Trials of the Reborn [OPEN] Jul 3, 2016 16:04:43 GMT -5
Post by Zeppelin on Jul 3, 2016 16:04:43 GMT -5
Zeppelin's eyes snapped open when she felt cool marble along her body- she instantly squeezed her eyes shut when the ungodly brightness of fluorescence assaulted her. This wasn't right, she didn't remember this at all. The last thing she remembered was boiling water in a tin can and making a clover crown. Then she… well, then she woke up here. And here was not okay.
She tested her limbs by stretching and found that her only pain was from a sore back. With a small grunt and a push, the woman was sitting up and massaging her spine while she studied her new surroundings with no small amount of confusion clouding her mind.
She was in a rather modest-sized room. Well, it was a glass box within a room; but still a room and a bare one at that. It was completely white from the walls to the tiled marble floor, the ceiling seemed to be made entirely of false light, and there were two other souls in the room on the other side of the glass cage.
A man and a woman stood together, both in lab coats and glasses. The woman's hand was on a knob in the wall while the man held firmly onto a clipboard, the two of them watched her with eyes that seemed to reflect some form of mild confusion- a mirror of her own expression. Cautiously, she stood up and walked as close to the pair as the glass would allow and pressed her palms upon the surface while she scanned the two of them individually.
The woman held a straight face and didn't seem too concerned with Zeppelin's closeness while the man couldn't look her in the eye and fidgeted with the pen in his hand. Great, one didn't care and the other one was nervous; could she work with the both of them?
The man cleared his throat and glanced up at her from above his glasses, but it was the woman who spoke.
“Step back into the center of the room.”
She said it with such harsh authority. Not her then… she would pick the man to try and reason with, he would be much easier.
“Why am I here?”
Zeppelin's voice was usually taken from deep within her throat and it produced a steady tone that was deeper than the average woman, but she coaxed her voice to a higher pitch and softened her eyes at the man. He took the bait and looked directly at her now while worrying at his bottom lip,
“Step… ah… into the center… please.”
His voice was unsure and the command almost sounded like a question when he said it. Zeppelin didn't feel like following directions, not that she ever did, but certainly not until she got some answers.
“Why am I here? Please tell me. I'm scared.”
And that was not a lie, her fear was a deep pit in her stomach- a primal feeling that was steadily clawing into her mind- but she ignored it as best as she could and pushed back her true feelings to concentrate on the task at hand. Information.
The man looked at the woman for assistance and she rolled her eyes,
“Step into the middle of the room, or we will make you.”
“Please do as she says, miss.”
Zeppelin looked between them with wide eyes and tried to imagine how the two of them would 'make her,' surely they didn't want to open that door. She could attack them or escape... or both. Maybe she did want them to try and make her; but what if she was wrong and they took more drastic measures? She was playing around with her well-being at this point, and now was not the time to press her theory... but she desperately needed some sort of answer from them. So she nudged her luck just a tiny bit more.
“Are you going to kill me?”
She brought forth easy tears to well up in her eyes and made little sniffling sounds.
“George! Do not compromise the test!”
The woman backhanded him using just her words, and 'George' seemed to deflate in response to her harsh tone while his knuckles went white from the strain of squeezing the clipboard.
There was some sort of tension between the two, a sort of taught string that Zeppelin felt needed to be plucked in order to make them sing. Don't compromise the test. Test…
“Are you going to cut me up?”
She let the tears roll softly down her face and brought herself down to her knees with her hands still touching the glass, a look of profound sadness etched into her features. She looked up at George from her spot on the floor and waited for an answer while the woman pulled the collar of her lab coat close to her mouth,
“We need backup in cell eleven, please.”
While she was occupied, George shook his head slightly to indicate that they would not be taking knives to her.
They weren't going to kill her, and she wasn't going to be sliced up, so at least she had that bright side to cling to. Within seconds a rectangular door-way made itself known by sliding away from the uniform wall with a 'swish' and two men dressed in black jumpsuits walked in with rifles already leveled at her. No… they weren't true guns; they looked more like the tranquilizer gun that was used on Isi when she was taken. Zeppelin wasn't keen on being asleep- she wanted to know exactly what was going on while it was happening; whatever 'it' was. She had enough information that she didn't feel the foreboding of her instincts quite so keenly; it seemed that she would survive the day yet.
Zeppelin knew when she was outmatched and so she dried her false tears and scooted backwards to the middle of the room as requested and even threw a gasp in their just for George. If she had any luck, he would feel bad enough for her to help with whatever was about to happen- even if it was only a little.
“Thank you gentlemen.”
The woman dismissed the guards and they went back the way they came without hesitation, one muttering something under his breath. It seemed that the indifferent woman wasn't well-liked amongst her peers. She was a cold bitch, so that wasn't surprising.
“Initiate in three, two, one.”
The woman turned the knob that she had been hanging on to with a harsh grip and Zeppelin held her breath in terrified anticipation. Nothing happened and then all of a sudden everything happened. There was a tiny hole in the middle of the floor about the circumference of a finger tip, so small that it had previously gone unnoticed before it started spewing a cloud of piss-colored gas. And she was sitting right on top of it- the surprise made Zeppelin jump and inhale sharply when it enveloped her in a thick embrace. She coughed and hacked when her lungs struggled against the onslaught of the fumes bleeding into her body. It didn't stop for some time, and Zeppelin crawled onto her hands and knees when she began to heave; her stomach was rolling and she couldn't breathe and it was too much. Just when she felt like she was going to suffocate on vomit and gas, it stopped just as suddenly as it started.
The glass box was thick with the heavy fog that slowly dissipated into nothing and Zeppelin fell onto her side in exhaustion- her stomach was still a terrible tsunami that threatened to evacuate but never delivered on the promise, all she could do was lay there with her eyes closed and wait for the tides to calm.
Zeppelin was prone for all of ten minutes, breathing and naming plants to calm herself. When her body settled, she opened her eyes and rolled them towards the general direction of the two people, but they were gone. The strange thing was that she could see the shapes of them standing where they were before in the form of faint ripples along the walls; but they weren't there physically. It almost looked like the two of them left imprints in the air that they previously occupied. She racked her brain and sat up slowly to stare at the strange image before her.
