Jump to content

Shadows Over Eorzea (Story - OOC Comments Encouraged)

Recommended Posts




Char Lohengrin propped his feet up on the president's desk with a sigh of contentment as he dropped the still smoking pistol on the ground and grabbed the untouched glass of scotch on the table, courtesy of the man laying dead on the ground beside him. He sipped gingerly from it, sighing once again as the fire trailed along the back of his throat and brought the promise of relief from the adrenaline still pumping through his veins.


"Ambitious little shite - what? Do you think you can just take everything I've built and walk away with it all? This company is mine - the people are MINE! THEY FOLLOW -ME-!" 


"No, Mister President, they follow the money... and now I'm the one lining their pockets." He dumped the remainder of the brown fluid on the body of the Garlean-Born Hyur, before setting the glass back atop the table next to the bottle. His eyes wandered to the grandfather clock ticking away in the corner, expecting security to be arriving any moment now. 


"You couldn't wait, could you? Ten more years and everything would have been yours, hell this and more... But instead you choose to betray my generosity - my love - and take it all yourself... What would she say to this? How would she defend her darling kitten?"


"Mister President! Chairman Lohengrin! We're coming in!" As predicted, the Laughing Armament division kicked their way into the office, and cleared the room per their training - each one eventually settling the muzzle of their firearms on the Miqo'te sitting comfortably in the President's desk, reclining lazily with his tail wafting to and fro. The dark lenses masking their eyes did little to hide the fact they were taking the situation before them in with disbelief.


"I imagine you'll be able to ask her yourself in very short order, won't you?" Chairman Lohengrin pulled back the hammer of the pistol, and after a tense moment of silence, depressed the trigger.


"Gentlemen..." Char moved slowly as he removed his feet from the top of the desk and pulled a drawer open. "As you're no doubt already aware... The President has passed away rather suddenly. I'm not one to dwell on the past, and would much rather move immediately to the matter of his last will and testimony - conveniently located right here." He raised a collection of sealed papers up for the men to see, still looking dubiously among one another, unsure of what to do next.


The President's body didn't flop around, as he expected, but fell in one single fluid motion along the ground, blood spraying along the wall and leaking from his forehead onto the carpet, before pooling around the point of impact. Despite the brief sensation of relief that washed over him, the Chairman was still shaking as he moved to sit in the chair.


"The burden that is the title of President of Laughing Armaments, per this document, is now mine. As such, I am empowered to adjust wages -and- offer considerable bonuses for those I feel deserving of such discretion." He set the papers on the desktop for them to look over, if they so chose. "I don't ask you to think on your positions within the company, so much as I expect you to consider the future this organization has -without- a directly appointed CEO... That is to say, there will almost certainly be a long running series of layoffs, starting with the personnel that allowed the previous President to perish... I on the other hand, understand that some things cannot be helped nor can training prepare any one person for every scenario..." 


He could already see the headlines, all the wasted ink spent spinning a story of the President's lifetime accomplishments which would be quickly forgotten in the span of mere days. The amount of time and money thrown into buying the press out just to paint this 'man' as a visionary and his death having robbed the world of a revolutionary mind... His adopted son filling his absence and promising to honor his memory... Lies upon lies.


Slowly, the man in the middle lowered his rifle, signalling to the others to do the same. "I'm glad we're on the same page." He propped his feet back up on the desk and smirked, fangs just barely breaking the plane of his lips. "It's the start of a new era... and we've a lot of work to do if we're going to clean his mess up... Starting with Eorzea. Let's make preparations to move the R&D department's Magitek division and close out any outstanding contracts with our Garlemald associates... We're about to join a -very- free market.


"Farewell and Goodnight... 'Father'..."

Edited by FallenFedora
Link to comment





[align=center]Chapter 1[/align]


Several sets of eyes fell expectantly upon Chairman Lohengrin as he scratched at the back of his feline ears idly before yawning in a bored fashion as the members of the committee traded sidelong glances at one another throughout the President's funeral proceedings. Several members of the press were scribbling away at their papers, warping quotes and re-arranging statements given in honor of the deceased to suit their own purposes. 


He made his way up the aisle, towards the closed casket that held his surrogate father, his mentor, and his jailer. The coffin was made of the finest materials, leaving Char to think how fitting it was that the man could afford himself as much gil in death as he had in life. Another few steps past the casket, and he stood before a podium, looking over everyone gathered today. The business partners, representatives from rival groups, a few mistresses, and of course, the higher echelons of Laughing Armaments complete with it's own security contingent. 


"Goenfal Lohengrin was to many of you as he was to me, a man dear to our hearts. A man possessed of such vision, such purpose, that with his own two hands he reached out and forged a friendship with a local gunsmith. Through him, they invested in a small business - which quickly grew as he recruited the most talented weaponsmiths and armorers he could find. Within four years that small shop had grown into a tower that housed nearly nine-hundred and fourteen staff members dedicated to the highest quality of weapons possible, to the benefit of the common man... A quality, as he would oft say, 'that allowed the would-be victims, the last laugh'..." 


"Success did not harden his heart, as it is wont to do with others. He took a woman into his home, one that would fill it with love and no scarce amount of pink floral patterns." His tail whipped against his leg as a few chuckles came from those 'mourners' sitting across from him. "A woman that could not, unfortunately, bear him a successor by blood... Just the same, he loved her - and of that love, did the two welcome me into their world. A mewling kitten that would be set apart anywhere else in the world in the same set of circumstances... But in his home, I was his heir. His son. I looked upon him and saw not the differences of our race, but the similarities of character to which he was directly responsible..." He feigned a moment of weakness, forcing a lump in his throat as he wiped at his eyes. 


