Davis has been hanging by one hand onto the underside of the storm drain in the basement since the Nades went off.
“Just one more weld” He reassures Elix, as he mashes the Insta-weld putty into the corner of the grate.
“Hurry up, this guy’s heavy” Elix says drooping slowly downward under the Doctor’s arm.
Davis drops down and relieves Elix of the surprisingly weighty scientist. They begin making their way back to home base.
“Do you think they’ll catch on?” Elix queries.
“They might already be onto us, but even if they had the equipment handy, it would still take them an hour or so to get through those welds”
“You know I helped Artemis develop that Insta-weld putty” Elix notes.
“Then I should probably thank you for all the times it’s gotten me out of sticky situations… No pun intended” He replies.
“I even came up with a better name too”
Elix waves her free hand in the air as she states:
“Ha-ha, that’s, ahah hahaha. Oh wow that’s better. Fusion by goo”
The two of them each fondly remembers Artemis and his talent for ignoring a cleverly crafted name in favour of an accurately descriptive one like ‘Insta-weld putty’
“I hope Blister and the others got away okay” Elix says, changing the tone of their conversation.
“They’re a resourceful pack, they’ll make it” Davis reassures.
He knows that as a team they will get through anything, he worries about them getting separated, though he’d never let Elix know.
It’s critical that morale is maintained while on mission, even when things get rough morale must never drop. He thinks.
That’s what Davis’s brother taught him. He constantly repeats these pockets of wisdom whenever he feels as though he falls short of his duties.
As the two Hûms plod along through the winding sewers the scientist’s feet begin to stumble into a walk.
“I think he waking up” Elix states.
She had been staring at the ground in front of them for what feels like twenty minutes trying to meditate through her lactic acid induced pain, silently waiting for a break. Abishua takes some more steps and the weight lessens from Davis and Elix’s shoulders.
“Let’s sit him down for a bit. Let him go Elix, I’ve got him”
The scientist mumbles incoherently a few sentences before a couple of clear words get spat out.
Davis and Elix look at each other despairingly, knowing that the scientist is too late with his warning.
“What’s your name? Can you tell me your name?” Davis asks.
The scientist’s face scrunches with confusion.
“A… Umm… Abishua… Keyon Abishua”
His memories of what happened to him begin to emerge from the fog inside his head.
“What’s the last thing you remember?” Elix enquires.
“What day is it? What month?” He hastily questions.
“It’s the first Thursday of June” Davis informs the now frantic scientist.
“That means… But, but that means…”
Keyon puts his hands to his eyes and rubs them vigorously with a slight groan escaping his lips.
“They took me on a Monday. I was set to meet with Cluster A before dawn, I was to be relocated to help a team of engineers just as Artemis instructed”
“Davis. That was the day Artemis…”
Elix isn’t sure how to finish the sentence. She knows Artemis and Abishua had some kind of relationship, but to what extent? She was unsure.
“What? Don’t tell me they assimilated him?”
Davis was about to speak but in his head the words weren’t right. Elix knows what she would want to hear.
“Artemis fought and… and he was overwhelmed. When they couldn’t take his mind, they took his…”
Elix chokes and tears glide over her cheek bones, down, and get lost in the puddles on the sewer floor.
Abishua places his hand on Elix’s shoulder.
“You know he told me about you once, he said ‘I met the most wonderful girl’ I told him to marry you, ha! You would have been just a child at the time, but I had no idea. I hadn’t seen him glow like that for some time…”
Elix smiles and wipes her tears.
“…Even though he is gone, it is probably better that he is not Assimilated, it would have made it very hard to beat the Encephalon then…”
Abishua looks off into the darkness of the sewer tunnel to reminisce.
“…Ahh we had a good run though. Fifteen years without capture, we set up multiple Clusters and coordinated the liberation of countless Assimilated. But, most of that is lost now. Last time I spoke to anyone, clusters B and C were all but disbanded and the others had just about given up their fight”
“I won’t give up”
“I won’t either” Elix adds
“We’re going to need more Hûms then, and they’re going to need better Intelliguises”
“So we steal some from a manufacturing plant” Davis naively states
“Are you crazy? We’ll all be captured, there’s way too may Assimilated in those places. No, Artemis told me of a new Intelliguise he’d been working on; one that’s one hundred percent stable, zero degradation. If we just find it, I know I can modify our current Intelliguises”
Elix remembers the device she has in her arm.