Suddenly, the lights were extinguished and she was plunged into complete darkness before she could make out any other details. Zeppelin blinked and tried to tear apart the situation in her mind to figure out just what the hell was happening.
She had been on her own for the past month or so now, staying in her quiet corner and only venturing far enough to mark a new place on her cement and ash map; she hadn't run into any trouble thus far. So… what now? They gassed her, but nothing was immediately happening besides the mirage that shimmered before the lights cut off- she wondered if it was just a trick of the obvious chemicals that she was doused with or if there was something truly unusual going on.
Would they hurt her due to lack of usefulness because she didn't participate enough for them? Would they send her somewhere else? Was she here for study? What was that gas? Who were those people? Where did they go? What was that sound?
She snapped her head to the right when she heard a faint whimper that sounded muffled by a barrier which she could only assume came from the outside of her glass box.
What was out there? Was it hurt? Was it suppose to hurt her? Was it going to fight her?
Zeppelin squeezed her eyes shut in frustration when her thoughts started jumbling together and panic began to rise in her throat. That wouldn't do- she needed to stay calm. And besides, there wasn't enough evidence to reach a sturdy conclusion; too many unknown factors.
The only thing that she could guess with confidence is that the fumes bleeding into her blood stream would do something to her- poison if she had to guess; hopefully it wouldn't last too long...
Her thoughts trailed off and her mind went quiet when she began to notice the pretty geometrical patterns behind her eyelids turning and gyrating to some unknown beat while the hushed sounds of misery continued outside of the box. Zeppelin opened her eyes and shook her head to clear her distraction. She reached out to touch the hole that had previously attacked her and shrieked when an unexpected barrage of energy ran through her body and rendered her fingers numb, shaking her to the core well after she drew her hand away.
She heard the other creature mirror her holler but she couldn't figure out exactly what the thing was still. Zeppelin cradled her hand to her chest and folded in on herself while she tried in vain to stop the tremors still passing through her body. When she closed her eyes again, those same geometrical patters greeted her and her mind wandered off; it was just moments later when her body began to feel funny.
The numb feeling of her fingers began to spread slowly to the point that once Zeppelin noticed it, she wondered if her body always felt so numb and she just never took the time to notice. The only things that had a semblance of feel to them were her wrist and ankles. It was a strange sensation of some organic material holding close to her skin that made her limbs feel heavy and almost tethered to the ground, or maybe she really was restrained. Shock settled over Zeppelin at the thought and she moved her wrists to test her theory, the heaviness dissipated but the feeling of something encircling her did not.
A few seconds later she started to wiggle around when an alien feeling invaded her consciousness; that she was not supposed to be in this skin. It was a vague sensation of a soul being trapped inside of a body, and she couldn't get comfortable no matter what angle she slumped in to. A thought occurred to her suddenly that put her mind at slight ease; these subtle yet strange sensations were familiar to her- almost like the early stages of belladonna. Although the plant's effects were very unpleasant, it was at least familiar enough for her to acknowledge that she had been drugged against her will; probably on some hybrid drug if the rapid pre-hallucinations were any hint. If Zeppelin was lucky, the famed belladonna time-warp would skip her entirely. So, with her thoughts quelled and her fate set, Zeppelin simply relaxed into the trip as best as she could under the circumstances by following colored patterns in the darkness and enjoying the feeling of numbness on her skin.
Two things kept her from completely settling at ease: the knowledge that no drug on earth was strong enough to cause waking hallucinations of the two people vanishing, nor the physical sounds coming from the creature outside. Sure, the noises could be imagined; but normal drugs usually gave an awareness or a warped interpretation of sounds already in existence- no matter how quiet. They didn't create sounds in reality that didn't exist. So either something was really there or the synthetic drug was actually strong enough to create realistic images and sounds.
She tried to keep herself from tensing, but it was no use.
Her body was rigged and ready to bolt should the need arise; though it was difficult enough for her arms to stay coordinated when she tried to plant them firmly against the ground. She stayed like that for what felt like hours although the passing of time was becoming contorted in her perspective- and then a voice echoed throughout the black room and cut through the psychedelic patters dancing in the air,
The voice was feminine yet deep and throaty, with the unmistakable accent of somebody unique to her birth region. Zeppelin knew that voice better than any other sound in the world, it was imprinted within her from the womb and remained apart of her every day until quite recently. But it was highly improbable that the voice belonged to her mother, still… it never hurt to ask.
Zeppelin faced the direction of the voice and stared intently at the darkness until she could see a faint outline penetrating the void of the room.
It was Zeppelin's mother, without a doubt. She was the only one that used her real name, or the bastardized form of it.
Her heart was beating much faster and she could feel her empty stomach rolling with anxiety as she began to fill up with a sense of dread. Soleil Tasimboiyyi, the swiftest runner and the smartest woman that she knew had been caught.
“Mamah, what happened? How are you here? Where is everybody else? Are they okay? Are you okay?”
Her words came out much faster than she intended and her mouth seemed to be totally apart from her brain, voicing thoughts that she did not command to speak- she still felt like she was not one in the same with her earthly shell. It was difficult, but Zeppelin managed to crawl clumsily to the glass wall closest to her mother's voice. Had she stopped and thought about the facts, she would have probably realized that she never heard her mother enter the room; it was almost like she just appeared out of thin air. But, Zeppelin was in the midst of an emotional hurricane coupled with an extremely strong hallucination, so the young woman's usual logic was thrown to the birds and her reality consisted of only the things before her.
She heard her mother's throaty chuckle and it sounded forced,
“Peace, child. Nobody got anywhere by getting worked up. Them hunters found us, flew over us with those skinny birds and snapped a bunch of nets over us like minnows.”
Zeppelin slumped over and had to blink back the tears that threatened to gather in her eyes, her mother was right; she had to be calm. Getting upset would not help either of them.
“We missed you, baby. I'm glad to know that you're alright. Everybody got real upset when Isi told us what happened, I knew you was tough enough- just like your mamah.”
Zeppelin wiped a dirty wrist across her eyes to staunch the trickle of emotion before the dam came crashing down,
“I missed yall too. I'm so… so sorry.”
“Don't apologize, girl. Don't never apologize, you don't got nothing to be sorry for.”
