by S.A. Grisom
Isaac and Chierci are captured by an unkown enemy and taken to thier subterranean base.
| Chierci felt as if her head weighed a hundred pounds. She raised it slowly, keeping her eyes closed. She had a splitting headache, and it made moving slow and arduous. She leaned her head back, hoping to rest it against some stable surface. Her head fell back, nothing to stop it. She grunted; a sharp burst of pain running up her neck. Her headache got worse. She rolled her head to the side, resting it on her shoulder. The pain in her neck lessened a little. She remained in that position for a few seconds. Lifting her head off her shoulder, she hung it slightly and opened her eyes. The moment her eyelids separated, bright light rushed in between them; forcing Chierci to clench them shut again. She opened them again slowly, observing a gray, metallic floor that reflected the harsh overhead lights back at her.
She also saw her naked body. She observed her bare breasts and her exposed stomach. She ran her eyes down to her hips and her slender, shapely legs. Her nipples were hard and goosebumps covered her entire body. It was freezing cold, and she shivered as she took stock of herself.
Chierci suddenly became aware of her position, and the fact that her wrists and ankles were tied. She looked at her feet, and observed each. They were held in place by a metal cuff that was attached to some metal rail by thick steel conduit. She looked above her head at her hands, and saw that each one was held by a metal cuff and cable as well to that same rail. That rail turned out to be a large, wide metal ring. Chierci was bound to it with her arms and legs outstretched; the tension of the conduit keeping her suspended. Looking around her, she observed several banks of what appeared to be computer modules; their monitors facing away from her. There were six of these banks; three on each side of the large room in which Chierci was held. The banks were separated by a wide, open pathway that led straight to her captivity ring. Large screens lined the walls of the room from what she could see. Those harsh overhead lights beamed down upon Chierci, hurting her eyes if she looked directly at them. The walls and ceilings were metallic silver, matching the floor.
Shit, she thought to herself. What have I gotten myself into now?
As Chierci continued to look around the room, a sudden sense of fear and uncertainty overtook her. She had no idea where she was or how she got there, and no idea what was going to happen to her. Her heart was beating so hard, she could almost hear it. She struggled to calm down; panicking wouldn’t help. As she tried to stay in control, she noticed heads behind some of the computer banks. They moved slightly, bobbing up and down and turning to the left and right. She could just barely hear the clicking of keys above her pounding heart. She could also hear faint murmuring. She tried to move her head slowly and not dart about.
“Ah, she is awake,” came an upbeat, masculine voice from behind Chierci.
She froze. Someone had noticed her movement. Chierci’s feeling of fear elevated to a new height as she heard the light clack of heavy boots on the floor coming from behind her. She forced herself to remain calm as she heard that same voice chuckling. It was coming closer. Out from behind her to her left, a man walked slowly past her. She could see that he was tall and had straight white hair. His shoulders were covered by flared guards, and from his shoulders extended a dark green cape to his waist. After walking away from her a few feet, he stopped.
“You were unconscious for quite some time,” he said; his back still to her.
Chierci wanted to ask him who he was, where she was, and what was going on; but she was in no position to make demands. Besides, she didn’t think her voice would work anyway.
“If you are wondering where you are, be at ease. You are safe,” he said.
Chierci didn’t believe him. Then again, he obviously wasn’t trying to deceive her anyway. It was quite obvious she was not among friends. Chierci was shaking from the combined cold and fear. She finally mustered up the courage and strength to talk.
“W-where am I?” she asked, her voice weak and hoarse.
She coughed a few times, and awaited his reply. He chuckled again.
“I told you. You are safe,”
Chierci wanted to push it, but thought better. Again, she was in no position to be making demands.
“Who are you?” she asked.
“Me?” he chuckled.
He turned around quickly, a devious smile across his clean-shaven face. He was young; not much older than Chierci herself. His eyes were a deep blue that was almost entrancing. He was a handsome young man, but Chierci was attracted. His attire was seemingly regal; a cross-button shirt with split tails forming his top. He wore a leather belt with a silver lion’s head emblem forming the buckle. His pants were made of a tight-fitting green fabric that was tucked neatly into knee-high leather boots.
