Chapter X: Sir Dusk

I awoke to a morning I had not felt since I first arrived in The Miraxis Index. The noisy alarm was gone, no announcement of any sort was heard, and a discomforting silence lay its touch everywhere. It was very peculiar, and needless to say, the most unwanted start to the day I could have experienced.

Avlis had mentioned there would be no mission this day, whether that was because it was an off day, or because all hell was going to break loose… I would have to find out myself… since I upset Gina so greatly. I felt that maybe, she just needed some time to herself. I would not know the extent of the consequences of my actions until I spoke to her next.

In addition, Avlis mentioned that I was to meet Sir Dusk, as if some sort of appointment had already been placed. I could only ponder what that meeting would be about. It was now clear to me that communication was frequently conducted between those two and that maybe I would find out their connections through this encounter. There were quite a few things to take care of.

It was set to be a long day indeed…

Getting up from my comfortable bed felt a little more tiring than usual. The truth was that I had slept very little that night. I performed some quick stretches to get my body in shape before I moved along. Shortly after, I found myself grasping my Miraxis Pack and heading for the door. I had no intended direction as I left my room, merging into that typical hall.

It was no longer a matter of timely acceptance, how could there be no other Miraxis Agents around? Where were they all? I never encountered them again, not since the first couple of days in the facility. I was never aware of their location, never aware that they even existed. Somewhat frustrated, I rolled my eyes at the sight and then I let out an exaggerated sigh.

“What am I doing here?”

After a short moment of needless pondering, I moved ahead towards the elevator, without any known destination. I was unsure of what specifically Avlis wanted me to do. I knew that Sir Dusk intended to speak with me, but when did he plan to? Regardless of my heavy thoughts, I kept a steady pace as I approached the elevator entrance in my own time. I was caught by complete surprise when the elevator’s doors opened early.

Out into the hall strolled a familiar figure, yet one I would have to take with extreme caution. The encounter was unavoidable and our eyes met just seconds later.

“I know you…”

The auburn hair and bright green eyes… As she called out to me, I immediately recognized Allyia, the partner of Sorin in their respective Miraxis Pair. Only suspicious thoughts ran through my mind; she might have also been an illusion developed by that woman, the one of which I knew so little.

Displaced from her original course, she strolled over to me with openness. I kept my guard up, but welcomed her approach.

“Xathoven… Yeah, that’s it, you’re Xathoven right?”

Bewildered, I nodded my head as I replied.

“You are correct. I take it you are Allyia, Sorin’s partner?”

“Pfft… I guess so, though he’s a bit of a dork.”

She chuckled lightly and then continued to wave her eyes about in a quick search, to which I immediately inquired.

“What are you looking for?”

Hearing my words, she slowed her movements and looked back to me.

“Sorin… I know he took the elevator up so I just followed him. I’m not sure where he went. I totally lost him. Sometimes he just messes with me…”

She glanced around repeatedly, disconnected from our exchange. I observed her very carefully. She seemed genuine, her words, her expressions… everything about her seemed to be true. However, I had fallen for Sorin’s impression; as such, I kept up a wary guard as I spoke to this girl. I knew not whether she was aware of Sorin’s real identity, but as I pondered, I decided it was an affair not my own.

“I’m afraid I haven’t seen Sorin recently…”

Slowing her search to a standstill, she let out a fatigued sigh.

“Well… He’ll pop up soon enough, thanks anyway.”

No longer absorbed in the pursuit of Sorin, she stood straight and adjusted her clothing momentarily. Correcting the fit, she pulled down her shirt a bit. Whilst looking downward, she clicked her tongue and swiftly shook her head. She reached down with both hands and gently raised the waistline of her skirt, which had been slipping downwards.

“These clothes are too big; you think they’d get that right. I mean, come on, they can’t even get the correct clothing size when you’re dead.”

After tweaking her attire, she looked back to me once more.

“I’ll catch you later Xathoven. I’ve got a moron to find.”

With unkempt speed, she sped by me and headed down one of the halls, continuing her chase. I myself continued towards the elevator. I knew Sorin was not himself, I knew that he may have always been a figure in disguise, but Allyia was different. First of all, I just could not believe that the mysterious woman that haunted me could have possibly disguised herself as two different figures. It was most likely that she took the disguise of Sorin and had Allyia falling for her spell as well. Secondly, there was just something about Allyia that let me know she was just another Miraxis Agent, something about the way she looked at me, the same way I looked at her. I was under the assumption that I should keep suspecting her, solely because of her connection to Sorin, but I did not entirely conclude that she was not herself.

