Book III Chapter 14: Making Headlines
Somnambulist Leaders Blame "Demons" For Deadly Serial Murders!
Have Too Many Sleepless Nights Left Elliot Christoph Delusional?
Chimaera Refugees Demand Justice for Exclusive Safety Plans
Gier City Police Academy Embarassed By Rabid Sommy Leupak
Silent Rose Axl Building Ravaged By Mysterious Beast!
Body Count in Gier and Axl Rise By Leaps and Bounds -- Who Is Responsible?
"I'm so sorry, Elliot--"
"Please, Caz. Apologies won't do anything to help solve this case or take back what's already been said."
The head of the Somnambulist Project threw a newspaper across her desk, sighing at the words printed across it in bold face.
"I still love you, but I'm still more than a little annoyed. You have to understand; we're brother and sister, but out there in public, anything that comes out of our mouths comes out of the mouth of my organization, and that reflects on all of us."
Cazwell laid his ears back and swallowed. "But those chimaera-- they couldn'tve been more wrong. Don't tell me we're not allowed to call them on it--"
"No, Caz... we're not-- and when it comes to hard situations that risk bringing to light forces beyond what the common person knows and accepts, those are right out, too. Yes, the signs are pointing toward dark forces, here... but they can't be told that!As it is, I hadn't even had a chance to bring it up to anyone who would know what to do over in the Police department. Now... well, we're a laughingstock, as well as being unfairly painted as bigots by the Sorilians. And even then... we have to get to the bottom of this and solve the problem. It's hard to swallow, I know..."
Elliot reached to wrap an arm gently around her brother's scaly shoulder.
Ashamed, he turned his head to gaze out of the office window and down into the street below, where several chimaera waved little picket signs, urging their fellows to leave their temporary jobs and speak out against the Organization.
Funny how they couldn't bring themselves to find safe harbor, but they found a way to gather supplies for protest signs.
"... wait. Elliot, what's that?"
Squinting through his glasses, Cazwell pressed a paw to the pane; several of the people on the street had suddenly thrown their signs down and scattered.
Standing for a closer look, Elliot leaned in.
"Something's going on. Hang on, I'll--"
The phone rang suddenly, causing leupak and human woman to nearly jump out of their respective skins.
"Somnambulist Project Main Office, Ms. Christoph speaking... Yes... Yes, well, I-- That wasn't actually a ... Hold on, what about the morgue?"
The color drained from Elliot's face.
Swallowing, she pursed her lips.
"... they did what? Are you al--... yes. Yes, I'll be right th--"
"...Elliot, I don't think we're going anywhere. Look!"
Silent Rose Axl Branch
Gabriel smoothed back his ragged hair as best he could, sitting on both knees in the grass in front of the headquarters building, his clothes torn and flapping in the soft, chilly breeze.
His coat was in his lab-apartment.
His lab-apartment was, for the second time in his life and the first in his official career, in ruins due to no fault of his own.
He watched sullenly as people in armored suits rushed in and out of the building, sometimes followed by confused or frightened students and docs, other times alone and shaking their heads.
Nearby, his superior calmly smoked a cigarette, her lips pursed.
"So now you believe me."
"I'm sorry, Mr. Gaunthier," the woman sighed, glancing apologetically down at him.
"The expense and rarity of the herbs and processes required to create a varworg antigen demands that we ignore any such claims unless they're backed by substantial evidence. It's Alch protocol-- not one I agree with, but I couldn't afford to help you out of my own pocket."
She shared a besides, no one particularly cared for Eva anyhow glance with him; he wasn't certain how he knew that was what the look meant, but there was little doubt in his mind, as though someone had planted that very thought in it.
A bit embarassed and a bit frightened-- he had heard occasional whispers among Docs that there were a rare few who possessed such telepathic gifts-- he looked away.
He worried deeply for Eva-- her frightening transformation and subsequent furious rampage last night had destroyed his lab-apartment, as well as several halls of the headquarters building--
but he was powerless, as powerless as one might suspect a brand-new Bio Doc to be.
"Well... what do we do now? Or... you, I suppose. The Organization."
"We step in," chimed a metallic voice.
In the noise and excitement of the moment, Gabriel failed to notice the approach of three new arrivals; turning around (and leaving a horrendous grass-stain in his trousers, no doubt), he found himself gazing up at a brass man and two leupaks; one, black-scaled and rather plain save an ornate headpiece, the other, perhaps the most massive and perhaps intimidating one he had ever seen, likely a solid three feet taller than he-- eight or nine total-- with a long neck, a black, hooded head that faded to tawny brown down the rest of his body, and a lion's tail striped blue and gold down to the tip.
His underbelly seemed to be crafted of massive ruby and sapphire plates lined in gold, his back covered in line after line of strange, apparently hand-painted characters that moved and changed as he tried to read them, like a book read in a dream.
The creature seemed to radiate authority from nose to paw-- the sort of authority with no qualms against mutilating anything so silly as to defy it.
"....aaaah--?!"Gabriel squeaked, in utter shock.
"You're Mr. Gaunthier? Great," said the black leupak. "I'm Sagarthay Felld-- this is Leonardo Alfonsi Two-Point-Five, and my superior, Houselord Sagarthay Anom."
"How do you do?" Said the robot amicably. "...Oh, yes. Call me Leo, if you like."
The massive leupak-- the Houselord-- gazed down at him.
The beast had two mouths, one stacked over the other, which spoke in unison in an echoing sound like the clang of rusted metal. It seemed to insist upon making eye contact with him, something Gabe wasn't certain he could stand terribly much of.
"You survived an attack by not one, but two raging varworgn within the span of four days," it began.
"If I am not mistaken-- and I doubt I am-- you are, perhaps, the luckiest bumbling bastard I have ever met."
"Ahaha, um, than...thank you... sir? I... I think?" Gabe swallowed.
It grinned at him; Gabriel felt his stomach clawing desperately as far down into his body as it could reach.
"Your superior has already sent along information about you and your unfortunate situation. We are from the Main Branch in Laps; I am a Type-Two Automatonic Investigator specializing in supernatural forces, built by one Chief Engineer Na'than Silvermane. Lord Anom has considerable experience in the fields of Ancient Lore and Cryptozoology-- among many others, of course-- and he will see to your friend as Felld and I accompany you to the cavern you found the first wolf in, if you would be so kind as to lead the way."
Main branch? Automatons? Leupaks? Cryptozoology?
Gabe's head spun.
It wasn't as though he had a choice in the matter, anyway.
Climbing atop Felld's back after a moment's coaxing, the unlikely trio began to make their way towards the city outskirts, Leonardo's metal feet clanging melodically against the cobblestone ground.
Gabe turned to look back at the Headquarters for just a moment.
Sagarthay Anom stood perfectly still in the grass beside Gabe's superior, staring straight at him.
His two maws were smiling.
Next Chapter: Book III Chapter XV
Category: Book III | Story