Feeling content with the very brief display, he looked back up at those gathered and continued. "He was breeding a man of character - much like himself - full of ambition, generosity, and vision. He provided me with formal education, opportunity, and a quality of life many are denied. This noble citizen of Garlemald, a just and proud man, had chosen me... and each day, I took for granted that face until just this morning I awoke and it dawned upon me again that my father was dead. Only hours ago, did I feel the weight of his every action upon my heart and realize the significance therein..." He pinned his ears back and furrowed his brows to further the facade of mourning. "He had given me everything. His time, love, compassion... and the means to chart my own future. I was more than a successor or just some illegitimate placeholder to carry his name forward... I was, truly, his son."


"This title... Nay, this gift is one I cherish. Today, I realize the responsibilities inherit to the name Lohengrin; The burdens that he has left me, and challenges now posed upon my shoulders were those he'd already foreseen and prepared me for. As my father before me, I vow before you all to take this company forth with his same vision, passion and ideology... To provide weapons and armor in hopes, not to take lives, but to discourage the use of violence altogether... In this way, do I ensure that my father too, has the last laugh with regard to the cruel world we live in today... Thank you, ladies and gentlemen for your time." He cast his red and blue eyes upon the casket and played the last of his facade. "...And thank you, father." 


He moved from the stand to leave a single red rose upon the casket, ears twitching as several people began clapping; Even if only on ceremony. After a second of silence, he saw himself out - now that the games were finished, and the public had something to form an opinion of, it was time to get back to business. His business. He resolved at that moment, staring down at the polished wood coffin, that he would rupture that abusive man's dream and turn it about on it's heel... and then it would be Char Lohengrin that had the last laugh.

Link to comment





[align=center]Chapter 2[/align]



[align=center]"When I look at you, I see only a failure. The way you enunciate your 'R's and swing that tail about like a plaything. No! You're a Lohengrin now! I expect you to act like one! Shoulders broad! Eyes focused! Back straight!" The older Hyur laid his hands upon the Miqo'te his wife had taken in, forcing him into an uncomfortably rigid posture. "But Gods willing, we'll make something of you yet. Know this... Everything about you will change. Your name was but the first step in discarding everything that will hold you back - You're Char Lohengrin. Accept that. Abandon whatever delusions you maintain of clinging to your former life. Abandon the one's you considered friends. This is your life now - your very reason for being."[/align]



"Congratulations on your recent acquisition, Mister President. I must say, t'was a long time coming. Sir." The slender Elezen female beamed up at the former chairman with genuine happiness at her friend's success in-so-far. "You do me far too much credit, Ashorea. All I had to do was let his own wishes see fruition and play the part of a distraught young man thrown unceremoniously into a cruel world." He took a small notebook from the woman and began reading over the reports he'd requested. "While you've been busy, sir, I've had R&D move ahead with what we discussed pertaining to the crystal you supplied us with... Like you, there's been changes observed."


[align=center]"You're my son! My heir! My NAME! When I die, you will carry my legacy - Gods as my witness, you'll do so proudly and as I expect you to! This reckless feline manner in which you conduct yourself will not be tolerated. Understand!?" The larger Hyur's backhand came as expected, knocking the much smaller Miqo'te youth off his feet. "Perrrhaps because I -am- a Miqo'te? Perrrhaps because you and I both know I am not what you wanted? Nothing morrrre than a way to appease your ailing wife?" The man drove his boot heel into the boy's face. "You ungrateful shite!" He shouted, plucking the boy up by an ear. "You should be fuckin' grateful that I do this for you! One day, mark me, one day! When you look back, if you live that long, you'll -thank- me for everything I ever did for you."[/align]


She moved ahead to open a door and the two continued down a long hallway which grew increasingly colder the further they went. Char's ears perked with curiosity. "Pray tell; What sort of changes?" She opened another set of double doors, and the two emerged into a small enclosure housing several desks surrounding a single table in the center with a device securing a brilliant red crystal in place with multiple scientific implements around it. 


[align=center]"If you keep treating him as just a name, he'll never be our son." Milande Lohengrin set a hand upon her husband's chest - the two unaware that Char was lingering just beyond the crack in the door. "He isn't our son. He knows that, and lords it over me with that rebellious nature of his... If I don't break him of it now, he'll -never be- our son." Goenfal grabbed at the bottle he'd been growing ever fonder of, and took another shot. "Not with that outlook." She replied after a moment of silence. He stared at her in a disbelief. "Are you going to start throwing yourself against our family name too?" He reached out to slap her, only to find his wrist clamped tightly in her grasp. "Do not forget whom you married. Dear. I will be shown respect, or I will show you what it looks like."[/align]


"When tasked with the creation of artificial crystals, we weren't entirely sure it would be possible... As you know, Ceruleum serves as the Empire's foremost energy source - the processed aetheric essence drained from crystals such as that one become ceruleum after a refining process... However, when we began forcing that energy into several candidates for 'psuedo-crystals' most couldn't maintain the energies and shattered... It was then we stumbled upon the idea of forcing the latent energies into a miniaturized ceruleum container to help regulate the flow of energy evenly. Within the device is housed a sliver from a discarded crystal already used to produce ceruleum and the results are so far showing promise."