Regardless, it was best for me to get to other matters; there would be plenty of time to think later. Now, I needed to find out what was going on with The Miraxis Index facility. I hoped that the elevator would take me to Sir Dusk’s floor; maybe we could meet now and learn everything as soon as possible.

I strolled over to the elevator in continued hopes that it would take me to Sir Dusk’s floor. Upon entering, a final glimpse of the dormitory floor revealed something very unusual. I did not have nearly enough time to confirm what I saw, but it appeared for a moment that there was just one corridor, and no longer the three there had always been. Maybe it was my imagination, for I was unable to keep my eyes on the scene as the elevator closed its doors. Whatever the reason, I ignored what I may have seen. Things stranger than the void itself were beginning to make themselves known, I had to keep my full attention on more important matters at hand.

When the ride down concluded, I found myself just steps out from the familiar lobby of Sir Dusk. I hoped that he would be available at the moment. I took no time in moving ahead, though I quickly found myself stopped in my tracks.

“Boo!”

From just around the elevator, the figure of Sorin leapt out to me. Instinctively, and to his expressed surprise, I threw him towards the closest wall, unsheathing my blade and holding it ready to strike. I had entered my Miraxis Form naturally… Was the transformation that simple?

“Whoa buddy! Did I scare you that badly?”

I had no intention of falling for the same trick again; Sorin was a disguise, albeit a clever one. It must have been that woman once more; she had taken his place and she was no more human than the Shadowborne creatures I had fought in the Miraxis Agent missions.

“Your illusion will work no more, I can see-“

I felt a sudden shock run through my body. What I noticed as I threatened this boy made me rethink everything. Right there, Sorin’s eyes were light brown. This was him, really him. The pale, gray-eyed Sorin from before must have been the woman’s disguise. I saw an entirely different person in these eyes. Immediately, I threw my blade back and stepped away, freeing the poor boy. Thankfully unharmed, he straightened himself out and looked to me passively, he was unaffected by the incident.

“Forgive me, I thought you were… well…”

Frustrated by my own actions, I sternly shook my head. I was in a state of disbelief. Until now, I was unsure as to whether there was a “true” Sorin. Here he was now, standing before me.

“No worries, I get that sometimes.”

He offered his hand in greeting.

“Nice to meet you Xathoven, I’m Sorin!”

I was caught in an awkward position, for I had already met Sorin once. Reflecting upon that first meeting, I realized his eyes had been pale on that elevator as well. The woman had even taken his form when I was with Gina on the medical floor. Putting aside those thoughts, I met Sorin’s hand with my own.

“It’s great to finally meet you Sorin.”

“You would think so, I’m pretty awesome. But with your girl blabbing on about you, looks like the pleasure’s all mine.”

“Kaiyandra?”

“Yeah, she’s down on the recreational floor just relaxing. She just kept going on and on… You should go see her if you’re looking for the fastest way out of here.”

“What do you mean, fastest way out?”

“I mean that after a minute of listening to her, you just might die, and finally get out of this place.”

Sorin’s chuckling rang through the empty lobby and I found myself feeling animated. Before continuing the exchange, Sorin glanced to the elevator and scratched his head.

“I won’t keep you Sorin; just let me know how to get to that floor.”

“All right, just head down the stairs at the end of the corridor to the right of reception desk.”

“Okay, thank you.”

“No problem Xath, see you later. I’ve gotta go catch up with Allyia, I thought it was her coming back down when you arrived, she’s probably still looking for me.”

In hasty strides, Sorin hopped to the elevator and quickly jumped inside. Turning back to me, he waved as the doors shut, closing him inside. The elevator headed upwards.

It turned out that there was a true Sorin. Now I had properly met him, his pupils apparently the telling sign of who was within the figure. His eyes were pale when he was not himself, and light brown when he was perfectly normal. That would explain how Gina’s eyes changed when she was an illusion the previous night. It was an important hint to keep handy for future encounters with the Shadowborne.

Before moving ahead, I paused. Something quite peculiar occurred in the incident with Sorin. I had indeed entered my Miraxis Form without any thought. It was such a natural and quick shift, I did not even notice. Even now, I was still in the enhanced form. Was there more to entering the Miraxis Form than I had been told? Whilst dwelling in these thoughts, my mind relaxed. Then, spectacularly enough, I left my Miraxis form, and returned to normal. It was just a momentarily flash as my attire returned to normal and my weapon faded from existence. I assumed that this natural shifting must have been part of the desperation factor Sorin mentioned… Yet the Sorin that mentioned that was not the true Sorin I had just met. This was too much to thrive on for my mind; it was time to move on. I needed to put my complete focus on the task ahead.

