Yay, 17 is here~ Only two more chapters before I have no idea what'll happen next XD But I'll figure it out, no worries. This chapter is full of angst and romance and shocks and deception and crap, so prepare yourselves. Tell me if you find any errors and, you know, review if you want too
Chapter 17: Blindsided
This was a great idea.
Nigmadem sat at a desk in his room, tinkering with a new gadget, all the while smiling to himself. He was thinking about what he had done yesterday afternoon, and sure, their very well maybe consequences in the future because of it, but still, if things worked out it would be all worth it. He patted a lump in his pocket and recalled the events that had transpired.
Igneefe had been just short of being in the center of the sky, and he had been walking towards the center of the city. He had been waiting at the croscalator, but Roxanne had been running late. He concluded she was having an unusually long conversation with that Bernard character. In fact, their conversations had been growing progressively longer and longer every day. That thought sat like a stone in his heart.
He had already made a decision about that. Watching Roxanne bond with the human male in such away made him realize his true feelings, and he needed to confess them to her before it was too late. Nigma had a feeling Roxanne liked him too, but if she didn't know how he felt, she would most certainly end up with Bernard. That was it, wasn't it? He wanted to make sure Roxanne knew she had a choice? He wasn't about to let her do something she might regret without thinking about it first.
And if he was too late, well….he subconsciously lifted his hand to touch plan-B, which was fastened neatly around his neck. But, he had thought, hopefully it won't come to that.
That was when he rounded a corner and spotted Roxanne and Bernard sitting on the bench they always sat at, with the povoiran space shuttle looming gloriously before them, gleaming, gold, and egg shaped. He stopped where he stood and observed; it didn't look like they were anywhere close to stopping. They were talking animatedly, both smiling and laughing – he couldn't hear what they were saying but they sounded relieved. Then Roxanne looked down at her hands and back up at Bernard with a bigger smile than before. When she stood up and opened her arms, Bernard had mirrored the action and they shared a long hug.
It was awful. Nigma hadn't needed to know what exactly they said to know what they discussed, he was sure. He was too late, Roxanne and Bernard were now an item. Everyone would approve and be happy for them. They would say they were destined to be together, to have found one another in all of space like this. How absolutely terrible.
After saying goodbyes, Roxanne had begun to walk in Nigma's direction, but he quickly dashed back down the street and around a building to go another way into the city's center. He still had plan-B.
He had been pleased to see Bernard was still sitting at the bench. He appeared to be waiting for someone, but Nigmadem had paid no mind. He walked casually up to the blonde and coughed into his hand to announce his presence, pointing with a waggling finger, "Um, Barry, right?" he feigned ignorance.
Bernard had looked up, surprised, "Bernard,"
"Burr-naarr-Duh, of course." Nigma took pleasure in the glare that Bernard sent him.
"And you're that guy Roxanne always hangs around with and talks about, Nigmadem,"
He had felt invisible hackles bristle up his back at the mention of her name, but he smiled wider, "Yes, you would be right. What do you think about Roxanne, hmm Burrnarrd?"
Bernard's brows had furrowed in confusion, and his voice had been flat as he replied, "She's pretty great, I guess. I mean, she is another human."
"Is that so? Well, tell me Burrnarrd, I just got this new necklace, do you think she'd like it?"
He had lifted his chin and brought a hand to pinch the pendant with two fingers as Bernard leaned in to get a better look, adjusting his spectacles. Bernard had had a look of reluctance as he peered at the chocker around his neck. Nigma had pressed the bottom of the jewel with his thumb as Bernard began to reply, "Well…Agh!"
A blinding blue light shot through Bernard's glasses and into his eyes. He had recoiled as it scanned his entire body, and it disappeared when Nigmadem released his pointer finger from the top of the pendant. "Oh, I'm sorry, I had no idea it could do that!" He exclaimed with an exaggeratedly worried tone, hand over his heart. "Here, maybe this will help?" He took out a dehydration gun, aimed, and fired before Bernard had the chance to look up and see what 'this' was. With a slight bounce, Bernard had been turned into a glowing sphere, which then rolled down the bench and into Nigmadem's open palm, and then into his pocket. "Oops! I guess not!" He had cackled, and then hushed himself.
Twisting a tiny screwdriver into the back of the necklace's pendant, he chuckled to himself again. Oh yes, this was a good idea.
