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Chapter 6

Takashi and Olivia are both still recovering from their ordeal with the creatures. He floats back up to the roof and they both lie down to rest. “Whoo! That was fun,” she says sarcastically, “so, what now?” “I don’t know,” he replies, still tired. “As if things weren’t bad enough already, now we’ve got these creatures to worry about.” “What were those things anyway?” she inquires. “Aliens?” he guesses. “What? How do you know?” “I DON’T know. They did come from space,” he hypothesizes, lying on the floor. “Great! Let’s add a side of huge, really hard to kill aliens to our secret military organization sandwich.” He laughs softly, “Story of our life.” She joins him in laughter, though it turns to tears, “I just wanna go home.” She then sits up all of a sudden, “What’s that??” “What’s what?” The faint buzzing sound of a helicopter can then slowly be heard. Buzzing! “Helicopter coming!” “Oh, shit!” Takashi grabs Olivia and pulls her down through the hole. “Aaaaahhhhh!” she yells. But, just before they hit the floor, he levitates both of them a few inches above it. “Huh! What?” Olivia speaks, floating above the floor with her hair touching the cracked part. She looks at him and he looks at her. “Hi,” Takashi says in a soft voice. She smiles and chuckles, “Hi.”

The helicopter reports as it sweeps the city, “This is 3-6. Everything looks clear, sir,” says the pilot, “no creature in sight.” “Roger that, 3-6. What of the subjects?” Edward replies. “No sign of them too, sir. Maybe those things got ‘em.” “Unlikely, lieutenant. They are not so easily killed. Do not underestimate their power. Keep an eye out.” “Yes, sir. Understood.” He turns off the radio and puts his hands against the table and lets out a sigh. He rubs his forehead; sweat still rolling down his cheek. This was supposed to be a simple harvesting mission—get in and get out quietly. Now, it seems to have turned into an all-out war with these creatures…and the subjects, whom they still have to find; they didn’t prepare for this. He leaves the table and approaches Julian. He asks the doctor if he knows what those things were and how they can kill them. “Well, sir. They appear to be energy-based life forms. The energy concentration that our instruments picked up wasn’t energy at all, they were picking up those creatures.” “Yes, all very interesting, doctor. But, how do we kill them?” “Well, they have very tough skin. I could even say it is armored naturally. I would recommend armor-piercing rounds, but since we did not prepare that, I suggest using high-grade explosives to breach their armor first, and then kill them with regular bullets. But, there is another thing.” Julian takes Edward to the monitor to watch a video of their encounter outside. “There! Did you see it?” Julian asks as he points to the creature’s shifting ability, “they appear to be able to shift to a sort of energy form. I believe that, at this state, they are intangible and therefore invulnerable to physical attacks.” “Hmmm. We need to find a way to counteract this. But, for now...” he says as he picks up the radio, “attention! I am broadcasting this to all soldiers remaining! Make sure you have your M32 Launchers loaded and ready! Also prepare other explosives such as RPGs and grenades, and any other explosives you may have! And make sure the tanks and helicopters are loaded and combat ready! Some of you may already know this, but I am repeating to clarify and make sure that everyone knows the procedure. If you should sight a creature, attack them with explosives first to breach their outer armor, then finish them off with your anti-personnel rounds. If they shift into their energy form, do not attack, I repeat, do not attack. They are invulnerable to physical attack at this form, so save your ammunition. Dr. Edwards is working on a way to bypass this, but that is all for now.” Julian then looks at him with a blank, or rather, surprised stare. How the hell is he supposed to figure that out without any data or examinations? “Stay sharp, men,” Edward encourages his soldiers, “and stay alert. This is no longer a simple harvesting mission. We are now fighting for the survival of the Earth. We will not fail!!” They listen—some sitting and some standing with their weapons—and prepare themselves for this ultimate fight. They are afraid, of course, but they know that this is important. They are ready to fight and follow their leader and the survival of the human race.

