Delta End: Chapter 0
The obnoxiously loud beeping of his alarm clock had come to an end when his fist came crashing down on the 'off' button. The cracks in the plastic of the device showed not only its age but also the routine abuse it had to endure at the hands of its owner, who was anything but a morning person. After rolling over in bed the figure would slowly open his eyes, squinting toward the red neon light emitted from the device.
A sigh escaped his lips as he sat up on his bed which was too small for his size. It was a bed built for Xrashah and was hardly equipped to handle an above-averagely sized human like he was, standing at 6 feet and 2 inches tall. Warm rays of sunlight were shining through his blinds- A rare and peaceful moment. One that he was not able to savor, as he had to get ready for what was to come. Today was a very special day after all.
The figure slipped out of bed from beneath his blanket and slowly dragged himself to the bathroom. His apartment was quite quaint by modern standards, albeit a bit small. For his purposes, however, a studio was more than sufficient. Frankly, he could be considered lucky for even having his own private place to live compared to some other Pillars. Upon entering the bathroom the lights turned on automatically, revealing a rather claustrophobic but clean bathroom containing a sink, shower, toilet, a small cabinet beneath the sink, and, most importantly, a well-disguised camera in the corner facing away from the shower.
"Good Morning, Jack."
A female voice, indistinguishable from an actual human had it not been for the lower quality due to the aged speakers it was emitted from, spoke to the man with a neutral tone as he stepped in front of the mirror which was placed above the sink. He turned on the sink in the coldest setting and formed a makeshift cup with both of his palms to collect some water, which he splashed into his own face once his hands were full. Afterward, Jack looked up at the mirror.
What looked back at him was almost pitiful- Large bags under his emerald eyes, his pink hair being a complete mess- He looked as if he had not slept in days. Other than that he had a surprisingly fit physique, the product of his strong and well-maintained training routine. After yet another sigh Jack spoke up while still staring at the mirror.
"Mel, get me updated on the news."
He said before stripping down completely and entering the shower. His favorite shower settings were still saved so it instantly turned to the desired temperature and water pressure.
As he was showering, a hologram was projected on the wall across the cabinet, aiding in visualization with images, graphs, and the like as Mel reported on recent events.
"Starting with local news first. An increase in crime in the Residential District by 7.43% compared to last month has been reported by the Tower's crime statisticians in a recent press statement. This follows the recent trend of higher crime rates in all Pillars. The Overseer, however, emphasizes that this is no cause for concern as it is being handled. Now: Politics. In a press statement, recently appointed council member Grel has talked about his plans to increase penalties and restrictions on keeping Zayin level Entities as private pets. This decision has resulted in a few larger protests by entity rights activists, some of which are thought to be associated with the eco-terrorist group Blades of Yggdrasil. The Overseer, however, refused to comment on those potential ties."
As Jack was washing his hair he would poke his head out of the streaming water for a moment to interrupt his virtual assistant.
"Yeah, yeah, I get it, Soma's gone to shit. Is there anything interesting or relevant to me?"
After which he would resume rinsing the practical 8-in-1 shampoo off his head.
"You asked me to remind you to call your sister today. It is her birthday, after all."
Jack turned off the water and then proceeded to shake his head strongly, flinging droplets of water everywhere and adding to the already soaked ceramic walls of the shower. Having ceramic walls in the shower was definitely not the norm but the building that Jack lived in was quite old by Soma's standards. Then, he opened up the glass door to the shower and reached for a towel that was hung nearby.
"Mhm, you're right. I can't believe that Marie has turned 19 already... I'll give her a holo-call once I am home."
As Jack was drying off his body he found his mind wandering, thinking about what was to come, having quickly forgotten about his sister's birthday again. This was not out of malice or lack of care on his part however, his mind simply did not have the bandwidth to deal with it at the moment. After all, today was his first day at his new job working in the Tower- And he was determined to give the best first impression he possibly could. He was employed as utility staff- part of the supporting members of the new IXth SU's δ division. Today was also the only day where he could realistically leave a good first impression, as all the new Agents would arrive tomorrow, as he was told. Therefore, once he was dried off, Jack would simply throw the towel to the side- A hassle he could always deal with at a later point- and then took his sweet time making sure his hair looked superb. After about 15 minutes of styling, fidgeting, and working on his hair he was done, and confidently so.
