The library was massive. If Tom tried to read every book inside it would have taken him most of his life span just to read half of it. Probably. Today Tom thumbed through a classic mystery novel. He’d read it before, but it was his favorite.
“That old thing again? Don’t you read anything else?” Someone said from behind the Izzet ‘walker. Tom craned his head back to see his own face staring back at him. He let out a sigh before closing the novel.
“What do you want Weaver?”
“Aren’t you bored yet? You’ve been reading the same book for hours now.”
“I happen to enjoy reading.”
“Clearly. Oh look at me, I’m a little monkey that can read. I’m so advanced.” Weaver danced mockingly around Tom poking and prodding.
“Is there going to be a point to this any time soon?” Tom spat out irritatedly as the supposedly ancient eldrazi continued to dance around mimicking an ape.
“You know you can’t hide here forever. Eventually you’re going to have to deal with people. Face the music if it were.”
“Shut up, if I ever need to ask your advice, I’d know I’m doomed already.”
“Oh come on. Lighten up a little won’t you? Why don’t you take in the sights maybe practice your magic some. Deal with the assassins about to kill you in your sleep. Maybe get some food.”
“Wait, what did you say?”
“Get some food?”
“No before… Never mind.” Tom jerked himself back awake. With barely a thought his arms burst into liquid flame startling his assailants as they jumped back to avoid his attack. As they further backed away tom got a glimpse of them.
They were human in shape, but covered in shadow. An unnaturally thick shadow that made it impossible to see any defining features other than their shape and their glowing red eyes. One carried what looked like a pair of daggers. The other some sort of black wooden staff. They spread out to different sides of the room trying not to be to close to one another. The one wielding the staff acted first jumping into the air and bouncing off the ceiling for a downward attack. Tom swiped his liquid arms across the air trying to catch it.
Instead, he met with a dagger being lodged into his shoulder as his second opponent threw it. The Izzet mage stumbled backwards thrown off balance from the blow, until he caught the staff on his other shoulder completely knocked on over onto the ground. Then without thinking silver chains burst from his back filling most of the room. His closest opponent hit directly in the chest. The second dodged many of them quickly backing into the far wall. Tom leaving the chains sprouting from his back, pulled the dagger out, and began quickly casting his next spell.
“Vibro-ocsillation, Compression, Bifurcation!” He swept his finger in an arc, and red and blue beams followed his path filling the entire area blowing a massive hole through the wall and probably the next thirty or so rooms. Alarms began blaring and red lights flashed everywhere. Smoke filled the room and surrounding area followed quickly by sprinklers releasing their water. Tom was coughing heavily from the dust and smoke as Leah burst into the room with four other people. With a wave of her hand the alarms ceased and sprinkles shut off. A second wave cleared away the smoke .
“So I guess the accommodations weren’t to your liking?”
Nick sat at his desk face down on the slanted surface flicking a pencil. It rolled up the to the top then returned down to his hand. He repeated the process over and over again in his lull until he hit it poorly and it rolled off the side of the table.
“Shit.” Nick bent down and looked under the desk trying to find the lost instrument. He quickly lost interest as his phone rang. He checked the i.d. before answering. “Yes?”
“Sir, there’s been an incident in the Labs.” Nick sighed before responding next.
“What kind of incident? Was it another accident?”
“No sir, a Tomas Wisel claims to have been attacked. While we can’t verify it, he did blow up several dozen storage rooms and one lab.”
“Wait, Tom’s alive?”
“According to the report sir.”
“Was anyone injured or killed?”
“No sir, but a chimera was released from its cell in the lab that was destroyed.”
“Lovely. Was it recaptured?”
“Not yet sir. It seems to have activated its camouflage.”
“Alright activate containment protocols. Denis is back have him head up the search with his pack.”
“Yes sir, and what do you want to do with Mr. Wisel?”
“Mike should be on site soon. He’ll handle it.”
“Is there anything else?”
“No sir.” Nick hung up the phone without another word. Of all the things he was expecting his scouts to have found, Tom was not one of them.
Nick looked around his flat. The room was pretty barren. He had a bed in one corner that he never used. it had remained made since the day he had moved in. His desk is what got the most use since he never needed to sleep. On it sat his laptop that had been placed on one side. The aging device was one of the few things he had managed to recover from his old apartment. It was more beat up than ever from the blast of the Sundering and the travel. He was amazed it worked at all. He looked over to a shelf that sat on his left. It was mostly empty except for a large glass cylinder that held his lost arm. It sat suspended in some sort of gel that prevented it from decaying. Not that it was necessary since it wasn’t organic. The surviving mages that knew medicine were baffled when they couldn’t reattach the limb. No matter what healing spell they used. Nick himself was amazed that the limb maintained its illusion this long without him doing anything. Although he had suspected that was a consequence of the gel. He couldn’t even reattach it now if he wanted too. It hadn’t even been an hour before his phone rang again.
“Nick you need to come to the Labs. There’s been a development.”
“I’m on my way.”
Tom sat quietly in a brightly lit room. Inside was a long rectangular table with several chairs around it. The room was otherwise empty. He was fidgeting nervously as he sat alone listening to the faint hum of the florescent light dangling from the ceiling above him.
