History of the Mad Doctor

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Pictor
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History of the Mad Doctor

Post by Pictor » Thu Jul 19, 2012 8:01 pm

This is the story of an atrocious man who, though no longer around, turned the tides of many fates in the LN world.

I might wiki-fy this sometime later, if there are no problems.

======

"Science is an art about sacrifice.
The weak for the strong, both in men and in theories.
Certainly, 'survival of the fittest' has never been truer but here!"


THE BRIMMERMANN PROJECT

Sometime after the Great War the Panzer ruling body, deciding that another catastrophe of such scale could not be allowed to endanger their future, put into place an arrangement of proposed plans. Their goal was to advance the Panzer race and arm their people against potential future threats such as the Reapers. This campaign, known collectively as the Uplifting Movement, promised change and a better tomorrow for the Panzerfolk in a time of great depression. Many of the plans put into motion would go on to become cornerstones of the modern Panzer way of life, such as the complete militarization of the society, the introduction of the mandatory 15-year "Be-Prepped Period", and the implementation of the MPUD system.

Among these "prosperous" changes, however, were also much darker machinations that were conducted in top secrecy, hidden from the eyes of the public. One of these was the Brimmermann Project, a long-running series of scientific endeavors to engineer the "next-stage" of Panzer evolution. The project was named after its founder and director; Zaed Hauser Brimmermann, a brilliant but eccentric Panzer scientist who pioneered many milestones of Panzer technology.

The project itself was set to run for many generations, to be executed in a series of successive phases called Iterations. If a running Iteration reaches failure, or no longer becomes worth continuing, it would be completely abandoned, with only the most vital and pertinent resources being preserved as the foundation for the next Iteration. According to Brimmermann, the reason for this volatile execution was to prevent the project from stalling on ideas that were not worth while.

As time passed, Brimmermann's obsession in his project grew. The lifespan of consecutive Iterations became shorter and shorter as the his schemes escalated to more ambitious and erratic designs. Many Iterations would be scrapped mid-way for seemingly nonsensical reasons, even if it had been proceeding well. Suspicions arose that Zaed no longer cared for the original directive of project, and simply abused the resources he commanded for his own gains. Due to his deluded nature, Zaed soon earned the moniker of the "Mad Doctor" to those around him.

The project saw frequent changes in staff over the generations, but Zaed himself always remained. What the scientist could not do in one lifetime, he attempted to pursue in multiple. Through an ongoing series of dangerous and often untested procedures, Brimmermann replaced his organic body of flesh and blood with mechanical components. The augmentations served to greatly enhance both his longevity and his genius, but also slowly consigned him to madness. With the loss of his mortal self, Brimmermann also relinquished the final remnants of reason and morality. The project's experiments turned increasingly twisted and aberrative, and their methods were often horrifyingly brutal, with no regard for the being of both subjects and staff.

ITERATION 15

For decades, Brimmermann lorded over the pursuit of the "next step in Panzer evolution". Although the project was never once declared to the public, elaborate rumors and talks of conspiracy spread among the Panzer masses. Those who were actually privy to its terrible existence dared not question its existence, as if the very mention of its name was enough for one to wind up as the next body on the Mad Doctor's operating table.

Things continued as such until Iteration 15. The concept of this phase was relatively simple compared to many others in the past. Simply put, the aim was to switch the order in which the body and soul were combined during the creation of a Panzer being. Normally, a member of the Panzer race possesses a human body as a foundation, with a secondary bestial soul. Such has been the way of a Panzer's birth since ancient times.

At it turned out this configuration proved to be too stable and unreactive, and was difficult to modify once it has been set. Brimmermann sought to reverse the configuration, using the body of an animal as a base and the soul of a human as the secondary component. This would hypothetically generate, as the scientist puts it, "a less existentially inert product" that would be more viable for future modifications.

The results were disastrous. Almost none of the test subjects lasted through the cruel initial procedure. The majority of those that did were either rendered psychotic, malignantly sick, or were simply so crippled that they did not live past the span of a few days. Only a single case survived without displaying any adverse effects; an infant girl. In fact, even though the child was technically a success in the reversion process, other than the mere switching of body and soul components she displayed no desirable qualities what-so-ever. A dud, so to speak. Still, not wanting to simply disregard the only living test subject out of hundreds, the Panzer officials made arrangements for the child to be integrated into proper society through a foster parent; a young but retired soldier by the name of Grant Geminesca. She would continued to be observed as she grew, in case the girl came to display further developments down the road.

As always, Brimmermann would be allowed to continue his deranged projects.

Or so it was assumed.

From the ashes of Iteration 15 would rise the most devastating force the Panzers have experienced since the Great War itself.

ARRIVAL OF THE FAUST

The entity known only by his given designation, "the Faust", was a Crosser that appeared from seemingly nowhere and declared himself an enemy of all Panzer forces. His exact aims are unclear, only that he indiscriminately attacks all Panzer military troops on sight. Although a mere, single human, the Faust has the power to infiltrate even the most secure of compounds undetected, and obliterate entire squadrons of highly trained soldiers at once. Although his movements are unpredictable, information about the individual soon came into light, and all of it was traced back to Iteration 15 of the Brimmermann Project.

Apparently, one of the expended test subjects of the body-soul reversion experiments was a friend of the Faust's. His acts of war upon the Panzer people were conducted in vengeance of his comrade's accursed fate. It didn't take long for the finger to be pointed in Brimmermann's direction. As if on cue, hordes of voices roared in animosity and accusation. Government superiors claimed his projects as foolish and incompetent wastes of resources, laboratory personnel who were formerly too afraid to speak up attested to the sickening nature of his work, and families of those who perished in his undertakings demanded recompense.

Right in the middle of commencing Iternation 16, Zaed Hauser Brimmermann was captured, incarcerated, and in the following days, trialed and sentenced to death. After several long years and generations, the Brimmermann Project was finally halted as a whole, with its funds and findings being transferred over to the Loaded Gallows Project.

If all had gone according to plans, that would most likely have been the end of Brimmermann's streak of terror. However, there is yet more.

ESCAPE AND MEETING

On the eve of the Mad Doctor's execution, the prison complex in which Brimmermann was being detained was assaulted by none other than the Faust himself. Whether the assassin knew of Brimmermann's presence is unknown, but when the dust settled in the aftermath of the attack, the former scientist was gone from his cell. In an ironic twist of fate, the Faust had spared the life of the man whom had earned his wrath above all others that night.

With nowhere left to go among his own, Zaed escaped into the human world. For the next few years he would slowly rebuild the research that he had been stripped of, raiding the ruins of abandoned Panzer research facilities and salvaging them for resources. Brimmermann's resolve wavered not; for his eternal body this was naught but a minor setback. He would outlast them, the meek and mindless fools who lacked the will to commit themselves to science. Time was his ally, and it was a powerful one.

Brimmermann did not have to wait as long as he thought for his chance to come. Not long after his research was once again in full swing was he confronted by a human male out of the blue. The human introduced himself as Verdon Hindfell, the young head of a clan of Crossers that was on the precipice of rising to great power within the human world. The man revealed he knew much about the doctor's history, and expressed empathy in his dedication to his trade. Verdon explained that, like him, the Hindfell clan were a group who devoted themselves to scientific advancement. They desired Brimmermann's wisdom and skills, and if he complied, he would be supplied with unlimited resources and trained personnel with which to further his own studies. Brimmermann was no fool; not in a million years would he just blindly give his trust to a stranger, never mind a human. However, as with all things, the doctor saw this development as a means to an end. He accepted Hindfell's offer, and planned to cut his ties as soon as it become an inconvenience.

The partnership, however, was more rewarding than Brimmermann had anticipated. Not only did the Hindfells live up to their word, their amassed of knowledge on the etheric sciences was surprisingly complex and developed. The Crosser clan, it seemed, had directed their research in the way of Reaper relics, something that he had never before considered. As Verdon had promised, in exchange for aiding the Hindfells in their own goals, Brimmermann himself was given the means to continue his own ventures, something he took complete advantage of.

5 years after his chanced meeting with Verdon Hindfell, Brimmermann initiated Iteration 00 of the New Brimmermann Project.

ITERATION 00

The things the Hindfells were able to provide Brimmermann impressed him, to say the least. He allowed to commission the construction of an advanced laboratory at a place of his choosing and specify the equipment. On top of that he was also assigned a functioning team of personnel consisting of both Crossers and Panzers; rogues who had defected from the Head Quarters. He knew not where a mere human clan, no matter how wealthy, could attain such assets, but he did not care. With these resources at his disposable, he could finally return to finishing the task he began with the old Brimmermann Project.

Iteration 00 was named in celebration of a new beginning, for it was with this new installment of projects that he would take his brand of science down a new, unprecedented path. By definition, a Panzer is the marriage of a human and animal soul. Brimmermann theorized the same should be possible with a Reaper existence. The Hindfells had long sought to harness the powers of the Reapers in the form of their weapons and relics, but they've never possessed the knowledge of Panzer science as he did. Using their accumulated records, he would strive towards something much more; the creation of a complete Reaper-Panzer hybrid. It would the culmination of his decades-long desire; the creation of a being that would succeed and surpass the original Panzer race.

And so, stationed at a facility tailored to his every specification, in a remote area of Southeast Asia, the Mad Doctor took up the scalpel once again.

It would be 6 more years before he would finally achieve any semblance of success.

FINAL SUCCESS

The location of Brimmermann's private laboratory was not without reason. The dense Southeast Asian jungles provided suitable cover for his deeds. Dotting the perimeter of the facility's grounds were scattered villages, all of them small and poor and barely thriving off primitive means. So dire was their condition that they were willing to sell off their own in exchange for pitiful amounts of wealth and sustenance.

An ample cache of test subjects.

The villagers knew not of what became of those they "traded" to the strange, foreign men, only that their sacrifices were enough to feed the village for yet another few precious days.

Among the human expendables he "harvested", Brimmermann preferred young children. Their undeveloped nature was perfect for many of the tests that Iteration 00 necessitated; a fact that the lone survivor of the previous Iteration 15 had proved. A shame that for the same reasons, their bodies often could not withstand the harshness of the experiments.

Then, the doctor happened across her.

The girl was the same as all the others, a nameless commodity sold off by her people for the sake of their own survival. But her will to live was astounding. Procedures that would break all the others within seconds, she endured for hours. Against methods that were lethal even to adults, she alone lived. She was battered, burned, mutilated, and bled out of nearly every orifice. But still, through thick and thin, the child clung to life.

Brimmermann had never seen such a brilliant display of perseverance in a living thing, even during his days at the Head Quarters. It had almost defied conceivable logic! So captivated was he by the girl's grit that he began to spend additional resources to regenerate her body and keep her alive. Sometimes, he would subject her to the more barbaric of tests just to see her writhe and struggle and scream, and yet continue to survive.

From him, she earned an exception of exceptions; the first test subject in the history of his work to be privileged with a name.

And so it was that, through her sheer tenacity, the girl eventually became his first successful prototype; a human whose soul was reborn and merged with the essence of a Lesser Reaper. Although a mere stepping stone toward the ultimate goal, the results were beyond anything Brimmerman could have dreamed.

Or would dream, for that matter.

This short-lived success would be the first and the last the Mad Doctor would ever behold. The dawn sun rose the next day to cast its rays upon the complete and utter ruins of Brimmermann's laboratory facility. Everything had been reduced to smoldering rubble. Only the girl remained; testing garbs reduced to tatters, hair and skin caked and matted with blood not her own, and jade eyes cast frigidly through a sea of embers and dust.

No trace of Zaed Hauser Brimmermann's remains were never found. After the destruction of his secret lab became evident, both his Hindfell associates and the Panzer militia would try to ascertain his whereabouts. Neither side had any luck, nor would they ever hear from the Mad Doctor since.

======

To the villagers the foreign men seemed to have suddenly disappeared as quick as they came, and with their absence returned the status quo of the surrounding land. The natives went back to their meager lives of getting by off scraps, though there was no longer any temptation to abandon their own for the sake of short-lasting goods. However, another unsettling crisis soon emerged.

Rumors and tales of a supposed "Demon Child" that roamed the dense jungles, stalking travelers with the aim of robbing them of their goods, and attacking farms to make off with their livestock whole.
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Re: History of the Mad Doctor

Post by Pictor » Thu Jul 19, 2012 11:20 pm

Continued Tale

Verdon Hindfell sat in the comfortable compartment of his private jet as its engines hummed sleekly through the skies, casually gazing out the window at the sparkling waters rolling past below.

"Wine, Master Hindfell?"

A well-groomed older gentleman with gentle features approached beside him with a platter of beverages and glasses in hand. Verdon returned a smile and gestured the offer away.

