Once the elevator doors opened again, Doctor Fischer began to make her way back towards Miss Catargi's classroom. As the headmistress and the school's greenest charge made their way back, they watched as Emily appeared out of nowhere--or rather, Doctor Fischer observed the phenomena. Blind as he was, Emily's illusions had little hold over Kasamir...
The woman shook the oddity off and made her way towards the classroom. She entered the room to find Armin trying to calm an enraged Ellen, who was moments from impaling Matt on her spectral blade. "So he came here to... to talk with Emily?" the Nephilim asked.
Armin shrugged and the hellfire Ellen clung to vanished. "I have to go..." she said meekly as she moved to leave the room. "I have to write a letter..."
She stopped when she saw the headmistress. Her eyes widened with fear. "Excuse me, ma'am," she said. "I... I should be... getting along..." The moment she was in the hall, she took off at a run.
Doctor Fischer looked from her to Matt and back again. Finally, she sighed. "I don't suppose you can fill me in one what's going on?" she asked Armin.
Armin sighed and began to tell the headmistress all about how Lacuna had vacated Matt's body...
VIENNA (Martin, Jack; NPCs: Mister McClannahan, Captain Nelson, Beatrice, Eve, Larrikin)
The plane landed and Martin's mission came to a close. En route to Austria, the travelers had been briefed on the situation back home: Mister Ander had teleported onto the plane to inform their chaperon of Lacuna's possession of Matt and of the injuries Juozas, Fiore and Miss Catargi had suffered. He answered their questions as best as he could before they landed, leaving them to find their loved ones...
SOMEWHERE…Michuru81 wrote:Assuming that Martin heads straight for Tatjana... If Jack goes looking for Kirstie, he'll find her with Lex. Ellen, he finds, holed up in her room and refusing to answer the door. When Jack inevitably returns to his own room, however, he finds an envelope slid under the door and addressed to him. Inside, is a letter written in girly hand-writing that reads,
Message for you, sir! wrote:Dear Jack,
Forgive the abrupt nature of this message but I wasn’t sure where to begin. I now believe that Emily Adler is an agent of Laputa.
Today, while you were away on a mission with Martin, the school came under attack. Otso alerted me to the danger: Lacuna had taken possession of Matt Meyers and opened fire, wounding several students and a teacher. I charged for the classroom where he was restrained, determined to take answers from him concerning Laputa’s dealings and Vlad’s whereabouts. I admit, I acted rash but I was determined to bring an end to this charade and desperate to bring Vlad home.
Emily spoke into my mind and told me that she had things under control. I told her that she would not keep me from my own brand of interrogation. When I arrived at the room, she was waiting outside with the headmistress and I was turned away.
I made my way to the sublevels where I ran into the headmistress. Too late I realized that Emily had used her powers to keep me from speaking with Lacuna.
I was angry. I wanted to hurt her. When I returned, a security officer told me that Emily had left a few minutes before my arrival. Essentially, she departed after turning me away. Further complicating things, I learned that she departed after Lacuna’s mind departed Matt’s body. I worry that Emily helped our enemies to accomplish their goals and departed from the scene of the crime once her ally had fled.
Other things have also dawned on me: you and the others recruited Emily to the school in Kaiserslautern where she claimed to have been blackmailed into aiding Laputa with her abilities. However, it does not make sense that they would need to blackmail her into using her powers to control Captain Nelson—not when it would have been so easy for Lacuna to take possession of the man and achieve the same effect.
Her story doesn’t fit and her actions appear to be working towards an unknown agenda. I would much rather have told you all of this in person, however given Emily’s recent actions, I worry that she might soon try to erase the encounter from my mind. Even more frightening, if Emily is capable of manipulating our memories and if she is an agent of Lacuna, how can we be sure she has not tampered with our memories before now? Further, knowing that she can fabricate reality to be what she wants, how can we be certain who we are talking to is who we are talking to?
While this may be futile, given Emily’s ability to enter our minds, I would like to propose a second set of codenames—ones only we know and that we can use to be certain of each other’s identities. If I call you ‘onca’, respond with ‘ratel’ so that I can distinguish your identity. Similarly, if you approach me and I fail to respond with ‘onca’ to your ‘ratel’, know that it is not me but likely one of Emily’s illusions.
All Vlad knew was that they were headed south. At least, he presumed they were. When the ship had taken off, it had been traveling south—Vlad had gotten a last look at Vienna before they had darted into the clouds. It took him a minute to figure out which way was which. He remembered the first rays of the sun coming through the window in his room—how did any of the students stand to dwell in a windowless room?—and used that to construct a compass.
The plane was silent as it skimmed the clouds. It was strange: it moved so fast and yet not even the hum of an engine reached the youth’s ears. That was what now defeated Vlad: with no idea how fast they were traveling or any landmarks to employ, he had no idea where they were. All he knew was that there was a strong chance they were south of the New Vindicators Academy of Europe.
The ship began to descend and Lexus audibly inhaled. He braced himself as the ship and Vlad tensed as he realized they were diving straight for the water. Still, this brief window afforded Vlad a look out the window of the small, cramped ship. Without the clouds to obscure his sight, he could try and gauge their location…
He saw nothing but water. In every direction, blue brushed blue as water met sky. An instant later that sight was replaced with water swallowing the duo’s craft and the silent little ship began to swim.