“The day I found Artemis, he had this…”
She lifts the manifold of her shoulder and shows the intelliguise.
“…It was in his fake eye”
“Th… That’s it, Keyon’s spirits lift as he sees the device.
“In his eye you say?”
“I had no idea it was false”
Keyon jumps to his feet, he wobbles for a moment before finding his balance.
“Well. We had better get started right away”
Davis is elated but only lets out a slight crack of a smile as he thinks of the progress they’ve just made.
“This way. Follow me” He says.
“Do you even know where you’re going Blister?” Malcom asks impatiently as the three leave the far side of the vast and well-maintained cemetery.
“Shh. Get into the bushes. Now!”
Malcom panics and leaps into the nearest bush he can see. He rests there for a moment.
“Alright, coast is clear” Says Blister.
Malcom’s brow furrows with anger.
“What?! Ow, OW” He cries, climbing from the rough bush.
Blister and Trace are trying to contain their laughter.
“Ow, damn it Blister, that’s not funny”
“Sorry Malc’, but you really have to learn to trust me”
“Pranks like that make it very difficult to trust anything you say”
“Quick. Cross the street” Blister says without any explanation.
Malcom hesitates, looks right for a second and spots some Assims coming in their direction, he dashes immediately to catch up. By the time he gets to the other side Trace is already picking at a lock to a building, that once served as a safe house for the uprising.
“Assims are coming down the street” Malcom says with fear on his breath.
“Duh” Blister quips.
“Got it” says Trace.
The three Hûms scurry into the building and close the door just in time for the Assims not to see them.
“Ahh home sweet home…” Blister rejoices.
“…Me and Davis got holed up in here for a few weeks a couple years back, before we found you Trace, and well before you came along Malcom. It used to be a workshop for a subway depot; we’ll be able to access the train lines through there”
Blister points to a massive arched gateway, with tracks going underneath the steel reinforced doors, and into the tunnels beyond.
“You reckon you can pick those locks Trace” Blister challenges.
“Better than you can pick your nose Blister”
“That good huh?”
Before Trace gets a chance to continue their rally, a thunderous impact on the front door interrupts them.
“Fuck, they’ve found us, Malcom you got anymore AME BOY EMP’s?” Blister asks.
Malcom is staring intently at the banging door; his fear: crippling him.
“MALCOM?!” Blister repeats.
“Ahh yeah, yes” He blinks rapidly and snaps to his task.
After passing the EMP to Blister Malcom rushes to stand right behind Trace and wait for her to open it so he can escape first.
“You better hurry Trace” Says Blister, placing the EMP at the front door’s welcome mat.
Trace doesn’t reply, instead she devotes her focus to unlocking the door.
Blister readies the EMP nade at the front door to their short lived safe house. The door is cracking through the middle and nearing its breaking point.
“Trace?!” Blister queries and orders in an amalgamated tone of desperation and panic.
He knows there’s way too many Assims on the other side of that door for them to handle.
“Got it” Trace proclaims.
She speedily opens the door within the giant gate, Malcom rushes through almost knocking Trace over as she holds the door for Blister.
With his eyes never leaving the front door Blister moves as quickly as he can to Trace. She steps out of his way, and he waits, watching, and the second he needs to close the door, his ears are hurt by the front door crunching under the pressure of a squadron of Assims pushing with all their might. Blister presses both round buttons with his meaty thumb as quick as his brain will let him.
The nade goes off and majority of the Assimilated group fall into the doorway, blocking the others from entering. Blister slams the door shut and mashes as much Goosion as he has on hand, into the door and the seams of the gate.
“I hope that holds them” Trace says optimistically.
“It’ll buy us time” Blister replies.
The two embark down the subway lines to catch up with Malcom; who has been fearfully jogging homeward since he entered the tunnels.