Chapter 1 - Univille MarketEdit
Aden clicked the button on his keychain and heard the assuring 'click' of the car doors locking. With a smile, the God Tier locked his arm around that of his larger partner and reached his other hand out, magically pulling a nearby shopping cart towards him and pushed it out in front of them as they neared the entrance of the market.
After entering and appreciating the blast of cold air as a pleasing contrast to the summer heat outside, Aden and Soul walked through the grocery aisle of the Univille's grocery store, picking out items for their upcoming special dinner and dessert the next day.
"So," Soul started, picking up various different containers of chocolate, trying to decide which was best. "Hm, which has the higher sugar content? Are you excited for tomorrow?"
"Of course." Aden replied, checking items off his shopping list. "It's the anniversary of when we first met. Nothing's more important than that." He smiled as he picked up two containers of icing and placed them in the top of the cart.
"Except marriage." Soul joked. Aden plucked the chocolate out of his hands and put several into his shopping cart.
The man in glasses chuckled, "Of course, don't expect to find a ring in your cake tomorrow night, you'd probably swallow it by accident instead of put it on your finger." The albino nodded in agreement and laughed himself.
The pudgy man smiled and pecked Aden on the cheek as they made their way to the front check-out counter to purchase their items. After striking up polite conversation with the cashier, who seemed genuinely delighted that they were celebrating their anniversary, they walked out to their car and loaded their items into the back. Once they were done, the albino hugged Aden from behind and lazily rested his head on his shoulder with a sigh.
"I love you, Ady." Soul murmured as Aden leaned into the hugs.
However, their moment was cut short by Soul having a coughing fit. Turning around, Aden grabbed his shoulders. "Are you alright?" Aden asked, worried.
Soul looked up and finished his hacking. "Yeah, yeah. I'm fine." He coughed one last time. "Swallowed a bug. I hate that. Totally ruins the mood."
Aden couldn't help but laugh and pat his boyfriend on the back. "That it does!" In response, Soul gave a burp, causing Aden to laugh again.
"Come on then, love." The God Tier smiled, "let's get on home. Gotta start cooking sometime."
Chapter 2 - Soul's HouseEdit
The tubby albino had begun preparation for tomorrow's dinner. His favorite, a ham, potato, and cheese casserole, was going to be made, and he couldn't be more excited. While Aden was busy cleaning the living room, he fingered his necklace with a soft smile, and went back to cooking. As he looked over the ingredients and put them in the glass container, he took one small bit of ham and ate it, smiling and humming at the delicious taste, and his mouth almost watered at how much better the final product would taste.
Aden, who was vacuuming, found that the floor was covered in crumbs. No question, it was from Soul munching while he was out. With a defeated sigh, he stopped the vacuum, snapped his fingers, and the crumbs disappeared. "Much better." he said triumphantly to himself. Although, he wouldn't bother asking him to quit eating in the living room.
Soul popped his head through the doorway and peered into the living room. "Hey Ady?" he asked, "you think it's possible to add too much cheese or ham to the casserole?"
The man in glasses stood up and replied with a straight look on his face. "Is there a limit to how much chocolate you'd be willing to eat in a day?"
"No?" Soul answered, slightly confused.
"Then there's you're answer." Aden said with a smile, wrapping up the vacuum cord and wheeling the cleaner into a nearby broom closet.
The chubby man smiled, nodded, and went back to his preparations for the next day.
Later that night, Soul busied himself with brushing his teeth in the bathroom while Aden lay in bed, reading. He saw a window out of the corner of his eye, and noticed some sort of movement; or at least, he thought he saw something. Looking up, he saw nothing. He could have sworn that there was some sort of figure that darted out of view. Shrugging, he continued with his book.
Once Soul had returned, he crawled into bed. Removing his pendant, he laid his head down and snuggled Aden, affectionately humming. Aden rubbed his hair, kissed his forehead, and put his book away. Soon enough, they were both fast asleep...
And while they were sleeping, they didn't notice their door creak open with a green glow around the handle. Aden didn't notice when a new pillow was placed under his head, glowing faintly red. And Soul didn't notice that he was levitated onto a gurney, and carried out of the house.
Chapter 3 - Warehouse 13Edit
"Aden's certainly taking his time..." Mordin commented, waiting in the main office with Claudia and Felix. "I get it's his anniversary today, but still... he's normally here by now!"
"Hey, does anyone know anything about some guy named Albert Fish?" Drake had walked in carrying several case files that he had borrowed from Myka. "This file says his belongings were never catalogued by- Uh, did I... walk in on something?" he asked, closing the envelope and setting them on the computer desk next to him.
Felix stood up from his position of leaning on the wall and rolled his eyes. "Despite being bosom buddies with the 'Mage of Time' himself, 'Lord Taylor' is late."
Claudia snapped her Farnsworth shut with a click and an impatient sigh. "And he's still not answering..." she added. "Maybe we should check up on him." The other agents in the room agreed.
