Tales of Raetrethra Vol. 2

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Fantasy Realm


Irene experiences an extraordinary dream, and makes a shocking discovery with Jemma regarding one of their roommates

Chapter 3 (v.1) - Chapter 3 - Glass Tank & Unfamiliar Bras

Submitted: May 30, 2018

Reads: 221

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Submitted: May 30, 2018

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A spotless white ceiling fitted with long fluorescent tubes zoomed by, its piercing luminescence blinding Irene. Her skull pounded like a mortar struck by multiple pestles. Her aching bones groaned from every jolt.

Through narrow slits, she focused on a familiar face who ran while cradling her.

“Grandpa… It hurts…”

Barely slowing, her grandfather looked down, surprise mixed with concern.

“Irene, you’re awake!?”

Irene’s grandfather looked way younger than what she remembered, with considerably fewer wrinkles under his spectacled blue eyes, a much shorter beard, and no white in his grey hair. She’d also never seen him so pale before.

“Be patient, dear… Just a little further!” He bade, tightening his hold on her limp body.

As Irene’s dry eyes accustomised, she noticed no one else around. The empty corridor – wide, white, and waxed – branched every so often with few doors in between. A place she’d never been in before.

“Where’s mommy… and uncle…?”

A stricken look flashed through the aged man.

“They… they’re at home, dear. So is your father. We’ll meet them soon, alright? Ah… this, this must be the place…!”

Irene’s grandfather murmured as he came to an abrupt halt. Shifting his hold on his grandchild to free one arm, he keyed a code into a panel fixed onto the white wall.

Something clicked. The panel’s square red outline turned green and the wall slid open with a gentle hiss, revealing a massive white-lit chamber.

The first thing Irene noticed were wires. Thick bundles of coloured wires lining the wall and running across the ground in transparent tubes, connecting numerous machines of various shapes and sizes to a handful of workstations.

Once again, there was no one else besides them; in a chamber large enough to hold hundreds.

Eyes wide with awe and desperation, her grandfather glanced about. Upon finding what he sought, he dashed towards a bulky workstation fitted with several large screens and connected to a particular machine. It consisted of a solid steel base holding an empty, man-sized cylindrical glass tank.

Pressing a button on the workstation, a dull ‘pop’ resonated from the built-in speaker followed by a synthetic female voice greeting.

“Thank you for choosing Hyper-Suspension, another superior product of Hibernation Inc. I am ADA, this facility’s maintenance and operating program. Please insert this workstation’s authorization code to access to its operating systems.”

Irene’s grandfather pressed several keys in quick succession.

“Authorization code verified. Please confirm your identity by voicing your full name and position.”

“Gandalin Minstral, Principle Researcher and Director of Science and Research.”

He blurted within one breath. Several seconds passed.

“Voice recognition passed. Welcome, Professor Minstral. My emotion-recognition program detected concerning levels of stress from your voice, do you require any-”

“No!”

“Order confirmed. Full access to workstation granted.”

Every screen on the workstation flickered to life at once, and Gandalin began working using one hand at a blurring speed. Throughout the whole time, Irene suffered in silence. When her body temperature flared to dizzying levels, she groaned.

“Grandpa… What’s going on…? Where are we…?”

Irene tried to find a more comfortable position to rest, but her lethargic body refused to obey. She ended up squirming like a half-dead eel in her grandfather’s hold.

“Please stay still, dear! Grandfather will get you in a medipod so you’ll feel better.”

Memories of her previous experience in a medipod surfaced. The coffin-sized compartment that constantly hummed, the dull orange glow, and the sweet smell of antiseptic. She struggled even more.

“I don’t want to… I want mommy and uncle!”

 Irene felt her grandfather tighten his grip even as he continued working. And when he replied there was no anger. Instead, guilt.

“Your mother and uncle will be here soon! Just be patient, ok?”

Irene recognised the lie.

“No! I want mommy! I want Uncle Avbel!”

Having completed whatever he needed to do, Gandalin carried his granddaughter’s writhing body towards the cylindrical glass tank, which hissed and rose like a submerged tube being drawn out, revealing a shoulder-wide, waist-high opening. Crouching under the gap, he placed Irene in the middle.

