“This will be our last project, so we’d better give it out best. What do you say, partner?”
“I have died—but something in Mirage is keeping me alive. And as long as I exist, so too will the Veil. The only way to destroy it is to destroy me—my every remains. With this you can alter the possession and give the command for it to shut down. It is very risky, but it is the only way…”
Steven lights his cigar as he and Reagent sat down in his office with disbelief. Both their hearts pounding with amazement for had just what happened…
“So Mirage has been keeping Syn’s memory—that’s what’s making her still alive in the Veil,” Steven says, breaking the silence as Reagent sits quietly—not being able to believe what had just occurred.
“Yes.” He answers, staring blankly at the wall.
“So it seems you were right after all.” Steven notes smilingly, but it seems Reagent would not be consoled. He could see his hand shaking after he puts away the gun. “He is mad—he wasn’t able to kill me…” Steven silently thinks.
“I’m glad she still hasn’t forgotten us even if she’s on the other side,” he adds presently, blowing a puff from his nose and trying to make Reagent react in any other way. “And now she ordering us around—hah!” he grins.
However, there was no response. As Steven stares at him he noticed the concerned look in his face. There was an intent look on his face, yet he gripped his hands tightly as if trying to hold on to something there. A thought enters his mind, that he exclaims,
“Wait, you’re not having second thoughts are you?”
Reagent looks at him, his brows stern but his deep blue eyes showed him his grief. It has been three years after he last saw his girlfriend—what more could he ask than to see her again?
He smiled pathetically as if to laugh at himself, for his mistakes, for letting her go—yet he knew she couldn’t return to him, not now. Not ever.
“She’s not alive anymore,” Reagent says at last. “The one whom we saw is just a memory—a feeling,” he bowed his head in sadness as if to catch falling tears, but he held it all back.
Steven smiled at the sight of Reagent in his flaw—his softer side—something Syn never had seen.
“Well, she still leaves us one work—and it’s quite risky,” he says, trying to lighten up the atmosphere for this as well—was too much for him. “I’ll be the one to take the Memory Orb, since my death was delayed. Getting inside Mirage is perilous, you and I both know that—plus the exits will shut off once I enter the core.” He grins at Reagent determined to make it seem all right, and added, with his juvenile expression, “Mirage will kill me for you.”
“I’ll take the Orb—you have no right,” Reagent says icily, his coldness returned to which Steven takes in as a good sign. “After all, Syn gave it to me in the first place. And I know the internal maze better—I designed it myself remember?”
Steven smiles at his crankiness, for he has always been like that, and for him it is better to see him to. “You should worry about the alteration,” Reagent adds to him, looking mischievous. “You can’t handle all the Veil’s data—but before you go insane you have to command it to shut down.”
“You have always amazed me,” Steven grins, laughing at the naughtiness of Reagent’s expression. “Well, so it seems either ways, we’ll die.” He looks at his friend with the same naughty gleam in his eyes. “This will be our last project, so we’d better give it out best. What do you say, partner?”
They smiled at each other rascally—like playful boys up for something mischievous. Both held up their hands and shook without any hard feelings—the sight of Syn took it all off—all that remains is their determination to finish this mission.
Doubt has broken into the hearts of the leaders of Neo-Gaia, that finding no particular answer to their resolute problem, they assembled once again to determine the decision against their official.
“I’m afraid if Steven isn’t telling us the truth. Since he is the maker of Mirage, he is the only one who knows how to control it. Officer Reagent, on the other hand, would not report to us the whole account. If we kill them, nobody will be able to take over the machine…”
“But if they are lying to us, then we are in grave danger.”
“What should we do?”
The chairman of the Neo-Gaia cupped his hands in deep thought—for he himself has started to distrust Steven after he has given the mission of killing Syn. However, without him, the Mirage will be useless…
All of them waited for his command, unaware of the group of people gathering around the house of Neo-Gaia….
Until they heard deafening gunshots and piercing screams of the guards… a loud blast bursted through the giant glass windows, destroying half of the room and placing the meeting and the lives of the Neo-Gaia to an end…
“Here we are.”
Steven and Reagent looked high upon the towering structure of Mirage. They have heard the attack of the rebels, yet the fear was gone. All they had in mind was hope—in destroying the Veil, and faith—that at the end they will meet with Syn.
“Good luck,” Steven yells, as Reagent started to walk through the entrance of Mirage’s core. Reagent waves his hand and smiles back, “See you on the other side.”
Reagent stood still as the door slowly closed on him, just as his friend waited to see him off. Both knew that their separation would be until death, if fate will agree for them to be together on the other side. “There’s no turning back now,” He says to himself. “Syn, for one last time, be with me.”
The door shuts, the heavy metal forming a spray of smoke inside. There will only be few moments from now and the oxygen will dissipate—but Reagent has to find the Orb. As he silently accepted his fate he moves on… walking in the darkness with only a flashlight to guide his way. It was a labyrinth—designed to protect the core that he himself made. He knew the way, but it is perilous. He created the traps for any intruder, yet it has been years since the Mirage was created he could not distinguish most of it.
His light showed him a red line across the floor—“The end gate,” he mutters. He looked beyond the darkness, and said to himself, “From here, everything will be more dangerous.”
