82 Bearley a Plan

    --Eden POV--

    Two bear cubs crawl and hang to my body while the third bites and scratches at my pant leg. The room rests in eerie silence as Aponi sits quietly rubbing the Goddess's ring uneasily. Not long ago, Aponi told me that something odd seems to be going on in the warehouse. Apparently, Eira has contacted her several times, asking her the same question, and then almost immediately forgot she asked.

    Anxiously I stare at Aponi and pelt her with questions, "Did you get in touch with her? Did she respond? Did you tell her??"

    "Eden, please! Using this thing takes a lot of concentration, and I'm trying." She sighs and looks at me, "Neither her nor Jimmy are answering, and I don't think it's because I'm doing it wrong."

    "I'm sorry. I'm just worried, and it's weirdly quiet down here."

    I sigh, and think to myself, 'I wish the Goddess had given me a ring too, so I could try to contact her myself.'

    "I know, and you're justifiably worried. But now that you say it, it is weirdly quiet." Suddenly Aponi's brow furrows, showing deep thought, "Hey, Eden, don't you think it's weird how none of us heard Sam being taken. Like I heard the pool liner rip, but I didn't hear anything else."

    Aponi's question confuses me, but the more I think about it, the weirder everything seems, "Now that you mention it, I did think it was weird... but I forgot."

    "Yeah, same here," Aponi replies with a nod.

    I decide to go ahead and state the obvious, "Something really wrong is going on here."

    "Definitely, and I mean besides this suspicious gigantic facility buried beneath Anchorage. It seems like our thoughts or memories are being suppressed... still doesn't explain why there was no sound, but it explains why we can't remember the thought."

    "Does anything like this exist in the military?" I ask questioningly, but before Aponi can answer another possibility comes to mind, "Do you think it might be magical?"

    Aponi crosses her arms and shakes her head, "I wouldn't know if it was magical, but as far as I know, no, the military didn't have anything that could manipulate memories. Of course, it's not like I was made privy to everything, but still, I doubt they had anything like this... Actually, who knows I certainly don't know nearly as much as I thought I did before meeting Eira."

    My attention returns to the ajar door of the warehouse, "Well, whatever is happening, it seems like it must be a lot worse in the warehouse than it is out here."

    "Yeah, we can't go in there, at least not for long. Who knows how it works, and once we go in maybe we'll forget to come out?" She sighs, "I kinda hate this, to be honest, neither you nor I know much about magic beyond blood magic."

    "That's true. What do you think we should do?" I bite my lip, and continue my thoughts, "If they've all fallen under the effects of whatever it is in there they probably won't come out on their own."

    Aponi nods in agreement, "I think you're right. When I spoke to Eira it seemed like they weren't going to be able to get out without help. We need to lead them out of there without actually going in ourselves... Hopefully, they return to normal once they are out."

    "Should we just go to the door and start yelling for them or something?" I ask.

    "I mean, maybe? I'd rather not, though, as I'd like to not attract too much attention. Also, I don't know if there is some type of sound suppression like there might have been with Sam."

    "Well, I don't know about the sound suppression, but do you think we would really draw attention that quick? We could just fire a bullet, and see if that draws their attention."

    "Well, it's not just those two things, but what if they just forget about the bullet a few seconds after we fire it? I guess we could just sit there yelling into the room for a while, but we might regret it; assuming it'll even work."

    "That might be true... So we need something that we can use to hold their attention, maybe something that they'll continue to stare at or follow?"

    "Yeah, pretty much." Aponi turns and starts taking note of what we have, "Speaking of which if any Crawlers show we should hide first before fighting. I still remember the cruise ship when they swarmed us in the halls... who knows how many are down here."

    "I also remember that. I think we could take a few at most without the others." Aponi nods and I join her in taking inventory of our items, "Assault rifle, tomahawk, a blood saber, a combat knife, uh, three bear cubs, and I guess we can count our novice level blood magic, and... hey, why didn't you finish this?" I ask.

    "The blood bag? Because my stomach started hurting." She says with a hand over her stomach.

    I shake my head, "You drank it too fast."

    "Yeah, well, we were in a hurry. Dammit, Sam!" Aponi groans with a clenched fist.

    I tilt my head, "It's not his fault he got kidnapped, Aponi."

    "No, it's not that, and t-that was basically my fault. What I mean is he let the bear cub pee on my backpack when we were fighting the Brutes." She answers.

    Aponi stares at each of our items intensely before setting them to the side one at a time.

    The room turns eerily quiet as she thinks, and my anxiety starts to rise, so I continue the conversation, "Eira told him to carry it, and clean it once we got back... We could have probably used it right about now, and it's not your fault it's not like you meant to knock him in the pool."

    "Mmm, I was just excited and didn't realize how big the strength increase after leveling would be. Being one of the only women in special forces I was thrilled that I could increase my strength and put all my optional points into it." She looks back at me with a small half-smile, "Anyway, letting a bear cub pee on my backpack is such a Sam thing." She laughs, "Sam is such a wannabe ladies' man who's really just an overgrown silly kid."

    I tilt my head at Aponi, "That seems a little mean... I think he balances the group."

    "I agree, but I didn't actually mean it as an insult; it's just what we've always told him... He was really big into vampire novels; would always hide them under the mattress in basic." She says with another small chuckle before turning serious, "I sure hope we make it in time to... wherever he is. I'll never forgive myself if something happened to him because I literally didn't know my own strength."

    Aponi's guilty expression surprises me, "I'm sure he's fine. Eira, made it seem she didn't think he was in any immediate danger." I respond.

