Getting out of the lab was relatively easy given how much of a pain in the ass it had been to get inside in the first place. We moved all the escapees to the elevator, then called Nel who opened a rift to our designated meeting place. As we left, I hit the release button on the rest of the cells all at once, freeing those who had been warped into beings too dangerous to take with us. I hoped they would be okay, and maybe one day get help. Either way I didn’t think it was right to leave those poor souls in their cells any longer, regardless of what they might end up doing later on.
The meeting place was a restaurant on the lake’s edge that was closed for renovations. We seemed to be the first to arrive there, so I’d gotten Derrick to help me sort the ex-prisoners out with blankets and heat packs while we waited.
Nightbinder arrived next, and I threw myself into her arms and squeezed. The whole thing had raised my levels of stress to the point where I wanted to curl up in a ball on my bed and doze for half a day. Holding Nightbinder was going to have to do for now. She was so comforting. The place where I was always safe.
Kelly stayed nearby, and I introduced her to my girlfriend, explaining a bit of how we’d met. She enjoyed the tale, and it kept us all busy until Unbowed arrived carrying Robin. Robin was unconscious, and I was instantly worried. When I saw she was breathing deep sleepy breaths, I realised she probably wasn’t hurt, just exhausted.
Kelly’s reaction to seeing her was interesting. As far as I knew, they had never properly seen each other in that prison, only getting glimpses through the hole between their cells.
“That’s Robin?” she asked meekly, her eyes shining with curiosity and something I couldn’t place.
“Yeah that’s her. Seems a bit worse for wear right now… she did blow up a whole building’s worth of cabling after all. Watch out for the spikes if you want to hug her, they’re sharp,” I smiled, patting her lightly on the back.
Unbowed carried Robin over to the three of us and placed her on the ground, stopping to surround her in blankets before even acknowledging us.
“So I see you got it done,” he nodded, a pleased expression on what we could see of his face past the mask.
“Yeah… it was a hell of a thing too. That place was nightmarish,” I remarked.
“I saw… I have the files from their current offices on the subject and even my old mind recoiled at what those people did,” he nodded, turning serious again.
We were all interrupted from our conversation by a sheepish cough from nearby. Turning, we found Bastion standing there shuffling his feet awkwardly.
“Hi,” he said.
“Bastion,” replied Unbowed, then turned to me and asked, “Why is the… hero here?”
“Uh…” I said, unable to contain my cheeky grin at his tone, “So like, I brainwashed him with my mind mending mind powers of mindness and he followed along!”
“Wait did you?!” Bastion blurted in alarm.
“No you bloody meathead,” I laughed, rolling my eyes, “Seriously though, he just saw what was happening down there and swapped sides. Nothing major you know?”
“I forgot... The fox likes to play tricks,” Bastion groaned before sighing.
“I see…” Unbowed said neutrally, although his lips twitched up slightly in the flash of a smile.
“Is Robin okay?” Kelly interrupted, inching closer and closer to Robin’s prone form.
“Yes, I believe so. She appears to tuckered herself all out after beating Seraph,” Unbowed nodded, “And you must be the young lady all the fuss was about.”
“Y-yeah I guess so,” Kelly mumbled, looking up with wide eyes into Unbowed’s metal mask.
Unbowed offered her his hand, which she took tentatively, “Nice to meet you Kelly Newhall.”
“Nice to meet you too scary mask man,” she squeaked.
“Nah his name is milkdad,” I grinned.
“Wait this is milkdad?” she asked, seeming both amused and confused..
“What is this milkdad thing?” Unbowed frowned. Shit! Wait how do I explain this to him?
“Nothing, so anyway… What do we do from here?” Nightbinder interrupted.
Unbowed squinted at me, but followed the change of subject.
“We’ll have to figure out what to do with all these prisoners you’ve helped escape. Who they are and other details surrounding them will probably be among the files I liberated from Yelmorn, but it will take time to sift through it and match file to prisoner,” he explained.
