Atlantech: The Early Days (an ongoing prequel)

  • LadyGrimes
  • LadyGrimes's Avatar Topic Author
  • Offline
  • Robotech Master
  • Robotech Master
  • Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!
  • Posts: 3776
  • Thank you received: 975

Replied by LadyGrimes on topic Atlantech: The Early Days (an ongoing prequel)

Chapter 16: Yellow Alert

Summary: All hell seems to have broke loose on the AMF base again, and now Lynne is left scrambling for answers. Meanwhile Brian seeks answers of his own, which leads him back to the mysterious Madame La Rouge, hoping she can provide, while not expecting a deeper look into the person hes become and what he must do to change.

It was about 3 AM when the imprisoned guard, Stephen Everett had awakened to the sounds of footsteps approaching his cell door. Lying on his left side on the cot, he rolled over and sat himself up to see just who it was outside the door now. Only there didn’t appear to be anybody, despite the fact he had clearly heard footsteps a moment before. Did he imagine it? Possibly, being that it was pretty early in the morning and also because he’d gotten nothing but horrible rest since he’d been locked up here. He might as well have been in a real prison at this point.

“Who’s there?” Stephen tiredly called out then, waiting for a response. But of course there was no answer.

Grumbling to himself thinking he was merely losing his mind, he lied back down and shut his eyes again, and that’s about the time he heard his cell door pop open.

“Commander Williams?” The startled guard asked sitting back up, while hoping her early visit meant he was finally being released. But what he saw next practically caused him to piss himself, as a tall silhouette now stood in the doorway.

Terror immediately filled the guard’s eyes and he wanted to scream but couldn’t. And then the shadowy figure started towards him and he knew in his mind it was all over for him now.

It had only been about six hours later when Lynne had entered the brig to inform Stephen that a decision had not yet been made, despite the fact she had discussed the issue with the admiral and gotten nowhere. And while she knew the guard wouldn’t be the least bit happy about the news she never expected to find him lying face down on the floor outside his cell along with the cell door left ajar.

Had he escaped and passed out? She wondered then as she knelt down beside him to check for a pulse, only to discover he was cold and stiff as could be as rigor mortis had appeared to have already set in. She hadn’t smelled it when she first entered the room, but once the realization of the man’s demise had been made clear, she could now smell that sickly sweet scent of decomposition; the smell of death. Stephen Everett was in fact dead, she couldn’t believe it.

Heart now pounding in her chest, she raised her left right hand up to her face and cupped it over her nose and mouth while she continued her examination of the guard’s corpse, trying to figure out how he could have died. Her first thought was that it could have been an illness, however the more she pondered over the matter she realized it wouldn’t account for why he’d gotten out of his cell. Either he escaped somehow or someone else had let him out. But who else would?

Then as she continued looking for any signs of visible wounds, she suddenly noticed a peculiar looking shaped bruise around his neck as she pulled back the collar of the man’s uniform. It almost looked like the shape of a hand at first glance, however that sounded much too absurd in her mind so she quickly dismissed it. Had the man strangled himself with something? She wondered now. Or was he possibly mur—

No, no. She shook her head as she pushed back those thoughts while she stared down at the body. I refuse to believe it.

She felt a deep sigh coming on just then, but she knew the minute she exhaled deep she would have to breathe in that sickly smell once more, and she wasn’t about to do that. Still battling with her thoughts, she tried convincing herself that the man had merely gotten out of his cell somehow and killed himself outside of it to make some kind of statement. Yet the only problem with that theory was the fact there was nothing outside his cell that he could have used, and nothing at all on or near his body for that matter.

The truth she was refusing to believe was beginning to creep its way back into her thoughts. No, please no. Anything but that, she shook her head. I’m not giving in yet.

Next she turned her attention on his empty cell, slowly rising back up to her feet before cautiously making her way inside. The small room was dark but the light from the outside was bright enough that she could make out the obvious details, such as the sheets which were still covering the cot’s mattress, the flattened pillow, and the stack of magazines sitting on the floor beside the commode; nothing out of the ordinary as far as she could tell.

After she walked out, that’s when she noticed the security camera mounted on the wall in the corner of the room facing the cell. Apparently the shock of finding the guard dead like this had been enough to make her completely forget all about the one thing that could provide the very evidence she needed in order to rule out his death as a murder, or so she hoped. She wasn’t about to go there just yet, despite the fact the alarm bells had been sounding off in her head the entire time.

I’ve got to get down there so I can check the footage, she thought anxiously as she began hurrying out of the room, when another sudden thought hit just then.

First I need to notify the admiral. She next headed right for the emergency phone, picked it up, and pushed the button for his office. After a few rings he finally answered.

“Yes?” Abraham said.

“Admiral, it’s me.” Lynne replied, not even trying to hide the panic in her voice.

“What’s wrong?” He asked once he immediately picked up on it.

Lynne took a moment to gather herself before responding.

