Operation Lighthouse: Nexus
Chapter 17 - At the Broken Bridge
Floating silently in the deep void of slumber, Aile slowly became aware of an approaching sound. Fading in gently like a breeze, he heard the voice that to him was tantamount to that of an angel’s.
“Aile,” it called. He knew the voice very well. The voice of the girl he loved.
“Elise?” he asked, opening his eyes slowly. All he could see was black, but slowly, like approaching lights in dense fog, something began to appear. A form took shape affront him, the silhouette of his love.
“Aile…” she said again. He reached out for her.
“Elise!” he cried in desperation. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t touch her.
“Elise…” he muttered as he slowly awoke. The rising sun had touched his eyes, and since he was sitting on a very uncomfortable seat, it took little to wake him. Aile stirred, then awoke, blinking several times at the golden light. He slowly became aware of his surroundings, and as the real world became more clear, that of his dream began to fade. Elise wasn’t there. It had only been a dream. Aile suddenly felt a profound emptiness. Elise’s warmth. Her smile. Her voice. In the instance between conscious and unconscious, Aile briefly wondered if she were ever real at all.
“You awake back there, Sleeping Beauty?” a voice sounded. It sounded like it came from the inside of his head. Aile groggily looked up. He could see Lucine’s right eye looking back at him through the rear view mirror affixed to the right side of the canopy frame. He reached up and adjusted his headset, as it had almost been knocked off in his slumber. His shoulders, neck and back hurt from sitting awkwardly on the hard ejection seat all night.
“Is it already morning?” Aile asked, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
“We were flying into the sun,” Lucine replied softly, “it’s only been three hours since we left, but in this part of the world it’s already morning.”
“Three hours,” Aile replied. If it had indeed been three hours, and the sun was already coming up, they had traveled a great distance in a relatively short amount of time. Even by jet, it should have taken longer.
“Where are we?” Aile asked, taking a look around. Looking out the side of the canopy, Aile could see wispy clouds beneath them, and beyond that a sparkling and golden ocean. The rising sun was affront them, and it glimmered brightly upon the distant and curved horizon.
“We’re descending toward K27. I was just about to call the tower and request clearance,” Lucine replied.
Aile leaned to the right to get a better look at where they were headed. As they descended through the base of a dense cloud, he caught sight of a dark looking island. Even though they were very near a country called Iceland, the island was covered in thick greenery. In the midst of the dense forests, Aile could make out a long row of faint lights; a runway.
After calling the tower, they were given permission to land immediately. Showing her well honed skills, Lucine took the heavy Strike Eagle down the glide path and touched the main gear down gently at the tip of the runway. Keeping the nose pointed slightly skyward, Lucine gently slowed the plane until the nose gracefully dropped as the airframe began to lose lift as their speed decreased. The nose gear touched down, and she applied the wheel brakes. Once they Strike Eagle had slowed to only a few miles per hour, she turned the heavy bird onto an adjacent taxiway and left the runway.
As they rolled toward a row of hangars, Aile observed their surroundings. The base didn’t seem like anything special to him. There were other planes there, but nothing nearly as fancy as what they were riding in.
“So, this is your K27?” Aile asked in an unimpressed voice.
“Doesn’t look like much, does it?” Lucine asked.
“No, it’s…” Aile paused as a Piper Cub taxied lazily by, “…nice.”
Lucine chuckled a bit, but didn’t offer any kind of defense. Aile just narrowed his eyes and sat back in the uncomfortable seat.
As they approached a hangar, a member of the ground crew had them stop and shut down their engines. As soon as the mighty turbofans spooled down, a tow vehicle came and linked up to the massive bird, then backed it into the hangar. Once they were safely inside, Lucine and Aile were finally allowed to dismount.
As soon as he made to get up, Aile’s ankle reminded him of the trauma of the previous evening. It throbbed in protest to the movement, and Aile nearly fell back onto the seat. Steadying himself with the cockpit framing, he carefully stepped out onto the ladder and limped down, setting foot on solid Earth once again. This was one of those times where he really didn’t mind being done with flying. For a short while, at least.
Taking a few hops away, Aile turned around and took a long look at the Strike Eagle they had ridden in. It was an impressive craft, with a lot of mysterious abilities. With this in mind he turned to Lucine.
“So, what’s the deal with this thing?” he said, motioning with a thumb to the large gray bird affront them.
“Whatever do you mean?” Lucine said, returning a coy smile. Aile gave her a dry look.
“What I mean is it’s obviously not a stock F-15,” he replied.
“What tipped you off?” Lucine said, her smile widening.
“The magic fairy dust was a bit of a giveaway. What’s it run on, happy thoughts?”
“Not exactly,” Lucine replied with a small laugh. “What you saw was a byproduct of the stealth system.”
“Ah, yes, that,” Aile said. “From experience I can say it’s very effective. Much moreso than any plasma stealth system I’ve ever come across.”
“Please. It’s years ahead of plasma stealth,” Lucine said, her tone reflecting the apparent ridiculousness of Aile’s suggestion.
“Well, I’m not really sure how it works,” Lucine admitted with a shrug, “but the techies call it Particle Field Anti-Detection System, or P-FADS for short. Supposedly it traps radar waves inside a bubble until they die out,” she explained as she positioned her hands as if holding a ball. “The ports all over the fighter are radar traps which help quickly diminish them without any bad effects on the crew or electronics of the aircraft. It doesn’t glow like PSS, but it does occasionally generate glowing particles… in the right conditions.”