On their way out, Mordin nodded to Drake, "Hey, maybe we'll finally see some action."
Drake rolled his eyes, "You obviously didn't see what happened in Rome a few months back."
"I was told about it," the purple-clad half-Greek argued, walking down the Umbilicus and being careful to avoid the explosives as he raised his eyebrow.
"Yeah, but you didn't live it. Things were flying, Carl and I almost died..." the man in red looked down and blushed slightly, "clothes were lost..."
Before Mordin could ask about that last part, Felix called for them to hurry up, and they reached their car. Soon enough, they were quickly driving out of the Warehouse's canyon and eventually reached Univille, where they searched for Aden's address.
Upon arrival, they found the front door unlocked and both Soul's and Aden's cars in the driveway. "That's... worrying, but nothing major!" Mordin tried to explain, but failed and followed the others inside. The house looked clean and fairly normal, until they got to the bedroom, where Aden lay sound asleep, but no Soul. "There you are..." Mordin shook the God Tier lightly. "C'mon, Aden let's go!" There was no response. Claudia snatched the pillow away from his head, causing it to glow red.
In response, Aden yawned and sat up, blinking as he put on his pendant and glasses. "...guys? What're you all doin' in here?" He looked around. "Where's Soul at?"
"You didn't show up at the Warehouse today." Felix answered. "Didn't see Soul anywhere in the house, and his car's still here."
Aden stretched and put his hand down on his boyfriend's pillow, feeling a piece of paper crinkle under his touch. "Huh?" He unfolded the sheet and looked it over.
Soul groggily woke up with a groan. He didn't remember falling asleep in a sitting position. Did he sleepwalk? But, he didn't have this kind of floor. Either carpet, tile, or wood in various rooms. Not cold hard cement...
With a start, he got up and looked around. And, where he was, he didn't know. It looked like some industrial room. Concrete floor, metal and stone walls and pillars. No windows.
"ADEN!" he shouted, cupping his hands around his mouth. "Aden!?"
"I'm afraid that thing you call a friend isn't here to save you." A cold, sadistic man's voice was his reply. It seemed to echo from all around the room, even though Soul could not see anyone else.
"What's going on, where am I?" he asked. "Who the hell are you?"
"So many questions, so little time..." the voice said. "I'm afraid you're going to be here for a while, Soul. Might as well make yourself comfortable..."
Soul turned around as there was the sound of metal clanging on the floor behind him. Before him, he was a small, rusty bowl with some sort of mushy food inside.
"Eat, like the cow you are." the voice mocked. "You'll want to eat as much as you can, by the way. Even I am unsure of how long you will stay."
Soul reluctantly walked over to the bowl, picked it up, and sniffed its content. Odorless, it seemed. Scooping a small amount into his hand, he licked it. Of course, tasteless. Timidly, he put it into his mouth and swallowed. Instantly, he felt as though he were starving.
Aden snarled as he read the note allowed, before his pendant glowed slightly. "Someone took him, and they're gonna pay!" he sighed and hit his fist against the wall, the force jostling the beside drawer and the lamp and clock that rested on it. "How did I not notice!?"
Mordin soothingly placed a hand on Aden's shoulder in a semi-successful attempt at calming him. "It'll be okay, we'll find him. And whoever took him."
Aden clutched at his necklace. "Hopefully soon. He's in serious trouble, I can just feel it!"
"Can that thing find him?" Felix asked, gesturing at the faintly glowing pendant quizzically. "You told us it was connected to the other, right?"
The God Tier shook his head, "No, it only tells me if he needs help or something... or if he's in pain."
"We need to find the bastard who took Soul," Drake began, an angry expression on his face as he stomped the floor. His hands seemed to take on a faintly red aura around them, but quickly died down.
"And why he took him in the first place." Mordin finished, looking to Claudia.
Claudia nodded and fished out her Farnsworth, calling Artie. "Search the entire area. Not sure how far this guy could've gone, or where."
"Wait," Aden said, his voice both angry and hollow. "The note has more." The others crowded around him and read the note together.
'You will find this note to have instructions for you to follow. If you do so, you will be able to find the one I've taken hostage.'
"This asshat's makin' it out like a game." Felix spat angrily. "Does this guy have some sort of fetish, playing with you before he does what he wants?"
'First, find me where you would expect him to run off to on his own. You may find, once you get there, you tend to "slip up".'
"We have to go, now." Aden said, getting out of bed and flashing his Street Tier clothes on. "When I find this guy, he's gonna be Bronzed so long he'll have to get rust insurance."
Chapter 4 - Univille ParkEdit
"There's a park in town where Soul likes to go to be alone. Our first date was there." Aden explained as an answer to the riddle. The group walked through the house flight of stairs.
Claudia gave a silent "aww!" as Aden continued. "But the emphasis on slip up..." he thought it over. "There must be an artifact there! We gotta go!" he ran downstairs to his car.
"You still drive when you can fly?" Drake asked, tilting his head in confusion.