Her mother's voice began to soften and even out until she was almost whispering, as if lost in thought,
“What is it, ma?”
“Baby, I don't know how to say this… I'm just going to come out and say it- you should know.”
She prepared herself for her mother's obvious bad news. The words that came out of her mouth and the soft tone she was using could only mean that she was about to say something horrible. Something Zeppelin couldn't forget, and something that would shift the world.
“Your sisters and your daddy didn't make it.”
Zeppelin couldn't stop the explosion of tears now as they sprouted from her eyes and splashed down her face while loud sobs rolled from deep within her. Memories circled behind her closed eyes; her dad carrying her piggy-back while he climbed a tall oak, Ahni streaking through the pond with her in a race, Tobi dancing on little toddler feet while Zeppelin drummed on the table. Gone- all of them. So full of life and promise, dreams and potential that would never be reached. Zeppelin's world revolved around them since she could form memories, and those precious memories piled atop one another to create a network of pure and unconditional love. Gone. There would be no chance of seeing them again in this life, and their own light would forever be snuffed.
“Itashiha, I know it hurts. I know. But, I need you to calm down and listen to me.”
Zeppelin tried to stop, she knew that her mother wouldn't continue until she had calmed- it was just so hard to put a halt to her emotions once she let them out, and the drugs weren't helping at all. If anything, her trip had taken a turn for the worse as her thoughts began to grow dark and a sense of danger crept into her soul. She was trapped in a cage but all she wanted to do was kick her way out and run to the hills. She didn't want to be in the tight room full of despair and regret, she had to get them out before they came for them. Zeppelin didn't know who 'they' were and wasn't sure if 'it' would be a more appropriate name. Something was coming for them though, she could feel it in her bones, and they were stuck here in this cold fake room surrounded by unnatural and horrifying things.
Suddenly, there was a whine of hinges near her mother and a metallic hiss followed by the unmistakable scent of salt water and grime punctuated by a scraping of sharp claws along the floor.
“Yeah, come here big boy- I'll feed you.”
Zeppelin bit her lip and furrowed her brows to make herself cease her noise so that she could find out what was going on,
“Don't make a peep, baby. He'll hear you.”
Zeppelin balled herself up as tight as she could and buried her face into her arms to stifle her whimpers when she heard the unmistakable hiss of an alligator, much louder than any alligator she'd ever met. He must have been huge from the sounds he was making.
Zeppelin covered her ears and tried to staunch what was coming from her senses, but to no avail. The slapping tail, her mothers grunts, her mother's screams, the lizard's hiss, the crunching of bone, the smell of blood and human waste. It was too much. Zeppelin's mother was dying, and she could do nothing but ball herself up and weep her dread into her arms. It went on for too long, she didn't know if it was the spreading time that she was stuck in or if the alligator was really taking that long to destroy her mother- but it was wrecking havoc on her psyche as she tried to ignore the sounds bouncing around her.
She couldn't die with her family; her brother and Isi still had to be taken care of, and the rest of her extended family as well. Zeppelin had a tiny sliver left to live for; she was going to get out of here and claim justice for her family's demise. She would find those white-coats and obliterate them… somehow.
After some time, the sounds of death ceased and the metal whizzing and clinking started up again as she heard the alligator scamper away.
This was her fault, all of it. She was being punished for something beyond her current understanding, and the very creature that had sustained and protected them for centuries had turned on them. One of the reasons that her village was able to remain undetected for so long was because of how rural and dangerous the land was- outsiders did not want to go into gator-infested waters filled with all manner of sharp teeth and murderous rage. They lived side-by-side with them, offering them food and respecting their territory; in return they provided meat and guard. And now, one had taken her mother.
The woman who bore and nurtured her; the woman who taught her to shoot a bow, throw a blade, ride a horse, bang a drum, read, write, draw, dance, climb. She taught her to respect the lives of all creatures and provide a home for those who needed it, she taught her to trust in herself and in her family, she showed her how everything in the world had a beauty and a purpose, and she gave Zeppelin her love and her knowledge free of charge; between them was one of the strongest bonds on the planet- between mother and daughter. And now… it was gone. Her fault. Her doing. Zeppelin was a monster. A lusaushi1, blood-traitor, kin-killer.
Zeppelin was alone in the room, rocking back and forth while trying to staunch the despair spilling from her eyes, it was not use. She couldn't stop crying, even when she managed to shut off the memories spilling into her head; just the smell in the air was enough to keep her down. After awhile, Zeppelin acquired a sharp headache from the constant weeping- the force of her emotional turmoil was exhausting her into a shallow sleep that she couldn't quite fight off which was strange- the drugs should have kept her from falling into slumber, but they didn't.
A loud humming woke her up with a jolt, tears still fresh on her face but at least she had stopped sobbing. Zeppelin wiped at her runny nose with the back her her hand and sat up in the darkness once more to face a new horror, she didn't know what it was but she knew to trust the feeling in the pit of her stomach. The humming continued and seemed to increase in volume though she couldn't trust her ears to not play tricks on her at the moment; the lights blinked on once more to glare into her tear-sensitive eyes.
The floor around her was strewn with blood gathering at the walls of her glass prison while the cracked upper torso of her mother lay unblinking to face her. Half of her face was missing, as was her left arm and everything from the hips down. She could even see the spine peeking out from slices of torn flesh and clothing. Zeppelin let out an ear-piercing scream at the sight, a howl of grief that echoed inside of the room- it stung her own ears; or was it just her imagination? She began to weep again, but this time she didn't try and staunch her emotions. She couldn't look away from her mother, but she didn't want to see anymore- there has never been a way to vocalize the feeling of being utterly broken inside with any man-known speech. It is an old kind of horror that could only be expressed with the primal sounds of this world, the sounds of a broken mind.
She cried and screamed for hours, or was it just five minutes? Her vision blacked out a few times, but she would always awaken shortly after in the same room with the same vision before her. This went on for days, or was it just an hour? After a very long time, she stopped crying. All she could do was exist, and she breathed and her heart beat- but she didn't feel alive. She didn't feel anything at all anymore, not even when she stared into her mother's rotting eye. No conscious thoughts flitted to her mind, no emotion was present. This went on for weeks- until the blood on the ground hardened where it stood and the remains of her mother sagged and melted from the bone without the aid of maggots or flies- this was a sanitary institution, and no pests would get into the building without express permission.
