Fybertech: The De Novo Project, Part 9
By: FyberOptic
Sunday, February 19th, 2006

"I already told you, there's nothing here" Jenny stated, a touch of irritation to her voice. She peered over at Fyber, who was gazing out through the windshield of the car, eyes darting back and forth across the ominously dark and quiet road ahead in attempt to disprove her. She rolled her eyes to herself and exhaled from the lack of response. But they continued down West Ridge, in her car of course, looking for some sign of the events from earlier that evening.

He hadn't told her what exactly they were looking for. He wasn't quite sure of that himself, even. But in the initial excitement, he had pulled a story together about Boris running off the road from the ice and getting stuck, which Jenny had almost immediately picked apart by recommending "tell him to use four-wheel drive, for crying out loud", to which Fyber had ingeniously responded to with a "it doesn't work". Making up stories wasn't exactly his strong suit, but apparently it had been enough to garner her help.

Instead of having waited at the lab for her to arrive, he had walked the road himself to save precious minutes. But every minute saved had felt like an eternity, with the cold air nipping at him angrily with each step. He had tried distracting his mind by pouring over the telephone conversation with Boris again in attempt to recall the faintest of details. The last thing he had heard on the line was the gravelly sound of wheels peeling out, so he was relatively secure in the thought that Jenny wouldn't have come across them on her way to pick him up. So it wasn't a complete surprise to hear her insist so earnestly that nothing was there when she had finally arrived. Yet Fyber's insistence had convinced her to turn around for another pass nonetheless.

He was also relatively secure in the thought that this probably meant Boris and Jake were long gone, along with whoever it was that had accosted them. And Arvix Industries thugs of course came to mind for the who part of the equation. But why? So far it had seemed that it was himself that they were most interested in "dealing" with, but he hadn't even been present this time.

Jenny hadn't exactly been his first choice for such a trek, either, but considering she already knew how to get to the lab, and that the danger at this point was hopefully minimal, she seemed a good candidate. It also had something to do with the fact that Vito hadn't answered his phone. In any case, he figured she'd have been angry about driving all the way out that late at night to chauffeur him around, especially based on her appearance. Her unmistakably bouncier-than-usual auburn tresses, to the long suede overcoat that appeared to hide a dress underneath, gave the impression she had been out on a date. But she didn't seem any fussier than usual, perhaps even less so, leaving Fyber to believe that he had perhaps saved her from an evening which hadn't exactly been going very well. He particularly recalled a muttering of "like some kind of donkey" over the phone earlier upon asking if she were busy. He doubted she was referring to political party symbols and decided it was probably best not to ask.

He had, however, already contemplated in his mind approximately where Boris had been stopped at, based on when Boris had mentioned turning onto West Ridge. Fyber had traveled the road so many times between town and the lab that he could almost do it blindfolded. It was as if the weathered feel of the road were vibrations of braille, telling him of each gradual rise and turn. They should be near the general area by now, he thought, as he silently surveyed the road ahead with increased scrutiny. Jenny sighed and started to complain again about the waste of time, but Fyber cut across her upon seeing a glint from the headlights in the distance. "Stop here." he said promptly, sitting up anxiously in his seat to see out, nearly pressing his face against the glass in the door as they passed whatever it was on the road that had alerted him. It was something Jenny had apparently not noticed, for she frowned and sighed again, but pulled over off the side of the road and stopped, Fyber already impatiently tugging at the door handle and out of the car just as it had stopped moving.

Jenny got out as well, but with a disapproving huff which materialized as a thick cloud of steam in the cold night air, and walked around behind the purring car to where Fyber was knelt above something; something which sparkled in the faint red glow of the taillights. He pulled the hand torch he had brought from the lab up over his head, freeing the strap from around his shoulder, and flicked the three-way switch to the lantern setting, spewing its fluorescent light across the pavement.

It was then that Jenny realized what laid alongside the far edge of the road was a moderate pile of glass, about the size of - "A car window?" she asked, kneeling down beside Fyber to pick up a tiny wet shard. It sparkled like a freshly cut diamond under the lantern's glow as she rolled it lightly through her fingers.