[align=center]"Your mother is sick, Char. The physicians don't think she has much longer. If you've anything to say to her - I would suggest you do so in short term." The Miqo'te had never seen the older man so melancholy before, and his words took him entirely by surprise. He did not long dwell on them, however, as he made his way into Milande's room. "Hey there Kitten... Come over here." Her voice was weak and she was a far cry from the strong and independent woman he'd grown to love. He moved to sit at her bedside, and she ran her fingers through his hair and scratched at the back of his ears as he so loved. "Mother..." He couldn't find the words. "I know Kitten. I know... Death is but a part of life. We return whence we were blessed; This is the cycle. You were always my son. My dear little boy. I'm sorry that I couldn't do more for you - and that I leave you now with so much more left to do." The tears began to fall uncontrollably from his eyes. "But more than a good son, I know you to be a strong one. To endure him, and all he bids, has tempered you in such a way... you could have lashed out, but instead you rose to his challenges. He's proud in a way of you... I only hope that the two of you may one day speak as you and I do now."[/align]


"While we won't be able to power a suit of magitek armor or anything of the like nature with this alone - we might be able to apply it to a more dedicated role within the weapons suite; After further tests and a more thorough study into the stability of the energy housed within." She picked up a small, cylindrical black device that looked to be a stripped down version of what the Elezen was talking about - exposed wires dangled idly, and the metallic lining glinted with the dim light of the room. At the center, he could see a faintly glowing crystalline shard.  "As always, you take my expectations and exceed them by leagues Ashorea." He nodded in satisfaction, looking now to the crystal at the center of the room.


[align=center]"Watch your tone with me boy. Your mother isn't here to lord her wishes over me anymore. You'll do as I say, and accept it - or mark me - I'll cast you out in the rain just as quickly as we plucked you up." He sneered down at him, reeking of alcohol. "And whence does your name go then? A little late to groom a successor now, isn't it?" The Hyur's nostrils flared in a rage as he reached out to punch the young adult Miqo'te standing in front of him arrogantly. He found himself looking at the ceiling from his back a second later. "You're only ever going to get older - keep that in mind before you go off on a drunken romp, Old Man."[/align]


"What of our source? Have you noted any negative changes in the crystal itself?" Char wandered past the tables, knocking over a stack of notes to the chagrin of a researcher who scurried to pluck them all up and put them back in order - cursing under his breath the whole time. "It doesn't seem as... brilliant... as when I first acquired and surrendered it." His tail bounced left and right as he tilted his head. "We toyed with the idea of altering it into a deaspected crystal... Though we funneled only a portion the fiery energies into the shard first, to test another theory... and in-so-far we're pleased with the results; thus while studying the effectiveness of this method we have elected not to finalize the dissipation of energy and allow the crystal time to repopulate itself with elemental energy. To help this process along, we're toying with the idea of infusing aether from other crystals into it."


[align=center]"Char. Come over here and look outside." Goenfal bid his adopted son to the far corner of his office and the two shared the vision offered through a rain streaked window of a rally taking place in a far off plaza. "Garlemald is preparing for a war... The demand for weapons and mercenaries is growing. To anyone else this sight might be troubling but for you and I - this is the prelude to greatness. Households feel threatened, independent contractors want only the best, and soldiers desire added firepower... The supply and demand exceed all rationale and that is where you and I strike at the heart without so much as lifting a finger."[/align]


The Miqo'te turned and offered the woman a satisfied smile. "Together, you and I will take this company to the furthest extremes and beyond. I'm thrilled beyond compare at these infantile steps we're making and find myself in eager anticipation of the next leap forward in this study." His eyes fell upon the researcher standing upright with his stack of papers, setting them tenderly on the desk - the corner of one in particular grabbing his attention with it's visible illustration. He deftly reached out and pulled it from the stack, again sending papers everywhere. The researcher stared daggers at the President before moving to collect his papers again in a fury. 


[align=center]Goenfal Lohengrin poured two glasses of scotch from a bottle he'd been saving for some time and handed one to the adult he'd spent so much time molding who accepted it solemnly in silence. The two sipped slowly of the inebriating brown liquid and observed the gathering. "The Eorzean people are weak, but not to be underestimated. The trick to supplying a war is to supply both sides with equal discretion and make them believe you're doing them a favor by stoking the fires of their own beliefs. Turn their ideals into the reason they throw gil hand over foot."[/align]


"Ashorea... What are all these? They seem wholly unrelated." He traced a finger over the intricately detailed drawing of the Au Ra anatomy, complete with footnotes regarding the possibility of infusing an individual with aether to the point they themselves might become a weapon and, once expended, a source of ceruleum. The Elezen moved to peer over the paper before frowning. "Something R&D found following the death of the former President. Your father had some very nasty looking secrets... However, following his passing any and all information regarding that particular idea has dried up - likely in accordance with his own wishes. Whatever 'Project DI' was, it's likely only he and the hand selected researchers he had involved know the extents to which it was designed. Though some of it's theorums might be applied to our weapons research... What initially interested us was the multipurpose use of the ae-" 


[align=center]"Just as technology evolves, so too must the weapons, and in effect, the soldiers. I envision my legacy in the form of military science, and you as the means in which to make sure it endures the test of time." He set a palm on the Miqo'te's shoulder. "For you are my son. The extension of my life's own teachings. The greatest thing I could possibly build, is your future... and I think that I've done so adequately."[/align]


Char held his hand up for silence. "I'm interested in what Goenfal Lohengrin had in mind. Pull on this string while your subordinates continue looking into the crystal. I want to know what 'Project DI' was, and if possible, I want those members involved with it's development sent to me."

Link to comment





[align=center]Chapter 3[/align]



The Miqo'te adjusted his cravat before pulling his knees to his chest that he might squat upright in his chair, something his father would have fumed over and worked intently to break him of. His feline eyes bounced from one senior manager to the next. "Thank you for taking the time to attend this meeting, first and foremost; I know you all lead busy lives so we'll skip the formalities and dive headlong into the grit." He opened a polished wood humidor sitting at the corner of his desk and retrieved a cigar that smelled profoundly of expensive tobacco. He rolled it between his fingers idly, never averting his gaze from the expectant members of each associated branch of Laughing Armaments.