I knew I should meet up Gina; Sorin had spoken with her and noted that she, in turn, spoke of me. Maybe I could tie up loose ends and apologize for my behavior. I hoped that time had helped heal the minor rift between us. Clearing my mind once more, I made a steady journey to the right-hand corridor of Sir Dusk’s Defense Department lobby. If Sorin’s words were true, there was to be a staircase up ahead. I found that there was indeed a descent to a floor I had not yet seen.

Going down the steps, I encountered the recreational floor Sorin spoke of. Like all other levels of the already achromatic facility, this floor was bathed in dull shades and tones. There were many doors to different labeled sections, though I was too far to read any text. In the center of the floor stood a rounded bar, containing various mechanisms and machines. Around the bar were sets of tables with four chairs apiece. I found myself quickly identifying the only occupied seat.

“Gina…”

In the silent, vacant floor, there appeared the figure of my friend. She sat at one of the many tables, her head gently lying upon her crossed arms, as if sleeping at her seat. I made my way over quietly.

Arriving beside Gina, I kept complete silence as I fell to a knee just beside her. I stooped down to her level and watches her closely. She seemed to be completely out, maybe she had slept very little as well. It was likely since we had awoken so many times. I gently placed a palm upon her arm and whispered softly.

“Excuse me…”

To my surprise, she turned to me instantly, though I had tried not to wake her up in such immediacy. She had a veiled smile as she rubbed her eyes and stretched. She sat up and looked around before returning her eyes to me.

“Hey Marlin…”

She rose out of her chair, prompting me to stand up as well. I gave her a moment to recover, though when she placed the back of her hand to her forehead and appeared to sway, I knew what was coming next. She slipped backwards and slid back into her seat, leaning about in fatigue.

“Sorry, I’m just… really, really tired. I don’t know…”

She raised a hand to her mouth and covered a great yawn.

“…why.”

I was unaware of her feelings after the mistake I made the previous night. I could only hope her confidence in me had been restored. I would find out soon.

“You should sit down for a little bit. You just need a minute to get back into shape.”

She stretched again for a short moment to relax her body; meanwhile, I moved to the opposite seat and placed myself within it.

“Gina, are you okay?”

It was not until I turned back to her that I noticed her gazing to me. She had her head in her hands, her elbows upon the tabletop. Her eyes stared into mine. That strong eye contact was maintained for several seconds before she replied.

“Yes, I’m just looking…”

“… I see.”

We sat there for quite some time, reading each other’s thoughts. I could only imagine what ran through her mind. I cut the visual exchange short when I spoke.

“I wanted to apologize for what happened last night. My actions were selfish and careless. I hope you can forgive me-”

“Marlin, the truth is that I overreacted. I think we should be more careful, but sometimes… you just have to take risks. All of this is a mystery and I want to know the truth too. But… that moment, when I realized you were gone…”

She removed her arms from the table and returned them to her lap. Still looking towards me, she continued to gaze. I felt her entire being drive into me, every ounce of her essence poured into my own.

“Marlin, when you left me, I thought it was all over. I just gave up… The thought crossed my mind that you were never coming back, that you had just jumped to your end. All I wanted to do was jump in too, but I was too afraid. Why Marlin? Why was I so scared?”

As sudden as the end of her words, she broke eye contact and looked down, gently shaking her head.

“Gina, to be afraid is not to be weak. Wisdom tells you that you need fear to help you understand. You think you are helpless and I am strong… but it’s much more so the other way around. Why do you think I came looking for you?”

At that moment, I found myself standing, out of my seat in an instant. I walked over to Gina, yet still she held her head low. Once more, I fell to a knee beside her. She turned again to look away, but I made an effort to turn her face gently towards mine with my hand.

A sad face… it was always a sad face. When Gina smiled, there was always something tragic within it. When she spoke to me, I could see deep signs of despair. Whenever we made any sort of contact, I could always feel her heartbeat; so close, yet repressed. Now she looked to me, unwillingly, trying to hide the tears I had seen already too many times, trying to disguise an emotion that nobody could possibly hold back.

“Marlin… I remember enough… I see your face whenever I try to see what may have been… before all this. No matter how hard I try to find more memories, all I see is you. No matter what’s happened in the past between us, it will never change the way I feel about you now and forever.”

Briskly, she turned away. She never favored being seen when her tears ran with such persistence.

“Without you, I wouldn’t have made it this far. You’re the only reason I’m giving this world a chance. If I had never met you, I would have let myself pass on. You’re my friend, and I feel like you always have been.”