"Yeah, I'd rather not draw attention now." Aden replied simply, gesturing for everyone to get in. Piling inside, the agents drove to Univille's only park where at first glance nothing seemed wrong. "Last thing we need is to get held up covering our asses after the public sees magic. Or giving this guy a heads up we're on the chase, he might pull something funny."
"Well, this park seems nice," Felix said, looking out the window. "Doesn't seem like there's a prick here."
The others turned around and stared at Felix. "Problem! I meant problem!" he held his hand up.
Claudia rolled her eyes and chuckled. "At least here we may have a chance at smelling the pudge. Fudge!" She clarified, clearing her throat.
Shaking their heads, they exited the car and walked into the park. "You sure you can take this guy, Aden?" Mordin asked. "He might be tough, if he was able to subdue you."
"Trust me, I can handle a big daddy." Aden said, pausing after he realized his mistake. The others had turned to look at him this time, and Felix burst out laughing, falling to the ground and clutching his stomach. "I didn't mean to say that!" Aden snapped.
Drake was looking around, and noticed that many of the people in the park were either arguing, cupping their mouths, or laughing. Overhearing some conversations, he noticed they all seemed to involve mis-speaking. As he passed a bench, he noticed a pair of round-framed glasses resting atop a piece of paper. Picking them up, he read the first line of the note. "Guys!" he called to the others, "I think I fuc- FOUND our artifact!" he corrected himself.
When the others reached him, Claudia produced a silver bag and dropped the glasses inside, producing a spark. "Looked like they may have belonged to ol' Freud. Makes sense."
"Freudian slips." Mordin nodded his head in understanding. "What does the note say?"
Drake blushing slightly from his near-slip, cleared his throat and read aloud.
'I suppose I must
cu-congratulate you for finding it. The artifact was most annoying and I am glad to be rid of it. But now you've got another artifact to find. I expect you'll have a run for your money in the next location. Good luck. You'll need it.'
Aden growled at the note. "This guy is beginning to annoy me. He's just asking to be shoved into a mountain post-bronzing..."
Drake looked confused. "No real clue to where to go next on this..."
"Money... luck..." Mordin placed a hand on his chin and thought for several moments before snapping his fingers. "I got it! A casino!"
"But there aren't any casinos in Univille, dude." Claudia told him flatly. "Just like there isn't a movie theater, either."
"Then a bank?" Drake suggested. "That's the only place I can think of."
"Then let's go." Aden folded up the piece of paper, put it in his pocket, and the gang was off.
Soul sat on his back, groaning in immense discomfort and pain. His shirt, now having been ripped down the middle, his breathing difficult as his lungs were being compressed by his full stomach.
"Come on, slob, keep eating. You're hungry, aren't you?" the voice mocked, egging him on. Soul replied with a weak gurgle, saliva running down his chin onto the floor as he turned his head.
His stomach was so full, it was distended. If he were to stand, he wouldn't be able to see his own feet. But despite his stomach holding nearly five liters of food, he was still hungry. So, so hungry.... he couldn't bare it. Maybe one more gulp will make him feel better.
Reaching a hand weakly to the bowl nearby, which had kept refilling itself with the same odorless, tasteless slop, and scooped a very large amount into his hand. Raising it to his mouth, his stomach gave an incredibly loud growl. His stomach felt painfully tight, stretch marks appearing all over his gut.
Putting the food into his mouth, he struggled to swallow the food. But he did. As he felt is travel down his throat, and reach his stomach, his stomach was instantly in agonizing pain. It felt like he was going to explode. He tried to arch his back as he screamed his voice hoarse at the top of his lungs.
Aden wrapped his hand around his pendant, feeling the cool metal heat up. "Gah..."
Mordin looked over. "What's wrong?"
"I think... I think Soul is hurting. Bad, like, really badly Like he's almost dead... but he isn't dead... it's weird..."
"Lots of pain from him?" Felix asked cautiously. "You're sure?"
"...Yeah." Aden said slowly, nodding his head. "I'm scared."
"He might be under the effects of the torch I was tortured with."
Aden scowled at the memory of how broken Felix had seemed after his torture. "If that's the case, then it's the same guy that hurt you. I'm gonna drop-kick him into a trench..." he muttered darkly.
Mordin frowned as the reached the entrance of the bank. "We all wanna see him punished for what he's done, but we have to keep a level head."
"We all want a piece of that guy, Aden." Drake added, "But just promise us that we each get a crack at him given the chance. Here we are." he held open the door for the others and looked around.
Chapter 5 - Univille BankEdit
Aden and the rest drove to the local bank on the several blocks away, and walked inside. As they opened the door, they saw several disgruntled customers, some of whom were nearly yelling, and flustered staff. Some of them were so overwhelmed, in fact, that they seemed to keep tripping over and over again.
"Maybe an artifact that increases anger?" Drake guessed, scratching his head. Felix nodded in agreement.
