Binding Moonlight

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 7 (v.1) - Chapter 7

Submitted: January 09, 2019

Reads: 17

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Submitted: January 09, 2019

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Robyn realized getting any work done today was becoming less and less likely. He was staring at his computer monitor, willing it to finish the synthesis scan he had been running for the last two days. He couldn't proceed with his lab work until the damn thing finished. All he had to show for today was another failed mutation and bloodshot eyes.

Curling a strand of hair behind one ear, Robyn got up from his desk. He needed a break, and he needed an update on the new security upgrades. He stared at the back wall of his office for a moment, thinking. A slow smile curled his lips. He could kill two birds with one stone and get an added bonus if he went to speak with Max and Ekie right now. The pair were running combat training programs in the VR simulator. Max would be wearing those tiny shorts he so thoroughly enjoyed.

“Pause,” he instructed the voice command as he entered the simulator.

Max stumbled forward into Ekie when the holographic figure before her disappeared. “Hey!” She glared over her shoulder at Robyn and he almost laughed out loud at her comical pout.

“Sorry, but I need to speak with you about security.”

Max huffed out a breath. “What did you need to know?”

“What have you completed?” Robyn asked, sliding his hands into his pockets and ignoring the guard dog vibes Ekie gave off.

“Well, we switched out the old cameras for new ones along all the halls and outside of the building. We updated the network security, firewalls, and passwords, installed keypads on every door in the building...” Max trailed off, thinking.

“Good. Excellent progress,” replied Robyn, eyeing Max. The corner of his mouth twitched into a lusty smirk.

Max quirked a brow, exchanging a quick glance with Ekie. “What?”

“Max, sweetheart,” began Robyn, putting his hand on her shoulder. “I'm sure you know how beautiful I think you are, and I really don't mind seeing a little skin once in a while, but not during business hours, please. Very unprofessional,” he teased.

“Excuse me?” Max wrinkled her nose up at him.

Ekie turned away, suddenly finding the other side of the room utterly fascinating.

Frowning, Max looked down to see the top button of her shorts came undone, revealing her underwear. Quickly fastening her shorts, she glared at Robyn, her cheeks bright red.

Robyn grinned back at her. “Please try and finish the rest of the upgrades as soon as possible,” he said before letting them resume their training. As he left the simulator, he could hear Max berating Ekie and chuckled to himself.

Satisfied with the progress his employees were making, Robyn decided to grab some food before returning to his office. At the thought, his stomach growled loudly, and he realized how long it had been since he last ate. Unfortunately, there wasn't anything particularly appetizing in the kitchen since no one seemed to think to buy groceries. He settled for something quick.

As he ate he let his mind wander since it was so rare he had a chance to do so. For some reason, Earth came to mind. It wasn't a topic he spent much time on anymore. His dad told him many stories originating from the old, destroyed, home planet of humanity. Robyn recalled each one perfectly because he heard them so often. He never stopped his father from retelling the stories though. The sound of the man's voice had always been pleasant and soothing, so Robyn was always more than happy to listen.

Earth had been his first academic passion and his father had indulged him.

Robyn groaned, scrubbing a hand over his face. He needed to get back to work. If he didn't make a little progress soon, the entire endeavor would end up being all for naught. He'd keep going without sleep if he needed.

When he returned to his office, he hung his lab coat on the hook by the door and sat heavily in his computer chair. Three different windows were currently open on the monitor. One was a video feed, monitoring the standard strain of the virus. One displayed a synthetic strain he was manipulating for his new strain and the third contained processes and permutation sequences which were to be applied to the synthetic virus.

Robyn was having a hard time wrapping his head around the difficulty this virus gave him. He never experienced this much trouble with any project he had taken on in the past. It had been easy enough to create the cure for the existing strain and to get clean samples for him to experiment with. Manipulating the current strain to create a new mutation was a different matter entirely. He was getting frustrated and it wouldn't be very much longer before people stopped listening to his excuses for why he hadn't released the cure.

Putting his head down on his desk, Robyn closed his eyes for a moment to relieve the stinging. After what he thought was only a few minutes, there was beeping in his ear. Sitting up, he winced. His neck and back were sore, so he had most likely fallen asleep at his desk. He fixed his glasses and glared at his computer for making the annoying sound. It was notifying him a plausible mutation was ready to apply to a sample strain. He closed the notification. He would do the lab work tomorrow and hoped he didn't ruin yet another sample.