As she finished those heartfelt words, I pulled myself up and brought Gina to her feet as well. Everything she spoke of, everything she felt… it all had indescribable meaning to me. Gina was my source of light in the void. She was someone for me to admire, and I did so greatly. She had the heart of a child; a gleaming soul of purity in a world of violence and corruption, a world that in a sense was not so different from the one we had left long ago. Of those I had met in this realm, she was unique and I was fortunate enough to encounter her. Was this all a matter of fate? Was it meant to be that we encountered one another in this world?

“Gina… I promise you, we will get out of here. I may not know how, or when, but I swear… I’ll get you out of all this, even if it’s the last thing I do…”

Gina stood up and I pulled her head to my chest as her cries subsided. We stood there for some time. All I wanted was to keep her safe. Gina was an amazing friend and she had no place in a world as dark as this… I was grateful that recent events had not damaged our companionship, and even more grateful that several days after our arrival in The Miraxis Index, we were both safe and well.

Having stood there for a while, I lost a sense of time. I had no recollection of just how long it had been since I awoke earlier. Maybe the time was not as important as I made it out to be.

“Thank you.”

Looking to her, I found a gleaming smile upon Gina’s face, the kind of smile that made me feel blissful as well. For a moment, it seemed to be genuine and without any other meaning then glee. It put me at ease and suddenly, things did not appear as dark as they were. Everything was at peace. For the first time in days, I felt a tranquility that lessened the grim overture of The Miraxis Index, and its existence in the void. Many other words could be used to describe the scene, but the ultimate point was, something was bound to ruin the moment, and that something just so happened to be the most likely culprit.

“Whishzam! Bam! Bam!”

I budged just a little, but Gina leapt backwards in reaction to the noises. Glimpsing back towards the distant stairs revealed none other than Sorin. He was throwing his arms about and making comedic combat noises.

“Wham! Bam! Snap!”

Gina giggled as Sorin approached; he had found a new way to reduce the distance between himself and his destination. To put it one way, it involved sporadically diving and making noises one would only hear from crashing aircraft. With uncharacteristic smoothness, he abruptly halted and stood straight before us, dusting himself off before he spoke.

“Hi! I just thought I would pass by and greet my new friends.”

He nodded to Gina, then turned to me and delivered the same nod, but with a sly wink snuck in. Next thing I knew, he was strolling by the rounded bar area, slowing as he passed the set of machines that sat centered within the floor.

“Greetings dispense machines!”

As promptly as he had left, we found him once again before us. He was amazingly quick on his feet.

“Now that I finished that up, how are you guys doing?”

Standing just beside me, Sorin was close enough that I comfortably reached over and patted him on the shoulder out of a sort of acceptance, I still held guilt over the incident from before.

“We are well, thank you Sorin.”

Sorin glanced to me with a suspicious yet amusing face. I found him looking to my arm and back to my eyes. I was unsure of what he was indicating so I pulled my hand back.

“Xath, that right there, what you just did, why did you do it?”

For the personality that he had, it was quite difficult for me to tell the difference between the serious Sorin, and the comedic one, though for caution, I opted to go with the serious one.

“I don’t know; I just felt like I needed to pat you on the back. It is a sort of friendly gesture, is it not? Maybe I’m thinking of something else…”

Sorin’s sly grin caught Gina chuckling and I found myself anticipating his next words. He placed his palm upon his chin, as a philosopher would.

“No, no you’re right Xath. You got the gesture right. But it’s an action that has one of two meanings. You pat someone to let them know that they are your next homicide target, or you pat them to kill a spider that landed on them. So which one is it because I don’t see any webs nearby…”

He looked to Gina as she laughed, satisfied by her amused response. She became his next humor victim.

“Hey miss, do you like magic tricks?”

Before responding to Sorin, Gina looked straight to me for a split-second. As she spoke, I was left wondering what she had been looking for.

“Yes, I love magic.”

“Okay, okay. Let’s see…”

Sorin reached behind him and quickly pulled out a Miraxis Agent card. I quickly realized that it was mine. I checked to make sure that I had my Miraxis pack with me and looked back to him in contained awe.

“That’s some magic right there…”

Noting the impression he left upon me, Sorin chuckled lightly as he faced Kaiyandra with the card in his hand. I could only imagine what he intended to do with it. He held the card out, letting Gina know he had it in his left hand. He closed his hand in a way to disguise the card, and then he placed both of his hands behind his back.

“Yep… Where do you think the card is?”

Thinking carefully, Gina placed a hand to her cheek. She stayed like that for several seconds. Then, with a loose finger point that lacked confidence, she indicated towards Sorin’s left arm.

“There, it has to be there, right?”

Sorin threw an expected grin of glee and shook his head.

