As soon as he finishes altering the transport log, the lights in the room start flashing red and a siren blares. "Fantastic," Crux mutters to himself. He must have messed up somewhere. Normally he excels at hacking, but he is slightly preoccupied at the moment. He has no way of knowing if Polaris made it to Lucky Palms safely, and he worries that something may have happened to her. He should probably teleport away himself, attempt a futile escape, but he is drawn into the hallway by sounds of a struggle.
Crux covers his mouth. He isn't used to seeing violence. He is essentially a desk-jockey, far removed from the more exciting aspects of being part of a fascist government. The woman turns to him."You helped that other woman."
"Now you're going to help me. And yourself, I would venture." Her presence is intimidating, "We need to teleport somewhere else. Someone triggered an alarm." Crux nods again. He knows both of them will be executed immediately if caught.
"Follow me," he gestures towards to transport room, "where would you like to go?"
"Right," Crux sets the transporter for the last location, before Lucky Palms of course. Bridgeport---perfect. Perhaps the Commander will believe that he sent Polaris there instead. He initiates transport.
A wasteland materializes before Crux's eyes: tall, grungy buildings reach up, scrapping at the smoggy sky. He can smell rot blowing in from the ocean.
"Of course," he replies. It feels instantaneous, but teleporting can take quite a long time. Transmissions, on the other hand, are much quicker. The Commander could have already alerted someone about their transport. "Wait," he yells after her. She is already sprinting up a hill.
"Don't be a pussy--it'll keep us off the street," she leans against some boxes. "So, we got nothing but time now. What's your name?"
"Lyra," she replies, "pleased to meet you an all that."
"Former agent. I was stationed here, in Bridgeport. It's a hotbed for unnatural activity, so Commander Eridanus had me observing some of the phenomena."
"He accused me of becoming involved with the Resistance."
"Resistance?" Crux is confused--he thought he was well-versed in Alcyonian politics, but this is unfamiliar territory.
"And you are part of this Resistance?"
Lyra laughs, "No, but I thought you were--helping that foxy lady back there. She seems Resistance-y. I'm not involved with them. I did gamble, and I accrued some wealth, but I didn't think that'd lead to the Commander having his goon beat my face in."
"He does appear to enjoy causing pain to others," Crux recalls when the Commander assigned him to Polaris's case. He savored Crux's discomfort at seeing Polaris in compromising positions.
"Yeah, and I have a theory--ever notice that the Commander only supervises female agents? We're not supposed to get involved or anything, but I'm pretty sure he picks pretty girls for himself." The thought leaves a bad taste in Crux's mouth. He's unsure of what to say next, so an awkward silence overtakes them.
After a moment of rest, Crux decides to explore the warehouse. "We must be entirely aware of our surroundings," he explains.
"Tell me about it," Lyra mutters, following him. They happen upon a cavernous room. Boxes and pallets litter the floor, and an imposing, rusty elevator stands opposite the door. It seems odd.
"Probably up and down," Lyra examines her claws. Crux ignores her and pushes the button. Whirring, and then a ding: the elevator has arrived. Crux doesn't hesitate--he enters, and she follow, possibly out of a sense of camaraderie. They're in this together.
"Please state your destination," a mechanical male voice bellows as the doors closes.
"B1," Crux says confidently. Lyra looks at him in surprise. The elevator begins to churn."Just a guess," he whispers.
"Odd," Crux says, stating the obvious. The venture out into the room. It's lined with windows that and glass doors. There are electronic locks on the doors: they are prison cells, and rather fancy ones at that.
"I am not quite sure. It appears to be a testing facility, obviously Alcyonian. I would guess those skeletons are authentic human skeletons for the purpose of study," he replies as he inspects some of the equipment through a window.
"Guess it sucks to be human."
"Indeed. I am not quite sure what they are studying, though. "
"I thought you were some hoity-toity command type. Wasn't it your job to know everything?"
"No, that was not my duty. I was familiar only with my cases--that is, the agents under my observation and their contexts."
"We are...new here. We are here to assist you with the experiments," Crux lies. Lyra gawks at him. Like that is going to work.
"You must be the fugitives," the woman hisses, "Commander Eridanus sent word of you. I will have you know that guards are combing the area for you and--"
"Got any questions for her, Crux?"
"What do you mean?"