The man looked at his mirror image with a grin, pointing finger guns towards it in the process.
As Jack left the bathroom with a different towel wrapped around his lower body and re-entered his living/bedroom, a humanoid figure was waiting for him with her arms straightened and hands folded together in front of her body.
"I prepared breakfast for you, Jack."
She said while gesturing towards the only table in the room- A small, round table made of solid metal was standing in front of the television screen that was placed across the room from his bed. A lone, cold chair with a fading coat of blue paint was already pulled back and ready to be sat upon. On top of the table was a bowl filled with a brownish smooth paste, not looking particularly appetizing, with a glass of clear water on the side. Jack frowned in slight disgust when he spotted his food.
"Nutrition paste... my favourite."
The female figure opened her eyes to directly look at Jack. Her body was dressed in formal attire, wearing business casual even this early in the morning. Long, azure hair complimented her glowing blue eyes, and an amber, droplet-shaped earring adorned her left ear. The only way to tell that this was not a person but rather a chassis for an AI was the glowing blue ring on the left side of her neck. Even her synthetic skin felt as if it was perfectly human.
"It is good for you and contains everything your body needs to survive for an affordable price. Need I remind you of your finances?"
Jack raised his hand dismissively and took a seat on the chair after strolling past Mel's body.
"Ugh, don't remind me. Today will be the last day of this, however! With my new salary and housing, we will soon be able to afford a much higher quality of life. God, I am excited!"
He shouted out, lifting both of his arms up in victory before digging into his bland food. To get a job in the Tower, even just as support staff for a SU division, was a luxury not many had- And with it came housing, benefits, and an enviable salary. As such Jack had fought hard to get his current position, but it seemed that all the hardships and effort would finally pay off.
Approximately 30 minutes later, Jack was ready to leave. He was now wearing his fanciest suit, freshly cleaned and ironed by one of those automated stores that were just down the block. He picked up his train ticket which would allow him to board the only train that directly connects to the 2nd's Tower, staring at it for a brief moment, before heading towards the door where Mel was waiting. She approached him and immediately began straightening his tie.
"You still don't know how to tie those properly, do you?"
In response, Jack chuckled and scratched the back of his head with his right hand while grinning.
"That's what I have you for, after all."
Mel finished adjusting Jack's tie and then stepped aside so he could leave the flat. The pink-haired quickly opened the door and stepped outside, having stuffed his wallet, keycard, and ticket in his bag which was thrown over his right shoulder. On the way out Jack would look back at the ever-so-neutral Mel.
Jack gave a thumbs up and another signature wide grin towards Mel.
"I'll come to get you and take you with me to the Tower district once I've been given my place to live. I wouldn't want to go if it wasn't with you."
Then he would promptly close the door and storm off down the stairway. Inside his Flat, Mel's chassis would stare at the door for a moment before finally, for the first time this day, changing her expression and giving a very slight but sincere smile.
Even this early in the day, around 7:15 AM, the citizens of Soma were already out and about. Especially those that lived in the Residential District of the second Pillar were motivated to improve their lives- They were this close to having a taste of the luxurious life that many here still had dreams and ambitions, contrary to some of the poorer pillars. Those that lived in the second Pillar, even those at the bottom part of the local social hierarchy, often had some glimmer of hope for riches, fame, and power. It might not come as a surprise then that organized crime, scams, racketeering, and the likes were running rampant even this high up on the social hierarchy of Soma. However, instead of promising an escape from the everyday fight for survival in the 6th, people in the second Pillar were more enticed by power and money.
Of course, not everyone was like this. A good amount of people were honest well-meaning citizens; But in a world this corrupt it was hard not to become corrupt yourself. "Stare into the abyss and the abyss stares back at you" was a saying infamously thrown around by those at the top in a futile attempt to rationalize their blatant ignorance of the social problems present in the Pillar and the greater city overall. Yet it failed to account for the reality of the situation- Rather than staring into the abyss, those at the bottom were surrounded by it, engulfed in it. And if one was buried in the abyss it would not just be staring- It would tear at one's very soul, drowning and suffocating one's character until there was nothing moral or good left.