“You really screwed up this time. You haven’t even been here an hour and you recked half this deceptively large complex. Heck, I bet you can add a few more notches to your kill tally.” Weaver phased in smugly. His left arm as always obscured by shadow. His double sat down on the table next to him. “He’s probably been waiting for an excuse to bury you. And you just handed him all the ammo he could ever want.”
“Shut up Weaver.” Tom muttered to his fake counterpart. Before he could respond further Weaver vanished as the door swung open. Mike walked in carrying a file and a tape recorder. He placed both on the table between them, and turned the recorder on before acknowledging Tom.
“Tom, let me be the second to say welcome back to the land of the living.” Mike offered his hand to Tom.
“Thanks.” He accepted the gesture albeit in a subdued manner.
Mike sat down in one of the chairs across from Tom, and began reading the file he brought in. They sat in silence for several minutes. Tom felt a slight panic build inside of him as his friend casually read whatever was in that file.
“What are you doing?”
“Reading Leah’s report on your return, and right here is her report as the first responder to the explosion in the Labs.”
“You mean my spell…yeah sorry about that.”
“It says here you claimed you were under attack by a pair of ninjas… or shadows?”
“It could have been ninja shadows, I didn’t get that good of a look at them.”
“Tom stop, this is serious. I can’t present this to the council.”
“The council? What you’re my lawyer now?”
“No I’m the guy that has to clean this up.” Mike placed the file down on the table for Tom to read. “Here’s what we know. The sensors in your room weren’t tripped since Leah left.”
“Then they teleported in.”
“You can’t enter or leave the complex via magic. We also have sensors in each room that log entry and magic usage.” Mike pointed to a section of the file. “Currently you’re the only person to have cast magic in that room.”
Oh the plot thickens.
“Then someone in the complex teleported them inside my room.” Tom responded. His voice began to raise with agitation.
“For what reason? The only people that knew you were alive was the scouts that brought you back. I didn’t even know till fifteen minutes ago.” Mike pressed on.
“There was this girl… Beatrix, I think that was her name. She also knew. She could have sent them.”
“Yes she’s in the report too. She is the only person you’ve had contact with, but no she couldn’t have.”
“Why not? Teleportation isn’t that hard to master.”
“Tom, she’s a doll.”Mike responded in a matter of fact tone like it was supposed to mean something to him.
“She can’t cast magic. No doll can.”
“Then what the hell was it she was doing to make those mages’ spells better?” Tom had raised his voice to the point of almost screaming at Mike.
“We don’t know. That’s why we have been running tests with her and other dolls.”
“Then she told someone!” Tom stood up with his hands slammed against the table. Mike for the most part seemed unaffected by Tom’s growing paranoia and agitation.
“Sit down Tom.”
“I don’t want too!”
“Fine, let me tell you what I’ve found out while you’ve been in here. Four people knew you were alive. Three of which are your friends. The other an acquaintance that never left Leah’s side. No one entered your room after they departed, and no magic other than your own was cast inside the room or detected inside your room. Then suddenly you blew up 27 storage rooms and a lab with a major offensive spell. Lucky for everyone Leah put you in a room in a largely unused part of our facility. So as it stands it looks like you did this for no reason.”
whoever did this was good.
“Mike you know me. I wouldn’t do that without a good reason.” Tom said suddenly subdued again after hearing the evidence against him.
“I know, but I also know that you just came out of the time-stream, and the last thing you did was fight Lee after just coming out of a coma. Look Tom, I’m your friend. I’m on your side here, and I want to believe you but look at it from my perspective. There’s just no evidence to support your claim.”
To bad the only other witness to the incident is in your brain. Oh well it’s not like you were stabbed or anything.
“But there is… one of them stabbed me in the shoulder look.” Tom removed his pajama top and cape. He showed mike where he had been injured. This evidence would make him believe.
“Tom… you’re fine. There’s nothing there.”
“What?” Tom looked down where he had been clearly been injured. There his bare and undamaged skin remained.
“There’s another explanation. You’re experiencing a case of Acute Stress Disorder or shock. depending how long it lasts it might even be PTSD. We had a large number of cases when we first settled. Most have dealt with it by now, but this was just yesterday for you. It’s understandable if you had a severe nightmare from it and caused the explosion trying to defend yourself from a perceived threat.”
Ha so you’re either crazy or having a break down. I knew you were flimsy.
“No that’s not it. I was attacked!” Mike stood up.
“It’s okay Tom. We can help you, but you have to let us.” Mike said as soothingly as possible. His arms extended in front of him trying to look as unthreatening as possible to his friend.
“Get away from me! I can see it in your eyes. You don’t believe me. He corrupted you didn’t he? Or are you even the real Mike? Have you been replaced too?”
“Replaced? Tom it’s okay you’re just experiencing paranoia and anxiety. They’re both symptoms of shock and PTSD.” Mike took a step forward towards Tom.
“It’s going to be okay Tom. Just let me help you. No one wants to hurt you. No one will hurt you. You’re safe.” Mike took another step forward.
