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Old 04/12/2010   #49
Bex
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With every step the Destrillians took, Thetis was becoming more and more weary of their guide. It might not have been so jarring if the sewer tunnels didn’t look like a nightmarish recreation of Basement 5, or rather, if anyone had the slightest idea where the shimmering animal thing was taking them. It seemed like the rats that scurried around her feet had a better clue of where they were going than the group did. The thought of not being in control made Thetis feel a little bit sick, and she trailed her fingers along the rough stone walls to distract her. As she did so, she felt vibrations – the only proof of life above their heads. As a background to the hurried footfalls of the party, there were distant thuds and bangs from the streets of the orange zone – something which Thetis found comfort in.

She strode ahead of the group, not daring to look back lest she betray any other signs of weakness. Then she thought of Fiona. Thetis paused momentarily before soldiering on. Fiona could definitely look after herself; but what if things had got out of hand on the surface? What if the army had figured out just what they were dealing with during the fight? What if they had found her? Worrying over Fiona was pointless – she’d probably raze Osea to the ground before she let anyone take her in – but it didn’t stop Thetis for feeling particularly anxious. It was probably because she couldn’t sense Fiona beneath two hundreds of meters of rock. She’d never noticed it before, but it was like looking up and seeing no birds in the sky. Thetis was so used to it now. Fiona was probably fine; it was just the not-knowing part of it all that rubbed Thetis the wrong way. Whether they were stuck down here because of accident or design, the Destrillian didn’t know; but she knew she’d have to find Fiona as soon as they escaped this labyrinthine maze of tunnels.

The tunnels began to fill with light as they edged closer to civilisation; well, the dregs of it. Dogs wandered wheezing from one piece of trash to the next, their ribs protruding through their skin as if someone had draped a length of wet fabric over a row of twigs. Thetis turned up her nose in disgust as they trudged through scattered beer cans and garbage, while inching herself away from the homeless people who slouched against the dirty brick, their glassy eyes illuminated by the fire from burning oil cans. Everything about them was just so ...hopeless- pathetic, even. It made Thetis wonder how humans could manage to create cities like Osea, technology like IRIN and soldiers like the Destri- She stopped herself. She didn’t want to be reminded.

After a couple of hundred metres, the ground started pulsing. A nightclub? Thetis stared blankly as they reached a rusted metal door. She didn’t understand quite how people could possibly enjoy these places, and she especially didn’t understand why anyone would come down into the sewers by choice. Thetis was happy to finally be reunited with all her friends, sure, but she didn’t feel particularly ecstatic about being led into a nightclub by a glowing animal. It could have been some sort of ambush, and even as a group of seven, a few of them were still worse for wear. The mingling odours of smoke, sweat and beer outside the club made her feel even more uncomfortable than the men who sat staring at the plucky band of Destrillians. The pair of men who came tumbling out of the nightclub made Thetis take a nervous step back.

“Well, looks like we got us some pretty-kitties here to play with, don’t we, Sammy?”

She wasn’t sure she wanted to be here anymore. Thetis heard the others shuffle behind her, and threw the men an unsavoury glare. Humans were so vulgar, especially the male ones. The Dark Rider stepped forward and stared down the two men.

“In case you’re wondering, these ladies aren’t interested. So back the fuck off ok?”

How chivalrous of him, Thetis sniggered. Though the Dark Rider meant well, Thetis resented the fact that he found the need to speak for her and her companions. They were perfectly capable of doing that themselves, especially to a pair of deadbeat lechers, thank you very much. Thankfully, the men seemed to have the same opinion of The Dark Rider as...well, everyone else.

“The fuck you looking at, you… wait, what the fuck is this? This ain’t the costume party, bug-face.”

The constant back and forth was beginning to get a bit tiring. Thetis crossed her arms and sighed as the Dark Rider prepared for battle, cracking his knuckles in an attempt to be intimidating as they exchanged quips like something out of that terrible TV show that showed before work. What was it called? Thetis couldn’t quite remember its name. Cheery Honey? Cherry Honey? Cheeky Hombre? The whole confrontation was beginning to get quite surreal, with most of the Destrillians watching the farcical exchange in silence. Maybe it was a human thing, Thetis thought as she picked at the tears in her t-shirt. At least it kept her from thinking about what must have been happening on the surface. She wondered where Fiona was, whether Ms. Petrowski would be knocking on their door for rent, and whether Tonio was panicking because he-

Thetis stiffened as her face was spattered with blood. The prototype let out a small gasp as she tried to process what had just happened. Her stomach tightened when she saw two severed heads roll into a stream of sewage. Despite steeling herself against the world so she could live with Fiona, Thetis had never quite managed to desensitise herself to the more gory side of killing. Going through with it was fine, it was easy these days; but the aftermath always seemed... messy. Especially the more showy side of it, like this, like what Fiona used to do. Her palms felt clammy against the denim of her jeans, and her tongue felt like sandpaper on the inside of her mouth. The female Bouncer’s voice belied her hardened exterior, and it made Thetis feel even more on edge.

