Part 2 - 5
Yet the air wasn’t all that uncomfortable.
At the very end of the aisle, there was a space on the right hand side. It was a cell. Inside, a familiar face I haven’t seen for years was lying on top of a bed.
The man woke up from our footsteps. He turned towards us and sat up.
“Vincent Greg,” I said. The name still tasted bitter in my mouth. The prisoner didn’t flinch seeing four people all at once.
“Leon Veridi. Scarlet Dane. Han McCline,” he said almost with a snort. “I’m honored to see such company in one day.” He pointed at the three sets of television. “I saw how you fight. You’re strength gets stronger every time I meet you.”
I looked at Jerrod.
“I had the TVs connected with the city’s cameras on street,” he said. “It was intended, if you are wondering.”
“It was quite a fight,” said Vincent. “Pity you intervened. There could have been more casualties.”
“You’re mad!” Scarlet said in disgusted.
“Well, girl, living in a dark cell like this for nearly three years makes people insane,” he said. Greg picked up an apple on the desk near his bed. He took a bite. “But… by the way you came to see me, fighting Hunters were never your objective when you two came here.”
“And… that will only mean Eden had no idea of today’s assault,” said Vincent Greg. He had a gift for figuring things out – one had to give him that. “Anyway, what do you want? I honestly began to like isolation.”
“I want to know what happened to your lab,” I said.
“It burned up. It was indeed a dangerous experiment I knew the consequences may be big but not as catastrophic as that,” he said.
“I’m asking you want caused the fire.”
“Explosion,” he said simply.
“Caused by want?”
“Fault in experiment,” said Vincent. He looked at the other three. “Why are you guys here, really? To ask these petty questions?”
“The two of us want to speak to Vincent alone,” I said. Jerrod hesitated. Vincent eyed towards the exit. When the two left, soon there was a sound of a door slamming shut. The only light source was the dim light of a light bulb on top of us and the light from the TV.
“Ms. Dane doesn’t have any reasons either…”
“I didn’t come here to waste my time,” I said unsheathing my sword.
“You think death scares me?”
“Pain might,” I said and stabbed his index finger that was outside of the cell bar. He screamed in pain as he quickly removed his hands from the bars. He looked at me, growling like an animal. “I want to know. Everything.”
“I don’t know what everything is,” he smiled slyly. I slid my sword between the prison bars and scraped the skin of his. The cut was nearly a finger long and blood started to squeeze out. He winced and backed up more. “It wouldn’t be wise to kill me.”
Scarlet watched me anxiously. Her eyes were tensed. I had to ignore. This was something that was worth for.
“I don’t have to,” I said sternly. He looked at me with his cold glare. He spat on the ground and sat on his bed. His hand was covering the cut from bleeding.
“Fine,” he said with a heavy sigh, submitting. “I guess I don’t have anything to lose other than my life.”
Vincent became silent as if readying for a long story. Then he looked up at Scarlet.
“Do you really want her listening? Because, well I don’t really care, but this information is only known by two people on this planet including myself. The only reason for that is because it can be extremely disturbing,” Vincent warned. I glanced at Scarlet. She certainly looked uncomfortable the moment we entered this space.
“I’ll… just be outside,” she said finally.
“Whatever he’s going to tell you, it’s yours to hear not mine,” she said, trying to sound confident. But I sensed the slight uncertainty in her voice. “I’ll be fine.” Then she left, leaving only Vincent and me in the dark corridor.
“So, now that she’s gone…”
“This better be good.”
“Let’s talk from the beginning shall we? Genetic science; or genetic engineering – that is where all of my work started,” he began. “It was the most advanced turf along with all the areas relating to biology during our time in the Ark because our goal was to keep all organisms alive, healthy and able in space until the D-day. That meant, finding better genes for survival regardless of humans, animals, or plants, producing healthy food and making sure people lives as long as they can.”
