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A confused fog reigned over her awareness. Alphie shifted, blinking at the sounds of screams and heavy impacts. Everything was... yellow. Yellow? What? And it all hurt. Hey head. Alphie squinted, blinking at the light. Damn. Hurt. What had happened to her? She struggled weakly, fingertips clawing at the yellow fabric. The thing constraining her shifted as she moved, recoiling as she pushed at it. She couldn't get her balance, couldn't--couldn't leverage herself upright. Noisy. Why was everything so noisy?
Something jostled into her. Her head throbbed, vision going wobbly with the pain. "Help!" she shouted. She clawed at the yellow more desperately, kicking at the fabric. It gave without giving her any purchase. "Help!"
The lights flickered and went down. The screaming intensified. Alphie struggled harder, clawing towards the light. There was something on top of her; bits of paper? Where was she? "Someone, please," she groaned. What was going on? "Help."
He parked just outside the hospital parking lot, mindful of the cameras as he ducked along the rows of cars towards the front door. Inside the hospital, Bell put his shoulders back and tucked the cap onto his head to block the cameras from getting a closer look at him. Where would Daniel be? Not the maternity ward. Not radiology, either. He wandered the wards that seemed more likely, looking for Daniel's name. Daniel Learner. Dumb name, but whatever. Hopefully the guy had been with it enough to play cool. Hallway after hallway, past an excited gaggle of friends taking a girl their age home, past an older man being wheeled out with his arm in a cast. Daniel, Daniel, Daniel...
There, at last! Bell glanced inside casually as he walked by. Daniel was asleep, and there was a nurse inside. Ugh. Not ideal. He walked past and went to loiter in the common area, where a few family members huddled in a corner. So what now? Lurk until Daniel woke up? He was in a pretty serious cast, though. Maybe he should leave him here for a bit, at least until he got better. Maybe the doctors would figure out what kind of medicine to give him to make him sane.
Thirty seconds was too long. Sarah stared at the sky, then at the door, blinked. Another shudder rumbled through the building and she heard screams down below. Some of the front of the building was crumbling down and fell with violent smacks onto the pavement. Sarah scrambled upright then. She followed Bellwether's path and rushed into the building, down the stairs.
More people were in the same state she was: confused, but also keen to follow protocol. They were already guiding their people towards the emergency exits. Several hunters with guns checked every room for people and started to get them up and out. Sarah was corralled with the other people and she pushed into them, trying to see if Alphie was there. Her heart raced. What had that bastard done to Alphie?
"Everybody move!" the hunter said. They went down the stairs two by two.
Sarah didn't have a choice. Bits and piece of plaster came down. A deep, groaning tumble trembled the building and shook its foundation as if they were caught in an Earth-quake. Screams came. The power cut out. It took only a few seconds for the emergency power supply to kick in and some of the more assertive people to start them back walking.
"Go, go, go!"
There was no time to think. Everybody's lives were at risk. Right now, she had to think about getting herself out first.
Sarah didn't waste much time though. People were outside with clip-boards, checking off people who'd made it out.
"Alphie, is Alphie on there? You have to check, please?"
"Sir? Sir, please remain still," a nurse tried.
She looked up at her senior and shook her head. Her patient hadn't been cognitively aware since the psychotic breakdown from before. They had no information on him, other than a note and a vague description of the man that brought him here. It was sad, but also troublesome. Continuing treatment would be difficult.
"He's there," Landon breathed. "He's there, he'll be here soon," he promised. The nurse smiled wistfully.
"Who will, Daniel?"
A look of confusion, then a wayward smile.
"I'm not Daniel."
"Keep him sedated," the nurse said. "We don't want him to do any more damage to that arm," she said and left the room. The nurse followed her gait out and sighed, before looking down at the confused man. They'd already restrained his ankles to make sure he wouldn't leave, but she wondered how long it would be before he figured them out.
Bell gave her a look. Yeah, of course it wouldn't work when they kept him tied up all day and drugged up with who-knew what else. It was better than nothing, and he wanted the damn prescription.
