Gavin was a little surprised to see that you’ve been assigned to bunk in with him but chuckled at the end at the coincidence. After you recounted what had happened, you asked Gavin if he had really been ok while he was in the observation center. When you realised that he was still hurting from an attack, you took out the medical kit and insisted on treating his wounds, commanding him to take off his shirt. Gavin refused your offer, the hard lines on his face triggering questions on what he might have gone through after he left with his father, the leader of the NV. However even this lone wolf could not resist your stubborn attempt and he finally relented, perhaps this is the only time and space when he can truly let someone in.
After you have tended to all his wounds, Gavin received updates about the recent experiments with the evolution accelerator. The recent experiment had resulted in all 10 evolvers committing suicide. It was then that you realised that you really needed to get Gavin and yourself out of the center before you are next in line for the trials. However that will need to wait for another day as the lights all went out for the day. As you tossed restlessly on the lower bunk, you felt some shuffling. Gavin came over and tucked you under the blanket and gently caressed your face. You thanked him and wished him sweet dreams.
While lunching, another young Evolver chatted with you. You learnt that the third phase of the experiment would be conducted off the observation center and the candidates who are selected for the trial would be shipped off to STF. When you asked him where he intended to go after he left the center, he told you that there was a safe place for Evolvers, a No Man’s Land. Before he can speak further, Gavin arrived and told him to scram. Gavin shared that the press conference to announce the presence of the evolution accelerator would be going ahead of schedule hence it has become imperative to escape as soon as possible. It dawned on you that the cafeteria had thinned out significantly today, the selection for candidates had started. Just then, an observer called for you and asked you to follow him. Gavin grabbed your wrist but you mouthed the words that you’d be fine.
Suddenly a loud explosion boomed. Gavin was at your side without hesitation to protect you from the blast. Gavin tapped on the ear stud and all the lights went out. This was your chance to escape amidst the smoke and confusion. You hurried down a corridor with Gavin in the darkness and soon arrived before a glass panel. However you heard the sound of gun locking and a trembling guard behind you commanded both of you to stop resisting and return with him. Between both of you, you make quick work to take the guard down. With the threat gone, Gavin felt along the side of the panel and pressed a button. The glass panel slid away revealing an elevator. Both of you quickly fled into the lift as it descended underground.
However you momentary relief was soon overtaken as the transparent elevator stopped descending and started moving up. Someone was onto both of you and was controlling the elevator remotely. The elevator soon ascended beyond the level you were initially at. At this moment, Gavin turned to you and asked if you were scared. I suppose even if you were scared, you are confident that Gavin would be able to protect you and you had full trust in him. As Gavin counted down to one, he smashed through the elevator, tucked you in his arms and jumped out into the darkness.
As your body continues to free fall, you close your eyes to brace for impact which never came. A gust of wind appeared to hold both of you up. Gavin explained that he could use his Evol the moment they were out of the building as the signal range of the inhibitor device is only within the building. Gavin told you that the direction ahead would lead him to where the evolution accelerator is housed and didn’t want you to get involved further. You reminded him that you’re the Queen and your purpose for being here was to get back your Evol as well. Gavin decided it was pointless now to fight against your will so both of you ran towards the base.
As you entered the base, you noticed that it was decked with all kind of high tech gear and it looked eerily like the place in the North Mountain. The place was deserted suggesting that STF had already moved the accelerator out of the base. Though you were too late to find the machine, you continued to search through the strewn documents. You discovered the blueprint to the evolution accelerator and learnt that the discovery that led to the restarting of this experiment was the Black Cabin, i.e. the evolution core. What’s more the test results showed that all the test subjects were not able to handle the heightened Evol in their bodies resulting in loss of cognitive abilities and eventually death.
As you continued to look for evidence within the base, you accidentally stepped on remote control that turned on a television. The said press conference to announce the success of the evolution accelerator was about to commence. Both of you watched the TV in stunned silence as Leto announced how the accelerator would now enable humanity to reach its final evolutionary end point without having to wait for thousands of years. As he spoke, a man walked out of the machine as all cameras trained on him to witness the first man to arrive at him final evolution. His icy appearance made him look almost inhuman however the whole conference ended in shock when the man managed to wrest a gun out of a guard’s hand and shot himself dead.
You cannot believe what you just saw and you wondered if all these experiments had anything to do with your actions in the Black Cabin. Your thoughts were disrupted by a static sound coming from Gavin’s radio. The look in his eyes told you all you needed to know. At some point of time, you already knew how to know in advance that this was goodbye.
Away from the observation center, the Black Queen and Leto are talking inside a building. Leto confronted the Black Queen about her methods, that a failed experiment would make it even harder for people to volunteer for experiments. However she was not fazed, in fact, such fears would only encourage the useless people who are seeking the power to come forward. She encouraged Leto not to give up and that soon his dream of a utopian world would be achieved. She added that she was just doing whatever to help her fulfil her wish.
After returning back home, you quickly scanned the internet for news of the evolution accelerator but found nothing related to it. STF had managed to suppress all information regarding it. While sorting through your clothes, you found the crumpled ball of paper that was left behind by the young Evolver who tried to escape. It read ‘Welcome to Le Souvenir”. Recalling that this was where the No Man’s Land can be found, a safe haven for Evolvers, you decided to go there the next morning.