Fyber gave a distracted "mmhmm" of acknowledgement, and set his gaze off the road, out into a dark snow-laiden field, bordered by a silhouette of woods several yards out. It was then that he stood and stepped out into the snow, murmuring a "Stay here" to Jenny without a backwards glance.

"I will not." she snapped, getting to her feet in one swift motion before smacking her hands together to brush them free of grime, clearly irritated by such a suggestion.

Fyber stopped and turned to look at her. "Stay here." he repeated, a more serious and fervent tone to his voice now. She drew her head back and stood there abashed, any reply she had been about to make now clearly melting back inside her, apparently having not expected such a reaction. Fyber turned and headed onwards through the thick snow, his torch now revealing to her what Fyber had already noticed: a set of tire tracks leading out towards the woods.

It wasn't exactly a sense of danger that lead to him wanting her to stay behind; it was more the sudden realization of what he might actually find ahead. The realization that Boris, or in particular, Jake, might not have been kidnapped after all.

The snow tugged at his feet, as if not wanting him to continue onwards, adding to a sense of dread building in his chest. His throat burned with each chilled breath, his heart thumped in his ears, fingers becoming numb, while flakes of snow lazily twittered down onto his glasses, instantly turning into water droplets. But ever slowly he could see the edge of the woods come into view from the light of the torch, with the tracks leading inwards, as one could have expected. His mind flashed with the images of skidding through the woods near the lab weeks earlier, coming to the sudden conclusion of his truck meeting an unsuspecting tree. It almost felt the same now, walking into these woods, except agonizingly slower. But he didn't have much farther to go, for soon he could see the outline of a vehicle hidden away just inside the line of wintery timber. Boris' SUV, the menacing tree in his mind which was now beyond avoidance, was recognizable.

He stood at the rear to catch his breath for a short moment, hand propped against the cold metal surface; the trek through the snow drained more energy than he had expected, with having already been tired from walking who knows how far while waiting for Jenny to show up earlier. After a few moments he flipped the three-way switch of the torch forwards, which killed the fluorescent lantern across the top and brought the flashlight at the front to life instead, and after another reluctant pause, he moved to check for what he had been dreading.

He pointed the beam of light through the rear window, directing it around the insides of the vehicle. It was hard to tell for certain from the frost which almost entirely coated the glass, but it appeared to be empty. He raised his jacket sleeve to wipe a large area clear, but it was still too steamed from the inside to matter. With a disconcerted grunt he slowly and cautiously made his way around to the side for a better look. But having put his undivided attention towards the inside, his foot caught on something unexpected outside, sending his flashlight-laden hand grabbing instinctively for the icey frame of the car, but to no avail. He tumbled to the ground with a mushy thud, and the flashlight with an unnatural clank.

Fortunately, the snow helped cushion his fall, which was about the only positive thing he could say about it at the moment. But unforunately, his knees had landed on something which may as well have been solid rock. He wearily rolled over onto the icey bed of snow with a groan, quick to remove his hands from the painfully cold white powder, before directing his gaze to the large flat object beside him where the flashlight rested. Somewhat to his surprise, he realized it wasn't rock at all, but a car door, with a tuft of snow poking through where the glass should be. He immediately grabbed for the light with his stiffened fingers and swung it upwards, finding that it was in fact the door from the vehicle beside him. No wonder he never saw it in the twilight, he thought, since the car was as equally white as the snow it was partially buried in.

Directing the light back down to the severed door, he scooped the snow away from the edge and felt at the hinges. Or at least, what was left of them. They were torn and splayed outwards, like long gnarled fingers. Perhaps another car drove into it? Or maybe it rolled over? He swung the light back and forth, checking for further damage to the SUV itself, but strangely enough, found none.

A sudden burst of bright light flooded his eyes from in the distance, followed by footsteps sloshing quickly towards him through the snow. His heart froze as he swung his own light around, but he was much too blinded to see anything as the approaching one erratically darted back and forth across face, showering his eyes with intense color, having to draw a hand in front of him as he staggered helplessly to his feet to block it, with the footsteps still quickly advancing.