"Each of you is to reduce his or her work force by no fewer than thirteen people - preferably the least productive within their field; This trend will continue, every two weeks with the same quota to meet, until such time that our staff does not exceed five hundred and fifty individuals total." He set the cigar along his lips, sucking at it gently as he produced a lighter and ignited the tip as the Chief Development Officer spoke. "Mister President... The unrest this will create will put us in a predicament... some may not be so compliant as to just lay down everything they've done up to a point in favor of the streets... Could we not just reduce the amount of gil we're paying each man?" Char's ears twitched as he exhaled a cancerous smog into the air and sighed. 


"If we acted on your suggestion to reduce the pay allocated per employee, we'll see an even larger upset than if we simply began cutting personnel numbers. When people lose gil they feel entitled to - they riot. If they feel productivity is being monitored, and they also bear witness to what happens to the less capable among them... They will strive to do what is expected of them, and beyond, to maintain their due coin." He took another drag on the cigar before continuing with smoke flooding from his nostrils. "I'm more than aware that there are many who will be reluctant to surrender their source of income but the choice is ultimately out of their hands. If they wish to contend that fact, have security beat them over the head with a blunt object and hurl them into the street."


"Our Financial Managers report that at present we only demonstrate a two percent overall profit. This is unacceptable. Under Goenfal's leadership, we saw several unnecessary bonuses paid out to the higher echelons of this corporation - that is to say - the lot of you sitting in this office. While I'm certain you worked tirelessly to curry his favor and kindled friendships in hopes of doing so - I want to make it clear that such pandering will not take place under my charge of this organization. I expect results - and I expect them hastily. I don't care to further your financial claims out of an obligation of friendship. I expect you to reaffirm your own pockets with the results -I- am due." He moved the cigar from one side of his mouth to the other with his tongue. 


Ashorea sat silently among her colleagues, staring blankly at figures she'd already reviewed in her notebook. Her associates, however, were not as compliant. "Your father would-" Char slammed his left hand against his desk, rising suddenly. "I am not Goenfal Lohengrin. I do not care what he would, or would not, do. I likewise do not care whom assumes the general management position you currently occupy either. Consider that, before you think to lecture me. At present - I dictate the flow of power -and- money. For all intensive purposes, when you go home at night and pray for success... When you call out to your Gods... You should be calling out to me because in this building? So long as you work for Laughing Armaments? I AM YOUR GOD." Char moved to stand upright and stare the portly Hyur down, who slowly sat back in his chair, looking to the ground. The others looked among themselves, unsure and slightly rattled. 


Char slowly eased himself back down into his chair and inclined his head. "I apologize. That was rather loud. I shouldn't have taken that tone with you..." He smashed the tip of his cigar into the ashtray sitting next to a thin stack of folders as if to signify the topic was at rest. "That will be all. I await your bi-weekly reports. If anything of note comes up, pass it along through my secretary." They all rose to exit. "Ashorea... If you'd be so kind, I've some additional terms to be relayed throughout research and development." The female Elezen sat down, feeling the eyes of the four other senior leaders appraising her searchingly before they left. Char began rubbing at his temples, exhaling as if exhausted. "Politics... how trite."


He flipped open the folder on his desk and began looking over the picture of the Au Ra's figure. "What have you brought me?" He asked expectantly as he turned the paper over and looked over hastily written notes regarding the nature of aether and it's countless applications on the battlefield. "The majority of the development team assigned to 'Project DI' have come up as either having their contracts terminated, resigned immediately after the former President Lohengrin's death, or simply deceased. I only found one that retained his position within the company, and he swears to secrecy whenever I ask." She moved to set a single page upon his desk before sitting back down. "This was the initial concept regarding the project submitted to the former president. Rather simplistic, really. I can't see why he would allocate the amount in funding that he did."


Char set his fingers upon the paper and drew it forward, studying the paragraph written in flowing letters. He read the proposal aloud. "Pending the approval of the board, the development team would pursue the battlefield application of subjects that have been appropriately 're-educated' via hypnosis, magical suggestion, and physical reinforcement before infusing them with aether in efforts to enhance their physical, mental, and magical capabilities beyond what was previously conceived as possible. To accompany each infused soldier will be a tailored set of weapons and armor to ensure maximum results on the field of battle. The projected revenue per capita is estimated at 100,000;1. It is believed that the technology already present in modern society is sufficient to achieve the desired results."


 'Approved' was written in his father's hand just to the top right corner, with an accompanying seven figure budget allocation just beneath it. "I should hope this seems as mad an idea to you as it does to me, Ashorea." He looked up at her, expecting a response. She did not break her silence. "I imagine you already knew about this, didn't you?" She nodded, looking up towards him. "I was aware of it before I was appointed as the senior manager of R&D, but not the extent to which it was intended or the reasons why the former president would want to spend such a ridiculous sum on a theoretical pursuit. I didn't want to say anything when you first inquired as my knowledge was so limited, I'd have hated to steer you wrong." She turned her eyes back to her feet. 


"No. You didn't want me to start asking too much of you, for fear I'd be dissatisfied with what you -did- know, meager though it may have been." He stood up and closed the folder, holding onto the render of the Auri figure as he moved to gaze out the window that had only days earlier been washed of his adopted father's blood. "I will assure you that I will not be so inclined to speak with you as I did Davyd. I will take all that you say with a measure of doubt reasonable to your own insight." He looked over his shoulder and smiled at her before looking back out over the dimly lit streets. "Well sir... I only knew that a handful of candidates were selected for trials, mostly prisoners with an acceptable physique. They were purchased under the table and transferred here. We have a subdivision within R&D that houses monsters for testing purposes, so it isn't as if we weren't equipped to house them... However, what I discovered when I crossed the manifests with the number of cells and the maximum capacity, there were inconsistencies."


