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 They're coming for me.

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PostSubject: Re: They're coming for me.   Wed Oct 26, 2016 12:27 am

There was a gurgle that begun in the base of her throat.

It started choked, splutters like she was laughing by herself, following the tense silence after Joseph had asked the question on both of their minds. Chin pressed against her chest, Juliette didn’t even move beyond making these queer sounds from within. There was a broken edge, a hysterical edge in them, but it was relatively tame, reverberating around her for the most while. Until she slammed both her hands onto the ground in front of her, one of her hands being cut on the blade she’d drop previous as she let out an ear splitting shriek that expressed everything she’d held in, cast aside in her quest to save Joseph, to save Kaleb. Like a howling wolf, she slowly raised her head as she screamed out her inner pain, right hand digging her palm further into the blade without a care in the world for the blood that pooled around her legs. She screamed, and screamed like a wounded animal pleading for the mercy of death until her voice cracked.

Kaleb, watched this all go on, stilling himself and hovering near Juliette. He wanted to answer Joseph, but this side of his sister had clearly spooked him. There was difference between reading post-surgery statements and witnessing the mental trauma first hand, seeing his cousin and sister fall apart in front of him. When Juliette’s breathless ragged snarls stopped, only then did he look away from the trainwreck that was his sister to answer Joseph’s question to the best of his abilities.

“You wouldn’t understand Joseph… I know nothing I say know will placate you, and I am sorry to have burdened you with this pain. You two are important to me, and I ensured there was nothing that happened that would scar you permanently. This was for the greater good, you should see the amazing things we can do with your DNA.” At first he sounded remorseful, looking contrite but slowly Juliette began to see him for who he was. See the fractures between the mask and real man. It was like staring into the pits of hells, seeing all her nightmares come alive. She couldn’t ever be the same again, her dreams shattered. His every word was another memory irreparably stained with the blood that they had spilt because of him, and after all she’d gone through, the only thing that had kept her going was this unshakable belief that they’d return home and all would be well.

Juliette couldn’t stand it. “Stop.” Still looking at the ground, she snarled out each other through gritted teeth. “Answer. The. Fucking. Question. Kaleb… Why?”

“Why… what?”

She snapped.

“Why did you betray us like this? Why did you leave us in the Surgeon’s hand? Why did you let them cut us up like lab mice? They vivisected me! They brainwashed Joseph! They told me you were dying like us and I was so afraid! I thought I was going to never see you or Joseph or anyone again! I was so scared. I can still feel her hands in me, coiling around my organs. I can still feel the straps that pinned me in place. The metal that cut into my skin. The taste of the gag. Why did you let this happen to us? To me?” With each question, Juliette shook more and more violently, still stubbornly refusing to look at her brother until he tried to interject. At the sound of him beginning to speak, she whipped her head around to glare at him through the tears that ran down her face, smudging the blood and vomit that clung to her skin to leave a trail of pale white amongst the filth. “Who are you?! Where is my brother? Give me back my Kaleb! Give him back to me! I want him back! My brother. Please. Please… Please…”

Hunching over again, she clawed at her arms with her hands as she screamed again for the world that was lost to her. The last shred of hope that she’d clung to so bitterly. When Kaleb finally knelt beside her and placed a steady hand on her back, she didn’t even have the strength to swat him away. All the fire that had fuelled her was long burnt out.

Moving his hands to grasp at her shoulders firmly, Kaleb helped Juliette up easily. She followed his lead like a doll, face blank as she stared off into the distance beyond Joseph.

Letting out a long suffering sigh, Kaleb gently lead Juliette so they were only a step away from Joseph. Leaning her against the wall, Kaleb place a hand on Joseph’s shoulder, gazing upon him with a weak, tired smile. “Joseph...” He began. “Do you remember when you broke your arm as a kid? The bone poked out and everything, and you wouldn’t let me set it back in place because it hurt. But then in the night, Auntie and I set the bone back in place while you slept. After that, you were right as rain.”

Kaleb ran his thumb over Joseph’s collarbone as if he was recalling that incident. “You didn’t want to go through the pain, but in the end, it wasn’t all bad, was it? You got through it and I doubt you even remember being in pain while you slept… Anyway, what I’m trying to get at is… Is that, what you and Juliette went through was awful. It was painful, but it wasn’t all for nothing. It was for the greater good. Think about all the lives you two are saving. And don’t worry, I have a mind specialist lined up for the two of you to see once everything is done. She’ll make sure you don’t remember a thing, it’ll be like your broken arm, Joseph, you’ll wake up as right as rain.”

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PostSubject: Re: They're coming for me.   Wed Oct 26, 2016 11:40 am

Even Juliette's pained crooning couldn't tear Joseph's gaze away from Kaleb. There was nothing he could do for her now, anyways. Consoling her wouldn't help, and Joseph himself wasn't even quite sure that he was still in the real world. This was dream-like quantities of absurdity. The rest of his body felt separate from his brain - or like there was nothing below his head, like he'd crumbled away into dust. He visibly tensed as Kaleb finally began to speak. Hearing his voice now was akin to being sliced into with a scalpel all over again, but this time, the surgeon had Kaleb's face. It was worse.

Important to him? Important to him? Joseph didn't even register the rest of Kaleb's sentence after that. He didn't need to hear why. It didn't matter what his excuse was.. This was his sister. His cousin. His flesh and blood. The people he'd grown up with, and consoled while they were upset, and cared for when they were sick. Kaleb could have had a thousand fucking reasons for why he'd done this, but nothing would be good enough for Joseph. Family took priority over everything else, in his eyes, and locking your family up in a human experimentation facility was not exactly a very good way of showing them that they were important to you.