The automatic doors to Jack's apartment complex slid open as he approached them from the inside. Once outside, he would take a good look around- The weather was cloudy as per usual with a comfortable 21°C. The street right outside the building was fairly empty except for the occasional overcrowded bus. Having a car was a luxury in this part of the Pillar so public transportation was typically the way to go. Luckily there were plenty of busses and trains available with stations being typically not too far apart. Contrary to the rather empty street the pedestrian's walkways were filled with all kinds of people and figures, many of which were wearing suits. Most of these suits came from the same brand as the affordability in pricing made "Clint's Clothes & More" the perfect place to shop for your average low-income second Pillar citizen.
The grey walkway stretched all the way to the horizon while the sides were lined with copy-paste apartment complexes apparently made of some form of metal coated in an alloy to give it protection. The cold, silvern look of the samey-looking buildings combined with a horde of people all dressed in the same suit made for a rather depressing and lifeless scene. One which Jack was not unused to, and one which he hoped to escape after today.
After letting a rather intimidating-looking man about twice the size of Jack with a jaw akin to that of a crocodile with arms that were as thick as Jack's very own torso pass by, Jack entered the stream of people which was flowing towards the next bus station. While his ticket did allow him to board the direct train towards the Tower, he would have to get to Central station first, which was situated in the Commercial District. Therefore, he had to travel by bus to his local train station and then use another train to reach Central station first.
The bus ride and subsequent train ride were relatively uneventful. The experience was akin to that of a sardine being transported in a small can- The train was overcrowded with humanoid figures of many sizes and shapes squeezing each other in the small space. Even though a train came every 10 minutes, they were full every single time- A product of the daily routine of the working class.
The insides of the train were silvern, cold, and plastered with ads that consisted of both actual old-school posters and text which was holographically projected onto nearby surfaces by round camera-shaped projectors mounted into the ceiling. Sometimes, one's vision would be interfered with by the faint blue hue of another obnoxious ad for whatever new soda brand was fashionable to drink at the moment. The outside looked a little more interesting- The normal train which commuted within a Pillar did so on elevated train tracks. They used a rather complex system of focused electromagnetism to hover far above the ground and while doing so the train track went between the massive apartment complexes of the Residential District. As the train would drive along the tracks, being surprisingly silent for its size, it would slither its way between the buildings. Those that lived on the right floor would be able to see the train go by every 10 minutes on the dot, making those apartments quite cheap and undesirable for most to live in.
Eventually, Jack arrived at Central station in the Commercial District. The train's doors opened and unleashed what appeared to be a flood of people with him being caught right in the middle. As he was shoved and pushed around by beings partially much larger than him, Jack did his best to hold onto his bag in fear of losing it. Even after he had escaped the initial stream of people, he would not be left alone. Almost as soon as he was isolated from the others, an 8-legged being with what appeared to be a clamshell for its head approached Jack and began talking directly at him before giving him a chance to understand what was happening.
"Oh my, my, my! You look like just the person I was looking for! A young, handsome man like you seems like you would spend a lot of unnecessary money on hairstyling products! Well fear not-"
The creature began to use one of its tentacle-shaped legs to reach inside of the clamshell head to pull out a dubious, unlabelled bottle that was covered in a clear slimy substance. However, before it could finish the motion, Jack would quickly cut it off.
"I'm not interested, buzz off."
After which he forcefully pushed the person away and walked off. Clamshell-head would make some disgruntled noises in protest but quickly gave up once they spotted the next potential buyer and then scurried off.
You had to be aggressive with these annoying salespeople, Jack always thought, as they would not leave you alone otherwise.
But now, finally, he had reached Central station. Jack took a deep breath and looked around the familiar view:
14 different train tracks were aligned next to each other with a rather spacious platform in between each of them. The entire station was surrounded by a massive sphere made up of smaller individual hexagonal tiles of glass. Each platform had multiple sets of stairs that appeared to disappear underground, where the entrance and exit were located. From within the sphere itself, there was no way to enter or leave except by train so going down the stairs would be a necessity. The station was as crowded as it could be and thus incredibly noisy. Trains were zooming past on multiple tracks. Some were stopping, and even others were just now leaving. From Central station, one could go anywhere within the second Pillar and even the train to the hyper-velocity railway station could be taken from here to go to other Pillars. It was essentially the heart and soul of public transport in the second Pillar.