Char's tail bobbed back and forth as he listened intently. "So... the papers reflect more holding facilities than we actually have? Or perhaps, have direct access to?" She nodded. "We crossed that with the concept for the building prior to it's construction and found that there are in fact, four more cells of smaller sizes hidden deeper below the development floor at the basement... To say it plainly, sir, there is a secret door leading to a hidden holding compound underneath this building." The Miqo'te turned to look at her, perking a brow in interest. "The most interesting fact, however, is that the date those ideas were penned - coincide with the date the idea for 'Project DI' was proposed... which falls -prior- to the company's founding." He returned the drawing to his desk as she finished speaking.


A smile crept along Char's features as he asked with thoughts mirroring his words; "So you mean to imply that Goenfal Lohengrin's entire reason for building this company from the ground up - was to fulfill a twisted, and rather poorly written, concept for some manner of 'super soldier'?" She shook her head. "I hadn't thought on that, sir. Only that it was all we had at present." He moved to stand behind her, setting his hands upon her shoulders. Ashorea tensed up, as his fingers dug into her skin - before he began to lightly massage them. She relaxed slightly. "I trust you had this hidden room inspected?" He asked, working the stress along her muscles out with skilled hands. "Yes. I had one of the security detachments clear it out; there wasn't much in the way of written documentation, but there was an Au Ra prisoner still inside, malnourished and absent minded... I've since taken measures to ensure he is attended. I have no way of knowing how long he's been left to his lonesome, but I don't feel it a stretch to imagine it wasn't long after the former president's passing - given the recent appearance of the anatomy papers."


"How long until he's ready to speak, do you think?" He asked, breathing along the back of her neck intentionally. "A w-week or t-two..." She stuttered, feeling her cheeks flush. "Then we have all night to form some theories of our own."

Link to comment





[align=center]Chapter 4[/align]


Ashorea pushed at an inconspicuous button hidden along the underside of a dust covered desk towards the back of an office which had long been left derelict and without purpose. The wall behind her slender Elezen frame shifted, before sliding backwards and then to the left revealing a dimly illuminated stairwell. "How cliche." Char chided as his lips pulled into an amused smirk. "I rather think so too, but I should think the secret the former president Lohengrin wished hidden warranted it." She replied, leading the way down into the depths.


Ceruleum lights pulsed along the walls as they descended, a stagnant scent of decay filled their noses and the air grew heavy with humidity. "Seven hells... They think to build a secret room, but neglect air filtration of any sort. Let's just cut every corner we can." Char stuffed his hands into his pockets and voiced his frustrations cynically as they emerged from the spiral of stairs into a small enclosure housing a single cylindrical containment unit filled with remnants of concentrated aether lingering visibly within. Circling it were all manner of scientific impliments the like of which Char had never seen before. Ashorea, anticipating his question, began to speak as he circled the apparatus. 


"As far as I can tell, this device was designed to forcibly 'bath' individuals in raw and unprocessed aether. You might say it's akin to force-feeding a child that refuses to eat... only in this instance, there is the very real potential of death if the appropriate levels of exposure are not maintained... While scarce, the documentation we have regarding early tests of the device indicate that it hasn't met with a high success rate. Only one in ten survive and of those only one in every five demonstrated the potential the former President had laid out his criteria for... However..."


Char reached out and tapped at the glass, the flows of aether reflected in his mismatched eyes. "However?" He turned his head to gaze up at her expectantly. "...Those that met the criteria had either fallen into dementia or later suffered from a spontaneous and complete failure of their vital organs." Ashorea moved to examine a clipboard that had been collecting dust in the corner of the room. "With some time to familiarize myself with the technology, and your permission, I might be able to improve upon those results." The Miqo'te laughed in an amused fashion, regarding her with a wry grin. "You're getting much to far ahead of yourself. I'm only here because this piques my curiosity - I have yet to express any interest in furthering his work."


She moved to the back of the room, opening a door leading down a narrow hallway in which two security personnel had been assigned earlier yesterday. "You may change your mind when you see our friend." She replied softly, as she maneuvered around the two and into the room - Char sauntering idly behind her into a holding area afforded only the barest amount of light. This was where the foul odor originated, and he suddenly wished he was wearing a mask of some sort as the stench of fecal matter and death battled against his keen nostrils. Ashorea showed little signs of care about it as she stood beside the last set of iron bars on the left, motioning for him to look inside.


Within the enclosed space was a single Au Ra male clamped in irons about his wrists with both arms spread aloft as if suspended in place. He rested on his knees, breathing softly with locks of blue hair falling along his face which was angled downward. Despite looking remarkable given the amount of time Ashorea had said he went without food or sustenance, something about him seemed sickly all the same. Above him a thin ray of moonlight shined down upon him from a shaft reaching some several fifty or sixty feet above him, also cast in iron bars at the top like a drainage system. Drops of water announced themselves as they fell from above and plopped along the floor. 


Char studied the young man from outside of the cell for the longest time, before the silence was broken by the Au Ra''s surprisingly soft voice. "...What have you need of..? More questions in pursuit of broken answers?" He turned his head slowly upright, revealing a ragged cloth wrapped over his eyes. "...Or come you now to continue my pain? It's absence is noticed and raises questions on my part as surely as my very presence has on yours..." The Miqo'te rested his arms along the bars and leaned forward, as if getting closer to a zoo animal that captivated a child's imagination. "I'm not sure what I'm going to do with you yet, if that's what you mean to ask. Until just recently I hadn't any inkling of your existence... or anything down here for that matter." 


