Lengthening Shadows 3.7

The light in the lab flickered as the earth shook again, the sound of the explosion reaching them soon after, deep and muted by the rock.

“Do you think we could escape?” asked Eve. “You know, sneak out while he’s busy?”

“I- I dunno. What if-“

Another rumble reached them, echoing through the complex. Adam clenched his eyes shut as the light in the corner of his vision flickered.

“Come on,” urged Eve. “This might be our only chance.” She tugged at Adam’s sleeve. Adam looked around. The sterile white walls, the sparse, utilitarian accommodations, the frightening scientific equipment, of course he wanted to leave. Of course he did. But all the same, it was the only home he knew. He looked at his bed, the clean white cot in the middle of the room. Right next to Eve’s. Right next to Lilith’s.

“She escaped. Do you think we might find her again?” Adam asked.

“You might. I don’t know her,” confessed Eve.

Adam remembered; Eve was only… created after Lilith was deemed a failure, after she stole a plane and escaped. She was still out there, he knew it.

“O- Okay, but how are we going to get out of here?” Adam asked at last. Eve shot him a sly look, her eyes luminous.

“I have a plan.”

***

“So, Lilith and Eve were Dr. Destructo’s other experiments?” asked Jamisson.

“Yes, sir. We were… prototypes,” said Adam.

“I see. Sorry for interrupting. Please, continue.”

***

“What is this place?” asked Adam nervously. He’d never been outside the ‘safe area.’

“This is his data center. It’s where he stores everything, all his research, all his experiment data. Somewhere in here, he has plans for the complex.”

Adam gazed across the rows upon rows of servers, purring away silently in the frigid underground cavern that housed them.

“Plans we can use to escape,” finished Eve.

“How are we going to find them?” asked Adam.

“Easy. We just have to check every server. You take that half, I’ll take this half.”

***

“Are you telling me you have Dr. Destructo’s research files?” Jamisson interjected, stunned. “Good lord. No wonder Metatron wants you.”

“I have half of them,” clarified Adam. “Eve got the other half.” Adam shuddered involuntarily at the memories. “He did horrible, horrible things. You understand why I don’t want anyone to know about this? I’m only telling you because I trust you. Because I owe you.” Adam looked to Jamisson for a response, dead serious.

“I understand,” said Jamisson quietly, and he did. There were people who would kill, or do much worse, to get that data.

“I would erase them if I could, but I can’t modify my own memories. As much as I wish I could sometimes, I can’t forget.”

Jamisson had heard that before- he had said that before himself. But from someone so young… Jamisson realized suddenly that Adam, though small in stature, had been through more hardship already than most people face in a lifetime. He was more mature than he acted by far, and Jamisson wondered if that was all just an act, a front so people wouldn’t see the real him. It would unsettle people, he realized, much as it did him, to see someone so young with such a cynical outlook. He could see why Adam would want to appear less mature than he was. After a moment of introspection, Jamisson motioned Adam to continue, not wanting to keep the story waiting.

***

Searching through the data was a nightmare, quite literally. Images of failed experiments, footage of patients driven insane, schematics for devices with horrible purpose. It poured through Adam’s mind like a waterfall, steadily eroding the image of the man he thought of as his father.

“This… this is horrifying,” came Eve’s voice from the other side of the cavern. “He did all this, himself.” She paused. “Why?”

The word seemed to echo in the cavern, lingering in the air and in their minds. Why? Why would he do these things? Adam had no answers. Nothing that could explain these atrocities.

“Oh my god,” said Eve quietly after some time, her voice barely audible even in the near-silent cavern. “I found…”

“You found a map?” said Adam eagerly, raising his voice to be heard.

“No… I found my file. I found how he created me. Oh god. Oh…”

Adam disconnected from the server and rushed over to where he’d heard her voice coming from. He found her on the floor, clutching her knees to her chest, shaking.

“Adam, I’m not even… I’m…” she sobbed. Adam didn’t know what to do for a moment, but then his more protective instincts kicked in.

“I’m here, it’s okay.” Adam comforted her, gently pulling her off the floor. She rested her head on his shoulder and he pulled her close.

“And he was going to make an army like us,” choked out Eve. “I- I’d wondered what I was, what we are, but now-” she cut off a sob, “-I wish I didn’t know.”

“We’re going to make it out of here, and we’re going to make sure he pays for what he’s done.” Adam blinked as the light in the corner of his vision blinked red.

Eve lifted her head, her opalescent eyes shining. “Let’s make him pay.”

It took them another half hour to get through the rest of the data. Adam knew now why he had to leave. He understood what kind of man his “father” was. But still, there was no map.

“There’s nothing,” he said to Eve when they met again at the far end of the data center. Her eyes widened, and dimmed. Another explosion rocked the complex, followed by an electrical-sounding buzz that pierced the air briefly.

“Nothing? I don’t have it either.” She was starting to sound panicked.

“No map, no schematics, it is not. Here.”  

“No, no, no! It has to be!”

Adam racked his brain, sifting through terabytes of data per second, to no avail.