“Wrong! Check your purse…”

Lowering her brow in disbelief to what she had heard, Gina pulled about her purse that sat comfortably around her waist. With haste, she opened the container and filtered through the few possessions she held. Her expression shifted once more and she looked back to Sorin.

“I don’t see the card in here…”

She kept searching until she realized what had occurred, as made obvious by Sorin.

“Damn it!”

Sorin pulled both hands forward and revealed the card still sitting within his left hand. Gina pointed to his hand once more and laughed.

“I was right!”

“Yeah, it was worth a try, I guess I’m not the magic type.”

Shrugging his shoulders, Sorin turned to me after his exchange with Gina. He handed me my card as he spoke.

“So Xath, do you know any magic tricks?”

“I’m afraid not.”

“Well…”

With a somewhat ominous approach, Sorin slowly strafed by as he finished his thought.

“Like all things, it’s just a matter of believing.”

When he passed me, my delay in following him with my eyesight caught me unaware, for when I turned back, just after hearing him snap his fingers, he was long gone. Looking around the room revealed no trace of the boy.

“Where did he go?”

I looked to Gina for an explanation, yet I quickly found that she had been preoccupied with her purse when Sorin disappeared. She glanced around carefully and then returned a blank expression.

“I’m not sure… I was looking through my stuff-”

As she replied, I noted a shift in her stance. Something had captured her attention within her purse. I waited as she dug inside the container with her hand.

“When did this get here?”

Mesmerized, Gina removed an elegant rose from her purse. I walked over to take a look myself.

“I swear it wasn’t here just a minute ago…”

“It sounds to me like the work of Sorin.”

In both amusement and surprise, Gina suddenly smirked as she reached into the purse once more, pulling out the object that revealed it all.

“Ha, he actually did it.”

She chuckled as she held up Sorin’s Miraxis Agent card. She handed it to me so that I could observe it while she put away her purse. Getting my card without my notice was already magic on its own; how did he then get his card in Kaiyandra’s purse? I observed his Agent ID as I pondered aloud.

“S-15… He is fifteen? He looks older.”

“He does Marlin.”

A moment passed… Then Gina realized that she had spoken my assumed true name again. With a palm upon her mouth, she turned to me and shook her head.

“I’m sorry… Xathoven. I didn’t think about it.”

“It’s not a problem Gina. You said we cannot escape from who we really are and you are right. Our real names are our true selves.”

I looked around once more; making sure there were no others around. Surely, the room looked empty, and it sounded empty, but honestly, I swore I could feel another presence, if only for a moment.

“But if we…”

She spoke, and I heard her words, but I was looking around cautiously. I only did so for my own state of mind, but I had not thought of how it looked to my friend.

“Marlin… what’s wrong.”

Gina spoke in whispered words, to which I ended my scan of the surroundings and focused on her.

“Nothing, nothing at all.”

Quite suddenly, she looked towards me with a hint of dissatisfaction.

“I know when you’re thinking Marlin. There are always things running through your head, and I can tell when you’ve noticed something… out of place.”

“Really, there’s nothing, I was just taking a look around. This is such a strange floor, I’ve never even heard of it until now.”

As quickly as I stopped speaking, the facility’s public announcement system went online with a short message.

“We apologize for the interruption. The Defense Department instructor for floor twenty-seven, Sir Dusk, has requested that Agents K-17 and X-19 meet him in his office as soon as possible. All elevators will route to floor twenty-seven for quick access. To the respective Miraxis Agents, please visit Sir Dusk as soon as possible.”

So, it was as Avlis had said…

“It looks like that’s our cue…”

“What do you mean Marlin?”

Gina was confused by my comment, and I had just enough time for my thoughts to realize something I had forgotten about. Avlis had told me that Sir Dusk would speak with us, yet Gina was not there to hear it. I had never spoken to Gina about Avlis and my encounters with him. Why had I chosen to withhold this information? It was not until this moment that I noticed that something had been holding me back; some deep wandering thought somewhere in the realm of this matter had given me a subconscious instinct to avoid mentioning Avlis to Gina.

“I… I did not mean anything, I just thought it was an appropriate phrase, you know… that’s our cue?”

First, there was an awkward pause. It was really obvious that I sounded a bit rushed; trying to squeeze out that distracting response, hiding that I had any known clue that Sir Dusk would summon us. Then, with Gina’s warming chuckle, the brief tension ended and I relaxed myself. I had escaped that leak, if only to continue keeping Avlis from Gina.

“Sorry, it’s just that for someone so serious, it’s rare to see you slip up.”

“I simply lost my train of thought…”

I tapped my head in a general gesture of thought, wondering about just what I was wondering about. I was thinking about Avlis, looking at Gina made me think of that mysterious figure. Had she truly never encountered him herself?