"Let's look around, see what these guys are upset about." Mordin said, walking forward. Reaching a front desk, he smiled and greeted the employee once he reached her. "Hi, I'd like to make a deposit."
The woman nodded and Mordin took out some money from his wallet. Handing it to her, she began typing on her computer. After a few moments, she examined the cash in her hand, and her expression changed from polite to confused. "Uh, sir, it seems your currency hasn't been exchanged to American for this country."
Mordin looked even more puzzled. "What? No, that's a twenty dollar bill."
Frowning, the employee handed the money back to Mordin, who saw that, rather than the $20 he swore he took from his wallet, it was instead an New Zealand dollar. He turned around.
"Drake, Felix, did either of you mess with my wallet?" he asked, annoyed and confused. They shook their heads.
The employee sighed behind them, shaking her head. "We've been getting a lot of people saying their currency is one kind, but they give us another. Its crazy."
Aden listened to the various conversations around them, and noticed they were all about the money problem. "Something's switching currencies." he said firmly. "Gotta be an artifact."
"Well, what would that be?" Felix asked, walking over to a bench to sit down, and tripping onto his hands. "Ah, damn!" he exclaimed. "Getting up and looking down, he expected to see either a bump or a shoelace loose, but his feet were perfectly fine. Shrugging and walking over to the bench, he tripped again, this time clipping his hand on a nearby table. "Ow!"
Drake looked around himself and saw several other people were also tripping. Some people had bloody noses, bitten tongues, or sprained wrists and ankles from their falls. "We might be dealing with two artifacts this time, guys."
Aden began looking around. On the floor, he spotted an old shoelace. Out of a childhood habit of fiddling with strings, he made to pick it up, only to trip as he got close. Grabbing the string, he almost pocketed it. Before he did, Aden suddenly noticing that the tripping incidents around him were dying down. "Okay... is this an artifact? Hey guys!" he called out to Draco and the others. "I think I found one of 'em."
Looking around himself as well, Felix noticed something sticking out of the potted plant next to the bench. Taking a purple glove from his pocket and picking it up, he saw it was an old wallet. "Think I found the other artifact too." Opening the artifact, he saw a folded up piece of paper and pulled it out.
Mordin walked over to Aden and took out a silver bag. The God Tier placed the shoelace into the bag, producing very small sparks. The Element of Magic then walked over to Felix, who placed the wallet into the same bag, making sparks that were only slightly larger.
Immediately, people stopped tripping for no reason, and the bank was filled with relieved sighs and exclamations of happiness as the currency problem was resolved.
"Finally," Drake muttered as Felix handed the note over to Aden to read aloud.
"'Well done. For your next task, I hope you trust your sanity. You'll need it while you go get something to eat. Better hurry; your friend here won't last much longer without that!'" Aden began hissing in rage, his eyes flickering between their normal hazel and black-and-white. "He's starving Soul with something... oh his death will be quick and ungodly painful..." the God Tier muttered, wrapping his hand around his key as it buzzed under his fingers.
'This should be easy for you, considering how you've found my other artifacts so far. A puzzle, inside an enigma, inside a mystery. Getting your hands on it might be app-solutely impossible. Just follow the trail of madness."
"So what's it mean?" Drake asked, tilting his head at the emphasis on "App".
"Only one thing: The Room. No," Aden added as Felix opened his mouth, I don't mean the movie. I mean the app game. The room is a trilogy of games focused around puzzle-solving using a special eyepiece. As for the meal... he means the grocery store we were shopping at for our anniversary... last I checked, stalking of this caliber was illegal..." The God Tier sighed. "I was wondering where that artifact was... looks like Oto found it."
As Soul screamed, quick footsteps echoed through the room, getting closer to the albino. Soul couldn't keep his eyes open in his pain, but he felt his head being lifted up and something being scooped into his mouth.
"Can't let you die now, idiot. The others won't like it if you're dead." the voice, gruff and with a slight Southern accent, said.
Soul almost couldn't eat through his pain, but he felt the slop, very similar to the 'food' from earlier being forced down his throat as his mouth was held closed. He just managed to swallow, but when he did, the pain began to subside immediately, though he could still feel the pain of his stomach feeling like it could have burst.
"You just keep eating that slop like the hungry pig I know you are, and we'll both get what we want." The voice chuckled as he put what turned out to be a bowl beside Soul, and placed his hand inside of it. On the other side of the large man rested a gardening hoe, rusted and with a dirty dark wodden handle.
The albino groaned as he felt his stomach begin to shrink, somewhat greatful that he was saved. But he also felt something else, which made him bristle with fear and anger again.
He was absolutely starving.
Chapter 6 - Univille MarketEdit
Aden looked around at the customers in the store, seeing them almost obsessively organize and reorganize productions. "Oh no... we gotta find that artifact..." He muttered.
"What are they doing?" Draco asked.