“I don’t have time for a speech, I just want the –“
“Knowing the truth comes with a lot of consequences. I expected you to handle better,” Vincent snapped. He’s forgetting his place. Part of me wanted to punch him in the face. But I need to know. I need to wait. “Years before D-day, I was in the 3rd Ark; so was Jerrod and Michelle and Han. I knew most of the people living in the five Arks will experience the D-day themselves. When that day comes, I obviously expected everyone to be excited, happy and all that. But unfortunately, human nature doesn’t allow such joy and peace among us. Can you expect what happens after all the celebrating between people among the Arks?”
I said nothing, but staring at the man.
“First happening is ranking – or sequencing – among people. Captains with the most power, his executives as second largest faction and most importantly, military leaders with an army of their own will gain control. The proof was obviously evident during the first few years after making settlements on Earth,” Vincent paused. He grabbed a cup of water and took a drink. “After that: it is war. Even if Hunters threatened us, time will gradually have given humans to somehow defend. What would leaders of their settlements do when there are no Hunters attacking their community? They will strive to enlarge their influence. Then, every human from each settlement would be fighting each other until one or two consumes the rest.”
“You can’t know that,” I said.
“Yes I can. Eden and the Earth Dominion are the living proof. I know about what the Alpha Company did, Leon. I know things about the world more than you think I know,” he said. The old man was almost smiling which was very irritating. How much does he know? “Anyway, this is where we come in. Back in the Ark, Jerrod wanted to become the winner of this ‘fight’ on Earth long before the D-day. He wanted power. He wanted to be president like right now – well, obviously one with ultimate power unlike now. He asked for my advice. I gave him one answer.”
“More specifically, genetically modified human soldier. A living weapon. With no heavy artilleries like tanks, bombers or WMDs, the quality and the number of living soldiers was crucial if any fight was to happen,” he said. “It wasn’t called the Crusaders at first – it wasn’t really called anything. Jerrod agreed and he gave me full power to every scientific research ongoing in the 3rd Ark. He spent most of the resources on this too. And with so much support, I was able to make the first ‘Crusader’.”
“Like I said, genetic engineering was exceptionally advanced. And, since it was my first grand work, I designed everything: the body, DNA, genetic codes, muscles, skin and even the brain. It was, in a way, the first man-made human in the history of mankind,” said Vincent Greg. His eyes flashed at me. “Can you guess its name?”
“...” I didn’t say anything at first. Perhaps I was afraid. Perhaps I was hoping. Perhaps, I just couldn’t guess. Ex-doctor Greg was enjoying this by the look of his face. This is what I’ve wanted. I need to face it or it’ll haunt me until my death.
“It’s you, Leon Veridi.”
The files were true.
“You don’t look as shocked,” he said without even knowing what was going through my head. “It might have been more awful for you if you haven’t read my files.”
He just crossed the line.
I slammed on the bars with my fist. I was emotionally out of control that I used my ability. The cell bars I slammed on were dismantled. My bare hands hurt like hell and it was bleed like never before, but that mattered little to me. I stretched out for him and grabbed his shirt. I pulled him toward me. Vincent crashed with the broke metal bar hard. His glasses broke instantly and blood trickled down from his forehead. He looked up at me with the same eyes that looked me with I first saw him on Earth – when he came to Sector 3. His eyes were authoritative, demanding, cold and cynical. He was enjoying this. He was enjoying…
“Are you going to let me go, Leon? I’m not finished,” he said. “You asked for this you know.”
I know I did.
“We’re almost done if that helps you.”
I loosened my grip. He quickly backed away and straightened his shirt. Then he wiped the blood with some tissue. I stared blankly at him and collapsed on the ground. I sat there without a word. Not knowing whether something bad that happened to you is hurtful. It really is. But when another person evidently verifies that imagination is a fact, the pain is just amplified by infinity.
“How… many knew about my truth?” I managed to say. The words were barely audible, I knew. But Greg somehow heard it.
“Michelle Nathans, Jerrod Hamel, Han McCline and myself,” he said. “Along with the scientists that helped me through the process, but they’re all dead. I planned them all to be killed in an ‘accident’ from Hunters. Your so called parents are one of them.”
I smiled cynically. Everything Jerrod and Han talked about was, in the end, all true.
