Operation Lighthouse: Nexus (Chapter One Niner)

Operation Lighthouse: Nexus

Chapter 19 - Hidden Connections

“Where the hell has that jerk gotten to now?” Lucine growled as she stormed down a narrow hallway. Taking large strides, the young pilot angrily made her way toward the only other place she figured Aile could be. After not finding him in his bed a few minutes prior she had started looking around the base for him. He was always notorious for not making his bed in the morning, thus given the pristine state she had found his bedroom in she could only conclude that he didn’t sleep at all the previous evening. When she found him she was going to give him an ear full about taking care of his body, the importance of sleep, as well as various other things.

In truth she was just angry she couldn’t find him. With all she had done for him lately, she expected him to be a little more considerate of her feelings.

Riding the elevator to the depths of the base, Lucine became aware of an increasing vibration. At first it was very faint and she thought she was imagining it, but as the elevator descended further the shaking and noise intensified. Lucine began to worry. The only thing she could imagine in that part of the base that could make such a racket would be one of the many old fighters stored in the underground hangar. Starting a jet engine in a confined space was more than just a bad idea, it was strictly forbidden.

The elevator reached it destination with a happy chime, and the doors opened. The turbine noise became much louder as Lucine stepped off the elevator, and she instinctively covered her ears. Sure enough, those two were running the engines of that old F-15, but they were only idling. Lucine shook her head as she walked forward. It was windy inside the normally quiet large room, which gave Lucine an eerie feeling. The amount of air displaced by the two engines of an F-15 was nothing to scoff at, and Lucine knew she would have to be careful where she approached them from. It was extremely dangerous for people who didn’t know what they were doing to be around operating fighters. The power of the engine intake fans were enough to easily suck in a grown man, and many people throughout history had been killed due to carelessness. Such power demanded respect.

As she neared the fighter, the engine noise becoming worse every step, Lucine contemplated the ear-full she was going to give both Aile and Scott. Then, she heard it.

Testing the engines underground was against the base rules, but since they were only idling there wasn’t all that much danger. Despite her anger, Lucine knew this. However, testing at full power would be a completely different story. The immense thrust of dual jet engines was enough to cause some pretty major destruction of anything unlucky enough to be caught directly behind them. Knowing that was why it greatly surprised Lucine when she heard the familiar high-pitched whir of the CENC engaging. The nozzles of the F-15 were contracting. Surely, they weren’t…

The whine of the turbines became a ridiculously loud roar as the engines throttled up to maximum military thrust. Lucine pressed her hands against her head, trying to block out the sound. She took another step forward against what was becoming a gale force wind. What happened next took her completely by surprise.

BOOM!

The afterburners lit. Fuel dumped directly into the engine exhaust and ignited greatly increased the thrust output. It also produced a sound that was not unlike an explosion.

Unprepared, Lucine fell onto her rear. She pressed her hands against her ears with all her might, put her face against her knees, and screamed at the top of her lungs. Of course no one, not even she herself, heard that scream. Every bone in her body vibrated and her internal organs shook with such ferocity that she thought she was going to either throw up or mess herself.

After a few moments of the onslaught, the sound began to subside and steadily silence returned to the hangar. Lucine sat there for a few moments, unsure of what she was feeling. She was angry, and shaken, and felt sick. But at the same time, she had an indescribable feeling of ecstasy that filled her shaking body.

Wooow… she thought absently.

Aile and Scott both knew it probably wasn’t a good idea to test the engines in the underground hangar, but at the same time neither of them really cared. Scott had mentioned that it was against the rules, but then he added that it was he himself who penned the rules to begin with so it was a moot point. With that said, the two of them went ahead with an impromptu test.

It was a sight to behold. The F-15 was restrained by only it’s tail hook, which was connected to a steel eye in the floor, which itself was part of a rod that was set firmly in the foundation of the hangar. Scott had told him they used it for engine tests back in ‘the day’, but back then they had a system set up to dampen the noise as well as contain the thrust and vent the gases. Nowadays the engines were all tested top-side, but after working for hours nonstop, neither of them wanted to wait for the plane to be moved.

The engines performed marvelously. Under full power, held only by the tail hook, the F-15 pitched forward and pulled with all it’s might at the rod in the floor. The two engines produced white hot cones of thrust that stretched nearly thirty feet behind the sixty-three foot fighter.

Aile felt a little nervous about testing in an enclosed area, so he only kept the engines running at maximum power for a few seconds. After taking them all the way through full AB, he throttled them back. As the power decreased, the whole plane rocked back as it settled onto the landing gear suspension. Aile shut down the engines, and then removed his hearing protection. As he listened to the turbines spool down he looked over his shoulder, toward where Scott was standing. The old mechanic was reviewing the data on a portable terminal, and when he noticed Aile’s gaze he tossed him a thumbs-up. Aile grinned. The plane was coming along well, and would soon be flight worthy. He was ecstatic. Right up until…

“What the HELL are you doing?” a shrill, angry voice made Aile flinch. Somehow, it seemed even louder than the recent engine test had been. The young aviator looked over to see Lucine. She looked like she was both angry and sick, and was holding her head with one hand while approaching on unsteady legs.

“Uh oh…” Aile said, his eyes widening. He didn’t think anyone else would be in the hangar. At over 200 decibels combined, the engines were plenty loud enough to damage hearing. In fact, the loudness went far beyond just ‘damaging.’ A more proper description would be ‘obliterating.’