“Let’s head over to Sir Dusk, I wonder what he wants with us. This way Marlin.”

Gina beckoned to me and I followed her to the stairs back up, all the while closing my mind of its attachment to the Avlis scenario. I did not know why I had such a powerful habit of dwelling in my thoughts, but it would take events of the future to learn whether I should have told Gina about Avlis.

“We won’t need the elevators since these stairs take us to Sir Dusk’s floor.”

I nodded as Gina took over, leading me up the stairs I had taken down when I reunited with her earlier. As we reached the top, I spotted Sorin by the elevator, leaning against the wall as he patiently waited for something.

“Hey, are you guys good?”

He was quick to spot us and inquire on the situation between Gina and me. I could only assume she had spoken to him of it earlier and he had become curious just now. She turned to the distant boy and waved enthusiastically.

“Yeah, everything’s fine.”

“Nice…”

Sorin slickly nodded his head to a silent beat, rhythmically responding to Gina. Then he proceeded to pull forward his rested arms and engage in portraying an air guitar. Gina snickered and turned once more to me as she headed to Sir Dusk’s office.

“He’s funny; it’s nice to see that he can stay so upbeat in a place like this.”

“Yes… He’s definitely in his own world right now.”

A glance over to Sorin gave me a familiar thought, and I looked back to Gina; she smiled as our eyes met. I did not know if she could read my thoughts. I was wondering just how The Miraxis Index selected which souls to accept and which ones to ignore. Though Sir Dusk mentioned otherwise, I did not believe that it was all just random. What I saw in Sorin and Gina at that moment, was what I failed to get out of my head. Why were people like them in this situation? Gina was a kind and innocent young woman. She seemed void of any wrongdoing. Sorin appeared to be a good person; he was cheerful and just looked to make others smile. Lastly, of those I knew, Allyia was smart and mature; I read much in her eyes when we met before. These were others a little younger than me, others that were unlike me.

Every moment I spent in The Miraxis Index felt justified to me. I knew little of my past, but I always felt like I probably deserved to wash up in the void. The way I thought about things, and the actions I made, they were not always those of a good soul. What I saw in Sorin, and especially in Gina, were the virtues and morals of an ideal humanity, the way that people should always be. Gina alone proved loyal and caring to me, in ways I could never believe were common back on Earth. I could not bring myself to believe that she had done anything that would be considered worthy of entering this place. Equally, I could not believe that I was as clean as I appeared. It was at that moment that I realized that maybe, just maybe, I was afraid of what my past held.

“Are you ready Mar-… Xathoven, Marlin, whatever?”

Gina shrugged her shoulders and winced in frustration.

“Sorry, it’s not like it’s been that long since I knew you as just Xathoven. I’m having such a problem controlling myself.”

“It’s only natural, now that we know what we used to call each other before our deaths; it seems senseless to use assigned names now.”

“I agree… but I understand that it’s best to keep the names to ourselves, just in case.”

“Our names are who we are. All I would suggest is that we do not mention them in front of Sir Dusk.”

Gina sighed and shook her head.

“Now you’re just making me nervous, Xathoven. Hey, I got it right this time-”

As she enjoyed a brief moment of pride, the door ahead swung slowly open, the instantly recognizable figure of Sir Dusk standing within the opening. Though I fully recognized the sharp man, the expression upon his face was troubled with an emotion I never thought I would witness around him. It was anguish… a large presence of it.

“Good afternoon, please do come in.”

Almost lifeless, he turned back into the room and out of my view, awaiting our entrance. Gina looked to me and displayed some surprise at the soft tone of the man, I myself held that same reaction, and such I was as I followed my friend into that familiar yet seldom visited office of the great man.

“Forgive me for rushing, but please have a seat as soon as possible.”

Calmly waving a hand, Sir Dusk pointed to a pair of seats he had placed across his desk. Our full attention was on him and his eerie silence as we took our seats. I turned my Miraxis Pack so that I would not sit upon it as I lowered to my seat. Gina attempted the same, yet she required more time as her purse hung around her waist and was not so quick to rotate into a comfortable position. In her distraction, she missed a quick action by Sir Dusk that caught my attention and made me alert.

Turning away for a moment, in a distant corner of the office, Sir Dusk appeared to shuffle through a drawer, grasp a small object, and place it within his formal jacket. He turned to his desk; his eyes closed as he thought hard, and then walked forward, eventually lowering to his seat opposite of us. I was left replaying the scene in my head, trying to find out what he had taken to his jacket.

