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Twisted Reality -- Chapter 22

Deviation Actions

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Chapter 22:Penance

"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Korin asked, squatting down in front of the reinforced steel door and inspecting the series of locks closer. Almost all of them required different keys, but that was a simple enough fix.  Korin crunched a few numbers in his head and looked inside his backpack.

"Honestly? No," Malini replied, hovering over Korin's shoulder. She glanced backwards, watching Nianika slowly pace back and forth in the hall, her flashlight occasionally casting back into the main reception area. They'd left Kathrin back in the bunk with a small note; she needed all the sleep she could get and Malini didn't have the heart to wake her. "But if there's someone responsible for those monsters, I want to find out who."

"You know what they say about curiosity," Korin said back gruffly, taking out what looked like a brick of clay. He began to knead it in his hands, making the material soft and pliable.

"Yeah, well, I'm a wolf. Curiosity kills cats. I'll be fine." Korin gave an amused huff, beginning to mold the clay around the few locks that Malini hadn't been able to pick. "What're you going to do?"

"Well, I can't blow the damned door off, I don't have near enough plastic explosive. But I can blast these locks." He began feeding some of the moldable bomb through the faintest sliver of space between the door and the wall, doing a fine job of jamming in as much as he could. He worked in silence for a few momenths, covering a small part of the door with the plastic, before reaching into one of the pockets on his vest and pulled out a small remote. Malini didn't need to be told to move back; she was slowly walking down the hall towards Nianika, sword in hand. The moonlight still gleamed through the broken skylight, the shattered glass covering the floor reflecting it's light into an eerie pattern across the walls.

"This still doesn't feel right," Nianika stated simply, not turning to look at Malini as she approached. The soldier looked legitimately worried, something rare in and of itself. Her hand gripped the stock of her rifle with unusual tightness.

"But you agreed that we need to go see what's down there," Malini half-protested, swiping a single, clawed finger across a well-dried streak of crimson along the wall. Small pieces flaked and fell, adding a rust color to the already dirty floor.

"Not just that, no...this whole place. Call if nerves, but I've got a bad feeling about going down there."

"You've seen too many horror movies," the wolf chided, glancing backwards as Korin stripped some copper wiring from some of the wires in the security room, the few working monitors casting a faint, white glow onto his dark fur. He hauled the wire back to the door, dug it deep into the plastic, and slowly rolled it back down the hallway towards them. The two Keidran and the human soldier silently walked around the far corner, using the wall as a brace as Korin tied the loose end of the wire around his remote. He did his best to cover his ears, and the girls quickly did the same. He glanced at each of them for a moment, hesitant, before he thumbed the single switch on the detonator.

It sounded like a faint sizzle at first, and for a second, Malini thought that the plastic might've been defunct. A sound akin to a loud firecracker ripped through the silence, a few small, loose pieces of debris and a lot of dust flying out of the hallway. The wolf's ears rang, and she coughed a few times before the smoke and dust cleared. One by one, they stumbled back out into the hallway, a smoking black burn mark indented into the steel of the door. "Did it work?" Nianika asked, Korin already taking the lead and shifting his bag across his shoulders. He got a solid grip on the single, slightly warped handle and tugged hard, the door slowly starting to shift open.

"Yeah, grab on." The other two grabbed onto the door and pulled, the heavy entryway slowly moving outward on creaking hinges. With a grunt, they heaved the door open, catching an immediate odor of stale air and dried blood. Korin shook his head, moving back to the security room while Nianika shone her light down into the darkness. A long, thin staircase descended in front of them, opening up into a small chamber that lead beyond their sight. Korin came back a moment later, hefting a human shotgun from the weapons stores. He loaded a few shells into the chamber before pumping it in a satisfied manner, flicking on a small, under-barrel flashlight.

"Y'know, there are Keidran shotguns in there," Malini said, taking the lead and walking down the stairs. Her bare feet thumped hollowly against metal landings, her hands holding onto both her sword and the guard rail. Korin grunted in reply, holding the gun at his hip as he followed. Nianika brought up the rear, glancing backwards one last time as they moved into the facility.

