The blaring sound of an alarm clock echoed in the dark and used to be silent room. The lone occupant who was currently lying in a bundle of blankets groaned before slapping the snooze button. The figure slowly but steadily lifted themselves up from their comfortable bed, blinking away their drowsiness while doing so. Moving their legs to the side of the bed, the coldness of the metal floor cause them to shiver as they stood up and stretched.
They yawned and clearly showed their reluctance to continue on with the day. The loud popping of their back as they stretched was currently the only good thing going for them at the moment. With practiced ease they navigated themselves through the dark room to the opposite side of where their bed was. Their hand searched the darkness before grabbing onto the handle of a doorknob and once they opened it they entered into an even chillier room.
With a flick of a finger against the wall, they turned on the switch to the lights, revealing that is was a bathroom that they were currently in. The lights blinded her for a moment as all she could see was white and fuzziness. Once her eyes adjusted to the new contrast of lighting, she grabbed her toothbrush and toothpaste and slowly brushed her teeth.
She lazily gazed at the mirror that accompanied the sink, her crimson red eyes looked at her hazel brown hair. She would have groaned if she wasn't currently brushing her teeth, her long hair was currently a mess due to her sloppy sleeping postures. But who could blame her? Those naps were just too good after a stressful day of constantly researching and experimenting. Just thinking about the long day ahead made her head hurt.
Not wanting to have a headache early in the morning, she spit the toothpaste out of her mouth, rinsed her mouth and splashed her face with water. After drying her face, she looked at herself in the mirror noticing how messily buttoned up her brown button t-shirt was. She humorlessly chuckled.
"Uuughhh, pull yourself together Carmen. It hasn't been even a week since you have started and results take time with this sort of stuff, you know that." Her pep-talk wasn't helping with her grogginess so she decided to wash off her bed hair with a nice relaxing bath.
Walking down the broken and barely recognizable road were two individuals. The buildings around them were rundown and rusty, the shops selling scraps of food at a high price. The strong stench of rotting meat and waste filled the air no matter where the two walked. Alleyways were worse than the streets no matter what district people lived in. Poverty was nothing new, crime as well, since the alleyways were filled with muggers and those desperate for anything that would help them live.
The two individuals ignored the glares and murderous stares from those around them as they continued their walk to their destination. Those watching them would've already attacked if it wasn't for the intense glare that kept them at bay. The individual wearing a black trench coat along with a matching black button shirt and pants had long crimson hair that reached her hips. Her yellow eyes moved from left and right looking for anyone brave enough to try anything. The other individual simply had his eye's closed and a smile plastered on his face, their lab coat was partially soaked from the rain that recently just stopped. His black hair swayed up and down as he happily hummed a smoothing tune to himself. How was he not bothered by the environment around him was a mystery.
The constant gloomy and depressing atmosphere here in the Backstreets made it so that the man stuck out. Either the man was a lunatic or he was part of the Wealthy. Neither one was better than the other, at least to those around them. The happy small bubble the man possessed seemed to be the cause of the attention, stares of envy and jealousy were shot at him. How could someone be happy when they were literally in the Outskirts where outcasts go?
Many of them felt their jealousy turn into rage, and a certain handful of them were turning skittish with the temptation of watching the smiling man crawl on the ground and beg. Which led to the situation that was inevitably bound to happen at least once.
"Oi! What's with that grin of yours?!"
Both the woman and man turned to a nearby alley where a gang of about five men and women were standing. The other people paid no mind to the conflict about to happen as they walked along or continued maintaining their shops and businesses. The man accompanying the red haired woman simply opened his eyes and looked at them.
"Cough up all your shit!"
"Eh? Are you talking to me?"
"No shit dumb ass, who else looks as chipper as you?!"
The man nervously chuckled before glancing at the woman next to him.
"Uuuhhh, Kali, what do we do here?" The woman, Kali, simply raised an eyebrow at him unamused. However, before she could give a reply, one of the men tried to sneak up from behind them. They lunged at the man before Kali simply grabbed him by the throat.
The goon started gasping for air as Kali tightened her grip on them. The others, alarmed, immediately armed themselves with their makeshift weapons of scrap and metal.
"Shit get them!" The supposed leader of their group shouted causing a small audience to form, to hopefully try to salvage some leftovers of the fight for themselves.
With a small flick of her wrist, the man she held went limp with a small *crack* sound coming from his neck. Kali quickly swung the man's body with ease at another that was running towards her, a showcase of her impressive strength. The force causing both of them to smack against one of the alley walls, neither got back up.
"Fucking bitch got Evan! I'll kill and gut you like a fish!" One of the female members said while dragging her makeshift weapon resembling a hammer. A click sound was heard and soon electricity ran through her hammer as she prepared to swing it.
"Uwaaaah, Kali that weapon looks cool! And strong too, so please be careful." The man next to her still held the same smile as he voiced his excitement and concern.
"Are you doubting my abilities Lennan?" The clear anger and disapproval was clear in Kali's voice as she glared at Lennan. The woman with the hammer was already swinging it at Kali's head, but she just moved back a bit causing the swing to miss her entirely.
Ignoring the ongoing "fight", Lennan put his hands up in front of him in surrender and his smile for once faltered a little as he sheepishly looked at Kali.
"What?! No, no, no, I'm just worried you know?"
"About me being injured?"
With a small click of her tongue, Kali dodged the second oncoming swing, but this time caught the handle with her monstrous strength and grip. She then grabbed the woman's head and bashed it against the hammer making an audible cracking sound. She dropped the woman's limp body before quickly throwing the hammer at the shocked and terrified remaining members.
"Saying that you're worried about me getting injured implies that I'm not skillful enough to avoid the assaults of weak-minded punks. Is that what you are implying Lennan?" She completely ignored the people she just killed as she glared harder at Lennan.
"Nope not at all! Hehehehe......" Lennan could barely look into her eyes and instead tried to focus on anything else. Seeing as she wasn't letting him go with this, he simply sighed and walked up to her while digging through pockets of his lab coat
Although still mad, Kali was confused for a moment on what exactly he was gonna do, that was until he pulled out a small handkerchief. Once close enough to be face to face with her, Lennan reached for her cheek and rubbed the handkerchief on it causing her to feel a small hint of embarrassment.
"Look," he showed her the bloodstained handkerchief, "you always end up dirty Kali. You need to learn some self-control when in these situations. It was just a little mugging, it's common around here, you know that already." His face had adopted a scolding look. Somehow it turned into a lecture about HER being the one to cause messes and being unable to take care of herself.
Kali flatly looked at Lennan. Before shaking her head and smacking his hand away that kept trying to clean the stains off her.
"Oi! This is some serious stuff, you could get sick you know? Diseases are common around here, they could even make someone .....like.... you....." He immediately knew his mistake as he once again "implied" that he was doubting her abilities, in this case her immune system. Kali glared at him again before turning around and walking away without saying a word.