"[i You] need to go," he corrected her. His goat would be just fine. Sarah didn't seem to remember being devoured by the goatling; he figured she wouldn't respond to his threats if she did. It wasn't a surprise. The goats were good at what they did. If they weren't, they'd be common knowledge by now.
A name, at last. It didn't mean anything to him, but he hadn't been expecting it to. As long as he had a name, they had something to go off of. He stood up, releasing Sarah. "You stay here. Count to thirty, and then you can run. If I see you again, I won't hesitate to do the same thing to you that I did to Alphie."
He'd be quite happy to beat her up a little and throw her in a trash can, in fact. She wouldn't imagine the threat was that light. He let an evil grin crawl over his face at the memory, letting Sarah see it so she could start imagining all the horrible things he could've done to Alphie.
"Remember, thirty seconds," Bell repeated, moving towards the door to the building's roof. He pointed the knife at her one last time, then pulled the door shut behind him and vanished.
Down the stairs. He hurtled at top speed, racing as fast as his own legs would take him. A hunter passed him heading the same way, but didn't give him a second look. The wig and the outfit were doing good work, huh? He smirked to himself. Perfect.
Out to the garage. The cleaners' truck was still there. He hopped in and drove off, giving the garage security guard a little wave as he passed by. In the clear. In and out, real slick, just like he'd imagined it. Daniel would be proud of him.
Bell parked the truck out of sight in the back of a parking lot and jumped out, shedding his disguise as he did so. He sprinted over to his car and jumped in. Off to Daniel. At least the guy should be where he left him this time.
"No, let me go," Sarah whimpered. How could she have been so foolish as to have herself kidnapped by this degenerate? How much of a choice had she had? The goatling had escaped, it'd been right there. It was a miracle she'd survived. Bellwether had done that. An ominous creak of steel upon concrete shook the building. They still weren't out of the woods.
"Please? I- I don't know where it is, oh-okay? H-he was on the medicine, but it didn't work!" she stammered, breath coming in frightened gasps.
"It didn't work, okay?"
Daniel hadn't responded to anything they'd thrown at him. The man had been catatonic more often than not and violent when he wasn't. The sparse few moments of clarity had been used on escape-attempts, at which Daniel was surprisingly good, for a man who was completely out of his mind.
A yelp escaped her as she felt the building rock against her back.
"We need to go!" she said, eyes trying to see where the knife was. The cold blade was pressed firmly against her cheek, but she wasn't sure whether the fluids that ran down her face were blood or tears or a mixture of both.
"Please? It didn't work, he was on an olanzapine, Zyprexa, but it didn't work," Sarah blubbered through what were now definitely tears. "Please? Please, please. Let me go," and she ironically recognized some of Daniel's protests.
He hadn't been fearful like she had, but he'd said the same thing over and over: that he wanted to leave, that he had to go. She never figured out where he wanted to go and was pretty sure Daniel himself hadn't known. Obviously being in Bellwether's care hadn't improved his situation any.
An ominous groan came from deep within the building. Whatever Bellwether had done, the very foundation of the building was steadily collapsing in on itself and them being on the roof put them in immediate danger. They had to somehow get out, get off. Wait. Her eyes flitted from left to right.
Her friends and colleagues! They were all still inside the building. Sarah was afraid to move. Bellwether's blade was steadily warming up to her skin, but the blade was still pressing against her cheek as a threatening reminder of what he was capable of doing.
"Whoa," Bell said, surprised at the tail. Where'd that come from? And where was it going? He winced and flinched back as machinery and furniture alike smashed against the ceiling, wall, and floor, deceptively thin tail tossing them like they were paper. It struck the wall, and the wall groaned. Bell stepped back again. The hell was this thing doing? His eyes flicked to the hallway. The hunters were going to be here any second.
The first of them arrived. For the second time that day, Bell was too slow. Even he felt a sense of horror at the way the bodies splattered. Just... liquefied. The goatling was a [i strong] goat. One he probably couldn't handle, if he had to. The thought worried him.
He flinched when clawed hands closed around him, but they did so gently, almost carefully. Like it was worried it might hurt him.