"Trying to solve a puzzle." Aden replied. "At its core, The Room app game series is a puzzle game mixed with those... Russian doll-inside-a-doll thingies. Solve a puzzle, and you get the clue to the next one. But without a solution to a puzzle that doesn't exist..."
"Their curiosity will drive them insane!" Draco finished in a horrified tone. "See, this is exactly why I don't like the Convention Aisle!" he snapped.
"Believe me, there are times I hate that aisle too, but can we save this argument for later when lives and sanities aren't on the line?!" Aden retorted. "To avoid its effects, we gotta keep our minds busy. Think of logic puzzles, math problems, anything to keep your brain stimulated.
The rest of the group nodded, and focused on different problems, riddles, and puzzles to occupy themselves.
"If a train going 135 miles per hour..."
"What is black when you buy it, red when you use it..."
The agents scattered around the store, muttering their mental stimuli aloud. Mordin and Aden took the produce section, while Felix and Drake took the bakery and toiletries, respectively.
"Pattern, pattern, where's the pattern? Oranges go next to the apples, no.... bananas above the, no, no, not right, not right at all..." A woman fiddling with fruits arranged and re-arranged them in various orders as Mordin walked behind her.
He tapped her on the shoulder, however she didn't turn around, only acknowledging him with a simple questioning grunt. "Ma'am, have you seen an eyepiece around here?"
"No, no, that's not important. I need the pattern. Why can't I see the pattern?" she muttered angrily, fidgeting and twitching as she nearly caused the pile of assorted fruit to collapse.
"Uh, well, what if I gave you a hint?" the Element of Magic offered. This caught the woman's attention, and she immediately lifted her head.
"Hint? To the pattern? I need that to solve it. I need it."
"Well, try putting the oranges to the left of bananas, and apples above wherever two fruit are in a horizontal line with each other."
Before he even ended his sentence, the woman began frantically arranging the produce in the order he suggested, chuckling as she walked around the display. Taking his chance, Mordin began inspecting around the display for the eyepiece.
Drake, however, was having a harder time keeping his focus straight. Blame the artifact, or his impulsiveness, but he needed something to keep his attention, and the shelves of colored make-up items were begging for a color-coding.
Reaching forward to pick up some items and re-arrange them based on their hues, he shook his head and quickly put them back. It felt like the effects were getting stronger. 'Must be close.' he thought.
Felix neared the center of the store, after he had cleared the bakery without incident, but felt the artifact's effect increase, his mind struggling to focus on the puzzle he was thinking of. He looked around and saw dozens of potential problems that needed to be solved, riddles needing answers.
As he looked around, he noticed there was a cardboard display that held children's games in clearance. Looking past the disorganized mess, he saw at the top of the display that there was a brown and black vintage eyepiece resting on top. "Got it!" he exclaimed happily.
As if he had said the magic words, everyone in the store promptly began to stampede him. Felix acted quickly, and shoved the piece into a static bag. The Neutralizer within released a pulse of red energy, knocking several people to the ground.
Sighing in relief, Felix saw that a folded paper was with the eyepiece, and so he made his way back to the rest of the group, who were shaking their heads to get rid of their headaches.
"I think I may need to take a break from my morning crossword puzzle for a while," Mordin groaned. "Please tell me this is the last of 'em."
Aden looked at Felix's hands and glared, taking the note from him angrily and opening it to read the message.
"Congratulations! You reached the end of the Store! I hope the Room didn't strain your brain overmuch! Come, find me at my lair. The Lord of Olympus watches over me."
"Lair?" Mordin asked. "What is he, a comic book villain from the 50s?"
Aden crumpled the note in his hand sped its atoms up, igniting it in his hands and letting it burn to ashes. "Doesn't matter. He's going down, and honestly, I don't care how it happens." His form began to 'glitch' into aquamarine light, making the others take a step back in surprise. The God Tier sneered. "I wonder how long he'll last when I get my hands on him."
Chapter 7 - Oto's Lair, Univille ConservatoryEdit
Soul had collapsed on the ground, the pain in his stomach growing too much to bear. "Please... please make it stop..." he moaned. He had made his stomach empty with the slop he consumed from the other bowl, a large and obscene fold of skin hanging over his stomach. Then, before he could start wasting away even more, the gardening hoe had kept him at a standard level of health. Still, his stomach was constantly in pain with the intense stretching it had gone through, then the rapid shrinking, and the now near-constant hunger that had set in.
He heard footsteps nearing him, a sinister chuckle accompanying it. "Don't worry, the other's will be here soon enough. Though, I've got my doubts on whether they'll be here long enough to rescue you..."
The large albino turned his head and, through vision blurred by his pain, saw a dark figure holding an object glowing a violent red-orange. As the man held it in his hands, Soul could hear the sounds of sliding objects. Some heavy, some metal, but all sounding like they were intended for trouble.
"W-why.... are you-?"
"Why am I doing this?" the man asked, laughing coldly. "Because... you have what I couldn't, and, well... envy isn't a deadly sin for nothin', is it?"