One day, she had visitors.
A door that Zeppelin had not noticed before due to the impeccable style of the wall suddenly sprang open and in came a man, followed by a woman pushing a screen on wheels, and then followed by a standing gurney pushed by another man.
She became aware that she was blinking, and noticed the existence of her entire body; it was a very sudden and unwelcome feeling; and she yelped loudly in shock. That's right… she forgot that she was here, that she was a conscious being at all.
Zeppelin hugged her knees to her chest and scooted as far away from the group as she could while she watched them walk through the disgusting remains of her mother.
The three of them didn't look concerned in the least, they completely ignored the scene around them as if it was normal. Perhaps it was. Maybe every room looked like this. She shuddered at the though of multiple rooms with multiple rotting mothers, more empty children filling up with slow and patient madness.
The sound of a throat clearing brought Zeppelin's attention back to the present, to the first man that held a thick black clipboard and had neat blonde hair, pale skin, and an expressionless face.
“Good morning miss… Tasim...bowie.”
Zeppelin didn't bother correcting him, it mattered not, nothing mattered anymore. The man glanced at her a few times and scribbled something down loudly,
“My name is Doctor White. This is Miss Snow and Nurse Shine. And we have come to make sure that you're doing okay and adjusting well to your environment, and to share some great news with you.”
Zeppelin blinked up at them with a blank expression while she took in his words- there was a basic level of understanding, but she didn't care enough to comprehend the situation.
'Doctor White' stepped closer to the cage and a slim section of the glass slid down into the floor. He stepped in and bent down with a flashlight in his hand which he shined into both of her eyes. He clicked the light off and stuffed the small thing into his breast pocket before he reached towards her to make a grab at her hand, probably to yank her arm out and check her pulse. Zeppelin didn't give him a chance to touch her before she snarled and snapped her teeth at the offending appendage, but he withdrew his hand as if he expected her to lash out at him. His expressionless face now held a general look of disgust upon it, complete with a sneering mouth and narrowed eyes. He stepped out of her box and the glass slid back in place where it settled into a solid wall without a break to the surface, as if the glass couldn't slide anywhere.
“Disgusting savage. Nurse, please make note of hostility.”
He glared at Zeppelin from the other side of the glass,
“Off to a bad start, though it isn't surprising from your kind.”
He turned away and waved to the man attending to the turned-away gurney. Nurse Shine rotated the standing bed toward her with not an ounce of interest showing on his face while Zeppelin choked on a horrified sob at what her eyes beheld. She thought that nothing mattered anymore- but she was very, very wrong. The thing in front of her mattered; it mattered very much.
Strapped to the bed was an abomination, there was no other word to classify it. And it wasn't an 'it' so much as it was a 'him,' Isi. He was almost unrecognizable, half in his human form and half in his natural body. The top of his head was all animal from his long ears to the stumps where his growing rack had once been- Isi had been so proud of how his antlers were coming in, thick and strong like his father's. His face was that of his man-flesh, warped to fit the bone structure of a deer's face; his eyes too wide apart and his nose resting at a complete upwards angle upon a long snout- Zeppelin could see up his nostrils. His bare body was covered in patches of thick chestnut fur that gave way to equally tanned skin, and his hoofs had fingers sticking out at odd angles. The creature gave Zeppelin a broken smile that showed flat herbivore’s teeth,
“I'm sure you remember your old friend here. He has been quite helpful in our newest research, though I'm afraid that his genes weren't quite up to par. Still, with a little help from our robotics department, we can still salvage him.”
Robots? Salvage? No, Isi would not want that. His family would not want that, and neither did she.
“Put him out of his misery.”
Zeppelin croaked, her eyes full of a silent plea. Her voice sounded far away, and she startled herself with speech. She'd forgotten that she could talk.
All at once, she began to come back to herself; she began to feel like a person. There was a vague feeling of sitting her own waste; it seemed that Zeppelin's body didn't need any help from her brain to continue functioning. The thought was gone as soon as it came, and she never once wondered how she managed to survive for weeks without even a drop of water or a hint of food; perhaps she could have seen through the falsities if the idea had come to her. But, it did not- and so she continued to wallow deeply in the illusion that her creative mind conjured.
She looked directly at the Doctor because she couldn't stand to look at her best friend anymore. The Doctor raised a blonde eyebrow at her,
“His misery? Nonsense. We've come up with a whole new way to combine DNA and make something that we thought was impossible… well... possible. We will put some wires in him, and he'll be good as new. We may even keep you here for a little while longer to see if your genes are compatible enough for offspring, I understand that it was considered an issue with you two before- now there is a chance for that to be rectified. Be excited, it's a brand new horizon to look to.”
Zeppelin held onto that out of his whole statement. The Doctor nodded slowly and spoke even slower, as if Zeppelin was a child in need of an explanation,
“You see, he can't function fully as-is- obviously. The robotics department will give him new hands and feet, a new head, all sorts of shiny and new things.”
Zeppelin's mouth was held agape in disbelief. The things that the man spoke of were impossible by physical standards, like Frankenstein's monster. As if he could read her thoughts, the Doctor nodded enthusiastically,
“Technology is a wondrous thing.”
He said it as if that could explain everything away.
Zeppelin knew then that nothing she said would change this man's mind. Isi and herself were not people to them- possibly not even really animals. Just really handy things to play with that could talk.
“And there's more exciting news- I know that you'll like this.”
Isi made a strange sound and her eyes shot to him, but he was still smiling as if he wasn't in pain- it almost seemed that he was just happy to see her. She couldn't say the same thing.
Nurse Shine wheeled Isi next to her cage to face the doctor while Miss Snow wheeled the screen to face the two of them and the lights were dimmed.
The screen popped on and flashed to a still picture of their village, complete with cooking spits alight and clothes flapping in an invisible breeze on the drying ropes between the huts. Zeppelin could see her family's large home in the distance peeking into the corner with the red woven blanket covering the front door-arch. It was a familiar and welcome sight made eerie by the lack of people in the village and the fact that somebody that worked for the labs took it.
“Your young man has provided us with our next idea.”
