywhere. It's worse than tetanus... which is also common, but that's not the killer.

Ether was created from coal, the pressure crushing the material even more so, creating a purer substance. That is the scientific definition. What we as Thistans believe is that Ether is the essence of all life - And ironically the same name was given to those immune to Iron Rashes. Aether, Ether in its purest form, has no qualities whatsoever and moves in a circular pattern, giving us the air we breathe and the crops we eat from. Now now... Ichor... Ichor is for the gods. In the ancient - And I'm talking about like, thousands upon thousands of years back - Greek times, Ichor was said to be what flowed in the veins of gods. Really concentrated Ether.

I was broken from my train of thought when the man seated next to me coughed and tapped my shoulder. I turned.

"Be lucky you haven't caught it yet, son... I shouldn't sit next to you, you'll catch it."

I shook my head and whispered, "Don't worry, God likes me."

He let off a weak laugh and croaked, "Thistan, huh? Then don't worry; I don't see the difference."

There are normal people out there after all.

The train came to a stop, and I slowly exited, gaping at the scene.


Montera Station
15:32
July 2, 6012.

There were no bicycles. There were no skaters, or bloody street fighters. And that horrible stench was gone. I couldn't believe my nose, partly because the station made Jusio smell even worse. I stopped gaping and started walking, pulling out the wallet Hannon had given me and snuck a look at the ID card.

Mark I. Taurs
19 years old

The photo was of me, slightly aged and dressed differently than my regular 'red jacket, purple shirt, blue pants, black boots.' I was dressed in a working suit. It was laughable.

Like I can afford a suit.

I continued to read the card:

Military personnel
-Biological Scientist

I'm not brilliant, but I wouldn't describe myself as stupid. All I really have to do is show the officials the ID and then request some free time in the room where the treasure is. What did Hannon say again? ...A room labeled 'DNA samples...' Whatever that means.

I arrived at the complex a short time later and fell backwards trying to understand exactly how tall it was. The building was complex, hence its name, and I entered without a word.

To say the least, what I saw inside shocked me. There were people writing on thin air with slim pens. I saw a glimpse of a tail, and heard the beeping of some device. The lobby had a warm fragrance to it, like burning firewood.

I shook my head clear and kept walking. I would seem out of place if I were to stand and stare. Making my way over to the elevator, I bumped into a... should I say small person. She couldn't be more than five feet tall and her build was small but well built. What shocked me the most about this peculiar person though, was her fifth appendage and her ears. The appendage being a bushy, bright orange tail that I would think should belong on a fox. Her ears followed the same concept; orange and pointed, like that of an animal. I was speechless.

Speechless because I found her beautiful.

She stared back at me, her eyes like sharp emeralds piercing my mind. The silence was chilling, until she spoke.

"Your eyes are green." She said, tilting her head. I groaned inwardly. I have no time for this. Thinking fast, I responded, "So are yours." She squinted and said, "Really? Take a closer look." She opened her eyes fully, and this time they were a deep blue, like the middle of the ocean.
I let out a small scream and quickly covered my mouth as her eye color reverted back to the emerald green I first saw it as. The girl snickered as I blushed furiously. "You're funny." She said, and her tail swished as she said so.

"It's real..." I muttered. She looked at me with such a confused look that I almost thought she was being sarcastic.

"What do you mean, 'It's real?'" She asked, flicking her tail. "Of course it is." I blushed and rubbed my head. "Uh..." The girl's look darkened. "I know what you're thinking." She said timidly. "It's not normal where you're from, is it?" I took a tiny step back and swallowed, appalled. "How... How'd you know?" The girl smirked.

"I'm smart like that." she asserted. I glared and held out my hand. "I am Mark Taurs." She shook my hand. "I am Stella Roeme. It's a pleasure to meet you... James Hawkeye."

I immediately retracted my hand and gasped. "Mind reader!" I exclaimed quietly. She smirked. "No, no. Word just travels really fast." Stella winked, and I recalled a part of Dr. Hannon's lecture.

You can't do it alone, no matter who you think you are. I'm sending someone with you.

I took a step backwards and held my head in frustration. "Can you explain?" I muttered. Stella turned around. "Come on, then." She stepped inside the elevator, which happened to be more like a tube with handles.

"Are you ready?" She mused, grasping one of the handles. I nodded and held my breath. Nothing seemed to happen, but when the doors opened, we were on a completely different floor. Stella smirked and stepped out. "Yeah," She said, "Don't let go, or you'll get crushed by the forces of gravity and drag and other things I'm too lazy to name."

I nodded, terror-stricken. I had been one curious thought away from getting crushed. Shakily walking out of the elevator, I adjusted the sleeves of my jacket and followed the girl into the next room. "This," Stella started, pointing to all of the cages in the room, "Is the Chimera room." She walked to one of the cages and motioned for me to come over. I walked over to the cage and knelt down; immediately I wanted to scream in rage.

What lay in the cage was a combination of snake and man. It looked sad, and terrified of my presence. Luckily, it had more of a human form; scales covered its skin and gave the being a sickly green color. I felt my fists tighten and my face burn with rage once more.

"They did this to you too, Stella? The sons of bitches..."

The features on Stella's face darkened and I could see the fur on her ears spread until her face was partially covered, and her nose darkened and changed shape. She flexed her fingers as her nails darkened and grew; fur started to line her forearms and her tail fluffed itself out like a cat's.

The next two words she uttered made me shiver.

"I'll make them pay."