Chapter 21

Chapter 21

A Chapter by Cynical_Art

Chapter 21

 

 

Sector Three was not nearly as welcoming as Topaz’s recent trip to the Blue Sun’s Tower. Upon arriving, Ash took them directly to the Factory District. The air was dense with exhausted crystal fuel. Large factories populated the crowded streets. On the distance some factories were shimmering with silvery cleanliness, but Dustin and Topaz were in the area where the factories were filled with nothing but rust. The slums of Sector Three.

The slums of Sector Three weren’t that different from the slums of the other Sectors. Homeless humans as far as the eye can see, scurrying, sneaking, digging food from trash cans, and hiding about. The glances and glares always threatening and unwelcoming. Few humans had small shacks they called homes. But the slums weren’t like the farms of Sector Two. The few things that could pass as some sort of house belonged to whatever gang held the most power in the given area. The only places guaranteed safety were the slave houses owned by homunculi, and the conditions in those were sometimes more questionable than living in the streets.

            Ash had them in one of these slave houses, slightly more luxurious in the inside but still a shithole nonetheless. It had everything they needed to survive inside though and being the only residents of the big slave house gave space to move around. While the Red Eclipse did have better establishments, Ash insisted that this was the safer route since security rarely did thorough checks in the slums. Everywhere else was on red alert due to Adam, and since Dustin was a human he wasn’t allowed outside of the Factory District. At the very least they were safe from the slum gangs. Dustin had had his share of conflicts with them in the past and wasn’t looking for a reunion.

            The hours went by slow though. Topaz had nothing to do but wait and talk to Dustin. Dustin had been in his own world since arriving though and didn’t make much for conversation. Ash had left and hadn’t returned once since dropping them off saying he had things to take care of. As the hours went by Topaz felt less and less anxious, slowly losing faith in their family reunion with Adam.

            Topaz found herself playing with a rusty stick when she heard Dustin’s footsteps approaching her. “How are you holding up there?” he asked.

            While playing with her stick she glumly replied, “Just killing time.”

            “It’s why I suggested you stay behind. I knew you’d just be waiting here bored.”

            It was obvious Dustin still didn’t like the idea of Topaz being there. At first Topaz didn’t mind since ultimately he let her come, but the routine was getting really old.

“Not like it would’ve been anymore fun back home. Besides, once Ash gets back we’ll finally get to start searching…hopefully,” she replied glumly.

            “What do mean, we? Topaz you’re not leaving this slave house until it’s time for us to go back home,” said Dustin in a stern tone.

            Topaz stood up appalled. “What? You mean I’m just going to stay here alone until you guys get lucky and find Adam?”

            “Yes.”

            “No,” Topaz said while crossing her arms. “I’m going to help look. I can take care of myself. I went to the Ark alone, didn’t I?

            Dustin shook his head. “That was different. The Ark is a safe place for the most part, if you’re a homunculus. This place, not so much.”

            “But I’ll be with you and Ash,” argued Topaz.

            “But you’ll be a liability,” said Dustin. He grabbed her hand and sat down beside her on a box. “Look, it’s going to be dangerous. Adam may not be the boy I used to know. He may not consider us his family and there is a small chance he might attack us.”

            Topaz gazed down at her exoskeleton-covered body. “You mean he might attack me. Because I’m a homunculus…and he probably doesn’t even consider me family.”

            Silence followed. Topaz knew she hit the nail on the dot because whenever Dustin stayed quiet it meant he had nothing to say to deny it. If there was one thing she was grateful for was that he wasn’t a liar. He may hide things from her, but he never lied. At least to her knowledge.

            “You’re right,” Dustin admitted. “So you understand why you need to stay here.”

            “No…I want to see him. If I don’t, I might never see him. I want to see the person who you would die for with my own eyes. Enough that I would risk my life.”

            “I would like for you to see him too, but not enough to risk your life.”

            Topaz stood back up. “So why are we even bothering with this conversation?”

            “Because I want you to understand.”

            “Well I do! So just leave me alone. I might as well start getting used to it now.”

            Topaz walked across to the other corner of the slave house and crouched down hugging her knees. She avoided looking at Dustin at all cost and he seemed to be making no attempt at chasing after her at the moment. She hated his parental control over her. After spending time in the North Tower it only seemed that much worse.