Then they were on a roof. The roof. The roof of the hunters' building. "And what's this supposed to do? We aren't--" it brushed his hair back, silencing him at the unexpected gesture. What, had Landon brushed off on it? Another blast of pain, straight to his skull. Gratitude. "Yeah, I'd be happier if--"
The goatling was gone. "So that's how it is," Bell muttered, watching Sarah unfold. Her eyes were blank; perfect. He pushed her onto her back and pinned her down by kneeling on her upper arms.
The light came back from a great distance, like a train rushing into a tunnel towards him. He waited, watching while she came back. She twitched, her face contorting slightly with unspecific emotions. Confusion, anger, irritation. Her eyes took in the sky, then locked onto his. Recognition poured in, followed by a fresh wave of anger, chased down by tight-faced fear. A grin slid over Bell's lips. Perfect. Just where he wanted her.
"Alright, Sarah," he said, "where the hell is Daniel's prescription? And if you don't get it to me, things are going to go very, very poorly for you." He pulled out his knife and looked it over, then slid it against the side of her face, blade-outward, away from her flesh for now. "No one's coming," he whispered.
It understood at last. It watched as the originator's shell smashed the static generators, the source of the discomfort. Docilely, it leaned forward and followed on four legs, as if studying its current entertainment up close or as if it were following its mother around for a tour. A terse grunt meant it was trying to communicate.
Green flecked eyes stared at the shell. It had taken on a slender form, not unlike its progenitor, claw-shaped hands ticking against the surface of the floor. It had no mouth. It had no need to.
Another grunt. A different source. It turned its head, following the shell's alert behaviour in a specific direction. A hand.
It could easily comprehend the simplistic thoughts this shell expressed. Fight or escape.
Flee; Landon's opinion. Fight; the progenitor's shell.
There was no need for fierceness.
A long slender tail flicked from the goatling, grappling anything it could find, until it hit the wall. Once in it, destabilizing the structure was a simplistic chore. Humans made fragile structures, it decided.
The building creaked ominously. It would hold, but not for long.
Hunters poured around the corner.
It moved faster. Black tentacles reached out, faster than the humans' reaction speed and with force. Blood painted the walls. It took Bell, gently enough to keep whole the already damaged shell, and then displaced them.
Unlike before, it took care to move fast, so as not to cause too much discomfort on the originator. It hadn't moved too far to conserve energy. Gently, it put down its charge on the rooftop and carefully, almost caringly, brushed the shell's hair back.
Gratitude was conveyed.
A short burst and then it folded in on itself. A human form appeared instead of it, shivering and weak. Her long blonde hair fell into her face as she sagged to the floor, exhausted and meek. Sarah tried to push herself up, tried to gather herself and inch back from the man in front of her. Her eyes were blank and dead, as if there were no lights on upstairs registering anything of meaning.
It was a moment of serenity in which the goatling was constructing a void to flow Sarah back into her old life without having noticed a thing.
"Stop that!" Sarah demanded. Bell ignored her. It was too late, anyways. The goatling was already congealing into its full form, already stepping out of the vat.
And then everything happened so fast.
An alarm blared. Bell spun on Sarah, but the goatling got there first. First her ankle, then, rapidly, the rest of her, more black unfolding from seemingly nowhere to devour her whole. Bell took half a step forward, then stopped He should be attacking it. He knew that. Every cell in his body told him the goatling was the enemy, one of [i them,] not a goatling anymore but a full-sized goat, the enemy of humanity. His enemy. And yet he stood there, watching blankly. She deserved it. He felt nothing.
It finished. Sarah stopped struggling, and the black went smooth once again. He almost expected it to take Sarah's form, but it stayed black. Was something wrong? They needed to go. As if in answer, pain bit deep into his head suddenly. Bell was driven to his knees by the sheer force of it. His vision narrowed to a pinprick. He couldn't think. It felt like his head was full of static, barbed static, biting into the spot tissue and tearing out hunks. And then it was over.
And somehow, he understood.
