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Old April 18th, 2013 (11:43 AM).
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Knightfall Knightfall is offline
Unforeseen Consequences
    Join Date: Apr 2013
    Location: Sawgrass Town
    Gender: Male
    Nature: Modest
    Posts: 31
    Chapter One: In Which the Story Begins
    “In the aftermath of the heinous actions against us, it has become clear that the Republic is not our ally. I pray that we -as a company- can unite and remove these tyrants that wish to destroy everything Rogue Industries has strived to do for science, for mankind, and for our Sealed world. We will do what is necessary to survive, no matter the cost. That is all.” Memo from Rogue Industries CEO Matthew Radic concerning the sabotage and destruction of the Mainland Research and Testing Facility.

    The bright glare of the sun shone over the golden field making the tall stalks of grain to shimmer in the light.
    It also shone directly into the stirring eyes of the collapsed form on the ground.

    The irritating light caused his eyes to finally flicker to life and then he let out a strained groan.
    As his eyes slowly opened he instantly wished he hadn’t; his head was spinning like a raging tornado.

    Sounds mixed together in a distorted jumble, everything was out of sorts.
    The smell of damp earth and dry wheat eventually registered in his head that he was outside somewhere.

    Despite the throbbing pain in his head the overall pain in his body had lessened enough for him to attempt sitting up.
    He willed his arms to push into the dirt in order to elevate himself somewhat.
    It was then that he noticed that something was wrong. Very wrong.

    He couldn’t pinpoint it exactly-his eyes where still blurry from adjusting to the sun’s glare, but his entire body felt …weird. There was no other word for it.

    He finally pushed himself into a sitting position, his eyes had almost recovered to the point of sight.

    He sat there eagerly waiting as his blurry white vision slowly began to colorize and take shape.
    He lowered his gaze to what he thought to be his right arm.
    Even with his distorted vision he knew that his arm was not supposed to be colored red.
    His left arm wasn’t supposed to be either for that matter.

    In alarm, he suddenly shot up, trying not to lose balance on his two wobbly legs.

    He needed a mirror, a puddle, anything reflective would do really.
    He scanned the surrounding area quickly, noting that he seemed to be in some sort clearing in a field.

    Then he saw it: a glass pane that was attached to a thin metal frame.
    He drew a blank about what it was supposed to be, or why it was dumped in the middle a field in the first place.

    He carefully approached it, his legs starting to respond to his commands to move forward.

    As he got closer he saw that the cracked glass surface was actually a screen of some sort.
    A screen that displayed in flashing white letters:

    [36453] R.I. D.T.D. Test: Successful/yrl352524773] Error
    System Offline: Shutting Down.

    The box suddenly emitted a loud spark and the words fizzled into a blank black screen.
    Stepping closer to the smoking device he realized that the glass of the screen was reflective.
    He moved so that he could see what exactly happened to him.

    What he saw gave him no answers; only many, many more questions.
    The very first of these questions being: why is there a red lizard standing where I’m supposed to be?

    Instead of the lean, brown haired, human reflection which he was rather accustomed to seeing now stood a three foot tall crimson lizard.

    “What?” That was all he could to say out of shock.
    This … this can’t be real, He thought, this is just a dream or nightmare. A nightmare that was becoming more and more cruelly realistic by the second.

    He raised his right arm, the creature in the glass mirrored it.
    He did the same with his other arm and both of his legs. Same results, every time.

    He bent in closer to see the lizard’s face, two sharp blue eyes and a small horn like thing on the back of its head greeted him. All of it was covered in the same crimson scales as before.

    He backed up, dreading to look down out of fear of what he would see that might make this nightmare even worse.
    When he worked up enough courage to look, he had to resist the urge to scream.

    His arms were covered in tiny crimson scales in place of skin.
    His hands had transformed completely- in place of fingers, three sharp, white claws.
    His legs had shrunk immensely, ending in a pair stumpy, reptilian feet topped with more white claws.

    He twisted himself to see his back in the glass.
    He had half expected his back to be covered in the same crimson scales as nearly everywhere else had been, but he wasn’t expecting a tail topped with a live flame.

    A live flame? He started to panic. “I’m on fire!”

    He let out a startled yell as he immediately grabbed the appendage and then stomped on it as hard as he could to put it out.

    It took only a fraction of a second for the pain to nearly push him into unconsciousness again.
    His agonized screams echoed throughout the deserted field for miles.

    He fell to his knees, the still flaming tail slipping out from beneath his feet as he tried to hold back tears.

