I tried not to fidget as Dalton looked at me, slightly uncomfortable with the focused attention with nothing to do to distract from it. I gave an internal sigh of relief as he began to move, immediately starting to follow him.
‘Oh, that is good,’ I think, smiling automatically at that news - absolutely glad that Joreth wasn’t going to have to suffer the control anymore.
Helping to move the very large unconscious man, I was exceedingly glad that I had been training - noting that I’d be considerably less useful if I hadn’t improved my strength in the time I’d been here.
“I’d like that. Is there anything I can do to help with the procedure?” I ask sincerely, wanting to be as helpful as humanly possible. Plus time was of the essence - if I could help cut the time Dalton spent here, then he had more time to plan to get Rachel and Casey back.
Ronald also helped, figuring that the more he could help them the sooner he could get his sister back. While he hated the idea of being roped in with the Cadenza group, something that he had tried to ignore since he found out both Rachel and Casey were in it, he also hated simply sitting around at the pub while his sister was in danger.
If he could be of any help to her then he was glad to take the risk.
“No,” Dalton replied, “it will be a simple surgery. The remaining controlling devices should be simple to get out, since I can be more delicate in disarming them than Brian was before.” It wouldn’t take too long, and to be honest he would be glad to have gained an ally back.
“Of course, I will also need to check his mental state afterwards. Joreth is mentally strong, but having Silas speak to him directly for so long would not be good for anyone.”
“So Silas was controlling him back there?” Ronald asked, piecing together the information in his head.
“Correct. Silas was using Joreth as his direct line of communication to us. We were on a truce until the Requiem, but it appears he did not appreciate us trying to find his hiding place.”
They moved Joreth out into the lab and through to the second room, and placing Joreth on the bed-table Dalton started to prepare for the surgery as he spoke.
“Both of you go and sit in the lab – I’m sure Brian will come back soon.”
‘Oh,’ I thought, suddenly understanding Brian’s outburst with much greater clarity. ‘Well, that explains a few things.’
“And me? What should I do?” I ask, not knowing if it would be better for me to stay hidden and away from the Steward or if Dalton would want me there too. I didn’t really want to be left out - I cared about both Rachel and Casey and wanted to know what was going on. But at the same time, I didn’t know how much help I could be. Not to mention that I didn’t want to get in anyone’s way, or be scrutinised by the Steward either.
Dalton looked at Danielle carefully as he thought of what to do with her.
‘Silas has shown interest in her already. I can’t let him snatch her up too.’ Of course, that meant that he would need to have someone trustworthy to supervise her too – which he did not have currently. ‘Someone dependable…’
Suddenly he came to a realisation, and glancing over at the containment cell he began to walk towards it.
“It is clear that the truce has been broken, as he has gone ahead and made his next move already. This of course means that there is no reason for us to keep the controlling device within Joreth any longer.”
He indicated for the two to help move the unconscious Joreth from the now unlocked restraints, “I can remove the device, and then call the meeting. You, Danielle, can look after Joreth while we have the meeting. Perhaps cook something for him if you so wish.”
I wanted to go after him, to try and make sure he was okay and didn’t go off and do anything reckless - but I resisted the urge. I knew it wasn’t sensible to bring up the whole idea of needing supervision with Ronald around, so I figured it was best to leave it be.
“Not always,” I reply immediately - despite the fear I hadn’t managed to drop yet, I was still quick to defend my friend. “I’ve seen him worse once, but he’s not normally this… incensed,” I add, giving a glance towards Dalton and thinking of how battered he’d been because of Brian. Brian could be terrifyingly dangerous at times, as I was only really just beginning to realise.
I was also starting to be slightly worried about Ronald being in close proximity to Dalton. It didn’t seem particularly safe in my mind - since Dalton had been the one to threaten him to get my iPod back. I didn’t want anything bad to happen to Ronald. He was nice.
“He’s worried about Rachel,” Dalton added as he finally adjusted his glasses. “She’s extremely important to him, so I can’t say I’m surprised with his outburst.” Then naturally Silas had fished for information from Rachel to figure out the rest of Dalton’s pieces. Rachel would not have known that Silas would find Brian particularly interesting – just the name would have been enough.
Ronald frowned, crossing his arms as he spoke.
“When you say extremely important… what do you mean?”
Dalton looked up, “Oh yes – you’re Rachel’s friend as well as Casey’s brother. Don’t fret – it’s not mutual at this stage. But we are digressing from the issue at hand – we will need to re-think the plan….” While he would like to sit and cogitate on a plan for himself, time was quickly running out – and he still had yet to play his next move.
“I will have to call an impromptu meeting. You will be joining,” Dalton stated as he turned to Ronald, “as you already know too much. Extrapolating memories is not a forte of mine, so consider yourself Casey’s stand-in for now.”
I flinch at the sound of the Merus, immediately concerned for Dalton before my attention was drawn back to Silas as he spoke the name ‘Diana’. The name was already familiar enough, though certainly not linked with Brian.