None of this matter to Jack, however. His goal was the 15th Track- The only train that could directly take him to the Tower. It was not located within the glassy sphere of Central station, but rather a bit further away, across the main plaza right outside. So Jack went down the stairs on his way to exit Central station.
The underground area of Central station was one large walkway, connecting each platform to the central path via the aforementioned stairs. Different shops, mostly consisting of fast food and snacks were lining each side of the rather large hallway while the ceiling was plastered with holographic ads of all sorts, glowing in neon-bright colors. The different fast food places, takeaway stands, and snack cars at the side were occupied by cooks who were preparing all kinds of meals: From burgers with tentacles on them to green fries made of a weird plant paste sold by what appeared to be the humanoid version of a praying mantis, to even normal looking onigiri- One could find any type of fast food here, sometimes with questionable quality. The different chefs were constantly shouting and advertising their products, adding to the loud and overwhelming atmosphere.
Walking along this pathway at this time of day was almost dangerous, actually. The constant flow of people, the right lane moving forwards and the left lane moving backward, meant that standing still was not an option. Shoulder on shoulder everyone was moving along at a fast pace and anyone caught in the way would simply be dragged along. This long hallway was essentially the main artery of public transport in the second Pillar and everyone was flowing along as if they were red blood cells.
However, even this stream of life must come to an end at some point. Eventually, Jack finally reached the outside of Central station. The northern exit, which was the one he took, opened up to the central plaza, the central point of city-life in the second Pillar. Jack took a moment to take in the view- One which he had grown accustomed to but still appreciated every time nonetheless.
The large, round concrete plaza was surrounded by cloud-piercingly large skyscrapers. The outside of each building was used as a giant screen, playing advertisements even this early in the morning. Behind the screens were office floors used by the largest corporations in Soma as their headquarters. Higher up, in between the gigantic buildings, one could spot smaller floating vehicles, likely reserved for the (literal) higher-ups of each company, as the average Joe could typically not afford the luxury of having their own vehicle, let alone a floating one.
Each building's lower floors were used as shopping spaces, situated right beneath the advertising screens. Where the higher floors have office spaces, these lower floors were filled to the brink with all kinds of useful and useless stores, selling goods in mall-like layouts.
The plaza itself was mostly empty. It served as a large open space and a point of orientation- As such it was also littered with normal police and security personnel. There were, however, no Agents or anything of the sort- Only normal, everyday police, coming equipped with a standard loadout: Baton, high-voltage stun gun, and a normal handgun. Some, however, also had an additional plasma rifle; A new addition to their loadout after the recent increase in crime. From the plaza, one could reach the important shopping malls, busses to wherever one would like to go, the city center and town hall for any Pillar legislation needs, and, most importantly for Jack, the 15th track. For this, he would have to go enter one of the giant buildings from which a floating railway could be seen leaving its side with a train likely inside. In the far distance, if one were to strain their eyes, the Tower was visible, looming ominously.
Jack checked his watch- A rather ancient relic passed down for generations in his family.
"I still have about 15 minutes."
He muttered to himself. It was plenty of time to reach the 15th track from his position! With an excited grin, Jack began to cross the plaza and walk towards the large building that was playing an advertisement for the newest Android model, a solid 3 generations down the line from his own trusty Mel. It reminded him of how she was waiting for him at home, how he had been fighting to get a better job, a better position, a better life for so long- And now he had done it. His new life was about to begin, all the hardships, pain, loss, stress, and sorrow had been worth it for he had really done it. All that was left to do is board this last train and get to the Tower.
How hard could that be?
