Chapter Three: Communications
“You’ll be transferred somewhere more comfortable in a few hours, so I want to talk to you now while I have the chance,” James Radcliffe said.
This leader of the Alpha Group was sitting in a small conference room with John. After the events in the Arcane Sphere, Radcliffe had personally escorted John out of the Arcane Sphere through a different exit. John soon learned there was another Alpha Group facility connected to the sphere opposite the one they had abandoned previously.
John had willingly followed Radcliffe, but when he was informed that he would not be returning to Greyville he tried to fight back and escape. And that was why he was now handcuffed to the table.
“What do you mean ‘transfer’? What do you people want with me?”
“Really, do you honestly want to stay here in such an uncomfortable room? You should be happy that we’re taking you somewhere far more comfortable. Have you ever been to Scotland before?”
“I asked what you want with me.”
“Then answer the question.”
“…no. I’ve never been to Scotland before.”
“It’s a lovely country, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. You’ll be going to a very special building that once served as the Alpha Academy. It’ll be like living in your own private mansion.”
“Why would you do something like that for me? And what makes you think I would accept something like that?”
“We’re nice people here at the Alpha Group. We’re going to help you and you’re going to help us, so let’s get down to business. What can you tell me about Cara?”
John looked down after hearing that name. He didn’t want to acknowledge that she was gone or talk about her so soon after her death. Radcliffe knew this would be a difficult subject, but he didn’t really care. In his mind, as long as he spoke of Cara respectfully then John would cooperate despite the trauma.
“She was my friend. I don’t know what you want me to tell you.”
“I want to know why she was able to trade her life for that power. The Flame is something we’ve researched for a long time. We know that it’s a power source, but we can’t do the things that Cara did with it. I didn’t even think that a person could survive jumping into the Flame. So what was so special about your friend?”
“I don’t know why she did it. That’s why I was looking for that book.”
“And I already told you that book isn’t going to help you. Is there really nothing you can tell me? Not even a theory about why she can read that book?”
“No, there isn’t. So why don’t you let me go? If I can’t help you then why send me to Scotland?”
Radcliffe smiled. “You and I both want to know more about Cara’s actions and why she did what she did. We both want to know more about that book. Our desires are the same.”
“So you want me to help you find the answers? I don’t see how sending me to the other side of the world is going to do that. There isn’t even anything that I can do that the Alpha Group can’t. Aren’t you the most powerful organization in the world?”
“Yes, the Alpha Group is the most powerful organization in the world which makes me the most powerful man in the world. I’ve decided that I want your help and I won’t be changing my mind. And if I don’t change my mind, then there’s nothing you can do.”
“So you aren’t giving me a choice and you won’t even listen to what I have to say?”
“Anything that you say will be pointless. It’s simple: you can’t go back to living in Greyville. Your poor friend Martha has already been interrogated by the police and the story of the missing children is already spreading across the nation. So instead of throwing you into that harsh world, I’m going to let you live in the luxurious Alpha Academy in Scotland. In exchange, I’ll be asking for your help with this matter.”
“…even if that’s true,” John said, still not believing it entirely, “Why does it matter to you? The Alpha Group doesn’t go around helping people who suffer. And if you do, what about the Abandoned? You left them down there for 17 years.”
Radcliffe continued to smile. “At the time I didn’t understand the Ravagers. I was worried that they might spread and infect others. After so much time had gone by, it was clear that wasn’t the case. Still, letting those people out would have caused them greater harm. Program Blue killed them out of mercy and I agree with his actions.”
“That’s exactly what I meant! I would suffer the same fate as the Abandoned, so why are you rescuing me? Why are you kidnapping me?”
“That’s because I want your help, as I’ve said. There’s nothing that complicated behind my decision. I can save whoever I want, punish whoever I want, do whatever I want. You should be grateful that I’m willing to help you so much whether there’s a good reason or it’s just a whim.”
“Don’t you understand how insane that sounds?”
“I have always held an incredible amount of power. I see how you look at me, as if I am some evil being who toys with humans. Perhaps that is the case. Can you even call me human anymore? No human in the world has the amount of power that I do.”
John had stopped talking at this point. He was disgusted by James Radcliffe and the Alpha Group. He understood their motivations, but those motivations were absolutely insane and disgusting to him. The best course of action for him to take would be to ignore all of this. Then, when an opportunity to escape presented itself, he would seize that opportunity and never have to deal with Radcliffe again.