The touch of chilled wire mesh on her palpitating flesh made her shiver. Anxious, afraid, and on the verge of tears, Irene craned her neck towards her retreating grandfather.

“Grandpa, it’s cold! I don’t like this! Grandpa!”

Irene witnessed her beloved grandfather’s demeanour falter with each desperate plea, yet he did not return. Instead, he pressed a key on a nearby panel and the glass cylinder began sinking, closing her only way out.

“Grandpa! Grandpa Gandalin!”

Irene cried, tears and snot leaking from her facial orifices. Unable to move, she watched the glass sink fully, sealing her within with a dull suction noise. Moments later, hissing and gurgling noises began echoing underneath the wire mesh, adding to her confusion and distress. A rumbling churn was all the warning she got before warm liquid poured through the wire mesh, rising inches every second and soaking her through.

“Grandpa!”

Irene shrieked in sheer terror and pushed with both hands, forcing her upper body up as more liquid filled the tank.

“Grandpa Gandalin! Please let me out! Why am I here in here!? Grandpa!”

She bawled, hoarse voice cracking. She witnessed tears forming under her grandfather’s wide, guilt-stricken blue eyes, yet he refused to act. Unable to summon the strength to stand, Irene could only weep and shake as the warm fluid crept up her arms and torso, neck and finally, face.

Irene swallowed a mouthful when it rose over her mouth, coughed it out immediately – along with all remaining air in her lungs – and clamped her jaw shut.

By instinct and by willpower, Irene held her breath for as long as she could. But soon enough, her brain cried for oxygen and white spots flashed behind her eyes. Unable to hold any longer, she gave up and breathed in.

Liquid fire burned through Irene’s lungs, and her throat muscles went into spasms. Mini explosions erupted in her brain, and her vision darkened. She thrashed, flailed, and writhed in a final effort to live-

- And slammed face-first into something soft yet unyielding.

A sharp gasp ripped through Irene’s throat as she took in a lungful of cool air, and her eyes snapped open to see short brown fibres millimetres away. Her right cheek, which hit the carpet throbbed and her spine groaned in protest due to the unnatural position it was bent in.

“Irene! Are you alright!?”

A familiar woman’s voice shrieked nearby. A slim pair of hands hooked under Irene’s arms, pulled her flat and turned her over, revealing Jemma’s pale-with-worry face and their dorm’s beige ceiling.

“Thank goodness you’re awake! I was about to call for help!”

Confusion gripped Irene as she took in her surroundings. Gasping a second time confirmed she wasn’t drowning, and Jemma’s warm hands gripped her too tightly to be a dream.

“Wha-? What happened…?”

Her brunette roomate’s thin brows furrowed even further.

“You tell me! I came in just in time to witness you rolling off the bed!”

Turning towards the furniture near her head, Irene confirmed it was her bed. Though still muddle-headed, she pulled herself up with Jemma’s assistance. A sticky sensation on her cheeks prompted her to wipe her face. Dried tears.

“I… had a scary dream. Sorry for making a scene.”

“That’s a generous way to put it…”

Jemma rebutted, using one hand to gesture around them.

Irene looked about, and gaped.

At first glance, it looked as if someone had ransacked their dorm. All four sets of beds, cabinets and personal trunks had moved from their original positions. Many drawers were open with their contents thrown out. Everything else which could stand in one way or form had toppled over.

A closer inspection showed nothing valuable missing, changing the hypothesis from being robbed to surviving an indoor twister.

“Did I do all this…!? Where’s Norah…?”

“Norah left before sunrise. And yes. You did.”

Irene’s jaw dropped and her knees buckled. Thanks to Jemma, she ended up sitting on her bed instead of landing on the floor.

“What… when did I… how-”

Irene turned to Jemma expecting a full answer, but the Atlantian woman shook her head.

“I was studying in the living room when I heard a ruckus coming from here. You didn’t respond when I called, so I barged in to find you squirming in bed, our furniture moving as if possessed, and everything else being thrown about! But the moment you rolled off the bed and hit the floor, everything stopped.”