As Jack was crossing the plaza, he walked past numerous people and faces. Far too many to remember; From human to humanoid to some even walking on all fours- None of these things were unusual or caused Jack to pay much mind to them. By now he had seen much weirder folks than most- Even weirder than the odd clamshell-head he met in Central station earlier. Though there was one encounter that was different. One that stayed on his mind for longer than a second. Jack was about 75% across the plaza as he walked past someone that left a lasting impression on him. A woman, seemingly not older than 20 walked past him. She had short, silver hair reaching down no further than her chin while longer strands of hair were hanging down from the front. Her eyes were a deep, glowing blue. Glowing quite literally in this case as they were omitting a strange blue hue- Yet she was no Android as she was lacking the signature blue circle on her neck. The woman wore a cape-like top with a necklace adorning her collar. Her lower half was covered by a short skirt with long, black thigh highs underneath and normal streetwear shoes below. The girl's hands were covered in thick white gloves and she appeared to be holding a large case, almost looking as if it contained a large instrument or, more sinisterly, a weapon or large device of sorts.
Either way, her appearance left an impression on Jack- And as she was right next to him, time appeared to stand still for just a moment. Her gaze was focused on something that was behind Jack, something outside of his field of view. "I wonder what she sees?" Jack pondered for a moment, but ultimately it mattered not. They were both strangers and this chance encounter would not repeat itself again in the future.
Moments later, something changed. Jack wasn't sure how he noticed it first- Whether it was intuition, experience, or pure chance- He felt a chill down his spine. Everything after became a haze- The last thing Jack remembered clearly was the sound of a helicopter flying above.
Then, suddenly, something blue flew past Jack, followed by a terrifying scream from a woman in front of him. As Jack looked forward to investigate the source of the screaming he saw a rather normal-looking human woman, wearing business casual as many others were, letting out a scream of pure terror. It took only a moment for Jack to realize why she was screaming: Her left eye had been pierced by what looked to be a blue crystal and blood was now flowing down her face from the plugged wound. The pink-haired's eyes opened wide in shock until he was hit on his shoulders by something heavy. Jack reached towards his right shoulder and grabbed whatever had hit him. It was scaly, and rough to the touch, he almost cut himself just picking it up. However, once he saw it, he realized what it was: A right arm, covered in scales, likely having belonged to the same intimidating alligator-person that Jack had met earlier, severed right in the middle of the humerus which looked as if it had been cut in half. Finally, Jack began to feel panic too. Adrenaline was rushing in every artery in his body as he went in full-on fight-or-flight mode. The crowd around him began to scream and panic, people trying to escape the plaza as quickly as they could in any direction possible. Jack heard gunfire behind him, likely coming from the police and security personnel he spotted earlier. He wanted to do the same: He wanted to find out what it was, to run for his life, to make it to the 15th track as it would likely be safe there. Jack did, after all, have a ticket that allowed him entry.
But as Jack tried to move, his body refused to do so. His legs would not move an inch, no matter how hard he tried. Then, he looked down. A glowing blue crystal, roughly the width of Jack's own leg, was protruding from his abdomen. His own crimson-colored essence of life was dripping onto the floor creating a puddle beneath him, coloring the boring grey into a vibrant red.
His mind was in complete shock and the poor young man tried one more time to run away, to lift just one leg- But he couldn't. The crystal was as sharp as a blade and had completely severed his spine beneath the lumbar section, plus it had completely destroyed his insides. Jack's body swayed forward and finally dropped to the floor like a sack of meat. People around him were also dropping like flies- Some being more gravely injured than others, but all had been pierced by crystals of varying sizes. It looked as if a large shrapnel bomb had detonated in the center of the plaza, with the shrapnel being these odd crystals.
While Jack was laying on the floor, bleeding onto the pavement, he was spared the feeling of pain; All the adrenaline made him numb to it. Yet he could still feel his lifeforce slowly disappearing- The echoes of dreadful screams of citizens around him combined with the sight of dozens of corpses laying near him painted a miserable picture.
As he was on the floor, dying, Jack's mind was filled with thoughts and emotions: Anger, pain, grief, sorrow, regret- a concoction of emotions justified given his circumstances. There was, however, one emotion he could deal with. One he could satiate: Curiosity.
Just what exactly happened?