The image vanished to be replaced by a different picture of the bayou that separated the village from an empty collection of houses, long abandoned by the old cajun families when the government turned sour. The stilts that supported the houses over the water were termite-ridden and dead, causing the houses to sink into the calm waters and be claimed by the wilds. The picture changed again to the swamp near her house, and again to the muddy beach that she and Isi had first met.
“It has been quite some time since we've been able to find a suitable place for the next dome, and we think it's perfect. So hostile and wild, it will be quite the treat to see who can adapt to the place.”
The picture changed again, but this time it was to a drawing on graph paper. It was a series of buildings, all clean corners and sharp edges; a bridge branched off of the paper. The next photo showed the bridge coming from the opposite side of the paper onto a dock that was connected to a rough sketch of a bubble-like structure that dwarfed the buildings by comparison.
“We figure that we'll take your little village and level the whole territory; it's rare to find that much land that isn't already in use, and we will let your people go back… into the new dome. They can rebuild their little huts and become an established community, and then we'll release the new ones; we can then see if it is the young and strong who survive, or the old and knowledgeable. And on top of that, we can harness the genetic make-up of your people and learn some new things- you have rare blood. I myself have only seen it once in my time working here.”
The lights flickered back to their original sting and the screen went blank. Zeppelin looked over at Isi, and he wasn't smiling anymore. Now he looked sullen.
“I bet you're wondering why I'm telling you this.”
Yes, actually, she was.
“You two will be sent in first to organize your people, 'take up the mantle' if you will. If you're good and dance to our tune, we will have minimal contact. We won't take your people randomly, and we will provide necessary resources. We will focus our attentions on the newcomers. If you cooperate.”
Zeppelin's eyes were wide and unblinking when the doctor signified the end of his tirade by looking at her expectantly, waiting for an answer.
She had been filled with nothing but rage and sadness for days, and nothingness for weeks. The sudden explosion of anger in her chest awoken her mind completely, and she was quite suddenly filled with the urge for murder.
She was experiencing all manner of outrage and disgust. They killed her family, slaughtered her mother in front of her, disfigured Isi beyond recognition, wanted to destroy her familial lands, submit her people to captivity and experimentation, and they wanted her to be okay with all of it? She flared her nostrils and took steady breaths to calm the swelling voice inside of her screaming for blood. If she attacked them, she would die. If she said no, she would also probably die. She needed to think about the situation more, there were considerations and negotiations to be mulled over, and if she could find a way out of here first; she would run far away to her people if she could. But, if everything was inevitable, her people needed her alive.
Her mind was quickly coming alive with old and welcome thought patterns- reliable and pragmatic; the tool that helped her survive and thrive was alight with quickness once more.
She felt the hot tears of anger rolling down her cheeks without her emotions' command and her hand came up to wipe them away- but she didn't feel her flesh connect with her face. Zeppelin may have cried more in the past month than the entire sum of her adult life. She didn't know if she was in shock or if the drugs still had a strong hold over her after all this time, but her nerves were cold steel.
“I can see that you'll need time to think.”
The Doctor motioned the other two employees to his side, and they complied by wheeling their respective burdens with them.
“It will be some time before the Southern Dome is ready, so you'll have plenty of time to consider our offer. We will see you again soon, Miss Tasimbowie.”
The three of them exited the room along with Isi and when the door shut behind them, Zeppelin was once again plunged into darkness- alone and shaking.
She couldn't think of what had just happened; what she had seen and heard today. If she thought about it, she would go insane. The wounds in her soul were still fresh, and her mind was too torn apart. She willed herself to feel and think nothing, to be nothing. She would rest now, she was so very exhausted.
Zeppelin laid herself onto her side and lowered her head onto the cold floor of the cage. She would deal with it when she was not as raw- not now. Almost as soon as she closed her eyes, she was out like a light.
When she awoke next, she was on an operating table and she felt excruciating pain all over her body before she promptly blacked out again.
The next time she cracked her eyes, she caught sight of tubes full of thick white liquid leading into her nostrils- she fell asleep again.
She was roused once more by the sound of wailing and turned her eyes towards the small bundle of a very ugly newborn whose shape couldn't seem to decide what sort of animal it was. A nurse was holding it away from her body as if it smelled as revolting as it looked.
Every once in awhile she would wake up and hear bits of conversations, but she was never amongst the living for long; a few minutes at the most. She didn't dream, and she didn't think. She just existed once again in a sort of limbo, until one day she woke up and stayed awake long enough to stand and shuffle to a counter beside the hospital bed.
The room was solid white, there was a monitor that was tethered to her though a series of tubes and wires that she didn't care enough for to study. There was a single chair across the room and a mirror above the counter, and it was the mirror that she calmly walked to.
What she saw would have been shocking to her if not for the fact that her soul seemed to abandon her years ago. Brittle hair the color of snow, pale skin cast with a blue pallor, empty yellow eyes where they were once white, lips sucked into her gums, cheeks hallow and sharp, and lines cris-crossing with pock marks on every inch of bared skin. There was a faint feeling of excruciating pain throughout every joint in her body that would have crippled her to the floor if she had been completely aware of it- but instead her mind was drifting with slow realizations.
Everybody that she loved was dead. It was her fault. She was a vessel for the pain of her people, and she got exactly what she deserved. Her whole life was gone, untapped potential and possibilities abandoned. She never even got her first kiss. The knowledge that she still existed was worse than death- that she was a useless shell taking up oxygen; contributing nothing but misery to this world.
Zeppelin didn't cry or scream; feelings had fled where once they bloomed in abundance. Instead, she began to yank out the tethers to the beeping monitor beside her with shaking hands and did not stop until she was free. She knew that her muscles had withered with decades of lying abed, she was weak where she had once been strong, but with her last breath she would do what was right. It took her a while, but she managed to push the heavy monitor towards the counter and into the mirror to shatter it into thick chunks. Zeppelin picked up a good sized shard and stared at the broken reflection of a stranger. She didn't believe in a god, her ancestors worshiped the earth as a sort of deity. There was no afterlife in her mind- but she secretly wished that there was.
Maybe if there was a heaven, her family would be there together. And her horses, and her cats, and her dogs, and Isi. She hoped that there was a heaven, even though she knew that she wouldn't be allowed inside; the ones that she loved should get what they deserved. She wanted them to be happy.