“Very impressive,” Aile commented whilst rubbing his chin.
“It’s gotten me out of a few scraped,” Lucine agreed. Right then, a loud siren filled the hangar. Aile looked up and around, searching for the cause of the sound.
“Back up a little,” Lucine advised while placing her hand on Aile’s shoulder and guiding him backwards. They both stepped back a few feet, and seconds later there was the heavy sound of a lock being released that shook the floor and resounded throughout the hanger. The Strike Eagle began lowering as a massive elevator cut a large square shaped hole in the hangar floor. Aile stooped over the side and watched the Strike Eagle descend, numerous amber lights in the steel frame work of the shaft illuminating it.
“Just like Mom used to make,” Aile commented.
“Most of the base is underground,” Lucine said.
“Like Icarus,” Aile replied as the floor was closed up by a large shutter.
“Not quite,” Lucine said, “Icarus was a glorified bomb shelter. K27 is much, much larger with way more fighting potential. This isn’t some covert errand boy service. We are a fighting force.”
Aile scoffed, “whatever, our name was way cooler.”
“It certainly fit,” Lucine replied in a snide manner, “though instead of the sun, you flew too close to the wrong people.”
“Well, at least we survived,” Aile said with a shrug. Lucine’s demeanor instantly changed.
“I know… which was a huge relief, by the way,” she admitted with a sigh.
“I really wanted to fly out and help you when we received word that your base was going to be hit by the GC, but Doctor Range kept me from sortieing. She said it would be too big of a risk.”
“Doctor Range?” Aile asked.
“The genius behind the P-FADS and every custom aircraft this place has to offer,” Lucine replied with emphasis on the word ‘genius’. Rather than being of praise, it was of more of exasperation, though. “She has a lot of clout with upper management, and as such pretty much what she says goes around here. And since she’s in total love with her jets, she tries her damnedest to keep us from ever actually flying them. She thinks mere pilots are unworthy of her works of art,” Lucine finished the statement while waving her hands dramatically.
“Heh, I’m glad Chuck Lang isn’t like that with his birds, else I’d never get to have any fun.”
“Well, my Eagle is much more valuable than some crudely upgraded MiG-35,” Lucine said, crossing her arms.
“Hey, firstly, Wraith is an upgraded MiG-29UB, not a -35,” Aile corrected her.
“Wow, you’re even crazier than I thought. Do you have any idea how old that jet is?”
“I hear that a lot,” Aile said, “but let me tell you, Wraith can fly circles around anything you got.”
“That’s funny, cause when we had words outside of Via that one time I don’t recall you flying any circles around me then.”
“Yeah, well, maybe if you weren’t flying with cheater-stealth…” Aile said, folding his arms across his chest and looking the other way. Lucine just giggled at him.
It was a feeling like coming back from the dead. First sound, then light, faded in slowly. She became aware of the coldness of the room, as well as the discomfort in her joints. She tried to move, but that was impossible; she was tied down. Elise awoke to a bitter reality. The reality that she was far from home and all the people whom she cared for. Even more disturbing was that she was just as distant from anyone who cared for her.
She opened her eyes, squinting at first as the cool but bright light from the sterile looking room poured in. As her vision cleared, the form of a person materialized affront her. It was that witch of a doctor lady. Since Elise had set foot in this facility, the doctor had been tormenting her. Also, as the sounds became more clear, Elise noticed someone else in the room as well. Turning her head slightly, she was barely able to make out a man wearing a suit. He was tall and athletic looking, with light hair that was a little too long to be referred to as short, but too much short to be referred to as long. He was probably in his thirties, but could’ve been either younger or older than that. He was talking with the witch, who was holding a clipboard and sorting through several papers that were attached. When the man noticed Elise’s movement, he turned his attention to her. Elise felt a chill as he looked at her with ice cold eyes. Eying her with a powerful disdain, he seemed to be regarding a dysfunctional machine rather than a human being. Elise felt an strong sense of anxiety as she looked into his eyes, and wanted to look away, but for some reason couldn’t bring herself to. After a moment he broke his gaze and turned back to the woman.
“I leave the rest to you. Get it done, but don’t kill this one,” he said, his voice deep and even. With that he turned on his heel and walked out of Elise’s field of view without so much as a parting statement. After the man had left, the woman seemed relieved. Elise wasn’t sure if she liked the idea of someone who could make even that witch uncomfortable.
After taking a deep breath, the woman approached Elise, who just did her best to avoid the doctor’s eyes.
“Awake already?” the woman asked, though it seemed more as if she was simply stating the face. She then shook her head, “another sedative wouldn’t be good. I guess you get to stay awake for this.”
Elise didn’t particularly like the sound of that. She was sure that she would rather be unconscious for anything the witch had planned for her.
The woman went to the counter at the edge of the room and prepared a set of instruments. The first that she brought over to the table consisted of a long needle and a small pouch. Looking at the length and unusually large bore of the needle made Elise want to cry. But she didn’t. She could manage to stay strong for a while. She was certain Aile wanted that.
