After leaving the control room, Dr. Lambert walked towards the east wing of the compound where his residential area was located. The N.A.S.A Headquarters underwent major developments over the past few years and has expanded by a great deal. Numerous buildings were erected and several divisions have taken root there; many include some of the country’s most important facilities. These facilities were relocated here mainly due to the fact that this location was extremely secured. But more importantly, it was because of the E.X.E.D.U.S ship that was being built underground, which for many, was like having a ticket out of Hell.
When Dr. Lambert arrived near his residential area at the east wing; the two guards that were stationed there at the main gate noticed him approaching from the distance and grew a bit confused.
"Isn't that Dr. Lambert?" one of the guards asked.
Dr. Lambert was usually never seen returning to his living quarters until the morning of the following day. Thus, his arrival around sunset was quite strange. Dr. Lambert continued to walk in their direction, seemingly lost in thought. Observing that he was indeed going to the residential area, the two guards tacitly nodded at each other having come to an agreement. The senior guard cautiously stepped forward and greeted him as he approached: “Good evening Dr. Lambert, taking an early day off?” Both guards were subconsciously terrified of Dr. Lambert. The rumors that circulated the compound about him made it so that not even birds would dare to fly above him.
As if being woken up from a dream, Dr. Lambert’s eyes regained their clarity. Looking at the guard that just spoke he replied: “Hmm. I guess you could say that. Oh, is my wife home as yet?” Recalling what the chairman said earlier, he would need to let his wife know about their son’s whereabouts being discovered while omitting some of the details of course. Regardless of who it might be, no mother can bear the thought of their only child who they had not seen or heard from for three full years under these circumstances, to discover that he was grievously wounded while being pursued.
Dr. Lambert kept telling himself that, their son, even though he was injured, was still likely to be alive, and with his son’s peerless medical skills he should still be able to preserve his life. It was unknown whether he said this as a matter of fact or to comfort himself.
“Yes sir, she arrived not too long ago. She should be in the courtyard by now.” the guard replied.
“Hmm, thank you”. Dr. Lambert gave him a nod then approached the security terminal. He scanned both his access card and iris to confirm his identity. After doing so, the gates to his residential area opened automatically for him to enter. Recalling a matter that required his full attention, Dr. Lambert instructed the guards that he would not be accepting any visitors for the remainder of the day, then walked through the gates.
After Dr. Lambert entered the courtyard, he was greeted with a tranquil ambiance that made his unsettled mind relax by a great deal. He took a deep breath to savor the moment and felt all the anxiety in his heart began to dissipate. The difference between being inside his residence and being outside was similar to the difference between a subtle garden and a scorching desert. Even the air inside was cool and refreshing. This was all thanks to the efforts of his wife Julia, who had a profound background in psychiatric care and herbal medicine. Adding her eastern culture and her skills in decoration, she made their residence a sort of haven for themselves. Julia was one of the cornerstones of his life that helped to sustain him. If it weren’t for her and their son, he would have no reason to continue living in this hellish world that was covered in blood.
As Dr. Lambert walked further into the heart of the courtyard, he heard the faint sound of a zither being played. The tune that was being played was a soft and sorrowful melody that made one feel the person playing it yearned for happiness. After arriving at a clearing that separated the house from the garden, Dr. Lambert focused his gaze in the direction where the music was coming from. When his eyes caught sight of the silhouette sitting beside a small pond playing the zither, he felt his eyes become misty and his heart began to tremble. It was his wife Julia. It has been three years since he last heard her play the zither. After they lost contact with their son three years ago he hasn’t seen or heard her play once since then. Or could it be that she does play but he was never there to notice it?
Dr. Lambert stopped in his tracks in order to avoid disturbing her and closed his eyes to focus on listening to her playing the zither. Julia’s skill with the zither was truly heavenly, but unfortunately the tune she was playing would not cause one to have a blissful feeling while listening to it, instead, it would make their most heart-wrenching memories resurface. If one were to listen to this tune long enough, it would almost feel as if your soul wanted to leave your body to go and comfort the person playing the tune.
After an unknown period of time elapsed, the music came to a soft end. Dr. Lambert opened his eyes and found himself stuck in a trance of some sort, but it only lasted a short moment before his mind regained clarity. It was then that he noticed that Julia was looking at him with a gentle smile on her face.
“You’re home quite early, the sun must’ve risen from the west today, maybe the south, or even the north but it clearly wasn’t from the east.” Julia jested while rising from her seat after putting the zither aside. Her skin was snow white and gave off a gentle glow in the evening sun. She had long silk-like black hair that cascaded down her slender shoulders like a waterfall. Her lips were like small red cherries that tempted any who laid eyes on them to want to risk tasting them, even if it meant that they would likely die while trying. Her smile was so beautiful that it caused all the flowers around her to bow their heads and the stars that have yet to fully show themselves to hide behind the clouds in shame. Julia wore a white cheongsam that was decorated with purple flowers. The accessories she wore in her hair complimented her exceptionally well. It made her seem both seductive and graceful beyond compare. To all onlookers, her true age was indeterminable. She seemed to be frozen in her 20’s.
Hearing Julia’s jeering, Dr. Lambert could do nothing but smile helplessly as he made his way towards her. While pulling a face of indifference, he tried to hide his embarrassment as he replied: “Hmph, making fun of me, now are you?”
Hearing his remark Julia immediately countered while making her way over to meet him halfway at the bridge that hung above a small pond; “Well of course! With that grim look on your face all the time, who else but I am able to make fun of you?”
The sight of Julia her walking through the garden with the sunset at her back made her seem like a celestial being that was taking a stroll across the mortal world. Dr. Lambert, on the other hand, seemed like the harbinger of darkness with the shadow of nightfall spreading further and further across the land with each step he took. A truly bizarre, yet breath-taking scene.