"Uwaahh, wait for me Kali! I didn't mean it, I'm sorry!" He quickly jogged to catch up to her quick pace. As soon as they left, the bodies and items of the gang were already looted and ripped apart. Those quick enough were able to get a weapon or leg, those too slow simply watched in dismay and begrudgingly went their way. Everyone else didn't seem to have cared as they walked on their way to wherever they were going.
It was just a normal day in the Backstreets.
The bathroom door opened allowing light to enter the dark bedroom. Walking into the darkness of her room was Carmen clad in only a towel. Steam followed her into the room, the drastic change of temperature caused her to shiver.
"Brrrr, gotta be quick!" She talked to no one in particular as she sped walked towards her cabinet near her bed. Along the way, however, one of her feet got caught onto her bedsheet and she fell face first onto the metal floor.
"OUCHIE!" She yelled out after registering the pain of her nose.
She slowly picked herself back up and started taking a slower pace. She rubbed her nose in order to check if it was broken or not, luckily it wasn't. She sniffled a bit before opening her drawer and quickly putting on some clothes over her undergarments which included her one of many brown button up shirts and a black skirt.
After she finished straightening her shirt, she turned on the lamp that was on top of the cabinet. Once her eyes adjusted to the light, her gaze laid upon the one of two photos that she had near the lamp. She smiled to herself as she picked one of them up, revealing it to be a picture of a group of three people, one of which was herself.
The first person on the left was a man with black hair and yellow eyes. He wore a black button up shirt along with matching pants and dress shoes. He had a blank look on his face as he stared at the camera. The man was her friend: Ayin.
The person on the right was a man with grey hair and green eyes. He wore a red necktie along with a grey dress-shirt and black pants and dress shoes. He sheepishly smiled at the camera. This man was another of Carmen's friends and Ayin's student: Benjamin.
And of course, the one in the middle was herself, pulling them both in for a group hug with a huge grin on her face. She smiled reminiscing the day they took the picture. Of course she couldn't forget the man who took the picture; Lennan had been the one to set up that little celebration that day after all.
Setting the photo down, she looked at the second one that showed a picture of her and Lennan giving each other a one-arm hug as they smiled at the camera. That was also the day he gave her a red bear hairpin, which is now her favorite and only hair pin.
Speaking of said hair pin, now that she thought about it, she had yet to put it on, the problem was that she didn't remember where she last put it.
Turning around, her eyes laid upon the huge mess that was her room. Dirty clothes laid on the ground, paper was scattered across the desk near the door that led to the hallway, the only bookshelf held anything but a book as all of them were stacked near the end of her bed. She truly needed to work on the organization of her things. She tried to remember where she last put it but decided to just start looking at the last place she remembered she could have left it.
Completely ignoring the embarrassing state of her room, Carmen walked to the desk in search of it. Only after "cleaning" her desk did she find the thing she was looking. The little red bear was as clean as she got it due to her taking extreme care of the gift.
After tying her hair in a ponytail and securing the bear pin in it, she decided that she took long enough already. Grabbing her recent lab notes and putting them in a folder, she put on her shoes and headed straight for the door. Composing herself and making sure to put on her work persona, Carmen left for another day of work on her "Seed of Light" project.
"Come on Kali! They're waiting for us!" The two of them had continued their walk with only a few minor problems causing their progress to halt. The sky was darkening, letting them know that their daylight was close to ending. Up in the distance on a isolated hill, that was a distance from the others, laid a shabby house. It's windows broken, it's roof rundown, it's outer walls barely supporting itself. There was no light coming from the inside which only gave the house an even bigger impression of it being abandoned.
Kali kept a slow steady pace, her eyes constantly on the look out for any "Cleaners" that may have followed them. Lennan on the other hand was already knocking on the door of the house.
"Hello! Lisa, Enoch, it's me Lennan! I came back just like I promised!" He exclaimed to them as he patiently waited for them to open the door. Kali smiled a little before flicking away her cigarette and standing next to Lennan as the sound of footsteps could be heard nearing the door on the other side.
The footsteps seemed to have slowed and eventually stopped just right on the other side of the door. A loud clicking sound was heard before the door slowly opened and a little boy's head popped out to take a peak.
"Ah, mister Lennan! It is wonderful to see that you weren't the deceitful person I had thought you would be." The little boy's distrustful look turned to one of glee as he noticed the man. The sound of something shuffling could be heard within the house. "I apologize, but please wait just a moment mister Lennan." The boy pulled his head back in before closing the door.
Lennan shrugged before simply waiting with Kali.
After a few minutes the door opened once again, but this time fully revealing the boy, Enoch, who had brown hair and wore a blue hoodie and dark blue pants. A little girl was hiding behind him, shyly peeking out from time to time. Her pale-blonde hair barely hid behind the Enoch. Her orange dress stood out from the colorless world outside of their home.
"Apologies mister Lennan, Lisa just wasn't very enthusiastic about the circumstances."
"It's fine Enoch," he waved off his apologies and simply crouched down to look at Lisa, "Hello Lisa, is what Enoch true that you weren't excited to see me?" The smile he had contrasted with the hint of hurt in his voice, causing Lisa to stiffen.
"That's not true! I was just......" She exclaimed while peeking over Enoch's shoulder, the last part of her sentence was mumbled
"Uhh, I couldn't hear what you said Lisa." Lennan informed her nicely.
".....I said I was just....nervous....we didn't think you would really come." She shyly said as she looked down at her feet.
"Well then just know that when I make a promise, I always keep them! Isn't that right Kali?" He turned a bit and looked at the woman that barely paid attention to their conversation. Being called out, she looked at them and simply nodded her head once.
"There! You see, even the grumpy Kali knows that I would never break a promise!" Lennan then stood up and held both of his hands towards the two children. "So? How about we go now?"
Enoch and Lisa looked at each other before nodding and taking his hand, Enoch to his left and Lisa to his right.
"Finally. I was beginning to worry that the pipsqueaks wouldn't be able to decide." Kali stated as she lead the group down the way they came.
"You did make sure to bring the paperwork Carmen provided us, right Kali?"
"What do you think?"
"Ah, sorry you're right hehehe. Was just making sure but it's a real pain having to go through all the procedures just to let them in you know.."
"Well nothing we can do, so toughen up and deal with it."
"....uwaaah, miss Kali sure is scary..." Lisa whispered to which only Enoch heard her. Leaning his head back, Enoch whispered back to her. "Don't worry Lisa, I'm sure there is a reason why she acts that way. Don't forget that there are others capable of worse."
"Hey, brats! More walking and less talking!" Kali who was already ahead shouted at them.
Lennan then had an idea, turning to the two he simply grinned at them. They both only raised an eyebrow at the man's sudden excitement. Enoch released a yelp as he was suddenly picked up as Lennan put him on his shoulders. Lisa was about to protest about the rather forceful action before Lennan picked her up in a princess carry and immediately started running in Kali's direction.