Before either man could open his mouth again, Juliette suddenly interjected, her voice shrill and laden with rising panic. It was safe to say that neither of them had ever heard her sound so distressed. Strong, confident, intelligent Juliette had been reduced to this.. This utterly sorry state. A shell of what she'd been two months ago. Still, though, while she scrabbled desperately at her own filthy skin, filling the air with piercing screams, Kaleb's face remained almost entirely neutral. As he took his sister's shuddering form between his hands and pulled her upwards, he looked virtually unaffected by the stench of blood and vomit emanating off of her, or by the dead expression splayed across her facial features.

It was sick.

It was inhuman.

Joseph's eyes followed Kaleb's hand as he approached him and settled it in his shoulder, like he'd done many times previously, while having discussions. He continued to avoid cousin's line of sight throughout his entire explanation. Yes, Joseph remembered the incident as clear as day. It'd been the very first time he'd ever broken a bone. Kaleb had been so gentle, so comforting. The perfect older cousin. It was funny how things had worked out, wasn't it?

"Right as rain," he echoed in a hollow tone. Joseph nodded in mock understanding. His voice was quiet, to start. "Is that it? A good night's sleep, and everything will be fine. I'll forgive you for making me uncomfortable, just like the time I broke my arm. Is that how you see it? Sorry, but I'm having a little bit of difficulty understanding how you can compare a broken arm to what you put us through. " Joseph's eyes finally met Kaleb's again. His voice rose as the words kept flying out of his mouth  "I should kill you. I really should, but I can't, for her sake and for my own. Even if I had the willpower to - even if I was heartless enough - I still couldn't do it. You broke me. You broke us. You fucking broke us, Kaleb! I can't hurt a fly without having a panic attack! Having my organs cut out, and being drowned in boiling hot water, and feeling my eyes get sawed out of my sockets, and starving, and being fucked in the head until I can't think freely anymore isn't the same thing as breaking my fucking arm!" He was shouting now, little flecks of spittle flying out of his mouth, and a rotten fury burning in the pit of his stomach. "I didn't just fall off of the playground this time. This wasn't some sort of accident. You put me here. You put Jules here - Your own sister! Joseph's face was only an inch away from Kaleb's at this point. His vision was blurring with rage. "You sick fuck. You sick. Fuck. How could you possibly try to justify doing this to people you sad you loved? Tell me that, Kaleb!"
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PostSubject: Re: They're coming for me.   Wed Oct 26, 2016 3:25 pm

Seeing that Joseph was obviously too agitated to be rational, Kaleb withdrew his hand upon his shoulder, running it through his hair in a familiar gesture. It was much like Juliette when she got frustrated and didn’t know how to fix it. The sort of thing Juliette would have teased him for if she wasn’t slumped against the wall, blood trickling down her right arm onto the floor in wet, spluttering drips. She didn’t hear a thing that either of them said, lost in her head at this point so deeply that someone could stab her and she wouldn’t have flinched.

With Joseph enraged, Kaleb took comfort in his sister’s silence as his cousin ranted and raved. He kept a hand on the small of her back, stabilising her and just enjoying being able to hold her after so long. They had all been apart for too long. Perhaps he didn’t go about this the right way, but the things he’d achieved by doing this. That had wiped away all doubt in his heart long ago. People died everyday due to diseases like animals, soldiers fell on the battlefield, children died of genetic problems. It was morally wrong to withhold such innovation from the world, especially when it came at such a low cost. But he wasn’t an idiot, he knew that this explanation would hardly satisfy the burning rage and hatred that was burning in Joseph. Both of them were always a touch too emotional, and were now borderline hysterical. He could flap his gums till the cows came home and nothing would ever change so instead, Kaleb reached into his pocket and withdrew a little case. Within it were two experimental shots of the serum that they had patterned out of Joseph and Juliette’s DNA.

Letting go of Juliette for a second, he opened the metal case to prick Joseph and then Juliette in the neck quickly in two jabs. Juliette didn't react in anyway, still looking off into the distance with her thousand yard stare as if nothing had happened at all. “That, is why had to do what I did, Joseph. It’s the prototype of our healing serum. Neither of you should be able to feel pain now forever. You’ll heal faster than before too. The aim was to give your abilities to everyone. No one would ever die of minor things like illness, accidents or wounds. No one would have to feel pain. Surely you see the benefits such a serum can offer? Or are you selfish enough to want to hoard your abilities to yourself? That’s not the cousin I know.”

Walking over back to his desk, Kaleb took out a swipe card lanyard from a draw, hanging it around his neck before coming back over to pick up Juliette, who was still looking off into the distance. Looping an arm around her waist, he gently lead her back up onto her feet, before speaking again much softly. “And… I know that this is all hard to process. But know this, Joseph. I really hadn’t intended for you two to remember what happened here. The two of you were meant to get your minds wiped before being sent back to Beata. This would have all been like a bad dream. That can still happen, of course. We don’t need you now, we have all the samples we need. I swear we weren’t going to keep you two longer than necessary. I would never want to force you two to suffer needlessly. In fact, I was working on a solution so neither of you would ever have to go through this again.”

Dragging stumbling Juliette alongside him, Kaleb went over to the door. “Come. I’ll prove it to you.”

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PostSubject: Re: They're coming for me.   Thu Oct 27, 2016 5:59 pm

Joseph recoiled when Kaleb plunged a syringe into his neck, one of his hands instantly shooting up to the strike zone and pressing against it. He could see the same had been done to Juliette, but she remained perfectly in place in a state of catatonia, as if nothing had just happened at all. It was amazing how fast the tables had turned with Joseph and Juliette. A half hour ago, Joseph had been unable to speak, or comprehend what was said to him, or go anywhere without assistance. Now, Juliette, who had been the one dragging him around and doing all of the hard work, had taken on Joseph's previous role entirely.

The Winter cursed and leered at Kaleb. Even if the syringe had been carrying had contained a sedative - like Joseph had initially thought - it wasn't like the outcome of this encounter would have been any different. He had a massive score of armed guards at his disposal, and the only one who had any chance of fighting them off had slipped into a shock-induced trance.. And even though Joseph was temporarily distracted from his mental conditioning, he suspected that he would dive head-first back into it as soon the firts gunshot rang out.