Bell smashed the static generators that surrounded the goatling, familiar with their shape by now. "That all of them?" he asked, terse. Over the sound of the alarms, a distant shout echoed down the hallway; Bell's head snapped to it, then back to the goatling. "We have to go, now! Can you teleport me out of here?"
He reached out a hand to the goatling, hoping it would know what he'd asked it. If not, they'd have a hard fight ahead of them. Boots pounded down the hallways, growing closer with every passing moment. Bell started to back towards the staircase, though he knew it would almost certainly be defended. Better than nothing. "It's now or never," he muttered to himself, adjusting his grip on the pipe. Time they either got out of here, or started beating some heads in, one or the other.
There it was. Its shell.
Sluggishly, acuity tempered by the restraining properties of the goo, Landon watched a new presence enter the room. It broke the white and filled it with colour. A cleaner. Nothing exciting, or maybe. A dog. A researcher. All so commonplace. He almost went back to sleep.
It almost went back to sleep.
Metal smashed into the thick glass container -to no avail. It almost felt amused at its petty attempts at opening the vat this way. And then it did something more interesting: it broke the leads, the pipes pumping a steady flow of liquids in and out of its small vat.
Landon reached. It felt like a dream. He reached for the pipes and the breaks. His body was pliable, could take any form and he would, if need rose, do exactly that. Slender, long tendrils plunged into the broken pipe and followed the umber liquid out. Thick, wet splotches of black leaked into the white room, staining it.
Landon couldn’t understand what the researcher was saying, but he caught her reaching for a button. Quicker than he thought he could ever be -at the speed of a thought almost- a tendril wrapped around her leg. He pulled at the weak flesh.
Sarah tried to hold on to the console and failed. She fell on her face, hard. The black tendril broke the fragile mesh of bone making up her ankle with such ease, she was surprised by the sudden jolt of pain thrashing through her leg, up her spine.
She screamed in agony.
Landon didn’t care.
The goatling didn’t care.
He didn’t even know this person, but Landon knew there was a hunger.
More and more of the black plummeted to the floor, gathered up and there was strength then. Black crawled up Sarah’s leg, who was in too much pain to resist. Somehow, it felt gratifying to Landon. Gratifying and more than a little frightening.
That blood-lust was fed with a strength he didn’t recognize was his. The goatling rose; inflated itself and unfolded. It unfolded around Sarah and swallowed her whole. An alarm sounded as well; a foreign sound.
Landon turned to face Bell and regarded the man -the shell.
For now, the goo prevented it from degrading, but the static fields that surrounded it would quickly undo its presence and greatly diminished its ability to displace. They would need to be destroyed. Landon told Bell as much.
It was only a thought, a flash, nothing more.
The lab was just as creepy as ever. He crept past empty vats, rooms with a bed and nothing else, or worse, rooms with a bed and a construction looming over it that looked like a dentist had gone mad scientist, all shiny metal, pointy bits, and mysterious tools and pipes. The hallways were mostly empty. Once he heard footsteps and conversation headed his way and had to duck out of sight while a pair of armed hunter guards passed, but they didn't even glance into the room he'd ducked into. It was almost laughable how easy it was too get in. They expected him to go for the frontal assault, so they didn't even bother with anything else, huh?
To be fair, it was all he'd done up until now. But now things were different. He was alone, and he had to protect Daniel. He had to be more careful than ever before.
Another staircase. Deeper into the base. This one was bare metal slats, corrugated so that if he looked straight down, he could see just how far he had yet to go. Bell glanced up, down, then started along the stairs. They clattered and groaned with every step, but no one raised the alarm. Why would they? He was just a scientist, after all.
The vat was small, but it drew his eye immediately. It was the only point of color in the white room, everything else pale and faded. Bell started for it, then stopped. Sarah was in the corner, her back to him. Goatling, or the girl? Which one did he go for?
Before he could decide, there was a rattling of collar tags. A golden dog came running up to him, tongue hanging out. Sarah turned, curious as to who had entered the room. There was no time. Bell hesitated a millisecond, eyes flicking between the two. Daniel's prescription... the goatling... Argh! He pushed off, charging at the vat. The goatling it was. The pipe materialized in his hand. He smashed it into the glass, and it bounced off.