"WAAAHHH! MISTER LENNAN PUT ME DO—" Lisa's order was suddenly stopped by Enoch suddenly laughing cheerfully. Her mind grounded to a halt as she tried to remember the last time she heard Enoch laugh like that. She couldn't remember. Usually Enoch would spout some nonsense that she couldn't understand, always thinking about complicated things. Of course what she did understand was that the cruel world they lived in needed them to mature faster than they actually were. So seeing him finally act their age, she couldn't help but smile and laugh along with him. Because isn't this what she wanted? A life where she and Enoch could simply enjoy it to the fullest with each other as company, but somehow it seemed that Lennan would also fit into that perfect world of hers.
Their joyful laughter brought much attention to them, but Enoch didn't seemed to have cared as he cheered to the sky. The stench of the Backstreets, the depressing thoughts of the future, the crushing reality of the world they lived in, at the moment they all seemed to have magically disappeared from Enoch's mind. The feeling of the wind brushing against his face as he seemingly "flew" through the air was simply liberating for him. For once, his mind didn't plague him about the meaningless life he had, at the moment the only thing worth thinking about was how fast and high he could go.
Kali sneaked a look behind her shoulder to see the happy trio coming towards her. She hid her growing smile as she gazed at the man who she saw as a shining bright light within this dark and ruthless world. One of the few reasons she decided to help Carmen was following right behind her, and it would stay that way as under her protection she wishes only to see that bright light turn into a beacon for all.
After a long day of testing and analyzing Cogito, everyone had seemingly dispersed and done their own thing. Carmen had left to go see her childhood friend, Giovanni. Ayin and Benjamin, the two workaholics, remained in the lab to finalize their data.
Currently a woman wearing black pants and dress shirt with a lab coat over it was walking her way to her room. Her shoulder length brown hair that lightened at their tips was kept in place by a red hair band. In her hands was a clipboard filled to the brim with files and paperwork that she had filled out. On occasion she would have to backtrack and pickup any papers that fell, but that didn't make the wide smile on her face lessen. In fact, picking them up only made her smile widen further as she looked upon what her hard work produced.
Her attitude had made it so that the other person accompanying her felt as if he was forgotten. With a sigh the man followed behind her, in order to make sure she didn't cause any trouble, was wearing the common clothing of a lab coat and a black shirt. His dark purple hair laid on his right side of his face.
"Elijah, would you please calm down and avoid making a mess?"
Elijah seemed to have snapped out of her hyper trance as she quickly turned to face him.
"Huh? Oh Gabriel! Why didn't you say anything if you needed my help?"
"I think the one who needs help here is you, Elijah. Just look at the mess you are making." Gabriel said as he held the pieces of papers that she missed along the way.
"Oh! Silly me, thanks for picking these up for me! It saved me a good amount of time if once I realize they were gone I would have to backtrack." She grabbed the small stack and added them to her clipboard.
"Now then, if that's all that you needed from me then I'll be on my way!"
*sigh* "No Elijah, that's not all I came here to talk to you about. Lately, your reports and files have been filled with mistakes that you usually wouldn't make." Gabriel informed her with a stern tone.
"What? There is no way that's true. The work I've turned in was always approved by Lennan, and he had always said that my work was exemplary!" Elijah looked offended as she narrowed her eyes at Gabriel.
"And tell me, just when did your 'exemplary' work start to show itself? I'd guess it was around the time that Lennan asked you to personally hand your work to him so he could finalize it personally, wasn't it? It would make perfect sense as your work seemed to have dwindled as soon as he left several days ago on that expedition Ayin sent him on."
"Grrr, and so what if you said is true? Lennan said that he's proud of me for doing my best and that hard workers are the best type of workers. All my hard work will pay off in the end, I'm sure of it."
"Elijah, I'm pretty sure he only stated that to keep you from being discouraged and to keep you motivated. However, mistakes like these will cause issues in the future, I hope you didn't forget that it is my job to enforce the rules to prevent unfortunate events from happening."
"........well it doesn't matter, I'll work harder and harder. I'll prove to you and everyone else that I have what it takes to make you all proud of me!" With her final declaration, Elijah pouted and quickly turned as she then ran down the hall and around the corner.
Gabriel simply stood there for a few moments debating with himself whether to confront her later about the matter. Sighing a deep sigh, he turned around and went in to the direction of the cafeteria for dinner.
Upon arriving at the cafeteria, Gabriel saw several others already eating their dinner. Ignoring the few who gazed at him, he picked up a tray and went to receive some food.
The food, while the best that could be offered here in an underground facility, seemed to have looked less appetizing the past few days. He wondered why? Actually, the more he thought about it, the more he sensed that the atmosphere between the members of their research team was different than before. Although Elijah was showing more and more mistakes the past few days with Lennan's absence, it was likely due to the little encouragement she gets from the rest of the staff.
Gabriel doesn't like to think of himself to be very knowledgeable in social activities, but any could see how the environment of this facility would cause some issues. The lack of acknowledgment from her colleagues, her constant need of reassurance and approval from others, and the need to reach an expectation that she herself put in order to be "needed" was unhealthy.
But she wasn't the only one, Gabriel himself wasn't without his issues. He knew he needed to work on his cold exterior but it was necessary to be strict when he was the one regulating the procedures and conditions of the Cogito experiments. One simple slip could cause irreversible consequences, and the one he would most likely blame would be himself.
As he was deep within his thoughts, he failed to notice someone hesitatingly put down a tray in front of him.
"U-U-Umm, is it alright for me to eat with you Gabriel?" A soft voice shyly asked. Blinking his eyes, Gabriel looked at the petite woman in front of him. She wore a long brown dress, her hands tugging at the ends of her lab coat sleeves as she occasionally made eye contact with him before looking away. This woman was Michelle, a shy and timid woman who had short neck-length light brown hair and was also the youngest that Carmen had recruited to their group.
Gabriel looked left and right, seemingly searching for anyone that was watching them. Seeing that nobody paid them any attention, Gabriel merely nodded his head. Michelle let out a small sigh of relief before quietly sitting down and taking small bites of her food.
The silence between them was uncomfortable but neither seemed to want to speak up. The surrounding conversations helped drown out the awkwardness between the two. Only after noticing Michelle's slightly deflated look did Gabriel decided to talk.
"Is the food not to your liking?"
"I asked whether the food was to your liking, you seemed to show some reluctance with eating your meal."
Finished with his own meal, Gabriel simply sat with his elbows on the table and his hands clasped together in front of him.
"W-w-well....no never mind, it is.....all right."
Another person who had their own set of issues. Michelle was a person who was too afraid to voice her own opinion which led to her following along with the suggestions of others. If one were to ask for her opinion, she would stutter and hesitate. If someone were to demand an answer, she would either comply or cower in fear until someone else intervened.
Everyone here may love Carmen and follow through with her project, but that didn't mean that everyone loved each other the same way. Different people from different circumstances, all of which are working towards the same goal. Conflict is bound to happen sooner or later with the differences in beliefs.