    “What did I do to deserve this?” He hoarsely whispered, mostly to himself.

    As soon as the debilitating reaction from his new tail-he shuddered at the fact that it was now “his”-- he held one hand…um…claw to his head.

    “What happened to me?” He asked the empty air around him.

    He strained to remember anything that might help him, but came up painfully short.

    He started pacing. “Let’s see, what do I remember? That’s a good place to start.”

    His mind felt like a hurricane had hit it, he couldn’t even tell if the fragmented memories he had were real or an illusion fabricated from whatever trauma had happened a few hours before.

    Yes, his mind was able to recover some information, but the scraps of memories grew increasingly useless.
    Even as his mind was fully able to recall the entire metabolic processes of a eukaryotic cell, the most basic information about himself was nowhere to be found.

    In short he had nothing. Nothing useful that is.

    He kept pacing, careful not to step on his tail again. He tried again to jumpstart his cognitive abilities.
    “Basics first, what is my name?”

    He couldn’t think of it. Refusing to let such a simple memory elude him, he concentrated harder.

    “My name is…” He willed the dark mental fog which had settled on his memories to surrender this one fact.

    Finally, as if feeling pity for the teen, the memory surfaced.

    “My name is … Leo,” he sighed in relief. He now had something to work with.

    “Leo,” he said again, the name- along with everything else- was foreign to him, but it seemed right. It fit nicely.

    Tapping his clawed foot on the ground he recited all the facts he had at the moment.

    “My name is Leo, I have no memories of my past life, and I am a human.”
    He stopped as he saw his new reflection in the glass screen again, “or at least I think I used to be.”
    Leo grumbled, he was almost certain he was human, but he couldn’t exactly trust his mind at the moment either.

    He shook his head, he had never let anything get him down; or at least he didn’t think he did.
    Either way, he had to find a way out of this mess and to do that, he reasoned, he had to find a way out of this field and to some sort of civilization.

    As if sensing his sudden resolve, his stomach growled loudly. Leo suddenly became aware that he must not have eaten in recent memory.

    His stomach growled once more, telling its owner to find something to eat.
    He scanned the ground around the strange glass screen in search of anything else helpful before he left. That was when he saw the key.

    He plucked the artifact off of the ground, dusting away some of the dirt that had accumulated on the surface.

    It was, in short, beautiful. A small light blue crystal key with two downward facing prongs and a circular back end with a small opening.
    A thin golden thread wound its way through the hole before rejoining with itself.
    Intricate engraved lines decorated the item in such a way that it almost seemed like it was not made by any tools at all.

    Leo was fascinated with the relic, he couldn’t recall that he had ever seen it before as a human, but he decided to take it with him.
    Slipping the golden string around his neck, he nodded at his reflection once before setting off with the sun to his back, in hopes of finding food and, preferably, civilization.

    He didn’t go far before he discovered that the dirt path he took turned into a trail in the forest of wheat stalks.
    His shortened legs forced him to move twice as much to cover the same distance as he did as a human, it also tired him out considerably faster.

    He wasn’t one-hundred percent sure, but he didn’t think anyone- even whatever he now was- should attempt to travel after suffering a major head injury.
    He tried to remember the various symptoms of concussion and heat stroke, but the fog wouldn’t let any of those precious details go.

    Normally when one finds themselves in a strange place, in a strange body, hungry, lost, and with no idea of how they got to be that way, they do one of two things.

    One: they panic. This is most likely the worst out of all the things one could do in this situation.
    It has the slim possibility of attracting some random passerby who is willing to help, but, realistically more of a possibility of hailing down an unsavory character, or other rejects of society who are considerably less helpful.

    Two: they remain calm and simply wait until help arrives, using the time to reflect on why they are in this situation in the first place, and perhaps come up with a few clues.

    Leo had no intention of doing any of the two at the moment; he had bigger things to worry about.
    He resolved that he’d go down a rarely used third path: those who simply deal with it later.

    He was careful to keep his flaming tail a good distance away from the stalks, the last thing he needed was to accidently start a brush fire.

    The paths lead him down several random turns and forced him to backtrack when each trail suddenly ended.
    His fears of igniting an inferno kept him from pushing through the sea of wheat in hopes of finding another route.
    His hunger kept him going even when he felt like his legs would collapse from exhaustion. He continued to look for anything else that would signal the existence of sentient life, but more and more it seemed that he was truly alone in this field.