Goat's strength? But he risked triggering one of those attacks, and he really couldn't afford that now. And then he caught sight of the pipes pumping amber liquid into the goatling's container. If he cut those off... He charged again and smacked the pipes hard enough to crack them open. Amber fluid leaked onto the floor.
He was fighting. Hands, at first. Sedatives second, long instruments after that. The tube wasn't big, but the goo inside of it was too powerful for him to be comfortable. It ate and wore at his body. Landon looked down to find he was all-black. Thoughts raced through his mind, complex thoughts he couldn't hope to comprehend. It felt like something was watching him, ready to take him apart like some type of gadget.
The glass was thick. Landon watched it, looked for weaknesses.
It'd take considerable force to break the glass, or one well-aimed thought to deconstruct the tidy order of matter that made up the glass structure. He decided it wasn't worth the effort.
White ceiling. Steady beeping. They shouldn't sedate people with head-injuries like that, unless they were a danger to themselves or couldn't be restrained.
Researchers walked outside of the tube. A blonde one. She was communicating with another, one that had brown hair and wore glasses. They pointed. Landon felt like he knew them, but when trying to remember, all he got were complex formations of matter. People were more than just constructions of matter.
Pain emanated from his shoulder, but he couldn't stay still. Water encroached, higher and higher. Until it reached the mattress and the bed. Higher still, until it threatened to submerge him and drown him.
It tried pressure points; inherent weaknesses in the glass, made there by tempering it and enforcing it. It couldn't quite execute enough force and have strength enough to fight the barriers these sacks of flesh had put up. They wouldn't make the same mistakes. They'd learned from previous escapes.
He hadn't drowned.
The conclusion was sharp and detached. More white. One of his arms was constricted, but there was no pain. His thoughts were plunged into a mist, through which it proved hard to think. He knew he had to escape, but didn't have the energy or will-power to find a way.
It knew escape was imminent and waited, patiently. Somehow, it knew its originator was in close proximity, that it was guiding its puny shell to come and deal with the barriers that detained it. Once it did, it could simply displace itself and escape. Perhaps it would be kind and do the same for the originator's toy.
At the bottom of the staircase was a security door with a card swiper. Bell sighed. Wasn't going to be that easy, was it? Was this time time to blow his cover? He didn't know where the goatling was yet, though. If it was a long ways away, he might have to fight his way through the most of the base. It'd been barely ten minutes. He couldn't give up already, for fuck's sake.
He'd have to find another way. Back up the stairs. He was only a few steps up them when the door at the bottom beeped. Bell whipped around the corner and pressed against the wall. He peeked around the corner as the door slid open. Who was it? A group, or one person?
A brunette woman stepped out. Her head was ducked, glasses sliding down her nose as she stared at a sheaf of papers. A cruel grin spread over Bell's face. Time for sweet, sweet payback.
She turned the corner. Bell gave her just enough time to recognize him, watched it crawl over her face, then decked her right in the nose. "Asshole," he muttered as she collapsed. She groaned and tried to crawl up again, so he kicked her in the head. That time, she went still.
Alright, new disguise. He slid the hat into his back pocket and pulled the coat on. It was more than a little small, but he didn't care. Long as he could get access down below.
He considered Alphie's body for a moment, then carried it upstairs. A quick glance revealed the hallway was still empty, so he dumped her body into the trash-section of the trolley--ha, fitting--and covered her up with some balled up paper towels. Wouldn't hold for long, but it didn't have to. And he liked throwing her in the trash. It had a nice touch to it.
Back downstairs. Her keycard was clipped to her coat. He held it to the key reader. It beeped, and the door opened. Bell's grin widened.
The basement was all white, the sterile whiteness he associated with hunter-researchers more than anything else at this point. He moved quickly but confidently, scanning the area. Man, it'd just make his day if he found that Sarah bitch, too. Then it'd be all the little tic marks checked off his list.