The woman came close enough to where Elise could no longer see what she was doing. Lying on her front as she was only afforded her a view to her right and left. So worried was she that she ventured to speak.
“Wh…what are you doing to me?” Elise asked, her voice barely louder than a mouse’s.
“Shut up,” the woman immediately returned. She spoke with no inflection, as if issuing a command to a machine. Elise wanted to cry even more.
Several tense moments passed, then suddenly without any kind of warning, the woman plunged the needle into Elise’s lower back. She yelped in surprise, then shuddered and cringed as waves of pain hit her a moment later. The woman didn’t offer any words of comfort, or even rebuke. She just proceeded, like a mechanic working on an engine. As the needle was pushed further, Elise felt a sensation that was like the crunching of fallen autumn leaves, and a sensation of intense pain spread from her back. She also felt an odd sort of feeling; the woman was taking something from her body. Elise blinked away tears that had come up from the surprise, and swallowed the lump she felt in her throat, which was starting to hurt. She couldn’t cry right now, no matter how badly she wanted to. She imagined burying her face in Aile’s chest and letting her emotions go. There was nothing in the whole world she wanted more.
A battery of strange and painful tests ensued. Some hurt, others not as much. But with each new punishment, Elise’s resolve grew weaker. And if that wasn’t enough, another problem had begun to present itself.
She had felt it since she awoke on the truck, only now it had grown severe enough to begin worrying her. Perhaps it was last night’s dinner not agreeing with her, or maybe it was something the doctor did. Possibly it was her anxiety, though most likely it was a combination of all three. Whatever the cause was, Elise needed to go to the bathroom.
Being helplessly incontinent, Elise wasn’t used to having to worry about frequent bathroom visits. However, while her bladder was totally beyond her control, she did still retain full awareness and command of her other habits. It had in fact been several hours since she last visited a restroom; probably over twelve by her reckoning, although there was no way be sure. Her tummy felt like it was tying itself in knots, as faint noises seemed to cry out from within, protesting the delay in relief. Despite her discomfort, the tortures kept coming one after another, and the witch showed no signs of being any less interested or otherwise winding down. Elise wasn’t sure how much longer she would be kept there, but she knew that if she wasn’t allowed a break soon something very bad would happen.
“Excuse me,” Elise squeaked, worrying what the witch would do to her for speaking out. The woman dropped her shoulders and sighed, then looked down at Elise’s face.
“What now?” she asked impatiently. Elise was elated that she was finally getting a chance to say something.
“Umm… I need… c…can I have a break?” Elise asked, feeling her face growing hotter with every word.
“No, no breaks,” the lady said, turning back to whatever painful procedure she was preparing next.
“But… but I need to use the restroom!” Elise managed to say, her voice pleading. The woman snickered coldly.
“Nice try, but you can just piss in your diaper like always,” the woman said. Elise winced at the crudity of the woman’s statement.
“But… I…” Elise tried to explain, but was immediately cut off.
“Enough,” the woman said sternly. “Any more out of you and you’ll regret it”
Elise clammed up and swallowed her protests, which hurt even more than the tests had.
The woman went back to work. Elise wondered if she ever grew tired or bored. Surely there was something this woman could be doing other than torturing her. Elise was frustrated, flustered, and sad. She just wanted to go home.
A sever cramp twisted her insides, and she had to fight with all her strength to keep from losing control. She tried to keep as still as possible, but her legs tensed from the effort, and she wanted to double over. All she managed to do was pull at the restraints as she writhed in distress, which made the test the doctor was performing even more uncomfortable.
Having learned from the incident that had occurred when she was last sick, Elise was well aware of her limits. She wasn’t confident she could endure another cramp like that. Several minutes passed and she was hit with another, but somehow through sheer force of will, she managed to maintain control.
Before she knew it she was crying, her tears pooling under the side of her head. It was an absolutely miserable feeling. She was sweating all over, was very sore from being stuck in the same position for who knows how long, and most likely only moments away from an uncontrollable accident. Her hope had worn thin, but some part of her still hoped that she would be allowed a break before it was too late.
As she was contemplating this, the woman began a new examination. Elise wasn’t sure what she was doing, but the woman was lightly pressing on her lower back. Elise’s eyes widened as the witch pressed more firmly, which forced Elise’s abdomen against the table. In horror, Elise realized that if the woman were to do that again at the same time she experienced a cramp, it would all be over. And just then the very thing she feared happened.
It was a cramp that came without warning, and it came just as the woman pressed down on Elise’s lower back. Try as she might, Elise just couldn’t prevent it. Beyond her will, her body, with some help from the doctor, pushed out everything all at once. Whimpering, Elise shuddered as she felt the unmistakable feeling of her diaper suddenly filling with a warm mass that spread out over her backside.
The woman recoiled back when her test subject’s diaper suddenly ballooned right in front of her face. The subsequent sound, and resulting smell forced the doctor to take a few steps back while covering her face with one hand.
“What the…?” she asked, her eyes wide in shock. Elise could only cry in response, her resolve broken. She wept loudly in misery, her body shaking with every sob. “What the hell is wrong with you? That’s disgusting, ugh…” the woman asked, but got no answer. Overpowered by her disgust, the doctor rang the buzzer again, and in short order two burly orderlies entered. The two men walked in purposefully, but stopped as if they had run into a wall when they became aware of the powerful odor that filled the room. Looking confused, the men looked at the doctor, then at the wailing girl, then back at the doctor. The doctor pressed passed them and walked out the door, commanding them to “get her out of her.”