"Did you find him?" huffed a nearly exhausted Jenny, racing up next to him and almost tripping over the somewhat-buried car door herself. Her gaze shifted down at the unsuspecting object, then back up at Fyber, who was busy wincing to rid his eyes of the painful color blotches still floating in his vision.

"I thought I told you to wait out there." he griped, blinking widely as his sight began to return, and impatiently waving her flashlight away from his face.

She just smirked. "Since when do I listen to you guys?" she replied distractedly, and crouched to check out the object at her feet. Her expression seemed the same as Fyber's had been, with initial confusion, the consideration of how it came to be laying there, then directing her light across the side of the vehicle to apparently check for damage.

"I don't know how it got like that" Fyber replied, just before she had started to ask the question he had already asked himself a moment ago. She pursed her lips and furrowed her brow, swinging her beam of light over to the SUV again, while drawing her free arm across her chest. A breeze had begun sweeping through the woods, stinging against their exposed skin, while the trees above rustled against one another indifferently. Fyber started to wish he had a coat as long as Jenny's, resorting to turning up the collar of his jacket instead, while shoving his free hand into his jeans pocket, shaking off a shiver which crept up his spine.

"Look here." she breathed hastily, at which Fyber brought his light to meet hers, which pointed through the drivers side opening and all the way through the other. He realized she was aiming at metal shards, the remains of hinges, sticking out of that side as well. "Both doors?" she asked, turning to him expectantly.

Fyber responded with a shrug and treaded over to the other side, but not immediately seeing the door that belonged there. Jenny hurried to follow, and they both searched around their new position, eventually finding the other door flung out into the woods several feet away, partially obstructed by a snowy shrub. They both went around to crouch over it, drawing their lights along its edges. "Here" she said, stopping her beam at a set of indentations on the side closest to her. Fyber slid his hand across the iced chunk of metal to examine it crudely.

That particular end seemed to have been crushed by something, but oddly not in a pattern one would expect from another vehicle driving over it. As he felt over the marks, he came to a startling realization; his pale fingers seemed to line up with the indentations almost exactly, prompting an apprehensive grip across the entire mark to confirm his suspicion. He curled his fingertips over the edge of the door, and aligned his thumb with the other mark further to the side, which was a deeper indentation than the others. Even though whatever had made the impression was larger than his own hand, it was certainly no coincidence that it fit, he thought. Jenny had apparently come to the same conclusion, and they exchanged a troubled glance with one another.

She swung her light out into the woods and rose promptly to her feet, searching the frigid darkness. "Boris?" she yelled, looking a bit disturbed now. Her call was ignored except by the trees, which rustled quietly in response as another breeze swept past. She stepped forwards and called again, apparently determined to search the forest herself, but Fyber grabbed her coat sleeve and stood up.

"He's not out there." he said, quietly.

"How do yo-" she started, trying to pull her arm free from his grasp, but he interrupted calmly.

"Let's go."

She stared at him through a combination of reluctance and worry across her face, but Fyber simply turned and started towards the road, treading a path back through the shimmering snow.

- - -

Neither of them spoke on the way back to the lab. It was only when Fyber found himself trying to convince Jenny that it was okay to drive through what appeared to be solid stone that either of them had any reason to speak, and that was more an argument than anything else. She seemed sulkier than usual now, perhaps from being bossed around so many times in one night by a guy she barely knew who lived in a cave in the middle of nowhere, was apparently unemployed at that, and was now trying to convince her to drive into a rock face. If she had never thought of him as a lunatic before, she certainly did now, and made no effort to keep such thoughts to herself.

"Oh for heaven's sake" he griped, swinging open the door in exasperation and exiting the vehicle. Perhaps due to their immediate clash of attitudes, it apparently hadn't occured to Fyber yet that not wanting to drive through solid objects was a perfectly sane viewpoint from a person having no knowledge of holograms.