The stairs opened up into a small room, barely enough for the three of them to fit in, presenting another door that was nearly torn off its hinges. Malini grimaced; it was a metal door, dented and pockmarked with small-arms fire. She shoved her shoulder against the metal and pushed, ripping off the last bolt that held it onto the wall. It fell inwards with a loud, metallic *clang*, into a long hallway with several doors on either side before it split into an intersection. They started making their way forward, lights revealing nothing but more darkness and dried blood. The silence pressed upon them like an unspoken pressure, threatening to collapse on the three. The walls had windows in them, revealing where the doors lead to. Each contained a small room, with a desk and a counter on one side and a cushioned table on the other. Again, like the dormitories, these looked white and sterile, with no one having accessed them in months.

"They look like exam rooms," Nianika said as she passed, shining a flashlight into one of the rooms for a better look. "Like a doctor's office or something."

"Yeah, but where are the patients," Korin said, quickly bringing the uncomfortable silence flooding back in. They silently walked down the hallway, Nianika's boots echoing off the floor the only sound that accompanied them. Each room told the same story; a lonely room waiting to be used. It's like someone cleaned up the night before, getting ready for the next day's events, and then just left, never to return. "Alright," Korin said, his voice seemingly much louder in the dark silence, "consider me officially creeped out." They came to the intersection, a Y-branching curve that lead two directions; the left hallway sloping upwards, the right one downwards. Malini glanced between them for a moment before choosing the left path.

This one was completely devoid of both doors and windows, arching up for a small distance before leveling off. There was a door on the far end, this one in apparently much better shape than the others. Korin held his flashlight on the door while Nianika panned around the hallway, shining her light back behind her and down the hall, half-expecting to see someone -- or something -- standing there.

"Locked," Malini grimaced, her hand not finding any purchase on the door's handle. She shook it a bit more forcefully, to no avail. Annoyed, she slid her sword back into its sheath and pulled out a small, plastic card that she had scrounged up from the reception desk. She wedged it between the door and its frame, wiggling it for a moment before her attempts presented her with a faint click. Satisfied, she pushed the door open, and gagged as a wave of odor passed over her, the smell of decay heavy in the air. Letting loose a few wet coughs, Malini backed away and pulled part of her coat around her mouth, doing her best to cover the smell and fight back her sense to vomit.

The smell came from a corpse near the door, slumped in the near corner. A rusted, blood-coated revolver was in her hand. Blood also stained the otherwise-white tiles along the floor. "Ohh, that's just nasty," Nianika said, pulling out her balaclava and wrapping it around her mouth and nose. She shone the light on the body, Korin stepping around her and walking farther into the room, doing his best not to breathe. His nose was wrinkled as he panned the flashlight around, revealing a relatively small room with a desk along the back wall. He turned and caught a glint of something in his light, shining off the wall. Getting closer, he realized it was the wall that was reflecting his light; blinds were pulled over a floor-to-ceiling window.

"Hey, look for the pull for these," he said, shining his light around the dark-colored blinds. Nianika stood and shone her light down the hallway, giving a small shake of her head and closing the door they had come in through while Malini checked the corner above the body. Finding a small, white string, she tugged, the blinds slowly rising. A glow shone back at them, drawing the three of them to stare at the much larger room that opened up in front of them.

They were standing in some kind of observation room, below which was a laboratory filled with large, human-sized test tubes. One of them still glowed a sickly yellow, what Malini and Nianika had seen from the video feed. What the video didn't show very well, however, was the rest of the room.

"My God..." Nianika said, her mouth hanging open as she shone her light down into the room. The floor was covered with blood, meat, and body parts; it was a slaughter house in every sense of the word. Broken glass littered the metal floor, coming from ruptured tanks and shattered screens. Nianika and Korin simply stared, their jaws slack, while Malini slowly turned and examined the rest of the room more closely. On the desk there was a small computer, and she wandered over,  setting the screen back up and seeing if she could get anything out of it. The screen flickered for a moment before going back to black. She sighed, running a hand through her hair before she tried the drawers. A calculator, blank note cards, supplies. Nothing worth recognizing.

"What the hell is this place," Korin said simply, shaking his head.