Despite not wanting to believe what was said, Irene had no reason to doubt her and remained mute.

“You said you had a weird dream?”

Jemma’s query triggered another wave of confusion within Irene, and she blurted.

“Yeah! Listen to this Gem! I dreamt about being sick and carried by Uncle Gandalin, but for some reason I thought he was my grandfather! He brought me into a weird place and put me in a glass tank where I-”

“Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Stop!”

Jemma protested, baffled by the number of words being spewed as well as its contents.

“Start again, but slower this time!”

Irene frowned, irritated, but did as she was bid. With startling clarity, she recounted everything till the moment she woke. When she finished, a pursed-lipped Jemma remarked.

“That’s… one heck of a dream. Who’s Uncle Avbel?”

“I, honestly don’t know…”

Irene replied, equally perplexed since she doesn’t remember any of her relatives. The only ‘family’ she had was ‘uncle’ Gandalin who adopted her, and her caretakers Alsius and Wynstal.

“I also don’t know why I thought he was my grandfather, or where we were… What do you think Gem?”

“Don’t ask me, how would I understand your dreams?”

Wearing a sympathetic smile, Jemma patted Irene’s shoulder.

“You can rest a bit if you want. I’ll start clearing up and wake you when it’s time to get ready for lessons, in about half an hour.”

That made Irene blink twice and turn towards the window to see the sun far above the horizon. She leapt off the bed.

“Oh my goodness! I slept too long!”

“Why are you surprised? You oversleep every day! And, give me a hand here if you can.”

Jemma chided as she retrieved a pinkie-sized Shard Energy crystal from a sleeve pocket. A gentle squeeze accompanied by mental willpower caused the solid crystal to disintegrate before disappearing into thin air. However, both girls sensed it, an unseen yet palpitating energy which only Shard Energy users could sense. Utilizing this energy, Jemma moved their beds to their rightful positions and righted every fallen cabinet.

“I know! But I purposefully slept early yesterday!”

Irene protested before helping Jemma. Instead of using a crystal, she seemingly conjured Shard Energy out of thin air to fold and place clothes into drawers, hang coats on wall hooks, and tidy everyone’s bed. Its level of control was far superior to her roommate’s.

“Oh, rub it in my face, why won’t you?”

The Atlantian snipped in a playfully envious tone. Irene gave her a sheepish smile.

By all accounts, Irene was a shy and humble person with an obscure background and outstanding Shard Energy manipulation. However, she possessed a jealously guarded secret, one which only her teammates and a select few – namely Gandalin, Alsius and Wynstal – knows.

Which was she could utilize Shard Energy generated by her own body, a feat unclaimed by any person in living history.

Within twenty-or-so minutes, the two finished clearing what would ordinarily take two hours to complete. Once done, they checked the floor and corners for anything missed, but found none. But, concerned for her own possessions, Jemma went through her drawers for any misplaced or missing items.

“Casual clothes… Uniforms… Makeup kit… Spare toiletries… Underwear…?”

Upon opening her underwear drawer, she was greeted by several unfamiliar items.

“Irene, some of these aren’t mine.”

She remarked, pulling out half a dozen bras that could fit but didn’t belong to her.

“Ooh, sorry. They were your size and weren’t mine, so I thought-”

“It’s fine, don’t worry about it. Though, if they’re not yours or mine, whose are they?”

Both girls glanced at Aria’s bed and ruled her out immediately. That woman’s were so large it’d slide down their torso if they tried wearing them. In that case…

“You don’t suppose they are Norah’s…?”

Irene murmured, appearing as bewildered as Jemma. Last they recalled, Norah never needed to wear bras. But that was half a year ago and since then she’d definitely developed, but to think they’d grow so much…

“Urgh, this is so depressing!”

Jemma grumbled and brought the underwear to its Aszyrian owner’s drawer. She pulled open each drawer until she found the one holding underclothes. A split second from stuffing them with the others, she identified a kind of disposable female hygiene product she, Irene and Aria used several times each month, but not Norah. This time, an amused smirk splits her features.

“Huh… talk about a late bloomer…!”


© Copyright 2020 AJLKS. All rights reserved.

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