Click! Click! Click! Click! Click! Click! Click! Click! Click! Click! Click!
The distinct sound of heels tapping on the ground goes on for what feels like an eternity. Black heels, black pantyhose, a black skirt, and a black button-down shirt that's tucked beneath the skirt in question—all black, like an angel of death—an outfit fitted around a mature-looking woman who's making her way through a never-ending hallway.
The harsh sound of clubs banging against thick steel sounds off at either side of the mature woman, who remains professional in all the chaos happening around her. Hysterical howls come from behind some of the doors, questionably belonging to human beings. For every three doors, there is a light attached to the wall just between another set of doors, offering a generous donation of dim lighting for whoever finds themselves unlucky enough to rummage this deeply into the facility.
Each time the woman passes beneath one of the dimly illuminating lights, her body is highlighted enough to reveal her dark oak-colored hair, the light just bright enough to reflect off of her glasses lens and conceal the jade color of her eyes. Life returns to those restless eyes when the woman approaches the end of the hallway, two men in black suits greeting her with a door between the two. The two men looked completely identical, sporting sunglasses indoors with hair, or the lack thereof, which doesn't stick out significantly. Both men grant a proper salute to the woman in sync, stepping back away from the door between the two of them to expose a monitor behind one of the apparent guards.
"Is Nine awake right now?" The woman's monotonous voice goes out dryly, without virtually any life behind what'd have already been lethargic words.
There's a brief pause after the heavy question. To an onlooker, this is a no-brainer that you'll answer and continue on with like any other day. Yet, for the two guards stationed at the end of this nigh-infinite hallway, this was a question that they'd sometimes dread the answer to. "We believe he's asleep, his activities have decreased recently, but that's making us even more concerned. Without being able to monitor him, we can only assume that he isn't planning something completely sinister!" The fellow to her right emits, standing beside the monitor that she ultimately approaches.
"Don't be so tense. Nine is the least to worry about, he's the easiest to keep under control. Just like the others, he was born and raised here. He'd never betray his home, or me." The woman's speech holds nothing but confidence, whereas the guards protecting this door hold a life-threatening worry.
Whatever they hid behind this door must've been something to fret about. "Anyways, let me through. The higher-ups have given me their orders. Try not to pass out."
The guards both nod, the one to her right speaking, "Of course, Doctor Cinder. We two are the strongest guardsmen that the Remington Corporation has to offer, they'd never offer you someone so insufficient that they can't handle a minor aura." This time, their words had confidence matching the woman. She smiles after hearing their words.
Doctor Cinder swipes a card in front of the reader, a beep and a thud following. The door has been unsealed.
A powerful wind begins to seep through the door as it slowly rises, leaving a silence from all of those who were down the hall. The guards, whoever were in the cells, all of it fell silent as the accompanying pressure behind the wind burst through the open door like a mighty jet.
The woman's clothes begin to flap as some cuts form from the pressure, yet she stands firm.
When the pressure finally rests, a sigh is released from both the woman and the guards. "It's gotten even stronger since the last time I visited." Doctor Cinder makes a mental note before turning to both of the guards. They've made quite the distance from the door, both being in their own corner. That's the safest place to be, after all. She can't blame them for taking their own safety precautions.
"You should get a little bit stronger before showing that much confidence, especially down here, gentlemen." Stepping through the door, she offers a bit of advice to the young guards. "The Remington Corporation's not our last line of defense, you know?" Chuckling at her own comment, Doctor Cinder steps through the door which slams shut behind her; thuds being the indicator that it's sealed itself.
An automatic, robotic voice speaks out as soon as the door seals, lights flicking on to reveal a staircase running deep underground. It was quite soft, doing what it can to simulate the voice of a woman, like a secretary. "Welcome, Doctor Cinder. Precarious Nine is sleeping, as you may be able to tell." Doctor Cinder stops in her tracks, looking up at the corner. "Didn't I tell you not to add 'precarious' to the start of his name? It was a one-time thing, Beta," scolds the doctor who begins her walk down the staircase.
"Besides that, Beta, why haven't you been reporting the influx of power from him? The pressure from his room was greater than before."
After each step, Doctor Cinder feels the pressure becoming more and more crushing than before. Soon, she even has to come to a complete halt, feeling cuts starting to form on her legs. "To tell you the truth, Doctor Cinder, I've been terrified to activate whenever he is awake."
The doctor perks her brow. "You, an AI, are fearful of waking up to monitor him? Even if he somehow manages to harm your system, you and Alpha can be recovered faster than any of our other AI." She narrows her eyes to the side, as though looking behind herself. "Go wake him up, Beta. Tell him to stop releasing so much damn power." This time, pressure is released from Doctor Cinder, dispelling the darkness around her. The hallway brightens, revealing a small figure who's fallen on the steps behind the woman.
Her entire body is glowing and flickering blue, taking on the shape of a child; a hologram! "Now, Beta!" The woman demands, leaving the child to yelp and soon disappear, the darkness that once hid her now gone. "These kids are so problematic." With her own aura out to protect herself, Doctor Cinder slowly steps down the stairs until she feels the opposing aura subside.