“Nothing,” he said again, with a note of finality. Eve’s eyes flared, then went out, returning to their normal pale grey hue. Adam knew what this meant, but under the circumstances he wasn’t going to stop her. She needed it to keep calm. It had triggered in Adam too, briefly, when he was sifting through the data. He always hated it. He never knew what he would do.

“You’re right. It’s not here,” conceded Eve, “But I have an idea. I know where he keeps his prototypes.”

“The Disast-O-Beam?” said Adam, picking up on her intention immediately.

“Exactly.”

Adam had found the schematics for the Disast-O-Beam in sifting through the data. He didn’t understand how it worked, but he knew how it was put together, so he could operate it in a pinch.

Adam and Eve scrambled back up the scaffolding into the ventilation system. It had been deliberately designed too small for people to crawl through, but the two were small enough to fit through it.

***

“Sorry to interrupt again, what was it that you say triggered? From the others’ accounts, it happened to you at the school.” Said Jamisson.

“I’d rather not…” Adam paused.

“If it’s going to be a problem, I need to know,” said Jamisson seriously. Adam sighed and leaned forward, pointing to his right eye.

“Do you see this?” The light blinked yellow once. Jamisson nodded. “This shows my emotional state. The color shows specific emotions, the frequency and brightness show the intensity. Understand?”

“I had guessed as much,” said Jamisson.

“So what do you think it means when it goes out completely?”

Jamisson thought for a moment. “Nothing,” he said, the realization dawning. “A lack of emotions.”

“Exactly. Whenever we experience strong emotions, we can just turn them off. It would prevent us from disobeying instructions because of our emotions. When it happens, I’ll follow through with whatever it is I was doing. No restraint.”

Jamisson absorbed the information for a moment. That could be a problem. Everything could be used against someone somehow. He’d heard of how Adam had been brought in, hadn’t believed it at first.

“So if you’re angry at someone enough to trigger the dampers-“

“I’ll try to kill them, yes,” said the small boy, expression carefully neutral. “I’ll classify them as threats and… take steps to remove them.”

Jamisson looked merely thoughtful, but he was shocked to hear Adam put it so bluntly.

“Why didn’t you try to kill Lilith, then?” He asked.

“Because I didn’t want to kill her.”

Jamisson looked confused, so Adam clarified, “I wanted to protect the others. Fighting there and then would only have gotten them killed. When Jet showed up though, the situation changed.”

“Changed, how?”

“I made the assessment that my presence in the helicopter was a threat to his safety, estimated that he would follow me based on analysis of his past behavior, and summarily removed myself, and by causation himself, from the vehicle.”

Adam seemed very different, in a way that was rather unnerving. Jamisson guessed it was a response to the formal atmosphere. He glanced over his notes from Jet’s debriefing.

“You did all this in a few seconds?” he asked sceptically.

“Yes. When I don’t have to worry about emotional responses, I don’t have to second-guess anything. You’d be amazed how much this slows you down. If I had, I sincerely doubt either of us would have gotten out if there at all.”

Jamisson raised his eyebrows. “In that case, well done. I would tell you to be careful, but I think you already know why you have to.”

Adam nodded.

“Good.” With no more questions for the moment, Jamisson gestured for him to continue.

***

The prototyping lab. Adam had been in here before, he knew it. It was so familiar. When, he couldn’t remember. That had never happened before- he’d always had an eidetic memory. That alone unnerved him almost as much as some of the things he found in the research files. The idea of forgetting something was completely foreign to him. To that point, he hadn’t been aware it was possible, so the unnerving sense of familiarity grasping at the edge of his memory instilled him with a profound fear. He stopped where he stood, stiffening.

“Come on, help me find it,” Eve said quietly, tugging at Adam’s shoulder, then looked at him closer. “Wait, have you not been here yet?”

Adam shook his head. “I know I have, but I don’t…”

“Hey, it passes,” interrupted Eve. “I got that first time I came here too. It’s weird,” she shivered. “Now though…” She trailed off too, remembering something, then shook her head as if to clear away the thoughts. “Come on.”

The two scoured the lab, tossing aside broken miniature gravity generators, unfinished black hole grenades, and numerous tangles of wires and ultradense circuits with no identifiable purpose that covered every surface. The Disast-O-Beam wasn’t hard to find, though, being mounted in a transparent display case.

“Perfect,” said Eve, luminous eyes narrowed. She drove an elbow through the transparent aluminum in one sharp movement, then tore the case apart starting from the hole she’d made.

“I can use it,” Adam said. “I found the schematics.”

Eve nodded, and Adam picked up the weapon. It was bulbous and ungraceful, gleaming in chrome, unlike the sleek red-and-white one that Dr. Destructo was currently using up above. It was also monstrously heavy, but Adam hefted it as easily as if it was a toy. The grip was designed to be held either underhand, hanging below the wielder’s arm like a minigun, or be hoisted up onto the wielder’s shoulder like a rocket launcher. It was almost as large as Adam was.

“The power supply has been removed,” Adam said, inspecting the weapon. “But I can connect it to my own.”

