Sunday, April 18, 2010

Chapter 69: Sita Dampens the Ink

Weds, December 2, 2074 3:16 am: Facility Eleven; Idylewilde, Strangetown


The military base in Idylewilde existed only as interior space like an oubliette or a womb. It was a self-contained universe-- A snow globe draped in mortar. Sita Tvaud was bred and raised here-- a child of science and atrocity and hush money. At twenty-three, she had scarcely left the facility. Countless hours were spent watching one copper door oxidize while guarding another. Her world was four feet in front of her, five inches behind and sixty feet on either side.


Until recently, Sita had been a warden for the women's camp on the premises, in charge of a hundred or so illegals. Her present reassignment was somewhat of a promotion but Sita was finding it to be almost torturous for the boredom involved. The sector was so remote that if not for the hiss of the steam tunnels, she might have assumed that she was going deaf. This was what it felt like to be in perfect stasis. Sita was restless from skin to pith.

Footsteps sounded at the far end of the corridor. Voices. Sita turned to her partner who did not move but whose eyes appeared fixed in concentration. No one was meant to be on this floor of the compound. Sita clamped her hands behind her back and stood at attention, listening.


There were two distinct sets of boots, landing in time with one another. RDI agents. Sita knew by the collision of buckles with leather and hard vinyl. Her heart leapt into her throat, thinking for a brief instant that one of them might be her brother, returned from his assignment. But the footfalls were too light and too slow to be Hyperion. Sita then caught the agents at the cusp of her field of vision as they rounded the corner.


"Do you feel that?" The blond grabbed his forehead, then slid his hand down his face to pinch the bridge of his nose. "It's like a pick-axe tunneling through my fucking skull."

Sita knew what he was referring to. Her partner Sutekh complained of the occasional peculiar migraine that struck at constant intervals with precision of a metronome.

"You need to stop drinking on the job, Crius." The dark one scanned the hallway as he spoke, seeming to second guess his own skepticism.

"No, it's... Something is wrong up here." The blond breathed heavily through his nose. When the pair finally noticed Sita and Sutekh, they barely broke their stride. The blond smiled at her, all slime and scales. A crocodile. Sita moved to shield the door.


"I warn you to keep your distance, officers. This sector is under quarantine. Research personnel only," she said. The blond took a step towards her.

"We have clearances from the Magister Templi to patrol these corridors until further notice. You got a problem, take it up with him." Sita cocked her head to the side, surveying the officer. She was annoyed with his attitude and discovering a perverse enjoyment in her own annoyance. At this point, she would put up with any little vexation just to feel something. The blond nodded his head towards the door behind them.

"The fuck you people keep locked up in there, anyway?" His tone was rhetorical but Sita rose her eyebrows and responded.

"Unless you want to find out first hand, I suggest that you carry on patrolling, officer."


The blond's face went blank as if he were taking the time to evaluate Sita and her threat. The thought made her feel dreadful but she may have been just bored enough to toss this imbecile into the lion's den. Maybe his friend as well. If two trees fall in the forest and no one is there to hear them, they will not make a sound. This is an absolute.

The creature behind the door had not moved for nearly eighteen years but Sita did not doubt the damage that it could still perform even and most especially in its dormancy. The headaches alone served as clues that there was activity beyond the door that could only be perceived by the particularly sensitive. Sita was not sensitive. She was not built to be. This is why she had Sutekh. His receptivity acted as her lantern in the dark, alerting her to coming danger. The black-haired agent tapped the blond on the arm.

"We need to finish up here," he said. The blond nodded in agreement but seemed somehow disoriented. Sita supposed that the headaches were worsening. She turned to Sutekh. He appeared to be immune. As the two men departed from the scene, the blond took several long stares behind him. It was enough for Sita to infer that he was under attack, specifically. The creature's energy was discriminating, not flooding like other beings'. It knew direction and precision. There was little wonder that Moritmer Goth had attempted to weaponize it. Sita flexed her fingers, curling and uncurling her fists. She was death by design.


The door at the end of the corridor closed behind the two agents and everything was still. Sutekh leaned his head against the door.

"You shouldn't provoke them," he said quietly. Sita sniffed in disdain.

"Why not? I eat boys like that for breakfast."

"We need to remain as innocuous as possible."

"Su, if they were looking for someone innocuous to guard this door then they would have posted Hyperion here and sent me to Riverblossom." This was not entirely true. Sita's twin brother came and went as he pleased. Sita was kept under lock and key because she looked far too much like their mother, who had been a famous beauty. The sight of her would have been a shock for a lot of people. "In fact, if Hyperion were to--" Sita paused. At first, she did not know what it was that silenced her but after a few seconds of biting her tongue, it became clear. The steam that she had been hearing for days passing through the tunnels below her had ceased. If that was not peculiar enough, in its place was a soft squeaking sound like the far-off torturing of mice.


"What is that?" she whispered.

"Shh!" Sita and Sutekh turned to face one another as they each independently came to the same conclusion. There was some mild shuffling and more squeaking, though louder this time. Sutekh hurried to place his palm on the door and undo the magic that kept it fixed. The sounds were coming from within the room.


The door gave way with a powerful jolt that threw Sutekh a little ways backward. Sita caught him by his shoulders as he staggered and pulled him forward into the cell.

A purple glow permeated the space and leaked no farther than the entry. There were no light fixtures in the room, no source of illumination. At the center of it all was the prisoner, thin and brittle as a cornhusk doll. His lank black hair fell into his eyes. His chest rattled with each intake of breath. Was this the monster that she had been warned about? He looked as though a gentle breeze could blow him away.


The creature hazarded a few steps towards Sita and her partner, dragging an IV drip along with him. The wheels on the IV revealed themselves to be the source of the squeaking as they turned over the filthy tiled floor. The creature held out the pole for their inspection.