“Stephen Everett is dead. I came in just now to give him an update on his status, and that’s when I found him on the floor, face-down, out of his cell. I even checked to make sure he wasn’t just passed out but the moment I touched him he was cold as ice. He is dead, Admiral. And I don’t know what to do.”

There was a brief minute of silence before Abraham could even comment on the situation.

“First of all, I’m deeply shocked to hear this.” He stated. “Second, I want you to go ahead and call the nurse’s station in the infirmary, they’ll get in touch with someone from the city to come retrieve the body and deal with the rest.”

“All right.” Lynne grudgingly accepted. “But how long is it going to take until we find out the exact cause of death?”

More silence before Abraham answered her.

“That depends on how long the autopsy takes.”

Lynne didn’t like his answer in the slightest. “We need to know now in case he was murdered. As a matter of fact, right before I called you I was about to head down to the security room in the basement and check the footage for any possible clues. When I first found his body I had forgotten all about the camera in here.” She paused briefly before continuing. “Admiral, I need to find out if the Tjatey are behind this. If they are we’re going to have to deal with them, you understand don’t you?”

“You seem to quick to assume he was murdered, or that the Tjatey were the ones behind it.” Abraham replied in almost dismissive kind of manner. This only seemed to frustrate her even further.

“I checked his cell, Admiral. I didn’t find anything that he could have used to escape or even take his own life with. So don’t you sit there and tell me I’m wrong for what I believe. Because I’ve found nothing else that proves otherwise, so I’m going down to the basement and I’m going to check that footage.”

Abraham sighed hopelessly. “Look, I’m not going to rule it out, because it may be possible, but I don’t want us jumping to conclusions either. I’m just saying it’s best to wait until we have the proof we need before making any decisions here.”

“What about the others?” Lynne asked now, sounding deeply concerned about the panic this would cause once the word got out. “Are we going to let them know or keep this under wraps till we have confirmation? We need our forces to be alert and prepared for another assault wave. We can’t afford to lose any more of our soldiers.” She stressed, sounding as though she were holding back from screaming.

“Go ahead and check the footage.” He advised then, meeting her half way at least. “If you find anything at all, I want you to report it back to me immediately, understood?”

“Yes, Admiral.” Lynne agreed.

“First call the station so they can remove the body.” He ordered next. “If anybody on our base asks about it, just say it was a medical condition and nothing more.”

Lynne couldn’t help but groan, but at the same time she couldn’t believe she was being asked to keep quiet about something as serious as this. And for a moment she wondered if this is exactly how William and Justin had felt before. And now it seemed as though the tables had been turned. What a predicament.

“All right.” She finally accepted. “I’ll end this call so I can go ahead and contact the nurse’s station. I’m tired of this smell as it is. If I have to stay in this room any longer than necessary I’m going to hurl.”

And then he said something else she hadn’t at all anticipated.

“Why don’t you take the day off and relax? It sounds to me like that’s what you need after all this is handled.

Lynne couldn’t help but frown at such a suggestion. “I’d rather not. I’ve got many more recruits to interview and—

“I’m making that an order, Commander.” He replied sternly cutting her off. “You are to take the day off. That is all.”

He then hung up.

Whatever, she groaned hanging up her end, before picking it back up and dialing for the infirmary to let them know about the situation.

“What was the cause of death?” One of the nurses asked her.

“Unknown for the time being.” Lynne answered reluctantly, wishing she could just tell them the truth despite the admiral’s orders. In her opinion they deserved to know the truth. “Just alert the local coroner’s office and have them schedule an immediate pickup.”

My god we’re discussing the man’s arrangements as if he were an object, she thought sadly looking over her shoulder at the body. While he hadn’t been the most cooperative of men he still didn’t deserve this kind of treatment. And that’s when she realized this was a possible act of revenge.

After exiting the brig, Lynne pulled out her military grade pocket knife, and flicked it open before making her way down the long corridor, not wasting any time in looking over her shoulder as she continued towards the lobby for the elevator. She poised herself, ready to strike and stab anyone who dared to attack her.

However, what she wasn’t expecting was for William to be standing there in the lobby, just to come walking up to her the minute she exited the hall with her knife in hand, startling her and nearly getting himself stabbed in the process. She could have honestly killed him for that alone.

“Damn it, Corporal!” Lynne exclaimed furiously as he quickly backed away. “I could have killed you just now!”

Lynne now realized they weren’t the only ones here as some of the other recruits standing by were giving her strange looks, as though she had lost her marbles. William must have agreed with them because he too was giving her that same look.

“What the hell?” He huffed looking down at her knife. “Why do you even have that thing out?”

Her eyes narrowed as she closed it back up. She already felt a little more secure in his presence.

“Out of my way, Sterling!” She then barked, causing him to step aside. Only he wasn’t about to back down just yet, as something was clearly wrong and he needed to know what it was.

Then as she started for the elevator, he quickly got in front of her blocking her path.