"It is of little consequence. The woman has explained that my fate is in your hands, as it seems you have inherited all that my jailers would have claimed for themselves... Carry you the lusts and greeds they did as they destroyed the others that have occupied the now silent rooms beyond this one?" The Au Ra tilted his head to the side, indicating that he was awaiting an answer. "I will admit that I do find their studies to be fascinating, Au Ra." He looked to Ashorea, and then moved from the bars. "Open it." She blinked in sudden confusion. "What?" His eyebrows furrowed. "Open. The. Cell." He reiterated as if insulting her intelligence. She stared at him in disbelief before moving to press several buttons along a keypad beside the cell - the iron bars slowly pulled to the right and allowed for entry.


Char took a breath as he crossed the threshold and approached the man at the back of the cell. "What would you do, were you me?" The Au Ra's cracked lips pulled into something of an amused smile. "I would do as the other's, for I know nothing else... I survive in this darkness, when all other's have lost their light and faded away... The rest have come, and their voices gone... I always remain." Char perked a brow. "You do not desire to be let free to roam the world?" The Au Ra shook it's head. "I know not what the word means beyond one's own navigation of a world I do not comprehend... Even if I admitted to such a desire, would you agree to set me loose upon this world?" The question sounded rhetorical and damning as the Au Ra craned his neck to further look up in Char's direction. "No. I would not. At best I would see you disposed of in as painless a manner as possible. I don't know what would come of letting you free of your bonds."


"The first to loose me from the irons was broken after time in the machine. I felt pain, and it held to me for a very long time. The scientist that shared with me his time, his words, and his companionship examined me... For all he gave me... I wanted to return; I shared with him my pain, and now he shan't hurt again." His tail began bobbing back and forth, skittering against the loose stones of the floor, his answer devoid of any humor or remorse - a neutral and unapologetic tone. "You killed him to share your pain?" Char repeated, lost in thought that someone like this was kneeling before him. "Yes. That is what friends do... They share their joys and burdens alike - he claimed to be my friend and so I wished proof of that fact... He was a very good friend." 


Ashorea eyed the two warily from the hallway, wearing her concern for the president's safety openly. "It has been dark since then... since he looked into my eyes and saw me as I am for all their collective poking and prodding... Stared into the sea of the soul they had spent so much time molding... From then forth I have not seen as you do. I bid you now, if it please you, remove this veil that I might look upon you, within you as they within me... To know my intent as I would know yours."


Char reached out to pull the blindfold from the Au Ra, and what met him was a glowing set of eyes - eyes that pulled at him as he met their gaze. From the depths of his heart he felt a growing despair, the weight of a fear only just realized of some unknowable force pulling at his very being. He felt his body begin to tremble, and he dropped the blindfold to the floor. "What see you, fate-bearer? What see you within me?" The Miqo'te stumbled back, a lump catching in his throat which refused the passage of words. "What see you!?" The Au Ra demanded, standing upright, lurching forward to the extent his bonds would allow, staring him down. There was a silence that filled the air before Char answered upon shutting his eyes tightly. "Power unknowable... And the fear such power stirs." His breathing grew labored as he turned to leave the cell, looking now to his feet as the iron bars shut behind him. 


"You will not go free. You will remain as you have; At my word, we will see this project upon it's feet once more in due course. You promote the need for study - of this experiment, and of the mind." Ashorea set a hand upon Char's shoulder, only to be brushed off. "Lock him in, and see that he's monitored with an especially mindful eye... then bring the lone researcher assigned to this project to me. We'll see just what they wanted with him, and what we might make of everything left to us... I want to proceed with this project." He strode off down the hallway at a brisk pace leaving the woman to gaze now upon the Auri looking in her direction. "And what do you see, woman?"


Her reply wasn't as delayed as the Au Ra seemed to expect. "I see nothing more than a broken plaything in want of reconstruction." The Elezen regarded him with a tilted chin. "...Something I will take delight in rebuilding." The Au Ra could only smile in reply as he turned his head to gaze up at the moon, seemingly content with her answer. "As I expected. Pain and darkness do not relent. The faces and voices change, but the dark shadows are ever present." She turned on her heels and set away from the man shackled to the walls, his voice following after her. "Carry me back to them as you will, woman. Carry me back to my shadows."

Link to comment





[align=center]Chapter 5[/align]



Blood dripped along the floor, pooling into several small puddles as it collected at the base of a thin Hyur's bound feet. "I will ask again. What did you do with the Auri tucked in the basement below?" Char made a motion with his hand, indicating the Roegadyn conducting the interrogation alongside him should strike again - he obliged, rewarding his zeal with another tooth flung across the floor. "Gyuh...guh..nya..." The Hyur stumbled over his tongue, trying to form the words and collect himself from the past hour's proceedings. 


"I'm sorry. I didn't quite hear that. Can you speak up?" The Roegadyn scooped the thin man up by the hair and held him upright with one hand, suspended just over the floor. His feet kicked back and forth as he struggled. "...W-we j-just put him in 'The Vial'! That's all! S-studied the effects it had, the ideal parameters of exposure... t-t-the explosive gain of muscle mass and raw power." The President waved his hand, tail wrapping about his waist as he moved to pull a chair from the corner for the Hyur. His Roegadyn companion lifted him up even further before slamming him down forcefully into the hard metal chair, soliciting a satisfying yelp from the significantly smaller man. 


"...And what of the others? Surely he wasn't the only subject." Char rested his back against the wall and perked a brow alongside his question. "T-they... died of their own accord... or were disposed of as the chief determined... Some g-grew irrational, even f-for prisoners." Char pulled a worn paper from within the first fold of his blazer and inclined his head. "Yes, we read as much... but what was done with the bodies?" The beaten Hyur lifted his head to gaze up at the Miqo'te, tears welling in his eyes and running down his swollen lips. "W-what we did was... horrible. W-we took the aether-rich subjects, a-and w-w-we had them 'processed'... We took the vast reserves of aether we pumped them full of, rent them asunder and had it refined into ceruleum; After that... there wasn't much to actually d-d-dispose of... The ceruleum was then in turn placed in storage to further develop personalized weapons and armor for the subjects that would eventually p-progress past testing stages." 