The men looked at one another, then back at the girl. One of them shrugged.
It took some mental effort on both their parts, but the men managed to unbind Elise and pull her to her feet. Still sobbing and sniffling, Elise nonetheless stretched her tired muscles, unable to prevent herself from doing so. It was the only solace she was allowed in that situation. She overheard the men talking, and winced at several things they said about her. They seemed to be at a loss as of what to do with her.
“Let’s just put her with the other one,” one man suggested, to which the other silently agreed. They then prodded Elise out the door, and down a hall, keeping their distance.
Walking through the hallway in nothing but a tee shirt and a heavily soiled diaper brought Elise to a new low. The mass that was stuck to her backside was giving her the most disgusting feelings she could ever remember having, and what made it even worse was that several individuals peopled the hallways. Some were doctors, others seemed to be businessmen. There were also soldiers. But even though they all looked different, they shared one thing in common: the disgusted looks they addressed her with. Elise just tried to keep her head down and pretended that they weren’t there.
Finally reaching their destination, the men motioned for her to stop walking. She did as instructed, then turned and looked at the plain door affront her. There was a simple placard that read “Subject 152” and nothing else. One of the men slid a card through the electronic lock to the side of the doorknob, and with a hum, beep and a green light the heavy lock yielded. The man pushed the door open, and his partner roughly shoved Elise inside. The unprepared teen stumbled and fell onto her knees, and her escorts closed the door behind her, leaving her alone in the dimly lit room. Elise sank down to sit on her hips, but when her full diaper pressed against the cold concrete floor, she recoiled in surprise. A moment passed, and she let herself sit, despite the disgusting feeling. Once she was down, she let her emotions out. She was alone; there was no need to hold back.
Crying out loud seemed to help relieve her frustration a little, but it did little to alleviate her loneliness. She wanted badly to return home, to see Aile and just be held. But even though she wished it with all of her being, the reality was that she was far from home, and her love didn’t even know where she was. It was a terrible feeling. Imagining Aile’s own worry, as he didn’t even know where she was or what she was doing, made what Elise was feeling even worse.
After crying loudly for several moments, Elise collapsed into pained sobs that came in sharp gasps. As she wiped furiously at her eyes she noticed a movement in her periphery. A shadow in the corner of the room began to move. Elise was badly startled, and at once felt her cooling diaper suddenly grow warm. There was someone, or something, else in the room with her. Feeling scared and small, Elise shrank back into the corner, bringing her legs up to her chest in an effort to make herself smaller. She was only vaguely aware of the terrible squishing sensation on her rear.
The shadow unfolded into the form of a person, and began to move closer. Elise was on the verge of panic when she noticed that the form was quite small. As it moved closer, and into the dim light from the single shuttered window, she discovered that it was a girl. A very young girl, at that. In fact, it probably wouldn’t be too far of a stretch for Elise to refer to this person as a kid. Like a small black cat, the diminutive girl crawled closer to inspect her new company. Elise was surprised that she didn’t seem put off by her state, or by the offensive smell that had since filled the room. Instead the girl just looked her over with sharp, curious eyes. While she was being watched, Elise got a good look at the other girl as well. She was quite thin, almost to the point of looking malnourished. The gown that clung to her was blue and plain, but nonetheless looked clean. Her long, disheveled black hair flowed over her back and shoulders and didn’t look to be cut in any particular style, but rather had just been chopped off, probably in one go. However, the most prominent feature of the girl was her pale blue eyes. Though appearing exhausted, they were large and sharp. Elise got the distinct feeling that those eyes were staring right into her very being.
“Ah…” the girl said, her voice barely above a whisper. If she weren’t so close, Elise probably wouldn’t have heard her at all. “Ah…” she said again, as if trying to relearn how to speak.
“Who… are you?” Elise asked. The girl closed her eyes tightly, then opened them again.
“Ah…. eeh…” she sounded. She closed her eyes again as she brought her hands to her head and shook it back and forth, ruffling her already messy hair. Opening her eyes again, the girl looked right into Elise’s own and said.
“Eeh… El… lise.”
“What?” Elise said, hearing her name from this total stranger. The girl swallowed, then took a deep breath.
“Elise,” she said more fluently this time. She smiled eerily. “I…have… been waiting.”
Elise just looked at her with profound confusion.
“Just stay off that foot for a while and you should be just fine,” the base’s head physician, Doctor Palmiro, said to Aile after the long examination. The young aviator sighed.
“No promises, Doc,” he said. “Though so long as my wings are okay, I won’t need the leg much.”
“Pilots,” Dr. Palmiro said whilst shaking his head. He smiled at Aile, gave him a pat on the shoulder, then stood up and left the room. Lucine was waiting just outside.
“So, what’s the verdict? You gonna make it?” she asked upon entering the room.
“Yeah, but I won’t be running any marathons anytime soon,” Aile said, carefully hopping off the examination table. He vaguely reflected that even after all he had been though, he was a fair amount more lucky than his best friend back at school. The thought, though vague, saddened him greatly.
Balancing on one foot he started to button up his shirt. Lucine watched intently.