Using his last strength Jack positioned his upper body so he could look toward the source of the crystals. By now, the gunfire had ceased and the screams of the fleeing public grew ever more distant. His eyes gazed over many dead citizens, some that were still dying like him. As his gaze approached the center he would see police force and security personnel equally massacred- Their high-tech bulletproof vests meant nothing against the sheer force and sharpness of those crystals. They managed to pierce right through, ripping apart any protection the people might have had. A little further, Jack spotted the remnants of the helicopter he had heard earlier. It had crashed to the floor and is now little more than a giant ball of fire. Inside of the flames, he spotted 3 corpses: 2 normal-sized humanoid ones, and one which looked to be about twice the size of the others and somewhat overweight. The last corpse also had a crystal piercing right through its skull.
Then, finally, Jack set his eyes on the cause of all of this. Amidst all the corpses, the rubble, and the fire, all of which were creating hell on earth, there she was: The same woman Jack spotted just moments ago. He could never forget the glowing blue eyes and short silver hair. Something, however, was different. The case she had been carrying earlier was now laying open next to her and in her right hand was a long, blue, crystalline staff. She was standing over the burning wreck and was staring right back at Jack with a piercing gaze.
Jack wanted to scream out to her, to ask her what was going on, and why she was doing this; He wanted to scream for help, or get up and fight back. But none of this was possible. It was the end of Jack's story after all, and he would not be granted an epilogue. His eyelids grew heavier every second while the puddle of blood around him increased in size. Only moments later, his eyes fully closed- For the last time. A meaningless death, leaving yet another loose end, never to be solved, in this uncaring city. Though maybe, just maybe, this time would be different?
-The following day-
"With over 36 confirmed casualties with dozens more heavily injured and hospitalized, yesterday's incident will go down in history as a gruesome act of terror tainting the wonderful reputation of the central plaza as a place of commerce, community, and entertainment. While the Tower has refused to comment on potential motives thus far, it is believed to be a political assassination given the fact that the helicopter which was shot down was transporting newly appointed council member Grel who has died in the attack. As of now, no group or organization has claimed responsibility for the attack and the fugitive is still at larg-"
The large monitor playing a live news broadcast was shut off with a quiet zapp. A long, rectangular table with 3 seats on each side and one at the head was now only illuminated by cold, blue tainted light coming from square-shaped office lights above. Each seat except for one on the side was occupied by humanoid figures dressed in different kinds of suits. A moment of silence remained after the screen was shut off and lingered for far longer than it should have. Eventually, however, the discomforting silence was broken by the figure at the head of the table speaking out. Its voice was eerie, being not a singular voice but rather it was composed of a cacophony of voices, sometimes harmonious and sometimes dissonant.
"What do we know about the perpetrator?"
Another figure, clothed in a purple coat matching their violet hair, drew attention to themselves by clicking audibly with their tongue. Then, they lifted up a tablet on which was a picture of the same silver-haired girl who had done the attack the day prior.
"Known member of WIZARD. She is apparently some high-ranking combatant of theirs- They were likely hired by either the Blades of Yggdrasil or the Children of Yhorgul. None of them have taken responsibility yet."
This statement was followed by quiet talking and whispering between the different figures until the purple-haired one spoke up once more.
"Overseer if I may ask-"
He raised his gloved hand to point at another figure, seated on the very last seat of the table. It was an adult woman with blue hair, covered in what appeared to be a red, stringy substance with multiple yellow pearls interwoven in irregular gaps. The stringy substance covered most of her body and formed root-like outgrows that were sometimes moving around eerily. In response, the orb-like objects appeared to turn and rotate to look directly at the man who was pointing at her.
"The first requires the capture of the fugitive to be an absolute success. So, they've assigned a fixer."
The person at the head of the table replied, the voices appearing to be quite distraught and annoyed at the current situation. Then, everyone's attention was quickly grabbed as a person wearing a brightly colored yellow-black suit with yellow, fiery hair and deep ruby eyes snapped his fingers.
"Burrowing Heaven, huh? Wonderful! I've heard a lot about you. The first must really like you if they send you for this.
He gave a bright, taunting smile to the multi-eyed woman.
"Lucky you that we have just the right unit on the case so maybe your help will not be needed at all. After all, what better way to prove a new unit's capability than taking down such a high-ranking criminal, huh Nevyn?
The yellow-haired man then proceeded to wrap his arm around the shoulder of the blue-haired person sitting next to him in a teasing manner. His victim, the very same person who was visible in the hologram that was sent out to the new recruits, quickly freed himself from the blonde's grasp and then proceeded to adjust his tie before clearing his throat.