But of course, like everything Joseph had experienced in the past two months, it was much worse than he could have even imagined.

An enhancement serum.

He could feel himself beginning to shake again. His chestnut-coloured eyes stretched wide with horror, staring at the white walls on the other side of the room. Joseph would never have to feel pain again, and he'd heal even faster than before. No, no, no, no.. This was anything but good. It sounded selfish after all he'd been through, but he wanted his gift gone, not better. His stupid fucking healing gift, which would make him outlive all of the people he loved, and let him survive horrific injuries and drug overdoses that he did not deserve to live through, and served as an everlasting wellspring of self-hatred in his life, had been heightened. He didn't want to lose the ability to feel pain. The sting of heroin creeping into his system, the cold bite of sharp steel on his skin - it was the only thing he'd had left that made him feel real. It was a form of punishment for being who he was. In one fell swoop, Kaleb had taken that all away from him.

Though his head was spinning, Joseph managed to drag his gaze back to Kaleb. He was putting his arms around Juliette again, trying to get her to walk out the doorway with him. Her expression still hadn't changed. To an untrained eye, it would look so strikingly familiar to a caring older sibling helping his little sister out, but not from Joseph's perspective. The way he saw it, this was monster who'd stolen the face of the loving cousin he'd once had trying to lead trying to lead Juliette back into a cold dark cell.

Joseph punched him.

"Don't fucking touch her like you care about her," he spat, jabbing a finger in Juliette's direction. "Look what you did to her! Fucking look! You don't deserve to hold her. She fought her way through a hundred guards to come to your rescue, and now look at her!"

Joseph punched him again.

He could feel his anxiety rapidly creeping back into his system, but he wasn't about to curl up against the wall and mope, like he'd done too many times before. "And I don't give a shit if you didn't intend for us to stay too long, or planned to have our minds erased. That doesn't change the fact that you had us locked up here. I don't care how good your intentions were. I don't care if you think you're making the world a better place. If that's at the cost of maiming your family, then it isn't fucking worth it! It just isn't!" He could feel the beginnings of hot, rage-fueled tears gathering at the corners of his eyes. Both hands were curled into quivering fists at his sides, ready to strike again at any moment. "I can't believe I ever trusted you with anything!"
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PostSubject: Re: They're coming for me.   Wed Nov 02, 2016 1:55 am

Laying on the floor, Kaleb quietly pressed his panic button that was in his pocket as he spat out a molar coated in viscous blood and saliva. The pure fury that painted Joseph’s face, that wasn’t exactly a surprise to him, however he hadn’t realised that it was intense enough to break through the rigorous psychological condition that Ritsuko had placed him under. This wasn’t a part of his calculations, but he was quickly seeing that perhaps he’d been a little short-sighted in his endeavours. Looking over at Juliette who was slumped by the doorway, he couldn’t help feel a pang of something resembling regret at how things had panned out.

Sentimentality had been his downfall in the end. His refusal to take Ritsuko’s advice and have Juliette mentally reprogrammed had been his folly. A burst of emotions had overcome him at the idea of changing her, a feeling that he’d long associated with his more irrational concerns that he couldn’t quite quash. Others would call this brotherly affection, love even, to Kaleb, they were unnecessary hindrances in that moment. He didn’t deny the power of emotions and the necessity for them as social creatures, but the beautiful of humanity was one’s ability to control ones more base instincts. Giving them up, letting them suffer for this little while was worth the successes that would follow. He just had to endure for these few months and they’d all be fine. Kat would erase their minds, and only he would have to know what had happened. Only he would carry the burden of these few months.

He just had to make them see the truth now, something he’d hoped to avoid but now it was the only way. Kat wouldn’t be here for another two days, and he couldn’t see either of them sitting still for any period of time. Kaleb understood that reasoning with, however improbable it seemed from the hot wet tears lingering in Joseph’s eyes, was the only way from this.

“Joseph…” He coughed wetly through the blood that was drooling out of his split lips.  He thought of how to begin, how to deescalate this situation that was rapidly spiralling out of control. Juliette was off in her own world still, and Joseph was quickly devolving to his most base instincts out of fear and confusion. His hysteria was dangerous, though Kaleb refused to believe that either of them could kill him. Their affection for him and their familial ties kept him safe. “I… I-“

The sound of marching boots cut off anything he was going to say. Armed guards lead by his assistant rushed the office. Within seconds, everything was secured and Kaleb was on his feet again. Juliette was held up by two guards, Kaleb waved them off from handcuffing her, she was in severe shock, restraints ran the risk of sending her into a spiral. But as for Joseph, he let them restrain him for both Joseph and his sake. He planned on showing them what the plan was, entrusting them with his vision rather than hiding it further. Perhaps he should have done this earlier, perhaps this would have spared them of all this confusion and the death of so many guards.

Wiping the blood off his face from a tissue offered by one of his assistants, Kaleb took the time to make himself look as presentable as possible in his given circumstances. Donning a lab coat and a new pair of glasses, he looked semi-respectable again, clean enough to walk through these hallways. Ritsuko’s death and the massacre of the guards was sure to reach NERV headquarters. He didn’t need another reason for them to doubt him and consider his removal.

“Follow me.” He commanded the guards in a clipped manner, his polished leather shoes squeaking as he briskly walked towards the Dummy Unit Labs. There were three clearance points that required first his handprint, then his eye scan and finally his voice command. Only the two most senior guardsmen were allowed beyond Checkpoint C, leaving them a party of five. Kaleb, Juliette, Joseph and the two guards.

The final step was simple, a swipe from his personal key card.

And then they were in.

The Dummy Unit Labs were a thing of nightmares for the uninitiated.

Hundreds of test tubes lines one side of the room in cabinets that were cryogenically sealed. Little beans could be seen inside the unfreezing green fluids, frozen in time in their little assorted tubes until someone awoke them. Some were already out on the metal benches, next to lab equipment of various sorts that Kaleb was intimately familiar with. Those beans twitched every now and then, ridding the current occupants of the room of any notion they were inorganic. And they weren’t the only things in this room that were living.