Adam connected the weapon to-

***

“Hold on, you connected it to your own power source?” Jamisson asked, incredulous.

“Yes,” said Adam, mildly irritated at the interruption. He brushed his right wrist with the fingers of his left hand. He pulled his hand away, holding what appeared to be a slender cable extending from his wrist, with an unconventional-looking connector at the end. “See?” He asked, brandishing it at Jamisson. “It’s pretty much useless except with DestrucTech, because it’s his personal connector design. Lilith must have had some kind of adapter to be able to interface with the school’s servers.” Adam released the cable, and it retracted quickly, whipping back into its concealed port with a *zip.*

“So you can directly interface with DestrucTech? Dr. Mind is going to want to-“

“I’m NOT going to help with that,” Adam hissed coldly. “If I never touch anything he made again, it will be too soon.”

Jamisson looked Adam over. Adam was right- he couldn’t be expected to do that, after what he’d been through. “Okay, fair,” he conceded brusquely. “I apologize. Please, continue.”

***

The Disast-O-Beam powered up, coming whirring to life, a chorus of whining capacitors, buzzing fans, and other, stranger sounds. Adam felt a moment of revulsion as the interface for the weapon superimposed itself over his vision. The targeting reticule, plastered across whatever surface he pointed the weapon at, had been labeled “splash zone,” in gaudy, colorful letters.

“He’s a lunatic,” Adam choked out. “Why would he make something like this?”

“Why would he make something like us?” countered Eve bitterly. “Let’s get our of here.”

“Which way?” Adam asked, unsure.

Another explosion rumbled high above them.

“That way,” said Eve.

Adam raised the Destruct-O-Beam, and fired. The air screamed as the beam tore through it, invisible except for a rippling in the air as it compressed, piercing into the ceiling. Alarms started going off immediately, filling the room with sirens. Eve covered her ears, a symbolic gesture, as she could, like Adam, just turn off her auditory input. The carbon-fiber reinforced titanium-ceramic resisted for a moment, but as the atoms were torn apart, it started to buckle, collapsing inwards into the center of the beam. The now super-dense column of matter started spitting out electrons as it settled into a more compact form, arcing dramatically to the surrounding earth. After a moment, Adam released the trigger and the effect reversed. The column of super-dense matter expanded back to its original size, with some gusto, tearing apart the earth with the force of an orbital strike.

Adam and Eve stood against the shockwave, ignoring the gentle patter of chunks of earth falling around them. High above, was a glimpse of something they had never seen before, at least in their memory: sunlight.

Eve stared up at it, wide eyed, but Adam merely squinted as he fired the weapon again, swinging it in a circle to create a larger opening.

By the time a tunnel had been cleared, almost all of the lab had been buried in falling earth, collapsing some of the walls and spilling out into the complex. Adam tore his connector out of the weapon and rent the weapon it in half, circuitry splintering, metal casing shredding. He wiped his hands on his pants in disgust.

Eve picked up one of the miniature gravity engines and activated it, taking Adam’s hand and kicking off the ground. As the complex collapsed around them, they rose together, hand in hand, towards the light of a bright new world.

***

Jamisson looked down at his clipboard. The powers that be didn’t need to know this. He had been thinking earlier what people would do if they knew Adam had Dr. Destructo’s research files. He had been thinking about the criminal elements, people like Blackwell, Massacre, or Metatron, not to mention some of the more lucid Nightmares. He hadn’t considered what his own leaders would do. If they could find something that could give them an edge on an international scale, they would follow through. No restraint. Adam’s past was a matter for Adam to know. He would give them the bare bones- who Lilith was, but the rest? They couldn’t know that Dr. Destructo’s research still exists, in one form or another. There’s a reason Dr. Mind claims he doesn’t understand how the Nullifier works, a reason he won’t tell the government how the Disast-O-Beam really works. Jamisson finally understood the scale of the secrets Adam was telling him, and he knew now why they had to stay secret. One page at a time, he started tearing his notes up by hand.

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5 Responses to Lengthening Shadows 3.7

  1. This one has a slightly different format from the others, because it’s mostly flashback. Should hopefully explain some stuff.

    Also, updated Table of Contents and made minor updates to the Character page, and added tags to all chapters in Lengthening Shadows. I’m going to be adding tags to the rest soonish, as well.

  2. Oh my god. Clever bastard. Eve and Lilith and Adam… but why would he name her Lilith if he thought she was going to succeed?

    • Jedidusk says:

      Because he tried to make perfect little girl.

      • And also, he didn’t know he was going to succeed. In fact, he was pretty sure he wasn’t going to. Remember Lilith mentioning “you’re not the only one who’s a little defective” in the previous chapter? The circumstances of and reason for Lilith’s escape haven’t come up yet, but that factors in.

        Funny thing, the biblical reference was actually accidental in the original draft, and when I noticed, I just decided to roll with it. There’s bits and pieces of it throughout Adam’s backstory (did you notice the tree of knowledge?)

      • I’m sorry? A reference to something? Lilith was Adam’s first “wife,” who was kicked out of eden and replaced with Eve.

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