"Are there other workers here?" Crux asks.
"All others left the facility in search of you. I am the only one present at the moment."
"What is the purpose of this facility...erm...madam?" Crux had been taught to respect elders.
"We are examining anomalous physical and mental attributes," the woman replies. Crux can tell that she desperately wants to live.
"To what end?"
"Alcyonians exhibit latent higher brain functions--such as telepathy and limited precognition--but we do not know how to unleash this potential. The secret may be hidden in the genetic code of other species. We believe interspecies reproduction or splicing may yield preternatural abilities. Now, I beg of you: let me ggg--" The woman is interrupted by a sickening crack--Lyra has snapped her neck. Her body instantly goes limp. Crux feels bile rise in his throat.
"I have respect for my life. She was going to call for help if we let her go. I want to live, so she had to die," Lyra reasons. Crux wants to continue the argument, but is interrupted by a muted voice coming from one of the cells.
"What?! That is cruel--the poor thing is obviously suffering!"
"Yeah, I'm suffering, lady!" the man protests loudly.
"Crux, they are lower beings. They can't feel pain."
"Preposterous. We know for a fact that many lower beings feel pain, regardless of inferior intelligence."
"I can hear you..." the man interrupts their bickering.
"Fine," Lyra spits, "but we can't keep him. Go check the rest of the floor, see what else is around. Maybe we can find some supplies. I just hope there aren't any more stupid humans that need saving," she glares at Crux for effect before entering the room.
"Shut up, imbecile," she examines the machine, trying to decide how to work it. She finally pushes a few buttons. The machines whirrs and lifts the dome from his head. His restraints snap open.
"Thank the maker," he exclaims, "I've been in that thing for hours."
"I don't care."
"Sorry, you're not my type," she scoffs, "and that's close enough."
"You--you're not human!"
She can't tell if he's joking. "What the hell are you going on about?"
"There's another prisoner here," he changes the subject abruptly. His body flashes between solid and ethereal, "we have to help her." He walks through the wall. Lyra sighs, wondering what she has gotten herself into. It was just gambling, for maker's sake!
"Ten then nine then eight then seven then six then five then four then three then two. Now two. Two. When will we become one?" She seems to be focusing, though on what he can't tell. He hardly registers the strange man phasing through the glass, he's so focused on the monochromatic woman. The amazing phasing man crouches down next to the muttering woman.
"Mercury?" she crawls out from under the cot, "Mercury! it's you." She tilts her head as she looks at him. "I thought you were gone. Forever gone. I couldn't see you."
"There are people here. Your kind of people. We need to go now--they're going to help us," he explains.
"We are?" Lyra looks at Crux. She snuck up behind him while he was watching the unfolding scene. "Did you offer to help them?"
"No, but we should. There is something wrong with her. Besides, this is....unwarranted."
Lyra scoffs, "you work for the Hegemony. This kind of shit happens all the time. You can't tell me the sight of a couple of loonies is making your heart bleed."
Mercury turns around and looks pleadingly at Crux, "I need you to use the door to unlock the panel, please. I can phase out, but Lily can't."
"If you do not agree with my decisions, leave," Crux says crossly, "I will have no more of your tomfoolery and dissent."
Lyra is silent. She doesn't like what's happening, but she knows that Crux might be useful. Besides, it's good to have a partner when on the lam. The lock clicks, and Mercury ushers Lily out of the room. As soon as they exit the cell, the lights in the hallway turn red.
"I must have tripped an alarm," Crux says, cursing himself. He used to be good at sneaking around, though it was a lot easier when he was simply hacking Simnation databases to find out information about his beloved's significant other.
"Euuugh, this guy," Lyra moans. Crux agrees with the sentiment.
"Commander Eridanus. I assume you have some sort of monologue prepared," Crux tries to sound calm.
"I did, but I think I will just leave you with a startling fact: I have just set the auto-destruct sequence for the facility. I would tell you how long until it detonates but...really, it is no fun if I do that."
"Run," Crux yells, though everyone is already bolting for the elevator. The Commander's mechanical laughter echoes through the facility. They pile into the elevator, everyone hoping it will work. Crux closes his eyes forcefully, preparing for the imminent explosions and his oblivion. "Ground floor," he commands. The elevator lurches upward.
"You aren't planning on leaving, are you?" she purrs, "The party is just about to start."
