The water was cold. It was nothing akin to a cold shower, no—it felt much worse. The freezing sensation sent a shiver down his spine, something that he never recalled experiencing before. For all he knew, this was the first time he'd ever swam, and yet, why did the abyss below him look so vaguely familiar? He made up his mind, right then and there, that he didn't dislike the water; he hated it. However, he forcefully shoved the muses out of his train of thought. Any more would have been deemed imperfect. He ignored the void otherwise known as the deep-end the best he could, and willed his arms and legs to move. It was already a surprise that he was floating in the water, and soon, he began executing the front crawl as if it were second nature to him. But it wasn't. It couldn't have been, but he remained calm anyways as he hoped for the best.
Ryuu could perceive the drowning boy in the distance, although at a long ways away. He swam towards the other end of the colossal pool as quickly as he could, despite his weaker agility. He had only hoped that it was passable. He endured the swim, however, and managed a few more strokes before lifting his head to the side to breathe. The white fabric of the shirt clung to his chest. Once his head bobbed under the water again, he noticed that the boy continued to flounder and Ryuu knew he had to pick up the pace. The sinking teen was dropping, dropping, dropping—at this point, he refused to look down any further at the deep pit below him. He would leave that for when he reached the other side. The sight of the abyss would have unnerved him otherwise, and the real challenge hadn't even commenced.
Once his hand brushed the ledge of the swimming pool, his gaze shifted down at the descending adolescent. How many seconds have elapsed since he began the examination? How much longer did he have before the boy died of asphyxia? There was no time to waste. After ascending to take a large breath of air, Ryuu immediately propelled himself downwards. As he had done so, he busied his mind with gauging how far down the boy was, or estimating how much he had to accelerate to keep up with the boy's velocity. The realization soon hit him, however, of how cavernous the swimming pool really was.
He was staring straight into the abyss for the first time, in spite of his efforts to avoid gazing at it before. Ryuu felt his heart hammering against his chest, pulses soaring at the sight. It felt way too familiar, but why, he still didn't know. It was like a distant dream he had every now and then, of his childhood self swimming in the deep-end of a pool. The dream would always start out rather pleasantly, as the child enjoyed splashing around in the water, and always ended with the waves swallowing him up. The nightmare seemed all too real whenever he woke up, almost like a distant memory rather than a dream. But it wasn't. It couldn't have been. The evaluation now felt like a repeat of the dream, but such a thought was irrational. He was going to survive, and he was going to pass. Or at least, that was what he so desperately believed.
Ryuu was tensing up from the depths of the water, as much as he hated the experience. His ears were popping from the difference in pressure as the water continued to press in, and he reckoned that the pain would have kicked in sooner or later if he didn't save him in time. He was catching up to the teen, and yet, he still seemed so far away, out of arm's reach. Just like the boy, he was dropping, dropping, dropping...
Mamie turned and slid from in between the guards. She remained in the Testing room. "No!" She pushed her bangs to the side. "I want to know why I had to hurt her! She was innocent and- and- and- normal!! Imperfects aren't normal. Perfect are calm, peaceful, and not violent!!" She screamed her anger. She couldn't and wouldn't fight, but she sure would voice her opinion. "I worked so hard to stay here so I could be deemed perfect,....but I just killed that woman!! That's not right!!!"
The bodies inside the truck remain still and unresponsive. They seem to be unconscious. Or worse. It's impossible to tell in the dimness. A mix of children and teens lie tangled amongst one another, white clad limbs sticking out in all directions.
Whether unconscious or not, nobody responds to Roxas' direction. Instead, a sound from behind alerts him to more approaching medics.
Two rather muscular looking men drag a stretcher towards the now open truck door. The girl on it seems to also be unconscious, her brown hair hanging loosely over her shoulders, her ponytail having been shaken loose.
The medics' shouting rings out, echoing back against the cool metal of the truck. They both draw their own stun guns, firing at Roxas without hesitation. @Red692
The guards flank Jia on either side, appearing even more muscular and intimidating up close.
The lead her back through the Exam Room following two other guards who are restraining a screaming girl. She looks to be in pretty bad shape, blood trailing along the floor as they drag her between the rows of chairs.
A few people look up at Jia, curiosity and fear breaking through their otherwise stoic expressions. The cries of the little girl fade as the Testing Room door is latched shut,
Once across the Exam Room, the guards lead Jia down yet another white hallway, still following the disheveled screaming girl. Eventually, two medics can been seen in the distance, stun guns pointed at a teenage boy.
There appears to be the back of a truck behind them all, the medics having pinned the boy against the opening and firing at him. @Greekgeek1213
The truck looms in front of Pandora, with her guards still holding on with a vice grip. With the new girl also having been escorted by guards, the staff outnumber them 2:1. Pandora can feel the guards stiffen, reaching for their own weapons. @Javax
"How unpleasant." The Facilitator's voice rises above the muffled hate-filled screaming from the Exam Room. "How... Imperfect."
He speaks the last word with only a trace of disgust.
"Finnian Wilson, however... he's nothing like that, hm?"
The man changes his tone, suddenly speaking as if Finn isn't even there.
Finn can feel the man's gaze watching him like a hawk.
"No, Finnian. You've done amazingly well this past year. Your growth in Perfection has exceeded my expectations."
The man pauses, his voice changing.
"All except for one small matter..."
The man folds his hands against his lap.
"Your mother." @Suyasuya
The silence is deafening as the cold water wraps around Ryuu, pulling him ever downward. The bottom of the pool seems closer at this point than the surface of the water. If he doesn't surface for air soon... @Mio
A groan escapes the injured woman, proving to Mamie that she is indeed, still alive. She hauls herself to her feet, hair covering her face. Blood pours down from a massive gash across the woman's face, from the bottom of her ear to the bridge of her nose. Her entire lower half of her face is completely covered in blood.