Minion entered the room and found Nigma sitting at his desk, laughing to himself. The fish smiled, "Something funny, Sir?"
Nigma jumped, startled, and then played it off by rolling his shoulders with a smile, "Oh, nothing Minion."
"Is that a new invention?" Minion asked, leaning over his master's shoulder. He then looked confused, if not a little worried, "Sir, that's not a …is it?"
Fidgeting under his minions scrutinizing stare, he finished his modification to the necklace and put the cover back on it with a quick twist of his fingers. "No, it's not. It's just something I've made for Roxanne, that's all." He lied lamely.
"Yes, it is." Minion asserted, "You know disguise generators are illegal without proper authorization! What do you plan to do with it, anyway?"
"I told you it's not what it looks like,"
"Have you scanned anyone yet?"
"Let me see it!"
Nigmadem snatched it up behind his back protectively, but Minion swiftly gripped him by the shoulders and spun him around, stealing it by the chain and running off to face a corner where Nigma couldn't reach.
Nigma jumped up and down behind him, trying to climb up his robotic body to see what he was doing, until suddenly the robot body vanished in a flash of blue and Nigma landed on the floor with a loud thud.
Minion looked himself up and down and let out an undignified scream in Bernard's voice. "Sir! You didn't!" He was now the spitting image of the human male. The fish tried to make sense of it all, and when it clicked he turned to face his master, who was now pouting on the floor. "This is about Ms. Ritchi isn't it?"
Standing and dusting nonexistent dirt from off his tight pants, he huffed, "You won't believe me if I say no anyway." He yanked the necklace from Minion's metal hands and deactivated the disguise.
"Sir, I don't know exactly what you're planning but I know it isn't a good idea."
"Oh, what do you know?" Nigma mumbled, fastening the chocker around his neck.
Minion shuffled his feet uncomfortably. He really hated when he and his Sir argued. Forming fists and frowning, he scolded "I don't know much, but I do know this. This is not something you can decide for her."
Nigma started walking towards the door, "I'm not deciding for her, I'm giving her a choice."
"How is pretending to be Bernard giving her a choice?"
He paused for a moment, and then continued out the door.
This is not going to end well, whatever it is, Minion thought worriedly. Turning back to the desk with a sigh, he spotted something that made his fins flare wildly – an unopened case of brown contact lenses. "Uh-oh." He ran to the door and threw his body into the hall, calling "Sir! Sir, you forgot something!" But the hallway was empty.
The lobby was crowded when Nigmadem walked out of the glass elevator. Everyone was talking heatedly in large clusters; he could barely see the other side of the room. He then heard someone calling his name and he looked around for the source. Spotting a hand waving to him, his eyes trailed down the arm until finding a face. Curious, he quickly walked over.
"Father, what is it? Why is everyone in a frenzie?"
Nigmadem got his looks from his father, a man named Tukun. They had nearly the same exact build and facial structure, only his father had rich brown eyes and sported a fine beard and mustache combo. As far as scirians go, his father was rather hairy. He took his son by the shoulder and led him over to a wall where they could talk away from the horde of people.
"They're all talking about Roxanne." Tukun said calmly, though in his eyes was a hint of concern.
Nigma's expression hardened, "Why? What are they saying about her?"
"Well, she was in here last night – " Tukun began, but Nigmadem interrupted.
"Wha - you met Roxanne? Why was she in here?"
"I didn't exactly meet her, son, we didn't even lock hands. Didn't have a chance really, she just ran into me," One of Nigma's brows rose questioningly at this but his father continued before he could interrupt again, "No, actually she crashed into me. Nearly knocked me over, in fact I think I have a bruise where her head connected with my chest. Then she excused herself and ran out the back of the building. She seemed to be in a really big hurry. Does this mean anything to you?"
Nigma blinked and thought about it for a moment. "She…she could have gone to the pond, but I don't know why should would go alone…especially at night. What happened next?"
"I don't know" Tukun shook his head and shrugged hopelessly, "I left for work after that." He gave his son a look and brought a hand to his chin, "She isn't always like that, is she, son?"
"No," He answered quickly, "No, not at all." Doesn't even sound like the same person. Perhaps I should go to the pond? He shook his head to himself, no, no she wouldn't have stayed all night, she hates the dark. She probably went home. Nigma nodded to no one in particular and looked at Tukun, "Thank you for tell me this. I'm going to go see if I can find her."