Lucine stopped next to the large fighter. Her hair was frazzled and she had a layer of dust covering her. No doubt the engine test had loosened years of dust from the ceiling. In fact, it was still raining dirt on them. Aile had just been too thrilled to notice up until that point.

“Oh, it’s you, little one,” Scott said in greeting. He was doing a pretty poor job on hiding just how worried he was that Lucine had been so close to the afterburning engines. Aile stood up and carefully got down from the cockpit. As soon as his feet touched the concrete floor, Lucine socked him in the arm.

“Ow!” Aile said, surprised. “What was that for?”

“What the hell are you thinking! Starting that thing down here without even warning anyone!” Lucine screamed at him. Aile was a bit surprised at her volume.

“Lucine, calm down…”

“What?!” she replied, then growled angrily. “Augh! My hearing is probably permanently damaged because of you!” Lucine continued her tirade and punched him in the other arm, “and what the hell, Scott! Testing engines down here is against the rules!”

“I know, little one, I know, but you see…” Scott was about to remind her that he was the one who wrote the rules, but she gave him no quarter.

“Don’t you little one me! I swear, you two are the worst! Especially you, flyboy! I can’t believe I was actually worried about you!” Lucine threw up her hands in frustration and turned to leave. Under other circumstances Aile would’ve found Lucine’s over the top anger amusing, but he was genuinely concerned for her this time. However, given how she was acting she would probably be fine. Still, he couldn’t just leave things as they were.

“Lucine, wait,” Aile said, grabbing her upper arm. In her anger, Lucine tried to pull away, and Aile stumbled. Forgetting about his hurt leg, Aile lost his balance when he tried to regain his footing, and fell toward her. Instinctively, Lucine tried to catch him but it was no use, and she just fell backward along with him. Aile also reacted instinctively, and did his best to spin around so he would take the brunt of the fall. His efforts weren’t in vain, but they resulted in Lucine landing on top of him. Then, all went silent. The position they landed in was the very definition of awkward. Aile was on his back with one hand holding onto Lucine’s arm, and the other palming her left breast. Lucine was perched above him on her hands and knees, looking right into his surprised eyes only three inches from her own. What made it even worse, was that one of Aile’s legs was bent and propped up some, and his knee was pressing between Lucine’s legs. A moment passed in total silence. Scott was trying his best to keep from openly laughing, but was doing a poor job and so excused himself. He disappeared behind the F-15 and out of their sight.

After a moment Aile moved, but it was only enough to gulp. Lucine was blushing, but didn’t seem to want to move. Compounding his discomfort, his knee had somehow landed under Lucine’s skirt, and was pressing right up between her legs, and into her panties.

After a few more extremely uncomfortable moments, Lucine finally spoke.

“I’m still mad at you,” she said, her voice steady and quiet. The ringing in her ears had all but disappeared by that point, but she was too preoccupied to notice anyway. “And don’t expect this little ‘fan-service’ to get you out of that.”

“Fan-service?” Aile asked shakily, looking confused. Lucine sighed in exasperation.

“Nevermind,” she replied, then pushed herself off of him. Aile continued to lay on the floor for a few more moments. He wasn’t really sure what had just happened.

“Are you gonna lay there all day?” Lucine asked, sounding annoyed as she fixed her clothing and dusted herself off. Aile sat up.

“Day?” he looked at his watch, “oh… right. I thought it was still just late at night.”

“Come on, flyboy” Lucine said with a defeated sigh, “let’s get some breakfast.”

Unsure of what else to do, Aile just followed her out. He looked back and spied Scott standing under the wing of the F-15, giving him an A-OK sign with his right hand while grinning and winking. Aile just sighed again.

Another morning came. Elise had woken up several times during the night, and every time she awoke she had been disappointed. She wished that her current situation was the dream she was waking from, instead of things being the other way around.

Yuki was still sleeping right beside her. In fact, the two girls had become intertwined in an embrace. Not only did it help both of them with their respective loneliness, but it helped keep them warm, too. Their keepers had only provided minimal bedding between them, and it was tough to keep warm during the cold nights. Elise wondered why, if they were both so valuable, they were being treated so poorly.

Carefully, Elise extracted herself from Yuki’s embrace. The younger girl stirred a little, but just rolled over and was silent again. Elise sighed, thankful that Yuki didn’t wake up. She wanted at least a little privacy to get ready for whatever the new day would bring.

Upon checking herself, Elise discovered that she wasn’t very wet. It was probably due to her drinking less than usual. Ever since she had been abducted, she hadn’t been very thirsty. She made a mental note to drink more water that day. She had to keep her strength up long enough for Aile to come and rescue her.

After a shower and other preparations, Elise got dressed into a new diaper and the short hospital-like gown Yuki had given her. She didn’t have anything else to wear, and it really didn’t cover much of her. It would be obvious to anyone walking behind her that she was diapered, but she wasn’t really sure she cared. In the two days she had been there the people at the facility were all mean to her. Elise was going to make a conscious effort to care less about what they thought or said.

After a while, Yuki began to stir. She rolled onto her back and rubbed her eyes, yawning emphatically.

“Good morning,” Elise offered. Yuki looked over with tired eyes and smiled.

“Good morning,” she replied. After a pause she added, “it’s nice to have someone to say that to. I don’t want to be alone anymore.”

“You won’t be anymore,” Elise said, trying to sound upbeat. She was about to add to that when the sound of the door being unlocked caught her attention.

The heavy door swung open and a man appeared before them. He was a large man, with an impatient and surly expression.