When you finally found the place, it was an unassuming souvenir shop which didn’t look anything like the base of a mysterious organisation. You were greeted at the door by a parrot who welcomed you. When you praised it, it started to call you Dummy. It triggered a bittersweet emotion in your heart. The boy who was looking after the shop apologised for the bird’s rudeness as it tended to learn new words from its owner. Awww… Victor, you’ve been thinking about the MC. After you shared your purpose here, the young boy took out a white strip of cloth and told you to blindfold yourself. Though you were not sure if this was the smartest thing to do, the sense of familiarity prompted you to follow along.
The boy dialed the phone and told you to wait for help. It wasn’t long before a car pulled up outside the shop. A man came out of the car and led you to the car after speaking with the boy. He spoke to you using a altered voice which sounded really familiar. You asked him if you had met him before and he quickly denied it. You kept quiet for the rest of the journey. Soon you heard the sound of the steam whistle of a ship. You would down the window and took in the salty scent of the sea. The driver told you to take off your blindfold and you found yourself onboard a cargo ship. Your driver was nowhere to be seen.
You looked around and saw many people working on the deck paying you little attention. When one of the workers had difficulty carrying a cargo box, another person came by to help him. He waved his hand gently causing the box to levitate in the air and then settle onto a shelf. You are among Evolvers, and have found the safe haven. Just then you heard young voices calling out to you. They were the children from the orphanage who had somehow found their way here for refuge. They told you that they were well taken care of and the owner of the place often treated them with pudding. Your heart skipped a beat as you tried to beat down the expectation that was welling up within. Surely Victor would be too busy to be doing this.
Just then a young man bade you follow after him. He handed you another blindfold which was meant to keep the identify of the boss secret. He led you into the captain’s quarters. Through the haziness of the blindfold you could make out a tall man standing by the window. It made your chest constrict. The door behind you closed and the room fell into an oppressive silence. You called out to the person before you but he said nothing. You could hear his breath, so familiar, so you made your tentative way towards him, bidding him to answer you. In your anxiousness to validate your suspicion, you stumbled forward unwilling to wait for him to slowly walk towards you. As you fell forward, you were caught by him and the familiar scent enveloped you.
Still blindfolded, you ran your fingers along the contours of his face bit by bit to confirm his identity. You felt the wetness on his cheeks which matched the tears that were flowing down your own eyes. There was so much you wanted to say but you didn’t know where to start. You finally told him that you missed him and Victor replied ‘Dummy’. When you told him you are finally back, you were immediately pulled into an embrace suffused with caramel sweetness and you hugged him back unreservedly. You asked him how his wound is and he told you he had a lot of time to recover.
You also learnt that Victor only found out about your return when you turned up at the shop. The driver who brought you to the ship was Goldman hence the familiarity. Victor then asked you why you had come to the shop and needed help. You updated him on what had happened to your Evol. You asked him how he had ended up becoming the boss of No Man’s Land. It was a long story that he didn’t have time to tell you now as there were more important things to do such as making up to him for your disappearance over the last 6 months. You asked him how you could make up to him. As you tried to remove your blindfold, he stopped you and his body language seemed to suggest that he was planning to kiss you.
Alas, however the door burst opened at the most inopportune moment and your blindfold finally fell off. Victor asked Goldman what had happened, the displeasure in his voice evident. Goldman reported that Leto leading a STF contingent was heading towards the ship. A loudspeaker reverberated over the roaring waves commanding the ship to stop for inspection. Victor’s taut expression as he took in the situation resembled exactly the CEO whom you respected even as he managed LFG. He took a piece of paper and indicated several red lines on the blueprint of the ship. He told Goldman that they would be boarded in five minutes and he would need Goldman to get all the Evolvers to safety within 3 minutes. Without further hesitation, Goldman set off to work.
Victor: What are you smiling at?
You: Nothing. I’m just feeling a little nostalgic.
Victor: You’re not using that word properly. How can you feel nostalgic when I’m right here before you?
You: I can’t think about past you from time to time?
Victor: Oh? Then you’re dissatisfied with the current me?
Goldman returned not too long after with several men dressed in business suits. They reported that the Evolvers were safely secured and a portion had already made it safely to the submarine. It was one minute to the arrival of the STF officers and everybody got into position behind Victor who was sitting at his desk. He told you to also sit behind him given that Leto knows your face. You leaned against the back of his chair, your heart beating rapidly. Victor dangled his hand over his chair and beckoned you to hold his hand which gave you the much needed assurance that he is in total control.
As Victor counted down to the minute by tapping on your palm lightly, the clock dinged at exactly the minute and Leto stepped into the room. You remembered that you once thought that Leto was a good person but given the spate of incidents and how STF had totally transformed its agenda, you are certain he is not who you thought he was. Victor and Leto greeted each other with false niceties. Through the well executed evacuation plan, Leto was unable to discover any Evolvers on board the ship so he could only leave Victor with a thinly veiled threat about what Victor was trying to protect and that the truth before the CEO of LFG and No Man’s Land would soon be revealed. Before Leto could speak anymore Victor returned his threat with that of a lawsuit should he spew further libel against him. Knowing that he has been defeated this round, Leto left the room with his entire squad.
After Leto left, Victor told you that you would need to quickly hide as he was sure that Leto would double back. As you were thinking about where you could hide, Goldman reported that STF had indeed turned around and are forcefully boarding the vessel. Goldman was ordered to instruct the submarines to stay away. Looking at the chaos ensuing on the ship as Victor barked instructions, you found a nearby crate and jumped into it. It was too late for you to hide anywhere else so they could only place another crate on top of you to hide you, plunging you into total darkness.
Though not a full fan of Victor, I was really touched by this writing – the way Victor dropped hints for you should you one day return to Loveland City and how he was beside himself when he finally saw you again after he had to plunge the dagger into your heart. It was a good reconciliation story.