“I am Vosortio Dacono, at your service,” he said, bowing in a regal fashion with his right hand fanning out his cape.
He stood from his bow, and smiled at Chierci again. She was becoming rather unsettled by his smile. It wasn’t friendly or comforting, but deceptive. He began to circle Chierci; walking slowly and within a few feet of her. He was close enough for her to smell him. He smelled rather good from a woman’s point of view, but Chierci wasn’t enticed.
“I apologize if our accommodations aren’t very accommodating. You see, we can’t take any chances,” he said, his voice calm and almost soothing. Almost. “And your name, my dear?”
“Chierci. A beautiful name. Common, yet so exotic. In Ancient Terran, it means ‘White Swan’. Yes, quite beautiful,” he said, smiling at her.
“How did I get here?” Chierci asked, her voice regaining its strength.
“You were brought here by a few of my colleagues. They are the ones responsible for the concussion grenades. Which, allow me to apologize for as well; we had to resort to extreme measures to solicit your presence,”
“The man with the mask,” Chierci said, recalling her chase of the masked homeless man.
“Yes. Baikal is his name. He is a…crude mannered fellow,” Vosortio continued. He was still circling her. “I’m afraid he was a little rough in his persuasion of you and your friend,”
Chierci’s thoughts jumped to Isaac immediately; he had been part of that chase as well. Chierci felt a sudden wave of urgency; she had no idea if Isaac was alright or not. Her mind raced as she attempted to speak; her heart picking up again.
“Isaac! Is he-” Chierci began, Vosortio cutting her off.
“Oh, he’s fine. He’s here, too. In another room. He is being extended the same hospitality as you, my dear. Worry yourself not,”
Though Chierci feared someone could be hurting Isaac, she had to worry about herself first before she could help him. She began to wonder what this Vosortio had planned for her, as well as for Isaac. From what she had seen of him already, it didn’t bode well for them at all. Since he was so forthcoming with information thus far, Chierci figured it couldn’t hurt to ask.
“What are you going to do with me? And Isaac?” she asked, nervously.
Vosortio stopped his circling, standing in front of Chierci with his side to her. His head was hung slightly with his arms behind his back. His face was mostly obscured by his flared shoulder guards, but Chierci could detect an evil grin. She wished she didn’t ask.
“We are going to ask you a few questions. Just a few questions…” he trailed off.
Vosortio stepped to her side, looking at her with a smug, creepy grin on his face. He looked up the open path between the banks of computers, and towards the other side of the room. Chierci followed his gaze, and observed a door. A small red light shone above it. That red light turned green, and an electronic motor whirred to life within the wall. The door slowly slid open, revealing a tall figure standing behind it. That figure walked in from the dimly lit hallway, stepping into the harsh light of the room. It was a man, about Vosortio’s height and build. He also wore flared shoulder guards and a mid cape. His hair was black, and spiked. His outfit beneath the cape was somewhat similar to Vosortio’s as well. He wore a solid black top with split tail in back. A black leather strap crossed his chest from his shoulder to his hip, and he wore the same belt as Vosortio. A thin red line ran vertically down the side of his pant legs and into his knee-high leather boots.
“Ah, allow me to introduce my brother, Socorro,” Vosortio said.
Chierci had seen a strange resemblance between Vosortio and this Socorro character. Now she understood it. Socorro walked down the pathway towards the two of them, smirking at Chierci. Chierci knew her nudity was giving these two men quite the kick. She could only hope their intentions did not involve taking advantage of her naked, demobilized state. Socorro came up to within four feet of her, looking her in the eyes. Chierci felt paralyzed by his stare. There was serious evil behind his eyes. He looked her up and down once before mock-bowing.
“Welcome to Cifred Mountain, my dear,” he said, his voice deep and cold.
Chierci’s heart stopped. She knew exactly where she was now. Cifred Mountain was dead-center of the wasteland surrounding Ausevior. It was the site where one of the bombs was dropped back during the war. Her heart sunk. She was a long way from home; and even if she somehow managed to escape from that place, she wouldn’t survive long enough to make it to Ausevior. The shear radiation would kill her, and she didn’t even want to know what had…survived…out there. Chierci’s mouth was slightly agape, and her eyes were wide. Vosortio and his brother both chuckled as they turned away from Chierci and walked down the path and out the door. Chierci hung her head in despair. Before leaving, Vosortio looked over his shoulder at her.