            The minutes went by slower now that her and Dustin were purposely avoiding each other. The entire house, or big room, had an awkward inescapable atmosphere, it was suffocating. Topaz tried to distract her thoughts by playing with a rusty stick again but all she could think of was hitting Dustin in the head with it and running to find Adam herself. She knew it was a stupid idea but at least it would quench her anger towards Dustin right now. Suddenly she heard the gate to the slave house open and Ash step through in his crimson glory.

            Dustin quickly stood up and approached him. “Took you long enough.”

            “A lot is happening. We might need to give up on Adam,” informed Ash with a sense of urgency in his voice.

            “What?!” shouted Dustin.

            “Sit down so I can explain.”

            They all sat in a circle waiting for Ash to explain. Dustin was irritably impatient, tapping his foot like a motor. Topaz wanted to shout at him to stop but didn’t have the courage so she waited patiently for Ash, who looked slightly bothered for the first time ever, to talk.

            “Adam has finally gotten the Imperator’s undivided attention,” began Ash. “They’re planning on getting him soon, and I mean soon. Tomorrow there’s going to be a big event going on. A cloaked masquerade where all the important people of Sector Three will be. Now here’s the catch. The cloaked masquerade doesn’t require an invitation. It’s a blatant trap for Adam. But something tells me he’ll take the bait.”

            A scary grin crossed Dustin’s face. “This is perfect. Doesn’t this mean we can get in the cloaked masquerade too?”

            “You’re out of your mind. With the amount of security that will be there it’ll be certain suicide.”

            “Doesn’t the Red Eclipse supposedly own half of the Ark? I’m sure we can turn this around to our favor.”

            “Maybe,” said Ash. “But Adam isn’t worth starting a war of this magnitude. Not here, not now. For starters, he’s unstable, even if we help him, who knows who he will end up attacking. To him we’re all probably just homunculi. Second, if more than half the Ark turns side in Sector Three what do you think the Imperator will do? She’ll blow the whole thing up.”

            Dustin scowled. “So I’m just supposed to sit while they kill my brother?”

            “At the moment we’re using all our sources to try and locate him as fast as possible. If we can’t though, all we can do is hope for the best.”

            Topaz interrupted, “What if we attend the cloaked masquerade but remain inconspicuous? If we can find Adam while we are there, we can stop him from attacking and they’ll never know he was even there. All we need to do is say something only him and Dustin would know.”

            Ash scratched his head. “Well, it’s risky but it could work I guess. Is there anything you might have in mind Dustin?”

            “Where do I begin?” Dustin said with a victorious grin on his face.

            “Well then we can review the best hidden code to come into contact with Adam. There is one other big detail I forgot to mention though,” Ash said with a slightly off tone.

            “What?” asked Dustin, whatever excitement he felt now gone. Topaz herself couldn’t help but feel a shiver down her spine growing with frightful anticipation.

            “There are two people who have been given the task of killing Adam. One could call it something of a family reunion.” The revelation froze time itself.

            “Don’t tell me…” Dustin mumbled under his breath.

“The people in charge of killing Adam are none other than Judas and Solius.”

            Silence followed. Topaz didn’t’ know what to think. The family they were trying to reunite was trying to kill each other and now they had to choose a side. But then again, Judas wasn’t even considered family; at least Dustin didn’t want her to see him as such. This could be seen as a blessing. Two birds down with one stone. For Solius’s case it was a different story altogether though. Maybe if they could talk to him he would flip sides.

            Dustin chuckled hollowly. “So we save Adam and Solius and kill Judas on the same day. Doesn’t sound that bad to me.”

            “Remember the part when we remain inconspicuous?” reminded Ash. “They’ll be no killing. We either prevent a disaster from happening or we step aside and let the Ark handle its own problems.”

            “If we let the Ark handle its own problems either Solius or Adam will die. I can’t have that.”

            Ash took a deep breath. “I don’t know how else to tell you this, Dustin. But Solius is beyond saving.”

            “What do you mean?”

            Ash looked at him directly in the eyes. “Solius has a bomb inserted inside him. It’s part of the Reaper procedure to insure loyalty. The instant he betrays the Ark or his death seems like the better choice, he’s dead.”

            Dustin stood up and kicked the box he was sitting on. Then he shouted at the top of his lungs and started punching things. Topaz was frightened by his irrational behavior. In all her years he was always stern, sometimes aggressive, but never unstable. She couldn’t blame him though. She’d probably feel the same if she ever found out the Ark put a bomb inside of Dustin. Topaz found herself feeling hollow inside after noticing just how truly little she cared about Dustin’s family. Yeah she was disappointed Solius was beyond reach, but nothing more. There was no sadness or anger. The thought made her feel worlds apart from Dustin.