In large cylindrical tubes ahead, there were children.

Children of various ages, full formed and undeniably human. Most of them had their eyes closed, curled up in the foetal position, concealing the point where their umbilical cords were attached and their genitals, but it wasn’t hard to guess which were female and which were male. They all bore the same face for each gender.

The boys had pale hair that looked almost silvery, floating in the tubes they looked serene. There was a point of mischief that could be felt in the way their mouths all tilted up ever so slightly. They looked almost fae-like with their pointed features, except for their eyes. The few that had their eyes opened looked out with intensely crimson eyes that lacked any focus. That was the one of the few traits they shared with their female counterparts.

The girls had similarly coloured hair, however there was a bluish tinge that was undeniable, even through the yellowish waters. They shared their counterpart’s fae-like features, however unlike the boys, the girls looked far more aware of what was happening in the room. With every moment the guards or Joseph made, their red eyes followed. It was undeniable that they were awake, conscious of the world around them in the most unsettling way.

The only thing more freakish than the children that filled the room in neat rows was the steel bin that was to the side. Limbs hung over its lip, showing tiny hands that were coated in blood and little heads of silver or blue hair. ‘Failures’ the bin noted with its engraved writing.

But Kaleb wasn’t here to show them just this room. Brushing past the test tubes, the children and the reject bin, Kaleb entered another room just beyond them alone. His lab coat nearly snagging on the door due to his haste.

Juliette, however, didn’t seem to notice any of this. She chose to look down at the steel floor instead, noting all the little stains of various colours that painted the metallic floor. ‘Rust or blood,’ she asked herself in a little game, choosing to selectively ignore the world around her and hyper-focus onto less frightening things. It was the only thing staving off the panic building within her chest, the beating bird that was screaming for her to flee, however impossible it was. For now, she was fine, coping and maintaining enough of her conscious that she wouldn’t fall apart. She couldn’t risk falling apart, there was no one she could trust now. Her own brother had betrayed her, how could she even close her eyes again and feel safe?

She didn’t hear the click of the door when Kaleb returned to her. She didn’t notice when he walked over to her, standing a step away from her before crouch down to her level. She only realised something was happening when he placed it in her arms.

A child.

A girl with the most brilliant red eyes.

Her bluish silvery hair framed her face cutely, reminding her of how she used to keep her hair as a child. All she needed were ribbons giving her little pigtails. They even shared the same chin and jet black long lashes.

“A child.” Juliette said a little dumbly. Finally awake in reality again, she looked up at her brother, lost, looking for direction. Why did he place a child in her arms? What was the meaning of this? What did this have to do with his crimes? How was this meant to make her forgive him?

“The child is a part of the Human Instrumentality Project. We call them the K-1 units. The boys are the K-2 units. We made them using yours and Joseph’s DNA samples, Jules. We don’t need you two anymore, don’t you see? I wasn’t going to kept you two forever. We just needed you two to make these disposable clones. You can go home, Juliette. We can go home, Joseph.” He grasped Juliette's free hand, looking into her eyes with love and tenderness.

Juliette didn't know what to say.

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PostSubject: Re: They're coming for me.   Tue Nov 08, 2016 6:43 am

As soon as Kaleb's mouth opened again, Joseph poised himself for another strike. It was sickening to hear his own name come out of Kaleb's mouth, as if he really gave a fuck. It sounded and looked like concern, by the look on his bloodied face and the tone of his voice, but it wasn't concern. It was just a way to get himself out of his current predicament by appealing to the admiration and respect Joseph had once had for him. Kaleb had destroyed that, though.

Before the Winter's fist could be brought back down onto his cousin's face a third time, however, the thundering of combat boots filled Joseph's ears. Before he knew it he was being grabbed and restrained by a swarm of Kaleb's armed inferiors, and Kaleb was picking himself up off of the floor and dusting his lab coat off. All Joseph could do for a moment was stare at him, hot, shaking breaths hissing out from between his clenched teeth.

So this was it, then. Two months of torture had amounted to this. Juliette had killed and maimed all of those guards for no reason. Joseph had murdered the surgeon for no reason. This whole escape had been pointless - only a painful roundabout right back into the iron cells they'd been trapped in, and another two months of complete hell. Nothing had been gained out of this. Juliette had lost her mind. She was reeling deeper and deeper into shock with every word Kaleb spoke. She would never be the same strong, peppy adrenaline junkie that she'd always been known as. Joseph now had to live with the memory of goring somebody to death. He had blood on his hands, and it didn't matter whose it was. In the end, he'd still killed somebody, and he would never stop reliving the scene of plunging a knife into a person's skull. He now also had the knowledge that somebody he'd loved - whom he'd trusted so strongly for eighteen years - was really nothing but a two-faced psychopath that was fully willing to put science before the mental and physical welfare of his family.

Joseph couldn't find any more words to say as Kaleb tidied himself up and proceeded to exit the room, leaving his younger cousin staring blankly at the spot in which he'd been standing a second ago. A moment later, the guards filed out behind their leader. Juliette didn't even have cuffs around her wrists, because she didn't need them. Her emotions had already locked her in a non-combative state. She just shuffled along a little ways in front of Joseph, head and arms hanging like a marionette with broken strings. Joseph could still feel the anger burning inside of him, but whatever fight he'd had left in him after killing the surgeon had been completely wasted on his attack back in the office.

For so long, Joseph had seen Kaleb and Juliette as siblings - his wise older brother, and his spunky younger sister. With no actual siblings to accompany him while growing up, he'd grown as close to the Jung kids as one could get. That little bond was totally broken now. Even between Juliette and Joseph, it would be difficult to talk to each other they way they had always talked. They were such damaged people now - so different from the way they'd acted several months ago. There was no way they'd just be able to lie on the grass and make stupid jokes anymore.. And that was to say nothing of his relationship with Kaleb.