“You, come with me,” the man said, pointing at Elise.

“But…” Elise began.

“Now,” the man said curtly. Elise looked back at Yuki, who merely nodded. Her eyes told Elise that she’d best follow the man’s instructions. Elise sighed, but got to her feet and allowed herself to be led out into the hallway.

Despite being fairly early in the morning, that facility was already quite busy. Elise noticed a lot of the same people she had seen when she was first being shown to her room. As such, many of them gave her strange looks. Elise just tried her best to ignore them, and instead thought about other things. Anything to keep her mind off her present situation.

A few moments later, the man stopped walking. They were in a long hallway. Elise recognized it from the last time. The door to her left was that witch’s lab. She felt her heart sink. She wasn’t really looking forward to another session with that cruel woman.

“Wait here,” the man said sternly, and Elise complied. He left her, disappearing around the corner and leaving Elise standing alone in the hallway. It was pretty chilly, and she hugged herself for extra warmth.

Elise didn’t wonder why she had been left alone. There was only two ways out of that hallway, and she knew that the one she came from had some pretty scary looking guards posted. The other way was probably the same. Even though she had been left alone, she knew she was still being watched.

Unlike the rest of the facility that morning there wasn’t a lot of hustle and bustle in that wing, however. Elise stood in silence for a few minutes, rubbing her crossed arms and shivering. It was quiet, the only sound of the florescent lights buzzing quietly. It was so vacant in the hallway that she couldn’t help but notice when someone came walking down. She glanced over reflexively, but then returned to looking at the wall across from her. She really didn’t want any unnecessary attention at the moment. However, in the brief moment that she had glanced over she noticed the person seemed out of place. She cautiously tilted her head enough to look at the figure with her eyes, but kept her head down. It was a man, though he would be more accurately described as a boy. He was younger than the rest of the people she had seen, and had a noble sort of look to him. He had short yet disheveled dark hair and cool eyes that were comforting to look at. He was a little taller than Aile, but had a similarly athletic build and confident gait. Certainly a stark contrast from the rest of the people she had seen. As the boy approached, he took notice of Elise and slowed to a halt. He examined the girl before him, and she immediately became embarrassed.

Elise looked down as she felt her face becoming hotter. Unconsciously she bent forward a little and pulled on the front of her gown, which until that moment hadn’t seemed so short. She was thankful that her back was to the wall; the last thing she wanted was for this handsome boy to see her diapered rear.

The surprised boy regarded her a moment, but then stepped forward slowly. Under other circumstances his approach would’ve scared her, but something in his eyes told her she could trust him. The young man checked over his shoulder, then stopped in front of her.

“You okay?” he asked. His voice was deep, calm and reassuring. Elise hesitated a moment, but then weakly nodded. The young man looked over to his left again, then back at Elise. He took notice of her shivering, and quickly took off his jacket. Without saying anything he draped it over Elise’s shoulders.

“There ya go,” the boy said as he adjusted the jacket, making sure that it covered the small girl as mush as possible. “Hang in there. Everything will be all right, okay?”

Elise nodded again, but was unable to reply. The young man smiled at her, then turned and continued down the hallway. Just as quickly as he had come he was gone. Elise stared at where he had disappeared for several moments.

“Thanks…” she murmured, feeling very confused. The only thing she was sure of was that the jacket was warm and soft, and that she was relieved that at least two people there seemed to care about her well-being. Even if it was only a little bit, it bolstered her hope.

A moment later another person appeared around the same corner the boy had, only this time Elise’s heart immediately sank. The doctor from before walked briskly down the hallway, then appeared to have only first noticed Elise’s presence. She sighed and gave a look of disgust.

“All right, come on,” the witch said disdainfully as she motioned toward the door. Elise felt a deep dread but nonetheless stepped toward the door.

As the sun moved higher in the late morning sky, an older aircraft was lining up on approach to Helios airbase. An older but still commonplace airplane, the F/A-18D Hornet proceeded down the glide path and made an expert landing.

Charles Lang was standing on the tarmac when the F/A-18 taxied off of the runway. It had been a while since he saw that aircraft. One of his earlier custom jobs, the mostly stock Hornet had been upgraded for better longevity and increased maneuverability. The frame had been strengthened, and thrust-vector control nozzles were added. An especially unique feature on that particular Hornet was a limiter-release. If the pilot so desired, he could release the alpha and G limiters, allowing the potential for extreme maneuvers not typically possible with Western designs.

Though in possession of a scary combination of abilities, the pilot who flew it opted to call the aircraft by a strange name. Lang remembered what the expression he had on his face felt like when the pilot declared the name of the Hornet to be ‘Cynthia’. Of course, the pilot’s own name wasn’t exactly commonplace either…

The Hornet came to a rest on the apron, and the ground crew went to work securing her. The canopy opened, and the pilot took off his helmet and stood up.

“Diego! Welcome to Via,” Lang said as he stepped up to the aircraft. The pilot shook out his mid-length dark hair and looked over.

“Lang! How’s it been, hermano?” the pilot, Diego de la Destiny, greeted jovially.

“It’s been… tough,” Lang said as Diego nimbly hopped out of the Hornet. His feet on solid ground, Diego stuck out his hand. Lang took it and gave it a firm shake, “but what else is new.”

“For sure, boss, for sure…” Diego replied with a few nods. Lang smiled. He always got a kick out of Diego’s Latino accent.

“So, what brings you all this way? Something you didn’t wanna discuss over the radio.”