She simply glared at him as he crossed in front of the car, her fingers gripping around the leather skin of the steering wheel as if it were Fyber's neck. He cut through the luminous beams of the headlights, momentarily hiding the snowflakes falling around them, and stomped off towards a section of rock face up ahead and to the left. For a moment she even considered just leaving, glancing in the rear-view mirror at the path back down the rocky knoll, but decided to wait for what small bit of satisfaction she might get by watching him crash into the wall.

Such an event never occured, however, with her reaction quite the opposite of the sneer she had been preparing for. Only a half-formed mutter of astonishment slipped past her lips before her jaw dropped open, witnessing a man walk through what her brain most assuredly told her was a solid object, only to become further dumbfounded a moment later when an entire section of the earthly obstacle disappeared. This revealed the mouth of the cave that part of her brain recognized from her initial visit, weeks prior to now, when Boris had brought her to tend Fyber's wounds from the car accident. But that part of her brain was being overridden by the one still occupied with holding her mouth open.

Another moment later Fyber stepped back into view around the edge of the open cave and motioned for her to pull inside. He had almost regretted having gotten out of the car now as dragon-like jets of steam spired from his nostrils with each breath, and regretted it even more so with each additional moment of impatient staring and gesturing necessary before Jenny brought herself together well enough to close her mouth, who then put the car back into drive and did as instructed. Fyber walked alongside her as she pulled in, waiting till she rolled to a stop before reactivating the illusion with a tap of the control pad next to the nearly featureless metal door at the back left of the squarish cavern. Another tap flooded it with a vibrant light from overhead.

From this perspective, the artificial rock didn't appear solid at all, but more of a faintly fluttering semi-transparent image, and inside-out at that. Jenny gawked at it as she carelessly climbed out of the car, having wrestled with the seatbelt for a time before managing to stand upright. She did much as Boris had initially done at that point, and moved over to this rather strange phenomenon, reaching out a timid hand to brush her fingertips across its shimmery surface, producing the faintest of ripples in their wake.

Fyber stepped closer, pushing her car door shut as he passed, the clunk of which startled its owner, distracting her from her first encounter with whatever this magic was. "Hologram" he said plainly, as if that were enough to describe what she was witnessing. She stared at him, her lips slightly ajar. She looked back at it, then at him again.

"That's not possible." she said finally, pointing blindly behind her, her head shaking slowly with disapproval.

"Sure it is," he responded, a smirk forming across his face, "they come standard in every bomb shelter." She didn't seem to find this very amusing, but it was a satisfying retort nonetheless. He approached the door again, tapping the sufficient number of beeping buttons before the lock behind the stone clanked free, and the door slid open of its own accord. He gestured with a flick of his head to the new opening, which was steadily becoming brighter as lights began clicking on in series down the curving passageway. "Come on."


The warmth of the lab was very inviting, and at this point in time Fyber had no will to leave it again anytime soon. He headed directly for the left hallway upon entering the rounded control room, tossing "I'm gonna put on some coffee" over his shoulder as he strolled for the bedroom, already unzipping his light brown jacket noisily and rolling it free of his shoulders, the back of which now noticably wet in the light from his tumble in the snow earlier.

Jenny just nodded, distracted by what she had just seen, and by what she still saw, as she stood at the end of the entrance hallway, just inside the control room. It was much brighter here than it had been the other time. She couldn't help but wonder if the lights had been dimmed on that occasion on purpose, because she definately spotted a number of things she hadn't before. She had realized the presence of computers then of course, but not quite the magnitude.

She found that almost every section of sleek metaled wall was covered in at least some kind of computerized interface, the contents of which she was clueless to. Each section also appeared as if it were completely removable, and upon further observation, she realized this was apparently the case. Some of the panels on the other side of the room were in fact removed, resting in the floor beneath their openings, one of which emitting intermittent flashes of blue light from something inside which she couldn't see from this point of view.

After visually surveying what looked to her like some kind of missile complex, she drew her coat around her instinctively and crossed her arms, as if being in a cave undoubtedly meant it was cold inside. She slowly sauntered further into the room, following the curve of the wall clockwise as she stepped past each panel in an attempt to deduce its meaning.