She brushes her hair away and looks up at Mamie, eyes glazed with pain, but expression calm.
"It's okay," she speaks softly, voice cracking with pain.
The Facilitator looks over at Mamie and the injured woman with a look of disgust that disappears in seconds, replaced by the usual icy calm.
"You will both come with us."
One of the guards moves to the injured woman, while the other grabs Mamie again, forcing them both back into the exam room and into a hallway.
The fact the Mamie is being taken out with the injured woman... the unspoken message rings clear. @LittleBlindKitten
Mamie watched as the woman rose from the ground. She was alive. But she felt even sicker as she saw the blood pouring from her face. She did that. She did that because they made her. She looked panicked as a guard grabbed her arm. She tried pulling from his grasp. "No! N-No! I worked so hard! I was supposed to be perfect!!" She kept pulling as she was dragged through the Exam Room. "Please! Let me try again!" Tears tracked down her cheeks. "I can't- I worked so hard! Please!" She knew her pleas wouldn't reach the Facilitator or guard, but perhaps someone else would help her. She looked out at all the perfect people. "It's not fair!"
Unpleasant and Imperfect... yes, he... supposes it is. The screams become increasingly faint in the distance until they can no longer be heard from the room. In spite of himself, he finds an odd comfort in the fact that they didn't stop abruptly; it seems as though the speaker (screamer?) has been escorted elsewhere, rather than knocked unconscious.
The boy turns his attention back to the Facilitator as he speaks to, or rather, about him. His approval brings a warm glow to Finn's cheeks and a bright smile to his face, despite his best efforts to keep himself nonchalant. Pride is unsightly and Imperfect, he tells himself, but such high praises fill him with a delight he can't control. Though he bows his head to obscure his faux pas, he can tell the Facilitator is looking right through him, judging his every move. He can feel it.
The Facilitator continues, his tone suddenly shifting. "All except for one small matter..."
Well, that manages to wipe the smile off Finn's face instantly. Did he express himself too much? Was enjoying the praise a sign of an ugly, bloated ego? Has he failed the Evaluation?
The answer catches him off-guard. "My... Mother..?" He doesn't know anything about his mother; she'd disappeared before he could form any solid memory of her, and his father refused to speak of her. But... why would his mother be a score against his Perfection, unless... Finn suddenly leans forward in his seat, soft voice giving way to suspence. "Is she alive---?!" He'd always assumed she wasn't, but... Someone who's no longer around can't possibly be causing any issues, right? But, then, why hasn't she been around, or had any contact? He has so many questions!
Ryuu felt a fleeting sense of relief when his hands finally brushed against the boy's arm, and soon enough, he was desperately seizing him as he began his ascent to the surface. By now, he realized how deep in the water he really was. The thought of it continued to unnerve him, as his heartbeat never quite settled down completely. Even as he clutched on to the teenager, his perturbation was evident in his excessively firm grip. One could deem it imperfect, with the way he was breaking down under this pressure, but could the facilitator really have monitored him to such an extent?
He continued with his quick calculations and queries from before, but in this state of apprehension, Ryuu was struggling to estimate his values. How many more seconds have elapsed since he started his descent? Even if he did manage to get to the top, would the boy even survive at this point? What was his lung capacity? How much longer did Ryuu have before he personally died of asphyxia? How much longer until the underwater pressure hurt his ears—
The answer to his last question became obvious when the throbbing finally kicked in. He winced at the pain, but the silence only scorned him. The tranquility was truly deafening; all his ears could tune to were the sound of the bubbles rising from his exhaling. He understood that it must have been bad if the chill of the water almost felt 'normal' to him now. Ryuu's gaze shifted upwards toward the surface that still seemed so far away. He knew that he needed to breathe soon, but with the additional burden of bringing the boy, he wasn't so sure if he could make it up in time for both of them to live.
Without a doubt, he was decelerating. With his declining velocity, Ryuu roughly approximated that he wouldn't be able to reach the surface before he ran out of air. That thought was just as frightening as the depth of the water itself, and it was already taking every ounce of his willpower to remain underwater for so long. If he wanted to survive, then surely, death was a fate worse than being labeled as an Imperfect? Though, perhaps he would've died either way, if being imperfect was a sin dreadful enough to warrant death. He didn't want to die; he was afraid of it, but there was no way that he could have possibly picked up his speed, unless...
Carefully, he considered the pros and cons of his plan. It didn't take too much contemplation, however, as time was patently running short. The pros ultimately outweighed the cons, and while there may have been some stinging guilt, Ryuu reckoned that he wouldn't have felt remorse to the point where it destroyed him. He was a rational, logical adolescent, and he absolutely refused to let emotion get the better of him. Right now, he had no altruism to spare; if he were to live, he had to be selfish. Because of that, he eliminated all traces of hesitation from his mind. Mentally offering his condolences, his once-tight clasp on the boy gradually loosened, and eventually, the boy's arm fell through his grasp. Only looking upwards, Ryuu refused to look back at the menacing abyss, and refused to stare at the boy's visage.
Roxas nearly avoids the shots and jumps out of the truck and flips while doing and shoots both medics and lands behind them and leg sweeps one and stabs him in the neck as he fell and bolts towards the other one and grabs him and lifts him up and slams his head into the side of the truck and drops the body. He walks to the one with the knife in the throat and takes the knife out “ come on. If you wanna live then get your asses out of the truck and follow me” @Phadia
Pandora's screams were becoming less shrill and more throaty, her dry throat resulting in a raspy howl. She continued to struggle against her captors' grasp as they forced her down the pristine hallway. Her feet refused to find purchase on the polished tile; they were raw and slick with blood. A frenzied trail of the sticky red fluid was left behind the teen and the two men. At one point, Pandora glanced at a young woman—hardly older than she—standing still as a statue down a perpendicular hallway, staring at the growing trail with glassy eyes and a mop in one hand. The bucket the mop sat in was already a sickening rust red.