"Fucking fantastic," Lyra mutters, "and I suppose you're some kind of assassin." When will the tropes stop?
"You will perish, too," Crux points out, "explosions are not discerning about their victims."
"No I won't." Her response is confident, matter-of-fact. She aims her gun and pulls the trigger three times in rapid succession, laughing wildly. She definitely embraces the cliché role of femme fatale. Everyone dives for cover, save Mercury. His body flashes between spirit and flesh, accommodating the wild bullets. He looks around at the chaos in confusion.
"Why are you not dead," she pouts, "silly human."
"Neat trick," she gasps as she picks herself up off the floor, "but I'm in the mood for a little violence." She leaps to her feet. Mercury moves clockwise around the room, trying to get her back to the door.
"You're not gonna fight me hand-to-hand, are you?" His tone changes from calm to accusatory, "seems like an impractical outfit for that."
"Oh, you have no idea what you're in for," she replies with a smirk. She kicks at him, aiming for his chest with her stiletto heel.
Lyra sees her opportunity and dashes past the elevator towards Crux and Lily. "He's distracting her," Lyra whispers.
"Oh, of course I'll go first, Crux. No problem-o. I really do want to die first," Lyra mutters. Crux shoots her a dirty look.
Mercury continues his awkward dance with the assassin. "You're a brave one," she sneers, "I should ask Eridanus if I can keep you," The woman is watching Mercury carefully--she knows she can't telegraph her next move. She fakes a punch, then kicks upward instead. She catches him as he flickers between solid and intangible, her foot connecting with his face. She has succeeded in hitting him, but fails to notice her targets are creeping past her.
The woman in black turns around. "Now for the re...hey, where did you go? I'm not done killing you yet!"
"Wait for me, Cruxie," she giggles as she bounds after him, "that's what Polaris calls you, right?" Crux snaps around. She pauses. "Oooh, hit a nerve there? Wanna chat about it? I think we have a few seconds."
Crux stumbles for a moment, trying to figure out where to go. He scans the horizon, looking for Lyra and Lily. He makes out the outline of another behemoth warehouse, and decides to look for them there.
"I guess we made it out okay," Mercury says as he looks around.
"Obviously," Lyra rolls her eyes. Mercury glares back at her, annoyed by her lack of gratitude. He wiggles his toes on the earth bellow, focusing on what's beneath him: it feels hollow, grimy. He can tell that they're standing directly over a sewer system.
"Polaris," Lily says suddenly, "Polaris. She is in Lucky Palms. She is safe," Crux stares at her.
"How do you know about Polaris?" He demands, glowering at
"No, don't hurt me!" Lily exclaims, shielding her face with her hands. "The assassin mentioned her, so I looked. I can see her. In her home." Lily's presence in the facility suddenly makes sense--after all, they were researching psychic phenomena there.
"Yes, we can go to her. Unless you know anyone else, Lyra, she is the only person we can trust," Crux surmises.
"Lyra killed her, yes," Crux corrects her.
"Right, Lyra killed her. You found a strange human who lead you to Lily. Upon their escape, the Commander sets the auto-destruct sequence for the warehouse..." Polaris pauses, "Let me emphasize this: AUTO-DESTRUCT for the WAREHOUSE."
Crux looks at her blankly. Polaris rolls her eyes.
"Then you were waylaid by a sexy executioner--aka a sexecutioner--who then fought the human while you escaped. This sexecutioner is bent on finding me and presumably bringing me to the Commander. I have this correct, right?"
"So this woman wants me dead or captured, and you decided to come to my house. Where I live. With my three children."
"Yes, triplets. Point is, this seems like a stupid plan."
Crux looks hurt. "I thought you would be...happy."
"I am, Crux. It's just that I've built a life here. And now that life--and my children's lives--are possibly in danger because of the Commander and a crazy woman."
"She is deceased, Polaris. I am sure of it," Crux insists.
"Did you see her die?"
"No buts. She's alive until there's proof she's dead."
"I cannot see her," Lily whispers. Polaris knits her brow and stares at her.
"We think Lily can sense where other people are, but her powers seem wonky. She can't, for instance, seem to locate the Commander. Can we hurry this up?" Lyra asks impatiently. She has spent most of the conversation playing on Polaris's new laptop.