The cluster of agents stood before a hidden door in the conservatory, the Statue of Zeus observing them silently from behind. "He thinks a locked door will stop me?" Aden scoffed, stretching out a hand, only to be stopped by Draco.
"Don't let anger cloud you. Think. He might have the entrance booby-trapped." Felix said firmly before releasing Aden, who nodded and looked around. His eyes eventually fell on Zeus, and brightened in an idea and walked over to the statue.
"What are you doing?" Mordin asked as the God Tier knelt in prayer before the Olympian.
Aden bowed his head respectfully before the large statue silently for a few moments before answering. "You could say I'm praying for a miracle."
Almost immediately, the hand on the statue glowed brightly before sending a bolt of lightning at the door, filling the air with ozone and forcing the agents to cover their eyes. When it ceased, they found the door had been blasted off it's hinges, and a bear trap lay across the door, triggered shut.
The agents, lead by the God Tier, slowly entered the doorway and then jumped forward, scared as they saw several shotguns attached by now snapped wires to the door, aiming directly at the doorway.
"I see he's still using SAW as a reference..." Felix said, shuddering and scowling angrily.
"The least he could do is show originality." Aden added, as he drew his Tesla and signature war axe. A fling of his wrist sent the weapon flying down the corridor, embedding itself in the door at the end. In the light, several wires glimmered as the group carefully made their way down the hall.
Instead of opening the door, Aden simply grabbed the handle of his weapon and teleported the door off its hinges entirely, revealing Oto and Soul in the following room. As they watched, Oto kicked Soul in the stomach. The albino screamed once in great pain, keeled over, and hit the ground hard. In response, Aden's pendant, already glowing with the pain of Soul's starvation, shattered and slipped off his neck to the ground. The God Tier instinctively reached down to grasp at it, but stopped as the shards hit the floor.
The agents walked forward, Aden scowling and his axe glowing with energy. "You BASTARD!"
Oto turned, standing next to Soul's groaning body on the floor, and spread his arms. "Well well, if it ain't the welcome commit-"
Before he could finish his sentence, Aden swung his axe backhanded and struck the man in his jaw, knocking him backwards before reeling back to punch him again. "I'm gonna kill you you deranged asshole!"
Mordin and Drake immediately grabbed hold of Aden's arms and pulled him back, still kicking and shouting. "Let me go! Let me get Soul!"
Oto, meanwhile, held his face and stood up, swaying a little as blood trickled from his mouth. "Heh, broke jaw. Gonna feel that later."
Felix took out his tesla and a small blade, pointing them both at Oto. "So," the foreigner said coldly. "You're the maniac who had me kidnapped, eh?"
"The one and only." the older man nodded, spreading his hands proudly. "Shame you had to leave before the party really started."
"Soul!" Aden shouted. "Soul, are you okay?!"
The albino groaned in response, his eyes filled with tears as they looked up into Aden's. "Mm-mmm..." Soul replied best he could, shaking his head. "I wanna go home..."
Seeing that he calmed down, Drake and Mordin let the God Tier's arms go, and he rushed faster than a normal person could to his fallen lover's side.
Oto watched, his head following Aden with a sneer, before Felix brandished his dagger and charged his Tesla to get his attention back.
"We'll get you home love. I promise." Aden gently picked Soul up off the ground, surrounding the larger male in aquamarine energy. He shot a glare at Oto, his eyes flaring black and white with a wrath typically reserved for an offended Olympian. "And I'll enjoy kicking you into orbit." Aden added, his voice colder than Pluto's surface.
"I'd like to see you try," the man chuckled, grunting in pain as he reset his jaw. "It'll sure as hell be hard to do when yer bein' drawn and quartered!"
Oto raised his hand, which held a whip of nails, and it glowed with a violent red aura that filled the others with a sense of deep dread. Behind him, four horseshoes floated into the air and flew towards Aden.
"And you," he turned his head to Felix. "You should've died back in California. I won't make the mistake of letting someone else do my dirty work again." His whip glowed brighter, and behind him a large, bronze bull rose into the air behind him, a door on it's side opening and seemed lit from within by a large fire.
Drake and Mordin looked up at the artifacts in the air, and while Mordin was afraid, the foreigner next to him stood in place, shaking and incoherently sputtering aloud as he stared fixatedly at the fire within the bull.
Oto laughed loudly, with a voice full of malice, as the horseshoes each snatched Aden's limbs with ropes of energy, making the God Tier scream n fear and pain as he was bound and began to be pulled apart, Soul having fallen back to the floor. His necklace flared red and promptly fell to pieces.
Felix, his dagger and Tesla poised, looked around and saw the large bronze bull directly above the evil man, and knew he had no choice but to fire. No matter what would happen.
"Go to hell you crazy bastard!" The cat-man threw his dagger into Oto's leg, making him shout and crumple to his knees. His telekinetic grip weakened just a bit, so that the bull lowered a little towards the ground. But the same red aura surrounded Oto's hand, filling his eyes. And Felix could still hear Aden's screaming, and Drake's babbling.
