The Afterlife of Liam Cipher

by Diranda

Chapter One

"... Wait, an experiment? They used pieces of executed Irregulars to make you?"

"They did that a lot. I found out in prison."

Bill turned back to see that Kryptos had reached them and was hovering a few feet away from him, his mouth set in a tight line. Further back, Hectorgon was trying - without much success - to catch his breath after the race.

"What were they even trying to do?" Bill asked, but deep down he didn't really care about their reasons: all he could think of right then was Liam, all he could do was wonder whether his body had been used for something like it, too.

Kryptos shrugged, and turned to glance at the remains of the prison where he had languished for the seven years Bill had spent in the Infinetentiary. "Guess they were trying to figure out how to give people extra sides with better chances of success. Or how to fix Irregulars."

Fix them, of course. There was a lot of talk about fixing Irregulars. Bill remembered Liam talking about that from time to time, how he had hoped some way to fix him may be found before the Inspection came for him. He had always shrugged those words off, certain as he was that no one could possibly be stupid enough to think Liam was anywhere near expendable.

-Flat Dreams, Chapter 13 "Trapped"

Liam was Inspected and taken away with very little incident. He was brought to the Irregular Hospital and 'admitted', though he was routed to the mysterious Audit Ward. This is where every Irregular is taken once their Inspection is over.

In the Audit Ward, every patient is reevaluated, his measurements double-checked and confirmed. Once admitted to the Audit Ward, a person loses their personhood, they become the property of the state.

They are no longer a Person.

They are a Number.

A thing.

An Irregular.

Audit promises the Irregular two fates. Death, or 'consumption' as it is more delicately put in Flatland. Or Testing.

This second option is more recent. Those considered suitable for experimentation are designated Test Subjects and sent to the Laboratory beneath the hospital and prison complex. Irregulars aren't the only ones who end up in this facility, some convicts do as well.

Liam had been evaluated off and on throughout his lifetime. Having been sent to the Irregular Hospital at one time when he was a child, there were extensive records on William 'Liam' Cipher. One doctor's note in particular discussed how intelligent the Scalene was, not only for an Irregular but for a Triangle of any status. It bemoaned the fact that the 'poor child' was Irregular and that he'd never be able to put his extraordinary intellect to any kind of good use.

When he was finally Inspected and brought to the Audit Ward, these notes were taken into consideration when he was being re-examined. It seemed a pity that something like Liam would just be tossed to the fires when there were other uses to which he could be put. Particularly in the new experiments that were being developed with those Irregulars and Criminals being kept in the Testing facility.

The scientists needed an assistant they could send into possibly dangerous situations who was at least intelligent enough to complete the tasks they were unable to. It was common for the various methods they'd developed to 'fix' Irregulars to be 'somewhat' harmful, or possibly even deadly, and it made no sense to risk their valuable, highly intelligent scientific minds in such situations. Not when there were Irregulars being tossed away, well ones like Liam, at any rate. Something like him could be quite useful.

And this is how Liam Cipher was saved from the fires and 'put to use' in the science facility below the hospital and prison.

No one ever knew this.

The young Scalene spent the next several years being the slave of the Scientists. Though he now had no name, only his number, his masters had taken to calling him 'Librarian'. Initially this was due to the fact that when asked if he wanted anything, the only thing he'd asked for was a book to read.

This nickname was one of the things that saved him in the end.

Not too long after he arrived in the facility, he was approached by his masters with a strange job. Both the hospital and the prison maintained small libraries of books for patients and prisoners of better status. It made more sense for Liam to manage the combined library than for them to pay someone to do the job. Particularly since this job was ideally suited for the Scalene in between his work for the labs. It would keep him busy, less likely to think overmuch. So he became 'Librarian' in truth, which was a lifesaver for him, since he did have an opportunity to work, rather than sit in his cell until his services were required.

If they thought this would stop him from thinking, though, they were sadly mistaken.

Liam began keeping a journal in the covers of an old book he cannibalized for the purpose. He took notes in the book as well. He had very little as the facility librarian, but he did fare a little better than the test subjects.

When things finally broke, Liam only heard whispers at first. But he'd heard his brother's name and he knew that whatever had happened outside the thick walls of the facility compound, it had been Bill who'd done it. He'd found the letter Liam had left and the books, which meant he'd met the others and learned about the reality of the Third Dimension. This knowledge made Liam happy, at least for a little.

Until more information made it to him through the strange prison brotherhood of solidarity that he'd found himself included in. (And through him, it extended to the test subjects as well.) People had died... important people had died. And that row a few weeks ago? That'd been Esther and her children.

Nora's sister.

Nora, who'd murdered her father and set Bill's shop aflame, dying inside it and taking several members of the Isosceles Guard with her.

Nora became something of a martyr in the whispers of the prison.

Liam simply mourned her and his friends, most of whom he'd never actually met, he'd only written notes back and forth with, or Randall had spoken of on the very occasional visits he'd been able to make to his bookstore.

He'd known Nora. Liked her. She was kind, sweet. Didn't see him as broken, strange, malformed. When he'd heard what she'd done, he'd cried.

When he'd heard that Bill had gone with her...

He was silent for days. It was hard, but he couldn't even bring himself to cry for Bill.
Not for a very long time.

When he did, he was inconsolable. His friends in prison argued with the guards, exclaiming his illness and protesting on his behalf.

Liam curled in his cell, sobbing silently and when he finally lifted his eye to the blank walls of his cell, he was quiet, finally in his mind.

Then Kryptos was thrown in the prison. Liam was not allowed to go anywhere near him. He figured it was because he shared the same name as Bill, and they didn't want him getting any 'ideas'. He did try to make contact, but he was never able to find out if he had or not.

Seven years went by.

Liam wasn't idle, he just watched and listened and studied everything that happened around him. Perhaps he was lucky the Hexagons still spoke to him as though he were an idiot. Perhaps he was lucky that some of the Circles even treated him as a pet. Since he was no longer a person, he had no rights.

He continued to write in his journal and keep his profile low. Something had to change. Somehow.