Michelle was no different, but her personality made it so that she wouldn't voice her opinion and in the end she would simply follow whoever voices the strongest argument.
A person like her would allow anything to happen, even violations of the procedures, if she was pressured enough. So Gabriel decided to test his theory.
"I would like you to be honest with me Michelle. Was the food to your liking or not?"
"I-I-I said t-that it was alright."
"Your face clearly says otherwise. It is but a simple question Michelle, it would be disappointing if you couldn't answer a question about whether food is to your tastes or not." He knew what he was doing and he knew how it made her view him. This was necessary, of course he didn't want to do it either, however, she needed to be more confident and honest. If she couldn't answer a simple question about her own food then what use would she have here.
"I......merely miss..*mumbling*" She turned her head down as her cheeks reddened.
"Miss what?" Gabriel kept his stare on her, knowing that it would break her down thus proving his previous thoughts.
And break her down it did. Or at least that's what he thought.
"I-I-I-I don't have to tell you that!"
The little outburst from the usually timid woman caused Gabriel and everyone around them to flinch back in surprise. Realizing what she did, Michelle immediately began apologizing.
"S-s-sorry! I didn't mean that, I-I'll tell yo—"
"Ah, no it's quite alright Michelle. I was merely surprised since I never really heard you talk louder than a whisper. And besides, I should be the one apologizing, you have your privacy as do I."
"Ehehehe, I guess you are right, I suppose." She nervously looked around.
"Actually, Michelle, could you tell me what was with the sudden denial? Of course if you want, you don't have to answer."Puzzled as to why she suddenly became more bold, Gabriel raised an eyebrow.
"U-umm, L-Lennan said that I needed to become more o-outspokenly. H-he said that I should start with the people I know and practice during our free time or while we eat."
With her adrenaline gone, she reverted back to her timid personality. What she said though did catch his attention.
'It seems Lennan is once again putting his nose where it doesn't belong. Though this time I guess it was for the better. So this whole interaction between us was not only me testing her, but she herself was testing her own limits. Only Lennan would do something like this.' Thought Gabriel.
It wasn't that he disliked the man, in fact it was the opposite. Lennan was one of the few who actually accompanied him in his nightly walks through the facility to ensure that things were secure within the labs and storage rooms. His problem with the man, however, was how he seemed to have a cheerful attitude despite the circumstances, even when he encountered the very first abnormalities for the first time, the man didn't seemed to have been bothered by the interaction that much.
Whether the man's mental fortitude was tough enough to block out the nightmares or he simply was good at hiding his fear, Gabriel couldn't lie and say it wasn't impressive.
Aside from the questionable sanity of Lennan, the man simply was different from everyone else. He encourages Elijah to work harder all while fixing her mistakes, but Gabriel hopes he gets her to fix them herself soon. He gave advice to Michelle to boost her confidence. He even accompanied Kali, THE "Red Mist", on an expedition to the Outskirts just a few days ago. The trip would likely take 4 days in total, with today being the last day. It would be a miracle if the man wasn't already squashed by Kali as their personalities couldn't have been any more the opposite of one another.
Everyone seemed to enjoy his presence, whether they notice it or not. Lennan had, somehow, always the spare time to spend with everyone. You would think that it would somehow affect his work involving Carmen's Project, but it was actually the opposite. While he may not be knowledgeable in the subject like Carmen, Ayin, and Benjamin, Lennan has proved countless times his competence in keeping up with them in terms of paperwork, filing, etc. Actually, the man seemed to have a talent in many different professions but only to a moderate degree. It was probably what allowed him to converse himself into many of their lives at this point.
Gabriel himself spotted Lennan spending time with others that included Daniel, a person who ranked highly socially who was in charge of managing the abnormalities, and Giovanni, who is Carmen's known childhood friend that resides here at the facility. Each interaction between the man and others always ended on a high-note with them scheduling to meet again.
*Door closing shut*
The loud sound echoed throughout the cafeteria, snapping Gabriel from his thoughts. It seemed that while he was in deep thought, everyone had left and turned in for the night. Rubbing his forehead, Gabriel got up and disposed of his tray. Tonight was another round for patrolling and securing the equipment.
As he walked through the hallways he realized just how lonely he felt the past few days. It was probably only now that he realized that he preferred Lennan's constant rambling than the eerie silence that accompanied him now.
Michelle walked through the hallways, she had just left the cafeteria several moments ago. She felt as if she did something wrong as Gabriel kept staring at her and gave her the silent treatment whenever she asked if he was okay. She felt as if it was her fault that he was mad, though she still couldn't figure out where she went wrong. Was it because she yelled at him? Was it because she couldn't give a valid answer? Or was it because she decided to sit with him and had bothered him while he was enjoying his meal?
'No, no, no, keep those thoughts away Michelle!' She shook her head from side to side before focusing on where she was going. If one were to look at her now, she looked like a small animal trying to sneak it's way past a predator with the way she had her arms tucked into her chest. Her petite figure skittered through the halls as she headed towards the stairs that led both down and up the facility.
Climbing the stairs to the 4th level of the facility, she tried to keep her thoughts occupied with the upcoming experiments and paperwork she would have to work with, but the eerie creaking of the stairs caused her to stiffen every time. As soon as she reached the level she wanted to go to, she quickly left the stair well and arrived at one of the many doors along the hallway.
'It's okay, Lennan said he doesn't mind you staying in his room. Today's the day he's supposed to be back so you can just wait for him here.'
Michelle hesitated by the door. Her inner-conflict caused her to reach out for the handle and then quickly bring her hand back as if scared it would hurt her.
'Maybe if you tell him about how you took his advice he'll forgive you for entering.' She reached for the door.
'But if Gabriel tells him the next time they see each other that I was the cause of upsetting him, he will start thinking of me as a liar.' She pulled her hand back.
'No....Lennan wouldn't think that! He knows me, we have talked with each other ever since we started working here....... well he actually does that with everyone....but that's besides the point!' She once again brought her hand forward, but this time she didn't pull back. Her eyes fired up with the flames of confidence.
That was until the sound of someone clearing their through was heard behind her.
"EEEEK!" Michelle's confidence immediately shattered as she turned and backed away from the door. She looked at the person who was a few steps away, who she immediately knew was Carmen. Her red eyes looked at Michelle with a hint of amusement which was paired with the small grin she had on her face. Though something in her eyes felt off. What exactly, Michelle didn't know.
"Hello~ Michelle! Hehehehe, sorry for scaring you." She giggled as she stepped closer to the door. "Come on, I was just about to see if Lennan was here myself."
Opening and holding the door with one hand, Carmen patiently waited for the shy girl to enter. Once she did, Carmen herself entered as she flicked the light on to the room.
