Chapter 22:



    The golden eyed girl skipped and leapt through the reflections that Filth passed by. "Even when the stage is set, the performance can't happen."
   "What's the vague point you are trying to hint at?" Filth rolled his eyes as he dashed through the long corridors of the Everbridge division.
   "What do you think happens to those who simply cannot reach their dream?" She leapt across the glossy tiles of the pristine halls.
   "They move on." Filth remarked bluntly, as he checked corner after corner for an elevator to the next floor.
   "Is the dream not their purpose? Not everyone can achieve it." The woman twirled in the reflection of the metal doors that sealed the elevator as they were lifted up.
   "And when they can't, they move on." Filth reiterated his point just before exiting the elevator, checking the halls for any possible security.
   "How do they move on?" She danced circles in the reflections around each foot Filth planted as he descended the corridor towards the massive doors that rose stories above all other doors along the corridor.
   "They simply need to stay focused on the thing that gives them purpose." Filth pressed a hand against the cathedral-like door.
   "If everyone focused on their own dream, then who will be the ones to help us achieve those dreams?" Her golden eyes flickered in the soft reflection of the great door.
   "People like me." Filth shrugged the dancer's comments away as his intent was on the grand sanctuary he had stepped into.
   "A self-proclaimed selfish man?" The dancer ignored the three rising metal pillars that ascended to the ceiling's great light. Each pillar marked numerically: "UNIT 01", "UNIT 02", "UNIT 03".
   "Maybe some who are selfish can put their selfishness aside to aid others while the selfish tries to find the path back to their purpose." Filth stepped forward, each footstep lingered in the grand room.
   The ceiling was lined with pipes and wires and infrastructure to each individual colossal pillar.
   Filth stepped towards the first pillar. Empty. Forgotten. Every server and system inside the massive pillar was dark without life. The room inside the pillar was completely empty; with a cage due center of the hollow chamber that retained nothing but the cold, still air. Hardly a ray of the harsh lights outside of the pillar penetrated the room within it.
   "And what path is it that you are looking for, Jack?" The dancer's dance stopped so that her eyes could focus close on Filth.
   Filth stepped away from the first pillar, leaving the curious girl's inquisition behind. He took slow, cautious steps towards the inspection of the third pillar.
   The servers were furiously lit as the lights blinked rapidly to indicate action was taking place. Though the server room was warm from the massive amounts of computational power, a bitter cold could be felt from the hollow chamber within. There inside that hollow chamber, bright lights cast harsh rays through viscous liquid. Wires and pipes were drowned in that liquid. They had been sunk into the gel so that they could attach to the cage inside. It was a petite cage, a small cage fit for a child. And inside that cage all that could be seen were hollow, distant eyes. Eyes that did not blink, they did not move. She simply stared across the thick gel, restrained by the cage that gripped her.
   "I guess that must be phase three." Filth grimaced as he looked into the hollow room.
   The dancer was solely focused on Filth as she awaited the answer.
   Filth's hand glided across the console as his eyes danced across the keyboard and switches that made up the system.
   "I'm just looking for the right path." Filth remarked as he typed a command on the keyboard, prompting a message to appear "PRESERVATION FLUID BEGINNING DRAIN."