Unless Vlad missed his guess, Lexus’ ship had just flown itself into the heart of the Mediterranean Sea. He envisioned a map of Europe and quickly eliminated the Adriatic from their possible prisons—they had been traveling far too fast to keep them within range of it. They had to be in the Mediterranean now; the only question was how far off the coast of Italy they were.
Suddenly, Vlad sensed the ship change its course. They were traveling east now. Hours passed without either youth uttering a word. Their course changed again—northeast now. Vlad struggled to think of where they were: were they skirting the coast of Italy and heading into the Adriatic or about to breech the Aegean Sea? It had been quite a journey but again, his lack of information failed him: without knowing their speed, he had little way of assessing how far through the Mediterranean they had traveled.
An hour passed—possibly—without a clock it was difficult to tell. The ship began to slow. It began to rise. Vlad looked up and saw the water parting over the dome-like capsule that had faithfully insulated he and his companion. Now, he could see the grotto they had docked in for what it was: a hangar for several of these odd contraptions Laputa was so fond of traveling in…
Vlad’s stomach did back-flips as he watched Lexus open the hatch. The coat-garbed youth rose up slowly and stretched. “We’re here,” he told Vlad. “We’re in the belly of Laputa…”
As Vlad climbed out he detected movement out of the corner of his eye. He turned and saw the top half of a man’s head staring at him from the water. The man’s skin was dark bronze and looked scaly; stranger still were his eyes: his eyes were shiny, red dots…
“Niloticus,” Lexus said cordially. “We have a guest. Why don’t you come on up and introduce yourself?”
The reptilian being glided forward and began to rise up out of the water. Soon, Vlad was gazing up at an anthropomorphic crocodile that towered over him by a few feet. The creature was shirtless and his purple-ish belly had a black pawn tattooed over it. “We have met,” Niloticus growled. This was news to Vlad, who would have remembered meeting someone like Niloticus. “What is he doing here?”
“He’s come to join us,” Lexus said. “I’ve already gone and cleared it with Erudite… Didn’t she tell you we were coming?”
Niloticus glared at Vlad. “She did not,” he said, never once taking his red eyes from the Romanian. Without another word, the large creature lurked back into the dimly-lit recesses of the cavern. Only the sound of water sloshing back and forth gave his doings away.
“Niloticus is… one of the pawns,” Lexus said. “He’s actually a kid about our age but he…” The youth’s expression soured. “He’s not just Lacuna’s pawn… He’s possessed by the Queen’s Rook too…”
Lexus tried to brush it off. “Come on… Let’s head up to meet Erudite. Hopefully some of the other pawns will be a little more receptive towards your being here…”
He led the way up a wide pair of stone steps that curved and ascended into light. Soon enough the duo emerged under the sun. They stood in what looked like a small city. A tower loomed over a greenhouse while a factory jutted beyond that. A strange dome peeked out behind it and a skyway shot from what Vlad took to be the third story and connect it to a bizarre obelisk. There was a strange crop of buildings—all had the look of new construction—woven together in a curious manner. “Erudite is probably in her media room. Words can’t describe that place—you just have to experience it.” Suddenly, he stopped dead in his tracks and a look of realization was worn on his face as he turned to his guest.
“We, uh… we don’t tend to use our real names,” Lexus said. “It’s like a sign of respect—like when you call your teacher ‘Mister Prohel’ instead of ‘Howard’. In private, you may still call me Lexus but… in public, I am known as Manticore. Same as with all of the others—it’s not ‘Pirjo’ but ‘Felsic’ and it’s ‘Rheid’, not ‘Armande’. Basically, don’t be offended if the others introduce themselves by their codenames—it’s not that they don’t trust you but how we refer to each other here.”
As they made their way across Laputa, Lexus continued to educate Vlad to their way of life here: in the greenhouse, Entiere cultivated the food they ate. Martin’s parents, it turned out, had created several hybrid plants capable of providing the terrorist group with the vitamins and nutrients their pescetarian diet lacked. Meanwhile, the foundry was where the Curies assembled the odd ships that transported them to and from the island sanctuary.
Lexus was in the middle of telling Vlad about the strides the Curies were making in magnetic repulsion when they found their path barred by a striking figure.
Looking up at her, Vlad couldn’t help but remember that day just weeks ago… His mind flooded with memories of what this woman had done: an innocent person died in the deathtrap this woman had created. It was thanks to her that Tatjana’s parents were in exile from their native land. The lose-lose situation she and her accomplice had placed them in forced Vlad to commit the inhumane acts that won him Lex’s ire.
Vlad could not forget Confectionery.
“It…” The muscular woman struggled to find the words. “It is good to see you, Vladislav,” she said mournfully, “but not here… and not like this… I wish you hadn’t…” She shook her head and gave up on words—the big woman rushed forward and coiled her arms around Vlad. “You don’t know how much I wanted to do this in Kaiserslautern,” she whispered to him. “I couldn’t though… Not when I had a job to do. I… I never wanted us to meet like this but…” Vlad’s ears caught a sniffle. “Vladislav,” she said, “I don’t know how much you know or what you suspect but I…
“I’m your biological mother.”
Michuru81 wrote:I'm taking a few liberties with Vlad (like assuming he wouldn't deck Confectionery or push her away when she tries to hug him) and for that, I offer a trio of hero points for him. So, HH... what's Vlad's next move here?