Zeppelin's voice was as withered as her body when she spoke for the first time in seventy years,
She buried the long shard of broken glass into the side of her neck and with her last remaining strength, she opened her frail throat and watched with a flicker of fascination as her thin black blood spilled down the front of her hospital gown before she fell away from the world one last time.
The nurse muttered to the room when the young woman in the glass box finally collapsed from exhaustion. A scribbling could be heard behind him,
“Finally. Let's go on lunch, I'll buy you a turkey wrap. We've earned it.”
Ella was speaking, but George chose to ignore the other nurse with the sort of empty tiredness that came from not sleeping. They started on her yesterday morning. Neither George nor Ella had even gone home during the triple shift. When one of them got too tired to stand they would take a Waker- little yellow pills that would keep your body going for hours upon hours. They weren't for the consumer market yet, and they weren't legal; but their supervisor turned a blind eye 'for the good of UNIT.' The two of them had taken a great leap of sacrifice in the company's eyes that would be rewarded in due time, but George could care less about rewards at this point.
He was beyond exhaustion, annoyance, and anger. This whole 'experiment' was f***ed, as far as he was concerned. He was at college for four full years without summer breaks- a very good an expensive school that awarded him a masters in biological science and a minor in business. The debt George accumulated was still being taken from him a decade after the fact, and it would continue past another decade if the numbers continued to rise. George wanted to work for the preservation business, maybe start his own company; he wanted to do his part to save what little nature they had left- he wanted to make a difference.
Instead he found himself with an anxiety-prone wife, four children, a mortgage, two car notes, and all of the bills that came in between. There was once a small window in George's life where he could have taken off and began to fulfill his dream, but that window was long past. Instead, he found himself working for UNIT. Great pay, great benefits, and amazing promotional opportunities. Sarah, his wife, was the one who wanted him to do it; to make their lives easier. So, he did it.
The cell that he was applying for claimed to be interested in decoding the mysteries of the human genome that hadn't already been mapped out by men long dead. They said that it was pertinent to learn more about evolution and the way the world around them could adapt to human interference; George agreed with that statement. Man was pushing himself further and further upon the natural world, and only a small percentage of the earth could claim a lack of interference. The list of endangered animal and plant life had grown quite long in the years, while entire species had been wiped out at an alarming rate. It was important now more than ever for humans to help where they could. And here he was, drugging up helpless young women and watching their nightmares play out with every variation of despair and fear laid bare in front of him like a movie. A movie that had only one character. He couldn't help but make up the co-stars and imagine the full context of the scene rolling before him, a morbid entertainment that he was ashamed of.
So far, George had participated in two viewings. The first one was a man that easily shrugged off the experience as if it was something that he was expecting. But, he was experienced in the dome and survived for years under their observation- one they had taken and played with many times before.
This second one, the girl, was young and untested in the dome. This was her first time in the labs, and it was not an experiment that should be introduced to the inexperienced. But, that was the point. What was the formula of different factors that would equal the correct reaction?
Humans figured out the brain a century or more ago- how to decipher words before they exited the mouth, how to see what they were thinking. Of course, George assumed UNIT took full advantage of the knowledge. Spies were almost non-existent now, they were easily ferreted out when the government started to demand a thought-scan along with their monthly drug tests in the higher branches of the world government. It was much harder for the big-wigs up top to gather information from their comrades. But, George didn't have undoubted knowledge of the subtle and often unnoticed lengths UNIT took. He just had his theories, gathered from various forums over the years.
The technology existed, and chemistry developed at the same rapid pace along with it. George was only surprised that the human race hadn't thought to combine the two sooner.
He was still staring at the sleeping body of the young woman- almost jealous that she got to sleep while he still had to make it home. At least he had the next two days off- courtesy of his supervisor.
Ella cleared her throat,
“She isn't waking up anytime soon, hurry up so we can go.”
Ella. That bitch. George had been partnered with her for the last two years, and they got along just fine- they shared jokes and the deep conversations of good friends who held the same opinions on most things. Well, Ella thought they got along. George never liked her, but he put on a smile and pretended with her. For the money, for the benefits, for his family. So he wouldn't be suspected of sympathizing.
He wouldn't work for any respected company again if they found out. Ella didn't much like animals, and that's what these people were to her- animals getting in the way of advancement. Another firm grip that nature clamped onto the human race- Ella wanted to live on the moon colony that probably wouldn't be built in her lifetime, but it was a dream of hers. She liked people though, in fact she was a chatterbox; George hated when people talked too much.
“Just a moment.”
He said, standing up slowly on numb feet. They would ring for dispatch and leave, and dispatch would take the girl back to the dome. He hoped that Ella wasn't paying much attention to the girl's mutterings after the first four hours because the shifter had said some incriminating things under her breath. His supervisor would salivate at the pat on the back he would receive from 'discovering' a whole tribe of shifters. Ella wasn't interested in their nightmares anyway, she was more concerned with what went on once they were back in the wilds.
This girl wasn't attached to any of the rings, so she would have nobody to walk her through a healing process- no way for her to know that what she saw wasn't real. She didn't react strongly to the drugs that they had given her to knock her out before they gassed her, so Ella had pumped her cell with an extra twist of the gas nob to make sure that the girl would be doused. She was a small thing, so it came as no surprise that her imaginings were harder to see through- she'd been given too much. But, George shut his mouth. For the money, for the benefits, and for his family.
Ella checked the girl's calming heart rate and her temperature. She sounded bored, so surely she hadn't been paying that much attention to what they had spent the last day witnessing- she would be much more talkative about their findings if she had. That wasn't her job anyway, it was his for the most part. Good thing, too. Ella walked to the door of the room and pushed the bottom button to call for somebody to take the girl, and George left his spot to join her.
Maybe he could at least convince the people in supply to leave her with something, she didn't have any weapons or resources to speak of from their observations. He'd go to them after lunch, where he had a free turkey wrap calling to him.
Zeppelin woke up under the shade of a box elder with a profound feeling of being drained of everything. She blinked away her fuzzy vision and sat up groggily. She felt disoriented, sick, lethargic, heart-broken, and panicked.
