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Chapter 8

The rain continues outside and lightning races through the clouds without a break; this is definitely unnatural weather. Takashi and Olivia raise their jackets to cover themselves from the pour—though Sergey braves through it without a flinch. “The invaders grow restless,” he says. “What do you mean?” Takashi asks. “These creatures are, how you say, energy-based: electrical. They can control it, change to electrical form. They are creating this weather. This is what you see in cloud. It is not lightning.” “And how do you know all this?” Olivia asks. “I saw it happen when me and my men encountered the creatures. Come. We must hurry.” They run and cross the street to the left of the hospital, at the four-way intersection. He crosses the street to the right and heads into an alley, with Takashi and Olivia behind. It lies at the back of a building, where it lies between two parts of it. The alley leads to a cellar door, which, when opened, reveals a set of stairs leading down to a metal door. He knocks on the door and a rectangular slide for looking is opened. A man looks through the newly opened slide and Sergey nods his head; he closes back the slide and unlocks the door. They start speaking Russian as Takashi and Olivia wait behind and watch; the man looks at them. He continues to speak with Sergey; they finish and he turns back around to them. “Ok. Let’s go,” he says. “What was that about?” she asks. “He does not trust you guys,” he explains, “don’t take it personally. He does not trust anyone. Now come.” They all head inside and the guard locks the door again. Inside, they see a long, wide corridor to the left and a short one in front; fluorescent lights on the ceiling illuminate them, some flickering slightly. A man sits on the corner on top of a barrel, holding his M27 assault rifle firmly with one hand on the trigger and the other on the grip attachment, all the while chewing a gum. He smiles at them and nods his head, “Dobro pozhalovat’” he says to them. They both nod their heads and smile, not having a clue of what that means. Sergey walks through the corridor and turns around to call them. “Well, nice to meet you guys,” she says, smiling. “Uh, yeah,” adds Takashi. They both speedily run through the corridor, which turns sharply to the right at the end. That corridor leads to another metal door. Sergey grabs the key from his pocket and unlocks it. It opens to a wide area full of people, weapons, and equipment. “Welcome to the resistance,” he says. “Whoa,” Takashi admires. “This is a big place,” Olivia remarks. “Haha, make yourselves at home,” he tells them, “I have to check on my men. I will be right back.” He walks away to the clinical area near the edge of the top-left wall inside a makeshift tent, taking out the cloth full of medicines and bandages out from his jacket pocket. On the way, he converses and chats with his men; his words are unintelligible from the distance; she can’t hear what he’s saying. Even if she could, she wouldn’t understand anyway as they’re speaking in Russian. So she stands there waiting, crossing her arms. Takashi looks around and witnesses some of the soldiers looking at them. He feels a little uncomfortable; he knows this feeling all too well. Reminds him of the way people stare at him back home, like he’s a freak. Though, he doesn’t remember much of it. He’s thankful for that. Some memories are best forgotten. He looks down and sees a few pebbles lying around on the ground. He levitates a few of them to his hand and wiggles his fingers as it floats around his hand. She turns to him, “What are you doing?” she asks, smiling. “I have absolutely no idea,” he answers. She chuckles and shakes her head.