"No, thank you, Matthew. I would prefer to be happily drunk after this whole ordeal is over."

"Very good, Sir." The man nodded politely and handed the platter over to another servant, who swiftly made off toward the back of the plane. Matthew continued to stand silently by while his master returned his gaze to the outside scenery.

It had been a month since the first news came about the destruction of Zaed Hauser Brimmermann's facility, and an estimated six since the day of the actual incident. The doctor himself had disappeared without a trace. The teams sent in to investigate the case reported no traces of his person, nor his remains. Either the man was finally dead, or had once again secluded himself away from the world.

One of the agreements made between Brimmermann and the Hindfell clan in exchange for his services was that once he had established his own research, no one was to inquire about it in any way.

At first, it was of no difference to Verdon. He couldn't care less about what a senile old Panzer fool did with his own time. As long as Brimmermann's efforts were beneficial to the Hindfell's own, it would be worth it to keep feeding him treats, like the beast he was.

But contracts die with their contractees. There was no need to oblige such standings to a dead man.

Admittedly, it was unfortunate that the Hindfells would no longer be able to count on Brimmermann as a resource in the future, however it mattered little to the Hindfell head. Even the most ingenious of minds can eventually be replaced. The important thing was what he may have left behind.

"... Research on Reaper hybridization, hmm?" Quietly to himself, Verdon repeated the words declared on the investigation team's report. "Just what devious things have you been doing with my gifts to you, Zaed?"

From behind his seat, a loud clatter of metal and glass disturbed the silence in the lofty room. From down the hall, a small child with a head full of bright orange hair pranced happily toward Verdon's direction. The servant who had carried away the wine tray was struggling to pick up scattered drinking accessories off the carpeted floor, evidently having been knocked over by the rambunctious little girl.

"Papa~!!" The girl giggled happily as she flung herself into Verdon's arms. "Papa's here! Papa's here!"

"Oh! Up already, are we?" The man chuckled heartily as he scooped his daughter up onto his lap. As he did so, a distressed-looking rotund woman dressed in maids' uniform hobbled up to his seat, utterly short of breath.

"Young Miss! Oh my, there you are!"

"Ah, Dolores. Has Lanette been causing you trouble again?"

The woman blushed and shook her head wildly.

"O-Oh no, Master Hindfell! She's been a very good girl! Just... lots of energy in her!" Dolores wiped her forehead in exasperation as she exclaimed in an over enthusiastic tone. "Takes everything in me just to keep up with the little one!"

The child squirmed excitedly as she clambered about in her father's arms.

"Hehehe, Dolores is too slow!"

"Oh ho, is that so, Young Miss?" The maid grinned and propped her arms upon her waist in mock-offense. "Excuse me, but this old bird isn't as young as she used to be!"

"And you've done very good work in your time, Dolores. Please, give yourself some space to breath. Allow me to bear the brunt of her attacks for a while."

"Hoo! If you say so, Master Hindfell!" Dolores huffed in relief, then gave a curt bow before she sauntered off the scene. Meanwhile, Verdon busied himself with keeping his daughter from tumbling backwards off the chair as she continued to giggle like a madman.

Breaking his statue-like silence, the butler Matthew cleared his throat calmly.

"Master Hindfell, was it really wise to bring the Young Miss on a trip such as this? After all, our destination is certainly no place for someone as delicate as she."

As if on cue, the servant was responded to by an explosion of laughter. It seemed Lanette had begun to preoccupy herself with tunneling her way under her father's suit. Verdon chuckled cheerfully as he dug the girl out from behind his back.

"Delicate? Are you sure you have the right girl, Matthew?"

The servant did not seem amused by his master's jest.

"I understand your concern, Matthew." Verdon's expression loosened in a solemn matter as he spoke. "However, it could not be helped. With... her mother's unexpected passing, I could ill afford to leave my own daughter alone, now can I?"

"Apologies, Master, it was not my place to question. Your decision, as always, is sound." At this, Matthew closed his eyes and inquired no further. Verdon knew, however, that there were few aboard this plane that were truly without doubt at his choice to have his daughter accompany them on this excursion.

"Oh no!" A concerned little voice proclaimed, followed by two small palms mashing against Verdon's cheeks. Lanette gently turned her father's face with her hands and centered his gaze on her own. "Is Papa sad? Did I... do something bad?"

The girl's bright, turquoise eyes narrowed with worry as she asked.

Verdon smiled softly and brushed a hand through his daughter's hair.

"No, Lanette. You heard Dolores, right? You've been a good girl. Papa is very happy."

Lanette's face immediately lit up as she slid her arms past her father's neck and hugged him tightly.

"Yay! I love you, Papa~!"

"Papa loves you, too."

Verdon glanced out the window yet again as he returned his daughter's embrace.

Leave her alone, Verdon? No. It is you who cannot be left alone.
Last edited by Pictor on Wed Aug 08, 2012 6:44 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: History of the Mad Doctor

Post by Pictor » Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:25 am

The first thing Verdon felt as the doors of the jet opened was the oppressive temperatures and humidity. It burst into the room like a vicious backdraft, completely overwhelming the air-conditioned interior of the aircraft. Stepping through the entrance was like throwing oneself into a wall of heat. It was enough to get anyone to start sweating almost immediately.

"Master Hindfell! We've been waiting on you, sir!"

A young man dressed in what appeared to be soldier's gear walked briskly up to the Hindfell head as he made his way down the plane's steps, giving a firm salute. Behind him, a squadron of similarly dressed women and men followed his lead and did the same. The Hindfell's private security force. They've been deployed along with the investigation team in case of... unexpected developments.

Verdon nodded toward the young man, putting him at ease.

"What have you got for me?"

"Well sir, to be honest, there isn't really that much to look at. Besides the stuff written in the reports, the salvage crew hasn't had much more luck. But it would be much better for you to see for yourself, sir!"

"Indeed. That's why I'm here."

"R-Right, Master Hindfell, sir! We've prepared a helicopter escort for you. Just give us the call sir, and we can take you there right away!"

"Excellent. Stand by. I'll be ready shortly."

"Yes, sir!"

The soldier gave another salute and rushed off to rejoin his comrades. Verdon turned and walked toward his daughter, who was, yet again, being chased by Dolores around the landing zone.

"Don't run so fast, Young Miss! It's dangerous!" The stout maid shouted after the child through efforts to catch her own breath. "Hoo! All this heat and running isn't good for my old heart!"

Lanette perked up and reversed her trajectory as she saw Verdon heading toward them.

"Papa~!" The man was nearly knocked off his feet as a miniature Hindfell tsunami crashed against his legs, hooking her arms around him like a lasso. "Gotcha, Papa!"

Verdon smiled warmly as he pat his daughter's head. Lanette let loose a barrage of giggles at her father's touch. The Hindfell head reached down and took his daughter by her tiny hands, then squatted down to her height.

"Lanette, do you know why Papa is here at this place?"

"Mmmm..." The girl pursed her lips in thought for a moment at the question, then widened her eyes in revelation as she recalled the correct answer. "Oh! Business!"

"That's right, Papa's here for very important business, so he has to go for a bit. Stay here with Dolores, and don't cause her any trouble, all right?"

The child's expression melted in dismay as she tightened her grip on her father's fingers.

"... Okay."

At this, Verdon gently pulled his daughter close and gently pressed her small body against his shoulder.

"Don't worry. Papa will be back soon. You'll be a good girl until then, right?"

Lanette jolted excited as she returned the hug.

"Yea! I'll be a good girl!"

A few paces from the father-daughter pair, Dolores chuckled happily to herself as she stood beside the ever-vigilante Matthew.

"My, Master Verdon does know how to be a sweetheart sometimes, doesn't he?"

The male butler drew a hand up and loosened his necktie to vent the heat.

"Yes. I suppose he does."
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Re: History of the Mad Doctor

Post by Pictor » Fri Jul 20, 2012 1:29 am

The ground crunched beneath the boots of Verdon's protective suit with every step he took. Through the tinted screen of his filtration helmet, he scanned the 120-meter wide mass of rubble that was formerly Brimmermann's private research complex. He himself had only been here once before, and what he beheld before was certainly nothing like what he saw now.

The devastation was unspeakable. Save for a few now free-standing pillars, there were almost no traces of the former structure that had once been. There was no way anyone would have been able to tell that the incident had occurred six months ago if they hadn't already known. A constant haze of dust and dangerous fumes rose off the rubble, as if it were still left burning even after all this time.

... And this was simply the surface; to his knowledge, most of the actual facility was underground. In the reports, the salvage crews were hard pressed to make it past the second sub-level. One could only imagine the destruction underneath his feet.

The question that lingered on Verdon's mind was the same as that of all others who first came upon the scene.

"What on Earth could have done this?"

According to what scarce information the investigation team had been able to collect, the only thing they could be certain of was that whatever happened was not an accident. Some one or some thing was responsible for the hellish landscape upon which he now tread.

Verdon continued to make his rounds, inquiring upon one team leader to another. Bits and pieces of new information had managed to be extracted, but in the end, it was as the officer back at the landing site had stated; other than the initial reports, there was basically no new discoveries.

If Brimmermann were truly dead, it seemed he was keen on taking his secrets to the grave.

"Hmph."

Verdon gave a snide huff at the thought. If that were the case, then there was hardly any point in wasting time and resources here. Just as well, he was growing sick of staring at this heap of ash and ghosts.

"Matthew!" At his command, another protective suit quickly trekked over to his position over mounds of debris. "I think I've both seen and heard enough. Let's return to merrier places, shall we? "

"As you say, Sir. I will inform the escorts."

The Hindfell head proceeded to move off the perimeter of the destroyed facility and onto stable grounds. Once he was at a safe distance, he removed his filtration helmet and took a deep breath of natural air. A calm breeze swept out of the jungle and through the clearing where the crew was stationed. It was a welcome sensation against the ruthless heat and humidity. The sealed confines of the uncomfortable protection suit did not help much to improve the conditions.

Off in the distance, a commotion began between two security personnel stationed by an equipment vehicle. One of the individuals, a young man, was pointing wildly towards a dense patch of brush in the jungle. The other, a woman, seemed to be busy trying to calm him down.

"I-I'm serious! I'm telling you, I really saw it! It was right there." The panicking youth gestured once again toward the shadows of the jungle's depths. "It was totally fast! But I saw it! I swear!"

"Gimme a break. Your helmet's on too tight."

"What is going on?"

Verdon approached the more mentally sound of the two individuals.

"Huh? Oh well, this guy- GAH! Master Hindfell!" The young female officer nearly shot off her feet with how fast she snapped into a salute. "You moron! Get your act together!"

Grabbing the other officer by the arm, the woman forced her partner into proper form.

"At ease. Simply being a little curious, that's all."

"Oh! N-No problem, sir!" The female officer released her salute, but maintained her tense posture as she responded. "A-Although... I doubt this guy has anything worthwhile to say..."

"Hmm, really? Young man, what was it that you were talking about? You saw something"

"S-S-S-Sir!" The young man stuttered fervently as he raised a finger at the exact same spot he was pointing to before. "T-T-There, sir! Like I said, i-it was only for a second, but I definitely saw it!"

"Easy, son. What exactly did you see?"

"T-T-The Demon Child, sir!"

The female officer sighed audibly and shook her head.

"I'm sorry, Master Hindfell. Please just ignore this dolt. For some reason, he's convinced that he saw some sort of an urban legend among the villagers around here. I've been trying to tell him it was either the heat getting to him, or his visor simply malfunctioned."

Visor malfunction? Ah, then these recruits must be normal humans. In order to supplement their lack of ether sensitivity, the Hindfells had outfitted their non-Crosser personnel with ether-sensitive equipment. One of the many new developments that had come about due to cooperation with the Panzers.

"And just what is this 'Demon Child'?"

The female officer stared wide-eyed back at Verdon. "E-Excuse me, sir, but... you're not actually believing him, are you?"

Verdon returned an amused grin.

"Not necessarily. But I can be an enthusiast of stories, you might say."

"Er... if you say so, sir."

The young woman cast her glance sideways at her jittery partner and scratched her head in confusion.

"Well, it's been something of a buzz around here, actually. Supposedly, there's this monster that's been going around attacking farm animals in the villages and mugging travelers caught in the jungles. Those villagers are poor enough, so if something like that's happening... well, you can see how the they might get a little paranoid."

The female officer sighed again and gave a matter-of-fact shrug.

"Long story short, some of the troops got wind of it one way or another, and tried to scare each other with the story. Mister Gullible here just had to go and fall for it."

"I-I'm not gullible! It's real!" The male officer exclaimed as he hopped wildly about, only to be brushed off with a "Yea, yea..." from his teammate.

"I see... so that's the Demon Child, is it?"

"Yes, Sir."

