Arriving the gate within fifteen minutes, I held the brown package in my hand, pulling it out of my sling bag.
Wrapped neatly in a brown packaging. Its entire surface covers in tape for security. Might be because of how fragile or important this item might be.
The observatory sits at the very top of the hill, overseeing the entire town like the town hall. Its big telescope protruding out of the dome, gazing upon the setting sun over the horizon.
The front yard is pretty empty, donned with fallen orange leaves that shed off from the skinny arms of the tree.
My arms touch instinctually on the bars of the gate. I raise my head up, astound by the gate’s size and appearance. Like those one you find in mansions.
There were no cars visible within the lawn. With big gate like this, they’d surely use it for cars. Maybe they’re parked in an underground parking area? It’s when I realize there’s a smaller one on the right side of the gate, used mainly for people who don’t drive.
There were no guards around, and I start to feel defeated, realizing I might be too late. A frown stretches on my face. My arms, resting on my waist as I stare blankly, hoping for a miracle to happen.
“That damn tiger got me.” I murmured to myself.
I mean, sure he helped me but he didn’t mention there are no security guards around. Scrutinizing the shed from here tells me only silence lurked in the cramped room.
“Hello?” I fall in defeat, calling out in the open space.
Nothing, only silence. This only make me look embarrassing. If Jidby hadn’t invited me to eat or play, I would have had my Element now.
My stomach flutters, my legs jolted. I held onto the bars of the smaller gate, thinking the last thing I could do to get in.
Yes. Trespassing. There’s no other choice than to hop over without anyone noticing me. And, the sky is getting darker by the minute and Grey is probably waiting for me at the coliseum.
Frantically, I glanced left to right if anyone is around to see me. The streets are uncivilized, and then the streetlights flicker on, all in an orange glow.
I turn back at the gate, hesitating to climb with my legs constantly half-bobbing up and down. This is dumb, I admit. But what else could I do? Waiting would be the best option. Well, will it be worth it?
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Taking a deep breath, I grip the bar hardly as I finally found the courage to commit the crime. This is not a crime yet, Ruelo. Not unless somebody finds you.
The moment I exert force on the bars, just as I was boosting myself up, the gate suddenly creaks and opens in.
It’s been unlocked this whole time?!
Feeling dumb, I stepped down the gate, realizing I look like crap from this view. Like some generic lizard on a wall.
Just to be sure, I lean into the guardhouse for the guard assigned. There’s a plastic chair, radio, an opened newspaper, and clothes hanging on the wall. No guard in sight.
I huff a breath of relief. Even if I did the proper way to get in, I know it is some kind of trespassing without permission from the laboratory. Looks like I have to explain myself once I get to their doorstep.
I start to walk up securing the parcel in my left hand. The inclination is unexpectedly slightly steeper, and the lab awaits at the top with my head focused at it.
Trees surround the vast driveway. A gust of cool, autumn breeze penetrates the dehydrated leaves, causing them to fall like paper on the ground. Along the way, one had drifted onto my face. Sticking longer than I expect, I peeled it off, raising it to my face.
Orange, having three protrusions and each having spiky edges. Maple tree surrounds the area, as I confirm.
As I was staring at the orange leaf in scrutiny, I see something sprint on the corner of my eyes. Pausing, I batted an eye at the direction and found nobody there except the dancing of the trees.
I continue to move upwards when I hear something dashing behind me. I spun around and still, nobody was around. Things get uncharacteristically… strange. Whatever that was, it maybe just some Aulken creature that scampered off.
My movements were restricted all of the sudden. My entire body, literally paralyzed by some unexplained force.
The voice came from behind me. Deep and menacing. I feel a tug on my wrists bind behind together. A sharp object pokes the side of my neck. I struggle not to have the blade pierce through my skin. It’s absolutely cold to the touch.
“L-Listen, th-th-this is a misunderstanding!” I pleaded.
“Spare me your pleas!” he growled. “Trespassing a private property is a punishable offense!”
A lump grows in my throat.
“Do as I say and follow me and don’t even dare retaliating!” his voice, forceful a dark, urges me to march. Retaliating in this state won’t be a good option for me either. I’m both unarmed and lacking an Element.