“Accept my hospitality when it comes, my dear. I’m afraid you have no choice,” he said, grinning at her maliciously before walking out.
Chierci watched the door shut behind them. She looked at the door for a few seconds before she hung her head again. She was naked, restrained, and stuck in an enemy installation in the middle of no man’s land. And Isaac was too. Chierci wished somehow that she could get to him and get out of that place, but she knew there was no chance. She fought the urge to cry. She fought it hard. She wanted to see Isaac. She was always so annoyed by his stoic seriousness, but right now she’d give anything to deal with his complete lack of a sense of humor. She wanted to be next to him, to be near him; just so that she wouldn’t feel so afraid. Both of them were in deep shit…
Isaac’s eyes opened slowly, harsh fluorescent lights assaulting them. He opened and closed his eyes several times; blinking and squinting to get accustom to the light. As his eyes adjusted, he could see a metal panel ceiling hosting rows of inset fluorescent lights. The ceiling had a reflective quality to it, as he could see what looked like work stations and computers in the mirror-like ceiling. Moving his head, he found that it was resting against his raised arm. Looking up his arm, he observed his wrist wrapped in a metal cuff and attached to some circular rail with steel conduit. He followed the rail around, observing his other hand and soon his feet as well. The metal rail was in fact a ring; a device he had seen before in the old interrogation rooms at the abandoned Police stations. It was called a ‘Captivity Ring’.
Isaac had already taken stock of his situation while he observed his chained wrists and ankles. He was naked, and held in what appeared to be a control room. The captivity ring was at the head of a pathway that led directly to a door; with banks of computers on each side of the pathway. Large TV-like screens lined the walls, furthering Isaac’s assumption of a control room. It was freezing cold in that room; Isaac was shivering while hung suspended in the ring. His arms and legs were outstretched; held by the taught conduit. Isaac struggled a little, but quit. That conduit was probably industrial grade weight bearing line. He wouldn’t wrestle free of it. Isaac dropped his head, and thought about his situation.
Isaac almost gasped as Chierci’s face popped into his head. She and Isaac had been chasing the masked man through the slums when concussion grenades began falling around them. If Isaac was here-wherever here was-then Chierci was, too. Isaac had to get to her. He had to find her and make sure she was alright.
Beep. Swish. Swish-Clunk. Beep.
Isaac looked up from the floor in the direction of the door at the opposing end of the pathway from him. His eyes went wide, and his heart skipped a beat. He swallowed hard, and felt a lump develop in his throat. Walking towards him was a tall…man…wearing a brown sleeveless duster and a very recognizable steel mask. He walked down the path towards him at a steady gate. A corrugated tube flowed from his mask to some small machine on his belt, and Isaac could hear a sickening sucking sound as he person breathed behind the mask. It was the same man that Isaac and Chierci had been chasing. Isaac could now get a much better look at him. Beneath his knee-length trench coat, he wore a brown button-down shirt with no sleeves. It was tucked into his dark brown pants, around which was his belt bearing his breathing machine. His pants were tucked into knee-high leather combat boots, and black knee pads sat above them.
He walked straight up to Isaac, getting face-to face with him. Isaac peered into the lenses of his mask, the man’s eyes shielded by the mask completely. Isaac was no longer shivering from the cold, but shaking in fear. This man smelled of death. Isaac could tell back in the slums that he was no mere freak stalking the alleys, he was something different all together. And the reek of carrion radiated off him as if he was hiding a dead body beneath his coat. The sound of his breathing was disgusting; it was a slow, deep sucking sound that reminded Isaac of slurping slush through a straw as a child. Isaac was not one to get scared easily, but this man was frightening.
“I am Baikal,” said the man from behind his mask slowly; his voice distorted by an electronic gurgle. “Welcome,”
“Where am I?” asked Isaac, trying to keep his voice calm and steady.