That probably wasn’t coincidence. And it almost certainly wasn’t good.
I was conflicted, both dreading and curious as to the information Silas was intending to speak.
At Dalton’s plea, I moved without hesitation - darting towards the lever and pulling it downwards. I felt guilty already, knowing with utter certainty that Brian would be extremely unhappy with me for that action - but definitely trusting Dalton as far as the ‘damage’ remark went. Silas was not to be trusted - whatever he said.
Brian punched the containment cell wall beside Joreth, angry that he wasn’t able to get any information from the man as well as having his mother’s name thrown around by him.
He stood, quickly moving to Dalton as he pushed him against the wall,
“How the fuck does he know her name, Dalton!? I never told Rachel – I never told anyone!”
“Calm down,” Dalton replied, “Leave if you have to – you’re in no state to talk sense. We still have time.” Dalton tried not to feel thrown off by Silas’ remarks, pushing down the fear that Brian might actually kill him should he have gone any further.
“He’s trying to turn us against ourselves – don’t let yourself be played by him, Brian. You’re better than that.”
It was absolutely deafening being so close to Brian right now, but I refused to move away - using my free hand to drop the headphones instead. It might not be an ideal solution, but it was better than having my ears ringing for a week.
I only let go of his arm once he’d released Joreth, still on edge but glad he’d listened. From the headphones around my neck I could hearing his Soul Voice begin to fade, wincing slightly as I returned the headphones to their usual position. Brian was still pretty loud, but I didn’t really want to give Ronald any cause to ask questions about me later on.
I looked at Dalton as he began to move when Silas spoke through Joreth, frowning slightly at the action. I figured he was probably going to knock him unconscious, though I wasn’t quite sure why.
Surely we needed to know more information about the situation so we could get Rachel and Casey back safe and sound. But on the other hand, Silas might just try to provoke Brian into hurting or killing Joreth - something that I could quite easily see happening. And that wouldn’t help any of us at all.
And if I was considering that possibility, I was sure Dalton had done so already, and probably dozens of others.
So I figured it was best to say nothing.
“Yea – that’s me you fucking shit. What the fuck did you do to Rachel?!”
Brian glanced to the side, noticing that Dalton was intending to knock him out with the lever.
“I’m not through with him!” The man wasn’t slowing, and releasing a burst of directed Merus he knocked Dalton to the other side of the hallway – the man hitting the wall with a grunt.
Joreth’s mouth twisted into a smirk, “Son of… Diana – yes?”
Brian quickly looked back to Joreth, “How the fuck could you know that?”
“Don’t… talk to him..!” Dalton spoke, winded from the blow. He looked between Danielle and Ronald as he pointed to the lever he had been trying to reach as he tried to stand.
“Knock… him out… before Silas… does any more… damage…!”
I relax ever so slightly - glad that Dalton figured they weren’t dead. ‘Nobody would be safe around Silas, I reckon. No one, not ever. But if they’re alive… well that’s something.’
I turned as Brian began to move, barely thinking as I went after him - just knowing he needed to not act rashly.
Hearing the snarling I move up to Brian quickly, putting a hand on his arm and pulling it slightly. Of course, poor Joreth would be getting the brunt of his anger.
“Brian, yelling is not gonna help. He wants you mad and reckless!” I say firmly, hoping he’d listen to me. “Please, Brian, take a step back. And don’t forget that Joreth’s in there too. Threatening him isn’t gonna scare Silas.”
Brian didn’t look at her, not wanting to hear her words when he was so angry at Silas. He felt her tug at his arm and entertained the thought of shoving her away.
But she had a point, and he knew it. He knew Silas was laughing at him, mocking him for his anger. He shook, wanting to vent out his anger somehow as his Soul Voice howled in rage.
Dalton quickly followed the pair, not wanting Brian anywhere near Joreth at this stage.
“She’s right – you will only hurt Rachel if you do anything reckless!” He appeared to have stopped, fortunately, and Dalton walked over to him. Slowly Brian let go of Joreth, Dalton feeling the overwhelming force of his Soul Voice start to quell.
Ronald arrived last, confused as to what was happening but figuring that perhaps the man in the cell was related to Silas somewhat.
“Brian… Slato… eh?” Joreth’s voice spoke, and Dalton immediately began to move towards the incapacitation lever – knowing immediately where the conversation was about to go.
I went cold, falling dead silent as my mind swiftly played out several terrible scenarios of what could have happened to them both. I was way out of my depth here.
I flinched as Brian slammed down his fist, not expecting the action in the slightest and beginning to feel quite overwhelmed - the tension nearly tactile and everyone’s Soul Voices far louder than was comfortable because of their emotions.
I wanted to answer Ronald… but what could I say? That his sister was taken by a madman? That the madman had a penchant for hurting people and creating Songless?
Nothing I knew of Silas would help Ronald at all.