“I believe I can help with that,” Derrick said, entering the conversation, straightening his ragged tie as he did so.
“Oh?” Unbowed asked, a note of interest in his voice, “And you would be?”
“Derrick Parsons, pleased to meet you Unbowed,” Derrick smiled warmly, offering his hand.
“Pleased to meet you Mr Parsons,” Unbowed shook.
“Doctor actually, I’m a registered Psychologist. Or rather, I was one. Not sure if I am still one after my… absence,” he replied.
“I’m sure that can be smoothed over,” Unbowed said, ending the shake.
“I imagine so yes,” Derrick smiled, “But back to my offer. I am a Psychologist, but I am also now a Telepath and can help you find the identities of all these poor souls.”
“That would be a boon, thank you. Should we discuss it away from those who would be bored by such talk?” Unbowed asked.
“Indeed,” Derrick nodded, then turned to me, “Thank you Vulptrix, I am in your debt for helping us like that.”
“Uhm, not a problem…” I smiled in embarrassment.
The two met walked some distance off and began talking animatedly.
The plan as it stood, was to release a bunch of the imagery and surveillance files from the lab onto the web and to as many news agencies as we could. Once that was done, Bastion and Nightbinder would be raising concerns over it with the OMR, hopefully driving them to put pressure on the government to do something about this whole mess. If the public got outraged over it we might actually see something happen. Maybe. I was not personally very optimistic about the whole “work within the system” thing.
Well, except for the fact that as we mentioned our plans to Caser, they dropped a bombshell. That “hero chick” they were the secretary for? That was Mystrix Pallas. One of the founders of the OMR and an incredibly powerful public figure and hero. Caser was going to do their best to worm the importance of what had happened here into her ear. Caser wasn’t done though, apparently Mystrix Pallas was going to be training Caser as her sidekick.
As for the prisoners we had saved, Kelly and Derrick were staying in the bunker with Robin and Unbowed, while the rest of the escapees were housed in the restaurant, which Unbowed decked out in some nice furniture and partitions. It was apparently not a problem, since the owner of the place was one of Unbowed’s friends. Here the escapees would be interviewed by a trustworthy news agency so that their testimonies could go out before they were silenced later down the line.
Meanwhile, both myself and Laithe were enjoying some rest from all the craziness of hero and villain life.
We were sitting in my apartment, I was wrapped up in Laithe’s arms in one corner of the couch, while Caser sat eating chips in the other corner. Caser had bought a TV at some point, and had hooked it up to their computer and so we were able to watch the news break on a large screen.
“Damn… you two were busy,” Caser remarked, staring at the media frenzy happening on screen.
“Yeah damn. It seems kinda surreal to watch this, considering it was us who caused it. I mean it’s big, but like, we only pushed the pebble down the hill you know? Now it’s an avalanche,” Laithe said with a chuckle.
“I’m happy those assholes might possibly get what they deserve,” I said, playing with the tip of my tail.
“True that,” Laithe smiled, scratching me behind the ear.
Oh dear. Here we go. I melted into her lap and felt immediately at peace. All these little animal instincts I’d acquired all those months ago were really something. It was heavenly.
Laithe continued to speak, although there was a note of anxiousness in her voice now, “So my lease is ending soon… and I kinda want to move out of my place.”
“Oh? Where are you thinking of moving to?” Caser asked casually, although when I looked up they had a smile that betrayed their thoughts.
“Yeah… I was wondering if… um, well I was wondering if you two wanted to get a place together? A better place than this too,” Laithe asked, clearly dreading a negative answer.
Oh my sweet girlfriend...
“Are you insulting our magnificent abode?” Caser asked in mock outrage.
“No no I mean… wait shit damn it Caser,” Laithe started, falling for the teasing just a little.
“Yes!” I blurted, “We’ll find a place with you!”
“Do I get a choice in this?” asked Caser.
