Chapter 34: Experiments
We decided to stop there until we could come up with some kind of a plan. There would be no sleeping for us, as we had to stay alert and ready. Yuki decided it would be the safest to climb up into the rocks a little and find a depression where we could hide. The moon was out and brightly shining low over the horizon. It was comforting to have some light in the darkness, but all at once, it was making us an easy target for those hunting us.
We didn’t have to climb long before we found a ledge wide enough to let us rest. To our right, a dent between overlapping rock walls created a depression big enough to fit two of us. Yuki and Eli were first to rest, while I stayed on the ledge and kept watch.
The solitude eventually got to me, and to keep my mind from wondering to the dark corners of my soul, I unfolded the reports and started reading them again.
Year 185 A-the-T
RCLD, Ortus University
Project leader: Dr. Shan Li
Team: Dr. Nova Edwards-North, Dr. Emma Li, Dr. Manuel Aranda, Dr. Rupert Samuel d’Auvergne.
Elliot Rose Edwards-North ELI1126 (Twin A)
Elijah Dáire Edwards-North EDEN1125 (Twin B)
Born on May 15, 185. Twin B deceased on May 29, 185. The subjects were acquired internally after being donated by a member of the RCLD (Research Centre on Life Design)
In order to supply test subjects for the continuation of the RCLD’s genetic manipulation research lead by Dr. Shan Li, Dr. Nova Edwards-North donated Twin A and Twin B both of pure Melior lineage. On May 3rd, 185, Twin A and Twin B were successfully administered B-24601 in utero. At birth, Twin A was confirmed positive for aethereusian characteristics. At birth, Twin B had inconclusive results ensuing in his removal from the program. Official death was recorded on May 29, 185 at 17:38.
Observations and data:
Change in policy resulted in the confiscation of Twin A and the early termination of experiment 1126.
I remember the first time I had read it; I was stunned. Elliot Rose Edwards-North was her real name. Her mom and my parents were part of the same research team. Her mom had given her own Melior children away, for science. Was that what Hana meant when she said, “wrongfully incarcerated children?” Eli was a pure blood Melior, who according to these records had been dutifully infected for the sake of research.
What kind of parent would agree to this?
The image of the young girl on the operating table surfaced; the scars on Hana’s arms too. Hana had said that Evian was a confirmed Melior. What did that make us? Her and I? Was there a time that we had both been Meliors? How could Evian be a Melior and have a Heighten Characteristic? Had we been infected for the sake of science as well?
Once more, my whole world had been shattered.
What I knew…
…and what I thought I knew were colliding into one another, leaving my mind in fragments; pieces of memories, lies and impressions, my fickle truth burned to the ground.
It was time for me to relieve Eli.
I crawled over to the depression on the rocky ledge. She was staring into the emptiness above us. This time I could definitively tell she had tears in her eyes, but she didn’t look sad. She was upset, angry. She had that hardened look of someone who had just been betrayed.
“Do you think my mom loved me?” she bluntly asked.
I sighed. There was nothing I could tell her that she didn’t already know.
I kept silent.
“Do you think my mom loved me?” she insisted.
I was biting my lip. There were no good answers.
“I used to wonder how hard it must have been for my mom to surrender me to the government. How many tears she must have cried? I used to feel loved.”
She stopped and breathed deeply; her lips were quivering. She was fighting back tears.
“But now I know better. She never loved me. She never loved my brother. She used us for her research like some worthless lab rats. Worse, she participated in the killing of her very own son! My brother!”
The tears had won and were now flowing freely.
“She did this to me! SHE DID THIS TO US FENN! AND YOUR PARENTS HELPED HER DO IT!”
I had to calm her down, we had no way of knowing how far off our pursuers were. Still, deep down, I shared her anger. I knew exactly how she felt. I knew exactly what it was like to be lied too; to be used by your own parents!
“Shsssh,” I whispered, putting my hand on her cheek. “I know,” I whispered again, offering her a pained smile. That was all I could do.
The reports had broken her.
They had broken me.
No characteristic could fix that.
For the rest of the night, she sat there in a dent between two rocks, void of any emotion. Though her external outburst had been brief, the furry that had been ignited in her heart was consuming her. I stayed by her side, shoulder to shoulder; both lost in our own inner hell.
In the depression, Yuki sat. They didn’t say anything. They had heard Eli’s cry. They knew.