“They’re not… they couldn’t be…?” I speak up, not quite able to utter the word ‘dead’. That was too painful to think about. “Do you think they’re still… alive?” I ask, frowning deeply and almost afraid of the answer.
“Yes, they are alive – Silas would not kill such good bargaining chips,” Dalton replied. “How they are treated depends on how important the device is to him. However, he will want to extract information from them – I can’t guarantee that they are safe.”
Ronald grabbed Dalton’s collar, “Tell me who the fuck this guy is! NOW!”
“Calm down,” Dalton replied, feeling his voice waver in irony as he tried to make Ronald let go of him. “Silas is an intelligent man who figured out how to create Songless. We sent Rachel and Casey to find clues, but we did not count on him still being in the prison.”
Ronald let the man go, knowing that was all the information he would get. He hated feeling so powerless – especially when it was his sibling who was in danger.
Brian ran out of the room, his face in a snarl as he sped to the containment cell – opening it as he walked in and grabbed Joreth – his eyes cold with rage.
“Silas – where the FUCK is Rachel?! You fucking shit, I know you have her!”
I followed closely, trying not to fidget nervously as Dalton searched for them on the computer. I wondered what specifically could have got to them, since I was aware that they were both strong. A Songless? Some controlling devices, if they’d been taken by surprise? Silas himself?
“Unless they were lying?” I suggest cautiously, my eyes flicking from person to person. I was really worried for them both - hating to think how they might have been detained - for getting towards 24 hours as well. “Or the person you spoke to was misinformed by a liar. Unless it’s all been corrupted?” Whichever was the truth, it didn’t look good.
I wasn’t going to put forth the notion of Silas again since it had been ignored before, though I failed to see what else could be responsible. If they’d left without hassle, Dalton shouldn’t be convinced that they were still there. And if they hadn’t left - which I was reasonably convinced was the case - then why would they have told Ronald that they had?
And since they’d been looking into the means of Silas’ escape… well it made sense, as horrifying as the notion was.
Dalton leaned back, “Silas has taken over the prison. That’s the only explanation.”
It was piecing together in his mind. Where else could he create Songless freely without anyone taking notice? How else could he have acted without anyone suspecting it was him? He never left the prison in the first place.
‘How could I have been so foolish!’ Dalton chastised to himself, ‘Of course he never left! How could he?! The prison is the ideal location. For just how long has he been running it?!’ It explained the young girl, and the doppelgänger – likely they were inmates.
He ran a hand through his hair as he breathed slowly. It changed everything he had planned. Silas was mocking him – leaving the tracking devices in them as an invitation because he had been too slow to realise…
Brian slammed a fist to the table, “How the fuck did you let this happen, Dalton?! You said you were fucking smarter than his ass.” With so many people there, the two girls were likely overwhelmed.
“Do you think I would have sent them there had I known, Brian?” Dalton snapped back, “Silas has had a huge advantage over us from the start. He wasn’t playing a game in the first place – he was watching mice run around in a maze!”
“Just who the hell is this Silas?!” Ronald demanded, “Tell me what he’s done to my sister!”
I looked over, somewhat bewildered, as the door opened, carefully closing my book as both Brian and Ronald entered. This couldn’t possibly be good. I cringed slightly at the name-calling, quickly understanding why Ronald wasn’t awfully fond of Brian. I nodded back to him slowly, getting a feeling of dread begin to sink to the bottom of my stomach the more that was spoken.
It really wasn’t good.
“They didn’t come back… at all?” I ask him, feeling incredibly worried and glancing towards Dalton. I didn’t know how much I should specifically say - I didn’t know if Dalton would want the Silas information spreading too much.
“It’s him, isn’t it?” I say quietly, looking at Dalton searchingly - hoping for some indication that the conclusion I’d jumped to could be inaccurate.
Dalton’s eyes narrowed at Danielle’s words as he spoke to Ronald again, “When did they leave?”
“Last night,” Ronald replied.
He stared at Ronald, his face paling as he tried to comprehend his words.
‘Last night?! I suppose Rachel would have wanted to get to them before Silas did…’ But that was far too long for simple interrogations. Far too long.
No – he refused to believe that the two girls were taken so easily. He knew well that they were capable enough to take care of themselves – especially when Rachel had Myrrith on her side.
‘This doesn’t make any sense…’ Quickly he made his way to the other room, figuring he could find them with the trackers he had implanted into them as he started typing on the lab computer.
Brian never thought he had ever seen Dalton look so stunned before.
‘It’s not possible,’ Brian thought, ‘Rachel would never get caught by a sick freak like that.’ He gritted his teeth as they all followed Dalton to the other room, trying to keep his Soul Voice under control.
He wasn’t nervous. He was angry. Angry that Silas would be able to get away with something like this.
Quickly Dalton found the two on the map of his tracker program. Adjusting his glasses he spoke.
“They both appear to still be in the prison…”
“No, that can’t be right!” Ronald exclaimed, “I went there myself to see if she was there, and they said they had left late last night!”