The first one directly to her left appeared to be some indication of electricity, graphing peak usage in the occasional spike across the status display. This particular panel had more indicators than most of the others it seemed, with multiple screens relaying a jungle of information which reminded her of something from a power plant. For a moment she believed that might be exactly what it was, giving it a bewildered look. She impulsively turned a bit and looked over her right shoulder, observing the green pulsating glow emitted by the cylinder stationed in the table at the center of the room. It hummed with each climbing surge of light, in a steady, almost mesmerizing rhythm. She wondered what the light was, where it was coming from, and where it was going. It very much resembled one of the animated icons on the panel nearest her, but it was no more helpful than staring at the real thing. After a moment of thought she shrugged off her bewilderment and moved on.

The next panel was more simplified, using just a single screen with a myriad of controls underneath, but was perhaps equally confusing overall. There was a set of coordinates in the top left corner of the screen, and an animated series of lines bouncing back and forth between a small sphere in the center and an object orbiting it. There were multiple objects circling, in fact, but the waves only animated towards one, which was highlighted and labeled "GALAXY 4R". Further to the right sat a smaller window, its heading also "GALAXY 4R", and listed a number of abbreviations along with numbers beside each. The only abbreviation she recognized was "HDTV", but in this case she wasn't sure if it was referring to television or not.

She moved along to the next, which seemed to only display a bar graph, each marked with "CPU" followed by a digit. The bars fluctuated often, some turning red on occasion. One of the bars was stuck at 0 and blinking "FAIL" below its label. There was a similar bar graph on a screen below that one, except each labeled with "DISK" followed by their corresponding number. Many of these were near the top of the chart, some of the bars having turned an orangish hue, with a couple fully red. Below each label on this graph were two lights, each labeled with R and W, and most of them were actively flickering.

Next was the hallway Fyber had disappeared down, which Jenny recalled lead to a small bedroom. She decided not to follow, and continued circling around the control room. To the right of the corridor was a solid panel without any displays at all, but whatever was underneath seemed to hum more loudly than the others. She stepped closer, leaning her ear ever nearer to the cover, but not quite willing to make contact with it. The faintest of clicking and chattering could be heard inside, as if something were trying to gnaw its way out. She gave it a curious look, but moved on.

Past that, now on the opposite side of the room from the main entrance hallway, was what appeared to be normal computers. Normal, at least, compared to everything else around her. Embedded into the wall were four workstations, side-by-side, yet slightly angled to one another to retain the curve of the room. Each portrayed a desk-like shape, with their top halves reaching farther back into the wall than their middles, on which standard keyboard keys poked up through their slightly upwards-slanting surface. Each station had two screens: a small one pointed upwards directly above the keyboard, and another larger one pointed outwards on the inset upper half of the wall. They each also had high-backed stools slid neatly underneath.

Only one of the screens was active, and in somewhat of a surprise of normality, displayed the AutoZone website. She moved closer, craning her neck to eye an order confirmation screen. She didn't know anything about car parts, but she was quite sure they were for a motorcycle, since one of them did in fact say "motorcycle" in the description. Under normal circumstances she might be confused as to why he was ordering parts for a motorcycle she had never seen him use, but all things considered, there was apparently a lot she didn't know.

Past the terminals was another solid panel, this one also humming, but without the chatter. A warmth seemed to emanate from it, more so than the others. Beside that, there was another corridor. This one appeared unfinished however, still exposing most of its cavern walls. A faint chill crept its way out of the darkness within. She found herself rather curious to know what was down there, but the prospect of walking through an unknown pitch-black cavern didn't appeal to her that much. She felt a shiver come over her and pulled her coat around her again, moving away from the passageway.

To its right was an open panel, exposing a mess of wiring and circuits. An unconnected cable lay dangling freely inside, the end of which emitting a bright blue light, flickering at random. It reminded her of a fiberoptic Christmas tree or some other kind of dazzling object one might find at a specialty shop. There were other disconnected cables heading towards the same general location, so she assumed something inside had been removed that they were all normally attached to. The intense flashing was a bit hard on the eyes, leaving her squinting as she moved on.