“That’s right, it’s very important. Is there a private place we can speak?”

“Yeah, follow me,” Lang said, motioning with his hand.

Soon they were sitting in Lang’s new office. After offering the Vian authorities his cooperation in the buildup of their defense force, they gave him permanent space on Helios base. That included some pretty nice perks, including a large, well furnished office.

“I won’t really get into how I got this information,” Diego began.

“Fair enough,” Lang replied. After all, Diego wasn’t really under Lang’s command. He was a freelance operator, much like Aile had become in the previous weeks. Though Diego often referred to him as ‘boss’, there really wasn’t that kind of boundary between them. It was just an old habit Diego still retained from his days in the Wolfpack, Lang’s chief wrecking crew. He even still used his old Wolf squadron callsign, Wolf 103. “What have you found?”

“A connection,” Diego declared.

“A connection to what?”

“Everything… the mission at that school, the repeated assaults against Phoenix, the attack on your base… it’s all connected.”

“Howso?” Lang asked, growing very interested. He leaned forward and placed his elbows on his desk, his interlaced fingers against his chin.

“Have you heard of an organization called the ‘Dodekatheon,’” Diego asked.

“As a matter of fact,” Lang said, his eyes widening a little, “I just recently had a conversation with Aile. He mentioned that name, but it didn’t really sound like he knew much about it.”

“Basically,” Diego said, “they are a shadow organization that manipulates everything. They have their hands in industry, weapons development, and even the Global Coalition government itself. They are, in effect, everywhere.”

“I’ve heard rumors of shadow organizations before, but I always dismissed it as conspiracy theory and nothing more. Are you saying there really is an organization operating behind the scenes, and that they have targeted one of my best pilots?”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying,” Diego affirmed, “not only Aile, but you as well, boss. It was they that orchestrated the attack on Icarus.”

“I figured it was the GC, or even the National Guard,” Lang said. “It seemed obvious that they would raid our base if they found out what we were doing there.”

“Indeed,” Diego agreed, “but do you know how they found out?”

“Not yet,” Lang admitted. Diego nodded, then reached into his breast pocket. He retrieved a photo and placed it on the desk. In the image there was a single man. Lang took on an expression of surprise.

“Laraway…” Lang looked up at Diego, “he sold us out?”

“Yes and no,” Diego replied, swaying his head side to side, “Marshall Laraway did betray your contract and alerted the local authorities to your operation.”

“That bastard!” Lang spat, “after all Aile went through protecting his daughter and he turns on us? Unbelievable!”

“That’s not even the worst part,” Diego replied, “from what I have gathered… the attack on Icarus was not a raid. It was an attempted assassination. Of you… and Aile.”

“Why?” Lang shook his head. “Why go through all that trouble for us?

“You see, Marshall Laraway didn’t sell you out,” Diego said, then sighed, “he sold out his own daughter.”

“What?”

“The Dodekatheon has a large division dedicated to some kind of special research. I don’t know what it is, but I know it involves human test subjects, and I know they had some special interest in Elise Laraway.”

“She has been targeted more than once,” Lang sighed bitterly, “I figured it was all connected somehow.”

“And every time she was in danger, who rescued her?” Diego asked the obvious question.

“Aile. So that’s why they tried to take him out of the picture?”

“Yeah,” Diego paused, “and they haven’t given up yet.”

“You mean…?”

“Yes,” Diego said, “they still want his blood. And they know where he is.”

Despite his heavy responsibilities, Dyson Kolman really wasn’t a very busy man. Part of him was angry that he had been placed in such a position by his superiors. However, he could understand why they had put him there. His remarkable management capabilities and penchant for striking terror into those working for him made him a perfect candidate for the the head of that facility. Despite his disdain for the paper work associated, the study of Optimums was very important to Kolman’s personal plans. For that reason he was currently looking through Doctor Shealey’s initial examination of their newest test subject. Unlike many of the others, Elise Laraway was a reasonably healthy girl with only one major defect. Thankfully, her incontinence didn’t hinder her health or strength. He was sure that she would survive long enough for them to discover many things about the lost research that gave rise to her abilities.

Though subtle, Elise Laraway’s abilities were nonetheless present. Typical for a ‘third generation,’ post-birth subject, her abilities weren’t very pronounced. However, according to her father Elise was originally born mentally disabled. Her current self was a testament to what the illegal research was capable of. And thanks to her father’s detailed information, they were able to get their hands on her relatively easily.

Kolman smirked. Looks like I win this one… Charles Lang.

A knock at his door brought Kolman out of his thoughts and back to the present. He closed the folder he was looking through and placed it on his desk.

“Come in,” he said gruffly. The door opened and in stepped Bryson Tyrek. He was still recovering from his injuries, but considering it hadn’t been very long since he sustained them he was doing remarkably well. The man was no stranger to pain.

“Awright, boss, ow’s it doin’?” the burly man greeted.

“What is it, Tyrek?” Kolman asked impatiently. He really didn’t like working with such a man, but he had to admit that Tyrek was very good at his job. As far as hunters went he was top notch, but unfortunately his attitude kept him from being a very good soldier.

“Everything’s ready for da job. I’ll be leavin’ in about an hour or so.”

“Very well,” Kolman replied, “don’t get distracted. The aim of this mission is to get rid of the Phoenix kid once and for all. And don’t forget to bring back proof. If that girl chooses to resist us, I want something that’ll destroy her spirit.”