Nianika shook her head, finally tearing her gaze away from the window. She looked back at the body, crouching down near it despite the smell, which had somewhat aired out since they'd opened the door. She took her flashlight closer, noting the bullet hole in her head and the small, bloodstained nametag on her chest: Dr. Altaise. She slid the light along the late doctor's form, the body curled against the wall and, upon further inspection, around something. "Hang on, I think I found something." Moving one of the body's stiff arms away, there was a notebook clutched against her stomach, soaked slightly with her own blood. "I don't think she'll mind," Nianika said, prying the book out of the dead body's hand. Malini and Korin hovered over her shoulders, and Nianika stood, sliding the flashlight off her rifle and passing the notebook to Malini.

"What have we here," the Keidran asked to no one in particular, moving over to the desk to read it better. She gingerly parted the pages, some clumped together by the blood and others too illegible to read, the ink smeared or pages torn. Korin moved back to staring down into the chamber below, his gaze locked on the individual floating inside the only remaining stasis tank. Malini flipped through page after page, reading what she could. "Something called 'Project: Wildfire,' chemical formulas...I don't understand half of this stuff," the Keidran said, shaking her head. She continued to turn the pages until she got to a relatively clean one, Nianika adjusting the flashlight over her. "Let's see...'Subjects excel with muscular regeneration and readjustment, small side effect of mental deficiencies over long term exposure to compound B-239.' 'Find way to cure heart murmurs.'" Malini glanced up at Nianika with her eyebrow raised slightly, and the human simply shrugged. She continued to pour through the notebook, the blood getting a bit heavier and making the ink harder to read. "Mental deficiency rate higher than expected, potential for psychosis...Subjects A-24 and B-37 became unresponsive after treated with advanced neuro-control drug, died a few hours later."

The wolf frowned, trying to make sense of what she was reading. "Are these people that they're testing on, or Afterdead?"

"You've got me," Nianika said, just as confused as Malini was.

Sighing, she flipped through the book, eyeing the last few pages with particular interest. "Look, the writing gets more hasty, smaller, like she's trying to cram more into the book..." 'Psychosis rampant among most remaining subjects, some still out in their deployed units. We've issued a total recall and are attempting to control the situation; believe that a heavy amount of sedatives and paralytics could stop the subjects for long enough to transport them and put them in stasis until a cure can be found. Further testing shows that large amounts of radiation will minimize the drug-producing tumors in their bodies, slowing them to a theoretical crawl. MUST TEST FURTHER.' Okay, hang on...I thought radiation caused tumors, not made them shrink."

"Works that way with cancer," Korin called back, still looking down at the lone inhabitant.

Malini turned to the last page, noting with a grimace at how short the message appeared to be. " 'Environmental protocols breached. Subjects loose in the facility, only one was able to safely be locked into stasis. The facility managers have already locked us down her, and barricaded the door. I can hear them further down the hall, the screams, the gunshots...Before we were cut off, I was able to get a call to my representatives in the governments. His Majesty doesn't understand how dire the situation is, but hopefully the United Clans do...they need to see that it's the only option. Radiation will stop them. IT WILL</u>. This is the penance for our sins.'" Malini looked at the last two words, the last words written in the book, more confused than ever. She looked silently up at Nianika, the woman's jaw slightly lax, and turned to Korin, seeing that he was looking at the ground, trying to think it through. "I...I don't get it," Malini said, looking first at the body of the dead doctor and then back at the notebook. "She could talk with both of our governments?...radiation..." She let the sentence end there, her mind not comprehending what she was trying to read.

"You wanted someone to blame, Malini?...I think she beat you to it," Nianika said, putting a hand on the wolf's shoulder and motioning toward the body. "Take the book and let's get out of here." The silence was back, pressing in on them from all corners, and Malini faintly nodded, her hand shaking a little bit as she put the bloodied notebook in her backpack.  Nianika fumbled with her flashlight, snapping it back onto her rifle as she moved towards the door. "Now I'm jealous of Kat," she said with a nervous laugh, "I don't think I'm gonna be able to sleep any more tonight." She pushed the door open, only to somewhat fall into it as it seemed like it opened easier than it should have. Standing on the other side, with his hand on the handle, was a short, armor-clad soldier with long, fur-covered ears.

"Wha-"

He had reacted a lot faster than Nianika could; he reached forward and grabbed her around the helmet, using her momentum to throw her forward and onto the ground. He had a short, reverse-gripped sword in his hand, and his foot on Nianika's neck. Malini was already in motion, her sword in its familiar position within her hands. He took a step back, raising his own to meet hers as she charged out the door; the steel weapons bit into each other with a loud *clang*.  She had size and reach, but she could tell that the man was practically built of muscle and had a lower center of gravity.