Verdon glanced back toward the brush where the young man had been pointing to all this time.

Only darkness from the shadow of trees.

"When exactly did this... rumor begin?"

At being asked, the female officer placed a hand to her chin in thought.

"Not quite sure about that, Sir. Seems like it cropped up only pretty recently, though. People were already making a deal about it when we were first stationed here. That was about four-or-so months ago. So it must have been around for at least that long."

"I see..."

Just then, the nearby sound of a helicopter's churning blades cut across the air. Turning around, Verdon saw Matthew approach from across the lot.

"Master Hindfell, sir. The escorts are prepared. We may leave at your orders, sir."

As the Hindfell head followed his butler toward his ride, his mind swam with suspicion.

About four months ago, was it? Was it merely a coincidence, or something more?

Zaed, what sort of things might you have unleashed?

=======

From the shadows of the brush, hidden away from view, a pair of jade eyes glowed warily as they watched the strange flying machine take off into the skies.

More foreign men had arrived. A lot of them. And they had been digging through the remains of that place.

... Dangerous.

Dangerous, bad people.

Just like him.
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Re: History of the Mad Doctor

Post by Pictor » Fri Jul 20, 2012 4:29 am

Lanette Hindfell lay awake in her private chambers, huddling under her covers in an effort to drown out the roar of thunder and wind. Outside, a fierce storm raged; it seemed the light breeze Verdon had the pleasure of encountering earlier was a harbinger of less pleasant things. The storm had emerged so quickly and unexpectedly that Verdon was forced to make camp and stay the night. A private trailer had been arranged for the Hindfell head and his party.

*CRACK-BOOM*

To the tiny ears of the little girl, it was a scene straight out of an apocalyptic war. Thunderous artillery fired mercilessly into the night air while invisible machine guns showered bullets of rain against the walls of the room.

It was... so exciting!

Little Lanette had to dive under the covers of her bed just so she wouldn't be tempted to run outside. After all, Papa had told her to be a good girl. Good girls shouldn't be staying up after dark in the first place, and they certainly did not run about past their bed time either!

Papa must be really tired after all the "business" he had to do today, so he needs a good night's sleep. If she bothered him, then she would be a bad girl, not a good one! So, no matter how excited she got, cooped up in her room, she'd just have to bear with it, and try to go to bed.

Right! Close her eyes and just... go to sleep.

Sleepy sleep... close your eyes and go to sleep.

Sleeeep... sleeep...

Don't think about the lightning, don't think about the storm.

Juuuuust.... sleeee-

*Rap Rap Rap*

Hmm? What's that? A new noise?

*Rap Rap Rap Rap*

It... It sounded like someone tapping on glass! The window?!

*Rap Rap Rap Rap Rap!*

Oh! Could it be? One of the bad soldiers from the war is trying to get in! Or worse, it could be one of the good soldiers, and he's hurt, and he needs my help!

*Rap Rap RAP RAP RAP!*

As the tapping seemed to grow more fervent, so did Lanette's imagination. Until at last, she could not bear it.

"Pwah!" The girl huffed as she threw her bedsheets off herself, arms poised dramatically into the air. She tossed an eager glance toward the window...

... And saw two eyes staring back at her.

"EEEEE-MMMmmmph!!!" As Lanette cried out in alarm, she ducked back under the covers and she threw her hands around her own mouth to stifle her screams. Can't wake Papa, can't wake Papa!

But... what was that? Was it really a soldier? Was he a good one or a bad one? Should I check again? M-Maybe it was just my imagination.

... I should check again.

Lanette inched herself toward the edge of her covers and lifted them up just ever so much. Peering through the crack, she once again directed her eyes up to the window.

Two eyes.

"EEEEEEE--MMMmmmmph!!!" Once again, the girl found herself needing to stuff her own mouth to prevent from waking up everyone else in the entire trailer.

TH-THERE REALLY WAS SOMEBODY THERE!

*RAP RAP RAP RAP RAP*

And whoever it was, they were trying very hard to get her attention! Should she ignore them? She should. That's what a good girl would do. Because good children don't talk to strangers! That's what Dolores said!

*RAPRAPRAPRAPRAPRAPRAP*

"Oooooh...!" Lanette bit her lower lip anxiously. "M-Maybe just this once..."

The girl silently snaked her way out from under the covers of her bed, plopping directly onto the floor, like some sort of a secret agent.

"Ouch!"

... She could have performed a better landing through. Rubbing her sore behind, Lanette looked back up at her mysterious visitor. This time, she did not scream, and was able to study it much more carefully.

Even though there was really nothing to see. The two glowing eyes were the only thing that shone from the figure beyond the window pane. Either it was because of the darkness, or perhaps the rain, but everything else was just too indistinguishable to make out.

"Psst! Hey!" Lanette called out to the entity looming down upon her room. "Are... Are you a good soldier, or a bad soldier?"

The pair of eyes did not respond. It didn't even move in the slightest! Did it not hear her? Hmmm... Maybe she needed to get closer. Lanette scanned the room for some leverage, and quickly found it in the form of chair placed near the door. With some effort, she managed to drag it against the wall underneath the window.

"Hey! Can you hear me now?" Lanette spoke softly onto the window, fogging it up with her breath. "Hmmm..."

It was strange, even though she was this close up, she still could not make out anything other than her visitor's eyes. Even as she squinted up against the glass, everything beyond was black and murky.

*Rap Rap Rap Rap*

The window vibrated as the figure once again began to tap on the glass. It surprised Lanette so much that she nearly fell off the chair. She shot the pair of eyes an angry glance.

"Look, are you a good soldier or not? Because if you're bad, then I can't just let you in!" Lanette paused and thought about her statement for a moment. "Uh, well, even if you're good I can't let you in eith- Hey!!"

Before she could finish, the figure suddenly dashed off. Judging from the direction of the trailing shadows, it seemed like he was headed in the direction of the front doors.

Uh oh! Did he misunderstand her?

"Wait! I told you I wasn't letting you in!"

This isn't good. She can't follow him because it might wake up Papa! Then she wouldn't be a very good girl, would she?

... B-But what if the guy was a bad soldier and breaks his way in! He might tell on her, and then Papa would definitely know she was up past her bedtime.

"Oh no you don't!" Hopping off the chair, Lanette dashed to the door, opened it as quietly as she could, and sneaked out into the hallway.
Last edited by Pictor on Wed Aug 08, 2012 6:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: History of the Mad Doctor

Post by Pictor » Fri Jul 20, 2012 6:10 am

Verdon awoke with a start at a deafening crashed coming from outside his room. The entire trailer seemed to shake and tip off over to one side, as if something large had rammed itself against it. Quickly snatching a robe draped over his dresser, Verdon threw open the door and raced out into the hallway. What greeted him was a sight he could never have anticipated.

"What in hell...?!"

The front entrance to the trailer had been blown wide open. No... torn to bits was more like it. As if something had ripped through, then peeled it apart like a tin can. Torrents of wind blew through the opening, spraying rainwater everywhere.

And who else stood in the middle of the fray but the perpetrator itself?

"GREEEEEEEAAAAAAAA---AAAH!!

It was a thing made completely of undulating shadows. Aside from its two large, glowing red eyes cast like headlights, the creature's entire body was completely black. From its large torso, six dark and thin appendages stretched out like awkward stems, as if someone had haphazardly pinned them on with no regard for sense or symmetry.

"GREEEEEIIIIIEEEEEAAAAH-----!!

The thing gave a terrifying screech that seemed impossible to have come from anything living on this Earth. All six of its limbs flailed ferociously, knocking furniture about and shattering them to pieces.

"P-PAPA!!"

A terrified little voice cried out amidst the chaos

"Lanette?!"

Verdon scanned the room feverishly for the source of his daughter's voice. Then, he spotted her; cornered against the opposite wall away from him, on the other side of the creature.

"PAPA! I... I DIDN'T MEAN..."

"Lanette, get away from that thing!!"

Verdon shouted and waved for his daughter to flee, however, there was really nothing she could do. The spider-like behemoth had her blocked off at all sides, there was no way she could get away.

"Haaaah! Get away from the Young Miss, you beast!"

Another voice rang out angrily into the room as the monster was suddenly toppled off its legs and sent crashing toward a wall. It gave a surprised shriek and scurried to regain its balance.

From the opposite end of the hallway, Dolores had emerged with fists outstretched. Apparently, it was she who had sent the monster flying.

"Hmph! What a barbaric creature! Without manners, either!"

"D-Dolores?"

Verdon blinked in shock as the sight of the old maid. He knew she was tough, having served the Hindfells since he himself was a child, but...

... He should think twice about jesting her from now on.

With a yawn, a fourth character stumbled stiffly into view from behind Verdon. Dressed in sleeping robes and a night cap, Matthew rubbed his eyes as he brought himself up beside the Hindfell head.

"Such a commotion. What in heavens is going on?"

"RAAAAAAAAAAA---AAAH!!"

The creature, having regained its vitality, clambered upright onto its hind legs, quaking the entire trailer as it did. Without warning, it lashed out three of its appendages, tearing through cabinets and sending bits of wood flying in Verdon's direction.

"Oh my." Matthews exclaimed with nonchalance as he and his master were forced to duck to avoid an oncoming shower of splinters. "Not a guest of yours, I assume, Master?"

"This isn't the time for jesting, Matthew! Why haven't the alerts sounded yet?! How the hell did that thing get past security?!"

"Your guess is as good as mine, Mas-"

"Guh!"

From across the room, Dolores let out a pained grunt as she was brushed aside by the creature's wrath. The thing attempted to follow up with another another strike, but stopped halfway as a block of wood flew in its direction.

"Leave Dolores alone!"

The monster groaned and turned its attention toward its surprise attacker. Lanette recoiled as the creature cast its blinding gaze upon her. Then, stamping her feet, she brandished another piece of wood and stood her ground.

"I-I see now that you're a bad guy after all! You woke up Papa! I'm gonna punish you for that!"

"Y-Young Miss, please... get yourself away...!"

The old maid lay crumpled against the wall where she was knocked, gasping through labored breaths as she held her injured sides. But her warnings were too late. In one deft movement, the creature snatched up the small child in one of his fore limbs before she could even have a chance to react.

"Ah! Aaaaah!"

Lanette screamed and beat against the creature's grasp, but the efforts of her small arms were nothing against its might.

"Damn!! Matthew!"

"Already done, Sir."

Right as the butler finished his sentence, a mad scramble of lights and sirens erupted on the grounds outside the trailer. A crowd of silhouettes soon filed out of the various stations around camp, gathering up against the Hindfells' trailer.

"Huh?! What's going on?! Why's the Young Miss floating?!"

One of the security officers cried as he witnessed the scene inside.

"Something's got her! I can see it through my visor, turn yours on, dumb ass!"

"Oh r-right! WHA?! WH- WHAT IS THAT THING?!"

"Who cares what it is?! It's got the girl! Just shoot it! Open fire!"

On command, a hailstorm of bullets was unleashed upon the spider-thing. And although each and every one made its mark, none of them had any effect on the creature. In fact, the shots simply passed through the thing as if it wasn't there at all, instead only serving to riddle the roof of the trailer with holes.

"Eeeep!" Little Lanette squirmed in the creature's grasp, hugging her head as bullets sprayed dangerously past her.

"You imbeciles, you're going to hit my daughter!"

Verdon roared at the security force through the pandemonium of wind, rain, thunder, and monster screeches.

"O-Our shots aren't working! This thing.... is this... the Demon Child?!"

"This is no blasted demon, you fools! This is a damned Blight." Not just any Blight, either. This was a bloody Stray Blight, judging from how easily it ripped through material things such as the trailer and its contents. "Conventional weapons won't have any effect! Use ether rounds!"

"Y-YES SIR!"

But before the soldiers could respond, the monster suddenly peeled itself away from the trailer. Turning around, it wound itself back on its five unoccupied limbs like a loaded spring then sprung into the air with force enough to knock the trailer off its wheels.

"Gah!"

Verdon struggled to maintain his balance as he made his way to the obliterated entrance of the vehicle while it tipped up and then back down. Vaulting over the dangerously sharp, twisted bits of metal, he landed among the troops.

"What are you waiting for, take it down already!"

Verdon demanded at the gathered men. The beast had launched itself clear past the blockade of security troops. There was no telling when it would make a break for it.

"Damn! I-I can't see it! Where did it go?!"

"What do you mean you can't see it?!"

"I don't know, sir! It's not showing up on my visor anymore!"

More confused cries began to come from the other officers.

"I can't either! What the shit?!"

"Same here, I've gone completely dark!"

"S-Sir, I think the rain is messing with our visors!"

Verdon slammed a fist against the side of the trailer in frustrated disbelief.

"That thing's got my daughter for God's sake! Isn't there a single Crosser among you?!"

