Change of Heart – Part 1

This chapter was written in collaboration with Scylla.

Awaking from darkness into pain seemed to be a habit of his lately. Not a habit that Amon wanted to maintain, for certain. But this last time was partially his own fault, he knew, so there was not much to be done for it.

The Elezen schooled himself into silence as he came to his senses, giving him a chance to observe his surroundings without alerting his captor of his awareness. In a distant memory, he knew this place. It was one of the outer labs, a place he hadn’t worked at much, but was familiar with, very likely located within Aetherochemical Research Facility.

Why would Scylla bring him there? Why not just chuck him over the side of an island and be done with it.

Dimly, he could make out the other Allagan’s shape at the far end of the long room. It looked as if she had also sustained some damage from the aetheric explosion earlier. But this did not keep her from working, hunched over a command board, entering information into the terminal. She already had it up and running… but for what, Amon didn’t know.

Nor did he probably want to know.

Scylla already indicated her vengeance upon him would be a fate worse than death. Somehow, Amon didn’t doubt it. It was probably something he deserved.

But self preservation still had him casting about the lab for anything he could use to his advantage. His hands were still bound in front of him – a sign that Scylla really didn’t know much about what to do with those she took captive – which gave him enough range of motion to almost do as he pleased.

The lab was littered with mostly just thousand-year-old debris, pieces of broken tubes, and chemical stains of who knows what on the walls that had festered over time beyond imagination. Some junked machinery lay in a pile not far. And within that…

An dysfunctional node.

Amon pursed his lips and slowly, painfully, scooted towards it.

Perhaps if he was lucky enough, the node could be powered on. And if so, if he could claim command of the machine quickly and quietly enough, he might be able to use it as a means of escape.

Leaning over the device, Amon cleared the grime from the small control panel and began to mash buttons. He wasn’t fully sure what this make and model required, but sooner or later, he would stumble upon something to activate it.

Sure enough, after a little time and determination, he saw a light flicker within the core of the node.

Instantly he threw a command, hoping the machine might listen, “Keep quiet, node. I require your assistance as a high ranking technologist and citizen of Allag.”

With only a slight hum of compliance, the node completely powered down, and rolled to the side as if nothing more than another piece of trash.

Amon frowned and turned the node around between his hands, checking the display. The charge level was low, but there was still enough energy for it to at least power on and respond to commands.

Just his luck… damaged machinery.

The Elezen grumbled and tapped at the controls again, trying to re-create the pattern that made the node respond the first time. But it refused to respond.

Looks like that was a dead end.

He plopped the worthless machine back among the junk and reassessed the situation. That was the first time he was aware of the warmth of sticky blood along the side of his neck. Probably where he bashed himself good with the kick back from the explosion.

Not that that would matter much longer.  

Amon had woken up sooner than she had thought he would.  It was a hard struggle dragging his body, as the suspensor module was burnt out from the exchange they had had earlier in the day.

“So you’re awake?” Scylla entered a few final commands into the console before limping her way over to his frail form.

She wondered if he had finally noticed that he was being observed.  Scylla had sat there for a while, watching him desperately trying to get that hunk-of-garbage node working.  Of course, she had scoured the laboratory just to make sure there was nothing of consequence that Amon could use to try to escape.  

He’s completely clueless, isn’t he?

Scylla tapped her staff on the ground, trying to right herself to hide the fact that her leg was nearly useless. Though she was training in the arts of magic, she had wasted almost all of her energy in her last exchange with Amon.   

“Amon, really?  Why waste your time?”

Scylla gave him a sickening smile as she leaned down, carefully wiping down his forearm with santi-solution.

“Can’t be having you catch an infection before your procedure, can we?”

Before he had a chance to answer, she reached in her pocket, pulling out a tiny syringe, filled with luminous green liquid.  She mocked him as she brought the needle to pierce his skin, pressed the plunger down.

“Poor poor, Amon… why so nervous?  You should know this is completely normal! Just the usual preparatory steps to make sure the process takes correctly!”

She gently put her hand to his face, echoing his own words from more than an eon before.

“Everyone who gets the treatment goes through this!  Dare I wish harm to such a pretty face?”

Amon recognized the words as having once been his own, back when roles were reversed, and he was the one giving her the injection. He still didn’t know exactly what Scylla had planned for him, but she was clearly communicating that he was going to pay for his transgressions against her.

Scylla was having far too much fun dragging her revenge out, and he refused to give her the pleasure of a response. Whatever was to happen, would happen, after all.

It wasn’t as if he wasn’t already on borrowed time as it was. It was dreadfully hard to be afraid of much when you’d already faced death once… and he found himself strangely calm at the prospects of paying his dues.

The Elezen said nothing. Resigned, he just turned his head away from the arm she was preparing – as he was taught to do when he took his first injections as a child – and showed no sign of emotion.

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