This panel was probably the only one she had any chance of recognizing, despite having never seen anything like it. There was a symbol of water droplets, and a temperature indicator. Another screen with animated lines lead, from what she perceived was a battery representation, to a cylinder shape at the top. She deduced that at least part of all this was for water temperature. Other displays on the same panel seemed to indicate a pump status, and some other things she didn't quite recognize. She actually found herself impressed now, having always pictured in her mind Fyber boiling pots of creek water or something in his supposed bomb shelter. It didn't feel much like a bomb shelter now at all. She wasn't quite sure what it felt like, though, since there was no indication of it being capable of launching missiles at this point, ruling out the missile silo assumption.

Next to the water panel was another combination panel, which seemed to indicate heating and lighting. At least, she assumed that's what the latter was, based on a light bulb icon and the word "lumens" across a series of bars. Each bar perhaps represented a bulb, she thought. It wasn't until she examined the heating display on the same panel, which apparently meant that it was 70 degrees in the room, that she finally realized she was needlessly clutching her coat around herself, and loosened her grip somewhat.

The last panel near the entrance hallway was also removed, exposing more elaborate guts of the lab. She took less interest in this and turned back around, facing the pulsating light in the center of the room once more. And again, she wondered what could produce such a light. The cylinder couldn't have been more than a couple of feet across, yet it spanned from somewhere below the table all the way into the ceiling. It clearly had a purpose, as everything else in the room did. And again, she eyed the first panel of the room, with the matching wireframe representation of the object, animating in sequence with the real thing. She stepped closer to the center of the room, resting her hands on the edge of the round table. The hum that followed each pulse of light before her was almost soothing. For lack of a better description, it gave her the sensation of warmth, but without feeling heat.

Movement caught her eye as Fyber rounded the corner and came back into view, entering the control room with two mugs of coffee. She smiled faintly in appreciation as he handed one of them to her, and they both took a sip of the scalding black liquid.

"So I guess there's some things I should fill you in on" Fyber eventually said, a relucant expression filling his face as he moved over to the center table and slid a stool out from underneath to sit on. He rested his mug on the table, soon resting his elbow against the surface as well, reaching his fingers down to turn the steamy container slowly by its rim while eyeing it importantly, in what Jenny perceived was a nervous mannerism. She sipped her own again noisily and simply waited, letting him get his thoughts in order.

That was the problem, however. He tried to think of where to possibly begin. How do you tell a person that someone tried to kill you twice, tried to kill your friend as well, and now had apparently kidnapped said friend and another person who wasn't even involved. He considered these facts for a moment, feeling her gaze boring at the side of his head, as if to get directly at his thoughts. This was possibly a better alternative, he mused, if only it worked.

But then he just started talking, as if his memory were a tape that had just been rewound and couldn't be stopped till it was over. He told her about the suspicious men at the scrap yard that first day. He told her how his crash in the woods, the one which required her assistance, had been intentional. He told her of the return visit he and Boris had made to the scrap yard, only to be turned away and later shot at, narrowly escaping. He told her of the detective Vito that they had hired to help, and of the individuals he had informed them of, some of which had been at the scrap yard originally. He told her about Arvix Industries, and their unusual acquisition of the scrap yard. He told her of the suspicious cars that had been following Boris. And lastly, still staring at his mug to avoid her face, he told her of the phone call with Boris earlier that evening, how it sounded that they had been abducted by yet more armed men.

He wasn't sure how long he had been talking, but his mouth felt dry now, and he wasn't sure if it was from the amount of talking or from reliving the events of the last few weeks all over again in his mind. He sipped his coffee and sighed, then turned his head to look up at her.

She simply stood there with her mug clenched between her hands, steam whipping up from it more faintly now as it cooled. She wasn't really looking at him, or the mug. The floor, perhaps, or maybe the wall behind him. He could tell that her brain was still processing this sudden influx of information, and decided not to interrupt, taking another sip of his coffee.

