The WTP Club
When the afternoon arrived and the rain had subsided, Emily and Erik decided to set off.
They first headed toward the factory to pick up Lenin and look for possible evidence of the assault. After that, the plan was to stop by Landini's to give Erik the chance to talk to the attackers before potentially calling the police.
Erik proved to have impressive orientation and maneuvered Emily and himself through the thicket without any technological help. Occasionally, Emily recognized certain parts of the route and the longer they walked, the prouder she felt to have run such a distance.
After about an hour, she caught sight of the factory's facade. "There it is", she said excitedly to Erik "We have to be careful though. Maybe the attackers are waiting for me."
Erik nodded apathetically and strode straight ahead.
"Hey, haven't you listened?” Emily complained "We should probably sneak up and…"
"A real man doesn't sneak up on people! He confronts his opponents face to face", Erik lectured her.
"A real man also doesn't lie paralyzed on the ground with poison darts in his neck", Emily muttered annoyed, but Erik ignored it.
So, to Emily’s displeasure, the two of them ended up walking through the main entrance into the factory. Emily kept looking paranoidly in all directions, praying to not encounter Smoke and Landini.
Suddenly she noticed that the flag in front of the WTP headquarter was missing. Startled, she ran into the room, noticing that the curtains at the entrance had also disappeared.
"Is that it?" Erik asked, entering the room behind her.
"I guess that was it", Emily corrected him in disbelief.
Everything was gone: the entire interior, the photos on the wall, and even Lenin. The only reference point as to where she could possibly find her friends had been taken away, along with everything that held memories of their great time together as a club. On top of that Landini and Smoke had left no traces behind that could have hinted to an assault. Emily felt despair arise within her.
Erik realized that Emily had apparently not found what she had been longing for.
He sat with her and then said soothingly "Don't worry, we'll save your friends. I promise you that by the sheer power of my bulging muscles."
With little conviction, Emily nodded, desperately hoping that she could actually trust this strange person.
Throughout the rest of the day Beat did not return to Wark anymore. He did not want to be unsettled by his friend again. He felt as if he had finally gotten his head straight after Wark had caused so much confusion in him.
He was Beat, the founder and pioneer of a new fair social order that would finally bring justice, that would finally ensure that no one had to live lonely, unloved and unappreciated anymore.
The closer the evening drew, the more certain Beat felt about his decision. Even Landini's alleged criminal plans decreasingly frightened him. All of history's great revolutionaries had faced resistance and had not always acted in accordance with the law. Perhaps, positive change required courage. And he would demonstrate that courage. He would put himself at Landini’s service and assist him in making the vision of thousands of living anime girls a reality. Maybe Landini would even give him Waisie for free if he did a good job.
A few seconds after the clock turned to 7 pm, Landini's doorbell was heard ringing.
"Right on time”, Landini commented and walked up to the front door.
"I'll start making final preparations", Keiichi announced, instructing Va to accompany him.
In the lab, the two met Beat, who was standing in front of the capsule again, looking at Waisie in love.
"I guess you really can't wait", Keiichi said happily as he walked over to a monitor.
Va followed him slowly. As she walked past Beat, she suddenly whispered something into Beat’s ear.
Beat’s eyes widened. What? How? Had he just heard right? That couldn't be...
Spellbound, he stared at Va, who acted as if nothing had happened and started assisting Keiichi.
She had only said four words; still these words managed to throw Beat into complete irritation.
Dazed and in disbelief, Beat staggered out of the lab.
Just at that moment Landini opened the steel door that connected the gaming room with the basement corridor. Despite the dim light, he immediately noticed Beat's pale face. Concerned, he strode up to him to see if everything was okay. In his right hand he still held his keys, which he had used to unlock the front door.
As if in a trance, Beat suddenly reached for the keys, snatched them from Landini’s hand and began to run.
"Hey, stop immediately!" Keiichi heard Landini shouting from the hallway. What in god’s name had happened now?
Keiichi closed the computer program he had been working with and looked out of the lab. To his surprise, he noticed that the door to the gaming room was wide open, although Landini was usually really careful about keeping it closed. The gaze of a curious clan member was already peeking into the hallway.
Confused, Keiichi wanted to close the door again. But just as he had taken the handle, he heard the doorbell ring again. Irritated, Keiichi looked around in the room. 1, 2, 3, 4... all Trusted Alliance members were present. That wouldn't be the police already, right?
Keiichi dashed upstairs.
Landini's mother had been quicker though and had already opened the door when Keiichi arrived on the first floor.
"Oh Keiichi", she exclaimed, turning to him with a delighted look on her face "This good-looking... uhm... I mean, this friendly gentleman wanted to talk to you guys."
Through the door stepped an actual giant with long platinum-colored hair and a serious facial expression.
Keiichi starred at him perplexedly.
Who was this? That man didn't look like a policeman. What could he possibly want?
Before Keiichi could say anything, Landini's mother had already scurried past him with her head red as a tomato and said "I'll get you something to eat. Such a splendid man must be very hungry. Have fun together!”
"Wait!" Keiichi tried to stop her, but she had already disappeared into the kitchen.
The giant looked deeply into Keiichi eyes. Then he stomped toward him with big steps.
Keiichi shuddered. He didn't know what to do.
"I don't even know you!", he began to bicker "What do you want from us?"
The giant ignored him and wordlessly strode past him, down the basement stairs.
"Hey, hey!" Keiichi shouted, running past him "Will you talk to me already! What do you want? We are going to call the police! My father works at a ministry!"
The giant ignored him again.
Keiichi, visibly overwhelmed, positioned himself wide-legged into the doorway to the gaming room to symbolize that he wouldn’t allow the weird intruder to progress any further.