After what felt like hours of struggling—but was, in reality, just a few minutes—, the blue-headed girl was faced with a large industrial door. It was already ajar, and the scene before her made her blood run cold. There were already two medics outside the entrance of the large metal box, their stun guns drawn and aimed at a blond boy around her age. Their guns had already been discharged, and the needles were steadfast in the boy's skin. His body vibrated as electricity flowed through him, and an unused stun gun and a knife lay by the boy's feet. But Pandora's gaze was hooked on the seemingly lifeless bodies in the metal box. None of them moved a muscle, lying on top of one another like a pile of rag dolls.
"No..." The word was choked out between chapped, split lips. Her eyes grew wide with fear and renewed anger. "No no no no..." Her struggling became more anguished as she tried everything to get away—kicking at her captors, elbowing them, biting them—but it all proved to be futile. "No!NO!NOOO!" she howled, like those obedient dogs she had seen just moments before.
The guards' grip tightens as their bodies tense, suddenly aware of the number of Imperfects in the vicinity. Keeping one hand still gripping the teen's arms, the men use their free hand to reach for their own weapons. One produced a stun gun, not unlike the ones the medics wielded, and the other brandished a handheld taser. Stepping around the blond, the man with the taser flicked the weapon to "On" and jabbed the taser into the teen's side. Electricity jumped through her, stinging her side like a thousand needles. Pandora threw her head back and screamed in agony. Finally, the man withdrew the taser, and the two guards shoved her into the truck. She fell with a thud, shaking as the remnants of the electricity still coursed through her.
Without hesitation, the blue-haired teenager struggled to her feet, using the wall of the metal box to hold her steady. She had barely taken two steps towards the men before the other guard aimed and fired his stun gun at her. The electrified needles found purchase deep in her skin and immediately, electricity racked her body. Her mouth opened to let loose a pained scream but nothing could escape. Icy blue eyes wide, the girl could only stand rigid in the metal box as she shook violently from the energy coursing through her veins. After an agonizingly long ten seconds, the man stopped the flow of electricity. Pandora crumpled to the floor in a heap, still shaking viciously, and the man approached her. He grabbed the wires connecting to the needles and unceremoniously ripped them out of her skin. The barbs tore some of her skin with them, leaving small gaping holes in both her skin and her clothing.
Pandora rasped, "You will never win." Refusing to give up, the blue-eyed girl reached out for the man as he turned away. Her fingers barely brushed the man's immaculate pants, but that was enough for the taser-guard. A sharp, throbbing pain erupted in the girl's left shoulder. She cried out, collapsing to the cold, metal floor, clutching her profusely bleeding shoulder. The guard with the taser stood a few feet away, his arm outstretched towards the teen. In his hand was a 9mm pistol, a barely visible smoke still rising from the end of the barrel. He slowly lowered his arm and holstered the deadly weapon as his partner stopped to stand beside him, never glancing back at the injured girl.
Dazed, Pandora's icy blue eyes roamed the truck again, her eyes falling on a brunette lying on the cold floor like she. The girl's chest rose and fell, signalling life. Her gaze traveled over the other bodies in the truck, revealing that at least most of them were alive but unconscious. A creak in the metal revealed another being entering the truck, very much awake and alive. Her vision swam in and out of focus, but she could make out the other girl carefully joining them on the truck, her short brown hair disheveled from whatever torture they put her through. Shadows danced on the edge of the blue-haired teen's vision, and she clamped them shut as pain racked her body. As Pandora lay writhing in pain on the border of consciousness, she wondered what fate lay before her and the other supposed Imperfects that accompanied her on that frigid, metal floor.
The sight was horrifying. A truck full of people who may or may not have been alive, and from their lack of movement or light in their eyes, it didn’t seem likely they were. However, Jia knew she couldn’t go over and check, or even try and help. With all of the hectic events happening with the other people in front of her, and with all of the guards who were on edge and on the move, it would not be wise to dive into that. Instead, she just stood there and waited for instruction as to where to go and what to do. To do anything otherwise would be ‘imperfect’, and she still wasn’t entirely sure whether she was part of that group or not.
The guards remain stone-faced and unmoved by Mamie's desperate cries as they drag her and the injured woman back through the Exam Room and down a hall on the other side.
A few people in the Exam Room glance up at the crying teen and the injured woman.
Some people seem unable to mask their shock and fear, seeing the injured woman's face. While other people hear Mamie's pleas and look up, disgust flashing across their faces. A few people try to offer the two new Imperfects encouraging glances, only to be nudged by disapproving parents or siblings.
Either way, nobody rushes to help them, and before long the doors close, blocking the Exam Room from view.
The white hall is stained with a trail of blood, the walls seeming suddenly narrow and suffocating as the guards force Mamie and the injured girl towards another gathering of people nearby.
There seems to be a large metal doorway beyond, leading to a transport truck lined with the bodies of different people.
"Everybody in the truck!"
The guards start nudging everybody forward, one of the medics roughly shoving a bleeding blue haired girl further into the darkness.
Mamie can feel herself being shoved as well, almost being knocked to the ground. @LittleBlindKitten
A brief look of disdain flashes across the Facilitator's face as Finn leans forward in the seat.
It is replaced by the same cold expression however, as the man locks eyes with Finn, his blue eyes cold and piercing.
"Your mother's well-being is of no concern," he says the word 'mother' with the faintest hint of repulsion, as if he'd just eaten something foul, and wished to rid his mouth of the taste.
"What matters is the stain she's left on your record. After all, you share her Imperfect genes."
The Facilitator's voice is no longer cold, but smooth and almost... proud. As if he's taking pleasure in delivering the news to Finn.
"But you seem like a reasonable lad. I'm sure you can appreciate Perfection, hm? I want to hear it from your own mouth, boy. Tell me what you think of the Imperfects."