Discomfort made sleeping a chore. Landon shifted, winced and sighed, then winced again. No matter what he did, the grating pain pulled him back into the moment. Frustrated, Landon tried sitting up again, pushing the blankets out of the way. This time, he managed to sit, but it wasn't comfortable or something he thought he could keep up for long. He had to though. Landon ground his teeth together and pushed his legs off the bed. For a while, he sat like that, one hand tight on the mattress, the other a balled fist inside of the sling. His shoulder was a ball of hurt. No way to splint that, was there?
Or maybe they were waiting to do that, waiting for the swelling to go down.
The goat's blood could heal him, but then, if it could, why hadn't it? Why was he in a hospital? More importantly, how would he know whether Bell was still Bellwether? And where was the man? At first Landon figured Bell would've come to visit him at the first opportunity, but what if said opportunity never came?
Worries danced around his head and distracted him from the pain enough to actually make it to his feet. Whatever he'd done to the soles of his feet, it wasn't a nice sensation.
Landon shuffled to the closet, carefully minding the wires and pulling along the stand. Using one hand, Landon opened the closet and blinked at the strange assortment of clothes. There weren't many, not that he'd expected that, but they weren't as bloody or torn as he might've expected after a car-crash. Not a car-crash then? But the last thing he remembered was stepping out of the car and then-
And then... what?
He didn't recognize the coat or the clothes, but the nurse had mentioned he'd hit his head. Landon searched the coat and found a note.
It was the only thing he had to his name as well. In a fast, unsteady hand-writing, the note ordered him to stay calm and that Bell was coming for him. Landon breathed out in relief and rested his head against the closet.
Okay. He could do that. He could wait for Bell to come and get him.
Landon decided he wouldn't wait long though. If Bellwether hadn't visited within the next day or so, he'd grab his things and make a break for it.
Landon stepped back from the closet. What the- Was there a leak?
Where was it coming from? Alarmed, Landon stepped back, trying to keep his bandaged feet dry at least. It rose as quick as the rhythm of his breathing. His hand hit the bed. Shaky fingers reached for the remote and called the nurse -not that it'd do him much good.
The driver's clothes were a bit loose on him, but it made them easier to pull on as he drove. By the time they arrived, he had the shirt on and the pants tucked over his lap, ready to slide into them as soon as they stopped. The ex-driver was tucked into the footwell of the passenger's seat, out of sight. There was a security guard in a little box just inside the garage. Bell kept his head ducked and his hat pulled low as he quickly scanned the cab of the van for a tag of some sort.
"You can go," the security guard said in a sleepy voice.
Bell glanced at him. Guess he didn't need a tag then, huh? He pulled past the check point and into the garage. It took a minute to remember whether he usually saw the cleaners park, and he'd almost pulled past the stop by then. He slammed on the brakes, eliciting a few curses from the backseat, but successfully pulled the van into the spot.
"You alright up there, Dave?" one of the men in the back asked as he hopped out.
Bell grunted, yanking the uniform pants up over his existing pants. Still a bit loose, but somehow tight around the knees. Oh well. He'd bear it.
The other cleaners headed into the building. Bell followed behind, pretending to be fiddling with something up front until they were out of sight. As soon as the coast was clear, he jumped out and grabbed out a random trolly of cleaning supplies from the back. Alright. Disguise compete. As casually as he could, he walked inside.
Goatling, then Daniel's prescription. If he didn't grab them both, the hunters would fuck them up, or Daniel would keep trying to kill himself, and he didn't know which was worse. He wandered around the base, trying to get a feel for the layout. Where would the labs be? Probably underground, right? He got the feeling a cleaner wouldn't go down there often. But that was fine. He had gotten inside cleanly. The first step was complete. Now for the hard part.
A staircase on the left. He glanced around, found no one watching, parked the trolly and ducked into the staircase. Time to figure out where these hunters kept their shit.
A nurse. Landon looked up. Bellwether was nowhere to be found, but he hadn't expected the man to linger with hunters around. He was a liability, especially after-
"Hi, glad to see you're awake, mister Learner," the nurse started with a patient smile. She caught sight of his gruff hand around the remote and realized what had happened. Either way it was good to find out her patient was now awake.