Of course, Kaleb intended to have their minds wiped to help them forget about all of this, but as masochistic as it sounded, Joseph wasn't sure if he really wanted to forget. The thought of leading a normal life again, not knowing that one of the people he held dearest had forced him to undergo these horrific practices, disgusted him as much as the experiments themselves did.

He couldn't think straight about anything anymore.

After a short while of stumbling alongside the guards, absentmindedly watching Juliette's hair swing rhythmically from side-to-side, Joseph's pace slowed along with the rest of the troupe's. After a few seconds of what sounded like Kaleb swiping keycards, the guards and their prisoners followed him into whatever was lying beyond. It wasn't their cells - those were a ffew floors down - so where the hell was he taking them? As the darkness swallowed Joseph up, he began to struggle against his bonds, the panic and fury rising inside of him once again.

This was it - he was going to erase their memories. That wasn't how things worked in Joseph's world - a cheap, get out of jail free card that wiped the memories of his victims every time he had a need to use them for science experiments. He hated the thought of it. Without a recollection of all the shit that'd occurred recently, there would be no way for him to protect Jules and himself from it in the future.

The prefect continued to thrash about wildly until a pale blue light entered his field of vision.

He felt his body lock up, as if he'd been sedated. The blood drained from his face.

Some of them were frozen, and it wasn't quite clear if they were alive or not. Some of them were placed on smooth, metal benches, their occasional quivers being the only indicators of life. Some of them lay totally motionless and out of sight, stored away in metal bins.

It was the one who were watching - who were thinking, living, functioning beings - that truly drove a paralyzing shock through Joseph's body.

Tens of pairs of blood-red eyes fixated on him as soon as he entered the room. Rows upon rows of figures were lines up perfectly, encased in bubbling fluid and thick, transparent glass tubes. They had arms, and legs, and little round faces, like any child, but there was a sort of inhuman quality about them. Their skin was deathly pale, and looked almost fragile to-the-touch. Some of them had snow-white hair floating about their faces. Some had blue hair. Some were girls, and some were boys. Some were only tiny infants, some were toddlers. Every child, though, regardless of their gender or age, bore the same, eerie crimson eyes. All of them were watching Joseph and Juliette move through the room with identical, emotionless expressions.

Joseph wanted to think they weren't real - that he was just hallucinating, or this was some sort of complex set-up on Kaleb's part, but however void of feelings they seemed, it was clear that these children - these things, whatever they were - were conscious. They were not dolls, or elaborate figments of anybody's imagination.

Of everything he'd seen, and felt, and heard over the course of his captivity, nothing had quite struck Joseph like this. There wasn't single, coherent thought going through his head. The confusion, frustration, anger, panic, hurt, and fear had become so intense that he'd just blanked out again. Every time he had thought he'd seen it all, something newer and more terrifying than the last came up.

Kaleb, of course, seemed to breeze by this with little consideration. It was probably something he saw every day. Before Joseph could process anything, he was being ushered into another room, leaving the freakish test-tube monsters behind.

Now, he was faced with Kaleb again. There was something in his arms as Joseph was shuffled towards him, but he couldn't make out what it was. Then he placed it in Juliette's arms, and everything became clear as he started to speak.

These were clones - crafted out of the DNA of both Jospeh and Juliette. They hadn't been born into this world, like every other person - they'd been grown here, in this lab, like plants. Super humans, crafted out of the genes of two invincible people. Fodder for Kaleb's research. An army of freaks.. Unreal, alien, disgusting, everlasting freaks, at Kaleb's disposal. This was the ultimate reason he'd had his cousin and sister captured and maimed repeatedly.

Joseph smiled and sniffed.

There wasn't an ounce of mirth on his face, though.

Before anybody could breathe again, Joseph whipped around and snatched up the gun resting in the holder of the guard nearest to him. He'd thought Joseph too stunned to react at all, but he'd been dead wrong. His shock had turned into violent hysteria upon learning the truth. Joseph couldn't take this anymore. Kaleb had gone far enough.

A second later, the deafening ring of a gunshot filled everyone's ears, and blood and brain matter went soaring in every direction. For the second time that day, Joseph'd vision had gone totally red. The rest of the guards drew their guns immediately, trying and failing to aim for his head. A couple of bullets buried themselves in his chest, stomach, arms and legs, but the more pain that struck him, the more hysterical he became. He fired a series of bullets, not really caring where they went. He wasn't sure how many guards he killed, but certainly not all of them. One of them ducked under his firing range and leaped towards him, managing to bowl him over and pin him against one of the walls. Joseph lost hold of his gun. It skidded across the floor, in Juliette's direction.

One of the guard's hands closed around Joseph's throat, attempting to hold him still so he could put a bullet in his head, but Joseph's own hands were clamped down on on the guard's gun, just barely managing to force the tip out from his face. His arms began to shake. Being so malnourished was making this difficult enough, but to top it all off, his hands were still bound. The steel cuffs were biting into the skin of his wrists. He wouldn't be able to keep this up for long. Slowly, the gun began to turn back towards him.

He needed help.
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PostSubject: Re: They're coming for me.   Tue Jan 17, 2017 7:54 am

It was odd, as if she was a bystander in her own body. She didn’t even notice Joseph snatching a gun off the guard or firing it until glass shrapnel cut into her face, little ticklish trickles of blood dripping for seconds before the wounds congealed to heal. Just like Kaleb said, she couldn’t feel any pain, just mild pressure where the glass dug in. The sensation of blood dripping and the sticky warmth of the tube’s fluids seeping into her hastily worn guard uniform were the only things she could really make out, she kept waiting for the sting, but it never came.

Dully, she watched as Kaleb dove for cover behind the metal base of a tube, leave her to the mercy of the ricocheting bullets. He abandoned her to the wolves again, this really shouldn’t have surprised her, but weirdly it ached. After all that he’d done to her, she really shouldn’t have expected better.