He took the courage and stepped out of the line, draining most of his bravado. Nothing happened, that he took faith, and walked further. Just then, black needles were thrown all over him, piercing most parts of his body. He was caught unaware, but just in time that he covered his face to keep his sight. In his pain he remembers neither to scream nor to make any sound, for Mirage was made to protect itself from inside…
“I am nearing,” He thought, losing his breath and gasping for air. The suffocating metal and the blood flowing from his body weakened him, but he dared not to stop.
“No, I can’t give up… Syn’s counting on me…” He thought. Reagent lost his draftiness and notice he will die sooner that he must go quickly… He ran fast, his vision blurring, and the poisoned needles are continually thrown at him when suddenly the floor gave in, that he fell a feet to the cold ground.
“I—“ he groaned. “Have to get the Orb.”
The pain of the needles struck him, and the loss of air continually deteriorates his body. His vision was blurry yet he tried to stand.
There was a red glowing light before him, but his flashlight was thrown away at his fall. He followed the glow… its warmth seems to be inviting. Just then it came into his mind—
“I’m here. I’m here at the core!”
His left eye half shut because of the streaming blood, and as he gasps for air he pushed himself to reach the glowing light. As he came near to the core, there in the middle lays a crystal sphere, continually giving the pulse to the light.
“Syn,” He mutters smilingly as he pulls away the Orb from the core, not minding if the sheer metal protector grasps his hand and puncture through it. He draws the Orb from the core, and the light dies down. He is trapped—but he gave it no moment of thought, for after the orb landed in his hands he embraced it tightly as if anyone will take it from him, as he slowly fell to the hard metal bosom of the Mirage…
“I swore that if you’ll come back,” Reagent says, as if the Orb will hear his words, “I will stay by your side.” Tears and blood flowed from his eyes… totally blurring his vision. He was finding it hard to breathe; yet he continued speaking. “Here I am. I will never leave you…” He smiles at the thought of Syn., and closed his eyes gently…
The orb rolls around the metal floor, enveloped in Reagent’s tears and blood.
The light dies down from Mirage, and Steven stares at it as if he could not believe. He could hear the sounds of the metal continually moving inside—the sign that the Mirage is disturbed. “Farewell my old friend,” He saluted, “Now it’s time for me to do mine.”
His secretary was there, waiting for his orders, and doubting if he was to go on. Steven sits in the chair firmly but there was a smile on his face. “Come now,” he says to the lad. “You need to tie me.”
He held up his hands and motioned the straps, the boy obediently followed without words, but in his mind confused if it should be done. Yet it was his master’s orders-he couldn’t dare defy.
Steven lies down comfortably on the chamber as his hands and feet were fastened with big metal straps. There was a tensed look on his secretary’s face, and he noticed it that his boss motioned him to come nearer…
“Here, in my pocket,” Steven points with his strapped right hand.
The secretary digs in his pocket and pulls out a swan-shaped lighter, which he presumed his master wants him to find. “What,” he thought. “He’s still gonna smoke?”
“That’s yours. Keep it.” Steven says, winking at the boy. He smiled as he looked at the article though there still was anxiety in his heart.
“Just a minute and me and my friends will be together,” Steven yells out on him. “Now, let’s do it!”
“Are you sure, Sir Steven?” he asks timidly, “because you know—“
“Let’s do this. They’re waiting for me,” Steven declares hurriedly that the kid rushed to the main controls and opened the alternating program for him.
“Alteration Open.” His secretary says.
“Engage.” Steven says firmly, closing his eyes as the thought of Syn and Reagent came into his mind for the last time.
He sighed, and then huge fragments of Veil’s data came pouring into his mind. It came so fast that here was not even a second for him to think of any other thing. Syn has created the Veil—but now the Veil is transferring all the data into him. He felt he would give in, but has to wait. He has to stay strong for the data to be completed in transmitting and for him to give the command…
The secretary sees his master griping tightly on the straps, holding on the metal that clasps his whole body so hard that it scraped his skin. He was shaking, the boy sees, and at that point he did not know whether to end the command or continue—lest his boss will die.
“Don’t—“ Steven grits his teeth, and the boy understood even though in his face there was a trace of apprehension and uncertainty. Yet he went away from the controls, afraid that is pity will lead him to do otherwise.
Fifteen minutes has passed, and Steven stood the test—yet his body shook so hardly as if he was being electrocuted. Blood dripped from the chamber, his hands were sore and wounded badly, but still he didn’t give up. There was no other chance to think of anything, yet in his state he waited, not being able to feel even the pain… he just waited…
“Mirage, shut down!”
All the lights went off, and the sounds of the Mirage died along. The turbulence in the chamber faded and Steven has calmed down. “He has done it!” smiles the secretary in success that he ran to his master to congratulate him. Yet as he rushed to him he felt a sudden chill… it grappled in his heart with fear, “Sir Steven?”
He walked slowly and cautiously, not being able to expect what he’ll see. As he reached the chamber he finds Steven lying, his head tilted and his eyes closed. And there was a smile on his face. Even though his hands and feet were raw and bruised, and his body sore with all the quivering at the alteration, a grin was evidently seen on his face… as if he was pleased at his work as well. The secretary smiled in tears, imagining what happiness his boss was thinking before he died. “Congratulations, Sir,” he mutters, seeing the blood splattered all over the chamber. “You have done it.”