Leaning back in his chair, Robyn propped his heels on his desk and clasped his hands on his stomach. Yawning, he let his head fall back, his long hair brushing the floor. Pulling the tie loose, he combed his fingers through the strands. He sat there for a few minutes, taking in the quiet stillness of the building.

When he eventually sat up and stretched, a wave of dizziness washed over him. His fault for being inactive all day. He waited for his blood pressure to return to normal before getting to his feet. Turning off his computer and grabbing his coat, Robyn left his office. The lights in the hall had gone into power save mode for the night. It didn't matter though since he didn't need bright lights to find his bedroom. He didn't need any lights at all to find his bed and pass out for the remainder of the night.

 

***

 

“Morning,” Max mumbled as she plodded into the kitchen. Scratching the back of her neck, her fingers caught in one of the tangles permeating her bed-head hair. Dark bags underlined her eyes, making her skin appear paler than it already was.

“Morning,” replied Robyn, squinting at the girl. He had yet to put his glasses on, so she was fuzzy around the edges.

Ekie trailed in behind her, appearing somewhat presentable. He had gotten dressed this morning, but his bloodshot eyes gave away his exhaustion. It had been one of those nights for all three of them, it seemed.

“So, what's on the agenda today?” Max asked, struggling to reach a box of cereal on a high shelf.

Robyn stood behind her, briefly admiring her rear end before helping her retrieve the box. “I received a notification of an intruder on the property last night. I went out and checked myself, but whoever it was, they were long gone. I want to see the recordings today.”

Max frowned. “I never heard anything.”

“I shut it off quickly.”

“Do you think it may be one of the people from before? The ones who were watching the building?” Max wondered, glancing over her shoulder at Ekie. He was face down on the table, snoring loudly. She grinned at Robyn, who returned the expression.

“Maybe, which is why I want to check out the feed from last night,” Robyn replied, shaking his head as Ekie continued to snore.

“Should I wake him up?” Max asked after watching him for a moment. As she stared at the scarred man, her gaze became soft and peaceful. It made Robyn a little jealous.

“No, let him be. No reason we should all be exhausted,” sighed Robyn.

Max and Robyn ate in silence as Ekie slept. After Robyn left, Max finished cleaning up and sat down beside Ekie. She gently shook his shoulder and he sat up with a start, eyes wide and muscles tight. When he focused on Max, he sagged in his seat.

Tilting her head, her eyes were kind as she held his gaze. “Were you having a nightmare?”

With a small moan, he nodded. He put his head in his hands and took a slow, steadying breath. He had been dreaming of the church where he woke up after losing his memory. He had been fourteen, alone, and scared. The church was dark, big stained-glass windows adorned two of the stone walls, and the enormous wooden doors were far from inviting. There had been a minuscule amount of light coming from the candles at the altar, but it did nothing to dispel the gloom of the stormy evening. Loud cracks of thunder and bright flashes of lightning deafened and blinded him.

“Looks like it may storm today,” whispered Max.

Repressing a shiver, Ekie stood and readjusted his sweatshirt. He hated storms ever since then. He glanced out the window and sure enough, massive clouds were forming in the sky. It was early and still cool outside, but if the weather operators were starting this now, it was going to be a big one. Swallowing hard, he turned away from the window.

Max stood close to him, her arms crossed tightly over her chest. Her slow breath was as shaky as her shoulders.

“I hate storms...” she mumbled. “Robyn is probably waiting for us, so I should go get dressed. I'll meet you at his office in a bit,” she told him as she walked away.

Watching her leave, Ekie leaned against the counter. When he closed his eyes, his dream was still taunting him. The images faded fast, but the emotions tied to it were still clear. The fear was just as fresh as it had been two years ago when he first experienced it. Any time he tried to think about the events which brought him there, his head would start pounding and he couldn't recall a thing. Whatever happened was the reason behind his scars. He didn't know for sure, but something in his gut told him this was the case. The smell of blood coating his skin, making his tee shirt stick to him, was just as strong as his fear.

Licking his dry lips, Ekie shook his head in an attempt to clear the dream away. He may as well head to Robyn's office now to see what the man wanted. If he got there before Max, Robyn would be less likely to harass her.

When Max arrived a half hour later, the three of them stood before the wall monitor to watch the recordings from last night. Someone trespassed on the property, and they were trying to make out details on the display. Whoever it was, they stayed just out of range of the motion lights. Ekie pointed when he saw movement. Robyn paused the video and they stared at the still image. A man stood on the edge of the pool of light. He was dressed in a white tank top and jeans, with a bandanna wrapped around his head. The most detail they could see was his shoulder-length, slightly wavy, dark colored hair.