“No, you’re not going anywhere until you tell me what’s going on around here.” He stared her down. “You’re carrying a knife out in the open. You’ve never done this before, so that tells me something is up and I want you to tell me what it is. No beating around the bush either, Commander.”

She gave him a most scornful look in response but that didn’t seem to have any effect on his defiance, as it was clear he was more than determined to get the truth out of her. Not to mention he had blocked off her only means of getting to where she needed to go, so either she would have to tell him or do the unthinkable and sic the guards on him instead. But while she didn’t mind showing him who was boss around here she realized she would probably be a lot safer if he came with her.

“Fine, let me on the elevator and I’ll tell you.” She sighed with bitterness.

He agreed, and then stepped aside so she could push the button and summon the lift.

Once the doors opened and they both stepped in, there was bit of an awkward silence between them, especially once they both recalled the last time they had been in this same situation. But just like the last time Lynne didn’t seem to hold back anything at all once the doors closed.

“That guard is dead.” She explained looking at William as though he might have the answers.

“What happened?” William gasped with shock.

“That’s what I’m going to find out now.” Lynne answered as she pushed the button for the basement, and the lift began taking them down.

“The admiral wanted to wait until after the autopsy, but I insisted that we check the footage to see if that holds any clues. It’s almost like he’s in denial that something else could happen again.”

William’s thoughts immediately drifted back to Stan and how he’d told him to stay out of it. But as far as he knew Stan wasn’t a killer so it couldn’t have been him, if the guard had indeed been murdered.

There were more silent looks between the two of them, when the lift finally reached its destination and the doors flew open. Lynne and William headed out and began making their way down the two way hall, where one part led to the hangar and the other to the security room.

But once they were standing outside the door of the room, Lynne instantly felt something in her gut almost warning her not to open the door, but she did so anyway.

Cautiously, she grabbed the handle and pulled the door open, gasping the minute she walked inside once she discovered the dead body of the security maintenance worker lying on the floor in a similar fashion to how she found Stephen. Now there was no denying they had both been murdered and the killer, whoever they were was still on the loose.

“Jesus Christ!” William exclaimed in horror as he came in behind her.

Lynne felt like collapsing onto the ground, and William must have sensed it, because he was right there to catch her before she fell.

“It’s okay, I’m here, I’m here.” He said softly as he held her tight. “I won’t let you fall. All right?”

In that moment she felt like she could just break down and cry in his arms. She felt so scared and panicked inside, unsure of what to do and how to handle this mess now.

“I don’t know what to do.” She sobbed. “Two bodies, and with a possible killer on the loose on our base. I can’t do this again, Sterling. I can’t and I won’t!” She landed a few good blows on his chest with her fists.

It hurt a little but he would rather her punch him than do something stupid such as trying to elicit a violent confrontation with anyone she suspected, especially without any proof.

“I just don’t understand it, why is this happening again?” Lynne looked up at him worriedly, noting the somber expression on his face. It was obvious he didn’t understand what was happening either.

“We have to check the footage now.” She suddenly pulled away from him and bolted over towards the console, where she immediately pressed the rewind button for the monitor showing the brig and the empty cell. She hadn’t noticed once she first checked the screen, but Stephen’s body had apparently already been removed. At least she didn’t have to worry about that anymore.

“All right, I’ve rewound the tape back at least eight hours ago, let’s see if anything shows.” She answered a moment later, and then hit the play button and stood watching. William watched as well as he stood in the background. He was already missing that feeling of holding her in his arms much to his own surprise.

So far the footage only showed back when the guard was inside his cell and the door was locked. Lynne couldn’t tell just how much of this they would have to sit through before anything else turned up. With impatience she promptly fast-forwarded , stopping once she observed a very strange static blip on the screen and hit the play button once more.

“It must have been around this time.” She gestured at the screen which displayed the time 3:02 AM in the timestamp.

She watched once again, until she noticed the footage had suddenly cut out as though a cable had been disconnected.

“I don’t see anything but static.” William said scratching his chin with puzzlement.

“Same here.” Lynne agreed and then looked down at the body on the floor. “But it’s apparent this was planned.” She then looked over at William. “What was the name of that child’s mother again?”

“Rehema.” William answered with uncertainty. “But I don’t think she’d be able to pull something off like this. I know she was angry about him letting Safiya run away, but I don’t think she’d resort to revenge, especially not after what happened with Naeem and her husband.”

Lynne then turned her attention back to the snowy screened monitor. “Well She would be the only one with the motive to kill that guard though, right?”

William nodded while looking rather disappointed. “Yeah, she would.”

Hearing this, Lynne closed her eyes and sighed deeply. The last thing she wanted to do was leave that poor little girl without a mother, but what other option was there? Unless….

“Can you think of anybody else who would want that guard dead?”

William sighed and then thought it over. Once again the only other person that came to mind was Stan, and again William didn’t believe the man was capable of something so heinous as this. Yet he couldn’t deny Stan had a violent streak in him, and one that could eventually lead to him accidentally killing someone someday, or maybe even purposefully.