“Cifred Mountain,” replied the masked man, this Baikal.
Isaac gasped. He was in the middle of the nuclear wasteland outside Ausevior. Not only that, but right where one of the nukes was dropped. Isaac felt overcome with a sudden wave of anxiety. Isaac recalled the many tales told to him by one of his officers back in Academy. He told stories of the horrors of the wasteland, and how many who dared venture out there was never heard from again. Baikal stepped back, and looked at Isaac from a few feet away. He looked down, and pointed at Isaac’s leg. Isaac looked down, and saw that Baikal had spied the barcode tattooed on his upper left leg. Isaac’s anxiety grew.
“You are Syndarian Guard? Test-tube soldier?” asked Baikal in his electronically amplified voice.
“Yes,” Isaac replied; Baikal’s reference to his artificial birth stirring Isaac’s anger.
Baikal lunged forward suddenly, and grabbed Isaac by the throat; his powerful fist quickly cutting off his supply of air. As Isaac choked and struggled to breathe, Baikal came face to face with him again.
“I know of your kind, Order Guard,” he said. “You are the ones who did this to me,”
His voice was angry. Isaac was now very much afraid of this Baikal man. His body had tensed up, and Isaac could hear his mask shaking with the rest of his body. Rage is an unmistakable emotion, and very chaotic. Isaac knew anger well due to his training, and Baikal was demonstrating the signs of rage perfectly. Baikal was still squeezing Isaac’s throat, and he was ready to pass out. Baikal let go, though, shoving Isaac’s head back as he did. He stepped back a few feet.
“Your brethren chased me from my home and ran me into the wastes outside the city; all because I wrote a petition for lower rent prices,” his voice still angry, though he seemed to have calmed down a little.
Isaac knew of the various petitions and letters sent to the government by the people of the slums. He always thought them to be just weak citizens who couldn’t handle living in an ordered society and didn’t want to live by sensible rules and laws. He always looked down at them, and saw himself as better. The tables were turned now.
“Your leaders tell you how you are defending order. You are merely perpetrating their despotism,” Baikal continued. He turned away, as if to leave, but stopped.
“You order-loving fools disgust me,” he sounded pissed. “Take a look at your handiwork, soldier,” Baikal said.
Isaac watched him take his mask off from behind. He pulled it off with one hand. Isaac could see tufts of stringy black hair on the back of his head. He appeared to be balding, badly; though Isaac wasn’t surprised if he had spent time in the radioactive wasteland. Baikal suddenly wheeled around, and Isaac almost yelped in shock. Isaac was face to face with Baikal yet again. Except Baikal had no face. The skin and muscle had mostly rotted away from his skull; leaving behind red chunks of flesh around his orbital bones and jaw. Isaac’s mouth was agape as he tried to pull away from the horrific sight, but the ring kept him in place. Baikal’s eyes rolled around in their sockets, charged with anger. It was absolutely revolting; and the smell radiating off his flesh and from his ever-grinning mouth was grotesque. Isaac felt the need to vomit.
“Horrible, isn’t it?” Baikal’s voice was weak and sickly without the mask’s voice amplifier. “Take a good look at what your leaders condone in the defense of Order,”
Baikal grabbed Isaac by his throat again, and brought his rotten face to within inches of Isaac’s. Isaac stared in horror at Baikal’s jutting cheekbones, exposed eye-balls, and yellowed teeth. His tongue rolled around grossly in his mouth; very little skin remaining to form his cheeks. Despite that, Isaac swore Baikal mustered a smile with his disintegrated cheek muscles. His breathe was absolutely horrible; evidence of his disintegrating lungs. Isaac was overwhelmed by the stench.
“Your Order will fall. Rules. Laws. Structure. Sequence. Chaos will consume and tear your world apart,” he said.
Baikal released Isaac’s throat, and stepped back. He turned around and walked off towards the door, pulling his mask back over his face. As he did, several workers behind the computers averted their eyes quickly to their computer screens. Baikal exited the room through the door, and Isaac tried to calm himself down again. He was now frightened, disgusted, and sick. The stench of carrion was in fact Baikal’s live rotting face. His lungs were probably almost gone as well. He was an evil man with a huge chip on his shoulder. Dropping his head, Isaac thought to himself.