The giant, however, was not deterred by this. He placed his hand, which was larger than Keiichi's head, on Keiichi's shoulder and simply pushed his entire body aside.
Keiichi's gaming colleagues watched the spectacle with interested looks on their faces.
"Fear not, lost souls!", the giant spoke as he walked to the center of the gaming room "The day of your redemption has come. Today your life as an alpha male begins. I am PlatinumOne, and I welcome you as my new disciples!"
Meanwhile, Landini chased Beat through the cellar corridor.
Beat had not made use of the human ability to run for years and felt his lungs aching after only a few meters. What had he just done? Could he really believe Va? Maybe she had simply lied to manipulate him into doing exactly what he had done now. He really was an idiot. Well... now it was too late to question his decision either way. He had ruined himself every possibility to ever be with Waisie. If he stopped and let himself get caught, he would meet a similar fate as the other people from WTP.
He glanced over his shoulder and noticed that Landini had caught up quite a bit.
Beat cursed his genetics for having equipped him with such short legs and picked up speed. He had to somehow make it to the second basement section where Glenn, Sousui and Bane were trapped. Landini would be an easy match for Glenn.
Beat ran past Wark's room, past Sikh's cell, past the restroom and toward the door that connected the two sections. While opening the door, Landini managed to catch up once again and Beat could already see his hand reaching out for him. Panicked, Beat yanked the door open and started moving again as quickly as possible. Landini just barely missed him.
Glenn pricked up ears when he suddenly heard panting sounds and rapid footsteps moving toward them. When he poked his head through the bars to see what was going on, he heard a voice shouting "Glenn, catch!" The next moment, a set of keys slammed against his head.
Landini stopped in panic when he saw who was now in possession of his keys. He heard the noise from a lock opening and suddenly a deep dark presence pervaded the entire area.
Glenn had mentally focused all the hate he had been feeling for Bane. Now the dark energy released itself, and you could literally see a demonic aura surrounding Glenn.
"Damn it!" Landini shouted, turning around as fast as he could. He had to call for help immediately. Hopefully Glenn wouldn't manage to grab him before he had the chance to inform the others.
Luckily for Landini, Glenn wasn't thinking about chasing him anyway. Snorting wildly, he ran straight to Bane's cell to make him pay for all the humiliation Glenn had been forced to endure the past days.
Bane feared for his life when he noticed Glenn's hateful expression. His entire body radiated pure murderousness.
"Glenn don't!" Sousui shouted just as Glenn was about to unlock the compartment "There is absolutely no time for that now!"
"But he shall suffer, he shall suffer for everything he said!", Glenn screamed in rage.
"Glenn! Get yourself together!” Sousui ordered angrily "You free me right now and then we'll listen to what Beat has to say!"
Glenn expressed such a loud scream that it was probably heard throughout the entire basement. Full of frustration, but still insightful, he eventually turned to Sousui and released him.
"So we don't have much time", Beat said as he gasped exhaustedly "Here's what’s up: Va was right. Keiichi wants to bring anime girls to life. There's a lab at the end of the hallway where they're going to start the process in a few minutes. Keiichi and Landini have locked you guys up to make sure that you don't interfere and to keep the project secret. They're going to try to stop us; we need to get out of here as soon as possible!"
Glenn and Sousui listened in confusion. Anime girls were really supposed to come to life? What kind of nonsense was Beat mumbling? That sounded like a bad sci-fi movie. Besides, how would Beat even know all of that? And what was he doing here anyway, after they hadn't seen him for so long?
They both quickly realized that there was no time to think about it any further. Keiichi, Landini and Smoke were criminals, that much was for certain, and the two of them didn't want to be trapped in their basement any second longer.
Beat pointed to a door that was behind them. "That's the way up to Keiichi's house", he explained, "But we still have to free Wark and Sikh.” He pointed to the door at the opposite side of the hallway.
"What about Emily?", Sousui asked, remembering how she had tried to escape.
"She's not here. That's all I know", Beat replied, gesturing the two to finally get moving.
"And what about Va!?", Glenn added nervously.
"We'll probably have to save Va too", Beat confirmed ponderingly. He still didn't quite understand Va's role in all of this. He had her four words running through his head again. Should he tell Sousui and Glenn about it? No, that would irritate them completely. There was no time for that now. They had to get going!
In the meantime, Keiichi was still standing in the gaming room, watching PlatinumOne's show in disbelief. PlatinumOne had taken off his shirt and then started lecturing his new disciples about the meaning of life.
Keiichi decided that this was enough now. He had to call the police.
It seemed a bit absurd, considering the fact that he had been afraid of the police showing up before. But he couldn't let this madman go on any longer. He was lucky that PlatinumOne had only insisted on coming to their gaming room. It would’ve been a disaster, if he had suddenly started to investigate the basement complex. The police couldn't have simply removed him from there.
As Keiichi reached for his phone, he suddenly received a call from Landini. "Bad news! Our prisoners have escaped. Smoke is already informed and I'm with Va right now. We have to stop them! Get to us as fast as you can!"
Silently, Keiichi hung up. He instinctively knew exactly what to do.
"I'm sorry, Landini, but I have other plans."
As quickly as he could, he rushed to the lab and grabbed the laptop that held the only software important to him. Then he ran back to the gaming room and up to the first floor.
He had to get himself and the laptop out of here. That was the only thing that really mattered; everything else was beside the point. He had finally realized that they had overshot the mark by far. He should never have let Landini talk him into this project. As he had said to Beat, there was suddenly so much at stake for him. That laptop had to be kept safe.
Keiichi continued to run past Landini's stunned mother and out of the house.
Little did he know that a red-haired girl was waiting outside the house, immediately deciding to follow him.