The helicopter seems to have gone. Takashi and Olivia fly back up to the roof and think of what to do next. “Okay. So what do we do now?” she asks him. “I don’t know,” replies Takashi, “let’s just get out of here. I mean, we can just fly away now. They’ve cleared the streets.” “We can’t do that, Takashi,” she tells him. “Why not?” he asks. “We have to stop those, those things. If the soldiers fail, then we’re the only ones left to stop them. I mean if they destroy the planet, it doesn’t matter where we go, does it? We’ll die. Everyone will die,” she argues and then chuckles, “we were given these powers. Might as well use them to help.” He smiles, “Alright then.” “Alright.” She turns around and flies off the roof. “What are you doing?” he asks. “I’m gonna get a better view of the city.” As she flies off, she catches a glimpse of a man running from the streets to the alleyway, wearing an unzipped jacket with a plain white t-shirt, cargo pants, gloves, and a bandana on his head. He stops for a moment and turns around to look at her. She sees his face, a scar running across it, but, clean and has a tough look that suggests he has seen many terrible things. A necklace was strung around his neck. He smiles and salutes her before continuing his run. “Liv. You ok?” he asks. “Yeah, I’m fine. Did you see that guy?” “What guy?” “I saw someone running into the alley. He wasn’t wearing military uniform, so I don’t think he’s a soldier. Come on, let’s find him.” She flies off to where the man was headed. Takashi, confused, shrugs it off and flies off behind her. They both reach the alleyway and lands, but don’t see the man. Takashi notices a half-open manhole cover; they approach it and he telekinetically pushes it away. “Ohhh,” he moves away back, “I am not going down there,” Takashi says, smelling the putrid stench. “Yeah, that’s just nasty,” concurs Olivia. They both cover their nose and look at the murky, greenish water below. “Do we really have to go down there?” he asks her. “Well, that seems to be where the guy went. We need to find him and find out who he is and how he’s not asleep like the rest. Like you said, we need to stop this invasion or whatever, but we don’t have a plan, we don’t know what we’re doing. Maybe this guy can help us.” “Or he could be leading us to a trap,” he contemplates. “He doesn’t seem to be working with them, so it’s a risk we’re gonna have to take,” she tells him. He sighs, “Ah, shit. Ok, let’s go,” he reluctantly says, “but I’m not touching that water.”

They both levitate down and hover just above the shallow water. The repelling stench grows stronger; they nearly puke at the smell of it. But nevertheless, they continue onwards. The sewer, big and square in shape, goes both ways. They’re unsure of which direction to go until they hear water splashes, and so they head in that direction. As they follow the path they see the shadow of the man and hurries to his location—though he seems to have disappeared. Click! They hear something closing nearby. They follow the sound, but reach a dead end. “Where did he go?” she asks. “I don’t know. Look around. Must be something we’re missing,” he says. She notices that one of the pipes on the wall seems to be a little loose and goes to examine it. It feels strange as she touches it—it seems different to the others somehow. She inadvertently pushes it and the wall opens up, revealing a secret pathway. “Well, well. The plot thickens,” Takashi speaks. They look inside: it appears to be a rectangular tunnel, long and lit only with makeshift lights along the ceiling; they enter. Olivia lands on the dry floor while Takashi still refuses. After a long tread, the end is still nowhere in sight. The sounds of dripping water echoes through in the quietness; an unpleasant smell reeks. The lights start to flicker randomly—turning on and off at various intervals. An uneasy feeling fills Olivia; she suggests they should go back. But when they both look back, they notice that the door has gone. She noticeably begins to worry as claustrophobia sets in and the walls feel like they’re closing in on her. “Olivia, calm down. We’ll get there. We just gotta keep moving,” he says to calm her, “this tunnel has to end somewhere.” Right,” she speaks in a quiet voice, “right, le--let’s go.” With that, they continue on. After yet another long tread, they finally reach a ladder—that oh so sweet ladder. “Oh, finally!” she yells out in relief, “let’s get out of this place.” She climbs the ladder first while Takashi follows behind, ascending up. “Why are you climbing?” he asks. Sighing, “I don’t know,” she replies forgotten that she can just levitate up, tired. She levitates the manhole cover slightly and they both peek out. The tunnel seems to have led them to an old and abandoned part of the city. “The coast looks clear,” he says. Olivia quickly bursts out and flies up into the fresh air. Never has she been so happy to see the sky. He smiles and laughs as he slowly ascends from the hole. “Alright, let’s go.” “Hmph. You’re no fun. You need to be more free spirited,” she says, tapping his nose. “I didn’t mean it like that. We have to find this guy, right?” She smiles at him, “I like it when you smile like that.” She gives him a quick kiss and they continue on their way.

