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PostPosted: Tue Oct 6, '09, 3:33 pm
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Chapter 10 : The Man in Black

Alaires awoke with a start. Her body ached, that was certain, but it felt like she used her head to stop a door from closing. She groaned a bit and opened her eyes slowly and quickly shutting them again once she saw stars. She knew this wasn't right but she had a hard time focusing on anything at the moment. Realizing that she couldn't see, she decided to focus on hearing. Doing her best to keep the throbbing drum from pounding her head in to mush, she concentrated on what sounds were around her. She thought she heard metal clanging, boots grinding into rocks or fine sand, shouts, and various other sounds that seemed familiar. It was almost as if she were in a hangar yet not inside a metal building but a make shift hangar outside. She didn't exactly know why she was outside, only that her head wouldn't stop throbbing. Trying with her eyes again she started to open them slowly and saw the stars again, however they were starting to disappear! Waiting a few more moments, she saw what appeared to be the inside of a cave. This struck her as odd as the last thing she remembered was the cockpit inside the shuttle. Of course! They were spinning out of control and something hit them, causing her to hit her head on the side of the cockpit effectively knocking her out. Take a few slow breaths to calm herself she tried to sit up which only elicited her body screaming at her with pain. She must have hit more than just her head when she blacked out. Taking a deep breath, she tried sitting up again, biting her lower lip at the pain and this time succeeding. The room started to spin for a moment but then quickly subsided as she regained her focus. She was near what looked like some sort of large metal crates, but bound at the ankles and wrists with the same kind of shackles they used on prisoners. Trying to wriggle free of her restraints she knew these crates were designed to haul around equipment but didn't recognize the symbol that was on them. It was a triangle that had a circle at each point with lines that ran from each as if connecting them together. Looking around some more, she saw what looked like heavy transport vehicles, similar to the ones used on Palma when Mother Brain was first constructed, but these appeared to be upgraded models. Further the left of them were some sort of flying craft. They had long body, similar to that of the flying vehicle Kyra and Chaz flew in years ago, yet the wings were modified to curve from the tip down towards the ground. Another set of wings set at a diagonal were placed where the curved wings met the body. The cockpit had three more wing like appendages that jutted from the bottom and two sides of the cockpit, and were shaped to what appeared to be hooks or claws to allow the flying craft the ability to latch on to anything the pilot deemed fit. She looked around some more and came face to face with a rather large man dressed in what appeared to be a purple body suit and black metal plating covering his shoulders, chest, forearms, shins and boots. A red cape was hanging from the shoulder pads and rested lightly on the ground as the man kneeled down in front of her. He had a red face with strange lines running from the bottom of his eyes down to the bottom of his jaw. Gray hair cut in the normal military style buzz cut adorned the top of his head. The man stared at her with these intense white eyes and merely smiled.

"Well it appears our "guest" is awake. Tell me little one, what were you and your companion doing in my airspace?"

Blinking, Alaires thought of many sarcastic remarks to reply with but the air about him unsettled her. She could only stare at him in awe as his presence demanded attention. He continued to look at her for a moment longer, then his smile faded and his face grew stern as he began to speak again :

"Maybe you didn't hear me, Girl, what were you doing in my airspace?

"I...uh...I...err...I was exploring" she stammered

"Exploring? Exploring?!" He erupted into a hearty laughter. Although this wasn't the same type of laughter used amongst friends, it was almost as if there was malice laced in the laughter.

"Perhaps you were exploring, but you have interfered in a project of mine and I can't have you telling anyone about us. For now, you will be my "guests." He stood up and turned around to leave. Realizing that Alden wasn't here, she panicked.

"Where is my friend?" she shouted. "What have you done with him?"

The man stopped and turned back around and kneeled in front of her again. Taking a black gloved hand, he gripped the side of her cheeks and looked directly into her eyes, glaring.

"Your friend is being "questioned" at the moment. I suggest you watch your tone or else we'll be doing the same with you!" With that, he smiled and pushed her head back with a hard shove as he stood back up and began walking towards an adjacent hallway. It was pretty obvious to her that his "questioning" couldn't be good for Alden. Frantic, she looked for a way out of her bonds. If she remembered her classes well enough, these shackles would open if the right amount of pressure was applied. Scooting across the ground to one of the crates behind her, she pressed herself against the crate and slowly eased herself up to a standing position. Make her way to the corner she began to smack, rather awkwardly, the shackles against the edge of the crate. After a few painful moments she was rewarded with the sound of the shackles hitting the ground. Looking around to make sure she wasn't seen, she starting look for a loose stone to use on her ankle imprisonments. After searching for what seemed like an eternity she found a stone roughly the size of her fist and began to smash it against her ankle restraints, easily removing them. Rolling towards a crate, she edged to a corner and peeked around, ensuring there wasn't anyone nearby. Satisfied she was alone, she sprinted off towards the direction the rude man went.