Korin jumped, shouldering his shotgun when Nianika was slammed down, only to be blocked by Malini as she sprang at their attacker. "Get out of the way!" he shouted, only to catch motion in the corner of his eye. Something was moving down in the holding chamber. His first instinct was to look at the stasis pod, but it's inhabitant remained just as lifeless as ever. Someone, however, now stood near the back of the room, holding something up to its shoulder. Korin didn't stay long enough to see what it was; he dove down just as the sound of gunfire ripped through the office, shattering the wall of glass. He yelped, scrambling to the desk and using it as a temporary piece of cover.

Malini's movement was fast and deliberate, and yet the man was able to counter every move she made. Her sword fighting technique was rusty, the inlaid muscle memory taxing itself to remember after going months without so much as a single sparring practice. The man deflected her blade off of a metal piece of his gauntlet, slashing forward across her thigh. She winced, her leg twitching back as the sharp blade passed millimeters from her skin. She had barely enough time to react to his flurry of swipes, parrying the weapon to the side as she stumbled backward in full retreat. Nianika was up to her knees, her hand darting to the side of her chest as she unholstered her sidearm. Her hands shook as she watched Malini and their assailant dance, metal clanging loudly in the dimly-lit hallway. Bullets were pounding into the room behind her, but she was only able to focus on what was in front of her.

Korin swore as more ammunition tore through the air above him, the unmistakable sound of an automatic rifle echoing from below. He eased towards the corner of the desk, and, as soon as the fire stopped, he popped his gun around, firing off two shells in a thunderous retort. He may as well have been throwing the shells at the man; his aim was horrible at anything but close range, and the shotgun's spread made hitting their target difficult at best. He ducked back again an instant before the gunfire started back up, like a lethal game of cat and mouse. Swearing, Korin dug his hand into the side of his assault vest, fingers brushing against a hard piece of metal. Ripping the grenade from its berth, he flicked the pin out with his thumb and let the trigger loose. Side-arming it around the far corner of the desk, he leapt to the floor and shoved his hands over his ears.

Malini shrieked as she felt a white fire slash across the back of her left wrist, stumbling backwards as she resisted the urge to let go of her sword and grip her hand. The man with the big ears kept up the momentum, slamming his elbow into her midsection. She lost her breath, tumbling backwards onto the ground in a coughing fit. An explosion rocked the floor beneath them, ripping through Malini's ears just as the sword had through her skin. The man stumbled for a moment, re-gripping his sword before he took a step towards Malini to finish her off.

"Wrong move, ass hole," Nianika said, her M9 raised. The gunshot echoed off the tiled floors, making the man take a step backwards. He simply stood there, shaking off the blow before moving forward again. Mercilessly, Nianika unloaded the clip, round after round finding their target and making the man shudder, stumble, and eventually collapse. The gun clicked with an empty magazine, the action open and smoking as Nianika panted heavily.

To her horror, the man slowly pushed himself up to his knees, blood freely dripping off of various points. He looked up at her through a tinted visor on his helmet, his entire face covered like some kind of monster. Slowly, he stood, taking first one, then several shaky steps towards her. Nianika could feel the blood drain from her face as he got a bit more sure of his footing, raising the sword above him as she fumbled for more ammo. Malini's hand shot out as he passed over her, gripping around his ankle and ripping his foot out from under him. He fell forward, and she was instantly on top of him, straddling his hips from behind with her sword  gripped tightly in her one good hand. With a yell, she thrust the sword into the back of his neck, grunting as she twisted the blade. She panted for a moment, blood beginning to pool beneath them, before she pulled her sword out, a sickening crack accompanying it.

The two of them sat there in silence for a moment, Malini slowly removing herself from the corpse, when Korin stumbled out of the room, covered in bits of broken glass and dust. He looked between the two of them, also breathing hard, and got a lopsided smile on his face. "Glad to see you two had fun." He offered his hand out to Nianika and helped her up to her feet, the soldier finding her M-16 and holding it tightly.