Landon couldn't quite mask his confusion. Too many painkillers to lie properly. He wiped at his face, just to make sure she didn't catch the expression. Hopefully the nurse would think it was something else.
"You were in quite the state last night," she said, adjusting his blankets and scribbling something down on his chart.
"My name is Gabby. Are you in any discomfort...- Daniel?"
He shook his head.
Whatever they had him on was enough to knock out a horse.
"Is it okay if I call you Daniel?"
Landon blinked, but nodded at last. She took his hesitation for something else and smiled.
"Just take it easy, you hit your head," Gabby clued away. So he had.
Landon already knew. He recognized the foggy sensation, which was telling of how often he'd actually hit his head recently. Or perhaps not quite as recently.
"Who brought me in?" he asked.
"Whoever they were, they didn't stick around. Probably doesn't want any trouble. All your things are still here," she mentioned, pointing at the closet off to the side.
"You probably got lucky. I'm sure you'll get things back on track soon, but for now, just rest."
He nodded and failed to suppress a wince. His chest felt like it'd gone through the grinder. The low pressure never quite left.
"Just make sure to keep your arm still. I don't know quite how you managed it, but you've broken your shoulder-blade and bruised a few ribs," Gabby notified him with a sympathetic smile. "Call me when you need anything. It's this button." Small fingers pointed out the button he'd pressed a few minutes ago.
Landon watched her leave, then slowly pushed the sheets away. He couldn't stay here. He'd be a sitting target for any hunters. And Bell would be out there, on his own. Landon didn't even manage to sit up by himself. He ran out of breath and was caught staring at his feet. That didn't look like a car-crash injury. Landon sagged back into the pillows. For now, it might be better to wait.
Bell carried Daniel into the hospital. "Help, please," he said. It was early enough the ER was mostly empty, for an ER; at least until he stumbled in. Nurses swarmed. Gloved hands peeled him away from the man. Bell let them, watching numbly while they assessed Daniel. Alive. At least he was alive. If he had this much attention...
He looked around, then slipped out of the building. Couldn't stick around. If he got roped in or recognized--it'd be it. There'd be questions he couldn't answer. Questions that would draw the hunters. He'd come back, but he had to go. Sweat dripped down his back despite how cold he was. He had to go.
He managed to make it to the car before the attack hit. Bell hunkered in the front seat, waiting it out. Nothing he could do. Was this the best option? He couldn't take Daniel with him. He couldn't--
The pain passed after a while. Bell sat up, ran a hand through his hair, and sighed out. He'd put a note in Daniel's coat--a note that named him as the fictional "Daniel L. Learner." [i Stay calm. Hunters. I'm coming back for you,] it read. No signature, but Daniel would know who it was from. And if he remembered shit, he'd know what was going on. Then again, the chances of that were just about zero.
Alright. He had to fetch the goatling. Bell wiped his face, steeled himself, and drove off into the early morning. The janitors wouldn't be up this early, but they'd be up soon. Earlier he could catch them, the better; the fewer people there'd be in the lab, then. Fewer people to recognize him.
It was a bit of a wait before any janitors showed up, like he'd expected. He set up shop a little ways down the road from the hunters' base, so their cameras wouldn't catch anything.
The janitors pulled into view. Bell started after them, driving right behind them. When they stopped at a stoplight, he pulled over, parked on the side of the road, and ran out in front of them.
The light turned green. The driver honked, and still he didn't move. Finally, the man rolled down the window. "The hell do you want, asshole?" the driver shouted.
Bell wasted no time. He launched a punch straight at the man's face. He reeled back, stunned. Bell laid into him, punching until he wasn't doing anything but breathing.
"The hell's going on up there?" someone called from the back of the truck.
Bell reached through the window, unlocked the door, shoved the driver over and yanked his cap on. "Just some crazy asshole tryn'a start shit," he grumbled in his best impression of the driver's voice as he drove the van off.
"Eh, kay," the voice said.
Bell grinned. Next stop: the hunters' base.
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