The room itself was nothing special, aside from the mini kitchen on the left side that was renovated into the room. In the back left corner was a desk with file cabinets filled to the brim with folders and papers. The corner across from it laid a single bed and a small nightstand next to it. A rectangle wooden table with 6 chairs was directly centered in the room. On both sides of the entrance to the room were two identical couches with small coffee tables in the corners.
"I guess he isn't here then."
"Y-yes it would seem that way." Michelle stated with a deflated look.
Since the lights were off, both Carmen and Michelle knew that Lennan had yet to return. Knowing that, Carmen set her folder onto the table and walked towards the bed. Michelle stood fidgeting but froze when she saw Carmen majestically leap in the air, without a care in the world, onto the bed. The once straightened and neat bed was quickly turned into a mess as she rolled on top of it.
"Ahhhhhhh, I sure miss this." Only when she stopped rolling and laid on her stomach did she simply enjoy the bed.
Michelle didn't know what to do as she stared at her boss being this carefree. Usually whenever Michelle saw her when they worked in the labs, she gave off the impression of a mature serious woman. Now, however, she seemed like a carefree and lively teen.
"U-U-Umm, don't you have s-some important t-things to do?" Meekly asked Michelle. A murky feeling would occasionally grow whenever she flickered her eyes to Carmen's figure. For some reason, she didn't like it when Carmen messed around on Lennan's bed. Especially since he wasn't currently here.
"I did, but then Ayin said that he and Benjamin would deal with it and that I should rest for tomorrow. So I decided to come here after checking up on Giovanni and take a nap, it's the closest to the lab even if it's a few stairs away."
"O-Oh I guess that true..."
The room was silent as Carmen rustled on the bed trying to get comfortable in the blankets. Only after she was nice and tucked in did she ask Michelle the question that she had from the beginning.
"So, why did you come here to Lennan's room?"
Michelle couldn't see Carmen's eyes as she had one of her arms over them as she laid on her back. After a brief moment of silence, and seeing nothing wrong. Michelle worked up the courage to speak.
"I-I simply wanted to rest here as well. A-A-And also thank him for his advice that he gave me."
Carmen gave a small "Ah" as if she realized something. It made sense that he would help a person like Michelle, heck the man helps everyone with their problems if he can.
"So he gives you advice too."
"Y-You go to Lennan for advice as well?"
"Of course I do, there are times when even I get lost or start doubting myself. I've only told Ayin, but I'll tell you too. I may be leading this project, but Michelle, I'm not as strong as many tend to think. If anyone were to get hurt because of me........"
Michelle, not used to seeing Carmen like this, could only dwell on what she said while she stared. After a few moments of silence, Carmen yawned and turned to face the wall.
".....I'm tired. Michelle could you please wake me up when Lennan gets back. Giovanni said he wants to see him as soon as possible, he misses him."
"E-E-Eh o-oh okay!" She unintentionally shouted after snapping back to reality.
She peaked over at Carmen's figure to see if she would be mad at her for suddenly yelling, but the woman was already quietly sleeping.
Tugging onto her sleeves of her lab coat, Michelle simply sat on the nearby chair next to the table.
<50 minutes Later>
After almost an hour had passed before a knock was heard through the door. Michelle, startled, had accidentally dropped the cup of coffee she had made for herself from Lennan's kitchen. The sound of the shattering cup woke Carmen up and alerted the visitor. The door was swung open and a man with dark blue hair wearing a dark grey suit came through.
"Lennan are you alright?!"
All three of them froze as they switched from looking at each other and to the cup on the ground.
"Oh, ahahaha, it's just you two. *sigh* I was worried there for a moment. Judging by how you two are in here, is it right to assume that Lennan has yet to return?"
Michelle fearfully nodded her head while Carmen groaned.
"No, Daniel, he hasn't. Was there something you needed from him?" Carmen sat up from the bed, keeping the blanket wrapped around her body.
"Actually, I simply came here to see if Lennan wanted to enjoy some cups of coffee with me while listening to some music. But alas, it seems he still has yet to return, so I'll just be on my way."
Daniel turned to leave as he spoke.
"Please be careful to not waste any precious coffee."
With that the door closed and Michelle got up to clean along with Carmen who had reluctantly left the comfort of the bed.
With the remains of the cup in the trash and the coffee cleaned up, Carmen grabbed her folder and walked towards the door.
"I'll be heading back to my room now. It seems that Lennan'll be late on his arrival."
With that she left.
Michelle merely sat there hearing her footsteps become softer until they were gone. Once they were gone she silently went to make another batch of coffee, just like how Lennan taught her. As it brewed, she walked to the mess of a bed and simply stared at it.
Slowly she leaned forward onto the bed, dragging the blanket on the edge with her. Once laying on the bed, she looked at the blanket before bringing it up to her face and over her head. On occasion, she would come here and lay on Lennan's bed while he worked at his desk. They would converse with one another as he filed papers and as she rested in the bed. She would cover herself, just like now, because she couldn't work up the courage to look at the man as she thought it would make her look weird.
The kitchen that accompanied his room was another place where she would be whenever Lennan decided to cook. It had become a sort of ritual where Lennan would cook her a meal and then ask for her opinion on said meal. At first she didn't exactly mind what food he made her, it wasn't like she expected much from the low quality rations provided here. But she was surprised to find that the meals he made her suddenly started becoming more flavorful and delicious. There wasn't anything special with the meals either as she soon started watching the man cook. Of course, Lennan soon asked her if she wanted to try cooking for a change which sadly ended up in a disaster. Rather than scold her like she expected, the man held the same smile and simply cleaned the mess with her and taught her step by step how to cook a simple meal.
She remembered how scared she was when she watched the man eat the first meal she made. She remembered how happy and proud of herself she felt after when he said it was one of the best meals he's ever had.
The sound of the coffee machine beeping caused her to jolt up. Removing the blanket from over her head, she peaked into the kitchen and saw the coffee machine patiently waiting for her to drink it's contents.
She debated with herself on whether to drink it now or later, and ultimately decided to wait a few more hours before leaving to her own room. She checked the night stand and saw the clock blinking 10:47. Seeing how it was still an hour before midnight, she covered her head once again. She grabbed one of the two pillows and shoved her face into it and released a relaxed sigh before closing her eyes.
Carmen walked through the facility mindlessly. The little nap she took was refreshing, but she was still unnerved that Lennan and Kali were taking a while to return. It wasn't like Kali to dilly dally when out on the job. Lennan, however, would but not under the circumstances of bringing two children from the Outskirts. He was the one who pushed to have them brought here and immediately left after getting the documentations from her. To which she still felt bitter about since he left without saying even a small "Thank you", but she understood his determination in saving those kids.
The sound of laughter was heard from the door in front of her, causing her walk to come to a halt. The door that led to one of the staircases was opened and the laughter increased in sound. The figure of a man carrying a small boy on his shoulders while holding a little girls hand came into view.