Back at their base, the soldiers remain vigilant, prepared for the creatures’ next attack. Julian is still hard at work, analyzing the remains of the creatures they’ve killed in the medical wing. He has dissected a few of the specimens to determine their physiology. “This is incredible, truly incredible. I am examining an actual alien life form. Extraordinary,” he speaks to himself, excited—his gloves and apron bloody yellow, “but what are you? Energy beings?? Yet, you have organs.” At that moment, Edward walks in to check on his progress. “Well, doctor. What have you found?” he inquires. “Uh, well, not much yet, sir,” the doctor answers, “for one thing, they have internal organs. And as we saw, they can also bleed; they have a heart too. This was a bit surprising since they aren’t physical beings per se. And they do also possess a brain, a quite large one in fact, similar to ours, which indicates some form of intelligence. These creatures might not be purely as instinctual as we’ve thought. I believe they can think and coordinate. They may even possess free will. Though they are quite savage, which coupled with intelligence, makes them a very dangerous opponent indeed. Traces of electrical impulses remain in the neural pathways of the brain, even after death. Further analysis indicates they are being triggered by a signal, originating from outside the body. I suspect that they do also have some sort of a hive mind.” “A hive mind, doctor?” Edward asks. “Yes, sir. My theory is, although, as I’ve said, they do possess intelligence and a sort of free will—each individual has some form of sentience—there is something else that can issue commands to them. I suspect they have some sort of leader or king or something like that.” “Interesting… What of their shifting? Have you found a way to hurt them in this state? Or perhaps stop them from converting at all?” He sighs, “No, unfortunately I haven’t.” Edward stares at him with disappointment. “Uh, well, we know that their changed state is electrical in nature,” he says, thinking, “physical attacks are useless at this state, but perhaps a countercharge can be applied to hurt them or maybe even force them to convert back to physical form. Of course, please understand that these are all still just theories, sir.” “Well, we shall need to test them out then. How long do you need to make such a device?” “Honsetly, I’m still not sure, sir. I will need to research further,” he explains. “Hmmm. Very well, doctor,” he turns around and walks away, “but do try to hurry, please. I suspect we will not have long before we encounter them again,” Edward warns him as he leaves the room. “Yes, sir,” he sighs. He continues his examinations; he rubs the sweat off his forehead and his glove leaves a stain of the creature’s blood on it. “Oh great,” he speaks in annoyance. He gets frustrated and moves on his rolling chair to the table on the wall to his right. He removes the gloves and disposes it in the disposal bin and grabs a tissue to wipe the stain off before grabbing a new pair of gloves, puts them on, and returns to the examining table. He lets out a sigh and rubs his eyes. To the table on his left lies a slightly glowing chunk of dark blue rock: a meteor fragment. It’s small enough that you can clutch your hand around it. He starts to stare at it, contemplating, and stands up and approaches it. He picks it up and clutches it around his right hand. “If only you still work,” he says to himself. As he does so, he reminisces about the experiment and what went wrong.

After they invaded, they started setting up a makeshift lab and a machine in the underground levels of the mall that could direct the energy from a radiantly glowing blue meteor fragment into a person. They were trying to unlock something hidden within the human brain. Circular in shape, wide and tall, the machine consisted of a center placement for the fragment and a device on top to absorb its energy and redirect it. It was a long and wide bluish device that gets narrower near its mouth; it was hanged on the wall above using wires. The upper end of it was connected to seven cables, which connected to a long, thin rod to shoot the energy. Subjects would stand on assigned places around the machine and an observation area is located high on an upper level behind a glass, which surrounded the machine. The storm continued on outside from the day before and Julian suspected that the otherworldly energy emanating from the fragment is affecting the environment, or at least the weather. Strong winds blew through the city, bending even the tallest and mightiest of trees; the sky was covered in dark clouds pouring heavy rain; and the sound of roaring thunders could be heard throughout the city. The test subjects were ready, seven of their own men, some were nervous while the rest braved on. The machine was activated and the soldiers walk towards it from another level below. But, two intruders, namely Takashi and Olivia, have somehow breached the perimeter and entered the machine beforehand. “Whoa. Look at this place,” Takashi said. “Takashi! We shouldn’t be here. Let’s go,” Olivia said to him, worried. “Hold on. Olivia, look at that,” he wondered approaching the glowing fragment, “what is that?” “I don’t know.” One of the soldiers noticed them and informed Edward. He quickly ordered the men to subdue them. Olivia heard this and looked up to see them standing behind the glass. “Oh, shit,” she exclaimed. She shook Takashi’s shoulder to warn him. He turned around and saw, “What? Oh, shit,” seeing the soldiers coming for them. They quickly ran to the door and locked it. “Shit! Takashi, please, can we go now?” Suddenly, the machine started to whir; the activation process was already started. “Takashi?! Something’s happening.” “Dammit! Shut down the machine, now!!” Edward ordered his men. “I can’t, sir. It’s too late,” said the operator. “What??!! Dr. Edwards!! You did not install a failsafe??!!” “Uh, uh, well, sir, I did not expect this. It’s only a makeshift machine, sir. I told you it wouldn’t be perfect,” Julian explained, anxious. Down at the machine, Takashi and Olivia were panicking as they tried to find a way out. The machine whirred louder and let out a high-pitched sound; a beam fired from the device above to the fragment and started absorbing its energy; it shook and glowed brighter. It released a burst of energy and filled the machine with some kind of strange and powerful aura. They became