“I did tell Stan about the altercation that happened between that guard and I.” William mentioned next.

Lynne felt her blood run cold at the very mention of that man’s name. “You don’t thin—

“No he wouldn’t!” William quickly cut her off, sounding a bit on the defense now.

Lynne already knew just how much Stan meant to William, and how he always seemed to jump at any chance to defend him, even when he shouldn’t. But while it was very noble of him it was also very dangerous, especially if Stan had been responsible for these two deaths. But the keyword here was if, as there still wasn’t any proof for either of them to go on.

“Sterling, he almost killed Private Mathis before.” She reminded him, just for him to act short with her once more.

“But he didn’t!” William snapped, causing her to frown. “It was the Tjatey who finished him. Stan tried to save him and failed.” Then he looked her right in the eye. “He also helped protect us when it all went down. If it weren’t for him being here a lot more of us wouldn’t have made it.”

She said nothing else and instead acknowledged his words with a quick nod of her head, as it was plain to see that William was totally convinced that Stan could do no wrong, no matter what she said. Therefore, it was better that she drop the subject altogether and focus on what was in front of her.

“I know it wasn’t him because I asked him to stay out of it.” William mentioned next, sounding a lot more calm. “He listens to me because he respects me.”

More of the same, she thought hopelessly and then moved over to the phone on the wall and picked it up.

“I have to notify the admiral now.” She informed him. “And also make arrangements to have this body removed as well.” She gestured down at the corpse on the floor, which was already beginning to stink up the small room. Lunch was only in a few hours but after dealing with two corpses in one day she was most certain she didn’t have any appetite left.

“I’ll try talking to Rehema.” William replied covering his nose with his hand as he turned towards the door and headed out.

“Thank you for your help!” She called after him, wondering if he was feeling just as sick to his stomach as she was.

“Hey asshole!”

Brian heard someone shout just then and his eyes shot open. He had fallen asleep on his back at some point between the on-goings of his insomnia and hearing strange sounds all night. But the voice he heard just now had most definitely come from outside, as he’d forgotten he left his bedroom window open.

Brian groaned as he groggily sat up on his bed, still wearing his day clothes as he often did.

“Hey watch where you point that fuckin thing!” Brian heard another man shout, prompting him to get up and wander over to the window to see what was going on.

“Don’t worry it ain’t loaded!” The other man chided his partner, as it appeared there were a couple of criminals passing through Brian’s part of the neighborhood now. This didn’t come as any surprise though, especially since a good part of the crime usually took place here in the slums anyway, so these two were just your average scumbags no more no less. And while Brian didn’t condone their behavior he still found their jabbering most amusing and even took it upon himself to sit down in his chair for a smoke break while he eavesdropped on their conversation. Those two were fools if they thought nobody was listening to them, especially in front of an apartment building with open windows of all things.

“I don’t give a rat’s sideways ass if it ain’t loaded, don’t you ever point that thing at me!” The man who sounded very much like the brains of the operation, crossly retorted.

“Anyway we got problems.” The criminal mastermind continued, while Brian quietly listened as he smoked his cigarette.

Yeah you sure do, Brian thought sardonically.

“Some broad beat us to the punch, got away with millions in cash.” The boss-man droned on. “I tell ya that was supposed to be our hit, but she got there before us!”

Brian could tell whoever this man was he was sure mad as a hornet over a female bank robber usurping his good name and stealing what he believed to be his. Was the man going to plan revenge on this woman? Brian had to wonder now.

“How does a broad even know how to use a gun?” The other man quipped. “Ain’t she afraid of breaking a nail or somethin?”

The two men laughed together, and even Brian quietly chuckled at that comment. This was far more entertaining than any radio show he’d ever heard.

“Well whoever this broad is she’s dead!” The boss-man stated next, as though he were making a promise to himself. “Those millions should belong to me!”

“Us!” His partner corrected him. And while Brian couldn’t see the action below, he was sure he heard that man give his boss a good hard shove just then.

“Right, us.” The boss-man corrected himself. “But touch me again and I’ll pump your noggin full of lead! First things first, I’m starving. Let’s go have us some chop-suey!”

Oh don’t leave now, Brian thought with disappointment while taking a long drag of his cigarette. Not when things are getting so interesting.

“Alright boss, chop-suey it is!” The boss-man’s partner agreed.

Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Brian thought humorously, while listening to the pitter-patter of their boots on the gravel road as they started crossing the street. He figured they were heading over to that same restaurant where he’d smelled the doughnuts before. Even now Brian could smell something; mostly greasy and oily foods, but whatever it was it was even making him hungry. So after finishing his cigarette and stubbing out the butt in his ashtray, he stood up from his chair and then walked over to where his loafers were sitting on the floor beside his bed, and slipped them on his feet. After that he walked out into the living area where he collected his leather jacket off the back of his couch and put that back on as well, checking to make sure he had a pack of smokes in one of the pockets before heading out of his unit and locking the door behind him. Once outside the building, he crossed the street heading for that same restaurant where the two criminals had just gone.