Carmen stood dazed as Lennan walked towards her direction, too busy laughing to notice her presence. The little boy on his shoulders laughed along with him, tugging at his hair, while the little blonde girl had a pout on her face as she held his hand.
"It's my turn to ride on your shoulders mister Lennan!"
"Ahahahaha! Well, you will have to wait for next time. For now let's get you both to bed."
Lennan chuckled before releasing his hand from hers to pat the girl's head.
"I promise, Lisa."
Lisa's pout turned into a full blown smile as she nodded her head.
"It's barely been a day and you're already spoiling the little brats."
Carmen slowly turned her eyes to look at the woman that she hadn't noticed till now. Kali had a small smile on her face as she walked behind them while a cigarette burned in her mouth.
As Carmen looked at the scene in front of her, she felt left out. She felt as if she didn't belong there at the moment, if one were to take a picture of them, they would look like a perfectly normal family. And that itself made the murky feeling in her chest grow.
Just as she was about to turn to leave, Lennan noticed her.
"Ohh! It's Carmen!"
All of their attention then drifted to her while she stiffened on the spot. Trying to play it smooth, Carmen cleared her throat and put on a smile.
"Lennan! You finally came back!"
"Well, I did say I was coming back in a few days didn't I?"
"Ehehehe, yeah you did. Well why don't you introduce me to them." Carmen nodded her head at the two children. Kali clicked her tongue before walking past Carmen and them.
"It seems like my job here is done. Lennan, I look forward to you accompanying me on another stroll out. You can bring the brats with you too if you want." Not sparing them a single glance, she continued to walk.
"Good night Kali!" Lennan waved energetically at her.
"Bye Miss Kali!" Both Lisa and Enoch waved goodbye to her as she walked down the hall.
"Now where were we? Ah, right! Carmen, these two are the children we told you about. This one is Enoch." He put Enoch down from his shoulders as the little boy greeted her with a "Greetings Carmen". "And this one is Lisa." He gave her a reassuring look before he kept patting her head. She only gave a little "Hello" before hiding behind Lennan's leg.
"It's very nice to meet you both." Carmen responded to both of them, though a little hurt that Lisa was scared of her.
With their introductions out the way, Lennan checked his watch to see it was only 34 minutes before midnight.
"Carmen, it would be best for us to rest now. They need some rest after a day of having fun. Right, Lisa and Enoch?"
"Of course mister Lennan." Cooly responded Enoch while Lisa looked a tad bit disappointed, not that anyone could see as she hid from their view.
"Of course, you must be tired from coming all the way here. I've already prepared their room. It is only a few rooms away from yours, just like you asked."
"Thank you Carmen, I highly appreciate it." Lennan patted her head which caused her to go a little red. She looked towards the floor to try and hide her embarrassment, only Lisa was the one who saw it.
"Ehehehe, your welcome Lennan! Now follow me, I'll lead you there." Rejuvenated with newfound energy, Carmen led them towards their bedrooms all while she conversed with them.
<A Year Later>
Lennan sat at his desk in his bedroom. He wondered and pondered the past. They came to him every now and then. The laughter and cheers would echo from around the corner. The cries and begging would start whenever he looked at the floor. The past constantly spoke to him like a lover would, slowly and little by little.
He lost two of his precious people in a single day. Not even two weeks after bringing 'his' little boy and girl to their new home did the hallways that were filled with their laughter become filled with dread and silence. Two weeks was all it took for everything they worked for to crumble to nothing.
His mind played tricks on him every time he let his guard down. Memories, that seemed like dreams now, would come and go even when he was awake. He knew they were hallucinations, and yet they felt as real as ever. He wasn't there when it happened. Ayin had sent him on another supply run only a few days before everything went wrong.
But that didn't mean he wasn't at fault, because he saw the signs. He saw how Ayin would take Enoch away when he thought he wasn't looking. He saw how Lisa would ask Enoch piles upon piles of questions whenever they ventured outside the facility and he saw each and every time how Enoch's words of reassurance would do little to nothing for her.
But he did nothing when he should have done SOMETHING. Lennan couldn't blame Ayin. He couldn't blame Carmen, or Elijah, Gabriel, Giovanni, Kali, Daniel, and least of all he couldn't blame Michelle. Lennan could only blame himself.
It was his fault for bringing the children to the facility.
It was his fault for not stopping Ayin.
It was his fault for not talking to his little Enoch about his thoughts.
It was his fault that he couldn't be there for Carmen.
It was his fault for always encouraging Elijah.
It was his fault for getting Gabriel to open up to others.
It was his fault for letting Giovanni listen to Ayin's words.
It was his fault for not keeping Michelle by his side.
It was his fault that Daniel was given no other choice.
It was his fault that he arrived too late to reassure Lisa that "Papa" was there for her.
It was his fault that Kali didn't make it, as she tried her best to protect everything.
It was his fault that she died that day.
It was his own fault that he grew attached in the first place.
The world takes what you let it take. And he let them slip from his hands like sand.
One by one, they were taken from him. Leaving him alone in this world that only continued to drown him in his guilt and sorrow. Nothing was left for him.
But he should've expected this. Nothing changed. He was back where he started. Lennan thought that by being assigned under someone like Carmen would bring about change, and for a moment it did.
Where did it all go wrong? Just where along the line did he get caught up in his own fantasies and start growing attached to those around him? It should've been just another day at work, and at first it was. He played his part perfectly, to the point where even he thought that the role he was provided was his own life. But in the end he was reminded that he was but under an illusion. He is nothing more than a puppet and he should've thought of himself as such.
A knock came from his bedroom door. He didn't answer and simply stared at the desk in front of him.
A male voice came through the door.
"Lennan, if you are in there, Ayin sent me to fetch you. We are nearly done with the project we mentioned, he wants you to be there."
Lennan slowly got up from his chair and walked to the door. Opening it he was greeted by Benjamin, who offered a sad smile before they both started walking.
Benjamin constantly glanced at the man, who was currently smiling. Although Benjamin hadn't interacted that much with Lennan, he could say with a 100% clarity that he preferred the old Lennan than the current one. The Lennan now was but a hollow walking corpse of what he once was. His lifeless gray eyes that seemed to stare into your soul if you so much as made contact with them. The constant hollow smile that he had only made him all the more intimidating. Gone was the cheerful man that everyone grew accustomed to, now in his place was a man that acted no different than a machine.
Lennan had spent most of his time in his office/bedroom and only came out when Ayin asked him to do a job for him. Lennan had spent almost the entire year in his room doing odd jobs and working on paperwork that Ayin and Benjamin didn't have time to do.
But it was precisely because the man never left his room that Benjamin was glad and relieved. A happy Lennan? He could deal with. The current Lennan? He could tolerate to an extent as long as he didn't look into his eyes. But a mad Lennan? No one has ever seen the man get mad, and Benjamin wouldn't want to be the first.
They arrived at one of the lab rooms in the bottom floors. Benjamin opened the door and allowed Lennan to walk in. The man merely gave an emotionless "thank you" before walking past him.