They waved farewell and Nigmadem made his way through the crowd and out the door. He was headed to the city center again. This time instead of Bernard waiting for Roxanne at the bench, it will be him. He was going to be their early, but after his conversation with Minion, he wasn't turning back now.
Gasping, Roxanne resurfaced in the pond, and then climbed up and out of the rocks to catch her breath. She was never going to get used to holding her breath that long without worrying about drowning, but she had a feeling she would be doing it more often than she would like. Taking hold of her shoe, she brought her right ankle up to her lap to examine it. It was still swore and a little swollen from swimming and walking with it. She sighed. She'd better get moving before someone jumped out of the trees to grab her. The trees probably have eyes now, she thought grimly, but I'll have to risk being seen.
Finding Bernard to warn him of the danger was her first priority, but the image of Nannarry chocking on her own blood on the floor still haunted her. She needed to see if she was still at home, dead or alive. She knew it was unlikely and that she was probably taken away, and that it was a risky detour, but it was something she needed too.
"Roxanne, please, just run!"
Nannarry had called her by her first name for the first time in her life. Yes, she had to go back. If there was just one small chance she was still there, Roxanne would go.
Walking around the pond's edge, she made it to the path that lead back to Nigma's building. She paused and looked around, and then heard something that sounded like 'psst!'. Tilting her head back she saw Abraham up in a tree. She let out a heavy breath of relief, then tapped one of her shoulders with a hand. Abraham leaped from the tree, and as soon as he landed on her shoulder, she began to run as fast as she was able though the woods.
Going over the wall, through the two back rooms, through the loby, down the road, over the croscalator, down the next street, around the corner, to into the apartment next to the Life Center - easier said than done, but somehow she managed the journey with a limp, aching body, and empty stomach. Man, if Earth was such a barbaric place, I'd say I would have done pretty well, she thought with a tiny bit of humor. She stopped at the door and took a few calming breaths. She needed to brace herself, she was afraid of what she might find within. She briefly acknowledged that there might be someone waiting for her beyond the door, but swallowed hard and entered.
She was met with dead silence. Tentatively, she took soft steps into the hallway. A sound grabbed her attention and she paused. Listening closely, she waited until she heard it again. It sounded like…a cough! Someone was coughing!
"Nanna!" Roxanne called out desperately. She rounded the corner and skidded to a halt, then spotted her. She hadn't moved much from where she was the last time Roxanne was here, before being chased. Nannarry has scooted back a little from the middle of the floor to lean against the wall, breathing raspy breaths, red streaks still staining her lips and chin. Slowly at first, then quicker, she opened her eyes and saw Roxanne standing in the kitchen entrance, "R-Roxanne?"
"Oh, Nanna," Roxanne ran to her side and took hold of one of her hands. She felt Nannarry squeeze her hand.
Nannarry peered at Roxanne through glazed eyes, "Why? Why have you come back?"
"I had to know, had to know what happened to you after I left," She placed her other hand on Nannarry's cheek.
Nannarry shook her head and Roxanne removed her hand, "You shouldn't have. I'm a terrible person."
"No," Roxanne denied, shaking her head slowly, "No, your –"
"– Yes, I am." She insisted, stronger that before. "I should have told you, should have told you sooner,"
"Tell me … what?"
Nannarry looked Roxanne sadly in the eyes for a long while before answering. "I could have warned you, I wish I had warned you sooner, it's the reason why I didn't want you to be seen by people. I still wanted you to experience life, though, so of course you would have been seen. Roxanne, I knew the danger, I knew the Logic would come for you. An-And I know this because," The old woman screwed her eyes shut and took a deep breath.
Roxanne gave her hand a comforting squeeze to encourage her to continue, though she was having mix feelings about the information she was being told and her face was a struggle between worry and confusion.
"- I know this because, he took away my family," She spoke in gasps, "He took them away, but I didn't fight back, then, I didn't resist because I didn't know they weren't coming back, I didn't I would never see them again. My husman, son, and our three minions, they worked with Reggen and Derex. At the observatory, they had found a hidden planet colonized by intelligent beings, and the planet wasn't very far away. They couldn't understand why it hadn't been discovered yet and wished to share their discovery with the world. That's when the Logic came for them."