The name of the place was The Nightly Grub, and while the name didn’t make it sound the most appetizing it did see a lot of business, so whoever the owners were they must have been doing something right. Even now as Brian pulled open the door with its little neon open sign hanging in the window, he could smell fried noodles and smoked peppery chicken. And while that alone sounded like a good choice for lunch he figured he would have the same dish those criminals had come here for; the chop suey. But unfortunately there was a bit of a line in front of the register, which told Brian he was probably going to be here a while, and so he went ahead and lit a cigarette while he waited. He figured that would help to pass the time some.

This place wasn’t at all like those other restaurants where you’re taken to a booth by a host and given a menu. Instead you had to order your food, pick it up when it was ready and sit down and eat it at one of the available booths; that is if you could find a place to sit at all, otherwise you’d have to stand or sit outside on the ground. Not the greatest business model of course but it sure didn’t deter the amount of customers this place attracted, so obviously the food was worth the trouble. Not to mention Brian was already looking for those two crooks, wondering if they might even be standing in line ahead of him as he listened for their voices now.

There were definitely more men here than women from what he saw. Brian guessed it was because the men were more drawn to the fatty and greasy foods than the women, or it was because a lot of these men lived and worked around the area and liked the easy access this place provided. However as Brian noticed more and more people beginning to file inside and get in line behind him, he was beginning to feel slightly aggravated, especially the minute he started hearing some child whining and pouting, practically putting up a fight with their parents. It was apparent they didn’t want to wait in line either.

Brian groaned as he smoked his cigarette, keeping his focus on the shrinking line in front of him as each customer placed their order and paid, and then took off to stand around and wait till it was ready. Again, not the best business model, especially for a place that was too small to accommodate everyone as it was. But Brian also noticed a lot the people were getting their orders to go, and for a moment he thought about doing the same, until he suddenly recognized one of the voices ahead of him.

“God damn, it’s about time this line gets moving.” Brian now heard the infamous boss-man gripe, as well as his partner agreeing.

“Say, why don’t you go grab us an empty table if you can find one. I’ll take care of the orders.”

Brian then glanced over to where all the booths and tables were. They were all completely filled up by now.

“No can do, boss.” Brian heard next. “It sure don’t look like there’s any vacant spots to me.”

Brian then saw the boss-man grab the other man by the collar of his coat. They were both wearing dark colored fedora hats which seemed to aid in obscuring their faces a bit, along with the high collars of their trench coats. For a couple of crooks they sure didn’t seem to care about blending in.

“I don’t give a Thanksgiving turkey’s gizzard, you get your kiester over there and find us one!”

Brian suddenly went back to acting all nonchalant as the boss-man’s lackey now looked in his direction. Brian knew these guys weren’t stupid, and that if they even suspected someone was onto them then things could get ugly real fast. And since this was downtown Atlantis the police force was always slow to respond, therefore Brian wasn’t about to take any chances with making these crooks the least bit nervous, especially not in a building full of innocent people.

“Don’t just stand there, go!” The boss-man barked at his partner, giving him a nice good shove back.

Then without further hesitation, his lackey turned and headed off to find them an empty table. Although Brian had a feeling this guy was probably going to threaten others just in order to free up a space. And then as Brian casually turned his head in that direction, sure enough he could see that man flashing his gun at a young couple, who then hurriedly got up and rushed out of there as quickly as they could.

Yeah, I think I’ll take my food to go, Brian thought after deciding these two were no longer worth the entertainment.

After picking up his order, Brian headed out of the building and began making his way down the sidewalk. He figured he’d find a nice secluded bench and eat his lunch there for a change. And then as he suddenly came up to an all too familiar strip-mall, he wondered if it must have been fate that brought him back here. Especially now that he was looking right at Madame La Rouge’s place of business, and of course there was a cozy wooden bench situated right across the parking lot too.

Why do I keep finding myself back at this place? Brian asked himself then as he sat down and took the plastic container of food out of the bag, along with a plastic fork and began eating. I keep telling myself I’m done with this woman, and yet I can’t seem to escape for good. What is going on here? Then he remembered that strange voice he’d heard yesterday and began to wonder if the crazy medium might be able to shed some light on that, or at the very least convince him he wasn’t crazy and that he really did hear it.

Whatever. I need answers. He thought now.

After he finished eating he disposed of his garbage in a nearby trash receptacle, and then made his way on over to the medium’s shop. Although much to his surprise, he’d walked into her building while she was in the middle of some kind of card reading with a young female client, possibly in her early 20’s with dark hair and a pink tea dress with a white lace trim. Brian remembered when he last saw Madame La Rouge with those cards before and he asked her what they were, and now he was actually seeing them in action.

But what he found most interesting was the actual order she had placed the cards in after shuffling the deck. Brian knew they obviously weren’t playing cards, so he wondered why she even had to shuffle them in the first place. Either way his curiosity was piqued and he quietly stood in the background, watching as the bizarre gypsy woman suddenly turned one of the cards over to reveal a particular image. And while Brian couldn’t see all the details he was still at least able to hear them as she spoke and explained to her client what it meant.