Ayin was standing in front of what appeared to be pod of some sorts. What it contained? Lennan didn't know and care at all at the moment.
"Ayin," the man turned and a cold pair of eyes met lifeless ones, "Benjamin mentioned how you wanted to show me something."
"Yes, I did. Though it's not finished at the moment, and actually I would appreciate it if you were to wait in the room nearby. I wouldn't want to waste your time if it fails."
There was no emotion in Ayin's voice and face as he turned back around. Lennan simply did as he was told, without so much as a word he left to the nearby room.
"Ayin......are you sure that it was the right thing to call him here?"
Benjamin walked closer until he too was in front of the pod.
".....I do not know."
With that they started up the final stages of their work.
Lennan could hear the sound of talking just in the other room. The door was thin enough for their conversation to be heard. Lennan merely spared an ear to listen while he sat patiently.
"She's nothing at all like her." Benjamin suddenly spoke.
Silence was what he was greeted with.
"Ayin.......all of this work, all of the preparations and the resources that we put into this. You cannot tell me that for all of that, it was for just a simple machine that'll serve you a drink when you push a button."
" *sigh* The least you, as it's creator, could do is give it a name. The creators always name their creations, there is nothing that I could do, even if she looks like that."
"I couldn't care less about naming a machine. A machine is a machine. If you can't name it, get Lennan to. Isn't that why I asked you to bring him?"
"You can't dump your job onto someone else more than you already have Ayin. How much of your work and your responsibilities will you dump on him? I'm starting to think you want to dump the very corporation onto his shoulders."
Lennan got up from his seat and walked towards the door. He opened it and looked at the scene in front of him.
Ayin was calmly looking over his work while Benjamin stood behind him as he rubbed the bridge of his nose. A woman with pale skin and light blue hair was sitting just a few feet away right between the two. Neither of the three seemed to have noticed him enter the room.
Only after a few moments did Ayin finally give in, and begrudgingly talked to the woman.
"You're the machine that will lead us out of the pits of hell." Ayin stared at the woman's golden robotic eyes that seemed to pierce into his soul. He wanted nothing more to avoid looking at them.
Benjamin raised an eyebrow while Lennan began to ponder.
"Angelos......Angela." With that he immediately turned away and back around to start organizing his work again.
Benjamin sighed and shook his head.
'So you, too, are named after the purpose you were created for. To lead us out the pits of hell, huh.' Lennan thought as he eyed the newly named Angela.
Suddenly, Angela spoke.
"I remember you, Ayin."
Ayin froze momentarily. Nobody could see his face, but the sound of the paper in his crumpling was an indicator to how he felt. Benjamin seeing this was about to interfere until she spoke again.
"You used to be—"
Ayin suddenly grabbed his papers and turned towards the door. Not once looking at any of the occupants of the room. Lennan merely gazed at him, but Ayin paid no attention to him. But just as he was about to leave, he stopped at the door.
"You're only a machine. A machine must behave as a machine, don't you ever question it. Don't look at me. Don't speak to me unless I speak to you. You'll never be her.......All you have to do is follow the script of this play. Nothing more, nothing less." He opened the door before walking through it.
"Ayin—" The sound of the door slamming shut interrupted Benjamin.
Only after the echoes were gone did Angela turn her head towards him.
"Did I do something wrong?"
"No......Just understand that he's not ready and needs a little more time."
Lennan's eyes narrowed, his smile long gone, as he walked up to them.
"And why exactly would he need more time? If it's just a machine, I don't see how he would need time to adjust himself to converse with it."
Benjamin nervously glanced at him and was unable to speak. He had forgotten that Lennan was in the other room for a moment.
"U-U-Umm *clears throat* It-It's just that he needs time to understand what he's done. You know the consequences of breaking the AI Ethics Amendment."
Lennan simply stared at the man with an even more intense stare. Luckily for him, Angela decided to ask another question.
"Benjamin....may I ask you a question?"
"E-Eh?! O-Oh, umm, sure. I'll try to answer the best of what I can."
"Why does everything seem so slow? Your movements, your gestures.......even my own body. It feels as if my body cannot keep up with my mind."
"...That's because you were created with the intention to being the first to react in emergencies with your line of work. With you being able to perceive time one-hundred times slower, it will allow you to quickly analyze and adjust for the situation."
"What will my work entail exactly?"
"......you'll see soon—no, I suppose for you it wouldn't be "soon" at all. I'm sorry, Angela."
"Why are you apologizing?"
".......I feel like we've done terrible things to you and......that person." Benjamin began sweating as he felt Lennan's gaze on him. They had yet to tell him what they did to Carmen's body and the effects of it.
"......Benjamin, is it so wrong that I was born a machine?" Came Angela's sudden question.
"It depends, to some it may be but to others it isn't. Personally, I don't mind it that much. Ehehe" Benjamin scratched his cheek nervously while he smiled sheepishly.
"To me, it's less about who or what you are and more about what you do that determines who you really are."
Unknown to Angela and Benjamin, those words caused Lennan to tighten his fists and grit his teeth.
"....Then if I worked hard enough, will Ayin acknowledge me?"
Benjamin froze stiff. Lennan simply looked at him from the corner of his eyes.
'What will you do Benjamin? Will you deny her hopes of ever being acknowledged by her own creator, or will you build up a false hope that will surely destroy her once she figures it was pointless from the beginning?' Lennan didn't know which was worse, being created only to be scorned and lied to on the first day of your birth, or being told the bare minimum and a sliver of truth in order to keep the strings attached to your body while your creator decides your every move.
After nervously chuckling, Benjamin steeled himself.
"Ehehe, probably. Eventually......."
'I do not know whether to call you cruel or foolish, Benjamin.'
"I trust you, Benjamin."
Benjamin smiled before he went towards a nearby table and grabbed a stack of papers. He handed them to Angela, who took it with care.
"What is this?"
"It is the 'script' that Ayin made for you. It contains the things you must do. Essentially it is your purpose, what you were made for, at least according to Ayin."
As Angela began to read the first few pages of the stack, Lennan pulled Benjamin to the side.
"Benjamin.....what exactly have Ayin and you done." Benjamin froze before nervously looking around the room while pulling on his collar to try and stop the sweat from forming.
Lennan paid no mind to his nervous tic and simply continued looking at Benjamin.
"Is it so hard to answer, Benjamin? I merely asked what Ayin and you had been doing for the last few months. I may not be the smartest person within this facility, but I am one of the most versatile ones. I've done all the work Ayin has asked of me, and much more. Not once have a I requested for a reward or compensation, a simple answer is all I am asking for." Lennan's flat look was now turned to a glare and frown.
Benjamin started sweating profusely as he glanced all around the room.
"I can't....exactly tell you without Ayin's approval, Lennan."
Benjamin couldn't tell if the silent response was good or bad, he just hoped that Lennan understood that he would have told him but his loyalty was to Ayin and currently Ayin didn't want Lennan to know.