“I have many words I wish to say…”

Visibly upset, Sir Dusk put his head in his hands for a moment. He simply sat still, enveloped in distress. What could possibly have occurred? Before he continued, Gina reached across the desk with an open palm. I followed her arm back to find her gazing intently to Sir Dusk. Her entire expression spelt despair straight back to the lost man. I dared not interfere, for it was a relationship out of my hands. For how Gina appeared to feel of Sir Dusk, I always had thought she did not sit well with him. However, all of the time since the incident that sent her to the medical floor…

“Sir Dusk… is it time?”

Still with his face hidden, Sir Dusk made a worrisome shake of his head, but it was not the answer to her question, it was the reaction. He replied to Gina’s concerned inquiry.

“I’m afraid so my dear… I’m afraid so…”

I lay back in my seat, yet I was not at all at ease. Some cold feeling of the unknown bled into my system. I felt it circulate through my body, leaving me out of the loop. Of what did they speak? What had I missed?

Sir Dusk raised his head from his hands. One would have expected to see tears, but I knew he would have none. When he observed the offered hand of Gina, her gesture of comfort, he gently pushed her hand away from himself.

“A man such as me deserves no sympathy… but I thank you for your kindness.”

Gina took her hand back reluctantly. Curiously, she held it upon her chest and looked down, away from my eyes, as well as those of Sir Dusk. She knew what was happening, yet I was entirely unaware. I remained silent and patiently waited for fate to take its path.

“The days I have known you have been important to me. I’ve come to favor you both in ways you will never understand…”

Now with a growing sense of calm, the powerful man raised himself to his feet and walked about the room. Gina and I remained unmoved.

“By my choice, my work here will come to an end very soon. I’ve entered a line of duty different than what I had hoped.”

Since I no longer tracked Sir Dusk with my eyes, he took me by surprise as he passed behind us, placing a firm hand upon my shoulder.

“I want you both to know… that I regret my actions. I have no excuses for what I have done. I hope you can forgive me when the time comes.”

He continued to stroll by at a snail’s pace. We listened diligently, though by what I saw from Gina, it felt very much like his words were only new to me.

“Today is the final day of standard procedure. I will be placing the fate of this facility in your hands, and your hands alone. The two of you must decide the end result.”

Completing the cycle of his path, Sir Dusk now stood straight behind his seat. Looking to him, I felt great anxiety. His words, I knew not their meaning. Before he continued, I stood up and sternly inquired.

“Sir Dusk, I don’t understand what you are saying. Those with good intentions do not disguise their words. What is going on?”

“Marlin… Please.”

Gina reached towards me, trying to get me to relax and sit down once more, yet I remained standing. Sir Dusk gave Gina a sad look as he spoke.

“Gina, do not worry. He is right; you need not defend my position.”

A feeling I had felt many times before, but never so frequently, ran through my veins once again. For the time being, Gina referring to me as Marlin was no longer an issue, but Sir Dusk calling her by the name of Gina…

“How do you know her name? Explain yourself.”

I felt Gina tug at my sleeve, for she wanted me to return to my seat. She spoke softly in a tone filled with unparalleled concern.

“Please, sit down Marlin… Let him speak.”

Sir Dusk walked towards me and shook his head in shame.

“Marlin, I know the true name of everyone in this void. I know where everyone came from… I… know how everyone died.”

“Say what you must say Sir Dusk, this is no time for hiding the truth.”

Right then, a mutual feeling of surprise ran through the three of us as we heard that daunting sound… Three hard knocks against the door of Sir Dusk’s office. Someone was trying to get in.

“Please forgive me friends… I hope we will meet again… There is much for you to learn and in time, I know you will make the right choices.”

With the last meeting of our eyes, Sir Dusk looked to me with a pitiful expression.

“Can someone explain to me what the hell is going on?”

“Marlin, we have to go, now!”

In those final seconds, I only caught a short glimpse of Sir Dusk, as he slipped a hand into his jacket and gave something to Gina. She slid it into her purse and tightly grabbed my hand. The knocking continued, with more knocks and much harder ones now. My understanding of the situation was literally nonexistent, but I found faith in Gina to follow her through. Pulling me towards a darker corner of the office, she threw aside some stacks of files and slammed open a hidden door. Our pace was so dramatic that I only saw brief shots of what was happening. She still yanked me wildly, taking me through steps she had clearly prepared in advance.

Just as we were clearing the exit and getting out of Sir Dusk’s office, we heard the sound of a wild commotion as his door was opened. No more was known, as we hastily escaped to a back hall far from the scene. I was still left in the dark, and I followed Gina’s actions as she mumbled to herself.

“He said there would be…”

She glanced around and then nodded to herself.

