24 | THEIR CHILD
Em was the first to wake from the effect of the tranquiliser (that was no longer in their neck), to find herself seated upright on the couch and her friends lying next to her. What the hell just happened? The lights were on and their night-vision lenses were set on the coffee table.
Fear shot through Em. They’d been caught, and—
“Oh, you’re awake.”
A woman clad in a simple white blouse and a pair of black pants strode over, putting down a tray that held four cups of water. Dark brown eyes and a special shade of musty, dark grey hair, accompanied with delicate features… she was Cordelia Wong in the flesh. Undoubtedly pretty too.
“You must be Emeline. I’m sure you already know that I’m Cordelia, and that guy over there,” she pointed at the man seated on a couch with a SmartGlass on his lap, “... Is my husband, Daryl. Now, I am certain that you four were given the hint to choose us, no?”
Em’s eyes darted between Cordelia and Daryl furtively. They’d been caught in the act; perhaps this was indeed the trap? To get them to admit their attempt to go against the government? No, like hell she was saying anything.
“Don’t worry about the CCTVs, or your wristbands, or Eris. We’ve erased the previous recordings with harmless file-searching noises… except for Eris, but I don’t think we’ll have any issues there. I believe they taught her more than they would have wanted about coding,” Daryl mused, “But we only have a little over two hours. Better hope they wake up quick and cooperate so we can tell you the necessary instructions and get you all ready to break out of this hellhole.”
Despite the apparent knowledge that she was free to speak, and could’ve asked a billion other questions, the first question that popped up was, “Why are you participating in all this? How does it benefit you at all?”
“Because if we don’t step in, innocents are going to go on being used for inhumane experiments and subject to Leland Yang’s manipulation, which is everything that my husband and I don’t stand for… oh, looks like they’re waking up,” Cordelia said as Ethan, Eris and Eli came to.
“Whoa, what the—”
Ethan was harshly interrupted by Cordelia, “I’ll jump straight into it; I’m Cordelia, that’s my husband Daryl. We’re here to help you in your escape to the Ruins so that you may be safe with Lily’s people. You may talk freely, we’ve blocked the voice recordings and replaced it with random shuffling noises.”
Ethan glared at the adults, his eyes landing on the emotionless Error with suspicion, despite her eyes which appeared to be back to normal. “Well, what about her? Did you—”
“I would say ‘bitter gourd’ as per our arrangement, but it’s redundant at this point in time. So, yes, I’m back. I’ll say I shut down so that an emergency scanner that I could not override couldn’t detect my presence,” Eris deadpanned, “Let’s talk escape routes.”
“Wonderful, we do have emergency security scans, so the story ties in,” Daryl grinned, his indigo eyes bright, “... Although we were prepared for you today. I apologise for the bizarre tranq shooting… it was the quietest way we could think of.”
“It was ridiculous,” Cordelia muttered under her breath as Eli giggled for the first time in days. He’d decided that he liked them. Maybe they could be trusted—
“But back to business. On your next mission, you must head to the borders via the Metro. But after that, things will get tricky. The borders to the Ruins are highly guarded by adults as skilled as you are, and with those dang birds everywhere, you must do your best to take them out quietly. Use poison if you must—”
“Uh, sorry, what was that? Birds?” Ethan gave the couple a funny look. “What do the birds have to do with this—”
“The black birds you see on the streets are like me,” Eris interrupted, “To monitor the common folk and so that police can be deployed immediately.”
“And to tail people, too,” Daryl added.
In response to the incredulous looks, Eris just replied, “We have a lot to catch up on. I’ll show you sometime, when we have the chance. Please continue, Sir.”
Em noticed the faintest grimace on his face as Daryl stood up and walked over to the wall, where Eris had previously found to contain a secret safe, placing a hand on the wall - which glowed in response at registering his fingerprints, then slid aside to reveal the file drawer. “And here’s a faked document to submit to the military higher-ups,” he said, holding out a beige manila folder to the kids on the couch, that Em received and began to flip through.
“This is what they’re looking for? Secret code?” Em squinted at the handwritten scrawl of numbers and letters alike as Cordelia continued, “We’ve been sending resources to the Ruins on a regular basis. Leland wants to catch our delivery men red-handed… but with this, he won’t be able to.”
“You seem to have all this planned out, huh?” Ethan asked with a raised eyebrow, “You must really hate the government.”
Cordelia turned to the boy, her cold, professional voice now with a hint of agitation, “We’re not anti-government. We’re anti-Leland.”
“Uh… but the entire government works for him.”
Daryl sighed as he heard Eli, “You kids may think the government is evil, because they’re under the prime minister, but that’s not true. Leland Yang… he’s a master manipulator. Many of his people, with the exception of his wife and a few others, don’t work for him willingly. There’s blackmail, threats. Bribery. He’s the one we, and the people at the Ruins, are working to root out from the seat of power.”
“The government isn’t your enemy. Not everyone here is within Leland’s inner circle, or working for him willingly. His wife, the secondary sector principal, the education minister, and the military are all his loyal lapdogs; the rest are there because they do not have the spirit or the ability to fight back,” Cordelia said, “I always knew that there was something off about Leland Yang, how he ascended to his position so quickly.” She shook her head in a brief moment of dismay as Daryl placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.
The Errors watched with confusion at the hidden emotions and hints towards the secrets beneath the surface.
But their confusion turned to surprise when Eris was the one to say, “I believe that your anger towards Leland is personal, if I’m not wrong?”
“You’re not,” Cordelia’s eyes burned with a sudden intensity and ferocity as she spoke, her voice cold, “We had a child once.”
The Errors froze.
“We were going to name her Robyn,” the woman added slowly, swallowing hard and trying not to let her emotions get the better of her, “We planned everything… she was going to beautiful black hair and sapphire eyes… ”
Ethan and Em froze, their eyes slowly flickering to the same person that the couple had turned to with eyes a mix of emotions.
Sadness. Pain. Longing. Em could even notice a hint of… pride?
“Until the doctors claimed that she was an Error,” Daryl continued for his wife, looking straight at Eris with her cold eyes and her deadpan expression, “... And took her away from us.”