No answer. They've got to be fucking joking with him. Of all the idiots stationed here, not a single one was ether sensitive?

Then, as far as things are concerned, the only ones who could even see the damned beast was Dolores, Matthew, himself... and poor Lanette.

"Tch."

This was what he got for employing non-Crossers. This was what he got for relying on shoddy Panzer technology. Verdon seethed through grit teeth. Without taking his eyes off the creature, the Hindfell head raised an arm toward the officer nearest to him.

"You, have you re-armed your rifle?"

"Yes sir! Like you ordered, sir!"

"Then give it to me."

"M-Master Hindfell?!"

"I said, hand me that gun!!"

"Yes Sir!!"

Without further hesitation, the officer passed his rifle to the man, who immediately snatched it without a word.

Verdon himself was no marksman. He was trained only briefly in such things due to his upbringing, but otherwise the firearm felt completely foreign in his hands. But to him complications like that were trivial, for a Hindfell was the master of all things made for man to wield.

Verdon strained his mind and did as Crossers do; he manipulated the environmental ether around him.

Drew it in.

Made it his own.

Then... cheating the physical bounds of logic, supplanted the world itself to his will.

Although it now holds ammunition of Panzer-origin, the gun itself was still made by humans, for use by humans. It shouldn't be a problem for Use Master to handle.

Against the darkness of the night and the storm, his normally turquoise eyes began to radiate a bright-purple glow. In an instant, the rifle felt at home in his hands. As if he had held it hundreds... thousands... countless of times before. No, not a mere "as if". He had altered himself into a person who did. At that moment, Verdon Hindfell became the rifle's ideal owner; the perfect marksman for that gun, and that gun alone.

As naturally as if he had been born to do it his entire life, the Hindfell head flipped the rifle upward and slung it into proper firing position. Shifting his feet apart and drawing it firmly against his shoulder, he pressed his cheek against its cold and wet stock as he took aim at the beast in the distance. Through the rifle's scope, he could see his daughter still struggling to release herself from the Blight's grip.

"Don't worry, Lanette. Papa's here."

*PANG!*

A burst of light illuminated the air as the ether round exploded from the muzzle of the gun, flying like a bolt of light toward the monster.

It hurtled toward the Blight, until it reached where it stood.

And... kept going...

... And going...

...... And going.

The entire crowd; the troops, Verdon, even the Blight itself seemed to watch in deadpan silence as the ether bullet whizzed past its target by mere hairs, eventually disappearing off into the distance.

"It appears you have missed, Sir."

Matthew, having appeared right beside Verdon seemingly out of nowhere, made his statement with familiar apathy as he opened an umbrella over himself and his already-soaked master.

"I-I KNOW THAT!"

Curses. It seemed that, even with Use Master, he hadn't been conditioned enough to fire something of the rifle's caliber through this type of weather.

"GREEEEEAAAAAAAAHHH!!"

The Blight wasted no time overstaying its welcome. Giving one last howl, as if in mockery of their pathetic attempts to slay him, it bounded off in the direction of the jungles with little Lanette still in its grasp.

"PAPA!! PAPAAAA!!"

"LANETTE! God DAMN it!" Verdon tossed the rifle aside and took a step forward before being held back by Matthew placing a firm hand on his shoulder.

"Surely you aren't thinking of pursuing that thing on foot, Master?"

"Tch." Verdon curled his fingers into a fist so hard that his knuckles turned white. "Is Dolores all right?"

"She will get by, Sir."

"The fetch me some appropriate attire."

"As you say, Sir."

As Matthew dismissed himself, The Hindfell head whipped around fiercely and addressed the security personnel.

"All of you! Ready your vehicles and find a way to repair your equipment. We're going after that thing. All of us."

"Yes, Sir!!"
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Re: History of the Mad Doctor

Post by Pictor » Fri Jul 20, 2012 10:42 am

The jungle floor shook as a parade of all-terrain vehicles raced across its dark confines, sending various critters scrambling for their lives as they passed. Verdon Hindfell rode half-standing on the lead vehicle, with four others in hot pursuit behind him. Ahead, the sound of something much larger could be heard galloping away, snapping branches and crushing bushes in its wake.

"I've got a bead on it, Sir! About 40 meters, just ahead of us."

The security officer sitting beside him cried out through the rumble of engines and rushing wind.

"Do you think you can take it down at that distance?"

"Not while it's moving like this, Sir! We might risk harming the Young Miss!"

"Tch."

Damn. Why have things turned out like this? Where in hell did that something like that come from? A Blight of that size and power couldn't have propagated on its own...

"Dammit, Zaed... is this you, too? Is this your doing?" Verdon could feel his pulse in his throat as he swallowed hard. Gripping the edge of his seat with trembling fingers, he muttered under bated breath. "Lanette... please be safe."

I can't... lose you as well.

======

At a small, hidden corner of the jungle, another entity stirred, cocking their head in the direction of the approaching commotion.

Noise. A lot of it. From machines.

Those foreign men. It must be them. They were up to something dangerous.

But... this time, there was something else too. They were chasing something.

Was it... another one?

Yes. The scent was the same.

Another of his monsters...

The same... as me. So... I'll put it down. Just like all the others.

Just like him.

======

"*Ksssh* GAaaaAAAAAH!!!"

Screams crackled through the radio as the vehicle continued to speed on.

"Dammit, it's taken out another group!" One of the personnel strapped in beside Verdon exclaimed as he fumbled with the controls on a portable communications device.

"This thing's... fighting back?! How many of us are there left?!" The driver demanded with a worried tone.

"Just us and another!"

"Ngh... at this rate...-- Aw, shit!!"

"What is it?!"

"It's making another turn! Hang on, back there!"

The driver of Verdon's ride gave his passengers fair warning before he threw the vehicle into a sharp swerve. It bounded over a few fallen logs and boulders before making a rough landing, then continuing to pursue its target.

"Whoo! Damn, I can't believe I made that one! Uh... N-Not that there was ever any doubt, Sir!"

"Just keep focused. I don't think I need to remind any of you for the nth time that my daughter's life is on the line here."

"G-Gotcha, Sir!"

As the driver swiftly directed 100% of his attention to the task at hand, another officer beside Verdon raised his voice into his radio.

"Huh? What do you mean there's 'something else'??"

"What's the matter? Has something happened?"

Verdon placed a hand on the man's shoulder, gaining his attention.

"S-Sir! Apparently, another team managed to get further up ahead sir, but they're saying there's something else other than that monster!"

"What? You aren't telling me there's another one...?"

"*Ksssh* No, Sir!" The voice on the other side of the intercom crackled back. "It's not another one... it's...--"

"GRIIIIIIEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!"

Without warning, a mass of shadows exploded forth from the right side of the vehicle, cutting the conversation short.

"Gah! Look out!!"

One of the soldiers cried out as the vehicle was launched off its balance, swerving across the uneven jungle path before hitting a chunk of rock and flipping completely over.

"Nnnnnngh---!!"

Verdon braced himself as his world whirled about. After what seemed like several minutes, the vehicle skidded to a halt, having toppled completely on its side. When he regained his bearings, the Hindfell head unhooked himself from the vehicle's safety restraints and did his best to hobble out of the ravine in which he had landed. Without the vehicle's high beams, the area was completely dark. Reaching up, he switched on the light mounted atop the helmet he wore. It flickered for a moment before remaining stable, illuminating the dense curtain of trees before him.

"S-Sir! Are you alright?!"

An officer clambered out of a nearby patch of leaves, looking similarly disoriented.

"Yes, surprisingly. What about, you, and the others?"

"All good here, sir!"

Another trooper sounded off from a few feet off.

"Damn, mama was right! Always wear your helm-"

"GRIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEE!"

A deafening bellow came from somewhere close, so loud that the vegetation itself seemed to tremble at the noise. Four headlamps simultaneously whipped around to reveal a corpulent mass of shadows thrashing among the trees.

"I-I-IT'S HERE! SOMEONE SHOOT IT!"

"Hold your fire! It's still got the Young Miss! Use your damned eyes!"

Sure enough, a single spotlight shifted upon one of the creature's many limbs, focusing upon a small child dangled between between a set of long, twisting digits.

"Lanette...!"

Verdon knitted his browse and grit his teeth as he watched his daughter being tossed about by the creature's movements. Her head hung limply in the monster's relentless grip. It seemed the child was no longer conscious.

"Well shit, shoot it in the legs then! It's right there! We can't let it fling her around like that forever!"

"You crazy? It's not like we're dealing with a regular person, this thing has six God damned legs! And what if it falls over and crushes her?!"

"D-Dammit!"

Verdon cursed his own uselessness. What good was Use Master if man-made weaponry were useless against this creature?! He couldn't trust himself to fire a gun, especially if it could very well harm his daughter.

What good is being the head of the clan?

What good is science and research?

What good is a corporate empire?

What good was any of that if he couldn't even save his own daughter?!

"You... damned monster. What the hell do you want?! Give me back my daughter-!!"

Verdon called out into the darkness at the colossal beast before him.

Blights.

They were entities of malice and hate. Grotesque creations borne from the concentrated torment deep within the hearts of mankind. This one, as it happened, had once been a Stray. But that was of little consequence. From the moment a Blight is formed, there was only only path the followed. They felt not. They thought not. They knew - and sought endlessly - only to feed and grow.

Perhaps then, it was the animosity in Verdon's own heart at that very moment which attracted its attention. The spider-like Blight twisted its body around, and brought its burning, baleful red gaze tightly on the man's position.

"S-SIR!!"

"You want me then, monster? Come then, have your morsel."

"Sir, what are you doing?!"

"It's on me now, gentlemen. And as soon as it comes, you will have your target. Obliterate this disgusting thing and take my daughter from its clutches."

"But Sir, you--" The officer who spoke out was stopped mid-sentence by another who pulled him aside firmly, shaking his head. "... As you say, Sir!!"

The Blight emitted a low, guttural growl as it set itself on all of its spare limbs.

"Alright, here it comes! Hold steady, men!"

Repeating what it had done back at the camp site, the beast hobbled down and wound itself back like a spring.

"Steady.... Stea-"

Of course, a creature such as this was not going to play by the rules of mere humans, nor follow any asinine countdowns. Before any of the officers could gauge it movements, the Blight shot itself forth, plowing its way through the trees in Verdon's direction.

"---!"

At this velocity, it would bear him down before he could even react.

How foolish was he, to think that he could challenge such a beast. Ironically, though a Crosser, his enomena was one that made him an elite only within the realm of regular humans. Perhaps if he were born a different kind of Crosser, he might have had a chance of rescuing his daughter with his own two hands.

Matthew, you had tried to warn me against this, but I had been too selfish. I am a weak fool. If only I simply allowed little Lanette to stay safely at home.

And so he would lose both his wife, his daughter, and himself, due to his own idiocy. His last thoughts before would be his inevitable demise was simply regret, and nothing else.

... But neither the head of Hindfells nor his daughter was destined to perish this night.

*Fwish!*

At a pace faster than Verdon could distinguish, faster than even the speeding Blight, something dashed out from behind the man. As if riding through the veil of darkness itself, a small dark figure shot through the air, just barely grazing Verdon by the shoulders. For the male Crosser, there was only enough time to catch a glimpse of twin trails of bright jade slicing through the air like gleaming daggers.

"... What--?"

Then, in an instant, the Blight was succumbed to what could only be described by a merciless razor wind.

*PSSSSHHH---!!*

At once, all six of its limbs exploded in mid-flight before the main body of the Blight itself was sent flying back in the direction it came.

"GIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE----!"

The Blight howled in pain as it was flung like an over-sized rag doll, phasing through several trees before it finally smashed into the jungle floor several meters away. Its loose appendages were strewn through the air every-which-way, spraying liquid black emissions all over the place as they dissolved without a trace into the night air.

"Unnngh!!"

Verdon raised an arm to shield himself from the wave of tar-like ichor splashing up in his direction. The events had transpired so fast that it took him a few seconds to fully registered what had happened. When he did, his first intuitions were immediately of his daughter. If the limbs of the creature had been severed, then...!

"L-Lanette!"

The Hindfell head rushed through the darkness, searching desperately for the whereabouts of his little girl.

"S-Sir! What the hell happened?! H-Hey, did one of you guys do that?!"

"Wasn't me! I didn't even have time to aim!"

"Shit yer pants later, we've gotta back up Master Hindfell!"

"R-Right!"

Off in the distance, the Blight began to shriek wildly as something unseen proceeded to systematically tear it apart. Entire chunks of it were blown off one at a time, painting the surroundings with cascades of black liquid with volume to match the fall of the rain. The creature's ominous red eyes flashed in a distressed frenzy, sweeping across the trees like rampant searchlights. The thing was not even given time to retaliate.