“Who is this?” Max asked, leaning forward to peer at the image.

Robyn shrugged. “I've never seen him before. Doesn't seem like much of a threat, though. He's probably just a protester who actually had the balls to come on to the property.”

“I wonder if he's working for the half-breed,” said Max.

Ekie shook his head.

“She wouldn't be so stupid. I did a little digging based on what you told me. She and her friends are just inexperienced teens, but she's a bright girl. Not at all like you or I, but I would think she would know not to run into something willy-nilly.” Robyn let the video play, watching to the point where he had appeared in the doorway and the trespasser disappeared in the darkness.

Max groaned, perching on the edge of Robyn's desk. “Well, I have no clue then.”

“There could be a few reasons he would show up, but unless he comes back, I wouldn't worry about it. He hasn't got a weapon and he doesn't appear to be searching for anything in particular. But my curiosity has been satisfied, so let's get back to work, shall we?” Abruptly, Robyn ushered Max and Ekie from his office, almost pushing them out the door.

Max gaped at the door when it closed in her face. She gave Ekie a sideways glance, which he answered with a shrug. “Well, I guess we should finish setting up the rest of the cameras outside,” she eventually said.

Nodding, Ekie followed Max to the storeroom to get their tools. This was the last thing they would be doing together before the rest of the work fell to Max. Ekie didn't understand why Robyn wanted all of these new cameras and motion sensors outside. The installations just made him look more suspicious. The public only knew the scientist was withholding the much-needed cure for the Amaran virus, but as people saw them adding security, Ekie had no doubt rumors would start to spread. Robyn was practically begging for a formal investigation. Ekie suspected the man was feeding lies to the higher-ups to keep them from finding out what he was really doing. He didn't have anything else to do, or anywhere else to go. A nagging sensation in the back of his mind told him he needed to keep an eye on Max as well, or she might get herself into something she couldn't handle. Though it was more an excuse than a reason. He didn't really believe she needed him or his help. She managed before he came along, and she would continue to do so long after he was gone. He just didn't like the way Robyn looked at her.

 

***

 

Later in the day, after they finished their work and the rain started to pour, Max sat down in front of her mirror to brush her hair. Her room seemed darker than usual from the clouds and rain, and she was trying hard to ignore it. Since she was little she had been terrified of thunder and lightning, but Haruto had always been there to comfort her. This was the first major storm she was away from him.

She jumped as a bright flash lit her room.

Taking a deep breath to calm herself, Max continued to pull the brush through her long hair. A few seconds passed, and a deafening crack of thunder made her scream. She shot out of her seat, brush flying from her hand. The brush hit her lamp, sending it crashing to the floor. Her room plunged into darkness, and all she could hear was the rain and the pounding of her heart in her ears. Another flash drove her out of the room and down the hall to bang on Ekie's door.

The door opened and Ekie blinked down at her. She stood before him, trembling, eyes wide and fearful. Her eyes connected with his briefly before she launched herself at him, wrapping her arms tightly around his waist.

Confused, Ekie returned the embrace with a light touch. He could feel her entire body quaking against him. Gently, he pulled her into his room, the door closing behind them. He struggled to keep his calm as the thunder rattled the windows. She let out an odd noise, squeezing him tighter.

“Do you want to stay here tonight?” he asked her, his voice sounding foreign to his ears.

Max nodded against his chest, her fists curled tightly in his loose clothes. She stayed still for a long time before taking a deep breath and separating herself from him. Staring into his red speckled brown eyes, she tried to smile. Failing, her gaze slid to the floor. “Thank you,” she mumbled, a hitch in her voice.

Ekie reached out, letting his hand slide over her hair. Max continued to stare at the floor, her cheeks pink. Groaning inwardly, he moved his hand and sat on the edge of his bed. Like a child, Max followed. Crawling onto the mattress, she curled up behind him, twisting her hand into the hem of his baggy sweater.

Although his expression remained neutral, he had to clench his teeth to calm his shaking as he turned and grabbed her other hand, giving it a squeeze. She squeezed back, and he calmed. As long as he kept his eyes on her, the storm seemed insignificant. The thought worried him, but he couldn't figure out why. For the first time since the church, Ekie was scared, but this wasn't a kind of fear he was familiar with.


© Copyright 2019 Kristin Kuffner. All rights reserved.

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