Tired, brown eyes stare through the darkness, glowing as a large room begins to tremble. "You..." The harsh tone behind the voice couldn't hide the fact that it sounded like a young male speaking, no matter how much it reverberated against the walls, into the ears of Doctor Cinder.
To anyone else, this might've been overwhelming as the air around her began to shake. The air was painted black, not because the lights weren't on, but because of the aura that flooded the room. "Nine," Doctor Cinder begins to speak, unbothered by the aura. "You're still a hundred years too young to try scaring me, brat." Doctor Cinder steps through the dark aura and chops her hand down onto the head of the young man who's lurked in the dark.
"Ugh!" The young man flinches, the darkness around them immediately fading away to allow the light in the massive room to fade in.
The room was considerably empty: a white bed at the back of the room, a pile of books that could easily take up a quarter of the room's size, a wardrobe that held many clothes that the young man would never have the chance to wear freely, and a blue hologram hiding beneath a computer desk with a desktop on top of it.
"It looks like Beta woke you up successfully, why do you insist on trying to scare me so often?" Lifting his head, the brown eyes of the young man are no longer glowing. Without the darkness to hide him, Doctor Cinder can clearly see his messy brown hair and brown eyes that had deep bags beneath them.
No matter how much he slept, he couldn't get rid of his somnolence. Not unless she was around.
The boy, Nine, takes the time to think on this question before speaking with his nonchalant tone, unlike the intimidating one he employed in an attempt at startling the older woman. "I like seeing people scared, I guess. You're the only person who I haven't been able to scare. Even Eight starts shaking whenever I do that, but then she ends up beating me up after." Defeated by his own words, his shoulders slouch.
Doctor Cinder chuckles, entering deeper into the room. Beta, who was hiding beneath the computer desk, has become a bit more clear now that Doctor Cinder is here. Her body which was previously entirely blue has now taken on a more humanoid appearance.
Her hologram was over her artificial body. Standing there, her blue eyes poke out at Nine and Doctor Cinder. Her blue hair begins to sway against her porcelain cheeks, her eyes appear crystalline in texture. "You should use your body more, Beta. It took a lot of work creating it, you know?" Nine turns his attention away from Doctor Cinder, stepping over to the girl making her way out from beneath the computer desk.
"An artificial body made for an AI... How did you make this, Nine?" Doctor Cinder's interest seems piqued, stepping forward to the small child standing in front of the desk. She runs her hand against the child's cheek, who remains standing obediently.
"I thought of a body that an AI can control, and I made it. It's not hard, right? Just using your head sometimes, I mean." Scratching the side of his head, he turns around faster than the eye can see once he feels the harsh glare from Doctor Cinder, not taking kindly to his sarcasm.
- If only he were being sarcastic about what he'd just said.
"Can you speak, Beta?" Doctor Cinder strokes her chin, examining every inch of Beta's body. "Yes, Doctor Cinder," Beta nods, stretching out both of her arms. She begins to close her hand, one finger at a time. "This is no different from possession, Doctor Cinder," Beta begins to explain, "I can feel and hear through his body, as though I were a human. Not only that but there isn't a power source. So long as I am inside of the body, it will continue to function."
The two spend the next ten minutes gawking over the body. Nine, using his gift, created an ability that can never expire, only so that his A.I. assistant can look more human. This is Doctor Cinder's current assumption, at least.
"Ahem." Doctor Cinder clears her throat, stepping in front of Nine, who's now sat down on the edge of his bed, playing with a phone in his hands. "You and your siblings have been drafted for freedom, Nine."
His drifting fingers stop, along with all other movements. Nine lifts his eyes up some, delivering the woman the most suspicious of glares.
"Calm down and let me finish, boy. Recently, there's been an uproar about 'Tainted' being held for too long. In the old days, we could keep delinquents for as long as we pleased until they were reformed, but now families have changed their viewpoint. 'Tainted' children often lose the opportunity to go to school when they're taken in, much like you and your siblings, who have been raised in this institution since you were born."
Underneath St. Charlotte's Gifted Juvenile Detention Center, there is a facility that houses the sons and daughters of a certain woman. Each child is given a number based on how dangerous they are. Inmate #1 would be the most dangerous out of the inmates housed in the facility. This facility is known as the 'Garden'. There are multiple groups of children in the Garden, but one group is feared the most.
Dramatically, they are called 'The Misfits', composed of not only the most powerful of the inmates but also the oldest. The children were birthed in the same time frame, all by the same woman. They share different fathers, but the same mother who could care less for them.
As their numbers imply, Nine is the 9th most powerful of the Misfits, making him the weakest by order of hierarchy.
What Doctor Cinder is recommending is the release of powerhouses that cannot be controlled through regular means. Bombs, drugs, security, and higher extremes are necessary for keeping these children under control. As it would turn out, Doctor Cinder is the highest extreme.
