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66 Cosmic System Beta

    --Eden POV--

    After the service, I move back down to the morgue to check on all the people confined to the storage room. As I leave the stairwell, a strange smell floats up from the elevator shaft nearby. It reminds me of a mix of bleach, flowers, and rotten meat. I don't remember a smell like that coming from the elevator shaft before, so I make a note to make sure I check it out after I finish what I'm doing. As far as I am aware, no one is missing, so it's likely just a dead rat or something.

    Suddenly I flinch when a childish voice sounds nearby, "Miss Eden! Eira, says I'm going to have to leave soon, but I don't want to."

    Turning around, I can see Annie pouting while standing with her dad, who looks incredibly uncomfortable.

    "If Eira told you to, then you should go, Annie. She usually has pretty good reasons for most of what she does..." I stare off into a corner and hope Annie doesn't notice the word "most" in that sentence.

    For someone who hasn't been around Eira for long, her confidence and demeanor would make you believe she knows exactly what she is doing at all times. However, I can tell that sometimes Eira is just doing the best she can; it's not like there is a manual out there for trying to revive a race in a world that only has one race, to begin with.

    I enter the backroom where the Tremble steamers, Bryan, Luke, and finally, the other soldier that never gave himself to the Goddess are. When it comes to the last soldier, I think Eira stopped caring about him saying something about "too much resentment; it's not worth the effort, good for blood though". Anyway, he still has a huge wound on the side of his neck where he was bitten by a monster baby Eira made, probably the reason for his resentment. He hardly ever speaks because it's painful. I think the wound may be infected, I'm not sure, honestly. I did give him a shot of antibiotics I managed to salvage, though. I checked to make sure it wasn't too big of a dose with Aponi beforehand, and her casual hand wave told me it was probably fine.

    Lastly, Audrey and the Staff Captain went to the showers to bathe. Eira makes them shower late at night, so they will have as few opportunities as possible to talk to others. They still have Eira's collars, so they shouldn't try to run too far.

    Annie walks over to her brother, "Luke, I see you're still tied up. Y'know, if you'd stop trying to hit on Miss Eira, she would probably let you walk around like Sylvia and Albert." she says while pointing at the Trembler streamers.

    Luke slowly turns his head toward Annie, "Never." he replies.

    'Luke must watch too many romantic comedies. Persistence usually doesn't work like in the movies. Besides I...'

    Before I can finish my thought, Mr. Miles rushes over to Luke, "Luke! Thank the God in Heaven; you're still okay."

    "Oh, hey, dad. Yeah, I'm fine. I'm usually not tied up like this unless Eira is around." he replies.

    Mr. Miles yanks at the blood chains shackling Luke to a pipe to no avail.

    "Mr. Miles, that isn't going to work," I inform him.

    **Bang!**

    A loud noise rings out, and I recognize it instantly as the stairwell door being thrust open. At first, I think it's Eira because she has a habit of throwing doors open forcibly, but I quickly realize that is not the case.

    From through the storage room door, I hear, "Check the area quickly! We can't stay long; we need to get back to the barricades to fight the damned Crawlers. They've been getting a lot more aggressive lately, so we can't twiddle our thumbs for long."

    "What should we do if we find someone, sir?"

    "Anyone suspected of having any involvement with the girl 'Little Red' is to be considered highly dangerous even if they appear harmless. If they refuse to comply, any amount of force deemed necessary is permitted."

    The sounds of boots on tiles echo from the morgue next door. My heart starts pumping incredibly fast, and I rush to one side of the room, grabbing the saber.

    "Clear!" someone shouts.

    With a cold sweat building on the back of my neck, I glance at the people in the room. I notice Mr. Miles processing what's going on before he opens his mouth. Seeing this, I rush at him as fast as I can, tackling him to the ground. I try to throw down my arm to prevent a loud fall, but my arm gets caught in Mr. Miles's jacket, preventing me from extending my arm. With a thud, we topple to the ground causing a small amount of noise to ring out.

    "Someone's in the storage room, form up!"

    I resist the urge to slap Mr. Miles as hard as I can and begin trying to decide what to do. Being taken by these soldiers would be bad, worse yet would be if they're taking no prisoners.

    "Come out now or we'll consider whoever is in there hostile!"

    I look at Annie and Mr. Miles, "You two go ahead and go. Eira was going to send you both away anyway."

    Annie looks reluctant but nods while Mr. Miles frowns, "I'm not leaving without Luke." he says.

    I take a second to think in order to convince him, "Then they might shoot all three of you when they come in here. Go, and maybe you can convince them to be a little more careful about who they fire at..."

    Mr. Miles grimaces before silently standing and putting his hands up. Together with Annie, they both begin to walk out. I notice some nervous tears from Annie, who is trying to put on a brave face.

    "It'll be fine, Annie," I say in an attempt to comfort her.

    "Two coming out! Please, don't shoot, my son is still trapped inside!" Mr. Miles shouts as he opens the door and moves through the doorway.

    After that, there is a lot of rustling and shouting from both sides. The Tremble streamers stand in silence staring at me like I'm about to give them all the answers. The injured soldier tries to shout, but it seems he's completely lost his voice without me noticing. While Luke simply looks around nervously. Finally, Bryan sits in the corner laughing uncontrollably. I glance around the room, noting all the long-forgotten equipment that's been stored here over the years.