“Aha!”

Still with a tight grip on my hand, she pulled me towards an object of her interest. A panel lay upon the wall beside a staircase. Soon, I discovered what its purpose was. Gently tapping the panel, Gina input a value of ‘100’. An instant flash blanketed the stairs for a moment, assuring that her command had succeeded.

“Just a little more Marlin…”

She leapt up the stairs and I followed aimlessly. When we rounded the staircase and took the final steps up, I immediately recognized the dormitory floor. There was no time to wonder, Gina continued to pull me ahead, yet she took me down a corridor I had never entered myself. Abruptly, she stopped at one of the doors and then proceeded to search her purse for an object. I looked up and recognized the door’s label, ‘S-15’.

“Sorin’s room?”

She did not reply as she found the object she had been searching for. She pulled Sorin’s Miraxis Agent card out of her purse and unlocked his room. I picked up the sounds of speech occurring farther down the hall, towards the elevators. Gina looked to the source of the sound and then rushed me into the room. As we entered, she swiftly yet quietly shut the door, activating the lock before she turned to me. The room’s light was already dimming, for it was late in the day and this world’s night approached.

“Gina, what is-“

“Shh!”

She placed a finger to her lips and glanced back to the door. Continuing her frenzy, she rushed to Sorin’s bed and threw the sheets open. With a final double take towards the closed door, she slid into the bed and beckoned for me to join.

“Come in, quickly…”

Her glances to the closed entrance unsettled me each time. As a spectator to her actions, I heeded her words and silently lay in the bed with her. The lights dimmed until they were no longer active. I felt Gina push herself to me.

“We need to look like one person, like Sorin-”

Out of nowhere, the steady sound of brisk footsteps came from the hall. Someone was coming.

“Now, stay still.”

I tightly gripped Gina against me as the footsteps became louder. She had intended that we looked like one body, sleeping in the bed. That would not be as easy as she hoped. We could only wait as we heard the sounds of other doors being opened. A search was occurring, and I could only assume that we were the targets.

“Don’t… move…”

Making the best of the situation, I performed every action Gina asked of me. These last few minutes had proven to me that she was part of a greater plan; something had occurred between her and Sir Dusk. I was confident in her ability to carry out the course of action, but I was admittedly shaken that I was unaware of the entire set up.

Then, Sorin’s door opened. We lay still, our eyes closed in anxious anticipation. We were unmoving, like stones for eternity, just waiting for whomever had opened the door to return to searching the other rooms. I heard a couple more steps as the figure walked into the room. Its quick breathing gave away that it had rushed to this floor and was on the hunt.

It felt like forever but finally, a few more footsteps occurred and we heard the door shut. We lay there, holding on to each other for another minute, as the sounds of doors being opened and closed began to die down. We waited until there was no audible sign of another presence on the floor, and we let go. Gina pushed aside the sheets and sat up, looking at me to sit up as well. I did so moments later. I welcomed the nervous smile that ran across her face.

“That was just as crazy as I thought it would be…”

Now that silence was no longer necessary, we both released our held breathing. Though we intended to speak in a moment, Gina lay back down to relax. I remained sitting up, thinking about all the things I had just witnessed. When Avlis spoke of great events occurring within the facility, I had greatly underestimated his words. I was in no way aware of the situation we were experiencing. Sir Dusk tried to reveal as much as he could, but he fiercely held back, leaving the rest to my imagination. Gina herself had some explaining to do, for clearly she had plans with Sir Dusk as well. The entire escape from his office was clearly planned out. She knew everything that was going to happen, and she felt pity for Sir Dusk when we were with him, for what may have been his final moments.

He had spoken to us in a more natural tone; a much less distant Sir Dusk had been present. He knew more than he stated, but I heard more than enough to know that everything was going to hell. He spoke of hoping we would make the right choices, but what had he meant? I would need to wait for Gina to give me a proper explanation of what she knew.

I looked down towards her, and by her breathing and blank expression, I found that she was no longer awake. She had fallen into a deep sleep, she required more rest than I could ever imagine. What about our bodies made us so sleepy all the time? Knowing full well that I could not act without more knowledge of the situation, I decided that I would rest as well. To spare her the discomfort, I unbuckled the belt upon which her purse hung from her waist. I was able to slip off the container and place it on the floor nearby. I removed my own Miraxis Pack and put it just beside hers.

Things were spiraling out of control; this was possibly our last chance to rest in The Miraxis Index. The times that approached were impossible to tell, but one thing was guaranteed: the following day would be our last day in The Miraxis Index… All of the forces we knew of gave all the signs that this would be over very soon. Beyond that, there was no telling what would become of us.