The way that each child has been contained is because of the fact that Doctor Cinder, a mysterious woman whose origins remain unknown until this very day, has an unnatural hold over those who came from her womb. Each of her children's birthmarks takes the shape of an amber flame, somewhere on their body. This flame will burn when needed, like a slave-marking read of in fantasy.
Doctor Cinder, with intentions that have only been read by one man, takes the time out of her day to examine each of her children and ensure that their loyalty remains intact. Nine, the laziest of his siblings, has lost count of how many younger siblings he has. Outside of the Misfits, he has no particular care for the monsters brewing up their storms.
"This is a simple experiment, Nine. You and your siblings will be sent to the Academy of the Gifted. Your academics have been handled in the Garden since before you could walk, you should have no problem fitting in there. You each have a task given to you. Yours, Nine, is to protect a girl. The director's daughter, to be exact." Doctor Cinder's words strike Nine, unlike anything he's ever heard. Is he really being sent out to act as a bodyguard? Surely his mother wasn't prone to bad jokes!
"Alivia Cardenas is the youngest daughter of the acting director here at this facility. After reviewing his records, he decided that you are the best person to protect his daughter." Doctor Cinder was smart with her words. She didn't reveal too much about why Alivia needed to be protected. Not to Nine, whose laziness can turn into unmatched cunningness.
Nine is silent for a moment, collecting his thoughts. The inner workings of his brain appear as sparks over his head. After a few seconds, he's finished thinking. "The freedom of more delinquents will mean that trouble will arise throughout the school system in mass. I've repeatedly heard you mention the higher-ups, so there must be some inner turmoil there too. I get the gist, I'll follow your orders for now. I hate it here." Nine's words are as dry as ever, but behind them, Doctor Cinder can hear the eagerness in his tone that is deafened by his nonchalant personality.
"You've yet to fail me, Nine. You and your siblings will all be given names and your own residency, again. For the sake of peace, you will each be sent your own ways, with some exceptions." Nine doesn't even need to hear her further, waving his hand for her to skip the explanation of housing. "Mother, I could care less about the others. You didn't hear me, did you? I'll follow your orders." The tension in the room has elevated drastically.
Poor Beta has taken a few steps back, moving away from the colliding auras of the mother and her son. "Do not raise your tone to me, Nine."
Although his aura was powerful, Nine's body started trembling, a sharp pain hustling through him. He collapses to his knees, clenching a fist against his chest. His teeth grind together as he tries to override the pain, but fails.
"You wield great favor, but you are still my son. It hurts me to do this to you, but you are the only one of your siblings who has acted this way upon being given the offer. I'm disappointed—but no matter—I know better than anyone that this is a one-time thing." Doctor Cinder's finger strokes against the side of Nine's face and the pain finally subsides, granting the boy some mercy.
The collision of auras has ended, and Doctor Cinder is the obvious victor, through whatever unconventional means. "You will leave in one month. In a month, you'll be sent to the most prestigious academy on the planet, and you will watch as it is flipped on top of its head." She brings her hands behind her back, stepping over to Beta who's been hiding on the far side of the room. "Beta will play the role of your little sister so that she can keep tabs on you. It's unconventional, but you should know why I need her in this form by now."
Doctor Cinder was the most opportunistic woman you'll ever meet. She did not have a plan for Beta having a human body until she saw it for the first time.
"I will give you a fair warning, Nine." Doctor Cinder rebounds across the room, finding her way in front of Nine who's recovering from the intense pain. She leans in front of him, a sinister smile on her face. "With this experiment, I will find out about all of the abilities you're hiding from me. You won't slip under my nose again, not after the last time I let you devils run free."
Doctor Cinder can roughly recount the scenario that happened a decade ago when the 'Misfits' of the garden were still young. The situation was swept under the rug, but it is still talked about as a prime example of why delinquent children cannot be allowed their freedom.
They were enrolled into an elementary school, an experiment to see how the children born in the Garden would adapt to normal human society.
Less than a year into the experiment, a massive fight took place, leaving a massive crater where the academy once stood. At the center of the crater were countless students who'd attempted to fight with the young 'Misfits'. How the situation was handled remains unknown, but none of the students were severely injured and the ones responsible, the 'Misfits', were forced to return to the Garden and have been monitored heavily.
Now, many years later, Doctor Cinder is allowing these children to act somewhat independently once more. Only this time, it is for the better of the country.
The words still go through her head, what they mentioned in the meeting; 'The monsters that came from your womb, Cinder, we need them. They have been moving more recklessly recently, and we don't know what lengths they'll go to in order to flip this country on its head.' The words were meager to her, she lacked empathy for the society that scarred her. What drove her to agree to their terms was the thought of her devils, her creations, running around freely once again.
Society has yet to forget what happened with the kids dubbed The 9 Spawns by the media. They'll have no idea who they are now that they're much older than before, especially since their identities were concealed.
The game began, a fight of many sides, with a group of undefeatable monsters at the center of it; here to enjoy the ride. They are the "Misfits" who hold their own unique powers, unmatched by any other.