“You got it boss,” Tyrek said with a hungry smile, “I’ve got the camera all set up to film me wringin’ the life outta that little div. I’m sure da lil birdy’ll get a kick outta it.”

“Whatever,” Kolman replied. “You have clearance to commence the operation. Report back to me directly when it’s done.”

“Aye aye, boss,” Tyrek said with a half-hearted salute. “See ya real soon.”

Kolman sighed as Tyrek disappeared out the door. He honestly looked forward to hearing the report that Aile Phoenix was no longer a threat.

It was about midday when Elise was returned to her room. She stumbled in, feeling sick to her stomach. The various tests the doctor had run on her weren’t kind to her stomach, but thankfully this time her diaper was merely wet. Yuki was sitting on the bed waiting when she returned, and her eyes lit up when she saw Elise. However, they didn’t have any time to talk as Yuki was taken next and Elise was left alone in the room.

Stumbling toward the bed, Elise fell down onto the uncomfortable surface. Even though it wasn’t very soft, compared to the examination table she had been forced to endure it was paradise. She curled up and hugged herself, groaning at the pain in her stomach. Thankfully, this time the doctor lady hadn’t stolen away her borrowed jacket. She would’ve rather had Aile’s jacket, but the one the strange boy had given her wasn’t bad. It was large and soft, and had a pleasant scent. Even though the sun was high in the sky, and the room was brightly illuminated through the small window it was still chilly in the cell-like room. Though it really hadn’t, Elise felt as if it had gotten colder as the day progressed.

Lying on her side, it was impossible to ignore her diaper. Squeezed between her legs, the well used diaper was squishy and wet. She knew she should change as soon as possible, but at the moment she really just wanted to lay there for a while. At the same time, she knew that if she fell asleep like that she would probably leak. If she let that happen it wouldn’t be very considerate to her roommate, who had been kind enough to share her bed. So, with a heavy sigh Elise got herself up. She sat for a moment on the edge of the bed, then took a deep breath got to her feet. She unsteadily headed toward the bathroom for a shower.

Yuki had long since lost her will to resist. As such, she wasn’t bound like Elise was when she was examined. Doctor Shealey was reasonably certain the young girl wouldn’t give her any trouble.

As it had become largely routine by this point, the periodic check ups were mostly methodical and silent. Doctor Shealey’s thoughts wandered as she proceeded through the checklist. She was only mildly interested in checking out the little girl for the umpteenth time, but Kolman was highly interested in what kind of effect the other girl’s presence would have. She was pretty sure she wouldn’t find anything conclusive, but she had her orders nonetheless.

What the doctor didn’t know, however, was that Yuki had been affected by Elise’s presence. The arrival of the new girl had given Yuki something she hadn’t had for a very long time, which was motivation. Despite the jamming they had put in place, Yuki could still look around a little with her mind. It was uncomfortable, and gave her a headache, but if she listened enough she could hear a little of what other people were thinking or feeling. Though that was a strange capability to most, for her it was totally natural. Another sense like sight or hearing. It was difficult not to perceive it.

The doctor didn’t notice Yuki’s unusual fixation on a single drawer in the counter. So when she stepped out after the examination was complete, she certainly hadn’t expected Yuki to get up and look inside of it.

Yuki only wore a simple hospital style gown. It didn’t afford her any real places to hide things. As such, when the guards came to escort her back to her room they immediately noticed that she was keeping something from them.

“What do you have?” the large of the two men asked Yuki for the third time. Upon being discovered, the little girl had huddled herself under a stainless steel counter at the edge of the room. The two men were trying to coax her out without resorting to physical strength. They weren’t supposed to harm a hair on her head.

Yuki didn’t reply, and just held her hands tighter to her chest and brought her knees up closer. Whatever she had taken, she showed no signs of giving it up.

The large man was visibly irritated, but clearly at a loss. He looked to his cohort and shrugged. The smaller man shook his head, then pushed his partner aside, clearly fed up with the lack of progress in the situation. He got down on his knees and moved closer to Yuki.

“Give it here,” the man said, putting his hand out. Yuki averted her gaze, but with the man bearing down on her it was all she could to to keep from panicking. Though she was scared, she still wouldn’t give up. The man grew more impatient, and Yuki was having trouble ignoring his powerful thoughts. The things he wanted to do to her were very upsetting, and she could literally feel his patience wearing thinner.

The guard growled as his patience finally wore away. He reached forward and solidly gripped Yuki’s wrist, prompting the small girl to yelp in surprise. He was about to drag her out from beneath the counter, when a new voice appeared.

“What’s going on here?” a deep, even voice asked. The guard started, and jumped. There was a thud, and the small instruments atop the counter hopped in unison as the man’s head struck the bottom of the surface in his surprise. Cursing, the guard moved out from underneath the counter and got to his feet, visibly angry.

“Well?” the newcomer asked.

“None of your business, mercenary,” the guard growled.

“I’ll make it my business, then,” the young man replied. He stepped in and immediately noticed the small girl, “and it’ll be Kolman’s business when I tell him you were about to use physical force on an incredibly important and irreplaceable test subject.”

“Look,” the larger man said, “we were told to take her back to her room, but she took something from the lab. We don’t know what it is, and it could be dangerous. She’s not allowed to take anything.”

“So, you thought if you just demanded it from her enough times she would give it to you?” the young man asked. The larger of the guards just shrugged. With a sigh the young man stepped passed them, then crouched down and looked underneath the counter. The small girl was curled up underneath and averting her gaze. The young man smiled.