"I didn't see what my family had seen at the observatory and so he didn't take me with them. Instead he made me swallow this," weakly she lifted her hand to show Roxanne a tiny pill shaped object covered in bent spikes, she recognized it as the metal thing Nannarry had coughed up at her feet when the Logic had been there. It was shiny and metallic and still covered in dried blood. "This," Nannarry began again, "is a promise pill. It's designed to root itself in your esophagus and read brainwaves; it digs into your throat every time you think about saying something you shouldn't. It also works as a tracking device, and if you attempt to remove it, it will release poison into your blood stream."
Understanding sank into Roxanne like ice water and rendered her speechless. Nannarry couldn't have warned her because this pill was silencing her the entire time, and had she tried to remove it, they would have tracked her down and found Roxanne in the process.
Her hand went to her own throat by itself and Roxanne swallowed thickly. She looked Nannarry in the eyes, "You removed it last night when you told me to run. Why didn't the Logic take you away."
"Roxanne, look at me," Nannarry smiled sadly, "I'm weak from blood loss and poison, I'm not going anywhere. Why would he bother taking me away when I'm dying where I sit? Taking me away to have me killed would end my suffering; that would be far too merciful. Roxanne - ,"She says with a sudden firmness, "Roxanne you should go now."
"No," Roxanne shook her head sharply, "No, I can't just leave you here like this."
"You must. Every minute you're here is more dangerous for you. Clearly you have somewhere you can hide, or else you wouldn't be here right now."
Roxanne nodded slowly, eyes to the floor. They flickered back up when Nannarry started talking again.
"Before you go, I need to apologize for being so cold to you for so long." Her lip quivered but her voice was mostly steady. "It took a lot of convincing for from Reggen and Derex to get me to raise you. At first I didn't want to, I really didn't. Because I didn't want to love you. I wanted to hate you,"
Her eyes slammed shut and she gripped Roxanne's hand hard, "I wanted to hate you so much for being from the planet that took my family away. But I did love you, I loved you so much – but, but I couldn't protect you like I wanted to. I wanted to warn you, to tell you the story of a little green eyed boy and his father who explored the wrong corner of space."
"I didn't want to grow attached, though, because I knew, that like them, someday you'd be taken away. But I did love you, like my own, like a daughter and I – you were so smart and brave and I – and so beautiful, beautiful and clever and, and I should have hugged you more!"
Finally, Roxanne couldn't take it anymore and pulled her guardian into an embrace, hugging as tight as she dared without hurting her weakening body. Nannarry hugged her back, weeping into shoulder and leaving a red stain there from her mouth. Roxanne didn't cry though. As hard as it was not to fall apart, she needed to stay strong from now on. She had been crying far too much recently and she wouldn't tolerate anymore tears from herself.
She patted Nannarry on the shoulder and backed up to look at her. "I forgive you, for everything. I understand now. I understand more than you could possibly imagine," She said, thinking back to the journal she had read. "And I'll be okay, okay? I need to leave now, but I'll be okay."
Before leaving, she gave Nannarry a kiss on the forehead and dehydrated everything edible in the kitchen and stuffed them into a bag she slung over her shoulder. She also grabbed all of her clothes and changed into something cleaner with less blood and pond grime. One last farewell and she left for good.
Nigma was starting to worry a little. It wasn't like Roxanne to be late for her meetings with Bernard, and yet he'd been sitting on the bench by himself for over an hour now and it was beginning to get dark. He didn't like it, because it gave him too much time to have second thoughts and back out of this whole charade before it started. Instead he occupied his mind with worrying about Roxanne. Perhaps he should have gone to the pond after all…
He absent mindedly fiddled with the chain around his neck while he waited, and every now and then someone walked or drove by, but none of them give him a second glance. Anyone who looked would have only seen Bernard sitting on a bench waiting for Roxanne, which had become the norm for weeks.
Suddenly he heard someone whispering Bernard's name along with a 'psst!' noise. The whispering became more urgent as soon as he started to look around for the source. It sounded like – he spotted her in the shadows of one of the rare trees of the city, close to an extremely narrow alley and a windowless wall. "Rox –"
"Shhh!" Roxanne motioned him over with a frantic wave of her arm.
Calling Bernard over to a shadowy, secluded location is more than a little scandalous, Nigmadem thought a little bitterly. He didn't know Roxanne was like that, and he briefly wondered if this was the first time she and Bernard would have gone into a dark alley by themselves, but he quickly erased the idea from his mind before he made himself angry. He stood and began toward her, knowing he had to do something now, or never.