I hope Chierci is alright. There’s nothing I can do to help her if she isn’t.
As Isaac sat suspended in his captivity ring, he tried to think logically about his situation. He was restrained with no hope of freeing himself, so he would have to wait until they moved him to make an escape attempt; if they even removed him from the ring to move him. His number one priority was to get to Chierci. He had to find her and break her out as well, or there was no chance of escape from that place. Even if they got free and evaded re-capture, though, it’d be suicide to step outside the installation. The radiation and shear harsh conditions would kill them. Despite his attempts, he was unable to totally push out the feelings of despair that wormed their way into his head.
Throughout his years in training, he was taught to avoid strong emotion. Strong emotions like attachment and rage could lead to chaos, as well as sorrow and despair. He was thoroughly warned against allowing himself to become demoralized and discouraged. He was told that these things undermined control and therefore order. But he couldn’t help it. He mentally scolded himself for becoming so attached to Chierci. Yet she had been his partner all throughout Academy, and then he became her direct superior. He had worked with her, ate with her, and basically lived with her for years. He tried hard to stay focused and calm, but he just couldn’t. He was in trouble, and needed; wanted Chierci’s help.
Beep. Swish. Swish-Clunk. Beep.
Isaac’s head shot up, looking in the direction of the door. He was expecting to see Baikal coming back to beat on him. Instead, he saw a tall man with black spiky hair wearing a mostly black outfit that looked to be of high-class military design. It included black pants with a red vertical stripe on the sides, military high leather boots, a cross-strap shirt, and a black mid-cape. He had a clean-shaven face and a rather discontent expression. Isaac could tell he was of some level of importance in this installation; as the workers behind the computer banks seemed to become tense and nervous when he entered. He walked straight up to Isaac, stopping only a couple feet from him. Isaac looked into his cold brown eyes, awaiting whatever questioning or punishment he had in store for him.
“Welcome. I am Socorro,” he said politely. “And you?”
Isaac didn’t reply, but stared back at Socorro with a firm expression.
“Your name? Or shall I call you ‘prisoner’? That’s a little impersonal, don’t you think?”
“Isaac Grimier, Captain. 2nd Company, 3rd Regiment, Syndarian Guard,”
“Syndarian Guard? A test-tube soldier?” asked Socorro.
“Yes,” Isaac replied coldly.
“Oh. You don’t like it when someone refers to your unnatural birth, do you?” he asked snidely.
Isaac gave him a hateful look. Socorro inched very close to Isaac, getting almost nose to nose with him.
“I believe I hit a nerve,” Socorro said. “Let’s get something straight here, Isaac. I can be your best friend or your worst nightmare,”
Isaac looked at Socorro coldly while he began his intimidation speech.
“Do as I say, and your stay here will be pleasant. Resist, and I’ll torture you like you’ve never thought possible,”
“Where is my partner?” Isaac asked.
“She is safe. My brother Vosortio is tending her needs,”
Isaac narrowed his eyes at Socorro. If this Vosortio was at all like Socorro, then Chierci was in danger.
“If you lay a hand on her-”
“You’ll what? Kill me? Beat me to death? Rip me limb from limb? You’re not going anywhere, Order Guard. I suggest you contain your bravado, lest I demonstrate to you my lack of patience!”
Isaac stared into Socorro’s eyes, his face getting hot with anger. Socorro grabbed Isaac by the hair, and pushed his head back.
“I strongly advise you to do what I say when I say it. I am not a kind or merciful person; you’re only alive because you serve me a purpose. Give me what I want, and you’ll stay that way. Fuck with me, and I’ll break your arms and legs and drop you in the wasteland,”
Socorro stepped back, and walked back down the pathway. As he left, Isaac stared angrily after him. He wanted to strangle Socorro with his bare hands. Whatever was going on, whatever this ‘purpose’ was that he served Socorro had to be beyond bad. Isaac wasn’t one to trust his gut; it was irrational and illogical. But he had a very bad feeling about everything.