Neither the shouts of Joseph, the sound of flesh being torn by bullets or the wet gurgle of the children could rouse her from her state beyond a mild look of disinterest. As if she was passing by train wreck, it didn’t affect her in anyway, so she looked on distantly, just noting the severity of what was going on. The pungent odour of blood and viscera was nothing after all those experiment sessions, and she was covered in enough fluids that she smelt like a mass grave. Even when the now-deceased guard’s gun slid across the metal flooring, slipping in the fluids with a clatter to nudge against her thigh, she didn’t care. Or, to put it better, she couldn’t bring herself to feel anything, there was a yawning beast inside her that she knew would awaken if she felt anything. Stupidly, she didn’t want to show that part of her to Kaleb, she didn’t want to show him the monster she was even though he was the real Babadook here. The monster that lurked in the darkness, the worst parts of human curiosity forged into one amoral being. But he was her brother once, the man she looked up to. The one who’d given her psychology books and always remembered what was her favourite brand of bourbon, sneaking it for her behind Uncle Andrew’s back.

She was scared to following him down this road, there was no coming back for them here.

“J- Ju- Ju… liette? Mo- mother?”
Curious red eyes gazed up at her, there was an innocence borne of ignorance that all children seemed to possess. Looking down, Juliette noted the little dimples on her face that resembled Joseph and the almond shape of the child’s eyes that resembled hers. She even had the little birthmark on her wrist that Juliette had as a child, and her lanky form reminded her of Joseph when he was her age. Despite the foreign colouring, she couldn’t refute this or sweep the child under the rug. This thing was in her arms, looking up at her with such curiosity, unperturbed by the violence or the massacre of her siblings. It was only interested in her, hand reaching out to touch her ‘mother’s’ cheek lightly, tracing the blood trail that encrusted her stained flesh.

It was unnatural.

This was all wrong.

She blacked out for a second, but before she knew it, Kaleb and the guard were both attempting to pry her hands off the child’s neck as she gnashed her teeth, struggling like a wounded gazelle. Her throat was hoarse as Juliette screamed something, she couldn’t process it, but it sounded like garbled curses and pleads for this all to end. Despite their best attempts, Juliette wrung her hands, gripping tighter and tighter until she felt a pop as bones shifted out of alignment. Only then did she drop the limp body, belated realising that the child hadn’t even resisted, only looking up blankly at her as her ‘mother’ killed her. Even now in death, her ruby eyes peered into her skull, face affixed in a neutral expression of vague curiosity. If it wasn’t for the rapidly blooming marks on her neck and the purplish tinge of her cheeks, Juliette could almost pretend that the girl was still alive.

But she wasn’t, she was dead.

Before the rising hysteria could take over, the scent of warm, spiced cologne overwhelmed her as someone hugged her tight to their chest. She knew this scent, but it didn’t comfort her, instead evoking a numbing ache.
“Jules, calm down. It’s fine, we’re going to get your minds wiped now. I’m sorry, I should have known better than to show you them so soon, you need to heal first. Don’t worry, everything will be fine now. Everything will go back to norm-“

“I can’t.” She mumbled into the fabric of his labcoat.


“It’s okay, I can fix this.”

“I can’t.”

“Jules.” Kaleb stepped back, weary eyes looking directly into hers as he pushed her back so they were both knelt on the ground, just arm-lengths away from each other, their knees were touching.
“It’s fi-“

“You’re not listening. I can’t…” The path ahead was ablaze in fire that lead to the darkest pits in hell, there was no more hope. With this in mind, Juliette smiled softly at her brother, looking at him with pity for the bridges that they were now burning. “I can’t forgive you.”

Trying to prevent her from murdering the child, the guard had foolishly been more focused on stopping her, kicking aside the gun rather than putting it completely out of reach. Grabbing Kaleb by the collar, Juliette tossed him aside to hit the wall in an astounding burst of strength before she lunged for a gun, taking bullets to her back before firing the semi-automatic at the guards. Like before, it was pure brutality, no mercy, all bullets aiming to kill or eviscerate, bones shattered and blood spurted. No high-budget film could mimic the sheer carnage that bullets could do in an enclosed space, and before any could sound an alarm, the damage was done. Only Joseph stood untouched, there was enough awareness in her to avoid hitting him at least. Though a dark voice whispered for her to kill him too, just end it all for them. If she said that she ignored it outright, that would have been a lie, it was tempting to make the world fade to black, but it was pointless. Neither of them could die from ordinary bullets, and even she was resigned to her fate, Joseph, he was better than her.

If someone could survive this, it would be him.

Whipping around, Juliette chose actively to take out the seething darkness upon the tubes instead, walking down the hallway, firing at the door key until it unveiled another lab full of children floating. Distantly, she heard Kaleb shouting at her to stop from the other room. “Why are you doing this? Juliette, don’t! Please! Be mad at me, but don’t do this!”

But bullets still fired from her gun, and when she ran out, she ransacked the cupboards for a familiar chemical, ethanol used for disinfecting. Unscrewing the caps from the stored bottles, she flung its contents around the room, stepping over bodies and crushing skull pieces as she went along with it.

Clearly concerned by the silence, Kaleb shouted one last time. “What are you doing?!”

“I’m going to burn them all.”

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PostSubject: Re: They're coming for me.   Sun Jan 22, 2017 12:15 am

Before he knew it, brain matter and blood exploded in Joseph's face, blinding him. He felt the weight of the guard's body fall onto his lap, warm, viscous liquid spurting onto his clothing and pooling on the floor surrounding him. He couldn't hear anything as he clawed at his eyes to clear them up, though, the gunshots having temporarily deafened him. Vaguely, he could hear distorted screams coming from all around him. People were dropping like flies.

Kaleb's people.