No longer possessing any limbs, the large creature was only able to throttle about pitifully, unable to get away from whatever was shredding it to pieces. Its body, or what was left after each passing second, twitched and buckled in agony accompanied by unearthly squeals. Finally, with one last violent outburst, even the creature's crimson gaze was extinguished at last.

As its minced remains dissipated away, the jungle fell silent once more.

*Clunk*

The hollow sound of a helmet dropping against the ground was the first thing to break the reclaimed calm. Verdon Hindfell could only stare, utterly shell-shocked at the scene before him.

Standing at the center of the carnage, surrounded by a sea of earth stained black by the Blight's fluids, was a single person.

The small figure of an adolescent girl. Barely thirteen years of age and no more.

The same hunter who had rent from existence a monster that even an army of men, however incompetent, could not slay. And, held firmly in the slender arms that packed such unimaginable power, between fingers that still dripped with vital ooze, was little Lanette Hindfell.

The strange girl appeared to have noticed his approach, for she cast upwards a familiar pair of glowing jade. Even from underneath her long, dark, and wild hair, matted with unmentionable substances from the creature she had just destroyed, the girl's eyes seemed to cut a swathe through the night.

Verdon stared back, not knowing whether to regard the scene with awe or trepidation. For a split second, a vivid image flashed through his mind.

An image of something dire and frightening.

A panorama of demons.

The Crosser knew that he looked upon something not quite human.

*Plink*

It was at that moment that the light from his lamp chose to give out.

"--!"

As darkness once again fell around him, Verdon watched as the form the girl disappeared, leaving only two specks of deep green gazing back. Then, in an instant, even they were gone. Gone, the same way they had arrived; slicing through the shadows like glimmering knives, leaving nothing in their wake.

Not even his daughter.

The officers left behind would soon arrive to find their master collapsed to his knees.

"Master Hindfell, Sir? Are you alright? What happened here? Did... that huge monster escape again?"

An officer inquired carefully. What he received in response was the hapless laughter of a man whose mind was on the verge of giving into absurdity.

"Ha.... haha.... hahahahahaha...!"

"S-Sir..?"

Was this his punishment, then? For giving a madman the fortune of continuing his schemes?

Zaed... you demented old fiend. All of this is you, isn't it? There's almost no doubt. Do you haunt and mock me even in death?

And then, even the man's laughter would die out.

And the jungle welcomed silence again.
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Re: History of the Mad Doctor

Post by Pictor » Fri Jul 20, 2012 11:54 pm

The girl darted through the foliage as she cradled the child in her arms; tightly shielded against the rain and wind. A large metallic band around her neck rattled against bits of chain still attached as a pair of deep green ducked and weaved against the shadows. Even with this burden the girl's movements were light and agile, moving with expert coordination through the uneven environment. Her feet barely flitted upon the ground with each step, and every subtle movement of her muscles, without even thinking, was made instinctively to avoid obstacles and reduce air resistance at the speed she was moving. Her body was one born to adapt and survive. No, it was more like it had been forced to do so; battered and beaten into a shape and condition which could stand the harshness of the wilderness without flaw.

Within mere minutes, the girl had left the chaotic scene far behind. In her arms, she felt the child stir slightly.

This was bad. Her breaths were heavy. At this rate...

But... it should be around here somewhere...

The girl focused keenly on the landscape around her. Even the muddled darkness of the dense jungle at night were no match for her senses. She drew in the sights and sounds and smells... until at last she discovered what she was looking for.

Water.

Imparting heavier force in her next few steps, the girl broke softly against the ground in a series of deft maneuvers, slowing herself to a steadier pace before finally stopping. Following the sound of trickling water, she brushed aside a few wet branches before arriving at the source; a small space of the jungle where a small stream flowed through.

The girl never stayed at any one place for long, but for now, this was where she had made her home. Although an open space, it was hidden and out of the way enough so that no stray travelers would accidentally happen upon the location. And certainly, she hoped, no foreign men or their machines.

As she stepped through the grass to the stream's sandy banks, the first rays of dawn broke through the canopy of the jungle, lighting up the area. The rain, too, had seemed to die down with the morning light. The advancing sun swept forward and illuminated the little one's face, allowing the girl to fully see the person she had rescued. Fine and dainty features with a head full of orange. The girl had never seen hair of this color before. Could it be that this child was also a foreigner?

"Ma.... Mama..."

Suddenly, the child's face tightened into a grimace as she called out weakly. The girl was not sure what language the little one spoke, but the words she uttered were nearly universal.

Mother... She was calling for her mother.

Did those foreign men take her away from her mother?

... Unforgivable...!

"Aaaah..."

The child continued to gasp with labored breaths. Walking a few more paces down toward the moving waters and further into the light, the girl took the child to a small makeshift shelter set against an alcove of boulders and wood. Scattered haphazardly all over the perimeter were a varied assortment of crafted tools, utensils, and other things; spoils taken from the girl's several run-ins with the locals.

She laid the child down inside the shelter, against a cushion of linens that had been "borrowed" from one of the nearby villages. It was not the most comfortable of places, but it was warmer, and certainly much safer, than being carried about in her own arms.

Having released the child from her arms, the girl was able to closer examine the little one's conditions. She was terribly pale, and beads of sweat were forming on her tightly knit brows. The girl narrowed her eyes anxiously. She had seen something like this before... back then.

But there was only one way to make sure.

She carefully reached down and brushed the child's hair aside, clearing away the strand that had been stuck from sweat and the moisture of rain. She then closed her own eyes and concentrated deeply, focusing on the sensation of touch upon the child's forehead. Inside her mind's eye, an explosion of colored ribbons flowed into view. Brilliant strands of all sizes and hues danced and swirled underneath her eyelids.

These, as the girl had come to learn, was "life". And there was indeed life in all things; even some that one would not normally consider to be alive. Somehow she had come to be able to sense these things; all of them had their own distinct shape and color. All life was unique.

Except for those created by him.

No, those things could not be considered "life". The only thing the girl could feel from those monsters were dark and ugly things. If the bright ribbons were "life", then what those monsters embodied must be the sheer opposite. She herself, having also been tainted by him, must be the same.

But for now, what she sought was one particular "life". Amidst the endless ocean of colors, the girl found the one she was looking for. Glowing brightly violet, it was the life force of the child resting before her. Her ribbon was there, but it was "hurt". As if something had attempted to mangle it apart, but failed.

The monster's doing, there was no longer any doubt. Those things "ate" the life of others, turning their lustrous colors into a hideous blackness. Had this child remained in the clutches of that beast for any longer, she would most likely have been completely devoured.

The girl sighed in relief as she removed her hand from the little one's head. Her ribbon of life had been damaged, but it was still there. She could detect its beat; and it was a strong one. This child had a very fervent force of life. In time, she will heal, and for now the best thing to do was let her rest.

As she took her hand away, however, the she felt tiny fingers take hold of her own.

--!

At that moment a vile instinct kicked in; the girl's heart suddenly raced as she almost attempted to forcefully wrench herself free of grasp. Her free hand had subconsciously balled into a tight fist, ready to obliterate her attacker in an instant.

Still hard of breathing, she felt a hard tinge of shame when she quickly saw that the one who had reached out to her was the child. A different kind of shock came, however, as she realized that the child's eyes were opened. Just a sliver, but opened nonetheless.

"Oh...! It's... you...!" She spoke in a tongue the girl did not understand, but her words - although heavy with exhaustion - were gentle and sweet. "You saved me... I saw..!"

Lifting her small hands, she reached up and squished together the girl's cheeks. As if even something like that was enough to amuse her, the little one gave a thin, weak smile.

"Hehe... You're cool! You're definitely... a good... soldier..."

The child's words trailed away as she drifted off to sleep.

As her hands slipped limply, they briefly brushed against the large metal band clamped tightly around the girl's neck.

*k-chak*

The girl's eyes widened as she felt the thing loosen. Reaching up, she grabbed hold of its cold, rusted surface, and easily tore it in two.

... How?

It had been something he had put on her. To make her obey.

To keep her his.

She had tried countless ways to remove it. Many of them which had only served to hurt her even more. But she could never get it to budge.

And yet...

The girl looked down at the sleeping child. Her expression had relaxed compared to before. Even in slumber, she continued to bear a tender smile.

For the first time in months, the girl's frigid jade eyes found themselves stained with tears. They burned as they flowed, streaming down her cheeks and falling upon her lap. No matter how hard she tried, she could not stop.

So as not to wake the child, the girl covered her mouth and sobbed quietly to herself as the morning sun continued to rise.
Last edited by Pictor on Wed Aug 08, 2012 7:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: History of the Mad Doctor

Post by Pictor » Sat Jul 21, 2012 3:51 am

The girl awoke to the sound of what seemed to be countless bodies moving through the trees around her.

I fell asleep!

... Careless!!

By the time she dashed out of her makeshift shelter, however, it was too late. Outside, countless foreign men, all armed weapons pointing in her direction, had the entire area completely surrounded. A symphony of mechanical clicks sounded around her as the army of men all cocked their guns at her at once.

... Tch.

The girl clenched her fists. How could she have let her guard down so easily?! She briefly glanced at the shelter behind her from the corner of her eyes. Inside, the child still slept soundly, unstirred by the commotion.

Don't worry. I'll protect you.

"Stand down! Don't provoke her!"

The girl's ears perked at a new voice entering the fray. From behind the barrier of soldiers, another man brushed himself into view. He was dressed differently than the other men, wearing no armor and carrying no weapons.

She recognized this one. He was there last night; he was the one who watched her flee.

"I said, stand down! Let me handle this!"

"... Yes, Sir!"

The man shouted again in a language she did not understand and gave a wave of his hand. At once, all the other men drew their weapons away and stepped back, leaving only himself and the girl standing off against each other. It looks like all the other men obeyed his commands. Was he their leader?

The man took some time to regard her, and then cleared his throat and said something in a stiff tone.

Did he think that he could take her on alone? If that was the case...

... He was sorely mistaken.

======

"*Kssssh!* We've found them, Sir! They're there, just like you said!"

The intercom crackled a report from one of the scouting teams that had went on ahead. Verdon Hindfell breathed a sigh of relief as he responded firmly.

"I see. Secure the area, make sure she doesn't escape again. But what ever you do, do not provoke the target."

"Acknowledged, Sir. You heard the man, move it!"

So, he had been correct after all.

A Stray Blight may have been slightly out of his league, but Reapers... they were the Hindfells' specialty. He knew exactly how to deal with them. But it was far from over. From here on out, the onus was on him. No more mistakes or weaknesses.

He will have his daughter back.

By the time his vehicle had reached the scene, a squadron of security forces had already convened at the area. It was a small clearing with a waterfall-fed creek running through it, completely hidden off the beaten path. A clever place to hide, but they were already one step ahead.

Verdon quickened his pace when he heard the loading of guns. The fools, he thought he told them not to...!

"Stand down! Don't provoke her!"

The Hindfell head rushed ahead, ignoring the sharp pain in his joints. The incident last night had taken more of a toll on his body than he thought, but he couldn't care less about his own condition at the moment.

Brushing past the security force, Verdon issued his command once more.

"I said, stand down! Let me handle this!"

"... Yes, Sir!"

The soldiers around him relented their brandished rifles and filed back several paces, giving him some space. Raising his head, he looked at the small, tense individual standing across from him. In the full rays of the late-morning sun, Verdon could finally see the full form of his daughter's kidnapper.

The same young girl, barely in her adolescent years. Judging by her appearance and complexion, she appeared to be a native of these parts. She was dressed completely in tattered rags that appeared to have been pillaged from various places over some span of time. Her hair was long, dirty and unkempt, and glued down in places by crusted matter. Its deep, dark-green strands trailed nearly to her feet. Beneath the tangles was a gaunt, sickly-looking figure that looked barely like a living thing.

And of course, set upon that face, shining like preserved like jewels upon ragged rock, were two glimmering jade eyes. They were exactly as he recalled them from the night just past; keen like daggers with thin, bestial pupils that sliced apart the air upon which they gazed.

And just like last night, as he looked upon this girl, he felt a primal sensation. The impression that what stood before him was not something completely human, but more a furious thing of the wild.

Now, in the light, Verdon's attention was drawn to something else as well. The girl's entire body was utterly covered in scars. All shapes and sizes. Some of them resembled simple healed cuts and scrapes, mostly likely gathered from the way she moved about through the jungle. Others, however, suggested much more atrocious deeds. There were also scars that looked like the remnants of surgical wounds; series' of hatch marks that seemed too neat and ordered to be mere coincidence. The blemishes snaked their way across her skin like centipedes, extending along her arms and legs and into places unmentionable.

There was no doubt. All of the information could only lead to one conclusion.