They look around to try and find a trace of the mysterious man and where he went. They are in a quite open area, with a few abandoned buildings. Thunder roars and can be heard from above; they look up and see the sky has become gray and bleak. Thunderclouds have formed and lightning flashes. As they decide to continue on, rain begins to fall. “Oh, come on,” she says. “Relax, it’s just the rain,” he reassures her, “come on, let’s go.” Many old buildings surround the area, decrepit and boarded up. They walk through the rain as it gets heavier and heavier. They pull up their jackets to try and cover themselves, though it didn’t help very much. The sound of the raindrops smashing into the ground and puddles of water recalls something in his mind. He looks at her, soaking wet, water running down her hair and face…and he remembers the day they stood out in the rain and shared their first kiss.

He had just agreed to “go out” with her. After her experience, he figured she could use a friend by her side. She left his room to go get ready. He stood there as she left, a little confused. He contemplated a relationship with her, but he felt that he doesn’t deserve a girl like her. Olivia is beautiful, smart, responsible and independent, while he’s just a nobody who can’t talk to other people and doesn’t even know how to drive or cook. But, nevertheless, he decided to give it a try; he went and showered. He put on casual clothing; a blue t-shirt inscribed with mathematical equations and blue jeans with a dark blue vest. He put on his glasses, grabbed his wallet, phone and key, and headed out. As he walked down the hallway towards the elevator, she came up from behind and surprised him. “Boo!” she spoke. “Whoa! Oh, hey. Dammit.” “Sorry, did I scare you?” she asked. “No, it’s alright.” She was wearing a plain white t-shirt and black jeans with her handbag beside her hip. He looked at her, “You look…nice. I mean—not in that way—uhh—umm, I meant you look great.” She smiles and laughs, “Thank you.” “Let’s go.” As he continued towards the elevator, she ran up to him and held his hand. “Ok. Let’s go,” she said, smiling. They headed out through the basement floor.