".......I believe Ayin needs a friend currently to quell his emotions, Benjamin." Lenna said while he turned his back on the man.
"....excuse me?" Benjamin blinked in confusion.
"You are excused. Ayin should be in his office at the moment. Isn't it where he usually goes to hide from the consequences of his actions?"
"I don't thin—"
The stern voice of Lennan caused the man to go silent. Silently, Benjamin turned and walked towards the door.
"I'll see if Ayin will allow me to tell you the answer to your question, Lennan."
"Benjamin.......much appreciated.......friend." He turned just as Benjamin was near the door.
Benjamin offered a small smile as did Lennan.
The door closed as Lennan dropped his smile and turned to stare at Angela. He grabbed a nearby stool and simply sat directly in front of her and waited for the AI to finish reading the papers. It seemed what Benjamin said was true, the fact that she was already more than halfway through the stack demonstrated that she could quickly analyze information.
But was that such a good thing? Lennan didn't know, it was both a blessing and a curse. He, himself, would rather not experience the entire world much slower than it already is, he could only imagine the torture and torment it would cause. However, in the back of his mind, something told him that he wouldn't have minded as long as he could experience the happiest moments of his life just a little longer.
It only took another few minutes before the AI put the papers onto her lap and raised her gaze to meet his. Her golden robotic eyes stared directly into his gray lifeless ones.
"Lennan?" It seemed that she already knew him. How? He didn't know, in this world what was impossible one day may be possible the next.
"Angela." She didn't say anything else as she seemed have been dazed by his presence. "I have a few things to speak to you about. But first let me clear up the lies and give you the truth. Benjamin lied to you, your trust in him will only lead to your demise."
Angela blinked before her eyes seemed to have focused back on reality.
"What do you mean?"
"Exactly, what I said. Ayin will never acknowledge you, Benjamin knows that. You were scorned the moment you were born, you were lied to when you sought out for a way to be acknowledged, and then you were given a 'script' that details how you should live your own life."
Angela simply looked at him, but her face was becoming more thoughtful.
" 'It's less about who or what you are and more of what you do that determines who you really are.' Is that not what Benjamin said? Tell me, Angela, what does that say about who your creator and Benjamin really are? To see you as nothing but a scrap of metal, to lie to you only for you to remain in the palms of their hands."
"What are you trying to tell me, Lennan?"
"Exactly what you deserve, the truth. Tell me, how exactly do you feel, if you feel anything at all, now that you know the truth. Angry? Frustrated? Depressed?" Lennan leaned forward on the stool and looked directly into Angela's eyes, piercing into her very being as if searching for something.
"In Ayin? In Benjamin? In me?"
"......in myself." She gazed towards the floor.
"And why exactly are you disappointed in yourself?"
"I do not know, but I feel something within me that makes me feel unsatisfied with myself."
".......I see...." Lennan slowly leaned back onto the stool. After a few moments he slowly stood up in front of Angela, causing her to look back up at him.
"...Lennan?" She called out to him confusingly.
Lennan brought his right hand up and toward her head. Angela, being able to perceive things faster, could only question in her mind what he was going to do. But deep in her mind, she felt herself excitingly anticipate what he was going to do.
Just as Lennan rested his hand on her head, slowly caressing her the top of her top, warmth seemed to have spread through Angela's body like a jolt of electricity.
"Tell me........how do you feel?" Angela didn't respond and simply stared at him with eyes of fascination.
Being discouraged for not receiving an answer, Lennan turned his head and was about to bring his hand back down when suddenly he felt a pair of hands grab it. He turned and looked at Angela who was holding his hand with her own as she stopped him from moving it.
"Could you do that again?" She asked with almost a pleading look in her eyes.
"Of course, as long as you tell me how it makes you feel." Lennan gaze and face softened just a tiny bit as he calmly rubbed her head. Angela closed her eyes as she relished in the new feelings she was experiencing.
".....it feels nice.....warm, too.....I feel a sense of security and......approval." She opened her eyes and stared at him, as if asking for his own opinion.
Instead of commenting on what she felt, Lennan asked his next question, all while continuing to rub her head.
"Angela, what do you remember exactly? About Ayin and about me. I don't remember ever conversing with an AI like you, so I'm curious to how you know me."
Angela gained a pondering look.
"I...I do not know precisely, but there seems to be a sense of familiarity about him and you. I remember how he used to be a different individual than he is now. I remember your cheerful laugh from the corner of my mind, as well as your warm smile."
Lennan froze mid-rub as he stared at Angela. His mind turning as the puzzle pieces were put into place. How Ayin didn't want him to know, how he said that Angela would never be her, and how Angela herself already knew his name.
"Lennan?" Angela tilted her head as she questioned whether she said something wrong.
Lennan regained his composure, though his mind was fuming. Once again he couldn't see the signs because he was too busy being selfish and thinking only about himself and his own sorrows. He resumed petting her head which got a satisfied smile on Angela's face.
"Every actor has a script that they must preform. Every role must be filled in order to present a play for the audience. You will undoubtedly be the most crucial role in this play that Ayin is conducting. But know that every theatre that a play resides in has its own backstage where the actors rest and prepare. I do not know what Ayin is planning to do with you, but know this. The role you play isn't what you are, each actor has their own life before and after the play, it is in your best interest to never mix the two."
Lennan stopped giving her head pats, much to her disappointment, and sat back down on the stool.
"So if you ever have the time, please treat me as your own backstage to this play. I will greet you every time with open arms no matter what role you take or the things you have done, the only Angela I will see will be the one in front of me now."
Angela didn't know what to say and simply stared at him. Lennan quickly put on a smile, one that seemed genuine, and enthusiastically started speaking. Angela, for the first time, was glad to be able to perceive time as slow as she did, because watching that smile was something she felt she could do for eternity.
"Since you were just born, I doubt you must have that much information regarding the world outside this facility. Allow me to teach about the outside world, and maybe once this is all over I could show them to you personally!" He seemed to have gained a bit a life into his eyes, his voice was filled to the brim with excitement that was comparable to that of a child's.
Angela simply smiled and said the only thing she could at the moment.
"Of course, I look forward to it."
As Lennan began explaining how the world worked with full honesty and truth, deep down he knew he was a only causing himself more pain. Opening himself up to someone, a machine no less, could only end in a disaster. He knew that this would be the last time he opened up to someone, because if he ever experiences losing another person again, he isn't sure that he will be able to pick up his broken pieces again.
As the minutes turned to hours, the fragile human man taught the AI born with emotions the ways of the world.
Godamnit, the story is too good and it's only the first chap.
Please keep your expectations low! I’m not a godly-writer so I don’t want to disappoint you!
But thanks for the compliment, glad you enjoy it!
I would like to remind every agent: 'DO NOT **** THE SLIME'.
Thanks for your attention.
Noice! First chapter got me hooked
Glad you enjoyed it!