He aimed his Tesla right at Oto's chest and fired, making the man convulse with electricity before he dropped his whip and crumpled to the ground. Then, the bronze bull fell.
Soul managed to get to his hands and knees, and knocked one of the horseshoes away, whipping his head around when he heard a loud scream, followed by an equally loud crunch and bonging sound coming from where Oto stood. The man had been flattened by the metal statue, blood coating the side where the door was, now closed.
Mordin turned his head to Drake, who had ceased his stuttering, but had now curled up in a ball on the ground, eyes closed and tears down his face.
"I had to," the New Zealander said, his voice shaking. "I had no choice. He was gonna kil-" He was interrupted by the body beneath the bull bursting into flames, and in a few short moments, nothing was left, not even a drop of blood. "Son of a bitch..." he muttered under his breath.
Near the door, Soul and Aden where wrapped around each-other in a hug. "I've gotcha, I gotcha..." Aden muttered in Soul's ear as his boyfriend sobbed.
"Aden?" Soul asked. "Can we go home?"
"Yeah... yeah, C'mon, let's go home." Aden nodded, before turning to the others. "I gotta take a few days off work... gotta take care of Soul," he explained.
Draco nodded as Aden picked Soul back up and walked out.
Chapter 8 - Warehouse 13 Edit
It had been a week since Oto's newest evasion from the Warehouse. While Aden was devoting most of his time caring for Soul, he had still visited the Ascendere whenever he was required, and his boyfriend accompanied him, clinging to his arm tightly the whole time. Aden had also fashioned two new key necklaces that were much smaller than the originals.
The rest of the agents, however, were called into Artie's Office shortly after they returned. Mrs. Frederic and Artie stood in the middle of the room, the assembled group around them attentively. The senior man had a grim look on his face, while the Caretaker's held an expression of firm decision.
"Agents, Consultants," Mrs. Frederic began curtly, "as you know, Oto Barry has recently evaded us again after capturing someone close to Aden. How he got such information aside, this is a matter of great importance."
"Who is he?" Myka asked, her arms crossed while she leaned on the computer desk. "He knows so much, and has so many artifacts. How?"
"That's what we're here to talk about," Artie replied, spreading his hands nervously. "Oto was... he was an old agent, around for a time shortly before I was recruited. I only knew him for a few years, but I knew him nonetheless."
The other agents looked to each other immediately in surprise.
"Ugh," Claudia groaned, "What is it with this place that makes old people make guest appearances now? He's like, the 4th ex-Warehouse guy we've tangled with."
Mrs. Frederic nodded gravely. "Yes, well, you either die a hero," she began.
Mordin finished, "Or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain."
Steve spoke up, raising his hand. "But why is he after the Warehouse? And attacking us? What happened?"
Mrs. Frederic sighed and sat down on the nearest chair, crossing her legs and placing her purse in her lap. "Oto was recruited in 1973 as a young religion professor in Texas. He was extremely intelligent, which is how he managed to get the job so young. The day he was recruited, we discovered he had a very familiar ability, immunity to the negative effects of artifacts."
Nikki gasped, "Then, you mean he-?"
"Was an early member of H.A.R.P., yes." The Caretaker paused as the Consultants shared a disgusted look and shuddered in unison. "He was an agent for 5 years, commonly partnered with Agent Michael Korss. Your grandfather, Mordin."
The Greek man in purple attire widened his eyes and simply stared before shaking his head. "I'll ask about that later."
Continuing, Artie privded further exposition. "He was an agent for a few short years before they collected a damaged rotary phone contained in the Samhain Sector. You may have noticed that it is kept in a soundproof purple box, for your own protection. It is extremely powerful, able to get past Oto's immunity and... caused him to have a mental breakdown. And he killed Michael, a great friend of his."
"And he got away, and stayed hidden all this time?" Pete asked.
"How is that possible?" Felix added.
Adjusting her spectacles, Mrs. Frederic replied. "We presumed he was dead. Based on the effects of the artifact that affected him, we assumed he would have killed himself after murdering Agent Korss. That is to say, Michael. There was no sign of his body, so we foolishly assumed he had gone somewhere secluded. We were very wrong."
Artie walked over to Claudia and placed a hand on her shoulder. "Now it's up to us to stop him, once and for all. He's attacked the Warehouse before, with the Disney incident. He was the one who anonymously sent the Tin to Garrett."
The agents, including Mrs. Frederic, lowered their heads momentarily and glowered.
"And he was responsible for Felix's kidnapping. How he managed to have a connection in California while also having a double in Univille to capture Soul, we have no clue. But that's why we need to work together and not stop until he's caught and Bronzed..."
A week passed, with no leads on Oto's whereabouts. Mary had even managed to convince the Ascendere to lend a hand, in case he had escaped globally. In her spare time, she continued to check on Aden and Soul. Mary had taken a liking to the wider male, and helped console his nightmares. Eventually, Soul did get his appetite back, subdued though it was.