“The high priestess.” Madame La Rouge held up the card for her female client. She also knew Brian was standing back there watching her.

“What does it mean?” Her client asked worriedly.

“It is the symbol of intuition and spiritual enlightenment.” La Rouge explained. “It means you are mentally strong, my child.”

Brian found himself rolling his eyes now. Was this more of her usual hogwash or what? He decided to wait and find out for himself.

“Now let’s see what your universe card reveals.” Madame La Rouge turned over another card.

Brian still found the particular way she’d arranged the cards very strange, and also remembered how Enrique had warned him about her being into black magic and what not. But as he continued observing this strange formation he had to wonder if this might be it.

“Ah, ace of wands, a sign of new beginnings.” La Rouge explained, which seemed to excite her client very much until she suddenly held her finger to her lips and quietly shushed her. “I’m afraid it’s not always a positive outcome, given the universe card is supposed to indicate that which is preventing change in your life.”

Brian now listened intently, but her client on the other hand sounded very much concerned now.

“But I thought new beginnings was supposed to be a good thing?” She griped. “What’s the issue?”

Madame La Rouge now gave her poor client a most empathetic look, and even gently patted her on the shoulder like a motherly figure. “It simply means you cannot move forward until you’ve dealt with the past. What are you still holding onto, my child?”

Her client seemed much more nervous now as she bit down on her lower lip. “I never got over an ex boyfriend of mine.” She suddenly admitted rather sheepishly. “I’ve been trying my best to meet someone else but I’m still not over my ex you see?”

This isn’t a reading it’s a damn therapy session, Brian shook his head in annoyance, and then turned around and walked back out to have himself a smoke break instead. He figured he would wait until La Rouge was finished with her client to even bother heading back inside. Still, he wondered what he might possibly be missing while he stood outside of the building. Probably more relationship drama, he guessed. That’s how it was with young women anyway.

Taking a drag of his cigarette, Brian gazed up at the cluster of stars hanging overhead, noting the varying sizes and even brightness levels between them. There were so many up there and many more spread throughout the entire universe, and that’s when he suddenly remembered that so-called “universe card” as Madame La Rouge had called it.

I wonder what my universe card would reveal? He wondered while lost in deep thought. Maybe it would reveal my darkness? He pondered the thought a while longer, until the door behind him opened and that female client was making her exit.

Well it’s about time, Brian sighed with relief. Only he couldn’t help but notice how dejected that woman’s expression looked now, as though she had just walked out of a house of horrors. For a moment it even looked like she was about to have a mental break down, and that’s about the time Brian pulled the door open and walked inside just to get away from whatever waterworks show was about to go on.

“I see you’re back already?” Madame La Rouge remarked from her chair while she looked to be taking a cigarette break of her own.

Brian could already see all those cards were neatly placed back into a full deck. And now it was his turn.

“I had hoped you would stay for the whole reading.” She then took a drag from her cigarette as she studied his reaction.

“I don’t have time for female drama.” He quipped.

“Oh I see.” She noted as she placed her cigarette in one of the slots of her ashtray, and then picked up the card deck, looking right at him. “I know this is what you came for, Brian.” She started shuffling the cards as he watched, wondering just what his set would reveal about himself.

“Can I ask something?” He interrupted then as he walked over and sat down in the chair across from her. The chair was still a bit warm from the last client. “I noticed the order you had those cards in.” He gestured at the table with his left hand. “Can you tell me what all that’s about?”

“The order huh?” She arched a brow in surprise looking back at him. “Why, Brian. That is what’s known as the Pentagram spread. Cards are arranged in a star formation, with each representing the classical elements and the spirit.”

“Pentagram huh?” Brian remarked with disapproval. “So it’s like black magic then?”

She then chuckled wildly and shook her head at him. “You are too humorous for words. No it is nothing of the sort. Now would you care for a reading of your own?”

Brian had to take a moment to calm his nerves before finally answering with, “sure, go ahead.”

“All right.” She smirked with a kind of deviousness he hadn’t seen before.

“I want to know what my darkness is.” Brian said, his voice taking on a more somber tone now. “I want to know why strange things have been happening to me lately.”

She picked up her cigarette again, flicked off the ash, and stuck it in her mouth before she resumed shuffling the deck. “Well, let’s find out, shall we?”

Brian couldn’t help but find it utterly fascinating how she would pull a card from the deck after each shuffle, placing them all face down into that star or “pentagram” formation, as she had explained before. But after she’d finished shuffling and drew that last card and placed it with the others, Brian began to feel far more anxious than he’d ever hoped to be, especially over a bunch of cards. It was utterly ridiculous.

And then she picked up the first card, revealing a curious image with the word Judgement on the bottom. Brian immediately tensed up as he waited on her to explain what it meant.

