Amber gasped awake, her vision a little blurry as she sat up on the hard, cool surface beneath her, blinking rapidly as her eyes adjusted to the dark lighting of the enclosure. Cool, silver-grey bars stood frozen around her, and Amber's eyes widened with awareness and trepidation. She was locked inside a cage... and Insanis was nowhere to be seen.
"No, no, no," she murmured, her hands gripping the thick metal strips - but it threw her off with a harsh electric shock.
But suddenly, Amber began to make out the sound of sniffling and muffled sobs to her left, and she turned, noticing a girl with her head leaning on her knees, golden-blonde locks hanging down past her shoulders. Her body trembled gently as she breathed shakily, and Amber's gaze softened as she scooted towards her, putting an arm around her shoulders. The girl jumped, looking up at Amber with wide, bright sky-blue eyes. Her skin was pale and her tears red, dripping down her cheeks and leaving faded stains as they went.
"Are you okay?" Amber whispered to her in concern. "Are you hurt?"
The girl shook her head, blonde curls brushing Amber's face slightly as wiped her tears.
"I'm not hurt," she replied quietly, "I'm Pheobe. Insanis calls me Princessa Pheobe though - well, used to..."
Amber nodded slowly, still a little confused.
"What are you doing here? Are you one of his species too?"
Pheobe shrugged and nodded, sniffing.
"I haven't properly given in yet... I'm too weak, so I look a little different than the rest. Insanis caged us all. He's releasing a gas that'll turn us all into Delusionals - but he promised I wouldn't get hurt!"
She burst into tears again, and Amber sighed lightly.
"What has he done to you, Pheobe?"
Her eyes met Amber's again as she looked up.
"He..." she started hesitantly, he blue gaze dropping as she mumbled, "he used to assault me..."
Amber frowned, then her eyes widened in realisation and disbelief.
"Pheobe," Amber shook her head, tightening her hold around Pheobe's arms, "that's horrible... you just let it happen?"
Pheobe's expression morphed to one of bewilderment and slight shock.
"I didn't let it happen! He would've tortured or killed me if I refused. And now I'm being turned Delusional... he never really cared, never..."
Amber bit her lip, then scowled as newfound determination and tenacity filled her mindset.
"No. You're not."
Pheobe's gaze flicked back to Amber, uncertainty and puzzlement in her eyes. Amber nodded at her, confirming her words.
"None of us are. I'm not giving up now. Not ever."
Amber stood up, slowly and carefully reaching out and only just managing to put her hand through the gap in the bars that trapped her. Her palm felt the wall, hard and cold, and they slid against the rough exterior. Then, Amber's eyes lit up and a smirk appeared on her face as she found what she was hoping to find. She moved closer to the bars, and her fingers pushed at the two switches on the wall. Instantly, the electric charge that crackled through the metal bars halted and stopped, and strips of light activated above her, brightening the room. Pheobe gasped and multiple murmurs filled the room as Amber looked around, perplexed and relieved. They were sitting in a large, wide cage that hung a few metres above the ground, and the cage was separated with bars on the inside, giving all of the species their own space - two sharing one small enclosure. All of them - from Level One to Seven, and many others that she hadn't encountered previously, wore sad, fearful faces, gripping each other desperately. Cressela was opposite Amber and Pheobe, sitting with Natalia Noir. Her dark eyes met Amber's, and the two shared a smile, Cressela nodding at Amber.
Amber breathed in deeply through her nose, out shakily through her mouth, and stood, the top of her head just brushing the bars above her.
"Everyone! All species of Insanis! Listen up!"
Amber projected her voice, and it echoed through the room, Cressela letting out an ear-piercing whistle. Dozens of heads turned, bright eyes all staring at Amber. Amber herself bit the inside of her lip as she swallowed her anxious state. To her surprise, no complaints or accusations were shouted at her - not even from Cheri, who sat a small distance away, with a new look of tiredness and gloom filling her face. She looked up, glaring.
"Hi - my name's Amber Obscura. Some of you... well, most of you, already know who I am. I made a promise to free this species from your Doctor Insanis, with my friend Cressela. And I'm gonna keep it."
Judgemental whispers and muttered questions emitted from them as Amber's hazel gaze wandered over them all.
"But I can't do it alone. And I can't do it with just Cressela. I can do it... but it'll take all of us. Every single one of you."
A beat of deafening silence smothered the cage, and then Valerie spoke up.
"Forget it, Obscura. We all doomed. It's not your fault. But this is the end."
Amber shook her head, smiling softly.
"But that's where you're wrong. Look, when I first met Cressela, she was all alone. Living in a dark house in the depths of a forest. Her coetus dead. And when I saw her... I saw part of myself. Because I'm an orphan too. My mother died when I was born. And my father was killed by Insanis.
"We've all been hurt by him. Like you, Valerie," Amber continued, looking to her, and Valerie's purple eyes stared back at her. "Insanis separated you from your triplets, and your partner - out of pure spite! And Ash Black, you were parted from your older sister, Cheri."
Ash nodded, her blue eyes meeting Cheri's as the sisters clasped each other's hands tightly.
"Rae was alone in a forest. Pheobe was used and abused. Olivia had turned Delusional. And that's only a few of you, a few of the unbearable doings ordered by your Master.
"And now, we're all caged up. Waiting on him again - but this time, we're all to be turned Delusional. Brennan, you won't remember your and Valerie's love, and children. Ash and Cheri, you won't be close and sisterly any more. None of you will feel anything... except to kill. Released to exterminate all humans.
"Insanis' main horrid trait is that he doesn't care about any of you. He doesn't feel anything and doesn't care about your emotions either. All he wants is revenge on the world.
"I'm a human. But I've always felt different. Most of us are expected to grow up as common, boring everyday adults, with jobs that don't help anything. It's all purposeless, and I'm the only one that thinks that, even though I was bought up in a foster home that preached the exact opposite.
"Insanis killed my childhood, my family. And all because my father made one amazing mistake. And it's amazing because now I've found out that I have powers. I'm almost like one of you. The same, limitless and incredible energy running through your blood and filling your minds is in me too. It explains a lot, actually. Half because of my personality and half from that energy gave me the determination to go back to Cressela, to bring her back to all of you.
"I came here to put an end to Insanis' plans. You might all think that crazy - you've seen the terrible results what of disobeying him brings. But what you're overlooking is that he's a human too. He has weaknesses, like all of us. He has mortality. He's just a man with twisted, limitless creativity and a horrible, psychotic personality. This is our last chance. Get the hell out of here, and put a certain stop to all of this. Be free, with your friends, coetus, family. And you have my word that I'll take us all somewhere safe. And somewhere to inhabit forever, with no fatal dangers."
All eyes of the species were fixed on Amber, hope creeping into their thoughts and strength fueling their bodies.
"Do this for your families!" Amber continued, her voice raised. "Do this for your friends! Do this for you! Do this for freedom! Make a hundred of us feel like a thousand!"
Cheers and shouts of joy erupted and filled the room, Cressela grinning and nodding eagerly. Valerie beamed at Brennan, Rae's birds fluttering around her energetically, Cheri properly smiling for the first time. Amber watched with a wide smile, and Pheobe looked up to her with awe and amazement.
"What do we do?" Olivia asked. "How can we get out?"
"Easy," Amber answered, "use your energy! Your power! Bend the bars that keep you in, break them, burn them! Let's finish what he started!"