Zaed Hauser Brimmermann, the Mad Doctor of Panzers, had succeeded in his latest, twisted machination. And the result itself was standing before him. Fingers clenched, and teeth bared.

Verdon took a deep breath, then exhaled. This was not the time to be at his wits' end.

Then, let's try this, shall we?

Extending a hand in a friendly gesture, he calmly cleared his throat and spoke.

"Can you understand me?"

The girl narrowed her gaze, and recoiled slightly, but otherwise no response.

No good, huh? Hmmm... then...

Verdon subtly looked about and scanned the ground around his feet. It was something he had already noticed when he first stepped into the area. Scattered about in the sand were collections of random items and tools, which he presumed had, like the rags, been ransacked from various places and people. He eyes darted from one artifact to another before finally resting on a small wooden trinket half-buried in the dirt just beside where he stood.

As he bent down to pick it up, the girl tensed up further and took a quick step forward. Behind him, he felt several security troops stir, but before they could react, he raised a hand and motioned them off.

He tilted his head upon the girl and cast both arms to the side, hoping to give the signal that he meant no harm. Then, ever so slowly, he inched to the side and retrieved the wooden object from the sand. The girl watched him intently, but with some degree of curiosity.

Don't worry, if this works, then we'll be able to understand each other all we want.

Holding the object - which turned out to be a miniature carving of sorts - between his fingers, he performed the same action as he had with the rifle before. Although Verdon was able to employ Use Master on all sorts of man-made things, just as all Hindfells were, he specialized in one aspect.

Mental sympathy, or at least, that's what he called it. By activating his enomena on certain items that bear deep cultural or sentimental meaning, he was able to connect with the "history" of the item and acquire certain skills from them. Skills such as speaking an area's native language, for example.

"Can you understand me, now?"

"...!"

The the jade eyes suddenly widened as the girl was taken aback in surprise. Judging by her reaction, it seemed to have worked. Such was the definition of becoming a tool's "ideal wielder". Even things like this were possible with Use Master, though a little imagination might be required.

"So, is that a yes, or a no?"

The girl hesitated before responding in the same tongue.

"I... I can."

A barely audible mumble passed from her lips. The girl's utterance was dry and hoarse, and her speech was slightly slurred. It was obvious that the girl was no longer used to using her voice, nor communicating with others.

"Good. Then I will not waste any time. You took a girl away from us. She is my daughter. Return her to me."

At this the girl stamped forward and angrily balled both of her hands into fists, assuming a striking stance.

"You... lie! You are... dangerous. Evil people."

An array of guns whipped upwards at the girl's sudden reaction, but Verdon waved them down once again.

"It's alright."

"But Sir-"

"I said it's fine. She's not a danger just yet."

"... If you say so, Sir."

The officers, once again, released their triggers and fell behind their master. Verdon turned toward back toward the girl, his hand still raised in demonstration.

"These men listen to me. They will not hurt you, as long as you do not try to hurt us. I simply want my daughter back, that is all."

"... I do not believe you."

The girl ground out with grit teeth. Obviously, just asking wasn't going to work. It was slightly getting to his nerves, but Verdon remained cool. He took another gentle breath and breathed out calmly.

After all, he was a business man. Negotiations were his trade. And when it came to business, he always had an ace up his sleeve.

"The girl.... is she here right now?"

Verdon inquired as innocently as possible. The girl paused for a minute, as if pondering whether or not to answer honestly.

"... So what if she is?"

Heh. A typical response. The Hindfell head had nearly forgotten that, despite her extraordinary presence, he was only dealing with a child.

"I see. As you are so keen on hiding her away, I will not ask you to reveal her. However..."

The man raised a hand and reached down his collar, then pulled a locket necklace out from underneath his shirt.

"... My daughter has the same pendant around her neck as I do. Go see for yourself, and you will believe me when you open it."

The girl returned Verdon a suspicious look, but seemed to loosened her posture somewhat. Briefly the man caught her sneaking a quick glance back at the small makeshift shelter behind her.

Ah. So that was it.

"Do not worry. We will not do anything. I give you my word. I have a feeling all of us would regret it if we did."

"...."

The girl lingered for a second, and then began to slowly make her way back toward the shelter, maintaining a stern glare on Verdon and his troops the entire way. Once she was inside, one of the officers quietly whispered.

"... Sir? What's inside the necklace anyway?"

Verdon gave an entertained grin as he responded.

"Is it not obvious? The pendant contains a depiction of the head Hindfell family. A photo of my wife and I... along with our beloved child."

Not long after he had finished speaking, the girl re-emerged from the confines of the crude dwelling. This time she was not alone; cradled gingerly in her arms was little Lanette, still snoozing away. From her neck, a locket identical to Verdon's hung loosely. It seemed the girl had investigated it as suggested.

"I... I am sorry..." The girl's voice trembled as she approached Verdon and carefully raised his daughter up to him. "I did not know..."

Verdon nearly leapt forward in joy as he scooped his daughter up in his arms. It took all he had not to wake her as he wrapped her gently against him.

Lanette...! You're safe. Papa will never let you go again... I will never let anything put you in danger ever again...!

The girl stared silently as she watched the foreign man sweep the child up against his chest. He held the small girl so tenderly that one could easily believe she were made of precious glass, and that the air itself was enough to shatter her to pieces. So loving was the embrace... there was not a doubt that the man had spoke the truth.

The more the girl looked on, the more her heart ached. Did she, too, once have someone as this man was for the child? Someone to embrace her as such? Someone who would brave storms and beasts to reclaim her if she was lost? She could not remember. But deep down, she knew, that it was impossible.

Why else, then, would she have been sent off to die just like that?
Why else, then, would she have been forced to suffer at the hands of that man for so long?

Why else, then, would she be here now, living like such?

No, that was wrong. This could not be called "living", and she could not be called "alive".

Like all things wrought from his hands, she was nothing more than a monster. A monster who would destroy an embrace as pure and genuine as the one she saw before her. An evil thing that would steal a daughter away from her family.

An ugly existence that deserved no love.

But, despite having consigned herself to this, a familiar lump rose in her throat. At that moment, the girl realized... that she desperately wanted it all.

She wanted what the small child had, and what the man gave. Even though she was responsible for tearing them apart in the first place. Even though she was a monster, and a demon, and an evil thing. Even though all she knew and all she had left was to stain her hands in the blood of others day after day.

If only for a moment, she wanted someone to hold her, as a father would hold his daughter.

Overcome with guilt and shame, the girl felt another bout of sobs begin to surface. But she would leave this place before she succumbed to them. Turning her heels, she prepared to leave. However, before she could even take a step, a voice called out to her.

"Wait."

The man, still carrying his daughter, approached her from behind.

"Regardless of the trouble you caused, you still saved both myself and my daughter from that monster last night. If it were not for you... I would probably have lost everything dear to me."

Without turning around, the girl muttered meekly.

"... Really?"

"Yes. Although I cannot possibly repay you enough, I would like to thank you. And, if you will allow it, I also wish to ask you some questions."

The girl did her best to wipe her eyes dry before turning around and looking back up at the man.

"... What kind of questions?"
Last edited by Pictor on Wed Aug 08, 2012 7:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: History of the Mad Doctor

Post by Pictor » Sun Jul 22, 2012 8:57 am

"Oh you poor, dear, sweet little thing!"

The moment the girl had been brought back to camp, she had been promptly assaulted by a fawning Dolores (having recovered just fine), who wasted no time in dragging her off to her own quarters.

"I've already heard everything from Master Verdon. Rest assured, no savior of the Young Miss is going to stand around covered in filth under my watch!"

The girl's fight-or-flight responses fired wildly. After all, the last time she was accosted like this, she never saw the light of day again for a long, long time. She struggled as best she could against the plump, foreign woman's grasp, doing her best not to hurt anyone. After all, these were people. They're not the same as the monsters. Even if they could be bad people... they still had "life". She did not want to cut them up if she could help it.

The father of the child said these people listened to him. And he promised that she wouldn't be harmed. Was that true? How far could she trust them?

... The woman didn't seem bad...

Unfortunately, the decision really wasn't her's to make. Up the stairs and into the depths of one of the trailers she went.

Around the grounds, murmurs and whispers swept among the security troops.

"Hey, is that...?"

"Yea, that's her. The one who took out that creature!"

"No way. But... she's just a kid!"

"I was there, man! I saw it myself. If you don't believe it, just ask Jackson and Lee. They were there, too!"

"She must be it then... the Demon Child!"

"No doubt. She cut that monster apart like sushi, or sumthin' man! There was nuthin' left!"

======

"Tadaa~! Now don't you just look so much lovelier?"

The elderly maid gestured proudly in a sing-song voice at her fine work. Within a mere hour or so, she had transformed a feral wild-child that was caked in all kinds of grime into someone that had nearly resembled a fairy-tale princess. Her dark, green hair was combed silky smooth, not a speck of dirt remained on her skin, and even her verdant eyes seemed to gleam with more innocence. Somehow, the maid had also produced a pretty, white outfit just the girl's size. Where it came from was a anyone's guess.

The girl, ushered forth by Dolores, shuffled gingerly across the lot. She wore a flustered expression, apparently having not quite yet recovered from the disorienting series of events she had just experienced. At last, the two arrived at a large seating area with a long table laid out in the middle. Verdon himself sat in one of the chairs on the opposite end. His brows raised as he gave a surprised smile, clearly impressed at the sight.

"My, that's certainly quite the transformation."

Dolores gave a large, toothy grin as she placed one hand on her hip and the other against the girl's should, causing her to tense up slightly.

"Isn't it? Oh, she was a jumpy one! Even more so than the Young Miss herself during her baths! But I fixed her right up!" Then, a frown overcame the woman's face as she remembered another detail. "Oh... but Master Hindfell! These scars... tsk tsk tsk!"

The maid shook her head sadly as she gave a brief glance at the child's arms and legs.

"Especially around her wrists and ankles. How dreadful!"

When the girl noticed the older woman examining her, she tucked her arms away meekly and tried her best to put them out of sight. It was the first time that she had been made aware of just how ragged she must have looked.

"W-What is it..?" The girl asked Verdon with a nervous voice.

The Hindfell Master, having already activated Use Master on the wooden carving he still held in his hands, answered the girl's question with a warm voice.

"She is simply worried about your injuries."

"... Oh." She stole a quick glace upward toward the maid. The woman bore a genuine look of concern on her face. But she didn't understand why. They had only just met mere moments ago.

From another trailer closer to the table, Matthew emerged, balancing an array of large platters with perfect balance across his arms. The girl immediately perked up in the butler's direction as her senses were besieged by a wave of delicious smells.

"Sir, dinner is prepared."

Vernon smiled as he watched his servant expertly transfer the platters onto the table.

"Ah, perfect. Dolores, would you call Lanette over as well?"

The maid clapped her hands together enthusiastically.

"Oh yes! The Young Miss must be awake now! I'll go fetch the dear!" She gave a delighted giggle as she gave the girl a happy look. "Of course, she'll want to meet you, too! Her savior! My, won't you be the popular one!"

While Dolores skipped off to attend to her task of Lanette-wrangling, Matthew had already prepared the entire table for supper, distributing plates and silverware across the seats. The entire time, the girl's dagger-pupils had found new prey; they were focused intently on the largest platter.

That one.

That one smelled the best.

When the butler finally lifted the cover off the dish, a large spot of the girl's right sleeve had already been stained wet from constantly wiping off drool.

======

Everyone at the table - including the few security officers on duty - looked on, completely mesmerized by the scene. The girl had scarcely stopped moving from the moment she was served. Her arms and fingers moved like machines dedicated to a task, delivering morsels from her plate to her mouth so fast that it was almost a constant blur. Of course, no one had expected her to make use of the utensils laid before her, but this was something else entirely. The speed at which she devoured anything and everything placed on her dish was surely something of a world record. More amazing was the fact that, even in her haste, not a single scrap of food went to waste. Bones were picked dry, and bowls and plates were rendered so clean that they barely needed to be washed.

Then, in mid-bite of a chunk of potato, the girl suddenly stopped, seemingly having noticed how intently she was being watched. One could almost hear tires screeching as she halted her movements.

"... Uh..."

The girl's face turned bright pink, having realized her lack of tact compared to everyone else. Though she couldn't recall much of her life before she had been taken away to that place, even in the villages certain table manners were observed.

"S-Sorry..."

Verdon could not help but chuckle at the sight. Once again, he was reminded of an obvious fact; that beneath the fearsome aura this girl projected, and despite the fact that she completely destroyed a Stray-Blight with her bare hands, the individual in front of him was, first and foremost, a child.

A mere girl who had, against her will, been subjected to terrible things.

"Do not mind it. You are a guest. It is pleasing to see you are enjoying yourself."