"I have failed you," Crux says quietly, "You wish I had never come here."
"I am happy to see you. And I'm happy you're safe. I just wish the circumstances were a bit different."
"As do I," Crux says bitterly, "But perhaps this will be an advantageous change. Perhaps I can find a dimwitted human companion for myself." Polaris's stomach sinks. He's still mad about Luke. Why wouldn't he be?
"We should leave," Crux says suddenly, "No need to bother Polaris anymore."
"But I want to hear the rest of the story," Polaris insists.
"Do you got any spare clothes we can take with us?" Lyra asks Polaris, "We've been wearing these jumpsuits for awhile."
"Yeah, follow me," she leads them to the bedroom. Lyra quickly picks out suitable outfits for her and Lily. Crux, however, locks himself in the bathroom with a pile of Luke's old clothes. He's taking his sweet time trying them on.
"Hurry the fuck up, Crux," Lyra yells, "I'm not gonna wait around forever."
"Be patient. I am trying to find something that matches," his response is muffled by the bathroom door.
"Screw this," Lyra sighs, "Look, Lily is exhausted. We're gonna head to the new house. I'll write the address down for you."
"Of course," Polaris says. She's surprised that Lyra seems a bit protective of Lily--she seems like the self-centered type. "I'll make sure Crux gets there when he's done playing dress up."
When he hears Lyra and Lily leave, Crux peeks out of the bathroom. "Are they gone?"
"Yeah. C'mon, I want to see how you look!" Crux sighs and steps out of the bathroom.
"I take it I look ridiculous," Crux sounds defeated.
"I thought you would like it," he grumbles. Because you like bright colors, he thinks to himself.
"Oh, Crux. I'm sorry. I appreciate the effort, but it doesn't suit you. Want me to pick something out? Something more flattering?"
"Yes," he brightens up.
Crux, meanwhile, is in seventh heaven. "I'll walk you to your new home. It's not that far from here," Polaris says as she links arms with him, "now, try to look like a normal, odd-colored human." Her touch causes his heart to pound like a kick drum. He had initially regretted coming to Polaris's home in search of aid: she has three children with another man. Nothing positive could come of this. This moment sparks some hope.
"Get your hands off my woman, motherfucker," Luke growls. Crux scrambles to his feet.
"She is not 'your woman,' you Neanderthal," Crux responds angrily, "she is not an object that can be owned or traded."
"The hell it isn't. You've been sleeping with him, haven't you?!"
"Luke, stop it. You're being ridiculous," Polaris sounds tired.
"I know what I saw," Luke turns away. He stumbles forward, unsure of where he is going. He thinks he hears Polly yelling--he can make out cries for him to come back, and possibly a snide comment from the stranger, but he keeps moving. He blinks tears from his eyes and rubs them away with the back of his hand. He hears his father's voice echo in his head: men don't cry.
Author's Note: This chapter was really, ridiculously, awesomely fun to write. I really hope you enjoy it, dear readers. I love cheesy action movies, and I wanted to wrute a Crux-centric chapter at some point, so I decided to have Crux star (kind of) in his own action-y chapter.
You may recognize the assassin/Sexecutioner: it's Shaena Lansing from the Mattell Legacy! I really liked using another person's sim in my game, and I'll probably do it again at some point.
- Initially, Sexecutioner was going to have a machine gun so I could reenact this ridiculous scene, but I knew that would be overkill.
- Crux doesn't look back when the warehouse explodes because Cool Guys Don't Look at Explosions.
- Mercury is human, though obviously not normal. Some of you who read the Random Legacy thread on MTS might recall that I had mentioned my idea of using ghosts for an intangible alien species, but I scrapped that idea in favor of a special snowflake human.
- The next few chapters in my legacy will probably be more mundane. It was taxing to create sets and stage these pictures.
- I spent hours building that stupid warehouse/testing facility. Look at it. Drink in its derelict beauty.
- The chapter title comes from a real phenomenon that causes bees to disappear. I have been itching to use it as a title for forever.
- I only proofread this chapter once, so I hope everything is cohesive.
- I realized recently that I limited comments to just people with google accounts. I changed my settings so anyone can comment, just in case someone desperately needs to.
A lot happened in this chapter, and I hope everything makes sense. If you have any questions, please ask. Go ahead...make my day. (Seriously, feel free to ask)