She took a quick drag of her cigarette and then set back in the ashtray slot. “This card usually indicates that one is living a fulfilling life, however in your case, Brian, this card means you will need to make a decision in order to have the fulfilling life you so desire. You asked me what your darkness means, well in the case of the Judgement card, you will need to take the necessary steps to change that darkness. Onto the next card.” She then picked up the second card and showed it to him, only this one had no words just a curious image and a lot of odd symbols as far as he could tell.

“Four, from the suit of cups.” She said with a thin smile. “A sign of introspection and reevaluation.”

Brian narrowed his eyes. “What does that mean for me though?”

“It means you are unmotivated and unwilling to change your ways.” She stated in a matter-of-fact kind of manner. “And this is why your darkness will linger. Next.” She turned over the third card. “Five, from the suit of pentacles.”

Brian sighed deep. He was beginning to wonder if coming back here was a mistake.

“This card is a sign of financial hardship, but also of isolation.” She explained already noticing how uneasy this was beginning to make him feel, yet she knew this was the only way to show him his own truth he’d been ignoring for so long. “This tells me you feel alone in your troubles, are you, Brian?” She asked.

“I was recently robbed.” Brian couldn’t help but frown. “So that card is pretty damn accurate to me.”

She gave him an apologetic look before turning over the fourth card.

“The World.” She showed him the card which showed a half naked woman in the center of some kind of wreath. “This symbolizes accomplishment and usually means one is about to achieve their goals, however in your case it symbolizes the need to bring closure, as in the death of your brother.”

Brian hated the fact that she’d even dragged his brother into this to begin with, but there were only two more cards left so he decided he would keep his cool until the entire thing was over with. He was definitely ready for it to be over with.

“Eight, from the suit of swords.” She picked up the fifth card which displayed quite an unsettling image of a woman who was bound and blindfolded, surrounding by series of exactly eight swords from what he saw.

He could already tell this one wasn’t going to be good either.

“You feel trapped, maybe even restricted by your own convictions and self imposed barriers.” She said giving him an odd look as though she could already see deep into his very soul. “Your hatred of the military as well as your belief that you don’t need anybody at all are your self-imposed barriers, Brian.”

Brian’s eyes were wide as saucers. He had never even told her about his hatred for the AMF and yet she could clearly see it. And now there was only one more card left. To say Brian wasn’t ready to keel over from the shock of it all was an understatement.

“Six, from the suit of pentacles.” She turned over the last and final card of his mysterious reading. “This implies generosity due to financial security. You’ve helped someone recently I presume?”

Brian still couldn’t believe how accurate all of this had been, especially now.

“Yes.” He answered nervously. “I helped a lost child.”

She smiled softly at him then. “That shows you are capable of doing good in this universe. And the goodness will be your path out of the darkness.”

Tears suddenly filled Brian’s eyes but he quickly wiped them away.

“I’m not a bad person, I know that. And she wasn’t just any ordinary child, she was Tjatey.”

He suddenly had the woman’s full attention as she arched her brows in surprise. “Really?”

He nodded. “Yeah and it felt really good. Felt like I was doing my part to change things in this city.”

Then he remembered how La Rouge’s son had been murdered by the Tjatey and worried if the very mention of them might have felt like pouring salt in her wounds, yet she seemed very calm and supportive of the whole thing.

“I’m sorry, I forgot all about your son.” Brian went ahead and apologized anyway just to remain on good terms with her.

“No need to apologize, Brian. You’ve done nothing wrong.” She replied.

“Good to know.” He sighed and closed his eyes, when he finally remembered the actual reason for his visit and they opened right back up.

“I heard a voice yesterday.” He explained now, while the woman stubbed out her old cigarette butt and then pulled out another from her pack and lit it.

“Go on.” She insisted after he’d paused for a moment, as if unsure of whether or not he should even bring it up.

“Well I was listening to the radio for a while, but after I turned it off that’s when I heard this voice say, help me?”

Madame La Rouge took a long drag from her cigarette before asking, “Male or female voice?”

“Female I think.” Brian answered nervously. “My bedroom window was open but this voice was so quiet sounding, almost like a whisper in my ear.” Then his face took on a much more serious expression. “Is it possible I was really hearing someone and not just hallucinating?”

She took another drag of her cigarette while she thought it over herself. “Spirits do exist and some of us have the gift of communication with them.”

Brian shook his head in disagreement. “Not me, I don’t have any special gift. Certainly no ability to contact the dead, otherwise I would have heard from Robert by now.” His face looked grim.

She shot him a curious look. “Who are you trying to convince, me or yourself?”

Brian shrugged as he looked back at her. “I don’t know? All I know is I heard someone asking me to help them, whether or not it was specifically me they were trying to reach, I have no clue. But I heard it, and I know I’m not insane, not yet anyways.” And then Brian thought of something else and wondered why he hadn’t asked her before.

“How come you know my name but I don’t know yours?”

She took another long drag of her cigarette as she looked back at him.”Do you want to know my name?”