"Were any of these 'personalized' effects ever actually developed, or was that still just in the planning stages?" Char motioned to the Roegadyn that he might leave. The larger man grunted, and departed - closing the two inside of the enclosed room. "...N-no... The designs themselves were drafted, but we only had the one v-viable subject b-before your father's death... We never had the time to develop the weapon or the armor..." The Hyur wiggled against his bindings a moment as he tried to push himself upright. "So your Auri prisoner was ready for further testing and observation?" His tail unwound itself and began bobbing back and forth in front of him. "Y-yes... though he has exhibited the signs of mental instabilities frequent in the others... They are not as profoundly taxing on him, and with proper medicinal treatment they may even be regulated... T-though I doubt we'll ever stabilize his mind in it's entirety..."


"How plausible do you think it, if we decided to relocate this project and your... 'Vial'?" The Hyur tilted his head to one side, confused. "We're going to continue the project, and to have a former member of the development team as it's new chief director... That would be a boon in and of itself." Char moved to cut the man's binds. "...Where?" The Hyur asked after considering the offer. "...Eorzea. We've no shortage of potential customers... or subjects... in that region. T'is time for a change my good doctor... You and I are just the men to bring about that change." There was another pause before the thin man replied in defeat. "...I will make the necessary preparations... But..." He inhaled sharply, before asking a question he thought certain to purchase further pain.


"The morality of the matter does not trouble you?" The man grasped at his wrists and rubbed at them, as Char removed the rope holding his feet. "Morality is a grey area. You can claim good, or you may claim evil... But you will never indefinitely act on one or the other because society's views on how they are defined shift with time. The only true defining object is the currency with which our morals - and society's - may be bought." The President moved to knock on the door. "What does 'Project DI' stand for?" Char asked, peering over his shoulder. "...Dark Immortal; Fitting... for through our dark hearts did we commit such atrocities."


The Roegadyn reappeared within the doorway, holding it aloft for Char. As he exited the room, Ashorea stood on the opposite side of the door, looking up expectantly. "He spoke truly, and added further insight into what we already knew... He'll be joining you as the chief director of this 'Project Dark Immortal'... In Eorzea." She blinked, surprise taking her eyes. "What?" He nodded in affirmation. "Yes. I'm already in the process of arranging passage for you, our friend in there, and the related materials vital to the project."

Link to comment





[align=center]Chapter 6[/align]



Char had taken it upon himself to personally oversee the transfer of the Au Ra prisoner that had unsettled him only two weeks before. The Miqo'te adjusted his tie and folded his arms, as two men exchanged one pair of shackles for another, revealing worn and bloodied wrists - he'd clearly been there longer than Char had first thought. There was another blindfold wrapped tightly over his eyes - despite this he could feel the Au Ra looking at him, without a word exchanged. 


He allowed the security guards to lead ahead, as he followed in their footsteps, stopping only to observe the now empty research room which had once been filled to bursting with technology incomprehensible to his mind. Ashorea stood in a corner, likewise fixated on the departure of the sole subject of 'Project Dark Immortal'. Unlike the President, there wasn't even the faintest hint of uncertainty. Her eyes shined with all the intent of a religious zealot on a pilgrimage. 


Char moved to stand beside her, looking up the spiral of stairs as the three figures ascended beyond view. "I must admit that you're certainly radiant this evening." A smile filled the Elezen's features as she nodded her head in agreement. "I'm very excited to be a part of all this. We're practically pioneering a new field of aetheric research. Imagine how history might see it... Doctor Ashorea Mo'Thana, the woman whom ushered in the next generation of warrior. Ancient Allag, Garlemald... Neither will compare should we see success in this venture." The Miqo'te brushed his tail along her leg as he wandered past her and up the stairs. "Just you remember whom it is that had the vision and foresight to appoint so brilliant a mind to the project."


He moved through the desolate office, up another flight of stairs and stood now just outside of the lobby. Men and women moving back and forth - completely oblivious to the changes taking place just beneath their feet. He could only shake his head as he pushed past them to stand outside among the grey clouds towering overhead, casting rain over all they stood over. 'Ever your son, even in direct defiance.' He thought to himself, as his hair grew matted and stuck to his face in clumps. In the distance, he could see the airship that promised to deliver the foundation of his desires. 


"President Lohengrin!" A voice called from behind - it was the new 'Chief Director' of 'Dark Immortal'. "Ah, Professor Hoerner. I did not think we'd speak again before you departed." The Hyur whom had been confined and beaten only weeks ago, stood now in perfect health... save for the noticeable absence of two front teeth. "N-neither d-d-did I, in t-t-truth." He replied, holding out a clipboard upon which sat a single paper. "W-we needed your a-approval to transfer the crystal to Eorzea... You'll f-find it also covers our more discreet shipment." 


"Ah, but of course." He plucked a pen from along Hoerner's breast pocket and signed his name in flowing letters before returning it whence it came. "I do hope you and Ashorea do not find yourself wanting for anything upon your arrival - though if you should find establishing yourselves to be too much trouble, you need but send word and I will respond swiftly to your needs... I do also hope that you might forgive the lengths to which I went in order to solicit your compliance."


The man shook his head, still stuttering as he replied. "N-not at all... Y-you were m-most agreeable once we'd moved past the unpleasantness. In t-truth I d-d-didn't think that I would be g-given such a prestigious responsibility." He tucked the clipboard under an arm and nodded happily as he rushed off into the rain. "I'll have our first report ready before month's end!" He called out over the downpour. The Miqo'te could only smirk, as he turned about and returned to the confines of his office.