caught in it and began to levitate off the floor. “Takashi!!! What’s going on??!” she asked, frightened. “I don’t know. Some kind of electromagnetic energy, I think, urgh, lifting us,” he tried to answer. They started to experience headaches and began to bleed from their nose and eyes as they held their heads. “Aaaarrrrgggghhhhh!!!” they screamed out in pain. The device shook violently and the whole place trembled. The soldiers started to panic as the monitor sounded out a warning. “Aaaarrrggghhh!!” He looked to her and cried as he levitated, and told her, “Olivia, I’m sorry. I love you.” She looks to him too, “I love you too,” she replied with tears. Then, the fragment released one final, powerful blast—kinda like an explosion—that knocked and slammed them both against the wall, destroyed the machine, and shattered the glass of the observation area. Its force was also powerful enough to knock back everyone at the observation area and to be briefly felt at the surface as a tremor. People above were shocked, but quickly shrugged it off. The fragment gave one last glow or flicker before it finally died. Edward and Julian regain themselves and got back up, as did the others—though still dizzy and a little weak. They walked towards the edge of the glass, holding their heads in an attempt to get rid of the headache. Takashi and Olivia were both knocked unconscious and they lay there against the wall. “I’m sorry, sir. It was a failure,” Julian said. “Perhaps not, doctor. We may still be able to recover,” Edward hypothesizes, “those two down there have been exposed to the fragment’s mystical energy. They may have even absorbed it. You men, go get them!! We need to study them, doctor. We may never get another opportunity like this.” “Yes, sir. I’ll do it right away,” he replied, “alright, men. Bring them to the medical wing. And make sure they can’t escape.”

At the medical wing, they lay unconscious, strapped to a gurney. “Sir, I’m afraid, the fragment is useless now,” Julian stated. “What??” Edwards asks. “The process is lost to us forever. All its energy seems to have left it and entered these two subjects. They are now the only ones who possess it, within them.” “Argh, verdammt. What can we do, doctor?” “Well, I will need to study them further, but, perhaps, I may be able to extract or maybe replicate the energy directly from them. Of course it will take time, but it’s theoretically possible.” “Very well. Do it, doctor. As for these two, as of now, we will refer to them as subjects Alpha and Delta,” pointing towards Takashi and Olivia, respectively. “Captain Matthews!” “Sir!” he shouted, giving a salute. “Give the good doctor anything he needs.” “Yes, sir,” he replied. “Good. Carry on, men,” he said as he left. Julian was excited about this. “This is it, the next stage. Improving the man instead of the machine,” he said, smiling, “I hope you two are ready. We have much work to do.” He went to the side of the gurney, the one with Olivia on it, and rolled it towards the fMRI machine, next to its panel. He ordered the soldiers to place her on it as he went to the computer to activate it. They did so, placing her head inside the helmet-like device attached to it. The machine whirred as it sprang to life; the lights turned on one by one as the panel slid into position inside. “That will be all for now, captain. I need to be alone now,” he told Samuel. “Alright, doctor. We’ll be outside if you need us,” he replied. Julian initiated the imaging process and the fMRI began its sequence; the lights inside flickered with a clicking sound above an unconscious Olivia as if a camera taking photographs. Images began popping on the screen. He was enthralled, for it revealed what he had hoped. The scans showed increased neural activity, especially in the frontal lobe, and elevated brain waves. “This is fascinating,” he spoke, “new neural pathways seems to have been created. More connections between areas are available leading to increased mental faculty and processing.”

Meanwhile, on the other gurney, Takashi was starting to slip out of his unconsciousness. He moved his hands about and moaned, although Julian didn’t hear as the machine’s whirring was loud enough to cover the noise. He opened his eyes slightly, heavy they were, vision blurry; a headache remained in his head. He tried to regain himself. A light, fixed on the ceiling shone at his still tired eyes. He struggled to get free of his shackles to no avail. “You’re awake, I hear,” Julian suddenly spoke. Still out of it, breathing loudly, he said, “Where am I?? What’s going on?! Where’s Olivia??!” “Relax, boy. You’re gonna hurt yourself after what you’ve been through,” he said, rolling to him on his chair. “Who are you? Why am I strapped down?!” As he screamed, the lights and the monitors suddenly flickered and fizzled; something had changed inside him; changed by the energy of the fragment, more than the good doctor thought. He was intrigued by what happened. “Fascinating,” he said. “What do you want from us?” Takashi continued to inquire. “You and your little girlfriend have something that belongs to us. You both absorbed the fragment’s energy. Now it’s dead and you two are the only link left. I am going to study you and find a way to extract it from you, and your little girlfriend.” “If you touch her...” “Oh, you’ll do what? You are strapped to that table. Hahaha.” Angered, he struggled harder to escape. The room shook a little, the lights flickered violently, and the fMRI machine sputtered. One of the soldiers outside felt the tremor and asked his friend, “Hey. Did you feel that?” He snickers, “After what we’ve been through, I’m sure you’re feeling all kinds of crap,” the other soldier said. “Yeah. You’re probably right. It was nothing.” The air around him bended and became distorted. Julian felt a mixture of excitement and fear as he witnessed what was happening. He rushed to Takashi to stop him, but it was too late, as he broke free—there was a flash, as if a light had just been instantly shone to his eyes. Takashi got up and thrust his right hand to him and the doctor flew back with great force, hitting the wall behind, cracking it before falling down to the floor. As he lay there semi-unconsciously, Takashi looked at his right hand, bemused by what just happened. His face was rounded, shocked, like when he saw her post something on the Facebook news feed. He quickly snapped out of it—no time for thoughts—he had to free Olivia.