Reaching the backdoor of the lab, he instructs me not to try escaping. I don’t know why he bothered telling me when I’m literally paralyzed by an unknown force of some sort.
Entering an auxiliary lift, we elevated up all the way to the roof of the facility where he’ll probably… most certainly, interrogate me.
“Professor, intruder spotted in the front yard!” he yanks harshly on my wrist, clasped together by an invisible cuff.
“Easy with the dragging, kid!” I barked. “I’m telling you, I’m not here to int—”
My lips, sealed in a snap. Muffled cries replaced my helpless pleas.
A koala in a lab gown approaches with an eyebrow furrowed in confusion. Looking at a total disaster displayed ahead of him.
“What is all this?” the koala asked in perplexity. “Kioro, explain this to me now. What have you dragged into my office?”
His giving me that very same gaze like the people who’ve seen me for the first time. Eyes widened in shock, shortly shifts to confusion.
“He violated security protocol of the facility. Jeopardizing our safety with his unwanted intrusion.”
What? I muffled in defiance. This wolf, clearly made this up! This is totally a misunderstanding!
All that I could say are frustrating muffles escaping my throat through the nose, like a man drowning in deep water.
The professor sighs and then massages the bridge of his nose with his head shaking in disbelief.
“Kioro, this is the tenth time this week,” the professor’s words come out forcibly calm. “Need I remind you not to assume immediately and assess the situation before you confront.”
Looks like this professor has senses in him. Hopefully he’s learned something from his tutor other than this bull—
“Sir, I am simply obeying every word of your command,” he replied, sounding almost robotic.
“Which part of the word ‘assess’ did you not understand? I thought your vocabulary is vast considering you’re a writer yourself?” he asks rhetorically. “Free him this instant.”
“Yes, sir,” the wolf nods.
He turns to me leering into my eyes with that icy-blue glare. Raising his left hand, he closes his eyes, performing a move, the Element on his wrist glows.
The force finally loosens, ultimately freeing me from its invisible grasp. Making me almost fall face-planted onto the metallic-white tiles of the office.
Bracing the impact, I hold my eyes shut, expecting for a painful blast. Then, I feel nothing at all once I open my eyes, the floor is just inches away from my face.
“What?” I uttered in disbelief. The wolf already had his grip on my shirt collar.
“Stand,” the wolf speaks through gritted teeth.
I immediately push myself off the ground feeling my nerves tick. What’s his problem? Does he need to be this harsh all the time? Wait until I slap the sense out of you for being a jerk!
The wolf moves away, sitting onto a table with his legs swinging in the air drifting his gaze into space.
The professor, standing short, lets out a breath of dismay as he shakes his head.
“Apologies, mister. Kioro is just like that. But I assure you, he’s the most reliable person I have in this facility. In fact, the chief assistant of the entire lab. Since the day-shift guard is off-duty during the evening, I requested his help scouting the place for intruders until the night-shift guard arrives. I’m so sorry, in his behalf.”
“No please don’t apologize to me. He should be doing it, ungrateful little—” I grimaced, looking at the dazed wolf with eyes away into blankness. “Although… to be fair, I did kind of set the alarm there. Basically, he did the right thing to do, only the harsh way possible.”
“Indeed,” he agrees. “I’m glad that you looked deeply into the situation.”
“Sure,” I said.
“Anyway, why are you here? Did you intentionally trespassed? Because I will reconsider Kioro’s decision—”
“No, no, no! Don’t please! I assure you, this is nothing but a huge misunderstanding!” I waved my arms defiantly. “A friend of his, in fact asked me to bring a package late this afternoon. I only brought it because he has places to go.”
I transferred the package that is stuck to my hand for a while to the professor. A grin stretches on the koala’s face as if he won the lottery.
“Finally! After a month, my paws finally lay on the conical reactor!”
Over the other side, Kioro’s ears perked, hearing the professor’s blissful voice. Seeing the wolf in person, I just realized he looks different to regular wolves his age.
One notable feature is his height. He’s more than a feet shorter than Grey, looking like a child in his age. Is he underdeveloped? His fur is also… different. In a brighter blue hue. Almost turquoise, but leans closer to blue. Scruffy and thick as well, concentrating at the back.