    "She was surprisingly apathetic if we're being honest," Aponi says a bit bitterly.

    The atmosphere turns awkwardly heavy, so I try to change the subject, "So, the vampire novels somewhat explains Sam's attitude, but out of curiosity what about you? You seem to be handling things fairly well also."

    She hesitates before standing and removing her two jackets, "Well, first of all, you don't make an agreement with a Goddess lightly, especially if you're already on death's door. Second, the Goddess told me the world as we know it will be ending soon, so I took it as a chance to save my sister when I can... The rest of the tribe and my family can go to hell or the Hell Dimension or whatever it's called."

    I turn my head away awkwardly, and scratch the nap of my neck, "O-Oh, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have asked."

    The bear cub that was trying to tear my pants instead starts trying to drag one of Aponi's jackets away. Aponi seizes it before it can run away, and hands it to me, "Nah, it's fine. It's all in the past now." She takes the knife and starts to strip away long strands of the jacket.

    The cub climbs onto my head, and I pick up and run the leather strands through my fingers, "Do you need some help with whatever you're doing?"

    "It would go faster, so I'd appreciate the help. Use that saber of yours to cut the strands as thin as you feel they can be, but still not in danger of tearing."

    "Okay, I'll do my best," I reply while seizing the blood bag that one of the cubs is trying to get its paws on.

    Running the saber along the strands, it cuts through with minimum resistance. Aponi runs me through her plan, which is surprisingly simple, but unless we try to salvage things from the facility on our own, we don't have much of a choice.

    "So what do you think of Jimmy, Terry, and, uh, Kardama?" Aponi asks me casually.

    "Well, Terry and Jimmy seem pretty normal for the most part. Jimmy seems like the handyman dad type and Terry seems like the overly protective dad type."

    Aponi laughs, "The dad type? They're just like that because they aren't the type to open up immediately; not to mention to someone like Eira. Still, it's interesting you'd say that, was your dad like either of them or something?"

    "My dad?" Aponi's question takes me off guard, "Uh, I-I don't know."

    "Oh, I'm sorry. Those kinds of dads were common among some of my friends... Y'know the type that would go to the store for milk for years at a time."

    With a small frown, I look off into space, "Yeah." I murmur.

    "Sorry, Uhm, yeah... What about Kardama!?"

    Taking a deep breath I give my opinion, "He's fine, a bit immature, but what he really needs to do is backoff Eira or he may regret it sooner rather than later."

    Aponi coughs also seemingly caught off guard, "O-Oh, is that so?"

    Things go quiet and I immerse myself in the process of cutting the jackets. A while later we finish, and Aponi gazes at the pile doubtfully. It only takes me a minute to realize the problem.

    Removing my two jackets, I toss it to Aponi, "Here, use mine too."

    "Are you sure? It'll be cold when we leave."

    "Of course, I'm sure. Besides, I'm pretty sure Eira stole the jacket from someone anyway."

    She frowns and lets out a long exasperated sigh, "Probably. Does she actually own anything that isn't stolen from someone?"

    Aponi begins tossing me strands, and I cut them as before, "That's a good question actually, I bought her clothes once, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't her credit card."

    "Sometimes, I wonder if I betrayed my humanity... but as time has gone on, I weirdly find myself caring less and less." she murmurs while staring at the floor.

    Finishing the preparations, we begin to tie and fasten the strands together, and Aponi stops.

    "Maybe, we should try to attach them together using blood magic. Otherwise, it might be too short."

    "Yeah, we can at least do as many as we can that way."

    So we change up our methods and manage to haphazardly attach some together before tying the rest together with sturdy knots.

    "Which one was it again?"

    "This one that keeps clawing and biting me."

    "Figures." Aponi laughs.

    Removing the cub from my face, it struggles and coos loudly at me. I gently pin it to the ground to prevent it from running, and Aponi ties our makeshift rope around its neck.

    "There." She shakes her head, "Are we sure this one isn't rabid? Why is it so attached to Eira?"

    "Who knows. Hmm, we should attach the blood bag too, maybe they'll smell it." I suggest.

    "Yeah, why not," Aponi cuts the bottom of her pants and ties the strands together.

    She places the blood bag on the cub's back and ties it around its belly.

    "Alright, if this doesn't work, we'll try a more archaic version, but maybe we can at least get one of them with this."

    "It's a nice idea. Maybe, it'll run right for her. The problem is this line is only so long."

    "That's the problem for sure. We'll extend it if we have to, but the important thing is they spot it, and then follow the line.." Aponi seems to think of something, "You can't do your glowy eye thing can you?"

    I shake my head, "It doesn't work that way, I don't think."

    "Well, maybe we'll try it if this doesn't work. Who knows." She responds with disappointment.

    Approaching the door, we place the bear cub near the entrance. It turns and tries to climb up my leg, and I forcefully remove it, tossing it gently through the opening. Turning to me, it coos angrily and tries to return, but again I toss it through the door to its annoyance.

    Aponi stomps at the cub threateningly, "Go, find Eira or at least run around or something."

    The bear cub seems genuinely unnerved by Aponi and stares at the two of us as if we have betrayed it. Suddenly, it does a small growl and stomps the ground before running into the warehouse.

    Watching it leave a question comes to mind, "Do you think it'll just forget what it's doing?"

    "Possibly, but as long as it doesn't come back to the door, it'll serve its purpose," she states hesitantly.

    "Right, I guess now we wait and see. Hmm, and let's say every hour we'll call their names as subtly as possible."

    I nod, and the two of us move away from the door in case the warehouse's effects pass the door.
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