He pauses, awaiting Finn's response. @Suyasuya
Bubbles rise up from the abyss below, floating past Ryuu's head, their spheres of air acting like a tease- a taste of what the surface held.
The water no longer seems clear either, but having taken on a reddish tinge, the unmistakable hue of life-giving liquid flowing away from someone. Blood. @Mio
Pandora can feel the bed of the truck beginning to vibrate as the engine roars to life.
"Everybody in the truck!" A muffled voice orders, as a large hand shoves the injured girl in further. Pain shoots through Pandora's scalp as somebody accidentally steps on her hair on the way in. Another unconscious body is dumped from a stretcher next to Pandora, her long brown hair obscuring her face.
"What about the others?"
One of the guards does something shocking. He asks a question to another. Wasn't that considered Imperfect...?
The word 'hypocritical' could come to mind.
"There are only two more. They should be here shortly. Just make sure everything's ready to go. We need this truck free for the next Transfer from the neonate." @Javax
The guards shove Jia forwards, while a newly arrived girl practically falls onto Jia, her wounded face spewing droplets of blood onto Jia's white jumpsuit.
The guards pick up the injured girl and drag her into the truck, dropping her on top of a few other strangers.
They then turn their attention to Jia.
"This one's Imperfect and deaf," one of them barks, looking at Jia. "Get in!" @Greekgeek1213
Mamie cried pathetically as they dragged her along. She gave up her struggling as the hall stretched on. She felt sick when she saw the blood. Why was it this way? She just wanted to slump over and cry even more. She fell to her hands and knees as they pushed her. She bent down and put her hands over her head, crying ugly tears. "Please!" She cried out, knowing they'd attack her. She was just too scared and shocked to do much else.
Oh--! Oh no, what a shameless display--! Finn shrinks back into his seat, returning to his previous Perfect Posture, with only his rosy cheeks as a reminder of his transgression. The Fascilitator's icy eyes pierce right through Finn's; it takes everything he has not to avert his gaze. It's rude not to look at someone who's speaking to you, and he can't afford any more mistakes.
The Facilitator's brusque dismissal sends a heaviness atop his heart. Perhaps it was ridiculous, but he'd had the wishful thought that his mother would walk through the same doors the Facilitator had. Then they'd both walk back to the Exam Room hand-in-hand, and his father would be so happy...
If the Facilitator's callous attitude made his heart sink, the next blow sends it plunging to the depths of his stomach. Imperfect genes--- His--- His mother was Imperfect? The colour drains from Finn's face. But how could--? Why---? Though he's looking straight at the Facilitator, in his shock he barely sees him at all, let alone the nonchalant sadism he's exuding.
He sits in stunned silence for several minutes, even missing his cue to speak. What was--- Oh. Right. Imperfects. What he thinks of them. Right... He tries to gather himself with a deep breath.
"Imperfects..." His tongue feels numb and heavy in his mouth, but he pushes on. "Need to be rehabilitated and nursed back to perfection..."
That's what he'd always thought happened. But after what he'd seen, he doesn't think that anymore. He grips the fabric of his jumpsuit. No, that's not what happens at all. If that's what happened, his mother would have reunited with them a long time ago. If that's what happened, nobody would be leaving the Testing Rooms on stretchers. If that's what happened, nobody in distress would be knocked to the floor.
"...But instead, they're being killed---!"
The words tumble out of his mouth before he even realises they were forming. He's shocked at his own outburst, but it's too late to take it back.
"I'm sor---" He chokes on his apology before he can finish, tears welling up in his eyes.
That's it. It's over. He's messed the Evaluation up beyond repair. He's probably going to die. And he'll deserve it, because he's Imperfect.
All he can do now is clench his eyes shut and brace himself for the impact...
Her eyes widened. ‘Wh-what? No... no no no!’ Jia couldn’t help but shed silent hot tears as she learned she was an Imperfect and, in turn, would not be able to live long enough to go through with her dreams of getting out of that hell hole. As she was shoved into the truck, and then had another person shoved right into her, she ended up having her cold, collected expression be ripped off of her face as her fear and utter sadness caught up. She didn’t even say anything as she just straight-up cried and seemingly accepted her fate. This truck would send them to their deaths and they couldn’t do a thing about it. Yes, she usually had a gutsy, sassy attitude, but that was when she had the chance of hope. Chance of a future. And this...she had no chance anymore, and it utterly broke her.
He just committed murder. It was a crime, and it was extremely imperfect of him to do so—but evidently, he had done it. While Ryuu seemed to have no qualms against sacrificing the life as a desperate measure to save his own, the sight of the suddenly red-tinged waters made his deed quite clear. Surely, he reckoned that the facilitator would have noticed the changing hues by now. He wouldn't let himself feel remorse over it, for any and all feelings were prohibited. But just like the crimson now blemishing his white swim attire, he, too, knew that he was plunging deep into what was deemed Imperfect. So why not embrace it further and admit his feelings? Of course not! The orderly and methodical person he grew up to be wouldn't allow these unsightly emotions of guilt. He refused to let himself feel anything, in preference of reminding himself of the most important task of all: getting back to the surface alive.
The bubbles were rising faster to the top than he was; mocking him, ridiculing his speed. Instead of the clear and pristine swimming pool from moments before, the crimson spread further out, diluted by the surrounding water to form such an ugly shade. Without a doubt, it was pure imperfection. Now, Ryuu was even more desperate to rise to the surface, as quickly as he could. The blood was cold, and he fully knew that the boy was dead. The blood-mixed waters were still as chilly as ever, to the point that it discomforted him. He craved warmth so desperately, even the plethora of body heat from the Exam Room would do. Anything would have been better than the freezing pool. Not only did he crave the warmth, he wanted oxygen, too. When was the last time he breathed? It was getting difficult to stay alert like this...