A second later, another body toppled over and collapsed onto Joseph, and suddenly, it felt as though two tonnes of steel had been dropped onto him. Whatever burst of rage and strength he'd had for a second had suddenly faded away with the addition of the extra deadweight. For a moment, through his anger and violence, he'd forgotten how weak he actually was. Eyes pinched shut, still not clear of blood, Joseph struggled to shove one of the bodies off of him with one arm. Once it was dislodged, he had use of both arms, and pushed the first man away more easily. By now, the muffled sounds he'd been hearing were becoming sharper, and blurry images began to come into focus.

Juliette had left the room, and in her wake, another pile of bodies torn up by bullets. The ground, which had been crafted out of pristine, white tiles, had been painted red with flesh and blood. It wasn't just the guards who were dead, though. The tiny, snow-white girl that had been placed in her arms not even a minute ago lay in the center of it all, perfectly still and silent. Her crimson eyes were glassy and devoid of any signs of life, and her tiny chest no longer rose and fell.

Joseph couldn't have described the way he felt, seeing that little girl sprawled out lifelessly before him, even if he'd been in a stable mental state. Some form of distress that one couldn't adequately into words. On one hand, it was a clone. It didn't have a name, and it wasn't a her, or a him, it was a clone - A disgusting, immoral, soulless creature, formed in a glass tube. Juliette had destroyed the result of the darkest face of science. On the other hand, though, it was a child. It had breathed, and thought, and felt pain, and Kaleb had driven Juliette to squeeze the life right out of it.

The next thirty seconds were a blur. One second, Joseph was reaching for a gun, and the next, it was against Kaleb's forehead.

"I should do it." His hand shook as much as his voice did. Fresh, hysterical tears burned in the corners of his eyes, and he spoke through gnashed teeth. "If you call anyone else into here, maybe I fucking will. I really should." He'd never pictured himself ever pointing a gun at anyone, much less one of the few people in the world that he had allowed himself to form an emotional bond with. Kaleb. Kaleb had been his role-model, his tutor, his makeshift elder brother, and his friend. Now, he was a psychopath who was trying to justify ruining the lives of his little cousin and sister in the name of science. Joseph felt as if he were outside of his own body, observing a simulated, worst-case scenario through a computer screen. This didn't seem real, but deep down, he knew it was. "Nothing makes what you did okay. Nothing is okay. You killed these people, not Juliette. You did this to yourself. You did this to us. You fucking liar. You fucking machine."

His finger was on the trigger, but he didn't press down on it. Joseph wasn't sure if he was even capable of it. The man beneath the face was a vile, cruel monster, but on the other hand, the face was still Kaleb's. There was still years' worth of sentiment attached to those features, even if they were an elaborate facade for who he really was. His hand just continued to shake violently in indecisive limbo, knuckles turning white with how tight his grip was. He didn't know what to do. Joseph didn't hear Juliette's response to Kaleb's pleas. It was like someone had frozen time.
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PostSubject: Re: They're coming for me.   Sat Jan 28, 2017 2:14 am

Arm curled around himself, Kaleb held together his obviously broken ribcage, enduring the pain for the sake of stopping his sister from destroying his life’s work. His relationship with Juliette and Joseph could be salvaged later when Katsuragi erased their memories, but the clones wouldn’t make it. Subject Adam and Lilith were being incubated at their Canada facility, but until they matured, there was no way of knowing if they’d received their parent’s gifts. He needed these clones as backup, or he’d need to get samples from J1- Joseph and Juliette.

Why couldn’t they understand?

Contrary to what they seemed to believe, he didn’t want to hurt them beyond what was necessary but the more they struggled against his plans, the deeper they crawled down the path of destruction. They’d already gone through hell, all they needed was to wait that tiny bit, but Juliette’s impatience and Joseph’s short-sighted vision was to be the death of them. It was hard for some to see the bigger picture, but to think they’d reacted so poorly to the test clones. They were hollow biological shells, no spark of life existed in them as they didn’t need to be functional beyond providing samples. It was the humane option, however cruel it might seem to lobotomise the clones at birth, it ensured that they had the best quality of life.

It hurt him to see them both so disgusted and furious, to see Joseph gunning them down and Juliette choking one of them to death. It was disheartening, such malice they carried towards his life’s work. Despite how foolish it would be, the emotional part of him wanted to help them see what he was working towards, for them to understand why he was doing this and work with him. An impossible dream, Ritsuko had said, and he’d blown her off.

She was right.

“Stop Ju-,” He began to yell, a free hand supporting him as he slowly crawled towards the laboratory, legs heavy from the warm fluid that soaked them and pain slowing him with every jolt. There was no fixing their relationship now, only a hard reset would work. A hand slipped into his coat pocket, but before he could reach of the button to summon the guards, a gun was pressed against his head.

Joseph. It was Joseph.

He sounded hysterical and in shock. Mentally unstable, potentially dangerous, the more rational part of him assessed, yet the emotional part of him trusted deep down that Joseph wouldn’t fire it. That Joseph wouldn’t kill him; the same way he would never kill Juliette or Joseph. But until today, he didn’t think either of them were capable of killing children, regardless of their heritage. They walked on uncertain ground, like crawling over thin ice, he couldn’t tell when everything was going to shatter, leaving them falling into the yawning darkness. “Joseph, you need to stay calm. You know that killing me won’t solve anything. Lower the gun. We have bigger problems, like stopping Juliette from burning ever- JULIETTE!”

A lit match was dropped.

The first to catch alit was the gas in the air from the taps that she had opened, the next were the bodies, soaked in ethanol. Fire went from the air into the source, snaking its way through gas pipes till the pressure set them to explode violently.

Everything was on fire, herself included.

Fire licked at her clothes, swallowing up the black in a burst of red. Plastic melted, as did her skin, together fabric and flesh melded into a hard crust, one that tugged at ripped at muscle and sinew as she walked out of the room aflame. She should have been screaming, ripping off her clothes as the heat rose dramatically, walls bent, glass shattered from the rising temperatures but she didn’t feel a thing. Nothing hurt her anymore, it was like she’d become a ghost.