    Nothing moved aside from the gently swaying plants, even the position of the sun and clouds hadn’t changed since he started out hours ago.
    No birds chirped, no insects buzzed ... this lush field was utterly abandoned.

    He stopped getting his hopes up when he occasionally stumbled across a small clearing; there was usually nothing on the ground-with the exception of odd circular rocks and sticks- and the clearing always branched off into even more similar paths.

    He once tried to find his way back to the clearing where he first woke up, but it was forever lost amid the endless golden labyrinth.
    His hopes of finding any exit at all shrunk, but not to the point of straying from the path.

    He stopped several times just to rest, never going to sleep, though.
    He was exhausted, but he still didn’t know who or what was out there with him, so sleep was not an option.

    He had a procedure he started following: find an open clearing, look for food, find a comfortable patch of dirt and rest, start walking again, repeat.

    He would have attributed the longevity of the hike due to his going in circles, but he never found anything familiar to tell him that he was, so he stuck with the explanation that this field was just unnaturally massive.

    His fifth second wind was just about used up when he saw it. In one of his occasional peaks through the wall of plants that bordered the path, he glimpsed another clearing on the opposite side.
    This was not what made it so different from the seven others he had seen before, on the ground of this clearing, half hidden by the stalks was a glistening red apple.

    To any other person they would have disregarded it as just a possibly rotten fruit, but to Leo, it was more precious than any element listed on the Periodic Table.

    His stomach that had given up growling a few hours ago suddenly voiced its opinion once more.
    His fears of accidentally starting a fire with his flaming tail were shoved to the back of his mind, the promise of food overriding his instincts to stay on the path.

    He smacked his lips and lunged through the seemingly thin wall of wheat.

    Instead of feeling the dry stalks brush up against his scaly skin, he felt what compared to a brick wall.
    He slowly slid to the ground where he laid in a daze for a few moments, or at least what he thought was a few moments, the still sky had screwed up any sense of time in this place.

    Those were plants aren't they, plants aren’t supposed to be hard, he thought as he dizzily looked at the golden barrier.
    It could have been the concussion talking, but he thought he heard the wall taunting him, its voice thin and raspy like a wintery wind.

    He staggered to his feet,
    “Challenge accepted…” he dizzily muttered as he ran full speed into the wheat once more.

    This time he actually felt the stalks scratch at his skin before crashing into the barrier and falling to the ground.
    His vision was focusing in and out like a zooming camera. He shook his head clear again.
    He knew he didn’t have much time before his waning stamina gave out and his body forced him to rest whether he liked it or not.

    He peeked through the spaces in the stalks to see if the apple was still there, it was.
    He sighed in relief as he girded himself for another run at the partition that separated him from his meal.

    Three failed attempts later, he finally accepted the fact that he was in no state to keep doing this.
    He simply walked up to the wall, gave a weak laugh, balled up his fist, and punched the wheat as hard as he could.

    He expected a punch like that to at the very least break his wrist, but instead- much to his surprise- it sank deep into the dry golden weeds, almost to his elbow.
    He grinned, suppressing his feelings of utter confusion and rage at the change of events, and plunged his other fist into the barrier. It too sank into the plant stalks.

    He tried to push outwards with his claws to make a path, and it worked slightly.
    The stalks stuck to each other like magnets, and he knew he was going to need a lot more force to make the plants move enough so he could get through.

    He pushed forward with his feet so that the rest of his body inched into the wall. Once completely inside- a tiring effort on Leo’s part- the stalks started to push against him, trying to shove him back out to the path.

    “No, I am not going back! I will get through this field, or die trying!” he proclaimed to the field as the small negative part of his mind told him that the later was most likely to happen.
    The field apparently accepted his challenge.

    He felt like there was a super magnet pulling him back towards the path; each step he took made the pull on his body even stronger.
    He slowly clawed his way through the reeds, glad that his new appendages were being useful, even his tail wasn’t starting any fires despite the fact that it was brushing up against the dry plants constantly.

    The laws of physics didn’t seem to apply here, Leo deduced, there had been more than enough examples today to prove that.

    Leo could feel the strength draining from his arms and legs with every step forward.
    It was agonizing, he could see the other clearing just a few feet away, but he knew he was still miles from getting through.
    At least the red fruit was still there.

    That fact alone kept him going; he knew he was past the point of turning back. The field continued its pull with a similar renewed resolve.
    The strange force that ruled this place had no intentions of letting him break the rules and get away with it.