As they walked outside on the brick pathway, he looked up to the sky, as was his usual contemplation. It was getting gray; rainfall was imminent. He doesn’t talk much, not because he’s shy, but cause it’s what he’s used to. Unless he’s got something really important or useful to say, he usually keeps to himself. This usually gives the impression to other people that he’s not very bright or very smart, but he’s actually quite so. He enjoys reading a lot and likes to listen to gather knowledge. He’s an observer and doesn’t really care if other people notices him or know that he’s smart or talented. “So, what you’ve been up to?” she asked. “Hmmm. Oh, well, umm, studying, I guess,” he answered, “well, I finished most of my exams and assignments, so that’s good. Just a little bit left.” “Oh, that’s good. Wait, you’re studying psychology, right?” “Yeah, I am. Why?” “Really?? Me too!” “Are you serious?” “Yeah. God, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you in class though.” “That makes two of us. Well, I usually try to be alone, stick to myself. I’m weird, I know.” She laughs, “Haha, no, you’re not.” “Thank you for that.” “No problem. So, do you like it? I mean do you enjoy it?” “Well, yeah, I guess. It’s interesting, cause I get to learn about people. Why they are the way they are. And I get to learn about myself as well. ” “Well, you seem really passionate about it.” “I am. I just…really wanna understand myself. I wanna find an answer to all these questions that I have,” he chuckles, “I don’t know if I’ll ever find it, but... Yeah.” The sky got darker as they went on and thunder roared above. They walk past one of the apartments and she said “hi” to one of her friends. He just kept walking beside her with his head forward. He feels strange in these encounters, mostly because of his past experiences. He doesn’t know what to do. They don’t seem to care anyway; they never talk to him or even look at him. It’s like he doesn’t exist. “Was that your friend?” he asks. “Yeah. Well, we’re not really close friends, but we’re friends,” she replies. He chuckles, “Okay.” “What’s wrong?” “Nothing.” “Hey. It’s ok. I know you’re a bit shy. But, there’s nothing wrong with that. Ok?” “If you say so,” he replied quietly. She smiled, “Okay then. Man, we have to do lots of readings and essays, don’t we? It’s frustrating sometimes,” she sighed. “Not really, I kinda like it. I like reading…and writing.” She laughs, “Well it’s good that you’re doing it then.” “Yeah, I’m very fascinated with the mind and its power over the body. But I actually… Psychology wasn’t my first choice for study.” “Oh really?” “Yeah. I actually did physics for one session. But I didn’t like it very much. The theories are very interesting though.” “Okay. That’s nice.” “After that, I didn’t know what to do, so I decided to do some philosophy subjects. I still had another semester and I had to do something, so… It was very interesting and I liked it a lot, but there aren’t really many things to do with it. And then I realized that psychology is similar to it, in a way. I mean, it did come from philosophy, plus I would also get a chance to learn about the mind and people and myself, so I gave it a shot. And I don’t regret that choice.” “That’s great. I’m happy for you. I think you’ll be very good in it. So what year are you in?” “Uhhhmm... Third year, this is my final year. You?” “Nice. Same here.” “Haha, awesome.”

They crossed the bridge that connects the accommodation with the university. It overlooks a big, wide calm lake with the water reflecting the blue sky. They both stopped for a moment to look at and appreciate the tranquil scene; a flock of ducks swam across the surface of the lake, rippling the calm water, and scurried in the fields. Lizards could also be seen running through the grasslands in the area; the trees were flailing about in the wind, some old and big, some still young. The university is located within a seaside town and surrounded by a range of mountains on the other side, the biggest being Mt. Gray. Both students and non-students would climb the mountain, mostly in the morning to view the sunrise when they reach the top—though sometimes they don’t make it in time. Nevertheless, the view from the top is breathtaking. You could see the ocean that stretches for miles; you could see the city too, so small from that height; and you could feel the cool air and wind brushing against your face as the sun rises on the horizon, if you were lucky enough to witness it. It’s definitely worth the exhausting hike. Anyway, they finally crossed the bridge and headed for the bus stop. “Oh, please bus, be here. Be here. Dammit!” he exclaimed as the bus drove away. “Relax. We’ll catch the next one,” she told him. “But that’s like, hours away.” She laughed at his statement, “No, it’s not. Come on.” They went to the waiting area; it was covered with a sort of canopy to protect from the sun, and there were benches for sitting. Grime and dirt sat on all corners and spider webs hung from the benches. She sat down while he refused to sit at such a disgusting place. After some convincing from her, he reluctantly sat down. A couple was sitting next to them to their left. He observed them as they were kissing each other. Again he experienced a strange feeling; he didn’t quite understand love. And again he got into a contemplation, as he usually spent most of his time doing. People are interesting, he thought to himself, especially young people or teenagers: they experience lust as love. They engage in sexual intercourse to experience dopamine release in their brains. Or is it endorphins? I forget sometimes. This is what constitutes as the ‘social norm.’ Most people don’t really know or understand why they do what they do. Sometimes they do things merely because other people do it. Though sometimes they do realize this, some don’t. It’s been ingrained into their minds. Or maybe they just don’t care? How the world shapes life enhances this feeling; they probably want to change or be different, but, I guess, somewhere along the way they just stopped caring. Wow, I’m doing it again. It’s amazing how one thing can make you contemplate to different subjects. But, then again, it’s really not, is it?