Kaleb, on the other hand, was dead unconscious, the shockwave had knocked him out in an instant, leaving him slumped on the ground next to Joseph. For a second, Juliette contemplated throwing him into the fire, letting him endure a fraction of what she and Joseph had felt, but those were just malicious thoughts born of anger. There was no way that she’d actually be able to do it. Perhaps that made her weak, fallible, foolish, but she couldn’t kill him in the end.

Neither of them could. It was their curse, and their salvation.

The only part of humanity that remained in her monstrous flesh.

Looking over at Kaleb, he looked so peaceful, it was wrong. He didn't look like the devil when he was sleeping, the bruise blooming on his cheek only made him look vulnerable, an odd thing to think about her jailer. It was exhausting to be here, to have to second guess herself and the world around her, when would it stop?

"Joseph." She began, throat raspy from the smoke building up in the room. "Let's go home. I'm tired."

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PostSubject: Re: They're coming for me.   Sat Jan 28, 2017 10:43 pm

And suddenly, there was a deafening explosion before Kaleb had even finished speaking. Joseph was knocked immediately backwards, the gun in his hand flying off and through the open doorway behind him. For probably the third time that day, he couldn't hear anything. For a moment, he could only lie there in complete disorientation, watching the ceiling spin like a hurricane. Rivulets of heat ran over the expanse of his exposed skin, as if he were sitting too close to a bonfire.

When he pulled himself upwards, he could see that he was siting too close to a bonfire.

First, it was only a muddled sea of red and orange, but as Joseph's focus returned, he could make out flames. They licked at the walls and distorted the metal, leaving dark scorch marks and super-heated ripples on the surface. It didn't smell like a normal fire, though. It was fueled by chemicals, which added a sharp, medicinal scent, and a light green hue to the leaping flames.. But there was something else to the smell - something the prefect wished he couldn't identify.

Burning flesh.

Juliette was standing amidst the fiery tongues like a flaming pillar, her legs and gown smoldering. She showed no signs of discomfort or struggle, of course. She couldn't feel pain any longer. Instead, she watched Kaleb's unmoving figure with a virtually unreadable expression, still as a statue. There was hurt there, but it was hard to pinpoint what kind of hurt it was. Pain? Rage? Heartbreak? All three at once would be the educated guess. Joseph knew it all too well himself. She mirrored his emotions, and that only made his gut twist all the more painfully.

They both still loved Kaleb - or, rather, what Kaleb had been to them, once - somewhere inside of their battered hearts. That would never change, and that was what hurt the most. They had memories of a kind, gentle, understanding man forever plastered to their brains, and that man was gone. It was like he'd died, even though he was lying right in front of them, unconscious. Had there not been more humane ways to sate his curiosities about healing gifts? Why had he treated them like prisoners? Why had he not ever asked for consent for such extreme experiments? Why had he never ordered for sedation during surgeries? Why had he staged a kidnapping, if this was such a "civil" act? Why had he destroyed what little family he had left for science? For knowledge?

Why?

Joseph had the option to wait until Kaleb woke up and force him to respond to all of his unanswered questions - he had that power now - but he wasn't even sure if he really wanted the answers. He doubted that anything Kaleb said would make up for the catastrophe he'd caused. He'd mortally wounded Juliette and Joseph on a mental scale - something that their regenerative capabilities couldn't ever hope to heal.

It was when Juliette spoke that another realization dawned on Joseph. There was nothing stopping them from leaving now. Kaleb, the head of the entire operation, was out of commission, and as far as anyone not in his immediate vicinity knew, he was dead. Either shot or burned. Everything was on fire. The creatures in the tubed were all gone. The surgeon had been stabbed to death. Broken bodies littered the stairwells and floors. The entire building had erupted into an uncontrollable madness, and probably the last thing on the staff's minds that moment was plopping Joseph and Juliette back into their cells and continuing on as scheduled.

Some twisted part of Joseph's mind still persisted in telling him that he shouldn't leave. He wretched, but nothing came out, because there was nothing left to vomit up. The curse - for lack of better terms - that the surgeon had placed on him was still there, eating away at his willpower to get up and go, but instead of collapsing next to Kaleb, he placed both hands on the floor and began pushing himself. The mental affliction, together with the fact that his body was practically running on nothing, made it a wonder how he was even moving at all. He attributed it it mostly to Juliette, though. If she could walk through the fire and out, then he would, too - and not just the physical fire roaring in front of him, but also the emotional damage that was making them want to give up and slump over. It was not only for Jules, but also for his mother, and his father, and his aunties and uncles, and his friends back home, and Kyou, the only person at Beata that he could properly call a friend. As much as he liked to doubt that anybody cared about him at all, he knew that his absence had hurt them.

For their sake, he would go on. Not for him, but for them.

Always for them.

Somehow, Joseph was on his feet again. Somehow, he managed to amble forward until he was standing at the edge of the fire. It was warm, yes, but the heat was more of a distant tingle than a pain. He stepped forward, and his limbs and medical gown caught fire. The fabric curled and crumbled, and his skin blackened and crackled like a slab of meat on a grill. This was it. The operations were done. The darkness was done. The screaming was done. The isolation was done. There was no semblance of catharsis in Joseph's mind, but it was over. For a heartbeat, he looked back at Kaleb's crumpled form, and then closed the door leading into the room he was in. Both Juliette and Joseph knew they couldn't kill him, but they would never see him again. They couldn't. They didn't want to. The man on the floor was a beast who wore a mask that looked like somebody they loved.

Joseph turned back to Juliette. It was time to go. "I'm tired, too."

Together, the pair strode through the burning laboratory, not halting again to glance at the closed door, or the creatures Juliette had wiped out, or all of the destruction that had occurred that day. By the time they were out of the lab, every inch of their skin had been twisted and charred to an unrecognizable degree. They didn't stop, though. They ran and ran and ran until everything sterile and dark and sharp was behind them, and there was grass beneath their feet, and there was fresh air entering their lungs for the first time in what seemed like a millennia spent in a cage.
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