    It was when he finally made it half way through the cursed barrier everything changed. It was as if a shudder rippled across the field and the fierce pull suddenly reversed itself.

    Instead of trying to pull him back to the path, the odd force was now trying to push him towards the clearing with all the might it had exerted seconds ago.

    The following result might have been funny to a passerby, but it was an even worse turn of events for Leo.
    He found himself being abruptly pushed towards the clearing with a sickening speed.

    The next few seconds were a fast golden blur as he lost his footing and was literally hurled from the barrier.
    He shot past the last brittle stalks separating him from the clearing like a bullet.

    The next thing he knew he was laying sprawled on his stomach out in the middle of the dirt, the apple remained were it was just out of his reach.
    He lifted his head slightly to glimpse the stalks of wheat closing back in on each other, erasing the little path his endeavor had created.

    He was on the verge of collapse, everything felt either numb or close to it. He gazed longingly at the fruit only a few feet away.
    He feebly dug his claws into the dirt and tried to drag himself forward slightly.

    At this rate, he thought, I won’t reach it before I pass out. He suddenly pushed the negative thoughts away.
    No, I’ll rest after I get it. He motivated himself, as he strained to move.

    His body was begging him to stop and rest, but he knew that he couldn’t pause.
    He didn’t know how much longer that apple would stay put, or when he would find another in this forsaken place.

    The fruit was finally in his claw when his body shut went numb. Aside from his eyes he couldn’t move.
    After a few mentally exhausting minutes spent trying to break free of his self induced paralysis, he finally contemplated stopping for a while.

    Suddenly, his frozen stare detected two figures walk in from another path. Their appearances made him question how badly his mind was damaged.

    The first one looked like a dog, a blue and black furred dog that could walk on its hind legs. If that was strange, he found the second being even stranger.
    It was a yellow furred fox with a spiky white collar of sorts. Even in his limited memories of his past life, he was absolutely certain that he had never seen such creatures.

    He couldn’t shout, he couldn’t wave, or do anything to attract their attention, or to run away if it was necessary.
    He was stuck.
    He only hoped that they would notice him sooner or later. But now it didn’t matter, his vision was fading from color to a blurry grey to black.

    It may have been simply a delusion of his strained mind, but he swore that before he passed out that he had heard the strangely colored animals talking with actual voices.
    Yep, must be the concussion, he thought to himself before his mind shut down completely from exhaustion as the darkness swallowed him for the second time.

    The sky was painted in the colors of sunset, with night fast approaching.


    He lifted his head slowly off the ground.
    Smoke filled the dark air, pouring from the shattered building behind him.

    Flaming debris rained down from the night sky above in slow motion, if he hadn’t been thoroughly bruised and battered by the blast he would been almost happy to watch as the fiery wreckage pelted the broken landscape like falling stars.

    He tilted his head to the left to see another person unconscious on the cracked asphalt, they both probably had a few broken ribs among other injuries, but that was a small price to pay for not being completely incinerated.

    His thoughts drifted to Leo, the boy they had defied every odd and procedure to save. Where was he now? Was he even alive? The brief experiment results only told so much about the subject.

    The small dark voice in his mind kept telling him that he had failed, that he had exiled Leo against his will. Trapping in him possibly forever in a world he couldn’t possibly know. These doubts ate at him until his thoughts reminded him of the cruel reality they currently lived- if it could be called that- in.

    The doubts disappeared, the malicious thoughts calmed.

    In the middle of the aftermath of what would be known as the largest declaration of war in Realm history, Doug smiled to himself.

    No, Leo hadn’t been exiled.
    He escaped.

    End Chapter: One

    For those of you reading, I thank you again.

    I had a good time writing this chapter, writing the behavioral patterns of a typical insane mystery dungeon is very fun to do.

    I always found it weird that it was basically impossible to go through a wall of trees or grass in a mystery dungeon, so I decided to show exactly how much effort it is to break dungeon physics.

    I tried to make Leo’s response to his situation a rational one: don’t panic, and stay calm.
    He noticed he had an even bigger problem on his hands other being in a new body: potentially starving in a strange place.
    That’s why I thought his “Survive first, panic later” response was reasonable.

    For those of you who wanted to know the fate of our two scientists, I thought some closure was necessary, and I really liked his final thought at the end. Seems fitting, from a certain point of view that is.

    Thank you for reading, reviews and responses are always appreciated.

    Chapter Two will be arriving soon.

    ‘Til the next chapter,

    Knightfall signing off…
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