Before he realized how close he actually was, Ryuu's head bobbed upwards, out from the water and into the air, causing a slight splash toward his surroundings. He'd immediately taken a large breath as he trod water, though subtly coughed in the process. Oxygen was absolutely delightful, and he never thought that he'd be so desperate to acquire something that was free of charge. As hastily as he could, he used his last bit of energy to grip on to the ledge of the pool and pull himself up and out, though his endurance was already spent from his time in the appallingly deep water.
Ryuu slipped off the swim goggles to reach for his glasses, and hopefully the rest of his clothes. He wanted to rid himself of the specks of revolting blood, as well as the soaking wet attire that clung to his body. However, before he managed to take a step forward, the teenager had fallen onto one knee. He clutched his head, feeling rather faint and dizzy from his swim; he was growing lightheaded, but whether it was because of the sickening blood or something else, he was unable to identify it in his current state. He was having trouble thinking and concentrating, his gaze hurriedly shifted upwards, only to meet the vague and shaky figure of the facilitator looming over him. Ryuu's eyes gradually closed shut as his consciousness slipped away, collapsing onto the tiled floor, which was now defaced with a mere speck of muted scarlet.
Little black dots danced across her vision like ashes off a flame. They interrupted her thought process as she tried to keep a grasp on reality and the scene developing around her, and then they disappeared into the shadows on the edge of her vision. The dots expanded and dispersed at the pounding in her head, her own body fighting to keep her conscious. There was no telling what would happen to the girl if she fell prey to the tempting darkness that threatened to lure her into slumber. So Pandora listened to the rational part of her, the one that fought hard to stay awake, to stay conscious.
To stay alive.
A deep rumble accompanied the suffocating smell of diesel as the truck's engine turned over and roared to life. Each combustion in the pistons' chambers racked the girl's head with another pound, as if her skull were being beat down by the gallop of a mighty horse. The metal floor she lay upon vibrated with the ferocity of the beast contained under the hood of the truck. "Everybody in the truck!" someone bellowed, their voice merely a cry on the wind, so far away. She winced at a sharp pain as hair was nearly ripped from her scalp, a few strands lying loosely on the floor. The retreating, stumbling footsteps told her that it was unintentional. Bang! Another body is dropped onto the truck bed, their body nearly crushing Pandora's as the men practically throw her unconscious body off the stretcher.
One of the guards speaks quietly to another, "What about the others?" Pandora peeks out through half-lidded eyes, hatred bubbling within her gut once again. Its warmth was welcoming as she wondered how these sick, twisted men and women could enact such horrors on normal people and exempt themselves from the same fate. All because they could control all these poor people with fear.Hypocritical bastards.
It was getting harder to breathe. The bullet more than likely nicked the top of her lung, allowing blood to slowly pour into whatever hole was created by the projectile. She coughed, the sticky red fluid accompanying her spittle and confirming her suspicions. The girl cursed herself for being so careless, for not thinking things through. But how was she to know that the guard was going to have a firearm? Weren't lethal weapons illegal? Imperfect? Her mind danced around the idea that this was all a ploy for some larger picture, one that no one on this truck could know about. And through the frenzied shouts of fear from the conscious children, the mist that shrouded her mind, the awful pounding that racked her brain, and the pain that shot through her bleeding and bruised body, she wondered what destination lie before her and the other helpless souls that lay around her.
The guards force Mamie into the truck, jostling her roughly through the metal door without hesitation. Behind her, a stretcher arrives, carrying a sodden disheveled looking body of boy with black hair.
They dump him unceremoniously into the truck, shoving his damp body against Mamie's.
"Move!" They bark angrily at Mamie again, as they chlorine smelling water soaks into her own jumpsuit. @Mio@LittleBlindKitten
The facilitator watches Finn with the same expressionless gaze as before, seemingly not surprised by the display of emotion.
"What a shame..."
He rises from the table, turning his back on Finn.
"I had high hopes for you, boy. The entire Facility did."
He takes a few steps towards the door he come from.
At the same time, the door Finn had entered through reopens, and two guards enter, grabbing him by the shoulders.
They pick him up with ease, dragging him back through the Exam Room and down a hallway.
At the end of a hall, a gaping dark hole greets Finn, the darkness a stark contract from the "Perfect" white halls of the Facility.
Without hesitation, they shove him into the darkness beyond.
"That's the last one."
A guard barks from somewhere, and a metal door falls behind Finn, slamming closed with a loud bang.
The white halls of the Facility disappear from view, cut off by the metal truck door.
As his eyes adjust to the darkness, Finn can see numerous other bodies of children and teens huddled in the darkness. @Suyasuya
"What's gonna happen to us?" "No... No, no, no, no!!" "Papa...!!"
Muffled cries fill the darkness, almost drowned by the loud roaring of the engine. The truck begins to move wildly, throwing people against each other.
Somebody bangs against the door repeatedly, screaming. While other people just begin to regain consciousness, confused eyes darting around wildly.
The screaming... the banging... the darkness...
It's so far removed from the "Perfect" serenity of the Facility.
Eventually, the truck stops swerving, but picks up speed, the tires bumping along some sort of uneven surface.
One of the bodies near to Pandora and Jia begins to move, the girl sitting up shakily. She brushes her brown hair from her face, and looks at Jia for a moment, fear and confusion keeping her speechless.
Then she sees Pandora's injured body, and a small gasp escapes her lips. @Greekgeek1213@Javax
Mamie continues her crying as she is shoved. A wet boy was thrown onto her. She saw that he was unconscious and patted his cheeks to try and wake him up. "Come on! C-C-Come on!" She didn't even know the boy. She flinched when they yelled at her to move. She grabbed the boy under his arms and pulled him to the side of the truck, away from the door where more bodies would be thrown. She held onto him, feeling that he was still alive, unlike many of the others in the trucks. She was trying her best to keep him warm so he would still live. She cried and pressed her face into his hair. Why was this happening?