After a moment, she quietly lowered a hand from her own mug and reached into the wide pocket of her coat, pulling out a small black object hidden in her palm. She took a step forward and laid it on the table beside him. "Boris' phone. I found it in the snow. That's why I came looking for you."

Fyber snorted softly and managed a grin, reaching over to pick it up. He felt kind of stupid now, since she hadn't just been following him out into the woods for the sake of not listening to him, but to show him this. Almost tripping over the door that had been ripped off her friend's car, and the abnormal clues they found which followed, had apparently made her forget all about it till now.

But much to his surprise, she sat her mug on the table as well, turned on her heel, and headed back through the entrance hallway, her shoes clacking noisily on the metal floor. Fyber's grin immediately faded, and he jumped up to follow.

"Where are you going?" he insisted, jogging to catch up. She made no effort to slow down for him, her stride only becoming angrier with each step. She froze suddenly upon reaching the closed metal exit, and threw him a glare. He sighed and smacked the proper button on the control pad, pulling the door aside, which she was already maneuvering through before it had even completed opening. Her steps were more echoey now in the cave, but showed no change of attitude.

"Would you stop already?" he ordered, but she ignored him, and stamped over to her car.

The door was locked upon her yank of the handle, and after a moment of impatient fishing in her coat pockets, she yanked them out again gruffly, and fell against the roof of the car on her forearms with a heavy sigh. A large puff of steam billowed from her lips in the colder air of the cave, while she closed her eyes to calm herself.

"You locked me out." she said finally, still clearly irritated. Fyber too inwardly sighed, recalling when he closed her door earlier while she had been mesmerized by the hologram. Apparently her keys were still inside.

"How was I supposed to know?" he snapped, turning around aimlessly and stepping away again, running a hand back through his hair, which was much in need of cutting. There was an uncomfortable silence, until a moment later her stride errupted in anger again, and he immediately darted ahead of her. He knew there was the possibility that she'd be mad when he told her the truth, but this was just rediculous.

"For heaven's sake, where do you think you're gonna go?" he barked, flinging his arm out towards the shimmering artificial rock she seemed so determined to charge through. "You're just gonna walk home for miles in the snowy night, are you?"

She scowled and spun on her heel to face him. "Anywhere is preferable to your overgrown.. tree fort here." she argued, having struggled to come up with even that inadequate description of the place, while flailing her arms outward to indicate the lab as a whole. "It's bad enough you got Boris and that Jake kid dragged into your problems, but now you think you're gonna get me involved too? And by lying to me all this time? You're as insane as I thought you were." And with that, she stormed towards the hologram again.

But just as she started to pass through it, Fyber snatched at the shoulder of her coat, and jerked her back so determinately that she nearly fell over. Her face turned a violent shade of puce, burning with the most hateful look imaginable on such a face. She was perhaps on the verge of striking him, and ripped her shoulder free of his grip. She whipped up a finger to point at him, ready to give him another piece of her mind, when suddenly she realized he wasn't even paying any attention to her any longer. Her eyes flared, this contempt infuriating her, snapping her head around to see what he was gawking at.

Her posture changed immediately, with a chill forming down her spine, washing away every ounce of hatred that had so engulfed her just a moment before, while her hand melted back to her side. She gazed through the transparent image in front of them, towards the base of the knoll, where twilight reflected off of the glossy sides of a number of black trucks circling in from the direction of the road.

The first two fanned out across the grassy field, heading away as if searching for something. A third slowed and stopped at the base of the hill below them, with two men promptly swinging out of the back. Jenny squinted; it was hard to see much of anything from this distance and the darkness that engulfed it. The men were also wearing black, making them nearly invisible in the night aside from a shiny black object each of them carried, which glinted in the moonlight. Her mouth dropped open a bit as she came to the realization of what they must be carrying, which could be nothing other than guns, probably the same type used in Fyber's eventful story involving Boris' SUV. Worse yet, one of them was headed up the winding path, right towards the masked cave entrance.



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