He nodded. “I’d rather call you by something else other than Madame La Rouge all the time, you know?”

She chuckled softly. “Belva. Belva Dewitt. That’s my real name. I am also fifty years old, if my age was the next thing you wanted to ask about.” She teased next.

“No just your name.” He answered plainly, not wanting to give her the wrong impression. “Anything else you can just keep to yourself.”

She had to laugh at him. “Well I also dye my hair to hide all the gray. Although one of these days I’m gonna stop.” She stubbed out her cigarette in the ashtray. “Nobody likes to grow old, it’s nothing but a reminder of our inevitable mortality. All things live and all things die.”

“And what exactly is death?” Brian asked her then. “If there’s any kind of communication afterwards then it can’t be the end, right? There must still be something there.”

She couldn’t help but notice the desperation in his voice with the way he spoke. He was determined to make contact with his brother, and now she wondered if that’s why he kept coming back to her.

“The first time we met I could sense you were desperate for answers.” She then mentioned seeing his confused expression. “You were lost, wandering in the dark and then you found me.”

Brian narrowed his eyes. “What are you even saying?”

“Your subconscious mind, Brian.” She answered. “That’s what led you to my doorstep. It often takes us places we’d prefer to avoid in our regular mindset. Pretty much what I’m saying is you were looking for a way to make contact with Robert and you saw me as the key.”

He looked at her as though she was insane at first, and then he wondered if she just might be right about him. After the accurately scary tarot reading of his, he was willing to believe anything now.

“Maybe?” He answered with a shrug. “But can you even do that? Reach him for me, I mean.”

“I don’t know? Can I?” She responded casually as she looked back at him.

He knit his brows in response. “No games.” He said firmly holding her gaze. “Can you help me or not?”

She then raised her right hand up, with the palm facing him as though to stop him from saying another word. “I can but not at this time.”

“Why not?” He demanded angrily, already beginning to lose his patience as well as his temper.

“Because I don’t think it’s something you’re ready for.” She replied honestly.

Brian clenched his teeth and glared at her. “Screw you then if you can’t help me now.” He quickly rose up from the chair, ready to walk right out and never return.

“Brian, I do want to help you, believe me.” She sighed deeply. “But I can’t guarantee that your brother would answer you.”

Hearing this, Brian huffed. “Why, because you’re a fraud? Is that it?”

She shook her head slowly. “No it isn’t that. It’s because the dead aren’t always happy with us. And you may hate me even more for what I’m about to say, but I feel that your brother fears what you’ve become, Brian. You’re someone he doesn’t recognize anymore, and it’s not your fault.”

He sighed and closed his eyes. She was right it did anger him, but at the same time he had a strong feeling she might be right about this as well. He had changed and not for the better. Robert probably does look down on him over what he’s become after all these years.

“Now can you understand?” She asked a moment later, while he just stood there frozen in place looking as though his whole world was unraveling and falling apart around him.

“Yes.” He answered bitterly, before turning around and seeing himself out. He hoped this would be the last time he’d ever venture here again for answers.

Thank you @AB for my adorable new avatar! <3
4 months 3 weeks ago #28182

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

  • Posts: 131
  • Thank you received: 110

Replied by jeanie on topic Atlantech: The Early Days (an ongoing prequel)

I wonder what my card reading would say.
The following user(s) said Thank You: LadyGrimes
2 months 2 days ago #29406

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

  • LadyGrimes
  • LadyGrimes's Avatar Topic Author
  • Offline
  • Robotech Master
  • Robotech Master
  • Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!
  • Posts: 3776
  • Thank you received: 975

Replied by LadyGrimes on topic Atlantech: The Early Days (an ongoing prequel)

jeanie wrote: I wonder what my card reading would say.

Fun fact, the tarot reading in this chapter was actually done in real time with an actual tarot deck. I've always been fascinated with tarot cards and readings myself so I bought myself a deck a while back to learn more about it and even learn how it worked. I was actually surprised over how accurate the reading was to Brian's character. I had shuffled the deck and everything before laying the cards out. There will be another reading for a different character in the near future, so I'm curious to see if the result will be just as accurate to them.

One thing that fascinates me about tarot are the different kinds of spreads. The most common one is the three card spread. But I felt the Pentagram spread was the better option for this chapter since it helped add to the idea of Madame La Rouge being into black magic just like Enrique warned Brian. But there's also the Celtic Cross spread which looks a lot more intricate since it requires more cards, but I didn't think the "reading" needed to be 10 cards long. 6 was more than enough.

Thank you @AB for my adorable new avatar! <3
The following user(s) said Thank You: MEMO1DOMINION
2 months 1 day ago #29414

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

  • Posts: 131
  • Thank you received: 110

Replied by jeanie on topic Atlantech: The Early Days (an ongoing prequel)

My mom was into tarot for a while there. I always feel about them like I do about ouija boards - it's either dumb or it's way more powerful than I wanna mess with.
1 month 5 days ago #29454

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

Time to create page: 0.450 seconds