    The screen of the watch cast harsh reflections across Silje's glasses as she stared at the bright screen filled with a list of attempted outgoing calls, each one had been ignored by the receiving party.
   She raised her hands to cover her face so that she could release a muffled sigh of frustration. As she lowered her hands, a glimmer from her belt caught her eye. A blurry reflection of the lights cast overhead shined off the handle of the cold metal.
   Her eyes glanced over the handle that poked out of her belt as she wondered about the tool she now carried with her. Her eyebrows sank, hoping that she wouldn't face any event where she was forced to use the tool. She was very unsure of how to even use it.
   Her hand traced the handle before she gently pulled it from her belt. For such a small tool, it weighed quite a lot. Her ears sank as the wafts of dense metal that had been lubricated with sticky oil grabbed at her nose. She grimaced before putting the gun back in the belt, shaking her head. Someone needs to protect the kid; the words rang through Silje's head.
   She looked back at her watch. The screen had dimmed from inactivity. Silje waited the few seconds for the screen to go completely dark before taking in a calming deep breath. She tapped the watch back awake, flicking through the call list, counting each ignored call. One call, two calls, three calls, four calls, five calls, ... (and so on).
   She tapped one of the ignored calls to attempt another outgoing call. The animation on the screen to indicate the call was connecting played, first for a second, then a couple seconds, then a few seconds, and then finally; the call was ignored.
   Silje shook her head in frustration. She called again, waited a few seconds, nothing. She hung up, and tried again. This time she waited a couple seconds: nothing. She hung up, and tried again. She waited a second; nothing. Hang up, try again. The rage crescendoed within Silje as she began mashing the screen of her watch. Call, hang up, try again. Call, hang up, try again. Call, hang up, try again.
   Call, a brief flash of an annoyed face, a "wha-", hang up, a pause for consideration.
   She cocked her head. This time, more gently resending the call and patiently waiting for the call to be picked up by the receiving end.
   "What is it, Miss Yuritan?" The words were spoken with a harsh staccato that cut through Silje's frustration.
   "Sir." Silje saluted.
   "The only reason you should be contacting me is that the situation has been resolved. But, considering the amount of time that has passed, I am going to assume you -"
   "Yes sir, I understand." Silje bowed respectfully. "Please hear me out. This is an emergency."
   "Let's just clear this up first, Miss Yuritan," the man leaned his tired head into an equally tired hand. "You have not resolved the situation since you left Solar Corp-Two."
   "Yes sir, that is correct, but the Lotus is in danger."
   Lorie raised one insincere eyebrow. "And how, exactly, is the Lotus in danger?"
   "That girl that Jack brought aboard the Seraph - the blue haired one, sir."
   The captain remained unconvinced as his head continued to rest in the palm of his hand. "And how exactly is she going to endanger the Lotus? Is she going to trip and fall onto the launch sequence of thousands of warheads?"
   Silje shook her head. "Sir, please hear me out. We have reason to believe she might be some sort of ignition to some sort of global event."
   Lorie let out a few dusty condescending laughs. "Wow, you've made some sort of a convincing argument." He shook his head, preparing to end the call. "You're going to have to try harder than that."
   "Captain Lorie," Silje's voice cut through, stopping him just before ending the call. "You can sit idly by and assume that I am trying to lie to you - for whatever reason - or you can believe what I have to say. When millions die because the Lotus's private defense force wasn't present, it'll be more than just a P-R nightmare that wrecks the stability of Solar Corp-Two. I don't have the evidence I wish I had. But, sir, I ask that you please watch the G.I.E. fleet activity. If you even have the slightest doubt that I am wrong, then please evacuate the Lotus as soon as you can."
   Lorie sat up straight as he looked with sincere eyes back into Silje. "Is that the end of your report, Miss Yuritan?"
   Silje's eyebrows were sharp with confidence as she nodded her head. "Yes sir."
   "Thank you, Miss Yuritan." And with that, Lorie disappeared from the screen of Silje's watch.

    The blood rose with the panic and the adrenaline as Quil knocked any of the few employees that walked the halls of the Everbridge Division out of his way. He opened door after door, going down hall after hall, searching for wherever they had taken Lilli. He could feel the energy swell within his right arm, gripping the makeshift tourniquet to keep the energy from expelling from his hand.
   Filth's eyes danced from the server console to the hollow chamber that drained slowly. The dancer's eyes stared from the reflection of the glass that separated Filth from the chamber.
   The golden-eyed girl ignored the chamber behind her as she kept her gaze fixated on Filth. "The calculated E.T.A. for the G.I.E. fleet does not allow us time to wait."
   Filth nodded. "Right." He agreed, stepping out of the Unit Three pillar.
   "I've already partitioned the drive as drive L:/." The girl smiled.
   "You think you're quite witty with that one, don't you?" Filth rolled his eyes as he stepped into the Unit Number Two pillar.
   The girl laughed. "I just didn't want you to confuse my drive with the recovery drive."
   Filth fell silent as he looked across the console of the server of Unit Number Two. The hollow chamber inside was empty, though the lights of the server blinked to indicate activity.
   Filth placed his thumb against his temple. "I'll see you later, Cowboy," the golden girl gave a bow just before Filth squeezed his temple until he felt the mechanical pop. He winced in pain as his left eye dimmed, the colour draining from it. With his other hand, he carefully gripped the dim eye and pulled it from its socket. He grunted as the pain settled across him.
   The reflection of the girl was gone. He didn't even feel her gaze penetrating him. He didn't hear her speak. He couldn't hear her thoughts, nor did he feel like someone was listening to his own thoughts. There was a forlorn silence. A lonely silence. Even the gentle hum of the server fans didn't blow the silence away. Rather, they only seemed to amplify the loneliness that came.
   Quil stopped in his flurry to inspect a dark, lonely room. The room was only lit by the neon glow of various vending machines stocked with snacks and drinks for any hungry employee to take advantage of. Quil's cowlicks sank as he inspected the different snacks available.
   Filth let out a sigh. He looked at the implant he held in his hand, rolling the eye around in his hand to the tiny slot on the back. He removed the paper-thin card from the implant, inspecting the gold contacts of the card. He squeezed the card lightly, bringing it to his chest. "Every dream brings the pain of failure. I just wonder if she will still be able to hold onto her purpose after this."

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