“Your first mistake,” he said to the two men, “was talking down to her. She’s not just some test subject. She’s a person.”

That last statement caught Yuki’s interest. She looked up and into the young man’s eyes. It was the first time Yuki had seem him and she was surprised at his appearance. He didn’t look like the other people at the base. He was young, probably not all that much older than Elise, and quite pleasant looking. He was athletic and very healthy, that much was certain. He had short dark hair that was vaguely styled forward and deep brown eyes that looked very alert and awake. Though she got the impression he was a soldier of some kind, his expression was gentle. All she could feel from him was warmth. Though at the same time, that might have been what she was feeling from within herself.

“They didn’t hurt you, did they?” the young man gently asked. Yuki slowly shook her head no. The young man smiled at her. Yuki felt herself blushing.

“I’m Kaden,” he said, placing his hand on his chest for emphasis. “What’s your name?”

“Yu…Yuki,” she replied, feeling terribly self-conscious.

“Yuki… snow. That’s a lovely name,” Kaden said. Yuki just blushed all the more. “Listen, these guys said you took something, and… well you’re not supposed to. They’re worried it’s something dangerous to someone or even yourself and since you’re very important to them they’re afraid you might, you know, hurt yourself.”

Yuki nodded, though she wasn’t pleased at all that she was important to the people who kept her. It wasn’t like they actually cared about her, she thought to herself.

“So, tell ya what. Show me what you have and if it’s not something dangerous, I can probably get them to let you keep it. That’s fair, right?”

Yuki hesitated for a moment. Though she didn’t exactly trust this Kaden just yet, something told her she could. And she wanted to trust him. Something about him made her feel excited inside.

Slowly, Yuki opened her hands and showed Kaden what she had been keeping. Kaden was surprised when the item in her hands glistened in the otherwise monochrome room. He examined the object, a silver bracelet adorned with shining diamonds. Kaden scrutinized the jewelry, and for a moment he almost looked as if he recognized it.

“You took this from the doctor?” Kaden asked, looking up into Yuki’s eyes.

“It doesn’t belong to her,” Yuki said quietly. Kaden hesitated a moment, then smiled.

“Right,” he said, “then I guess it’s only fair that it’s rightful owner gets it back.”

Yuki’s eyes lit up. Kaden smiled at her, then stood up and looked over at the guards waiting in the doorway.

“It’s okay, it’s nothing dangerous,” Kaden said.

“I don’t care, just get it from her so we can take her back already.”

“It’s not dangerous so I’m letting her keep it,” Kaden said.

“Excuse me?” the guard said, surprised that Kaden was usurping his authority.

“Hey, it’s not a dangerous item and it won’t be missed. Why shouldn’t we allow her to have it? She’s a special person. There’s nothing wrong with making her a little happy.” Kaden looked down at Yuki as he finished his statement and smiled. Yuki blushed and looked away.

“Fine, whatever,” the guard said, throwing his hands up in defeat, “can we take her back now?”

Kaden thought a moment.

“I’ll take her,” he said.

“What?”

“I’ll take her back. Frankly, I don’t trust you to do the right thing.”

“You’re really pushing it, kid,” the man growled.

“You’re right,” Kaden replied evenly, “but if I hadn’t shown up, you would’ve hurt her.”

“No, I wouldn’t have.”

“It sure looked like you would’ve from where I was standing. And that’s what I’ll report to Kolman. I think the security camera up there,” Kaden pointed over his shoulder with his thumb, “will corroborate my story. Body language is such a subjective thing.”

“Why you…” the man gritted his teeth. Kaden just smiled.

“I’ll take care of her,” Kaden said.

“Fine,” the man relented, “but on one condition. Let me see your ID.”

“Fine with me,” Kaden took off the lanyard his card was on and handed it to the smaller man. Both guards took a good look at it.

“Kaden Dirk, huh? I’ll remember that name,” the guard said, throwing the item back at Kaden, who caught it deftly. His eyes grew serious a moment, but he still smirked.

“See that you do.”

The walk back to Yuki’s holding room was surprisingly long. Usually, she was rushed through the corridors by her escorts, but Kaden was different. He walked at her pace, and instead of walking in front of or behind her, he walked at her side. They were silent for a while before Yuki worked up enough courage to speak.

“Th… thank you…” she managed. Kaden glanced over at her and smiled.

“You’re welcome,” he said. He paused a moment, “the way they treat you really gets to me. I’m glad I could help a little.”

“It’s okay, right?” Yuki asked worriedly. Kaden looked at her for elaboration. “That you did this… you won’t get in any trouble or anything, will you?” Kaden chuckled.

“It’s okay. I’m sure I used enough big words on those guys that they’ll be trying to figure out what I actually said for days to come. They won’t be any trouble.”

Yuki giggled a little .

“And besides,” Kaden continued, “I really do work directly for Kolman. I’m pretty sure my authority supersedes the guards, though I’m not really certain.”

“Kolman,” Yuki said with an involuntary shudder. She had been privy to many of his thoughts when she first arrived at the facility all that time ago. He wasn’t a nice man.

“Here we are,” Kaden changed the subject. They had arrived at Yuki’s room. “Is there anything else I can do for you, Miss Yuki?”

Yuki just looked up at him blankly, totally unsure of how to reply to that. Kaden chuckled.

“I guess not,” he replied. He swiped his keycard and pushed open the door. “I’m sorry I couldn’t spend more time with you, but unfortunately I have some work to do. Maybe I’ll see you again.”