Roxanne watched Bernard walk closer, slowly, and with conflicting emotions written on his features. When he got close enough, she took hold of his shirt and yanked him the rest of the way into the narrow lane between two skyscrapers; it was barely wide enough for one person to fit into. "Bernard, there's something extremely important I need to tell you about –"
"– Me first," He interrupted, and surprise played across Roxanne's face, "I've thought about it, Roxanne, and I've realized I don't want this to happen –"
"– not yet, anyway. I need more time to consider –"
"Cosider wha –"
"– and I think you should think about it some more too –"
"Bernard!" Roxanne all but screamed while still trying to whisper, letting out an exasperated huff of air, "Wha, what are you talking about?" She was really confused, and even more annoyed, she needed to warn him he was in danger, but he insisted on talking nonsensical nonsense. It wasn't like him at all, especially since she usually did all of the talking. Something was off about him anyway, she studied his face to try and pin point what it was…
Nigma blinked, taken aback. She didn't know what he was talking about? Blinking a few times, he explained slowly, "I'm talking about…our relationship?"
"Our What! Ber-Bernard, we already agreed we weren't going to be anything but friends just, just, just yesterday!" That's when she noticed them, and she should have noticed them sooner – bright, vivid, unmistakable green eyes that could only belong to one person. Roxanne felt her heart shrivel up for more reasons that one. "…Nigmadem?"
The blood drain from his face behind the disguise and he stood there, frozen. "Ha-how…?"
"Bernard has brown eyes," She said in a way that reminded Nigma of a jungle predator's growl, right before the pounce. "Nigma, what were you trying to do?"
He switched the disguise off and tried not to notice her flinch when she saw his face. How did he forget to change his eyes? Suddenly defensive, he stammered and said the first thing he thought of, "I, I didn't think you would figure out it was me,"
"No! You're just a stupid human! And I…" He knew immediately that he messed up. Why in the world did he say that? That's the opposite of what he thinks! Quickly, he tried to fix it but only made it worse, "I, I mean – no, that's not what I meant, I meant you just don't know much –" Wait, what, don't say that!
The damage was visible on Roxanne's crumbling face. She was crushed, her mouth hung open in shock, unable to form words. She was done with words anyway; she spoke better with her knuckles. Somehow, in the small space of the alley, Roxanne lifted her arm and began to slap him – he watched it happen in slow motion – but last minute she changed her mind and her hand formed a fist, connecting squarely with his cheek bone, Thwack!
Nigmadem stumbled backward and out of the alley, then fell, his head hitting the roots of the tree. Then there was a weight on his chest, and he opened his eyes to see Roxanne's foot pinning him to the ground. Looking up, he saw her furious face, and he started to tremble slightly.
Roxanne just stared at him staring at her, glaring down with icy blue daggers for eyes and her heart pounding like crazy. She felt completely hurt and betrayed, still confused as to why he was trying to be Bernard in the first place. Not only that, however, she felt terrified for Nigma's life. If he was pretending to be a human, the Logic and his thoughts may have taken him away by mistake. Her voice quivered as she spoke again through gritted teeth, "Don't ever disguise yourself as a human again. EVER!" She jabbed her foot into his chest at the end for emphases and Nigma jerkily nodded in response.
She breathed quickly through her nose, "Where is the real Bernard?"
With twitchy fingers Nigmadem reached into his pocket and took out a glowing blue sphere, and Roxanne took his meaning instantly. She tried not to think about how illegal it was to dehydrate a living creature, especially a person, and a foreigner at that. She snatched the ball up quickly and stuffed it into her own pocket. Then, without a word, Roxanne leaned down and ripped the disguise generator from Nigma's neck. He coughed a little, but remained silent.
Taking her foot from off of him, she looked like she was about to leave. Suddenly, looked him in the face one last time and annunciated lowly, "I don't know much, huh? You'd be surprised, the things I know." Then she vanished into the darkness.
After a long while of just sitting and staring at the sky uncomprehendingly, Nigmadem picked himself up off the ground and went back to sit on the bench. He put his head in his hands and sighed tiredly.
This was a bad idea.
Next chapter Wayne/Yanew makes his reappearance, too.