For the longest time, he was seemingly at peace. Visage expressionless, completely motionless even as the guards abruptly hurled him into the truck against the plethora of other adolescent bodies, and even as the girl slapped his cheeks and dragged him off to the side. He laid there soaking wet for quite a while, blissfully unaware of the state of frenzy that everybody else was in. Ryuu's consciousness was gradually drifting back to him, as he transitioned from not feeling anything at all to feeling the vaguest sense of discomfort, while his ears slowly picked up the loud noises of rowdy, but muffled hollers, as well as the fierce bellows of the moving truck.
He soon came to, with his body slightly twitching as a subtle hint of movement. It had taken a little while longer to adapt to the new environment. His senses were slowly returning, and he felt that he was still drenched from the pool, as he hadn't gotten the chance to dry off. The more he thought about it, he realized he couldn't even retrieve his glasses, for that matter—while his slightly flawed vision was... well, imperfect, it wasn't too detrimental. His eyes soon fluttered open, his vision blurred and hazy as he attempted to make out his surroundings. He didn't quite understand why it was so loud and booming, for the deafening sounds were a stark contrast to life in the Facility. Speaking of the Facility, wherever he currently was didn't resemble the quiet life he was so accustomed to in the slightest. Where was he..?
Ryuu attempted to breathe, only to cough rather strenuously. He forced his arm to cover his cough, and was softly groaning soon after. When his eyes fully focused, he glanced from side to side, eyes widening at the sight of so many other human beings heaped together in such a squished area. He observed that many of them were unconscious, just like he was seconds before. In addition, a certain albino caught his eye; or rather, it was difficult not to notice her when she was holding on to him. He quickly registered that she was the reason why there was a subtle feeling of warmth in him in spite of his sodden attire, and seemed to stare at the petite weeping girl for a moment longer. She was petite, but perhaps not to the point where it was diminutive, and was much shorter than he was. Her hair was white, fitting of the Facility's ambience, but the way she expressed compassion while caring for a stranger was much different from the connotation he associated with the Facility and hues of white in general. It was very different, and he wasn't sure how to feel about it.
Had the girl realized he was awake? He acknowledged that he may have been a tad bit awkward when socializing with others, but in his defense, when had he ever done it? Interacting with others this way would surely be deemed Imperfect, but... was that not why they were all being transported to begin with? That much he seemed to understand, for he knew the moment he finished his evaluation that he failed. With the way everybody else was acting, surely, it would have been the case for them, too. For starters, Ryuu wasn't quite sure how to comfort the petite teenager. Something along the lines of, 'please refrain from crying, it is useless to shed your tears'? The teenager had an inkling that likely wasn't the best way to talk to a frail and sobbing girl, as much as he hated to consider the emotions of others. It didn't take him very long to come up with a simpler, and subjectively better answer.
"Um... Miss, please—please, don't cry," he uttered, hopefully audible enough to be heard over the other clamor in the vehicle.
Mamie felt relieved when the boy in her arms moved. It was a horrible cough, but he was moving. She gently rubbed his arms to help warm him up even as she cried. He remained silent and nearly still, most likely to sort out what happened. She simply held onto him, finding comfort in this strange boy. She looked at all the others in the truck. Imperfects. Just like her. That felt like a knife into her stomach. She was imperfect. After she worked so hard, she was imperfect.
She was startled from her thoughts when the boy spoke. His voice was quiet, but she heard him address her as miss. She laughed weakly. "I-...I'll try, but we're imperfect..." She continued to hold onto the boy in her arms. Somewhere in the back of her mind she knew she should let him go, but she just couldn't. "I-I-I'm Mamie...."
The disappointment in the Facilitator's voice (or at least in his words - his voice was as inexpressive as ever) feels like an extra twist of the knife. Finn's mouth hangs open uselessly as he tries again to apologise, but no words can slip past the large lump that'd wedged itself in his throat.
By the time he notices the guards approaching from the doorway, they'd already grabbed his shoulders. The Facilitator orders him to move, but he's not given the chance to oblige before being dragged effortlessly back through to the Exam Room. He hangs his head low and puts up no resistance; he doesn't want to cause a scene, and, perhaps more importantly, he doesn't think he can face his father. Not as a disgraceful Imperfect.
But it doesn't take seeing his forlorn face for his father to recognise his son being escorted by two guards, not back to his seat as he should have been, but somewhere beyond the Exam Room. The man quickly rises from his seat, casting a cold hard stare in their direction. "Tell me where you're taking my son." Unlike some other parents of Imperfect children, he doesn't raise his voice or display an ounce of emotion.
When there's no response or sign of them stopping, he strides past the rows of chairs. "Tell me where you're taking my son. Answer me." Though remaining calm, if just barely, his words drip with venom. There's still no response from the guards, who drag Finn out of the Exam Room. He briskly starts to follow them, but is quickly restrained by two guards, himself. "Release me at once."
Throughout the long walk of shame, Finn's jaw quivers. He wants to tell his father to not worry about him; as much as he wishes he could save him and make everything okay, it wouldn't be worth him getting hit... or worse. But his voice fails to cooperate, and so do his trembling legs. The guards' unrelenting steps forward are the only thing keeping him from collapsing onto the hallway floor.
The ominous darkness at the end of the hall grows larger and larger, threatening to swallow Finn whole. And with the help of the guards tossing him in, that's exactly what it does. The metal door slams shut behind him, cutting off the one light source from the back of the truck. Before he can see anything, he hears the confused and terrified cries of other children.
He doesn't know what's going to happen to him, or anyone else in this truck. He doesn't know what's going to happen to his father, either. But he does know he's never going to see him again. Despite a lifetime of being told that emotions are unsightly and Imperfect, he cries. "Dad..." His sobs are drowned out by the dissonant chorus of screaming and wailing.