At first, she thought that she just had the most realistic nightmare of her life. Then, she noticed her surroundings and reconsidered her theory. She remembered where she was before the nightmare, and the location was certainly not filled with box elders.
That's how she knew it hadn't been a dream. That and the fact that she didn't wake up anywhere near her camp- very far from it. Zeppelin rubbed her sore temples and rested her elbows on her knees to alleviate the migraine making its home at the front of her brain. Suddenly, she realized that her hands were familiar; young and tattooed and able- she wasn't old at all.
Panic and shock rose like bile in her throat, and she had to remind herself to stay calm. Think. Breathe. She thought of the facts first. One: she was not at her camp, so she was moved. Two: she wasn't old. Three: she was not dead… or was she?
All of a sudden, Zeppelin paused completely in her movements and almost forgot to breathe again. It was a ridiculous thought that she wanted to un-think, but it was too late. Was she dead? Is this hell? Would she be here for eternity? It was beautiful here with not a single hint of fire or brimstone anywhere; if this was hell, it was not the white man's idea of it.
Or maybe the afterlife was a series of eternities (she had read this one in a book once, an interesting idea) where one would be transferred into a slightly different dimension upon death and repeat the process of transference when next they died.
Perhaps this wasn't the afterlife at all, perhaps she was given a second chance. If the afterlife could exist then it was possible for a deity to exist in some form; maybe they had warped the universe and deposited her back into her body to try again. The possibilities were too numerous for Zeppelin to hold onto any one idea for too long- all of them ridiculous.
Although she did not believe in half of what she was thinking of, one fact did remain true above all: the human race could live for millions of years into the future and still not know the answer to the big question. They still had no idea what 'reality' really was and what dictated it, and they most certainly did not know what happened after death. With that in mind, Zeppelin supposed that anything was possible at this point. There was a problem with finding out the truth in this; there was nobody to ask. She still had not met a single person in the dome, and she couldn't just walk up to a stranger and ask if they'd ever died before; that was just an invitation for a fight. There was no 'higher power' to consult with, and there were no clues to be had.
Of course, it was entirely possible that everything had been a hallucination caused by the heavy gas, but it was hard to imagine that there was a drug in existence that could warp reality so completely. It was the least fantastical of all of her suspicions- and for that she dubbed it the most likely without any evidence to disprove it. Zeppelin started to feel better as she clung onto that thought- it would mean that her family was alive; that there was no other dimension in which those terrible things had happened. She could mull it over more later but now she had to get back to camp, wherever that may be, and she needed to come up with a comprehensive list of what she knew to be true least she started doubting herself.
Zeppelin picked herself up off of the ground on shaky legs and started to walk East, but her foot collided with something and knocked it aside. She glared at the offending object with a great amount of suspicion before kneeling down to pick it up. It was a hand-hatchet. It was balanced decently, and it felt good in her hand; the wood was a light beige and the grain marked it for cherry wood. The head was made of sturdy steel, and she felt the sharpness of the blade when she ran her thumb over it. It was un-decorated, and it was not high-quality, but it would do. There was a tiny piece of paper attached to the handle with a sliver of string holding it in place, so Zeppelin pulled it upwards to inspect it. She almost dropped the weapon after her eyes scanned over the tiny note, but instead she just sucked in a breath and held tightly to the object.
The note really complicated matters. Zeppelin stood up soundlessly and began walking to the South, but first she tore off the offending paper and let it flutter to the ground.
Written neatly in tiny print, the note said,
Hope this helps.- G
The caution which was exercised before Zeppelin's death had been thrown to the wind. Before, she stayed near her encampment and ventured a little farther every day, but she always ran back home at the coming of the night to escape the predators that could see much better than she when the sun descended. Before, she didn't have a weapon or a plan of action. But then, her life flew by while she slept and she woke up one day to stare into the eyes of an ancient failure. She would have shrugged off the experience as a very bad drug trip, but she couldn't dismiss it when God kept on communicating with her.
Before she died, God did not exist in any form outside of nature. She would have laughed at the very idea of Him being a literal entity capable of free thought. Now, God did exist. And he was being too nice- it was very suspicious. Perhaps it was because of the shitty way he let her die last time, he wanted to make it up to her. He dropped things when she was asleep and left little notes of encouragement.
First, it was her hatchet. Sharp and balanced. Hope this helps- G
Second, it was a little pack of beef jerky. Juicy and delicious. This will help the empty stomach- G
Third, it was a hint. She lived another day. Hostiles scouting from the North, run West.- G
She was more annoyed than confused about the whole situation because Zeppelin was still very angry at God for the first round of life and the things that had been thrown at her; the people that he let suffer. Now that she knew that he was an omnipresent being, he could claim responsibility for every crime against humanity that had ever happened. If he was some all-powerful force, why did cruelty exist? Because of free will? Ha! One being's exercising of free will would take away the power from another; so that was pretty counter-productive.
Even with all of His help, it didn't make up for the fact that He was a dick. Zeppelin really didn't like Him, but she would accept the gifts out of necessity and without thanks. If God was looking for forgiveness or worship, He was barking up the wrong tree.
It was turning into evening now, and Zeppelin was approaching a thick oak tree with low bowed branches. Perfect. She had been walking all day without a break, and her strong legs felt the oncoming fatigue of a journey well-traveled. She would eventually get to the edge of this place and begin a journey to the other side to measure the circumference of the dome- then she would find a way out. She didn't know how the measurements of the area would help her break out, but it would be a handy thing to know; and she had to start somewhere.
God had dropped her off right back where she started last time, and she would not waste this second chance to make a difference. She assumed it meant that her entire family was alive this time around, it was of the up-most importance that she make sure they were all right. The nagging feeling in the back of her mind told her that her last life wasn't real- it was certainly more believable than the situation she found herself in now; but she couldn't prove that quite yet. She needed evidence for the more believable theory, whereas she had notes from 'G' to support the more ridiculous one.
Zeppelin pushed herself up into the branches of the mighty oak- the most climbable of trees. Oaks were always the easiest and most reliable to climb with thick branches that promised ease of balance. This one was no different. She hugged the low-hanging branch and hoisted herself up with practiced ease and once she was up she repeated the process until she was too far away from the ground to be taken by surprise in the middle of the night.