There are distinct dark patches on his fur that are similar to cows with irregular dark patterns. Only jagged and pointed.
The professor gladly takes me to his work desk where he could perform the creation of my Element free of charge. I was hesitant, but he insisted for the delivery and as compensation for what Kioro did to me.
He mentions the amount I’d spent if I pay, and all I could say is I’m in luck. Making one is pricey!
I introduce myself to him, and he reciprocates as well, introducing himself as Dr. Rowan Kowala. Chief Professor of the laboratory. He shares to me his intrigue about myself for being rather unique. He’s never seen a human before.
He’s physically way shorter than Kioro. Short that he stack books just to reach the tabletop.
The item inside the package is crucial to producing Elements. He claims that it usually costs much time to make one, all depending on the sequencing of the genome of a person. With the reactor, the lapse will shorten drastically, making work production cheaper and efficient.
“Hand me his genetic material, Kioro, if you will.”
“My what—hey!” I cried, feeling a sting on the scalp as a strand uproots. Kioro emerges from behind, pinching the strand between his fingers.
Both of them move in synchrony, with Kioro knowing what to do next. I watch them perform like spectating in a hospital operating room.
My hair falls into a tube. The tube slides into an open shaft above the mechanism. Kioro unwraps the package, assembling the reactor behind the machine. An empty crystal Element rests gently into the glass chamber below the shaft.
“Engage synthesis in three—”
Kioro pulls onto the lever.
Blinding light flared from the glass, burning into my eyes from directly looking at it. It took a moment before the brightness subsided and fully recovered my vision.
“Proceeding second phase, absorption in two—”
Recognizing what will happen, I avert my eyes away from the table, shutting my eyelids close.
The flicker returns. Only now that I realized having my eyes closed is still like looking at it even if both my eyelids are down.
I keep blinking my eyes afterwards, struggling to retrieve my sight returning a minute after.
“Is it done?” I asked.
“Almost,” the professor said, sliding the glass of the chamber open, taking out the fresh Element. “Production is one-third percent complete. From the DNA sampling to the absorption. Initiating final phase, requesting Emblem from the donor…?”
With palms open, the professor waits for my Emblem.
Shoot! Grey haven’t given me any! I’m definitely screwed!
I began rummaging into my sling, hoping to find a miracle. Whatever I could give that seems… wearable, or looking like an accessory will do.
Scraping through the bed of my bag, my fingers stumbled on something cold and metallic. Pulling it out, a necklace chain slithers its way out of my bag with a rusted pendant hanging at the bottom.
“Oh,” I murmured. This is one of Arctic’s junk, ending up in my bag.
Kioro snatches the rusty jewelry before I could scrutinize. This wolf needs to learn patience or he’ll get a thing or two from me. He hands it to the professor, both items, the Element and the Emblem in both palms.
“Initiating phase three: manifestation, in one—”
Shoot I forgot the—
Too late. This one’s a heck lot worse than the previous ones. Literally burning my pupils. A flaring light enough to cause blindness that could last a lifetime.
“Process concluded,” the professor announced. “Procedure is a hundred-percent successful! Not bad for first trial! Ruelo, I present you, your Element.”
The necklace’s design completely reconstructed. Its appearance bear similarity to my grimoire’s design. Thinking of it now, they didn’t asked for my grimoire in the first place. What’s the whole point of me bringing it?
Something seems off with my Element though.
“Should it be this transparent, professor?” I asked. Although the design may look new, nothing has changed to my Element at all. There’s not even a symbol in it.
“It’ll surface later,” the professor said. “It’s still inactive, unless triggered by an outward force like the laws of motion.”
The professor hands me another crystal, this one is transparent, but blurrier and appearing bigger.
“I recommend you having the aggetite, too. You’ll find it useful in certain… unprecedented circumstances.”
“Professor, I will be leaving now,” Kioro taps onto the professor’s shoulder.
“Already? Your itinerary is uptight this week, isn’t it?” he said. “Well, you better accompany Mr. Ruelo outside with you. This session has concluded, anyway.”
“Of course,” Kioro nods.