The truck's engine roars to life, in turn drowning out the Imperfect youth's cries. The vehicle begins to move, with erratic twists and turns that send them crashing against each other and the walls. The sounds of screams and sickening thuds fill the truck as everyone's tossed back and forth like ragdolls. It was a nightmare beyond the grasp of many of the young minds that had been raised surrounded by Perfection.
Finally, the turbulent jerking stops. Finn lays where he landed face-down. As he starts to pick himself up, he feels his hand brush past something... wet...? He looks towards the source, blurred at first through his tears, but after blinking them back, he can see the figure of a pale crying girl hunched over a teenager who seemed to be completely drenched. Had they tried to drown him? How awful---
Wait--- Wait, drowning victims can be saved-! They just need--- Finn's mind scrambles for the information that should have come to him easily, lost in his confused daze. ...Oh! CPR, that's right. They need CPR, and chest compressions! "Um...!" He starts to speak up, barely audible over the chaos.
Before he can say anything else, the teenager seemed to have come to, coughing and spluttering into his arm. Oh, thank goodness...! The soaked teenager and the albino girl start to talk, but Finn doesn't catch what they're saying. Isn't there more to drowning victims, even after they awaken...? They need to be kept warm and dry, or they're likely to catch pneumonia, right...? There's no way to get the soaked teen into warm dry clothes, so Finn does the only thing he can think to do at the moment - huddle close to him on the side opposite Mamie and try to dry his exposed skin as much as he could with the fabric of his own jumpsuit's sleeve.
Shedding tears over a complete stranger like him; Ryuu really didn't understand this girl. He saw the relief on her visage when he stirred, and witnessing such a striking burst of changing emotions was certainly something new to him. He could tell that she had a sweet voice from her weak, but uplifting laugh. Another change from the mostly monotone facilitators he was used to hearing. "Imperfect, huh..." He murmured, keeping his gaze on the girl as she introduced herself. "My name is Ryuu," he responded quickly, although hesitated for a moment as to what to say afterwards. "It's... it's a pleasure, Mamie."
The darkness shrouding the back of the truck was a stark contrast to the white, brightly illuminated rooms in the Facility, making it that more obscure when he felt the sudden warmth and contact on the other side of his body. Needless to say, he was a bit startled by it, evidently proven by his slight flinch from the touch. Ryuu peered at the other figure—a small boy, it seemed? He figured that the boy must have been relatively young, to be roughly the same size as Mamie. Oh, how he wished for his glasses to have a better look at the kid. While his vision wouldn't have improved that much with them on, it was like a placebo effect that he believed would help with his eyesight. Unfortunately, the glasses left behind in the Evaluation Room were his favorite pair, too. That aside, the longer he was blessed by the presence of the two fellow Imperfects, the more he felt like a giant, despite the fact that he considered himself to be average height.
Ryuu chose not to think about the idea of Imperfection. He knew that he belonged in such a category, however, anything more was prohibited for him to ponder on. If he began intensely musing about his parents, the decade's worth of hard-work and effort poured into maintaining perfection, and the vigorously successful lifestyle he would have left behind for a one-way ticket to failure, surely, he would have started getting more emotional. But that wasn't what he wanted, for even as an Imperfect, he wanted to be as stoic as he could possibly bring himself to be. All he had to do, was cast away his feelings...
But that was easier said than done. Now that not only one, but two individuals were helping him out, any hint of gratitude would be long overdue. He was bemused by their concern, but even someone like him, who wanted to have nothing to do with human emotions most of the time, had to feel some appreciation for the kind gestures. No, "some" wasn't enough—he was very indebted to their efforts to keep him warm, as they chose to assist a stranger over keeping dry themselves.
As it wasn't his intention to come off as discourteous, he finally voiced his gratitude, "Thank you, Mamie, and—I'm sorry, I haven't a clue as to who you are." He glanced over at the young boy, before continuing, "I'm also sorry to be burdening both of y—" Reflexively, he brought his arm back to his face to sneeze, from his waterlogged attire. "My apologies, again. Um, I will do my best to make it up to you guys, someday, somehow. If we live past this, that is..." Ryuu's voice grew quieter at his last sentence, in preference not to dwell on the worst-case scenario that could happen from being transported in the truck.
Her mind barely registered the two others that were thrown into the box truck and the heavy metal door screeching its way down to lock with a foreboding clank! She barely noticed the increasing volume of cries and screams coming from the other inhabitants that accompanied her. She barely acknowledged the four dim, yellow lights that flickered on near each of the four corners of the truck. One of them burned out only after thirty seconds, and two of the bulbs began flickering teasingly, threatening to let darkness consume their cage. She barely felt the impact of being thrown against the metal wall of the box as the truck carelessly drove down unknown roads towards an unknown, the driver not caring about the living souls that lay imprisoned in the vehicle.
The blue-haired girl notices one of the brunettes coming to in her peripheral vision, shakily pushing herself off of the cold, metal floor and attempting to stay upright at the crazed driver's maneuvers. There was a moment of silence as the long-haired brunette gathered herself, but then her bright green eyes landed on the bleeding, bruised form of Pandora, taking in her figure as a gasp escaped between her lips. She supposed the dim lighting didn't make her appearance any more pleasant, but she didn't care for being stared at and pitied. Her face scrunched up in irritation, practically imitating that of an animal snarling. "I don't need your pity," Pandora spat at the brunette. She stopped to cough, more blood being spat onto the floor. "So stop gaping at me like I'm some circus freak,Princess." She supposed she was being a bit harsh given their circumstances, but that didn't mean that she was going to just drop all of her walls and morals just because she and these other strangers were headed to their deaths.