He tried to shut the machine down, looking everywhere for a switch. He began clicking randomly on the computer keyboard and even banged the machine several times. “Hang in there, Liv,” he said, holding the sides of his head. “Come on, turn off!!” He banged it again and it finally did. He stood there for a moment, confused. “Ahhh, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” he quietly spoke to himself. The panel slowly slid back out; he shook her and yelled at her as he kneeled beside the panel, trying to wake her up. But, it was to no avail. There was a moment in his mind where she was dead. It was too late. He pressed his index and middle finger to the upper-right side of her neck to check for a pulse. His eyes dropped a tear, “No. No, don’t do this to me, Liv,” he said. A tear dropped onto her face and he held her hand. “Don’t leave me. I need you. Please.” He closed his eyes, “Please.” She then suddenly moaned and moved her head around. “Liv?” he said, shocked. “Uhhh, what?” she asked. “You’re alive!” He started crying, his eyes watering with tears. Olivia raised her arms and rubbed her eyes, “What?” she asked, still groggy. She looked at him. “Hey,” she said, smiling. He smiles back, “Hey.” She got up, rubbing her left eye with her hand, and asked him what’s going on. Just then, one of the soldiers went in to check up on the Dr. Edwards. Surprised to see him unconscious and the subjects awake, he grabbed his gun and was about to shoot. Olivia inadvertently raised her right hand towards the soldier as they both screamed and covered their eyes; the soldier was then repelled back. Bemused, they stood there staring at the door. “Uhhhh, what just happened?” Olivia asked. “I don’t know,” Takashi answered, “no time to figure it out. We have to get out of here.” She slid from the panel to the floor; Takashi ran to the door and closed it before grabbing a long pipe from the floor and used it as a lock. “Come on. We have to find another way out that’s not through that door,” he said. “Hey, look,” she said, “it’s a vent. It’s big enough to fit us, I think.” Baannngggg! The soldiers were ramming the door. “Well, let’s find out then.” They climbed the table below it, grabbed hold of the grating above and pulled as hard as they can. But it wouldn’t budge. “Shit. It’s not working,” she said. He hurried and looked around to find something to pry it open, but there was nothing. “Hahaha, you can’t escape,” Julian said to them, groaning. The soldiers were nearly through, the door halfway bent. “We’ll see about that,” Takashi said. With no time left, he grasped the grating and pulled again as hard as he can, screaming at the top of his lungs. It suddenly bent and was torn off along with the wall it was attached to as he fell back to the floor; some debris was scattered across the room. Olivia looked at the broken wall and was amazed. It was incredible. The wall completely tore off around the vent showing the concrete underneath, with cracks lined around it. He sat up, groaning. “Baby, how did you do that?” she asked. “I have no idea,” he answered, still groaning, “no time to think. You go first. I’ll follow. Hurry.” She quickly climbed inside with him behind. They crawled through the somewhat narrow passage as the soldiers broke through the door, their guns cocked as they enter. There were no signs of the subjects, only the debris scattered through the floor. Samuel looked around and saw the broken vent. “Dammit!” he exclaimed, “wake him up!” He then turned on the radio, “General, sir?” Edward was sitting in his room in front of the table when he heard the radio buzz. Looking at files and documents, mostly pertaining to the fragment’s discovery, he turned to it, sitting just to his left, and heard Samuel’s voice. He told him, “Sir, Dr. Edwards is hurt, and the subjects escaped. They’re in the vents.” “Of course,” he said quietly. Snapping back to the present, Julian puts the fragment back on the table before rolling back to the examining table to continue his analysis.
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