"If this is what passes for a continental breakfast at this establishment then you will have to forgive me if I do not seem overly impressed," the creature growled. Sutekh stood gaping. Perhaps he had never expected to find himself here, face to face with something like Orion Specter. The creature locked eyes with Sita and came closer, IV drip in tow.


"You look familiar," he said slowly. "Have I frightened you before?"

Sita tried to moisten her lips with her tongue but it did no good as her entire mouth had gone dry. There was something both stately and formidable about the man who peered at her from behind the IV pole like a king who could not be bothered to move his scepter to the side.


"My name is Colonel Sita Tvaud. I am Spawn Number 002 and I'm..." Sita could not finish her sentence. She was what? An amateur gardener? A bird-watching enthusiast? A test tube miracle created from genetic samples taken from Orion himself?

The creature's eyes glittered with a renewed sense of life and wonderment. It was like seeing pigment long bereft of its fluidity again dampened, born again as ink. Orion knew who she was. It was written all over his face. And the knowledge seemed to ignite some semblance of his former self within him.


"Well played, Dr. Beaker." The creature's tone was low as though he were speaking more to himself than to anyone else. He ran his hand up and down the metal post absently. "Well played," he repeated.


  1. Ok! So, for the Maxis-uninclined, Dr.'s Circe and Loki Beaker are the scientists that kept Nervous Subject locked in their basement in Strangetown, where they performed all sorts of weird experiments on him.

    And we have met Sita's brother Hyperion here.

    Err... I think that's all my notes for this chapter.

  2. I was wondering what had become of Orion in the present. Should be interesting to see what happens now that he's awake; I take it that for something like Orion, a comatose state is only a physical inconvenience?

    So, Sita and Hyperion were genetically engineered for the facility's purposes? With DNA from Orion? Hmmm...

  3. Ah! Well that is an interesting question because Orion's comas would appear to be self-induced. No one really knows how or why he goes "dormant". He was a complete vegetable like this throughout his entire childhood and part of his adult years. But it looks as though he can turn it on and off like a light switch. The next chapter will talk a little more about that. But yes, what he can do in his sleep is nothing to sneeze at. (Poor Ermengarde!)

    Sita and Hyperion were constructed by a team of scientists lead by our old friend Mortimer Goth using Orion's DNA. And they were born to a woman whose identity was only hinted at here but in the not-too-distant future, it will be spelled out.

  4. this is so deliciously creepy. Starting with the headache, running through sounds like tortured mice, and ending with Orion dragging an IV across the room and asking "Have I frightened you before?" I LOVE that line!

    Ok so why did he 'wake' up? Or is it more a matter of changing states? Was he ever really comatose? Obviously he must find something sufficiently interesting in Sita. So she's sort of a daughter/clone/sister something hard to chart genetically. I am assuming it's Sita and not Sutekh. (??).

    Adore the purple! Of all colors, that's just a perfect choice!

  5. Heh, Orion makes me giggle in an evil laughter kind of way. He's bad and he knows it.

    Orion's motives are generally difficult to pinpoint in much of what he does. As far as we know, he gets his direction from a higher authority. Additionally, he is by his very nature a trickster. He thrives off of confusion. In the words of Loki Beaker (and I am getting ahead of myself here), Orion is not a liar. Not exactly. He creates his own truths.

    So this is to say that all we have for why Orion woke up is this theory --

    When Selket told the Magister Templi about Jack, he sent the RDI to patrol the area where Orion was being held just in case there was any unusual activity. Sita and Sutekh were sent by persons unknown to guard the door (although they were possibly also sent by the Magister Templi). Magister Templi Ahriman thinks that if Jack was in Selket's presence then Orion knows that Jack exists, whether or not he knew beforehand. Reason being that the last time Selket and Orion came into contact, Orion formed a sort of bridge between them (ref: Chapter 61). The thought is that knowing about Jack and/or knowing that Jack has been near Selket would be enough to bring Orion out of his coma. Too good of an opportunity for mischief for Orion to pass up.

    And then of course there's the possibility that he woke up just for Sita. She had been out there for a few days. More than ample time for Orion to get a good look at her and try to figure out what she is. (As a side note, the government has classified Hyperion and Sita as halflings which isn't entirely accurate but it would be if Orion were Fae. Sita and Hyperion are a lot closer to what Jack is but not as powerful.)

    AND THEN let's recall another recent event-- Ermengarde's possession. Kvornan's son might have been there before Kvornan got there. What if Orion saw him? Orion would definitely step out of the shadows for the impending birth of Kvornan's son.

    Was Orion really comatose? Absolutely. There is no way that he could sit there quietly for 18 years without shutting down first.

    Sutekh might have interested Orion but not for any reason that you out there in readerland would know. I didn't mention it because it was (although interesting) won't turn out to be totally relevant-- Sutekh is Imina's estranged half brother. It is a small world indeed.

    Thanks Beth! Sorry for the novel-length comment. :S

  6. I'm just going to harrass you on gmail. Actually, I'm doing so right now.

  7. "You look familiar," he said slowly. "Have I frightened you before?"

    Best line ever. Especially coming from Orion.

    I get the feeling that his comatose state is pretty much him reaching out and wreaking havoc someplace else. And that it would take something urgent for him to wake up or come back.

    Your writing is absolutely stunning you know that? My jaw is always on the desk when I read your work.

  8. Thank you, Gayl!!

    And you have hit the nail on the head. In the next chapter, we will find out what happened just before he entered into this particular coma.

  9. WAIT! That was not all of the notes for this chapter. Please reference this ancient chapter:

    Dina Paints The Ceiling