“Don’t worry, we’ll clean up the mess. Mistress is waiting, and from what I heard it’s taking you a little longer than she liked.”

The Bouncer gestured inside, and Thetis hesitated, struggling to regain her composure. As her friends pushed past her into the club, #006 could still smell the blood on her face and in her hair. Was it just her concussion playing up- or had a cat honestly just beheaded two humans in the blink of an eye? Nothing that had happened in the past five minutes had made any sense to Thetis, and that made her anxious, which in turn, made her feel angry. In fact, everything that had happened in the past few hours was a whole mess of chaos and confusion. But never mind that. As she watched her friends disappear one by one into the club, Thetis wiped the splatters of blood from her face and hurried in after them.
It was unlike anything Thetis had ever seen before.

Music pulsed through the club, feeding its patrons the rhythms they so desperately needed as lights flittered about the air while humans danced and danced and melted into one another so sensually and slowly with mouths agape and screaming soundless lyrics to the words that ran down the walls like blood. Blood? There was so much blood, always blood seeping from the bullet holes in the walls and rippling around her feet with the faces of all those they’d killed contorting and crying and then they’d gone.

Thetis’ head jolted upright as she walked to the base of the stairs, though not without the snakes curling around her legs and pulling her to the ground, not without the arms of the figures from the walls caressing her neck, not without the dancers on the ceiling beckoning for her to join them, because that’s what she wanted, wasn’t it? To forget it all? Yes, yes, she wanted that, wanted that more than anything, and as her hand reached towards theirs, they fell, twisting as their limp bodies fell with a splash into the pool of dancing blood below – and Thetis screamed - before they all stood to their feet, necks broken and arms lifeless as they stared at her with glazed eyes and silvery hair floating to the ceiling as if they were drowning. She backed away from the banister. Then the blood smears on her face began to peel. Yellow eyes widened in the darkness as she shouted for Idris, Terra, Emma, anybody to help her, to save her from – she felt a pair of hands touching her neck and shoulder.

“Sweetie, where did you run off to?”

Thetis turned to catch a glimpse of the face she’d longed to see for years.

“Mom?”

Except it was all wrong. The woman’s hair was wispy, full of greys and reds and whites, her bony hands held Thetis in a vice-like grip as her macabre open-mouthed smile spread into a gaping wail, cheeks gaunt and eyes sunken and black, black like Kerr’s. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, the girl kept mouthing as her eyes filled with tears and she reached to touch her mother’s face. The kind voice Thetis once dreamt about had turned into a piercing screech.

“Where were you? Where were you?”

And as the mouth stretched wider and wider, the figure turned to sinew and flesh, screaming and writhing in agony as it twisted against its bonds to the wall. Thetis couldn’t see the others anymore, and her screams were lost to the synthetic beats of the club. Terrified, she turned to run, only to stumble into someone and fall clumsily down the few stairs she had managed to climb. Thetis winced and propped herself up on her elbows. It was just a dream, wasn’t it? The banshee women on the dance floor were still staring at her, with eyes that felt like they saw through Lucy Adams, through #006 and to Thetis Alcesteos. She couldn’t stop staring at them, as though if she looked away, she would lose herself, she would cease to exist. The prototype felt herself being hauled to her feet by a pair of strong armed men behind her.

“#006, how many times must you fail?"

She could never forget that voice. Thetis looked up into Dr. Perkins’ face with horrified disbelief as it began to flake away into a face that was all too familiar.

“You know what happens to failed Prototypes,”

Thetis didn’t want to look, and she clamped her eyes shut as she pushed past the doppelganger and back up the stairs. As soon as she made contact, Dr. Perkins’ body seemed to melt and meld itself onto hers, and she felt a hand gripping onto her wrist as she tried to pull away.

“Why were you scared? Why didn't you come with me?”

The ghostly hand spun her around , and Thetis found herself face to face with Ariel. Her flesh was falling off her cheeks, one of her eyes a gaping socket, while the other had rolled up into her skull. Her skin was rotting, and her hair seemed to be rapidly going white as blood dribbled from the bullet hole in her chest.

“I-I-"

Thetis stuttered and shook her head. There were no words to say. It was her fault, all her fault. She felt like she was going to be sick. Even when she tried to look away, Thetis could still see the faces in the floor, her mother in the wall, bodies strewn across the bar like they were part of some kind of picnic. Tears in her eyes, Thetis ran away. She tripped over her feet as she sprinted up the shifting stairs; Away from the women on the dance floor. Away from Dr. Perkins. Away from Ariel. Away from her mother. Within seconds, Thetis fell into a pitch black room that reduced her to silence. Panic set in as the rhythm of the club disappeared. She couldn’t hear anything apart from her ragged breaths as her chest heaved up and down, nor could she see a thing. Perhaps the worst thing was that Thetis couldn’t sense her friends anymore. Taking a deep breath and blinking the tears from her eyes, Thetis clenched her fists and took a step forward into the darkness.
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