The man's friendly response only caused the girl to blush further.

"... Thank you."

"No, as I have already said, it is I who should be thanking you. This is merely--"

"Hehehehehehehe~~!"

From underneath the table, a giggling torpedo launched itself across the floor, blasting its way straight toward the girl's position. Two little arms suddenly burst out onto her lap, followed by a head of firey-orange.

"Boy, you eat reeeeally fast, huh?"

The girl blinked in surprise as the daughter of the man sitting on the other side of the table - the little one she had rescued - crawled up from between the space between herself and the bench. With some effort, the child managed to lift herself onto the girl's lap, propping her back against the ledge.

A pair of aquamarine eyes sparkled excitedly up at the girl as the child flashed a beaming smile.

"Hiya!! Papa told me you're my hero!"

The child spoke incredibly loud and fast for someone so young, even though the girl did not understand a word of what she said.

"Hey, hey! What's your name?"

The girl, doing her best not to touch the girl with her grease-stained fingers, could only furrow her brows helplessly at the child's expectant gaze.

"What is she saying..?"

Verdon rested his chin against the back of his hand in an amused fashion as he watched the infamous Demon Child herself was rendered powerless in the face of his daughter.

"She is asking for your name."

That's his little Lanette, making headway like a true Hindfell. If this were a business meeting, the introductions were already underway.

The girl bit her lower lip anxiously as she gave the child an apologetic look.

"I-I am sorry... I do not remember it."

As if it were contagious, Lanette, too, grew a dejected expression as she turned her head back to look at her father.

"Papa? What's wrong? How come she turned so sad? Did I say something wrong?"

"No, dear. I'm afraid this girl simply doesn't remember her-"

"... Lin."

"Hmm?"

"Lin... is what he called me."

Verdon narrowed his gaze as he lifted his face from his hand, straightening his posture.

"He?"

The girl's expression grew cold and dead, and her voice trembled as she spoke her next words.

"... The Doctor."

"... Zaed." Verdon muttered under his breath. "So, you were responsible for all this."

"Nnnngh....!"

From across the table, the jade-eyed girl gave an agitated cry as she clutched her head, seemingly in pain. Lanette, who was still on her lap, gave a surprised gasp as she ducked back under the table. The soldiers stationed around the table quickly approached the scene, ready to draw their arms. Verdon shot them a quick and serious look, silently bidding them to maintain their distance.

"What is the matter? Are you hurt?"

Still holding her head, the girl ground out through grit teeth.

"N-No. I am sorry... I remembered... awful things."

"Verdon! What on Earth is going on?!" From the same trailer Matthew had emerged from earlier with dinner, Dolores quickly hobbled out.

Here it comes. The Hindfell head braced himself for the storm. Dolores only ever calls him by his first name if she was particularly cross, an old habit that stemmed from a time when he himself was but a young lad.

The maid approached the girl and gently took hold of her arms. She reacted with a startled jolt at the woman's touch, but seemed to calm down a bit when she saw who it was.

"This happened while I was cleaning her up, too. I tried to hold her, but she wouldn't even let me do that. Poor thing... Lord knows what caused her to be like this."

I think I might have somewhat of an idea, thought Verdon as he watched Dolores carefully wipe the food stains from the girl's fingers and hair.

"Now listen, Verdon. Whatever you asked the girl to cause this, please don't say it again!"

"... Forgive me, Dolores. But this girl is the only source of information we have now."

"Verdon!!" Dolores raised her voice so fiercely that even some of the security troops took a step back. "Please, think about the girl. Your business can come later."

Verdon gave a sigh. Dolores was as kind and bold as ever.

"This is no longer about any business that I have, Dolores. Believe me. This girl saved my daughter, myself, and most likely many other lives here. The deeds of Zaed... that mad creature... were, too, a product of my past sins. I require the truth if I am to abolish these ghosts. This girl... I've given her my word to repay her. Let me do so."

The old maid made a series of less-than-pleased facial expressions before finally relenting with a huff.

"Hmph. Always playing up my sympathies with your flowery words, aren't you? Fine. But I'll be here keeping an eye on you, and the moment you make this precious dear so much as even the tiniest bit uncomfortable, I'll have your head, do you hear me?"

"Yes, madam." Verdon returned a smile, although he would be lying if he said that he hadn't been made just a little uneasy. When he was a boy, Dolores' infamous "I'll have your head" threat always meant a fierce spanking. He could hardly bear to think about what she meant to do now that he's an adult. Pushing that train of thought out of his mind, Verdon turned his attention back to the girl, now looking a tad more composed.

"I apologize. I did not mean to cause you grief. However, I did mention that I wished to ask you some questions. Are you still fine with that?"

"..." There was a small bout of silence from the girl before she answered. "... Yes. I will answer them, if I can."

"Thank you."

Well then, now that the initial hurdle's been cleared, it's simply a matter of treading carefully through precarious waters. Let's continue where we left off, shall we?

"Your name is Lin, you said? And The Doctor... he gave you that name?"

The girl's features tensed up slightly, but noticeably, for a brief moment as she responded.

"... Yes. That is what he called me."

"I see..."

"Papa...!" Lanette, who had almost been forgotten in the midst of the earlier commotion, re-appeared from underneath the shelter of the table and clambered onto her father's knees. "Is she going to be okay? She looks like she's gonna cry..."

"Give Papa a moment, sweetie."

"Okay..."

Little Lanette shifted herself around and stared across at her savior. Papa had told her that this girl was the one who saved her from the big monster. She didn't remember much of what happened last night, but there was definitely someone who rescued her. She must have been really brave to fight something so scary! But now... the girl just looked scared herself. Her hands were pressed hard against her legs, and her shoulders were shaking. Please Papa, do your best to cheer her up!

"When my daughter asked you for your name, you gave that as an answer. Would it be all right if we called you that?"

Again, the girl hesitated for a few seconds before answering.

"... Yes."

"Very well then, Lin. I believe I introduced myself to you before, but you may call me Verdon. And my daughter - her name is..."

Verdon grinned and gave the little girl in his lap a playful nudge and a whistle.

"She wants to know your name, as well."

"OOOH~!" The child rose with a mighty leap from her seat as she shot up one hand with pride. "LANETTE! My name is Lanette!! That's with an 'A' and not a 'Y' or an 'I'!!"

Chuckling again, Verdon spoke back to the girl named Lin.

"There you have it. Her name is Lanette."

"... Verdon." Lin repeated the foreign word a few times, trying to grasp its pronunciation. "La... Lanette"

"Yay! She said it! She knows my name now, Papa!" Lanette giggled triumphantly while bouncing about. "Hey, hey! Did she tell you her name, too? I wanna know! Wanna know~!"

"She said it's fine to call her Lin."

"Lin? Really? Tha-" The child's eyes sparkled so brightly that it seemed as if they were about to shoot off into the sky as stars. "THAT STARTS WITH AN 'L' TOO, LIKE MY NAME!!"

The simple fact that her savior's name started with the same letter as her own was too much for the young girl to bear. She slid from Verdon's legs, touched down to the ground, and made a mad dash out from under the dining table and across the lot, screaming "Lin, Lin, Lin with an 'L'!!" at the top of her lungs.

"Young Miss! Don't run so fast, you'll trip and hurt yourself again!" Dolores, unable to leave the girl to her rampage, had no other choice than to abandon her post by Lin's side.

"Um..." The girl watched the spectacle with curious eyes. "What just happened?"

Verdon gave a loose shrug.

"I suppose learning her hero's name simply made my daughter a little too happy."

"Happy...?"

She had made someone... happy?

The girl continued to watch as the man's daughter ran about the area, with the woman who had bathed and dressed her in hot pursuit. Her tiny arms were stretched above her head as she continued her fit of ceaseless laughter.

She certainly did look quite happy. Was a name really that big of a deal?

If... "Lin" could make someone so glad then...

... Perhaps the name wasn't so bad.
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Pictor
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Re: History of the Mad Doctor

Post by Pictor » Tue Jul 24, 2012 11:54 am

Lifeform of Inspirational Nature; it was a term that had appeared multiple times, across several instances of data salvaged by the investigation team from the remains of the decimated laboratory complex.

It was used sporadically in what appeared to be a number of log entries from Brimmermann himself, however most of their contents resembled nothing more than nonsensical ramblings.

"Today was a good day. The sounds [it] produced were simply delightful. I had long abandoned the indulgent of music, but this must be what it was like. Yes, this must be music! Music to my old ears! Today was a good day."

"Today was a glorious day. Further progress was made! I think I shall treat myself. Yes, I shall treat myself to more of [its] sweet melodies. Today was a glorious day."

"Today was a deplorable day. Those useless ones down at the wing committed a fatal error that nearly resulted in the destruction of many weeks of work. I have disposed of those decrepit units, but it did little to ease my own frustration. This is all because [it] was simply not trying hard enough. I shall have to appropriate sufficient motivation. Today was a deplorable day."

"Today was a lamentable day. I had another bout of existential doubt. Ah, but when I looked upon [it], witnessed [its] fervent beauty and heard its sweet songs, my heart was set at peace. How fortunate I am to have met such a miraculous one. Truly, I am a man of many blessings. But today was a lamentable day."

It had been suspected that, like much of the assets recovered from ruins of the facility, the term was simply a data entry that was rendered beyond salvageable condition. Either that, or they were simply meaningless decoys meant to throw off those who would try to decrypt the research files. After all, the term itself vague, and seemed to make no sense or relevance in any context. At most, it could be a contrived code-word standing for a real subject.

But none of the investigators, nor even Verdon Hindfell himself, truly understood the being named Zaed Hauser Brimmermann. Zaed had no use for petty traps or distractions. From the very start, he had no intention of hiding any of his work. That was because the only person that Zaed had ever performed anything for was himself, and only himself.

It had most likely never crossed his mind that other people might have the capacity to comprehend or steal the type of research he did on his own. Although, he would not care even if they did. One would not think twice about leaving valuables in the face of bacteria, tapeworms, or spores.

In his deranged mind the only intelligent thing that existed was him alone, and the world was one giant specimen upon which to run his scalpel.

That was the dogma which the Panzer believed. He existed alone on his pedestal. And it was alone that he would unfurl the entire universe around him, and make its secrets his own.

======

"That place, what kind of things did they do there?"

Verdon spoke gently as he asked the sensitive question. Lin, however, gave her answer without much reaction.

"Many things. Bad things." She cast her eyes downward toward her lap. "They hurt people. Put them in scary machines. Made them different."

"... Different?"

"Yes." The girl did not raise her head while she continued. "Into things that were not people any more. Monsters. Like me."

"..." Verdon narrowed his eyes and shifted his hands before his face, crossing his fingers. "What kind of people were hurt? Were they people from around here?"

"Yes. Most of them. But I did not know any. They were from the other villages. All put in locks and cages that would sting you bad, if you tried to run."

"... And you, too?"

"Yes..." Hesitancy in the girl's voice returned. "But he kept me away from the others. In my own locks."

Verdon drew a quiet breath.

Dangerous waters. So let us test them, carefully.

"The Doctor, you mean?"

The girl nodded in silence

"Do you think you know why?"

"B-Because... I..." The girl gasped slightly, as if she had not been prepared to answer something like that. "Because... b-because I was special... because he 'liked' me the best...!"

The girl's expression slowly twisted into rage, grinding her teeth harder together the more she said.

"He would hurt me the most.... He would do things he never did to any of the others... He burned me and cut me and stabbed me with sharp things...! He...! S-Sometimes...!!"

Lin's eyes shut tightly as her stammers turned to shouts.

"H-He would take me apart..! My eyes, my ears, my fingers and toes a-and...! E-Even things from inside of me, too... A-And then he would grow them back to do it again..."

The girl drew her trembling arms up and dug her fingers into the the flesh of her shoulders, cradling herself against the horrific flashes of memories. As if, even now, at any moment, the long, cold arms made of metal could once again descend upon her and pluck her to pieces.

"It hurt... it hurt so much..." The girl's voice trailed off into quiet sobs and gasps. "He would not stop. Even when I cried and screamed and begged. He hurt me when he was feeling glad. He hurt me when he became angry. Me... always me..."

Verdon closed his eyes and exhaled as calmly as he could. However, looking closer, one could see that the man, too, had been straining his crossed fingers against his knuckles.

Just a girl, Verdon, remember who you're dealing with.. She's just a child.

"... I am sorry. Forgive me." The Hindfell head did his best to sound sincere. "I did not mean to ask something upsetting. We... can stop here."

"No..!" Lin suddenly exclaimed in alarm as she raised her head back up. Now that she made eye contact, Verdon could see the glistening beads of wetness that forming at the corners of her eyes. "I-I... I will... keep going."