“So, are you up for a tour of the base?” Lucine asked after he had finished.
“As interested as I am in what you have to offer, I’d much rather talk about how I’m going to get to Elise,” Aile said.
“Oh,” Lucine said, remembering why Aile was even there. She sighed inaudibly. “Want to discuss it over lunch? You’ve gotta be hungry.”
“What time is it anyway?” Aile asked.
“Just past ten thirty,” Lucine replied.
“Okay, bite to eat does sound good,” Aile admitted, “lead the way.”
They walked, or in Aile’s case limped, down a trio of hallways before arriving at the commissary. It was a large facility, which was like a smaller version of a grocery store, right there in the base. It also had a cafeteria, where several people were eating while conversing.
After securing some sandwiches and sodas, Lucine and Aile sat down at a corner table away from the rest of the crowd. All the while, Aile could tell he was receiving a lot of looks. However, he just wasn’t interested in much besides his main goal at the moment.
“So, what can you tell me?” Aile asked.
“Don’t you wanna try your sandwich first? The staff makes great…”
“Lucine,” Aile interrupted, growing irritated.
“Okay, fine,” Lucine said, frowning. “There’s this facility… owned and operated by some large players in the Dodekatheon. We don’t know exactly what goes on there, but we have received unconfirmed reports that they deal in everything from illegal weapons research to human experimentation. Some think that one of the main purposes of the facility is to study human optimization, as well as to research future applications.”
“Where is this place located?” Aile asked.
“A large island south of Cuba, Isla de la Juventud, you know it?”
“I know of it,” Aile said, “wasn’t there a prison there where they kept enemies of the state before the unification?”
“Yeah,” Lucine replied. “Well, near the Western coast they have built the massive research facility. It has been on the to do list of things to blow up ever since we learned it was under construction, but there’s one major problem…”
“And what’s that?” Aile asked. He had already made up his mind to disregard whatever it was she was about to tell him.
“This is the part I didn’t wanna tell you,” Lucine said with a sigh, “but the place is a veritable fortress. It is surrounded by a ring of next-gen SAMs, and if that wasn’t bad enough, it also has a contingent of fighters and multi-purpose frames that is large enough to counter any assault. Not only that, but they can probably call in support from Guantanamo.”
“Guantanamo’s a GC base,” Aile pointed out.
“Yeah, well, half the GC is influenced by the Dodekatheon in some way or another. Why do you think Icarus was raided by a coalition force? The Dodekatheon wanted you guys off the map.”
“That’s unsettling,” Aile said, “so what you’re telling me is these guys run the world?”
“Not quite, but you’re not too far from the mark. They just have a lot of influence, as well as dirt on some major politicians. They can blackmail their way to just about anything they want.”
“I see,” Aile said, digesting the info. “I want everything you have on that facility.”
“You’re not seriously thinking about assaulting the place on your own,” Lucine said.
“And if I am?” Aile asked, sounding irritated.
“Then you might actually be crazy.”
“Look, I don’t like the idea of trying to take on a fortress, but if Elise has been taken there then that’s where I’m going.”
“Yeah? You and what army?” Lucine asked dubiously.
“I don’t know, maybe I can call in some favors,” Aile said. “I can slip in undetected with Wraith while they cause a diversion, and maybe find a way to land and get Elise out of there…”
“You’re not making any sense, Aile,” Lucine said, “that plan is so full of holes it’s not even funny.”
“I don’t care,” Aile said, growing more frustrated. He didn’t like feeling helpless, even if it meant being unreasonable.
“Look, Aile, when I said next-gen SAMs, I really meant next-generation. We’re talking mach 5, 250 mile range, heavy missiles here. And if you’re thinking your PSS will help, think again. They are Active-LADAR guided and so powerful they don’t even leave enough behind to identify someone by their teeth.”
“I don’t care,” Aile said, “there’s gotta be something I can do… something.”
“Yeah, there is,” Lucine said, “you can wait. An operation to storm the facility is in the works. We just need to put together a sizable force and a good plan.”
“And when is this operation going down, exactly?” Aile asked.
“I don’t know, they’ve been talking about it for the last five months or so,” Lucine said.
“Five months?” Aile’s eyes grew wide. “For all we know it could be another five months… and Elise… I’m not leaving her there that long.”
“Aile, you’ve got to face the reality,” Lucine said evenly, “there’s just nothing we can do right now.”
“No…,” Aile said, feeling tears coming to his eyes. He willed them away, forced the pain back. “I won’t accept it.”
“No!” he said, standing up and slamming his hands on the table. Feeling his resolve breaking, Aile turned and left the table. Lucine started to get up to follow him, but in the end just sat down and sighed deeply. There was just nothing she could do for him right now.
“I’m so happy,” the little girl said, her tired eyes dancing. She gave an exhausted, yet ecstatic, smile. Elise backed away a little, feeling her diaper squish unpleasantly. She shuddered at the feeling.
“I… I don’t understand,” she shook her head.
“It’s okay,” the girl said, reaching out, “you don’t have to be afraid.”
“Who are you?” Elise asked.