“I… I’d like that,” Yuki replied. There was a moment of silence between them. Feeling awkward, she hurried through the door. Kaden offered her one more smile.

“Until then,” he said, then closed the door.

Yuki sighed after the door was shut. What she was feeling was new to her, and she didn’t really understand it. She knew Kaden made her feel hot inside, and her heart beat faster than she could ever remember. She wasn’t used to being excited about anything, so it was a definite change for her.

The sound of Elise stirring brought her back to herself. Turning around, Yuki only then noticed that Elise was there, albeit covered completely by a blanket. Yuki’s arrival had woken her up.

“Elise?” Yuki asked. The other girl stretched, and in doing so made the blanket fall off of her. She looked up at Yuki with tired eyes and yawned.

“Hi,” Elise said dismally. She was still feeling ill from the battery of tests she had been subjected to.

“Are you okay?” Yuki asked.

“I think so,” Elise said. “I just don’t feel very good.”

“Oh,” Yuki said, then remembered. “Hey… maybe this will make you feel better.”

She handed the bracelet to Elise. At first, Elise just stared at it, unsure if what she was seeing was real or not. She looked from the bracelet up into Yuki’s eyes, then back down. The diamonds shimmered in the sunlight from the window.

“This…” Elise reached forward, almost afraid to take it.

“I found it in the examination room,” Yuki said with a smile. “And I knew what it was…”

Elise couldn’t speak. She just held the bracelet closely and began crying.

“Aile…” was all she could manage. Yuki was a bit at a loss.

“I… thought it would make you happy, but…”

Elise reached out with both arms and took Yuki into a big hug.

“I am happy…” Elise said between sobs. “Very happy. Thank you… so much,”

“I… I’m glad,” Yuki replied, her voice a little pained, “that you’re happy, but… you’re squishing me.”

“Oh, sorry,” Elise apologized and released Yuki, who immediately breathed deeply. Elise held the bracelet in the sunlight as she dabbed at her eyes with her other hand. “I thought I’d lost this forever.”

“Doctor Shealey took it from you, right?” Yuki asked even though she already knew the answer.

“Shealey?” Elise said, “so that’s her name.” She was a little glad she at least had a name to curse now.

“She didn’t want to keep it for herself,” Yuki continued, “she just wanted to take it… from you.”

“I’m not surprised,” Elise said with a small, bitter laugh.

Elise continued to cry for a while, and even though Yuki had at first been surprised over her reaction, she was now certain she had done something good. After a while Elise finally calmed down. She sat down on the edge of the bed and admired the bracelet that Aile had given her on Christmas.

“Elise?” Yuki asked after she had been silently contemplating a while.

“Yes?” Elise looked up, her warm smile still present.

“How do you know if you’re in love?”

“Huh?” came Elise’s surprised reply.

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful. Aile worked on the F-15 for a while longer while Lucine sat nearby and yelled at him. Eventually he began to succumb to fatigue since he hadn’t slept the previous night. After an early dinner with Scott and Lucine in the commissary, he decided to call it a day.

“You’d better actually sleep tonight,” Lucine said as she and Aile stopped outside of his room.

“Trust me, that won’t be a problem,” Aile said, then yawned emphatically as if to emphasize his point. “I’m looking forward to some rest.”

“Good. You’d better be here when I come in the morning,” Lucine warned.

“I will be, promise. I’ll probably still be asleep,” Aile said with a wry grin. Lucine smiled back.

“That’s fine,” she said sweetly, “I have a key.”

“Grand,” Aile rolled his eyes. “Anyway, I’ll catch ya tomorrow.”

“Okay. G’nite, Aile.”

“Good night,” Aile returned, then turned around and opened his door.

Lucine watched the door shut in front of her, then sighed. She wished she were going in there with him, but she knew that wasn’t an option. He was dedicated to his girlfriend. It was that dedication that she both loved and despised about him. After lingering a few moments longer, Lucine gave up and started back towards her own room.

Aile shut the door and locked it, even though he knew it was pointless. The only person he could imagine who would want to bother him on the base was Lucine, and she apparently had a key. Still, he felt a little more secure with the door locked.

It was quite dark in the unlit room. Aile felt around for the light switch, and upon finding it he clicked it on. It was then that he immediately discovered that he wasn’t alone.

Aile’s heart skipped a beat as he inhaled sharply. He wasn’t used to being surprised like this.

“It’s about time,” his guest said, standing up from the armchair in the corner. He was a large and burly man, with sandy hair and a hungry look. His massive arms were adorned with scars here and there, and were quite sunburned and freckled. Though he wasn’t making any threatening movements, Aile’s senses were immediately on high alert. He could just feel that this man meant him harm.

The large man bent down and fiddled with a camera that was sitting on a tripod next to the armchair. A small red light blinked on, indicating that the device had begun recording.

“Now, why don’t ya state your name. For posterity,” the man said. Aile just looked at him, unsure what he should do.

“Awright, I’ll go first then,” the man said. “My name is Bryson Tyrek, and I’m here to end your life.”

To be continued…

Re: Operation Lighthouse: Nexus (Chapter One Niner)

Well, it’s here. Chapter 19. Funny thing is that the original story only went up to 19 chapters, and yet this one breaks through that and the story keeps steaming right along. Not to mention that on average the chapters in Nexus are longer than the ones in Lighthouse. Since the original work was about 100 typed pages, I wonder how long this one has gotten…

A lot of time was spent on this chapter trying to fix things I inadvertantly broke. For instance, Diego should have been introduced a long time ago. Kaden, well I wasn’t sure I was going to bring him into this at all, but here he is. There is a very good reason for introducing these two new characters so late in the game. It’s because I’ll need them later. It’s really as simple as that.