From his vantage point some several stories above the landscape he awaited the departure of the airship Absolution with a single glass of bourbon in hand. Tonight it began... The sweeping shadows that were his desires would follow beneath that lone ship as it skulked along darkened skies. As it lifted into the air, all he could make out was it's silhouette... Though distorted and hidden by both the cover of night and the torrential downpour of rain, to him it was the brilliant rays of change. The artificial crystals, Project Dark Immortal, and the brilliant minds charged with both could only herald, as Ashorea had said, a new age for weapons and the revolution of private security. He toasted the distant airship as it vanished into the clouds, laughing at how fortuitous and easily his fortunes had been laid within his lap. 

Link to comment
  • 1 year later...

(Given the context of the latest patch, I felt this entire thread needed a bump and an epilogue. Kinda funny how this story lined up parallel to Stormblood's MSQ before it was even released. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did writing it.)


[align=center]Epilogue; 1 Year Later[/align]


[align=center]s4tLIRpdij4 [/align]


Char Lohengrin set his feet atop the desk, lofting one over the other before sinking into his seat. His tail swished idly along his right side, as he removed his glasses and let them fall from his grasp unto the floor. It was already a terribly long evening, and this thin notebook sitting in his hands threatened to extend it well into the dawning hours of the following morning. His whole body felt as if it might begin trembling all at once, but the tremors never came... Was it anger? No, that wasn't right. 'There must be an explanation...' 


Fear. The fear of the unknowable and wretched abomination he himself was responsible for. His father's legacy - adopted like he himself - to suit a definitive end... Only to unsettle the stage upon which all life dances. His stomach churned and the first grips of anxiety began to tighten their hold upon his heart. Sweat pooled along his forehead and his ears pinned upright as if in anticipation of a threat surely some thousand leagues far afield.


'Such fools were we to trifle with that which we do not fully comprehend... Even Ashorea must have known better... Where did we go wrong? What signs did we ignore? Was it greed? No, even I know better than to follow my father's example... Pride? Ah, but of course it had to be! So arrogant was I to think I might improve upon his own designs, derived on a simple piece of paper without even the faintest glimmer of recognition of such forces that shape the idea they were meant to represent...'


He swallowed the growing lump in his throat, and opened the notebook - his clammy hands staining the first sheets of paper upon first contact. 'Report #452 - Ashorea Mo'Thana' His eyes danced frantically from word to word, taking in the specifics of the havoc wreaked upon the Eorzea branch's research laboratory; The several mutilated and disemboweled corpses that were left behind in the wake of this -creature's- work.


The large scale damage and expenses wrought with the rampant and uncontrollable invocation of aether in such vast quantities it would shatter any ordinary individual... It -had- shattered it... Whatever that -thing- was, it was certainly nothing of Hydaelyn's design. They had presumed themselves fit to fill the roles of Gods, and in their arrogance... unleashed something terribly vile upon themselves, and indeed, the rest of the world. A remorseless creature filled with nothing but agony and despair walking upright and speaking as though a man. '...But of course, what else could it have known? It was not water, but fuel that we sought to stoke the fire with... We coaxed from embers, an inferno... Oh Father... What have you and I done?' 


The various names of those employed at the research site deemed deceased began to spill out in well arranged brackets to include cost estimates as to how much it might cost to replace them. Everything - neat and orderly - as he'd normally like it. He shook his head, willing himself further until he settled his eyes upon a particular name that hooked his attention and refused to surrender it. 'Stroud Forscythe?!' 


His friend; The mercenary. This was to be his last intended assignment before pursuing a simpler life with his fiance... There it was at last, the guilt to drive him to tears and a fury. He stood swiftly in a huff, casting the notebook against the far wall with a wail of frustration. His breath became labored, as if stolen away all at once - there was a gravity of loss that took him, the like of which he'd only experienced once with the passing of his mother. 


'We create our own monsters... Don't we? So then...' He felt his back press against the cold steel wall behind him, and he fell to a slump against it - face buried in his palms. Tears rushed past his eyes, despite his own best efforts to suppress them. '...so then...' There came a knock at his office door. "Mister President..." The door opened, a lithe young man announcing himself as he strode in. "...All reports indicate that we're-" The Miqo'te raised his hand for silence, shaking his head in somber and pensive mood. "...I do believe we are finished, Master Lockenne.... I would advise collecting your final payment and vacating the premises before you are bid fall alongside this crumbling venture of ours."


"Sir... Ashorea was found dead; Shot herself earlier in the day, they think." The man replied, all three eyes averting to the ground. "...Yes, I rather thought as much..." Char closed his bleary eyes and reclined in his chair. "...Have the secretary relay the inquisitive minds of the Legatus to my office, and then instruct everyone depart at haste, lest they become implicated further... I suspect with the leak of information and our designs of some years hence they've come to collect what we would deign keep to ourselves... Primitive man has always been entranced by fire; And we'll play with it well past the point of burning..." 


The man inclined his head, before turning to spirit out of Char's office like a man possessed. His friend long missing now declared dead. His father's ambitious foray into sciences of man and machine gone awry, and now... bankruptcy. The nation-state had come for it's due. Garlemald came for Char Lohengrin and the skeletons in his closet. What choice did the man have but to surrender them willingly to whatever ends they might wish if it meant he might somehow salvage his own life from such a sordid affair? 


The minutes dragged, and the silence lingered as the moment blurred to his mind's eye broken only at last by the striding of several boot heels against the stone flooring of the militant escort following behind his expected guest. He rose, tail waggling back and forth nervously as he greeted the armor clad figure. "...Legatus."

Link to comment

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now
  • Create New...