“I’m…” the girl trailed off, and looked to be searching herself. “…Your sister!” she said. Elise looked the girl over once again. With her dark hair and features that were most likely of Asian decent, the claim that they were somehow sisters wasn’t easy to believe. The girl noticed Elise’s dubious look, and suddenly she grew sad and looked down at the floor. “Well, we’re not really sisters,” she said with a sigh, then looked up into Elise’s eyes once again, “but we are similar. Both of us are optimums.”
“Optimums?” Elise echoed.
“That’s what they call us,” the girl said with innocent eyes, “our bodies were changed… to make us better, advanced. Optimized.”
“I… I’m just a regular girl,” Elise said, growing anxious and scared. “I’m not anything like that.”
“You are,” the girl returned, “it’s why they captured you… why you’re here. They don’t know how to make more of us, so they are trying to learn by studying us.”
“No, I don’t believe you,” Elise said, shaking her head. The girl frowned, but then smiled a little.
“Maybe… you should get cleaned up?” she suggested. Elise looked down at herself and immediately started crying again. She was an absolute mess. The girl’s eyes grew wide at her sudden change in mood.
“Don’t cry,” she pleaded, moving closer and putting a hand on Elise’s shoulder. The older girl started at her touch, and just cried harder. “I’ll help you, okay?”
After much protesting on the part of Elise, the small girl finally convinced her to let her help. Elise got to her feet, which was a difficult affair considering her horrendous state, and let the small girl lead her into the attached bathroom. Like the rest of the room, the bathroom was just concrete with no decorations to speak of. There was a bath and shower combination, as well as a sink and toilette. The girl led Elise into the bath and had her kneel down.
“I’m going to take your diaper off,” the girl said. Elise weakly nodded, closing her eyes as the girl started to pull off the tapes. As soon as the last tape was undone, the diaper plopped to the base of the tub with a terrible squishing sound. Elise shuddered at the sound, fresh tears coming to her eyes. The girl pulled away the diaper and tried her best to roll it up, then disposed of it into a small trash can that was next to the sink. She then turned back to Elise and without any restraint began to wipe her off with handfuls of toilette paper. It took a few minutes, as well as a whole roll of toilette paper, but the small girl managed to wipe most of the mess off of Elise. Once done with that step, the girl pulled out the trash can’s liner and tied it off with two knots, then set it aside.
“There, aren’t you beginning to feel better?” the girl asked as she got up to wash her hands. Elise felt extremely awkward at having a girl that was probably several years her junior telling her that. She did have to admit to herself that it was nice to have help, though.
“Y…yes,” Elise said. She reached forward and started the bath, and was extremely thankful that warm water came out. She had feared that with everything else her captors had made her go through they would make her take a cold bath, too. Once it was pleasant she was about to start the shower, but quickly realized that there was no shower curtain. Instead, there was just one big drain in the middle of the room. She sighed, then started the shower anyway. The girl sat down on the toilette and watched as Elise bathed.
There was only basic shampoo and soap, like those found at a cheap motel. Even so, Elise was just glad to be getting clean. She used liberal amounts of soap on her lower regions, scrubbing with a washcloth until her skin burned. After probably a half hour, she was finally feeling clean enough to get out, and shut off the water. Hugging herself, Elise looked to the girl.
“Um… is there a towel I can use?” she asked.
“Oh, yeah,” the girl said, coming back to herself. She got up, then went outside of the bathroom, returning a moment later with a white towel. She handed it to Elise, who immediately wrapped herself up in it.
“Thank you… ummm…” Elise realized she hadn’t even learned her new friend’s name.
“My name’s Yuki,” the girl said with a small smile.
“It’s nice to meet you, Yuki,” Elise said, then sighed, “given the circumstances.”
“I’m glad I could finally meet you too, Elise,” Yuki said. Elise began toweling herself off.
“How is it you knew my name already?” Elise asked.
“I’ve known you for a long time,” Yuki said, “though we’ve never actually met.”
“What do you mean?” Elise asked as she began to dry her hair.
“Well, like I told you, I was optimized sometime after I was born,” Yuki said. “That is, someone used medical science to improve the performance of my body, particularly my brain,” she pointed to her head.
“Oh?” Elise said, blinking twice.
“Yes, and there was an unexpected side affect,” Yuki said, “I can see things, with my mind.”
“Excuse me,” Elise asked, not quite believing what she just heard. Yuki smiled.
“I have an ability that is kind of like ESP… you know, I can sense things.”
“Oh,” Elise said, not sure if she should believe her or not.
“And it works both ways… at least with some others. I have called out to you before, but I don’t know if you heard.”
“I…” Elise suddenly felt a deep and distant feeling of familiarity. She wasn’t sure, but she had to admit that something about Yuki’s voice seemed very familiar. Or perhaps it was her presence in and of itself. “I don’t know…”
“I know there are other people who can hear my voice out there… I’ve tried calling them before, but I couldn’t reach them. The people who captured me… they learned about my ability. They put something in the ceiling that makes it so I can’t sense anything… just loud noise.”
Elise looked up at the ceiling, and for the first time noticed a small dome like object. It was emitting a faint hum that she had only vaguely been aware of.
“I don’t know what it does,” Yuki looked up and over her shoulder at the device. Her look grew sad, “but when it’s on it hurts,” Yuki said, touching her head, “and they never turn it off.”
“That’s terrible,” Elise said.