"Please call me by my proper codename, Firebird"
He replied with a somewhat annoyed tone.
"Rest assured, Overseer. Unit Delta will take care of it. My new recruits will arrive at the Tower quite soon, actually. In 1 hour and 13 minutes from now, to be exact.
Firebird chuckled before leaning back in his seat with his arms crossed behind his head. In response to Nevyn's statement, the Overseer responded with a more harmonious tone.
"Very well, Orchestrator. Do not disappoint."
Following the Overseer's statement, Nevyn would stand up and give a proper, butler-y bow.
"I will not."
After which he would leave the room, having the eyes of all the other people in the room firmly pointed at his back. Unbeknownst to them, however, Nevyn's lips were giving a confident smile as he walked through the automatic doors.
The headquarters of the IXth's Delta division were located on the 42nd floor of the 2nd Pillar's Tower. Although stairs did exist, the easiest way to reach such a high floor was using one of the 5 elevators which connected specifically to this floor, the usage of which was only possible for those authorized to enter this specific floor. Upon leaving one of the elevators, which were all next to one another, one would find themselves in the main area of δ's HQ. It consisted of a spacious room with 8 different desks loaded with multiple monitors where the division's analysts and support staff worked. 4 on each side were lining a central walkway that lead to the main conference and briefing area: A large, circular arrangement of complex-looking computers, monitors, and general state-of-the-art security high-tech. In the center of it all was a large holopad that constantly projected a detailed map of the second Pillar in the air in the center of the room. The same pathway that lead to the main conference area also had a right and a left path. The left pathway would lead through a large automatic door behind which was a long hallway. It connected to the training area, vehicle bay, locker room, crew quarters for when Agents would have to stay at the Tower for a longer period of time, and washrooms. The right path similarly would lead to a large automatic door, behind which was a smaller hallway. It lead to the Commander's office and some other, supporting staff offices.
The doors to the center elevator slid open after a mechanical "Ding!" announced its arrival. Out stepped Nevyn, carefully checking his pristine watch that was tightly wrapped around his left wrist. He made sure it was always precisely on time, manually synching his watch to local time once every day. Punctuality and preparation were the keys to success, he always said.
As the new Commander left the elevator he was quickly greeted by his assistant, Alayna. All of her 3 eyes immediately focused on his face and even the 4 smaller eyes on her facemask appeared to move slightly to look directly at Nevyn. She carefully brushed some of her pale, pink hair out of her face and approached her new boss with a quick but formal bow.
"Welcome, Commander. The team is ready and was eagerly awaiting your arrival."
With one hand Alayna motioned behind her to the desks which were all but one occupied by a member of Delta's supporting staff who each either gave a wave, a bow, a smile, or a thumbs up- Whichever they felt was appropriate.
"Thank you, Alayna. I am looking forward to working with you.
The woman's eyes blinked a few times in surprise, all doing so perfectly in synch.
"How do you...?"
Nevyn chuckled as he took a sip from his signature cup of coffee that he had been holding this entire time.
"I've studied your personal file, of course. I have done that for every member of my unit. Those who are here and even those who have yet to arrive. Speaking of which..."
Swiftly he checked his watch with his free hand again. 9:55 A.M, local time.
"The new recruits should arrive soon. I believe they will be guided to the proper elevators by security downstairs. Their faces have already been internalized into our AI."
Alayna was a bit taken aback by all of this. She had spent an extensive amount of time pulling all-nighters preparing a perfect introduction for the new Commander. Yet here he was, prepared as ever. After a bit of quiet protest, she regained her composure.
"W-well, for soon-to-be Agents, the task of finding their way up to our floor should be a piece of cake."
The blue-haired man took another big sip from his cup, emptying the contents in his mouth and savoring the sweet black bitterness of his favorite brew.
"You're correct. If they cannot even manage that, how would they manage the daily work of an Agent after all? Let's just wait and see- I've made it abundantly clear that they may not be late."
After which both Alayna and Nevyn would stand in the middle of the conference area and watch the monitors which were currently showing security camera footage of the entranceway to the Tower.