"You get your guy?" Malini asked breathlessly, giving another cough as she slowly cleared the fog in her head. She grimaced when she tried to flex her hand, a burning pain in the back of her wrist flaring up. She tore a small section of cloth from the side of her backpack, using it as a makeshift bandage.

"Yeah...think so, anyway. He stopped shooting after I threw a grenade at him."

"You used a grenade for one guy?"

"When in doubt, blow shit up."

Malini sighed, shaking her head. "Basitin, no arguing that," she said with a grimace, giving the body on the floor a gentle, prodding kick. "I'm too tired for this right now..." She sighed, looking at the body, before her eyes went wide. Tired. She looked up at the others, the three of them seeming to have reached a similar conclusion at the same time. "Kathrin!"



They raced across the open ground, the short distance between the main science facility and the dormitories appearing to be miles. Even before they got there, Malini could see that the doors had been forced open, light from the inside pouring out into the dark night. Pressing against the wall as they neared the door, the three of them stacked up; Nianika in front, Malini second, and Korin in the back. Nianika did a silent three count, nodded, and sprang around the door frame inside, rifle mounted to her shoulder. Malini held her sword as best as she could, Korin panning across the left side of the room with his shotgun.

It was a nightmare.

The pristinely washed white sheets had been bleached with crimson, blood literally covering half the room; walls, floor, ceiling, beds, everything. Nothing moved. Malini slowly began walking forward, her sword held tight but her jaw on the floor. The blood seemed to radiate from the bunk that Kathrin had been on; not a drop of the life-giving crimson had touched those sheets. Nianika was struck speechless, taking shaky steps into the rows of bunk beds. The three of them got to Kathrin's bunk, but the fox was nowhere to be seen.

"You...you don't think this is-"

"No," Malini said softly, looking around. Her foot bumped something, and she realized that various pieces of armor had been scattered across the floor, leading to a bloody lump against the far wall. It wasn't even recognizable. "Kat...you here?" Malini called out softly, half-afraid of what would answer. She listened for a moment, not hearing anything but a faint hiss.

"Wait...you hear that?" Korin said, his ear twitching. "The showers." The three quickly moved towards the short, back hallway, finding a thin, yet damp, bloody trail that stained the blue carpet. At the far end, a door stood ajar, steam slowly pouring out and a light emanating from within. Hesitantly, Malini walked down the hallway, her heart racing into her ears. Korin and Nianika stood behind her as she eased the door open, the hinges creaking in anticipation.

Kathrin stood at the far end, under a nozzle that was pouring down with steaming water. In the corner near her was another body, this one much more whole, though blood still poured somewhat from wounds on his body. For a moment, Malini thought that's where the blood pooling into the drain was coming from; until she realized that it was dripping down from Kathrin. Her robe, shirt, and pants were covered in it, much like the room outside. It washed down from her, onto the tile floor, and down the drain. "Kat...are you alright?"

Kathrin's head slowly turned to look over her shoulder at Malini. Her eyes were bloodshot, irises still glowing a residual blue. Her hair and fur was matted to her skin, and her face was pale. "They didn't stop," she said softly, her voice quivering and on the verge of more tears. "Th-they...they came in so fast, pointed guns and swords at me...I t-told them to stop, that I...that I wouldn't stop..." She looked back at the body, her legs finally giving out and she fell to her knees. Malini rushed up, turning the water off and kneeling down next to her. Tears silently slid down her cheeks, and she turned back to look at Malini's face. The wolf bit back a small gasp, seeing a dark streak in her fur near her left eye going from her forehead and down her neck. Kathrin leaned her head against the wolf's chest, shaking slightly. "I d-didn't want to...b-but...I couldn't stop."
Sorry about the delay. As always, comments and constructive criticism is encouraged an appreciated.
© 2010 - 2021 JediGuy1490
Comments7
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frostblade62's avatar
where's the next one?
frostblade62's avatar
i demand more readage!!!!!!
JediGuy1490's avatar
It's booked in for the end of November O.o Sorry for the delay. School sucks D:
frostblade62's avatar
it's the end of November. is the next chapter done?
SilverFox442's avatar
It will be done when it's done. Don't bother him about it.
+Fav'd, more people need ta see this work, I'ma show it ta all my friends ^.^
JediGuy1490's avatar
Thanks muchly :D I hope the reception is good.
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