            She glanced at Ash who seemed in his usual calm and collect exterior once more. Topaz couldn’t begin to understand how he did it. You just told someone their brother is a dead man without even a twitch in your eye. Could anyone really be so cold and detached? Something just didn’t seem right with Ash. Like he was hiding something big.

            Topaz asked, “Is there no way to remove the bomb?”

            “Not before they blow him up first,” answered Ash.

            “So he’s really beyond saving, huh…”

            “The world has a weird sense of humor, but that’s just part of life. You get used to it after you seen so many people come and go.”

            “Will I be like that by the end of all this too? Like you…unaffected and detached.”

            “Probably. If you live long enough to see this to the end, you’d best get used to it now.”

            Topaz hugged herself. She didn’t want to get used to it. What good was living in a world where you were forced not to care to be able to go on living? The thought of a world without Dustin was unimaginable.

            Dustin joined them again with teary eyes. “Sorry about that…it’s just, after hearing everyone was still alive I actually had this crazy idea that I might be able to save everyone. Now I got Judas trying to finish what he started and dragging Solius along with him. It’s just not fair.”

            Ash tiled his head. “They aren’t working together. The Reapers work independently for Aquamarine, the Queen of Science.” Ash stood up and placed a hand on Dustin’s shoulder. “Look, Solius may be beyond reach but we can still save Adam.”

            Dustin nodded. “I intend to. Just tell me how to get in this cloaked masquerade.”

 

 

            “They’re making this too easy for you,” celebrated Gneiss.

            Adam turned his head without removing his body from its comfortable spot on the couch. “What happened? Who’s making it too easy for me?”

            “The Ark. Well, not exactly but we can work with this.”

            “With what? Tell me already, damn it.”

            Gneiss slammed his body on the sofa next to Adam. “The President is having a cloaked masquerade. Where both him and Judas will be present. They’re inviting you, Adam. It’s a challenge.”

            Adam sat up on his couch. “Well challenge f*****g accepted!”

            “Great. Remember though, I’m required to attend so when you’re destroying everything make sure not to kill me in the process.”                                                                       

            “You’re my only f*****g friend, I’m not going to kill you. So is Solius going to be there too?”

            Gneiss shrugged. “I don’t know. The Reapers work completely independently. They could be anywhere, but I would imagine they would attend the masquerade as well if they are after you.”

            “Good,” said Adam. “This way I can talk to both of them before bringing down this Sector.”

            “Talk to them?” Gneiss’s smile left. “You’ll give your cover away. Use the element of surprise. Kill the people that matter while they aren’t expecting it. I recommend either the President or Judas to begin with. Then you’ll be stronger and will stand a better chance against Solius and the Reapers.”

            “I’m not killing Solius, and I will talk to them both. I already told you, I want my own answers.”

            Gneiss threw his hands up in defeat. “Fine. Do what you want. I’ll just get our costumes ready.”

            Gneiss left upstairs. The Serpent slid from beneath the couch and onto the coffee table. Adam felt his heart pumping with excitement. He could already smell the blood of Judas on his hands. He knew it would be hard to restrain himself inside the cloaked masquerade. But talking to Solius came first, followed by Judas. Then the killing could begin.

            “You’re thinking of foolish things again, Adam,” said the Serpent. “Solius and Judas will only want to kill you.”

            “Even so, I want my answers,” explained Adam.

            “So you’ll ruin your element of surprise for some answers you already have? Adam, listen to me. You may only get one chance to kill maybe one of them. Forget these childish dreams of reuniting a lost family. Make that first kill count! What is your main purpose in life?”

            “It used to be destroying the Ark. But now I have a family again. Don’t you understand? We don’t have to be alone anymore,” said Adam full of delight.

            The Serpent wrapped himself around Adam’s neck and whispered in his ear, “Adam, you’re a killer. It’s why you live alone. You think your family will approve of the things you have done? Even if it was to homunculi, you’ve raped and tortured them both mentally and physically in unforgivable ways. The sins you’ve committed no man can forgive. You chose this path remember? There is no turning back.”

            Adam covered his ears. “Leave me alone. I’ll reunite my family and destroy the Ark, you’ll see.”

            “You’ll see that I’m right.”

            Adam shut his eyes. “Shut up!”

            “And when both Solius and Judas both try to kill you you’ll regret you hadn’t listened to me.”