“Even though it hurts even more, sometimes if I focus hard enough I can still see some things. That’s how I know you. But now you’re here, so I can really get to know you,” Yuki said happily, then stopped herself, and frowned. “I mean, if you want to.”
Elise looked at the small girl, who had been held in this terrible place for who knows how long. How lonely she must’ve been… Elise forced all bad feelings to the back of her mind and willed herself to smile in return.
“Of course I want to,” Elise said as happily as she could considering the circumstances, “I mean, we’re sisters, right?”
Yuki’s eyes widened as she slowly smiled. Looking so happy that she might cry, Yuki excitedly said, “yeah!”
“Okay, but…” Elise looked down at herself, “I need some clothes first.”
Yuki lent Elise a gown similar to the one she was wearing, which would serve her well enough for the time being. There was, however, one major problem. Their captors had neglected to provide Elise with any extra diapers. Yuki was kind enough to lend a pair of her panties to Elise, though.
“I have never worn anything like this before,” Elise admitted.
“You usually wear diapers, right?” Yuki said, her head tilted in curiosity, “but I don’t know why.”
“I have a condition…” Elise said.
“What kind of condition?” Yuki asked.
“I… have no control over when… when I…pee,” Elise said, her face reddening.
“Oh,” Yuki said thoughtfully, “just when you pee? But, before…”
“That was an accident,” Elise quickly said in defense, then sighed. “It wasn’t my fault…”
“Well, this is all that I have,” Yuki said. “I don’t wear diapers.”
“Right,” Elise replied dejectedly. There was nothing else she could do, so she sighed and resigned herself to the white panties in her hand. She bent down and stepped into them, carefully bringing them up her legs.
“They’re backwards,” Yuki pointed out. Elise blushed all the more.
“Told ya… this is my first time,” Elise replied demurely, rearranging the garment. Once corrected, the panties came up her legs and snugly around her hips. Yuki was smaller than she was, but thankfully her clothes still fit, if a bit tightly. Once the cotton underwear was all the way up, Elise took a look at herself. She moved her hips and turned around, feeling for the first time what panties felt like. She noted how easy it was to move around, but at the same time they felt very, very cold. Given her circumstances, she badly missed the warmth and feeling of security only a thick diaper could provide. She actually missed them. She could think of nothing in the whole world she wanted more than for Aile to put her into a new diaper and cuddle with her for the next twelve hours.
“You’re thinking about him, aren’t you?” Yuki asked.
“Him?” Elise squeaked in surprise.
“Your knight,” Yuki replied.
“Ah… yes,” Elise sighed. “His name’s Aile. It means wing.”
“That’s a nice name,” Yuki replied thoughtfully. “You think about him a lot… you’re feelings for him are very powerful.”
“Yes,” Elise agreed.
“I could feel them too, but in your mind you always refer to him as your knight.”
“That’s what it feels like to me,” Yuki shrugged.
“Well, that’s a good description of him,” Elise said with a small giggle.
“He’s very strong, isn’t he?”
“Yes, very,” Elise affirmed.
“Do you think… do you think he can save you?”
“I believe in him,” Elise said wistfully, looking toward the window.
“Oh,” Yuki said, appearing a bit sad. She quickly hid any signs of those emotions, “well, I hope he does.”
“Me too,” Elise replied with a deep sigh. “Aile…”
“Elise…” Aile whispered, clenching his fist. Looking out over the Atlantic vaguely in the direction of Cuba, Aile tried to somehow reach Elise with his thoughts.
After leaving Lucine and his uneaten sandwich, Aile had trekked out of the base and into the woods. He soon came upon the ocean, and found a nice place to sit on a large protruding rock. It was cold, but the wind biting into his bare arms and face was oddly comforting. It certainly helped contain the fire that was burning within him. If he couldn’t do something soon, he was certain he would go crazy. There just had to be something he could do.
Falling back into a supine position, Aile closed his eyes and got to thinking. From what Lucine had told him, getting to Elise would be no small feat. Even Wraith’s plasma stealth system was useless against LADAR, and if he flew into an integrated defense network it would quickly be lights out. He could probably evade one or two missiles, but even that was asking a lot. Maybe if he used a frame he could punch through it, as reckless as it would be. Unfortunately, the only frame he had access to he had sold. Lang’s upgrades to the MiG-42, now loosely nicknamed ‘Sword of Justice’, would make it much more effective. He had seen it himself, when they escaped Icarus. The speed and firepower of that machine was nothing to scoff at, and unlike a fighter jet it possessed proactive defenses, the ability to fight back against missiles. Instead of merely being relegated to evading or tricking oncoming missiles, a frame could actually return fire and shoot them down. With the next generation of missiles, though, had been introduced a random-maneuvering function that made them much harder to target, but a skilled pilot could pull it off. Maybe if Aile could borrow the MiG-42, or perhaps procure another of his own, he could use that to rescue Elise. It was a long shot, but it was all that he could cling to right now.
Lying on his back was quite comfortable, even on a rock. It was shaped in a certain way that cradled him in a shallow arc, and his body heat was conserved and amplified slightly by the surface. The lack of sleep was catching up with him, and before he knew it, Aile was drifting off. The crashing waves offered a natural lullaby, and thoughts of being reunited with Elise slowly became dreams as he fell into slumber.