Verdon furrowed his brows as he pressed his hands against his chin.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes..." Lin's voice grew soft and hoarse as she lowered her gaze again. "... Because I could never tell these things to anyone... Even after I was able to get out, I was always alone."

"I see. Thank you." Verdon exhaled again, but this time in relief. He had been foolish and tempted his chances, but it seemed that the situation has been defused, for the moment.

Our little guest... continues to outdo herself.

He cast a quick glance across the lot. Dolores was nowhere to be seen, probably having escorted Lanette into one of the trailers before she had the chance to cause any real trouble. It seemed he had been saved this time. Lord knows what would have happened if the maid had heard the girl's outburst. That being said...

Verdon quick directed his attention to the stationed troops.

"None of you mention this to Miss Dolores. No matter how much she pries. Do you understand me?"

"... Yes, Sir."

======

At Lin's own insistence, the precarious interview continued. Verdon decided to take her cue and continue where they left off.

"In the end, you managed to escape. Then, was it you who... took that place apart?"

Verdon struggled somewhat with a euphemism the girl might be able to understand in her own language. In the end, he decided to use the girl's own words.

The girl shook her head.

"No. It was not me. I only used the chance to run away."

"Oh?" Verdon responded with slight surprise. He had been certain that, with her power, she had been the one. "Do you know who did it?"

Once again, the girl shook her head.

"I did not see. I was locked up, like I always was. But I guessed that it was one of the men in white." Realizing her own vagueness, the girl quickly added "... They were people who worked for him. They listened to him, like these men listen to you."

Without turning her head, Lin shifted her eyes toward the squadron of security officers standing off to the side.

"I see.... But, how are you sure?"

"Because they were afraid of him." The monotonous way the girl delivered her answer made it seem as though it was the most obvious statement in the world. "Sometimes, when he got angry, he would also put them into the machines. They were scared. So they listened. But..."

Lin's eyes narrowed. For a moment, they seemed to burn a deeper green than ever.

"... Just because you are scared, does not mean you can not fight back."

"What happened ? Do you remember?"

Lin drew her eyes shut and paused, doing her best to recall her memories of that day. She did not remember much any more, but she tried to best to answer.

"Only a little bit. I think... there was a fire, and then all of the locks opened on their own. Everyone was freed. The people from other villages, the foreign men he had locked up... Even the monsters." Lin re-opened her eyes and cast a solemn glance at the man sitting across from her. "... But I was the only one who did not die."

"The only one...? Then, the Doctor, what happened to him?"

".... He died, too."

Verdon had hiked his fingers up to his lips now, pushing them tensely against his teeth. He had a feeling he was on the verge of treading from dangerous waters into nothing less than a looming tempest. But, this was something he desired to know. If anything, it was the one thing he needed to confirm.

"How?"

"........."

Lin retreated back into silence, but this time, it was a bit different. The very air surrounding the dining around seemed to turn cold as she looked down for a few seconds before lifting her gaze back up at the Crosser.

"I cut him up."

"You...?"

"Into bits. Tiny bits. Until he could not be seen any more. Until there was nothing left. Just like every one else who got in my way."

Both Lin's expression and tone remained emotionless as she spoke. Raising her hands up in front of her, palms opened, she regarded them with a look that reminded Verdon of a scene that had taken place only the night before. A scene that had caused him to collapse to his knees in both fear and awe.

Twin emeralds, glimmering in the dark. Arms, dripping with dark fluids. A great circle of earth, stained black.

With all of the things he had seen in her since their encounter; her anger, her apprehension, her sorrow, and even slight hints of happiness, Verdon had continuously tried to remind himself that in spite of everything, this girl named Lin was above all else a simple child. One who had been hurt. One who was lost.

But moments like these were enough to make him doubt that resolve, even if just a little. Looking across at the table at the girl studying her own hands, the man felt a familiar sensation flow through and disturb his nerves. It was the same, unsettling awareness that he was facing something not entirely human; a primal instinct experienced by all living creatures in the face of something dangerous beyond comprehension.

The little girl who had cried when remembering painful things now spoke of taking lives as if it were completely natural. Like a task that simply needed to be done.

"... Ver... Verdon...?" The Crosser shook himself from his stunned state as he heard his name being called. To his surprise, it had been Lin who had said it. It took her a few attempts to get its pronunciation proper. "Am I... a bad person?"

The girl spoke as she continued to examine her hands, turning them over, searching keenly for something that she could not find.

"When I remember how I killed him... I feel... good. But even I know killing is wrong..." Finally, she set her arms back down upon her lap. "After I ran away from that place, I found a village. It was not my home, I did not remember where that was any more."

A sad look washed over the Lin's face. For a moment, Verdon had anticipated another bout of tears, but in the end nothing came.

"They did not want me there. They chased me out with stones and sticks and knives. They could tell, that I came from him. That I was a monster."

Verdon sighed and gave a shrug. What was he to say, after hearing that? Honesty, in principle, was a dangerous practice in business. But this was no longer business, now was it? He could do nothing, but simply reply with in truth. After her tale, this girl deserved at least that much.

"For your question... I do not know. That is not my right to judge."

The girl gave a quizzical look.

"... How come?"

"Because I, too, have been marked by unforgivable sins. It is why I am here. It is why I needed to ask you these questions; why I needed to find out what happened to the Doctor."

".... Did you know him? That man."

A genuine question. There was no notion of suspicious or malice.

"Yes." Verdon lowered his hands slightly as he answered, revealing his whole face to the girl. "I have done many things which I have come to regret. I may never be able to cleanse myself of them all, but right now, I wish to do all I can to rid the world of my own mistakes."

"Oh... I see." Lin tilted her head and gave a slight frown, trying her best to make sense of the man's words. "I do not really understand, but... I think you are a good person... Ver.. Verdon."

"Haha, is that so? Your words are kind."

Verdon returned a resolute smile, then stood up and placed his hands inside of his pockets as he walked a few paces put past the row of seats. Lin followed him curiously with her eyes as he became a silhouette set against the afternoon sun.

"Lin, what do you think of my daughter?"

"E-Eh...?" The girl was taken aback by the sudden nature of the question. "I... well..."

As she paused to ponder the answer, Lin reached one hand up and gently caressed the skin of her neck, tracing over several wounds and scars. She winced slightly as they stung unexpectedly against her touch.

"She made me free."

"Hmm?" Verdon turned his head and eyed the girl still sitting in her own seat.

"There was a lock here. I had them on my hands and feet, too, but there was one here that I could never take off." Lin gestured to the area around her throat as she explained. "But your daughter... La.. ne.. ette... She took them off me. She freed me from that place... from that man... and this one last thing I could not break."

"A lock...?" Verdon stroked his chin in thought as he wondered aloud. Now that he thought about it, he recalled her wearing something of the sort during their brief encounter last night...

"I believe she was talking about this, Sir." Out of the blue, a mustachioed figure appeared beside Verdon, calmly presenting a peculiar object toward him. "It was recovered in the aftermath of the events this morning, Sir. After you've already returned."

"Gah! Matthew! Where did you--!!" The Hindfell nearly stumbled off his feet at the sudden intrusion of his butler. "You were eavesdropping?"

"Merely overheard, Sir. I may not have the abilities of the head family, but there is still a little thing called 'multilinguality', Master Hindfell."

"Tch. Y-Yes, very well." The man tried his best not to seem too flustered as he took the item from the servant's hand.

Blast you, Matthew, there are scarce harder blows to a businessman's pride than barging in when he is trying to perpetuate a certain visage. [TL Note: You don't cockblock a guy when he's trying to look cool.]

The Hindfell head's eyes widened as he studied the object in further detail. It was a large shackle of sorts, or the remains of one in any case; one half of a whole that hand been torn clean in two. There was wiring and circuitry poking out in the places that had been split open, clearly this was no simple locking mechanism. However, the one thing that had caught Verdon by surprise was...

... Th-This is Panzer technology!!

"Lin... you are saying my daughter removed this from you? Are you certain?"

Lin gave a firm nod.

"Yes, I could not have taken it off by myself. I have tried many times..."

"Is that so, now...?" Verdon continued to stroke his chin in thought as he flipped the device around in his hands. "Intriguing... Lanette... just what-"

"Oh, for goodness sakes, Young Miss. Give this old woman a chance to catch her breath!"

For a second instance, Verdon was interrupted in his thoughts. With perfect timing, the doors of a nearby trailer burst open, unleashing a small incarnation of living laughter and an absolutely exhausted-looking Dolores trying her best to keep up with its speed.

"We're back, Papa~!" Lanette collided into her father's legs and clung to his pant legs.

"Oh ho, I can see that." The Hindfell head chuckled as he handed the device back to Matthew in order to entertain his daughter with both hands. "But it seems you need to treat Dolores a bit better. We don't want her rickety bones to break down on us now, do we?"

"Hmph! Well I never! An age joke, Master Hindfell? I didn't think you'd stoop as low." Dolores crossed her arms in a huff as she caught up to where they stood. "Though, I will admit I am not as young as I used to be, this old gal's still got plenty in her, don't you worry!"

From her seat, Lin watched as the party of silhouettes around Verdon suddenly grew larger. Smiles set against the bright horizon. The foreign man named Verdon, his daughter Lanette, the woman who had cleaned her up, and even the tall, quiet man with white hair who had brought out the food. All of them looked happy.

She felt out of place, even looking upon them from afar. This was no longer a place for her to be. They had fed her a delicious meal, and even listened to her words. That was more than enough for someone like her.

I... should leave.

But before Lin could even make the decision to move out of her seat, she felt something tug at the sleeves of the dress Dolores had made her wear. Turning around, she discovered that Lanette had somehow made it over without her noticing, one hand grasping tightly to her clothes.

"Hehe! Hey, Lin! Papa said to call you. Come on!"

"Ah..!"

Lin had no choice but to follow along as the child bolted off, never relenting her grip until she had rejoined the group of adults. Once she had been released, Lin looked about nervously, not knowing the reason she had been invited.

"W-What is this about?"

"Lin." Verdon's voice called for the girl's attention.

"Y-Yes?"

The man wore a kind smile as he approached.

"We are leaving soon. My daughter and I... and everyone else. We have nothing more we need to do here. By tomorrow, we shall all be gone from this place."

"... O-Oh." The girl's response was somber.

She didn't understand. She had not even met these people for a day. Even though she, herself, was about to leave... Why was it that an aching tightness formed in her chest when she heard the news?

In a way, it was worse than anything the Doctor and his machines had ever done to her.

"You asked me, if you were a bad person." The man continued, centering his gaze upon her's. "And I had told you, that it was not my place to judge. However..."

The man took another step forward and brought himself down upon on knee, placing him just a bit below her height.

"... I do know that you are very strong. Your powers were brought about by terrible means, but that does not change the fact that you have been given great strength. And I believe that that strength can be used for something good."

He reached out one arm and brought Lanette in close to him, causing her to giggle in delight.

"You call yourself a monster, Lin, but to this little one, you are a hero. Her savior. And even if that were true, is this jungle not just a little too small and gloomy for such a magnificent monster?"

From the brightness of the slowly setting sun, Lin saw an opened hand raise itself before her.

"What do you say? Come with us. All of us. Let us walk the path of redemption together."

"I... I..." Lin stood bewildered, grasping her chest stiffly. What was this man saying, so suddenly? "Go... with you?"

"Yes. Away from this place."

How can he ask her something like that?

Was she even allowed to be given such a choice?

A monster. Ever since the day she escaped from the facility, leaving a trail of rent bodies in her wake and staining herself red, she had condemned herself an abhorrent thing. A thing that wouldn't... couldn't be wanted.

Yet something warm and comfortable was offering itself for her at that very moment. Was it okay? Was it really okay? For these hands of hers to be granted that kind of touch.

As hard as the girl tried to deny it, as much as she attempted to tell herself she could not, it was futile. At that moment she knew only one thing. One thing she that she had forbid herself from even thinking about.

She wanted it.

She wanted to go.

She wanted to go with these people.

She wanted to go with these people, to learn happiness.

She wanted to go with these people, to learn happiness, and, above all else, to give it back. Twice as much. Thrice as much. Ten times as much.

"Can I...? R-Really? Is it... all right...? For me...?"

The man's smile did not wane. He responded with three simple words. Three simple words she had waited dreadfully long for someone to say to her.

"If you wish."

And then, for the fourth time since the day began, the girl felt warm tears run down her cheeks. But for the first time, since as long as she could remember, those tears were not of sadness or of anger.

"Ah.... aaaah...!!"

Strangely, now that she had learned how to cry once more, it seemed hard to stop.

"Aaaahhhh~~!!"

Wailing into the orange-tinted skies, the jade-eyed monster named Lin reached out and felt a hand firmly take her's.
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