Pandora tuned out the others on the truck with her and began inspecting the wall. It was layered in sheets of metal, like a shingled roof of a house. Each panel was held with industrial steel bolts. She slowly stood up on shaky legs, using the wall as a support. Her eyes struggled to focus on the bolts, but she powered through. One hand held her steady as the other gripped a bolt with her thumb and forefinger. She used all her strength to grip the bolt head and turn it counterclockwise, but her fingers were just slipping on the smooth metal. She tried again. And again. Both hands now. She began getting more desperate, trying other bolts. Her fingers held tighter and tighter until her fingers were rubbed raw and they were slipping from small beads of blood and not sweat. She began shaking, desperation and adrenaline and frustration coursing through her veins. The girl could feel tears beginning to well at the corner of her eyes until her vision was blurred.
Bang! The inside of the truck reverberated from the sound as Pandora punched the metal panel. The metal bowed outwards from the impact, but the bolts held fast as intended. "Fuck!" she screamed. Her hands were shaking and her knuckles white as she brought them up again and punched the wall again, leaving a new dent. "Fuck!" Another punch. Two. Three. Her knuckles were turning red, but she couldn't feel them anymore, couldn't feel the pain. "FUUUCK!" She coughed again, which turned into sobs that racked her body. Pandora slid down the wall and crumpled to the ground like a ragdoll as she rested her forehead against the floor. "Why..." Pandora whimpered, her voice laced with a terror that she had never felt before. "Why..."
Finn recoils away from Ryuu's slight flinch. Oh, he really should have warned him first; it's awfully rude to sneak up on someone like that. What was he thinking? He whispers a "Sorry", but it would have taken the ability to lip-read to understand him among the continuing chaos.
There's something incredibly dignified about the older boy, even in laying, waterlogged, in the midst of what must be the single biggest upheaval in any of their lives. He's seems so calm, and composed... and Perfect. Finn looks upon him with admiration; he can't even imagine why he's there to begin with.
"Oh, I'm sorry. My name's Finnian," he introduces himself on cue, bowing his head. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr... Ryuu?" He's sure he's heard that name before, but he just can't quite place it. He looks over towards the albino girl opposite him. "Miss Mamie."
Unlike Ryuu, she seems awfully upset. Of course, that's understandable. Finn had found himself in a cathartic state after crying; he hopes Mamie can find the same release. He reaches a hand towards her and gently touches her arm in an attempt to comfort her, casting a small reassuring smile in her direction. At least, it was supposed to be a reassuring smile. It's hard to look reassuring when you're not reassured, yourself.
"Bless you," he murmurs at Ryuu's sneeze, quietly as to not disrupt him. "Please don't worry, you're not burdening us at all." The last thing the teen says sends a sinking feeling to the pit of Finn's stomach. Are they really going to get killed...? He'd thought that, earlier, but then he'd thought it would have happened already. He doesn't know. He's so used to the Perfect routine at the Facility, he doesn't what to expect out of this situation. It feels like literally anything could happen.
Almost on cue, there's a loud BANG that cuts through the back of the truck even louder than the cries, followed by a rage-filled screech that sounds an awful lot like the one he'd heard in the Ev--- Mmh. He doesn't want to think about his failed Evaluation again. He finds himself huddling closer to Ryuu and Mamie as he turns, wide-eyed, to the source of the commotion. He can just about make out the figure's aqua blue hair and powerful form as she punches the door, repeatedly screaming a word Finn doesn't think he's heard before.
Although the display is intimidating, almost terrifying in how primal and unlike anything's he ever known it is, Finn can't help but find it kind of amazing. Almost like a superhero bursting through a building to rescue the hostages inside. He almost expects her to do just that, for the door to fly open with a final mighty punch. But it doesn't. Instead, she dejectedly slides down out of sight beyond the crowd in between them. Part of him wonders if this was a cue for everyone to rally together and break out in a group effort... but they'd probably all get in more trouble if they did.
He looks back to Ryuu and Mamie and puts a hand to his mouth, preemptively embarrassed. "Um... I'm sorry, I know we're not supposed to ask questions, but... Do you know where we're going?" He pauses, his voice lowering. "Are we going to be rehabilitated or... or killed...?"
Mamie smiled softly, wiping her eyes with the sleeve of her jumper. "You don't have to owe us anything. I just want as many of us to survive as possible. I could bare to see someone still alive and dying before my eyes." She gave Ryuu one last squeeze before letting him go. He wasn't dry, but he wasn't freezing anymore. She finally got a proper look at him and realized how much taller he was than her. "Sorry if it was odd to wake up in a stranger's arms. My first reaction was to keep you warm. I didn't really think about any water in your lungs." She rubbed her arm, trying to bring back her own warmth.
She turned to the other boy who about her size. "H-H-How do you know my name...?" She wasn't one for socializing at all and the only time she had said it was when she whispered it to Ryuu. It was all a bit confusing, but still managed to click somewhere in her brain. Things were happening that she never thought would happen.
As the chaos continues, the screams gradually die down to a dull whimper, with the exception of Pandora's profanities. People either resign themselves to whatever fate holds for them, being broken much like Jia. Or, like Mamie, Finn, and Ryuu, begin to form some sort of connection with one another, praying to make it alive from whatever being deemed an Imperfect would hold.
It is during one of these despairing moments that the truck abruptly shudders, coming to a screeching halt. A loud boom follows the shuddering, a blaring light burning into the back of the truck.
It's almost as if the whole world is torn apart, the explosion heralding the end for some, while bringing forth the gift of escape for others.
The cold metal walls that encased the Imperfects are now torn open, some of the unconscious bodies being thrown from the wreckage.
In those few moments, a small group of people crowd the damage truck.
It is not the guards, however, swarming the Imperfects, but a small crew of unfamiliar people.
A lanky, blond haired teen stands tall amongst the rest.
"Everybody! Follow us if you wanna live!"
The order rings clear across the crowd. @Mio @Suyasuya @LittleBlindKitten @Javax @Greekgeek1213