The group had yet to see a door as they continued to wander farther into the research grounds. It wasn’t until the last turn from the previous corridor that led them to a hall with a door at the end. There were paintings of the landscape on the walls, and past those were monitors.
“It’s kind of eerie,” Xavier remarked as they continued walking. “You would have thought from all our shouting back, there we would have had some company here. It’s like nobody’s around. Guards and people alike.”
Aden grunted, and Damien grabbed his chin in thought.
“It’s a trap,” the blond surmised, and the raven-haired lad all but agreed. Only they did not know what can of trap it was. “Only one way of finding out, I suppose.”
As the group walked by, they realized that the monitors were showing video feed from all over the facility. The top row of monitors had the visuals from outside of the building, and below that, there were visuals from the inside of the facility. These were particularly interesting to see because they were decimated because of the bombs. Of course, intermingled in those rows were monitors that were not giving any feedback.
There were swiveling cameras moving throughout the white blank halls. On the opposite wall were another two rows of monitors, but these had some peculiarity to them. The top row was indicating a room, probably the one they were about to enter, with tubes filled with strange-colored liquid. There seemed to be something inside the tube, but it was hard to determine from the video feed. The row underneath were blacked out or showing no feed from the camera.
“It’s not showing a feed,” Damien said, breaking the silence, and then tapped one of the dead screens.
“Yup,” Aden nonchalantly grunted behind them. “I took out the cameras that I saw. Those were probably them.”
Xavier gaped at the youth. “How many did you take out? There are probably twelve to fifteen screens blacked out or playing the obnoxious buzz stuff!”
Charlotte was still fixated on the top row with the room full of test tubes. “What is that?” Curiosity was getting the best of her as she continued to stare. “It looks—alive!”
Damien moved beside her to ponder her fixation. He could not see what she saw, but maybe further investigation would prove useful.
Xavier read into the atmosphere and walked over to the only door in the hall. “Well, only one way to find out. Let’s check it out.”
Aden took a couple of steps after the group before stopping to peer at the screens himself. “This isn’t—”
“What is it, Aden?” Charlotte tilted her head in question to his comment.
“This.” He started staring at the screen and then shook his head.
“Char, Addie, we ain’t got all day!” Xavier called from within the doorway. The only one who had gone into the room entirely was Damien, who hadn’t said much of anything.
“Never mind. Come on, damsel.” He pushed past Xavier and walked over to Damien, staring up at the rows of tubes aligned.
“My name is not Damsel!”
“Okay, ‘Char . . .well, you know.’”
“Would you quit it?” Charlotte was the last to enter and gave an audible gasp at the sheer mass amount of tubes and technical equipment. “What is this?” she inaudibly mouthed out and walked over to another set of tubes connected to the ceiling. There was a strange glow in each tube that drew her attention, and with strange fascination, she looked closer.
“These look like finished stones,” Xavier remarked at another set of tubes. “Is the facility a manufacturer for—” He was about to finish but stopped short, remembering the previous conversation with Olivia, Simone, Elliot, and Andy.
“Someone is manufacturing fake Relic stones, using the true Relic stone. But since even we do not know what other thing these stones are made of, we must assume they all possess a variety of powers and consequences that we have never dreamed of.”
Xavier dropped his arm and found it connecting with a padded table with papers piled and stapled together. FAILURE was printed on all the papers he had discovered. He easily picked them up and wandered in the direction Charlotte walked toward.
Damien stared with wide azure eyes as he looked at the finished product floating in the oddly fluorescent-colored fluid. “How on earth are they making them?”
Aden grunted in reply to his older brother’s question; only his grunt was the last thing the boys heard when Charlotte let out a scream from a couple of rows away. Damien and Aden rushed over to where her scream originated from and discovered her on the floor with tears streaming down her face.
Xavier paled as a ghost would. He remained staring between the sheets of paper in his hand and what Charlotte had evidently screamed at.
Damien went to the girl’s side and draped a protective arm around her shoulders, and she in turn twisted her head away from what was inside. Aden took a step in front of the fallen girl to block her view from what was inside the tube.
“They were creating the stones by absorbing the life from human subjects,” Xavier gathered, stating what everyone did not want to say aloud. “They were using humans as a means of creating these fake stones.”
۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