Funny little fact was that originally Kaden Dirk was the star of this show. When I first started the story he was the main character, but then I decided he didn’t fit and I came up with Aileron’s character. Kaden has been off doing other things in other places, but now he’s made his way back into Lighthouse. I hope the readers will welcome him.

And Diego… don’t even ask me where I came up with his character… or his name. It was one of those things that just came to me one day while thinking (probably about something else entirely). He is a wacky guy, but we Hispanic people are pretty wacky. And I thought Lighthouse needed a little ethnic diversity anyway.

Well, I don’t really have much else to say. Hope my 6 fans enjoy this little addition to the story!

Re: Operation Lighthouse: Nexus (Chapter One Niner)

Well that was a nice little chapter. Was way way way too short though. :slight_smile:

Seeing someone with a heart in that place was unexpected. There seems to be the possibility that he may well help them to escape when the time comes. Though that could just be a red hearing.

The fact that that asshole managed so easily to get to the base and into Alies room is discusting, though with the picture that you have painted about the outfit he works for, is not really that surprising.

I hope that we don’t have to wait months for the next chapter, as it really does take a bit to catch up on things.

Re: Operation Lighthouse: Nexus (Chapter One Niner)

don’t post much just read the stories but had to say "BOUT TIME

Re: Operation Lighthouse: Nexus (Chapter One Niner)

If it’s one thing everyone can agree on it’s that I’m too slow… Well, be that as it may I’m glad you guys seemed to enjoy the chapter. A chapter which was probably the longest in any story I’ve ever written. I’m looking at you Wimsy :slight_smile:

I’m still waiting for Nemo to come and tell me why I suck. My goal is to give him less to complain about every chapter :slight_smile:

Re: Operation Lighthouse: Nexus (Chapter One Niner)

As they get longer it gets more exhausting :wink:

I’ll get there. And I only ever complain because I think that with a bit of editing you’d have something pretty good on your hands here.

Re: Operation Lighthouse: Nexus (Chapter One Niner)

Good sir, I implore you… please complain as you see fit. Your advice is the best criticism I get, and I am very thankful for it. I do hope you realize my previous statement was tounge-in-cheek :slight_smile:

And take your time. I’m hardly in a position to rush anyone :smiley:

Re: Operation Lighthouse: Nexus (Chapter One Niner)

How is chapter 20 coming along?

I see your currently lurking round as I type this. :slight_smile:

Re: Operation Lighthouse: Nexus (Chapter One Niner)

Yes, I do lurk quite a bit. I don’t really post anywhere besides the story forum, and when I have nothing new to add or advice to give I just keep my mouth shut :slight_smile:

Chapter 20 isn’t done yet. That’s all I’m sayin’, lest I get flaming arrows shot at me, or the threat of magical chains…

School just started and I’m going full swing. That’s the reason I haven’t been writing as much as usual. And my meager writing time has been taken up by other projects. I really wanna complete a story I can show my friends/family. I can’t present Lighthouse to them for obvious reasons. And since they all know I’m a wannabe writer, I’ve gotta give them somethin’…

Don’t worry though as this project is still high on my list of priorities…

Re: Operation Lighthouse: Nexus (Chapter One Niner)

Sorry I haven’t left a post on this, RT!!

This was great, but when are you going to get Alie & Elise back together again? Please do it soon, ok!!

Re: Operation Lighthouse: Nexus (Chapter One Niner)

I’m totally not on Elise’s side anymore. Not until she straps on a pair at least. She seems dependent rather than in love, unlike Lucine.

Re: Operation Lighthouse: Nexus (Chapter One Niner)

Woo! Comments! Ahem… yeah…

Before I address these, I would like to express yet another heartfelt apology over the lack of progress in the story. I’ve just been busy with school is all. I have a break coming soon, honest!

Okay, well… yeah, I know this isn’t the first time you’ve asked me this, Icey. It probably wouldn’t feel like such a long time to have them apart if I updated on schedule :stuck_out_tongue:

This trial is going to define their relationship later on. It’s the hardest thing they’ve been through, and it’s time for each of them to step up and grow a little to ensure that they could be a stronger couple later on. That and it makes for a fun story. It’s like the age old tale of the princess stuck in the tower, you know?

I promise I’ll do my best to make your wait worthwhile!

And to Nemo: okay, I see where you’re coming form, but that’s the genius of my plan, man! Elise is quite a dependent character. I did that initially to increase her moé potential. But, any good character has development, and this is her time to develop. So long as I don’t screw it up, that is. Keep me honest, Nemo. No one else does.

Re: Operation Lighthouse: Nexus (Chapter One Niner)

Erm, dare I ask how much longer must we wait for another chapter?

Re: Operation Lighthouse: Nexus (Chapter One Niner)

Dare I reply without an update?

Yikes, this has been one hell of a wait, huh? Well, truth be told I’ve never been so busy in my life. Well, that’s not true, but I’ve never been so busy WHILE trying to manage a story…

School just overed for two weeks. I promise I’ll post something during this time. Oh geez, I just promised. I’d better get on a ball.

Re: Operation Lighthouse: Nexus (Chapter One Niner)

hmmm…………

Re: Operation Lighthouse: Nexus (Chapter One Niner)

I still have one day by my count…