“After a few years, Jerrod and I had a lot of disagreements. So I took all the knowledge and resources I have and left the 3rd Ark on Meeting Day. Soren supported my research from then on until I visited Sector 3,” he said. “After the five settlements were established and when I started to hear you were showing exceptional performance, I made Hugo Camell. I hoped to reproduce the ‘mutation’ you had.”
“Mutation?” I asked weakly.
“Your silver energy force. I partly succeeded, as you know but his failure became clear when he died in the hands of the Chimera while you managed to kill it,” said Vincent. He said that as if Hugo was some kind of robot, a lifeless robotic weapon with the sole purpose to obey orders. “And… that’s about it.” Vincent smiled so pleasantly that I almost stabbed him with my sword.
Steady, this is not all the reason I came here. Steady…
“What… what did you do with Michelle?” I asked, gulping and bracing myself to whatever shock to come. But I couldn't stop myself from gritting my teeth and clutching my fist hard. Is it anger...? Shock...? Fear...?
“I killed her, theoretically. And if Jerrod hadn’t told you, she was involved in the final double-checking experiment for the Raven Project,” said Vincent, again so casually. He glanced at me still on the ground.
I was furious. I truly was. But I was mentally damaged – harshly. I didn’t even have the motivation to lift myself up. I imagined myself killing him. He lived his life doing what he wants. Why not do the favor of killing him right here, right now? He wouldn’t feel the pain when his neck disconnects from his body.
And I even had the capability to kill him right where to stood. No one had the rights to sop me. I nearly felt a sort of obligation to kill him. For Michelle. Whether she wanted or not. I just...
“You should have burned with your lab,” was all I was able to say.
“Then, I would not be here to tell you all of this,” he said smiling.
“You bastard!” I shouted and I ripped open the cell’s door by using every bit of my ability. My hands were still bleeding. But I didn’t care and went inside. I smashed his old body onto the wall which made a slight dent on the concrete. I couldn’t resist. It was more than temptation. It was an obligation. A duty. A job I must finish off. I unsheathed my sword.
Prima dug deep into Vincent’s forehead.
It penetrated his brain. When I released my grip, the sword dangled on the wall with Vincent’s disgusting body hanging on it. I slowly pulled out the sword. The man didn’t squeak. The man didn’t yell. The man didn’t squirm.
I was relieved he was dead.
“Leon…?” Jerrod was stunned to see my sword bloody. “Why…?”
“I was about to ask you the same question,” I said quickly. “Why, Jerrod? And why, Han?”
“Did he –“
“Yes he told me everything. I was done with him and I had every right to bash that skull of his and send him to hell,” I blurted furiously. Han and Jerrod froze. Scarlet looked like she was about to cry – I didn’t know why.
I sighed. I collapsed onto a chair and covered my face with my bloody hands. Scarlet came beside me with some water to drink. I thanked her and drank up. She didn’t ask what happened and what Vincent told me. I silently thanked for that too.
Jerrod and Han both looked like they didn’t know what to do or say. They were at the corner of the room arguing about something. I stood up when Scarlet was finished helping to scrape off the blood.
“Wait, where are you going?” Jerrod asked.
“Home,” that word was somehow very bitter when I spat out. “Back to Eden. I’m done with this place. Now that I know who killed Michelle and I know myself, I don’t have any reason to be here.”
“Michelle?” Scarlet asked, confused. I mouthed to her that I’ll tell her everything later. She seemed to have understood because she didn’t ask anymore.
“Wait, what?” Han was obviously new to that information as well. “Vincent killed Michelle?”
“Did Vincent say he killed Michelle Nathans?” Jerrod asked. He was surprisingly calm after I said about it.
“Yes,” I said. I glanced at Scarlet. Her expression was hard to read.
“Are you sure?”
“Why?” he knows something else. “Is there anything wrong?”
He scratched his head. All eyes were on him. He bit his fingernails and let out a heavy sigh. He was definitely hesitating for whatever new information he knew.
“Jerrod. You owe me much more than this. Out with it,” I snapped.
“Michelle Nathans is…” he paused. He scratched the back of his neck again. “Is… not really dead right now.”