At the same moment, far to the South, a man named Dyson Kolman stormed down a narrow hallway. He took large, angry strides and the myriad people who were walking down the same hallway all got out of his way. His mere presence commanded such a response. His presence alone was enough to make people uncomfortable. It wasn’t that he was an especially large or domineering figure. In fact, quite contrary to that, Kolman was of medium stature with a lean build and smooth, almost flawless skin. His feathery light brown hair certainly lent itself to the gentle, but everyone who had known, or crossed, this man knew that was certainly not the case. Kolman was a man of power. The power to change lives, and even take them away.
Finally arriving at an open door, Kolman pushed aside a nurse and burst into the room, where a man was being worked on meticulously by a doctor.
Bryson Tyrek winced and groaned as the doctor, startled by Kolman’s angry arrival, twisted the forceps in his shoulder slightly. Tyrek was a burly sort of man. Tall, with short and yet shaggy blond hair above his sunburned face. Sitting on the table with his shirt off, Tyrek’s skin was taught over his muscles, and freckled from exposure to too much sun. A hunter by trade, of both beast and man alike, he had numerous scars all over his exposed torso. A new badge of honor, or failure depending on how one looked at it, was in the form of a messy wound on his right shoulder, where the doctor’s forceps were currently inserted.
The doctor was carefully extracting a malformed fragment of steel. Once round, the steel bearing had become misshapen when it was discharged from an M18 Claymore anti-personnel land mine on Tyrek’s latest endeavor. Having botched said endeavor, Tyrek was reasonably certain that was the cause of Kolman’s stormy mood.
“Eya boss,” Tyrek said nonchalantly toward the angry Kolman, “is there a problem mate?”
“I’ll say there’s a problem,” Kolman growled, “you screwed up. Phoenix is still breathing.”
“Oy, in my defense, he had back up. We had the bloke right where we wanted him and then poof. Out of no where half my men are dead. I barely managed to avoid being killed myself. Bloody M18s were daisy-chained together all over the whole damn airfield,” Tyrek explained with a sweeping motion of his good arm.
“And they escape scott-free, while twenty three of my soldiers are blown to shreds,” Kolman replied. “How can I consider this anything but a complete disaster?”
“Well, we did manage to capture the girl,” Tyrek pointed out.
“Yes, but you didn’t have to impale the Tyler kid. He would’ve been a valuable asset as well.”
“Ah, that damn kid was making too much of a racket. Punched my mate Chauncey right across the chops he did. Well, he’s just lucky we didn’t do 'im in proper.”
“I’m amazed you couldn’t handle a mere teenage boy with no training without resorting to that,” Kolman said in disappointment, but then softened a tad and added, “but even so, I am glad you managed to get us Laraway’s daughter unscathed. She’s going to be valuable to us.”
“Like I said, the mission wasn’t a total bust,” Tyrek replied with a smug smile, “just a few loose ends to tie up, that’s all.”
“Precisely,” Kolman replied more calmly this time, “we were able to track that Super-Eagle of theirs using satellites. It landed on a small island South of Iceland.”
Tyrek raised a brow.
“You don’t say,” he said. “Doesn’t happen to be right South of Stokkseyri, does it? A dense forest with a runway planted right in the middle?”
“You know it?”
“Yeah, a little,” Tyrek replied, “so, that’s where they escaped too. Makes sense. That birdie they escaped in has the makings of one of theirs.”
“One of who’s?”
“The Winged Knights,” Tyrek replied almost happily.
“Wait,” Kolman said with narrowed eyes, “you mean that might-makes-right organization that was disbanded a few years back?”
“That would be the one,” Tyrek replied, “they weren’t all killed or captured, you know. As I understand it, that kid you want dead was part of 'em, too. Am I right?”
“You are,” Kolman replied.
“Well, the Knights live on, even to this day. They just keep a lower profile now,” Tyrek said, then added “and that island is one of their bases.”
“What kind of fighting potential do they possess?”
“I don’t really know, it’s all just hearsay to be honest. But I can make a few calls if you want to know more.”
“You do what you have to,” Kolman replied, “I just want that kid dead.”
“Very well. I don’t understand why though. I mean, sure he’s a capable pilot and all, but is this kid really worth all this fuss?”
“He’s that girl’s lover. He’d be a fool to face us,” Kolman said sternly, but then sighed, “but it’s an annoyance I don’t want to deal with. Passionate men can be… troublesome.”
“Straight from the horse’s mouth,” Tyrek said, then laughed heartily at his own joke. Kolman merely glared at him, and as Tyrek noticed his employer’s sour look he immediately became serious. “Right, fine, whatever you want. So long as you’re willing to pay up.”
“Money is no object. But bring me proof of his demise. I don’t care if it’s a picture, a video or his head. Do that, and you can name your price.”
Kolman turned to leave, as Tyrek cracked a sinister looking smile.
“I get it. You want’a show that girl the boy’s remains, don’t you?” Tyrek suggested. The ever present crease between Kolman’s eyebrows deepened, and Tyrek smiled all the more, “that’s bloody cruel, you know.”
“It would be troublesome if she resisted us. I want to eliminate any hope for her, and crush her spirit into the ground.”
“Heh, well you can count on me, boss,” Tyrek said, giving a thumbs up with his good arm. Kolman merely nodded, then took his leave, heading to his next order of business.