            Adam called his Faith and started shining blue. “Shut up, you annoying f*****g snake!”

            “…”

            Adam opened his eyes and found that he was alone once more. Peace and quiet. It was a nice feeling. He felt a new rejuvenation. There were different options now. He was making his own choices now. It was time for change. He didn’t need to fight the Ark alone anymore. He wouldn’t fight the Ark alone anymore. A blue strand of hair glided through the air. F**k, now I gotta dye my hair blonde again. He stood up and headed up stairs after Gneiss.

 

 

            “Protecting the f*****g singer?” complained Arland.

            “Someone needs to be stationed there in case Adam shows up,” explained Solius.

            “Well no point in arguing I guess. Rookies looks like you get to watch your first ever concert. Live.”

            The rookies all laughed. Solius was glad they weren’t as awkward after spending a night with Royce. It seemed his plan worked after all. But more importantly now was capturing Adam. Due to the event he wouldn’t be able to use his usual formation. Amanda couldn’t be a sniper from inside a household, not to mention all attendees had to be on the floor at all times according to the President. Technically he didn’t have to follow, but the President stressed that he wanted the blue haired demon, Adam, to feel as comfortable as possible and that it was the only way to get him to make a move first and reveal himself. It made enough sense, all Solius had to worry about though was getting to Adam before Judas. Judas had the entire Ark Hunters at his command. Solius had three people.

            “I wish I could enjoy the concert,” said Royce. “I’ve seen that homunculus Emerald on a screen before, she’s f*****g gorgeous. She even looks better than the boss’s sister.”

            Solius glared at Royce. “Talk about my sister again and you might find yourself without limbs.”

            “I meant no disrespect, I’d f**k your sister too.”

            Solius brought up his right hand and opened up a small hologram keyboard. He nonchalantly typed something in with his other hand and in a matter of seconds Royce found himself in agony on the floor being electrocuted. Solius started counting in his head. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. I think he learned his lesson.

            Royce let out an agonizing grunt. “You…a*s!”

            “Perhaps you haven’t learned your lesson yet.”

            Royce glared at him in defeat, not daring to say another word.

            “So anyways,” announced Solius. “We all know how things roll. Arland’s squad will be in charge of protecting Emerald and watching the audience for any suspicious activity. My squad will be joining the cloaked masquerade. If anyone finds Adam, inform me immediately, and wait for further instruction. Understood?” Everyone nodded except for Algren. “Is there an issue Algren?”

            “Just a minor one,” said Algren. “How do we know when we find this Adam? We don’t know anything about him except that he’s great at killing and getting away with it.”

            “Well, that’s all any of us have to work with. Chances are he’ll reveal himself to us before we find him. But in terms of tactics, attempt finding the President as well. He’ll most likely be the demon’s main target. If you’re close to him the demon might just come close to you.”

            Algren glanced around the room. “Fair enough, I guess.”

            “Anyone else?” asked Solius. No one said a word. “Well then follow me squad. I’ll show you to our costumes for the occasion.”

 

 

            “So the rumors about you being an alcoholic during the night were true after all,” said Emerald in a teasing tone.

            Judas turned towards her, facing away from the bar. From just one glance Emerald could already tell he was wasted. She glanced around the bar to see how many people might be watching but it was desolate. Aside from her and Judas only one other homunculus and the bartender were present. The entire town district seemed significantly grimmer after the announcement of the mandatory occasions.

            “How did you find me?” asked Judas in an annoyed tone.

            Emerald smiled shyly. “Well, I was dying with anxiety so I figured I should take a walk. Then I saw a bar and remembered the rumors of your drinking habits, so I figured I might as well look for you. I could use a friend to talk to.”

            Judas shrugged. “That’s creepy. And offensive. You’re lucky I have bigger things to worry about or I’d probably yell at you.” He turned back towards the bar and chugged his drink. “You drink?”

            Emerald sat next to him. “No. My dad forbids it. He says it destroys image.”

            Judas chuckled. “You don’t say.”

            Emerald gazed at what now seemed like a pitiful broken man who drank his responsibilities away. It was nothing like the dutiful, deep and mysterious, brave man she spoke to in the train. Before her was just a broken man without a care for anyone but himself. When she heard the rumors she assumed them to be exaggerated like everything else in the media. But she literally found him wasted at the most random bar, disregard of quality, drunk beyond what one would expect by the current hour. If that much was true from the rumors she could only assume the rest were too.

            “Why do you drink? You’re an idol. A role model. You’re better than this.”