When the couple met on the bridge, the world was already covered in darkness. The moon and all the stars in the sky were hidden behind the clouds seemingly afraid of revealing themselves. Only the faint glow of Julia’s white cheongsam and the slight outline of a dark figure standing in front of her could be seen in the darkness.
The two continued to unblinkingly stare at each other in silence through the darkness for a moment. Only the sound of water trickling down an artificial waterfall could be heard in the distance. Dr. Lambert took a deep breath and took hold of Julia’s delicate hands. Julia’s heart trembled at his action. Someone like herself who was proficient in the field of the human psyche could firmly ascertain that her husband had something very important to tell her at this moment, and it would likely be something that was of utmost importance to them. As these thoughts passed through her mind, she couldn’t help but ask with a trembling voice; “W-what happened?”
In response, Dr. Lambert took a deep breath and carefully recounted the events that transpired after he was summoned by the chairman earlier that day. When he mentioned that the chairman located their son who was lost to them in Australia for the past three years, Julia’s beautiful face suddenly broke into tears.
“I-is it true? Did they, really find him? Julia’s voice continued to tremble as she spoke. She believed with all her heart that her husband was telling the truth but still felt the need to confirm his words.
“Yes, they found him, and he is alive. I saw him with my own two eyes. Our son; he’s alive!” Dr. Lambert felt his eyes grow moist as he said up to here. For three full years, they held onto the tiny ember of hope that their son managed to survive through the constant bloodshed that the world experienced due to the war. Vincent’s elder brother, Jonathan, was with their son at the time when the war broke out. At that time, they weren’t too worried because Jonathan had a military background and strong survival skills. Still, Vincent and his wife were never truly at ease. They managed to speak with them a few times after the war started, but as time progressed, communication became restricted and all international commuting in and out of the United States was suspended.
Anyone caught flying above American airspace was shot down without warning, and any caught sailing into American waters was impartially blown up. There were no exceptions. As a result, it was impossible to speak with them, leave the country or to even have them come back home.
During this time, Vincent and his wife could hardly eat or sleep for months. This feeling of helplessness constantly tormented the two for almost a year. It was around that time that the chairman learned of their whereabouts and sent for them. After reuniting with their brother-in-law, they learned of the incident that claimed Vincent’s sister and the chairman’s wife, Michelle’s life. In his grief and rage, Vincent brought to light several of his most lethal work that could take millions of lives as easy as waving a hand without making anyone the wiser. He gave them to the chairman in hopes of taking revenge, and at the same time to get the assistance of the President to help get his son and brother back home. After making negotiations, the President also required them to complete the long-discontinued G.E.N.E.S.I.S project which Vincent and his wife agreed to unhesitantly.
“When will they return?” Julia asked with an expectant look in her eyes. She was extremely anxious at this point. News of their son was the most important piece of information to her, at this moment in her life. She couldn’t wait to hold her son in her arms again. Three whole years, a full three years! That’s how long they were in the dark and knew nothing of their son’s whereabouts during this gruesome war. Now, as fate would have it, they finally caught wind of their son’s whereabouts! Even though it wasn’t under the most favorable of conditions, at the very least it proved that he was still alive! This information was a thousand, no a million times better than living in the dark, not knowing where their son was and if he was dead or alive.
Hearing her question, Vincent shook his head and replied; “At present, it is still uncertain when they’ll be back. The chairman said that he only found out about our son’s whereabouts yesterday. Before they can dispatch anyone out of the country, especially for a search and rescue; we first need authorization from the President in order to clear a route for the plane. In addition to that, the troops being sent have to move in and out swiftly while staying under the radar. Once they leave our borders, if they are caught in the open, they will be at the mercy of our enemies.”
“Mm…” Biting her lower lip, Julia clenched her fists and looked away, turning her back to Vincent. Her fears were taking root once more inside her heart.
Seeing his wife exude such a lonesome aura, Vincent felt an aching sensation in his heart. He approached her from behind and hugged her firmly but gently around her waist then whispered. “Don’t worry. We will get our son back. I promise you this.”
“Mm…” Julia slightly nodded then allowed her body to sink deeper into his embrace. The two spent the greater portion of the night together and didn’t retire to bed until early morning the next day.
While Julia was sound asleep Vincent quietly left the bed, and went to his laboratory three floors down to prepare the spherical device he received from the chairman. After spending four hours to reconfigure the device, he was finally finished. Vincent placed the device in a sealed square glass container and gently placed it on his desk then laid back in his chair with a frown on his face, deep in thought.
“Why was my son being pursued by that many heavily armed men? From the recording, it seemed they weren’t too concerned about whether or not he lived. My elder brother should’ve been there in that recording by his side. He wouldn’t allow him to be placed in such dire straits, unless…”
Thinking up to here, Vincent’s expression darkened; “I need to hurry before anything unexpected happens!”
He then picked up the telephone on his desk and dialed out. After a moment, the voice of a woman answered.
“Hello, Dr. Lambert. Up so soon? What can I do for you?”
“Morning Gabrielle, I need you to have all the candidates from Division One through Ten assemble at the Amphitheatre today at 08:00 sharp. That also includes those that haven’t taken the genome compatibility test as yet and all the prospective candidates that have yet to join a division.”
“Say what?” Gabrielle was suddenly startled at his strange request. “What’s going on?” she enquired.
Dr. Lambert responded; “The situation has changed. There’s going to be a drastic change to the programme. We need to expedite the screening process and get every capable body up to standard in the shortest time possible.”
Gabrielle took a moment to think about what Dr. Lambert said and then came to a shocking realization. “Are you saying that y-”
“Yes.” Dr. Lambert interrupted. “We’re going to use the Sphere.”