It was three weeks after the Third Emergence, and Laithe was asleep on our bed behind me in the room we shared. Our new apartment was this adorable little brownstone in one of the old industrial parks turned residential. I loved it here with Caser and Laithe. I loved my girlfriend more than the world and life itself. She was so good to me. But… I still wasn’t tired, so I was randomly browsing the internet out of boredom, waiting for my mind to finally conk out and let me pass into the sweet realm of sleep.
I should have been tired. New York had been exhausting, especially during an Emergence. And meeting people from another dimension? Dayum. At least they had been an adorable little elf girl and her angry dragon protector lady. It had also been… profitable. We’d been in New York for an investigation. People were trafficking certain types of emerged, and we wanted to stop it. I’d broken into a facility and… politely lifted both some items of value and the information we needed.
I stared blankly at the random wiki page in front of me, bored of the rabbithole I had followed and looking for other entertainment, when on a whim I opened a new tab and went to facebook. I hadn’t even tried to contact my family since the Emergence, and I wasn’t too bothered about ever seeing them again. I did have a bit of curiosity about it though. Plus, my friends from high school and uni might be doing something interesting too.
New Zealand was an interesting place these days regardless. An island that was larger than both the north and south islands of the country had appeared to the east during the Third Emergence. The place was a mess of strange flora and fauna that defied all known methods of study and classification. There were also rumblings, I mean literal rumblings, of some truly huge and terrifying beasts on that island.
Anyway, it took me a bit of bouncing through old emails to prove that my logging in from a totally different area of the globe was legit, but once I was in I started to explore. My family was reacting predictably to the whole Emergence, which is to say they were saying nothing and standing there with ruffled feathers. How dare the Emergence upset the profitable status quo?
Some of my friends had Emerged, but none of them seemed overly powerful. I continued to search through my old life, shaking my head in bewilderment over how much I had changed since I left my home. I had gone through hell, but here I was on the other side… and I was happy? I’d discovered I had been a girl first off, then I’d become a criminal, then a vigilante after that. I’d danced with death and done so while taunting it mercilessly. It must have given up in frustration because I shouldn’t have survived all those bullets flying past me.
My ruminations were interrupted when a message that wasn’t weeks old dinged up along the bottom bar. I sat there for a long while before I decided to respond.
Adam: HOLY SHIT. CALLUM?
Callum: Um… hi?
Adam: You’re alive!? We all thought you were dead!
Callum: Yup… still kickin. Why’d you think I was dead?
Adam: Because after that first emergence you never logged in to anything again? Come on man… shit we were worried about you! Especially Ellie!
Callum: Why would you all even be worried? That’s weird. And why Ellie?
Adam: Because you’re our friend and we care about you? And why Ellie? Duuuude… did you really not realise?
Callum: Um… O.o
Adam: Look that’s not the important thing right now. Shit there’s so much to tell you… and so much to ask. Anyway. Dude Ellie’s family got kidnapped by some fucking monster. She could really use a little happiness right now. Knowing you’re alive might give her the hope she needs.
Callum: Wait what? Explain?
Adam: There’s this fucker here who keeps abducting people and turning them into weird horrors. No one understands what his deal is and he looks like some sort of horror movie clown monster.
Callum: Alright um… I’ll message Ellie.
Shit… I couldn’t leave my old friends hanging like this. It was a problem I could fix too… I just needed to get Laithe to come with me on a wild adventure to my home country.
I swivelled in my seat and gently touched Laithe’s shoulder, “Laithe… Hey wake up.”
“GRRrrrr mgrgrbbb moooww. What?” Laithe grumbled as she sleepily blinked at me.
I took a deep breath and said, “So… um… I need to go home, and you’re coming too…”
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Bio: You may also know me as Rosilys Inknose. I no longer post on this website, if you wish to find the continuation of my stories, or just the ones I haven't posted here, you can find me under Quietvalerie on scribblehub and Rosilys Inknose on tgstorytime.