“I said, stay back!” Tom cast a spell to subdue the possible enemy in front of him, but it failed to cast for some reason.
“Tom we’re in a null room. No one can cast magic inside of it and we’re locked inside. No one can hurt you in here.”
Smarmy bastard he thinks parlor tricks like that can stop you. He probably was replaced. Your favorite fake friend probably sent him to make sure you don’t ever leave again. In my opinion as a vastly superior ageless entity; I’d say you might want to escape this place.
“I SAID STAY BACK!” Tom screamed bursting into flames that engulfed most of the room. The walls warped from the sudden intense heat, and burst outward. Smoke and fire filled the area as Tom coughed. He didn’t know what he did, but he felt an overwhelming urge to escape.
Tom ran out of the newly created exit as alarms began to blare. Emergency lights turned on and sprinklers kicked on trying hopelessly to put out the inferno he had created. He had no idea where he was in relation to the rest of the facility so he picked a random direction climbing over large amounts of debris. He could see the unmoving forms of several people on the ground as he wandered away.
Nick could see smoke billowing out of the northern part of the Labs as he drove his car as fast as possible from the city. Whatever had happened had done serious damage. He’d be lucky to only have a few deaths let alone recovering damaged experiments. He still hoped no one was injured or dead though.
As he approached the door to one of the garages opened automatically to allow him entry. Nick parked his car leaving the keys in the ignition. He saw several panicked workers running inside the garage to escape the spreading fire. Some carried files or had various caged creatures trying to protect what research they could. He didn’t even know where to begin with this mess, so he grabbed the first person he saw.
“I’m looking for Leah and Mike have you seen either of them?”
“They were in the north side of the Labs. I think Mike was talking to that Tom guy.” Nick noticed for the first time it was that doll friend of Leah’s. He thought her name was Beatrix maybe. He wasn’t quite sure so he glossed over using her name.
“Thanks. Do you know if the fire is under control yet?”
“No sir, it’s spreading rapidly last time I heard.”
“Thank you, notify control for me to evacuate all non-essential personnel until we have it contained.”
“Yes sir.” The doll girl ran off.
After several minutes of running and shouting Nick made it into the northern portion of the Labs. Fires raged on everywhere. If he could feel heat he was sure it would be blisteringly hot. He ran past collapsed sections of wall and ceiling. Fewer people were here as most had fled to safer parts of the Labs. The ones that did remain were desperately fighting the blaze and searching for injured or trapped people.
Amidst the crackling of the fire Nick could hear faint cries of help. He followed them. Down a corridor almost completely engulfed in fire and through a massive hole in the wall Nick found Leah trying to pull rubble off of an unconscious person. She was wheezing heavily and coughing from the smoke. She fell to her knees and fainted.
Without wasting anymore time Nick ran over and checked if Leah was still breathing. She was. He placed his hand over her mouth and it changed shape gradually into a small rebreather that covered her mouth and nose. The rebreather than detached from his limb and he reformed his hand. He then turned his attention to the person buried in rubble. Upon looking closer he realized it was an unconscious Mike, who was gripping a badly damaged tape recorder of all things. Nick, with one hand and super human strength, dug the his injured friend out of his would be tomb and also created a rebreather from a portion of his body. He then knocked over a section of non-burning wall and began carrying his two charges. It was a long dangerous walk to safety.
With an immense amount of willpower Tom managed to subdue the flames he had created on his body. He didn’t mean to do it, but it had happened anyway. That scared him. Tom now found himself sneaking through a hall into a garage that had a surprising number of people running about. He figured most of them would have escaped by now. He snuck past as many people as he thought he could in the chaos he had created until he reached a stack of boxes in one corner of the room that he thought he could hide behind. There he waited to make his move to escape.
It didn’t take long. After a few minutes of waiting the crowd that had been steadily growing shifted towards the hall he had originally come from. Peering over he could some one armed guy carrying two people that looked like they were heavily covered in soot. Looking around he could see a small red car that looked like the one Nick used to drive parked on the opposite side of the garage. It looked like his only chance of escape.
He quashed his anxiety and ran to the car during the commotion the latest arrivals had caused. The sprint was short. Inside the cab he was in luck to find the keys still in the ignition. The Izzet mage turned the engine on, and shifted it into reverse. Looking back he hit the gas and charged full speed into the large garage door that opened automatically for the vehicle approaching. Then turning the wheel and shifting to drive he sped as fast as he could manage in the tiny vehicle away from both the Labs and Volst.
“So I guess that didn’t work out as planned.” His mirror image suddenly appeared in the front passenger seat with his cheek leaning against his fist and eyes facing forward. He looked rather bored with the current course of events
“Shut-up.” Tom replied not even bothering to look over at him.
“Please tell me you have a plan other than run away from the big bad people trying to get you.”
“I’m going to look for the others.”
“The other survivors. My friends weren’t just good they were amazing mages some of them had to have survived the Sundering.”
“Didn’t Leah say they were all dead.”
“She also said they didn’t find any.”
“For a year.”
“And Mike said I have PTSD.”
“Fine, but this is going to be a long car ride without a radio.” Tom didn’t respond as he left the valley, and the bad memories behind.