“Hey, what are you doing?” she asked him, curious. “Hmm? Oh, I’m just thinking. Contemplating,” he answered. “What are you contemplating about?” “Oh, just...people, I guess. And life.” She laughed in appreciation. “Do you do this often?” she inquired. “Uh, well... Yeah, sort of, I guess. I, uh, don’t usually hang out with many people. I’m sorry if I seem a little weird.” “There’s nothing wrong with that,” she smiles. “Really?” “Of course,” she whispered to him, “I sometimes do that too.” “Thank you.” “For what?” “For saying that…and for understanding. Most people don’t.” She grabbed hold of his hand, “You’re welcome,” she said. At long last, the bus finally arrived. As usual, there weren’t a lot of people inside, so they were free to sit wherever they wanted. As the bus moved, he asked her where they’re going and she told him, “It’s a surprise.” He looked out the window and looked out towards the sky, or observing the hustle and bustle of people as they went about their daily lives. He was trying to understand them: through their movements and body language, through how they speak and how they sit. What do they do when they’re sitting alone? What do they do when they’re sitting with other people, strangers? And what do they do when they’re sitting with friends? There were so many questions. “Sometimes you just have to not think about it too much,” she suddenly spoke. “Hmm. Sorry, what?” he asked. “You like to think about things, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But, sometimes you just have to think about your own life. Through that you can start to understand other people too. You study psychology, you should know that.” “I guess I should, haha. But it’s too late now, isn’t it?” She smiled again, “It’s never too late. We’re still young.” “But you’re right. I do contemplate a lot. I do realize this and I’m trying not to do it so much.” She moved closer to him, “There is nothing wrong with you. It’s alright. We’re almost there.” She could see a bit of tears coming out of his eyes; she then held his hand the whole way. They finally arrive at their stop.

They step out, though he didn’t seem to see it anywhere. She laughed and told him that they still have to walk a few—the bus route doesn’t pass in front of it. And so, began the journey, the walking. They had to walk past the city hospital to get there; busy as always, with nurses and doctors coming in and out, some taking their break and getting lunch. Some of them gathered under a tree to hide from the scorching heat of the sun, smoking cigarettes and conversing about life matters, I suppose. The wind blew some of the smoke their way—they covered their noses and he tried to fan it away. “Wow. You think seeing sick people everyday, they would quit smoking,” he said, bemused at the sight. She chuckled, “You would think? But, that’s not really how the human mind works,” she explained. “How does it work?” She only smiled and said, “Come on, it’s this way.” After a bit of a long tread, they finally reached the place, a small chicken eatery/restaurant…I guess you could call it that. “This is it?” he asked. “I know it doesn’t look much, but they make the best roasted chickens in the city for a cheap price,” she explained to him. “Okay, if you say so.” “If you don’t like chicken, they do sell other foods too like fish and chips or burgers and whatnot. But, they won’t be as good as the chicken, just saying.” He laughed, “No, it’s alright. I love chicken. Let’s go. I’m starving.” The line inside wasn’t too long when they entered; it’s quite a popular place. She was very excited. It’s a medium, rectangular shop with the cashier directly in front of the entrance. That and the kitchen take up most of the space. At the cashier, she ordered the quarter chicken with fries and a drink while he got confused over the wide variety of menus. “He’ll just have the same thing,” she said to the cashier, “we’ll have it to eat here. Thank you.” “Wait. What are you having, again?” he asked her. “Relax. You’ll love it,” she assured him. “Okay, I trust you.” They paid for the food and found a place to sit—not many choices since it’s a small place. People usually have their food to go. They sat down at the left end of the shop, near the windows.
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