----

"I won't ask you again! What were you and girl doing here?" The jailer backhanded Alden again across his face, sending the mechanic reeling across the room. Alden got to one knee and wiped the blood from his mouth. Before fully standing up the jailer was on him again, lifting him by his throat and suspending him off the ground by one hand. Clutching at the one hand holding his throat Alden kicked the man roughly in the solar plexus, causing the vice grip to loosen and allow him to breathe. Sending another swift kick to man's side Alden was free. Dropping to the ground he rolled to the left of his interrogator and sent quick combo of punches to side of the neck and ribs of his opponent. Not allowing him a moment of respite, he put a quick boot to the face of the man sending him crashing to the ground. Alden knew he was outmatched and quickly made his way to the door. His trip was cut short, however, as soon as he reached the door. The man got up and slipped his left forearm underneath Alden's chin and held him in place as he sent a few quick punches to Alden's kidney. The jailer then picked up Alden and threw him into the wall opposite the door, causing his aching body to slide to the floor. Alden soon found himself up off the ground by his throat again and then placed in energy bonds that held him on the wall by his wrists and ankles. For long, excruciating minutes he was beaten over and over by the jailers fists as they found their way home in his stomach, face and ribs. He was on the verge of passing out when he heard someone come in the room and tell the man to stop working him over. Doing his best to focus, Alden looked up and saw a man dressed similar to the other soldiers, except his bodysuit was purple and the body armor he wore was black instead of red. The cape wasn't much of an addition to the ensemble, but he assumed it was a status symbol of sorts. The man's face was red, with a buzz cut of gray hair. The white eyes were the most disturbing, however, as they seemed to take each bit of Alden apart and absorb them into the man's very being. The jailer addressed the man as 'General' and then stepped to the side of the room as the new arrival walked to Alden and stood in front of him.

"I see you weren't very cooperative with my Sargent. He has a short temper when people don't answer him. From the looks of things, it appears you haven't really spoken much at all, though I doubt you will be for sometime if this keeps up. Tell me, what were you doing here?"

Alden managed a weak smile then responded, "Would you believe I was lost?"

The General studied Alden for a moment then smirked : "I see you have the same attitude as the young girl. Don't worry though, we have ways of making her answer if you won't." Alden strained against his bonds and tried to get at the General, only causing the man to laugh in a sinister manner. Spending what strength he had, he stopped his resistance and leaned back against the wall. The General watched for another moment then addressed him in a more demeaning tone.

"Is that all you have? I thought you were made of sturdier stuff. Then again you are obsolete aren't you?" With that the General turned and headed out of the room, nodding to the Sargent on his way out. Alden knew what was next, more "questioning". Just before he was about to receive another beating, the door opened again and there stood Alaires, eyes wide and mouth gaping. Alden and the Sargent both looked in her direction. Before the Sargent could do anything, he shouted "RUN!" to her. She looked as if she were about to say something but then took off as the Sargent ran after her. Alden slumped against the wall as he all he could do was hope she made it out.

----

Alarms were blaring all around her as she darted from crate, to the landing gear of a flying craft, hiding from the soldiers that now began to swarm around the area like ants. She knew they were looking for her and she knew she had to get out of here. But she didn't want to leave Alden, especially after what they did to him. His face was bruised and bloodied. He was hanging from the wall like some sort of prisoner being tortured. Tears started streaming down her face at the mere visage of his battered form. No, he told her to run and run she would. She would steal a craft and find Rune and come back to rescue him! Quickly wiping the tears from her face, she made her way around the craft she was hiding behind and started looking for a way into it. Her search was cut short as a group of soldiers spotted her and started shooting. She ducked a few blaster bolts and made a mad scramble for the nearest opening. Luckily she was faster than them but they were after her in a moment, shouting and shooting. She had never been more scared in her life than she was right now and she ran as fast as her legs would carry her. It seemed the soldiers were using this tunnel for something as lights adorned the cave walls, giving her a chance to see in an otherwise dark corridor. The tunnel was pretty straight forward but turned every now and then. It wasn't long until she noticed the cave walls started looking like stone from a building. If she had the time, she would've stopped to examine it but her pursuer's didn't give her that chance. Coming on a broken column to her left, she turned and ducked behind it, silently thanking whoever designed it. The grooves in the column were big enough she could squeeze herself inside, plus the column was big enough to hide a Xanafalgue behind it. She managed to get herself inside one of the grooves and waited. She heard the soldiers come running down the tunnel and past where she was hiding. Waiting a moment, she extracted herself from the column and made her way back into the tunnel. She took a moment to look at her general surroundings and realized where she was standing looked more like a foyer from a castle than a tunnel in a cave. The ceiling was high and domed in appearance and a large archway opened up another passageway in front of her. She stared at the ceiling but her revelry was cut short as the soldiers had apparently found a dead end and back tracked to where she was standing. Alaires quickly took off underneath the archway and down the passage, being chased once again. Blaster bolts flew past her head and hit the ground and walls near her but never made their mark. This particular passageway seemed to just go straight and it was noticeably colder than the previous area. In fact Alaires noticed that there was ice covering the walls and the floor. Her footing became more and more erratic and she started to slip and slide. Her feet soon lost their grip on the floor and she fell down, continuing to slide until she crashed into a door at the end of the passageway. Somehow she managed to turn around during her slide and she saw her would be captors coming this way. She tried to get up but fell back down on her rump. The soldiers started to grin and slowly make their way to her but soon stopped and looked around as if being surrounded. A mist started to form in the area they were in and envelope the soldiers. Panicking, they started to fire as one by one they were either hurled into an adjacent wall or seemingly impaled by something. Alaires couldn't help but stare in shock as these trained killers were eliminated with such ease. The fog soon started to come towards her and she tried get away, but to no avail as she was soon inside the fog. She waited for whatever killed the soldiers to get her, wishing she listened to Rune and stayed put. After a moment of silence, a tall figure in black robes appeared before her out of thin air! As if that wasn't unsettling enough, from underneath the hood she saw blood red orbs staring at her, seeming to peer into the very depths of her soul. Shaken to the core she could only stare as the figure addressed her.

"So now my home has been invaded by little girls as well as soldiers? Not only that but an Esper girl as well! Tell me....what are you doing here youngling?"
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