She settled her back against the rough bark of the gnarled trunk and began to hum loudly to stave off the feelings of unease that had possessed her since the incident. It wasn't the smartest idea to make so much noise in unfamiliar territory, but Zeppelin didn't care at this point. If she died she might be brought back again and besides, she was too high off the ground and too well-armed to give a shit.
After a little while, her humming ceased and she began to get sleepy
She widened her drooping eyelids and seemed to be talking to the wind, but He knew to whom she was speaking.
“I never considered myself a very social creature. But, just having you around to talk to is terribly lonely.”
Zeppelin let her legs hang down from the tree trunk and began to swing them lightly back and forth, she heard a crow caw somewhere near. That was probably Him. He always popped up in the weirdest places, and she thought God quite cowardly that He wouldn't show His face- electing to talk through the spirits around her. She saw Him in everything now when once she would have just seen the progress of the wilds.
She narrowed her eyes at nothing in particular,
“I still don't like you.”
Her voice was a mutter, and the wind blew softly against her in reply.
“Because you're an asshole, that's why.”
It was the answer of a petulant child, but it was true. The wind halted and all was still.
Zeppelin started to hum again and her eyes felt heavy once more. It was still much too early to tuck in, and she needed to keep her sleeping schedule strict so she woke herself up by wrapping her arms and legs around her perch before promptly tilting over the side to hang like a monkey. Her long and tangled hair touched the branch below her hanging form and a pleasant burning started in her limbs from the strain of gravity.
Ella croaked groggily. George walked into the observation room with a steaming cup of black coffee and heavy bags ringing his eyes. It had been three days since they concluded their subject, but both of them were still feeling the gauntlet that they put their bodies through.
George grunted and shuffled to the three computer monitors sitting on the desk pushed against the wall. This was their shared office, it had pristine white walls, cold air, and no windows. There was the desk with the monitors accompanied by a panel of controls, there were two other desks pushed against opposite walls with various stacks of paper neatly aligned. Some digital picture frames dotted the desks with images of their respective families scrolling on endless loops and an automatic calendar and agenda blinking from its frame upon the wall.
“We've had some developments.”
Ella's voice usually grated on his nerves in the morning, but today it was almost unbearable to hear her and not grimace. A new development with the subject, George presumed- there wasn't much else going on at work.
He refrained from rolling his eyes and instead took point next to Ella before the monitors. Two of them held onto stagnant images that could be scrolled through depending on which of the hundreds of cameras was selected, but the monitor on the left held all of the attention.
It was the subject and she was full of energy at such an early hour. She was whittling a thick branch that stood taller than herself, and her lips were moving at a rapid pace; Ella turned a knob on the control panel and the young woman's voice flooded out of the speakers.
“-do it without you. If you don't leave me alone, I'll start praying to Satan; I bet that would piss you off. I bet he'd even directly talk to me.”
George furrowed his brow and glanced at his partner, who grinned at him and turned the knob back down so that they were once against cast into silence.
“Where did she get the weapon, George?”
He had already formulated this scenario in his head, and his response didn't miss a beat,
He sipped his coffee and looked into Ella's eyes with confidence. She seemed a little put off, thinking that she had caught him red-handed doing something he wasn't supposed to be doing.
“Why didn't you discuss the decision with me first?”
It was always such a big deal to give things away to the subjects, the higher ups wanted minimal invasion of the natural fluidity of the dome- the same people who developed brand new species of creatures to run amok.
“You were busy at the time, and I didn't think it was a big deal. The girl was unarmed and vulnerable, I figured it would be in the best interest of the study if she lived.”
Again, Ella wasn't expecting infallible logic in response to her thinly-veiled accusations. She recovered quickly and slapped him with the hardest question in her arsenal,
“Why did you leave notes?”
George shrugged and put on his best I-give-no-shits face,
“Not sure, I just did it. There's no rule against it, is there? Besides, she's kind of cute.”
He wagged his eyebrows at that last part and gave her a boyish grin- Ella did not disappoint with her reaction.
“George! That's so disgusting. I'm telling Sarah.”
She laughed and shoved him with her elbow playfully. Good. He was off the hook of suspicion. Ella pointed to the screen,
“Anyway, it worked out. She thinks God left it for her, that's who she's talking to. She's gone a little bonkers since we released her. You should have heard some of the things she said earlier.”
She laughed quietly to herself and George joined her in chuckling at the silly mind of a stupid animal, but on the inside he felt no such mirth- guilt began to creep upon him. They have never had a strong post-reaction such as this from a subject. Psychological reality alternation was important to the research- it would mean that they where that much closer to finding out the formula for the optimum outcome. It would mean that he had a direct hand in it; why did he leave those notes? Honestly, he couldn't give himself an answer. Maybe he wanted her to know that he was looking out for her, that she wasn't alone, that he was helping. He didn't know why he signed it- he just did these things without thinking. It was stupid- he was stupid. George was loath to imagine the next steps they would be taking to reach the end-goal.
“Boss is pretty happy about it, he came in before you. He said that he would tell the upper labs about the development, and they might send somebody down today.”
His feeling of unease grew at that. If one of the big doctors came in, then either he or the subject would be screwed. There was no telling what one of the doctors would think about his little notes. George kept his inner turmoil close to him and did not let a peep of it through his fake smile,
“What if… Doctor Desoto himself comes?”
George attempted to alleviate any lingering traces of suspicion towards him by being chummy with Ella, buttering her up so that she wouldn't throw him under the bus later. He knowingly smirked at her and Ella glanced at the ground as she was known to do whenever the doctor's name came up.
She touched her perfectly arranged hair and grinned to herself, though she tried to hide it,
“Don't be ridiculous. He has more important things to worry about.”
“Oh, I wouldn't be too certain of that- this is an important development. He may want to see for himself.”
He really hoped that it wasn't the case. He hoped nobody came and they would just demand they send a recording of their findings with a copy of notes upstairs. But if they did send somebody, he prayed to any god listening that it wouldn't be THE doctor.
, Ushi- Egg: Black egg is a term used to describe a rotten child, or a shamed family member.
((OOC: I did not intend for such a lengthy thread. This one just really got away from me, I guess. Meh.))