Even if he couldn’t return to his old life, he would create a new life. He would find the answers he sought on his own. And if he was ever in a position to take down the Alpha Group, he would do so without hesitation. His future belonged to him and no one else.
“You’ve been silent for a while so I assume that means you’re not willing to talk to me anymore. That’s perfectly fine. Someone will come and get you in a few hours and they’ll take you to the airport for your flight.”
James Radcliffe stood up and walked over to John. “And don’t worry about being bored on the flight. You won’t have to be conscious for any of it.”
John felt a shooting pain in his arm. The way he was handcuffed didn’t allow him to see what Radcliffe had done, but he assumed he had been injected with some sort of anesthetic. The effects were near instant and John quickly fell asleep.
Radcliffe walked over to the door which had just opened. His personal assistant, Lydia, was standing there. She was an incredible woman who was able to keep up with all of Radcliffe’s orders. Because of this, she knew a great deal about the operations of the Alpha Group and was privy to information that even the highest-ranking Alpha Group employees did not have access to.
“James, we’ve been able to secure an earlier flight. Would you like me to take him now?”
“Yes, the sooner he arrives the better.”
“Very well. Oh, there is one thing I wanted to check first.”
“It’s about his living arrangements at the Academy. Is it really alright for him to live alone with our patient? You’ve ordered that the facility should only be tended to at night.”
“Yes. I think he needs to be isolated for a while, but he’ll have at least one person to talk to.”
“Who, the coma patient?”
“Yes, our long-time resident of the Academy woke up yesterday.”
“He’s awake? But he’s been in that coma for over two hundred years! What caused him to wake up?”
“I have a theory about that. I received the report the moment it happened which was less than an hour into April 16th. Eastern Standard Time of course.”
“That’s the time that the Flame was activated by the girl. But how does that relate to…”
There was a look of disbelief on Lydia’s face.
“Yes, that’s correct,” said James Radcliffe. “It appears we have learned the identity of our mystery patient.”
Radcliffe walked away before Lydia could question him anymore. She knew that he would speak to her about it in the future, so she stopped thinking about it and walked into the conference room. Lydia transferred the unconscious John into a nearby chair with wheels.
She wheeled the unconscious boy through the hallways of the facility and toward the exit. Several Alpha Group guards offered to help her, but she declined all of those offers. If the guards were to help her, then they might ask questions that she couldn’t answer.
Lydia wheeled the chair into a shuttle and grabbed one of the poles to support herself. The high-speed shuttle was similar to the type that one would find in a large airport. The shuttle traveled from the small part of the facility near the Arcane Sphere (beneath Greyville), to the larger part of the facility located beneath the city of Moken.
By the time that Lydia arrived on the ground level, the sky had become overcast. Lydia sighed before meeting with the driver for their transportation to the airport. After speaking to the driver, she carried John into the limousine and shut the door. Once the vehicle began to move, Lydia received a call on her cellphone.
“Hello? Yes, the preparations have been made. Are you really surprised that it took this long? I’m leaving the country for no more than a day so it’ll have to wait until I get back.”
Lydia ended the call and sighed once again. The Alpha Group put a healthy amount of stress on her, but this was just insane. All the way to Scotland, then all the way back to resume a job that was taking far longer than she had anticipated.
After a few second of doing nothing, Lydia took out her phone and opened the Night Sector mobile app. It was one of those popular war games and she enjoyed playing it in her spare time. Normally she was always working on something, but for now she was able to relax.
A rainy day. An exhausting job. A changing environment.
There was nothing to do but relax.
“You shouldn’t do that,” said a voice.
Lydia looked up and saw a flicker of light. She became tense and alert as she looked around to see if someone was talking to her. When she realized that no one was there, she began to calm down. She looked down to resume her game of Night Sector, but the phone wasn’t there.
It had fallen to the ground.
When Lydia reached down to grab the phone, she noticed that she was clutching her left leg. She released her grip and picked up the phone. Luckily, she hadn’t thrown it too far and damaged it.
She wondered, just for a moment, if that voice was…
Then she dismissed it and returned to the game. Perhaps she had been so focused on the game that her senses became extra-sensitive and a simple noise became a voice. Looking up so rapidly probably caused that flicker of light.
“Well, I don’t really feel like playing anymore,” she said to herself as she turned the phone off. The ride to the airport would probably be even more boring now that she didn’t feel like doing anything, but there was nothing that she could do now that her mood had been spoiled.