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Orpheus and the Dark Aether – Chapter 9 ((Major Spoilers))

Orpheus had heard rumours about an abandoned factory which seemed like just the kind of place he would hide if he were up to no good. As he walked through the dark streets of New Babbage, he was passed by a blond boy (Jimmy perhaps?) and a tall man wearing a hooded cloak. They seemed to be in a hurry. “Better not get in the way,” said Orpheus as they ran past. “Seems important.”

Orpheus continued until he found the building boarded up.

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 It was a good thing he brought his camera with him. If someone was hiding out in this building, he would get proof. No point going in on his own. The fate of the city potentially rested on what was inside. He looked around to make sure he was alone, and when he was sure of this he kicked at the planks until they crashed loudly. After a moment to make sure no one was coming, he made his way inside. [img_assist|nid=3924|title=|desc=|link=popup|align=left|width=640|height=330]

The first thing that got his attention was the document left on a bench. Glancing at the chewed paper he saw the familiar mark of the Van Creed Society. “Just as I feared,” he whispered to himself. Not wanting to make himself any more known he took a picture and continued inside. Soon he stood in an open room with the Van Creed mark obviously painted on one wall.

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It looked as if someone was preparing the room for some kind of production job that was hastily abandoned. Boxes lay everywhere. Without a doubt, the Van Creed were back in town, and if their history was any warning, they were probably directly responsible for the doom that hung over the City like the mist the machines spewed. As he thought about the red mist, Orpheus became aware of a small hole in the floor venting that very mist. He walked to the edge and looked down.

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Instead of the eye of one of those crab monsters, Orpheus only saw blackness. Just then he heard voices entering the building. Orpheus ran behind a large stack of boxes and crouched to avoid being seen. He couldn’t tell who the two men entering the room were, but he had never seen them before. They were dressed like proper gentlemen, but spoke in a language he was unfamiliar with. “Possibly a code of some sort? If I were in a secret society, especially one with nefarious plans, I would speak in code to protect my plans,” he thought. While he hid he began to get very sleepy, just like the first time he saw the machine in the sewer.

Orpheus was surrounded by darkness. As he slept behind the boxes, undetected, he became aware of a voice, whispering… calling out to him from the dark.

Think about those moments… All of them, the moments you felt hopeless, the moments you felt alone, those moments that life pained you, the time those you admired turned on you, the moments were you were young and alone and hurt; that moment of losing a loved one and accepting that never again you would experience their light…

The darkness began to fade away, like a morning fog lifting. Orpheus found himself standing in a circle of flames. It seemed as if he had woken in the very pits of Hell itself. The voice continued, louder now

Don’t repress it anymore. Let it out, let it free, all the hate towards the world that demands you forget the pain and bury it away… Let the truth of your existence ring from your beating heart… You need not carry the guilt any longer…

Orpheus tried to run, but his legs would not work. He was paralyzed with fear. The flames grew stronger. He turned, looking for the source of the eerie voice still shouting at him. And then he saw the foul demon – An eyeball floating… watching him… staring into his very soul.

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The choice is yours; take it and let go to the painful truth… None of it matters, you do not matter, no one matters… none of it matters, you do not matter, no one matters… none of it matters, you do not matter, no one matters… none of it matters, you do not matter, no one matters

Orpheus screamed! The feeling of hopelessness began to bear down on him like Earth upon Atlas’s shoulders. He collapsed to his knees….

~ Hours later ~

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Orpheus awoke from the strange nightmare. It was a nightmare, wasn’t it? It had to be. He tried to remember what had happened. He had been at that old factory where he must have fallen asleep. So, how did he end up at the canal, many blocks away? He couldn’t even remember the details of the dream; he only remembered a deep sense of sadness and hopelessness. He checked for the camera. It was still intact, still loaded. He would have to shake off this sense of dread. Clearly something evil was going on in that building and it was even more imperative he find out what.

***

Orpheus stepped through the door into the factory once more. There was nothing else on the ground floor, but he hadn’t checked the second floor yet. Unfortunately, the only way up was past the hole in the floor. He took a deep breath, held it, and ran past, taking the stairs two at a time. When he was clear of the stairs he panted hard trying to slow his heartbeats.

He found one room near the top of the stairs and went in. Inside stood a long table with documents strewn all about. Whoever had met here clearly didn’t anticipate others snooping around. Orpheus proceeded to photograph the documents for later review. He then went to the end of the room where a rather disturbing painting occupied most of the wall.

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He wondered if it had any significance, or if it just represented the Van Creed’s desire for power. Orpheus left the room and searched for more. He found two more rooms with more  documents and sketches – including the creatures that would one day destroy the City, if the Writer was telling the truth about events to come.

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Once everything was documented, he quickly departed the building, taking the time to hide his presence by propping the loose boards behind him. He then went to find the nearest place to develop the pictures. If he was correct, the Van Creed was up to no good, and New Babbage may soon be going to war!

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