            Judas signaled for another drink. “Am I? Because no one else seems to think so.”

            Emerald took his new drink away. “The people voted for you to become Knight for a reason. Clearly people have admiration for you.”

            Judas glared at her and then looked at the cup and back at her. “What do you want from me? I didn’t ask for your concern.”

            The words dug deep inside Emerald but she blamed it on the fact that he was drunk. “I already lost one friend for not intervening. I won’t lose another one.”

            Judas burst into laughter. “You think I’m your friend? We had one conversation on a train ride. That doesn’t make us friends. And believe me, no kind of intervention you do is going to save me tomorrow.”

            Emerald bit her lip to restrain herself. How could he be so cruel to someone who was just trying to help? The worst part is everything he was saying was true and she knew it. As much as Emerald wished they had build some sort of bond on that train, she knew it was just a dream. A far cry from a lonely soul.

            “Seeing as you have nothing more to say, can I have my drink back?” he asked.

            Emerald tugged the cup farther away. “Why are you so hopeless?”

            “Adam killed over one hundred homunculi single handedly. You think a homunculi in a fancy armor is going to change that tomorrow?”

            “Adam? So you do know the blue haired demon!” Emerald said astonished.

            “Did I say Adam? Look at me confusing enemies with friends now. If I knew who the blue haired demon was we wouldn’t need a masquerade,” said Judas in a poor attempt at hiding his slip-up.

            “That’s a lie! During the meeting with the President he mentioned how the blue hair demon was coming for revenge and how you ruined his life. Just who is he to you exactly? Is he really your brother? Aaaahhhh!”

            Judas yanked Emerald through her enormous side ponytail and whispered in her ear, “Listen, idol. Watch what you say in public before I put a bullet in your head.”

            He released her and Emerald fell off her chair. Words were lost in her throat at his sudden aggression. No one, not even her father, had ever done anything of the sort to her before. She literarily didn’t know what to expect for that short moment. It was her first true taste of fear. She scanned the room to see both the bartender and the only other customer eyeing them through the corners of their eye. Humiliation and anger consumed her.

            She stood up fuming. “How dare you! I can see why no one likes you anymore!”

            Judas reclaimed his drink and took a sip. “Good. Now you can leave me alone and let me enjoy my second-to-last night in this world.”

            Emerald’s cheeks turned red with rage as she stormed out the bar. Upon leaving she quickly felt guilty. Judas had all the right to be mad at her. Even the President got a warning when he let whatever history the blue haired demon, Adam, and Judas almost slip up. Why would she have been any different, they weren’t friends after all. He was drunk with fear of death with no one but himself to rely on. Stupid Emerald, you’re going to regret this!

            Emerald turned around and entered the bar again. She marched her way to Judas and hooked his arm with hers and dragged him off the chair. “What are you doing?” complained Judas.

“I’m taking you out of here! You’ve had enough to drink,” answered Emerald sternly. Somehow she was able to drag him out which must’ve meant Judas wasn’t putting up much of a fight.

            Once outside on the empty streets Judas stopped letting his body get dragged around and faced her. “Okay, I’m outside. You can let go now.”

            Emerald released him. “Are you going to behave?”

            “What are you, my mom?”

            “Talk to me!”

“Guess so…”

“If it’s the last night you get to enjoy then let it all out so at least one person can know your story. I won’t let you die thinking you’re alone in this world. No one deserves that.”

            Judas took a deep breath. “Now you’re acting like my wife.”

            “Stop comparing me to people! Just talk to me…please.” Emerald complained.

            Judas almost looked sober as all humor left his face and he gazed deeply into Emerald’s eyes. “There’s nothing to say.”

            “Whose Adam?”

            “The man who will destroy this fucked up world we live in. The man who will destroy the Ark. He’s coming for us...and there’s nothing that can stop him!”

            Judas burst into hysterical laughter and all Emerald saw was fear. He’d lost it, whatever ounce of sanity he might’ve had, was gone. The alcohol had spread to the deepest parts of his system and all that was left was a child consumed with nothing but fear. Emerald watched him laughing by himself and all she could feel was pity. Just what happened to this man? Is anyone happy in this godforsaken world?



© 2012 Cynical_Art


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Added on September 7, 2012
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Cynical_Art
Cynical_Art

New York, NY



About
I am 21 years old, I got my Bachelors in Science Degree when I was 19. My career profession is computer animation (I am an Environment Modeler, for those that follow the profession) but I love to writ.. more..

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