Meanwhile, at the Warehouse, Mordin and Drake had been assigned to the stacks, and the Greek man decided to say something.
Clearing his throat, he started slowly. "Hey, Drake?"
"Hm?" The man in a red tank top asked, placing a couch pillow on a shelf in the Psychology Section.
"Uh... a-about, about Oto..."
Drake sighed and removed his gloves, tucking them in his left pocket so that they were hanging out. "Look, I know I freaked out. I'm not proud of it, in fact I'm damn ashamed I did that in the middle of a bad situation. Can we just drop it?" He began to walk away, but the man in the purple long-sleeved shirt grabbed his shoulder.
"Drake, please. I want to help you. If there's something I can do, please let me. But I can't do anything if I can't understand you."
The man of Loyalty stopped and remained silent for a few more moments before slumping his shoulders and leaned on a nearby shelf. "When I was 9, my family lived in a large house. My father worked for a smalltime magazine company, and always kept his supplies at the house. Papers, photos, ink, the works. He liked doin' it the old fashioned way. He actually made decent money, we could afford a good house. One night, it was winter, and out heater was broken. Repairman wouldn't get there until the next day, so instead my old man lit up the fire place.
We had fun, roasted marshmallows indoors in sticks from the backyard. When it got late, we went to bed, and my dad said he would stay in the living room a little while longer to organize the supplies. So, I fell asleep. And my father got to bed later. He was a bit forgetful at times, nothing too serious. But... he left some stuff on the floor too close to the fireplace. And since we had been roasting, the glass guard door in front of the pit was still open. So.... the whole house caught fire. My bedroom was the closest to the fire, so the rest of my family had the chance to get out quickly. But I got trapped in my room, and I couldn't open the window. I was stuck, and eventually... the flames got inside my room. And I got burned. A fireman was able to break through my window and get me out, but not before I had burns and passed out from the smoke.
Our whole house burned down, and all of my Dad's work was destroyed. He couldn't find work for a long time, and now I work by ass off and break my back just to get money for me and my parents. They don't need it, but I'm insecure about funds. To this day I can't see large flames without freaking out. The only thing that helps is the little Beanie Baby tiger I had, the only thing in my room to survive the fire. Well, him and Carl anyway. He's been trying to get me to see phobia therapy lately, but I'm still too scared to do it. The only reason I even like this tank top is because I wasn't burned enough on my arms, so makeup still hides it. But... let's just say I'm not exactly fit to go to the beach for an upper body tan."
Mordin stayed quiet, listening intently at the other man's story. "Drake, man, I'm... I'm real sorry about that. I didn't know."
Drake shrugged. "S'fine, usually. I'm okay with candles and fireworks, for the most part. Sucks that I can't see special effects shows. And action movies make be uncomfortable too."
"Thank you, so much for telling me. It means a lot that you can trust me so much with something like that. If you ever wanna talk, I'm always open, okay?"
The man in red nodded. "Got it. Thanks. Now, let's see how many more of these artifacts we have to shelve. We found an old torch in the Conservatory with Oto's stash that Artie says needs to be locked down in the Torture Aisle, stat."
At Soul and Aden's home, the God Tier was finally succeeding in getting Soul's appetite back. "You feelng better, love?"
"Yeah... Yeah I think I am!" Soul grinned.
Aden walked from the kitchen counter, carrying large meat lovers pizza to the dining table to his smiling boyfriend. "That's great, I'm so glad we're making progress." Cutting out a large slice, he handed it to Soul and sat down in the chair next to him, rubbing his stomach as he ate.
"Mm, yeah?" The large albino asked with a full mouth. "Whassup?"
The Rogue looked down at the floor and fiddled nervously with his locket and Soul's slightly-too-small shirt. "I'm just... so so sorry for what happened. It's my fault that happened to you."
The albino put down his pizza slice and gave Aden a look of concern. "What do you mean?"
"You being my One, and my boyfriend at that, it made you a target. Oto got you to get to me. And if we hadn't been together, then you... y-you wouldn't ha-have..." the man began sobbing, pulling tightly on the things in his hands until he felt a warm hand cup his cheek.
"That doesn't matter," Soul said, pulling Aden's face up to look him in the eyes as tears started running down his face, "I wouldn't change anything in my life for the world. I love you, I don't care what happens. I knew you'd save me, I could just feel it. And I was right."
The two pulled each other in for a tight hug, Aden softly crying into Soul's shoulder as he began to calm down. "Th-thank you..."
The albino pat and rubbed the God Tier's back until he felt better, whispering sweet assurances to his lover. Once he had calmed down, he wiped his eyes and smiled slightly. "From now on... I'm gonna do my best to keep you safe. I love you too much to let anything bad happen to you again."
Soul nodded, smiled, and kissed Aden lovingly, making the other man bust out a grin.
"Aw man, now I'm gonna smell like pizza!"