We stayed like that till the moon disappeared from the horizon. We stayed like that too long. The predators were certainly approaching. Our motivation was gone. It had been almost 48 hours since we last slept. The hunger was real too. As tasty as the fish had been, it hadn’t been enough nourishment to support the physical and mental exertions we had been forced to perform since the beginning of the attack. We had nowhere to go and no way of knowing where we were. And for all we knew, they were coming for us.
Just as I thought our situation couldn’t get any worse, with a loud thump, Yuki tumbled off the rocky ledge we were perched on.
Eli and I both rushed down to their aid.
They were unconscious lying on the ground.
We both looked at each other in panic. We had no chance of survival without them.
But, before we could do anything, Yuki sprang back to their feet; eyes wide open, fighting off invisible enemies.
“What the fuck was that? Show your face, scumbag!” they screamed.
A punch nearly hit me square in the jaw! Eli had reacted just in time and pulled me to the side.
Yuki grabbed their knife and held it at eye level with both hands. It was like they were seeing something we didn’t! Like something was in their head.
Suddenly they screamed: “EVIAN RUN! RUN! EVIAAAN.”
In the distance, gunshots erupted. Yuki started hitting their head with their own fists. They dropped to their knees covered in a mixture of sweat and blood.
Eli tried restraining them. I got hold of their feet.
More gunshots rang out. Too many to count.
We had to get Yuki back to normal. We had to find out what was happening, but more importantly, we had to hide!
Eli kneeled beside Yuki and grabbed their face between her hands. She started repeating rhythmically: “Yuki, listen to me, look at me. Do you know where you are?”
As for me… I stood there… powerless.
Is Evian in their head?
We could still hear the gunshots, they weren’t getting closer, but they weren’t stopping either.
Eli was still going: “Yuki, listen to me, look at me. Do you know where you are?”
Yuki was still fighting invisible enemies.
And I was still standing, useless.
How many minutes went by I don’t know, but after a while, I had just had enough. I walked over to Yuki and punched them in the face, putting an end to the psychoses.
They looked at me in terror: “Fiori! Where’s Fiori?”
Eli’s the one who answered: “Safe, in a canoe, far away from here. That’s where Fiori and Meyer are.”
I couldn’t quite tell if she believed what she was saying. She sounded convinced, though I couldn’t help but to feel the weight of a lie in her tone. Clearly, Yuki had been shown something.
“We don’t know that!” I interrupted Eli. “We don’t know that Fiori and Meyer are safe. For all we know, they were just shot at.”
She glared at me angrily! I didn’t care. There were enough lies floating around, I wasn’t going to add one more.
“What did you see?” I calmly asked Yuki.
They didn’t answer right away. I could tell they were trying to piece together what had just happened.
“I was up there. Then my signal was activated. I didn’t think it was possible. I didn’t think they were used anymore.”
“Your signal? What are you talking about?” it was Eli’s turn to ask a question.
“In the army, we used signals. It was part of a pilot project to control Aethereusians, some sort of a microchip implanted right here.”
They pointed at the back of their neck.
“It allowed us to receive visual signals that our brains could decode. Though more importantly I guess, it allowed them to control us! But that was a long time ago. After Fiori was named General, he had the devices deactivated. He didn’t agree with it. There were so many things he tried to change. I don’t understand why I received a signal. How could they even re-activate them? It’s impossible.”
“So, you received a signal. What was it?” Eli was getting impatient.
“To attack. We received the signal to attack.”
“Who? Evian?” This time it was me asking.
“No! I don’t know. Maybe?” They seemed confused.
“But you were screaming his name, you said Evian run!” Eli was getting agitated.
“Did I? I don’t remember. I didn’t see him. He wasn’t there… I think….”
Yuki rubbed their forehead.
“Then why would you have screamed for Evian to run?” Eli’s asked skeptically.
“Because they are after him,” stated Yuki.
Eli and I looked at each other.
“This whole attack was to find him,” Yuki realized. “They are looking for him, right now. And they won’t stop until they find him. That’s what the signal commanded.”
I’m not sure why, but I had assumed somehow, that this whole attack was to find me or Fiori. But it wasn’t about me. It had never been about me. I was a self-centered gutless brat. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Who was I anyway? So far, I had never been more than a spectator to my own story. I looked in the direction of the gunshots.
“We have to go!” I announced, taking the lead. “We have to go help him! We have to go help my brother!”
There was no stopping me.
Neither Eli nor Yuki needed convincing. Without delay, we headed back toward the ongoing battle.