    "Start moving stuff in front of the door," I say to Sylvia and Albert. "I'm sure you two probably don't want to be found by them either."

    The two look at one another before quickly looking around for anything they can find. Old beds, unknown machines, and anything else I can get my hands on, I immediately toss in front of the door. This is all made significantly easier with the strength the Goddess gave me, making me feel as if I am some kind of world record-holding weight lifter. The outside grows silent before a loud bang can be heard against the door. The door handle blows off, and the sound of someone kicking against the door can be heard.

    "What the hell? They blocked it in such a short amount of time?"

    "Remove the barricade now, or we'll be forced to start shooting!" I hear a man threaten.

    Hearing his threat, I push Albert and Sylvia to the corner of the room where Luke is and away from the door.

    I look at the mute man who sits directly in front of the door and then at his red chains, "I'm sorry! But I'm not good enough to remove anything Eira's made." I say with guilt.

    The mute man's eyes grow wide, and he begins to shake his head forcibly as the people on the other side of the wall continue to shout threats.

    "Move away from the door!"

    Luckily for the mute man, the soldiers do not make good on their threat to fire into the room and instead take a different approach.

    The sound of three more gunshots ring out, and the wooden door is removed and thrown to the floor. Gas canisters are flung into the room from the open door frame causing the room to become cloudy. My eyes, nose, and even my skin begin to burn as I begin to feel like I am drowning in my own mucus. From somewhere in the gas cloud, I can hear the noises of the barricade being tossed aside. Beside me, the Tremble streamers Sylvia and Albert are coughing violently, so I force my hand over their mouths.

    "Don't cough, or they'll find us," I whisper

    It takes them a moment, but they barely manage to get their coughing fit under control by removing their jackets and tying them around their mouth. Though, I suspect adrenaline and tension are also playing a significant part. Meanwhile, Bryan's laughter only grows louder and louder as he almost seems to want to inhale the gas more.

    "It smells like apple blossoms," Bryan shouts loudly with madness in his voice.

    I shake my head after realizing his description actually sounds somewhat accurate. Recognizing the sound of footsteps, I look out from behind the couch and I can vaguely make out five shadows entering the room.

    "Don't **cough** shoot!" I hear Luke shouting somewhere in the gas cloud.

    My heart rate begins to grow more and more by the second. I motion to the Tremble streamers, and we stand up silently. Unable to take Luke, we abandon him and hide behind an old couch that has been stored in an upright position. The couch is in the far corner of the room, and the closest hiding spot I can manage that is also near the door. Four of the shadow's move about the room with flashlights shining while one hangs back near the door.

    "Laughing man here, unharmed physically." a man yells in a muffled voice after finding Bryan.

    "Someone here, large injury to the neck." another muffled voice shouts, finding the mute man.

    "Teenager here, unharmed." yet another muffled voice says when finding Luke.

    The man that stayed near the door also begins to move about the room at this point. I watch as he walks in my direction, and I move behind the couch completely. The sounds of a foot stepping on a pile of loose papers nearby fill my ears, and I hold my breath, causing my lungs to burn even more.

    'What do I do!?'

    A large man wearing a gas mask steps around the couch holding a short black shotgun. His eyes stretch wide through the mask when he notices he is a mere foot away from me. I panic and stab forward piercing his neck. It almost feels like time has stopped as I realize the significance of my split-second decision. I stand mouth agape as blood sprays out staining my face and clothes. Contrasting the feeling of possibly taking a human life for the first time, the sweet taste of blood stains my tastebuds overwhelming even the gas for a moment. The adrenaline is unbelievable as my hands shake uncontrollably. I jerk the saber back and push everything to the back of my mind for now. I grab Sylvia by the hand and she shows a moment of hesitation before grabbing Albert's hand. Together we sprint through the open door.

    "W-what! Hostiles, we need a medic immediately!!"

    I hear a deafening noise followed by a bullet piercing my shoulder, causing an excruciating amount of pain.

    "AH!" Sylvia screams out.

    "Shit! I-I think they shot me in the..." Albert cries before stopping abruptly.

    "Stop firing, private!"

    A moment of relief hits me hearing the man shout to stop firing.

    "But sir, she attacked Smith!"

    "You don't think I know that, but you can't just fire wildly, noobie! Get over there and put pressure on the wound! You two help me chase after the girl."

    Three men break from the others as I bite my lip, accidentally running through it with my fang. Opening the stairwell, I yank the two behind me forward and spin around before shoving the saber between the handle and door frame. I look back to see Sylvia gripping at her arm and Albert who seems to have been shot in the buttocks holding his hand over the wound.

    The three soldiers slam into the door causing the saber to bend. I begin to jerk Sylvia and Albert up the stairs when... everything becomes eerily silent. I again look back to find Sylvia and Albert are frozen in place, unblinking and unmoving. Sylvia stares at her arm angrily while Albert's mouth is open wide with tears in his eyes. Suddenly, a soothing feminine voice enters my mind. The feeling the voice gives reminds me of one a parent would give to their child to calm their nerves. Strangely it also comes with a bewildering sense of unknown nostalgia.

    "

    Beta entity 818414 located...

    Uploading entity data to Cosmic System now...

    ERROR... Basic \u003cAnaylze\u003e data already discovered for entity.

    Merging files and completing integration into Cosmic System now.

    Beginning tutorial...

    "
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