Rebels of Darkness II, Chapter 22

Their footsteps echoed throughout the empty hallway, and although Gwynivara knew that plenty of people occupied this place in the daytime, the darkness and quiet it exuded after hours gave it an abandoned feel. She kept staring at the address written on the card just to make sure that they had gone to the right place, she just couldn’t believe that he would pick such a creepy location to meet! She began to wonder if he had made the arrangements after all! “Do you think Abigor is really good at impersonations?” she asked Bernadette.

Bernadette answered, “I don’t think he’s that clever! He wouldn’t bother with a ruse, he’d just track us down and ambush us! Rafeneita might have a flair for that, but it seems like she’d rather have other people do all dirty work for her, so I doubt she got involved!” They heard the old pipework in this antique building groaning, which made them both wince. Bernadette then amended her statement, “But if we’re wrong, Kierram and Rebekah are waiting outside just in case! And Cody went back to headquarters, so the others know we’re here. We’ll be fine!” The ceiling above her creaked, and her jangled nerves filled her with even more doubt!

“Are we sure he said it was in the basement?” Gwynivara could see it written in her notes, but with all of the unlit rooms and lack of sounds from human sources, she questioned her impression of this arrangement. “He didn’t say avoid the basement, right?”

“No, he didn’t… I don’t think… I don’t know!” She shivered as they passed by a room that emitted a cold draft, and since they couldn’t discern the root of that effect, they kept their palms up defensively until they walked past it.

They cautiously rounded the corner, and when they finally turned down the corridor, they leaped into the center of the hallway as if a person was waiting for them there. Bernadette shined her flashlight all over their periphery, and they didn’t spot anything except for a small glow towards the end of the row. They stealthily moved towards their target, still sure that Abigor or something equally as daunting would rush out and attack them at any second, and their anxiety didn’t quell when their approached their destination. They could hear the slight noise of a small glass clinking onto a smooth surface within the room, which seemed innocent enough, but they refused to get lulled into a false sense of security! They used the same approach to enter this room as they did the hall, and their hearts beat wildly as they faced this potential confrontation…

Professor Chadron put his hands in the air, and he genially regarded them, “Don’t shoot! It’s just me!”

Bernadette and Gwynivara observed him sitting alone in front of a Bunsen burner and some laboratory flasks, but they still checked around the area just to make sure he was truly alone. They saw several stations with microscopes and various other materials that belonged in a science class, but they didn’t see anyone else, so they exhaled in alleviation. Gwynivara apologized, “Sorry! We can’t be careful enough right now! You saw what our enemy is capable of!”

“I’m not offended, safety first!” He reached under his workstation, and he informed them, “I have this ready in case I gotta defend myself again!” He displayed an old shotgun, he shook his head. “I never thought my granddad’s heirloom would get used like this!” He sighed and returned it to its niche, and then he invited the two women, “Pull up a stool, have a seat!”

“What is this place?” Gwynivara inquired as they positioned their stools so that they could get a full view of him as they conversed.

As Professor Chadron cleared off his things, he explained, “It’s a research lab owned by HBU. Our grad students use this facility to do medical investigations and such, but sometimes, our pre-med students come here to work on cadavers.” The two of them looked surprised to hear that, so he kidded, “No, this place isn’t haunted! No need to worry, those people can’t hurt you anymore!” He chuckled, but they were still recovering from their previous anxiety, so they could only muster a small grin. “I hope you’re not too uncomfortable being somewhere where we store dead bodies!”

Bernadette shrugged it off, “Oh no, it doesn’t bother us! Up until a couple weeks ago, we were living in a graveyard!”

“Oh good! ‘Cause we can’t discuss anything in my office, not while that so called FBI agent is still roaming around the campus! I’m doing all my work from here ’til he’s gone.” He folded his arms as a gesture of disappointment.

“I’m sorry!” Gwynivara apologized once again. Guilt overwhelmed her emotions as she beheld the burdens he took on from this ordeal, burdens he didn’t ask for! “Sorry we got you involved in all of this!”

Professor Chadron retorted, “What exactly am I involved with?”

Gwynivara and Bernadette turned to each other to wordlessly figure out how to begin, but before they could come up with anything, Bernadette warned him, “It may be a little hard to believe…”

“Young lady, a couple of days ago, I ended my workday with one of my students getting murdered by a mystical beast, and I’m only alive ’cause you performed some kind of spell! At this point, I’m ready to believe anything!” Professor Chadron assured her. “You could tell me space aliens are involved, and I wouldn’t bat an eyelash!”

“Actually, an alien is involved in this!” Bernadette revealed.

Professor Chadron threw up his hands in exasperation, but he didn’t seem at all shocked. “What’d I tell ya?”

Gwynivara elucidated, “Well, I’m sure you know that Venenatus Sanguis first surfaced ten years ago. No one ever worked out why it happened, it just sorta came out of nowhere. The alien brought it here and planted it like a seed! People have researched it for years, but I don’t think anyone could’ve guessed that the origin of the disease infiltrated the government to silence anyone who got close to the answer! Slowly, the origin’s influence grew, and they persuaded local and federal officials to actually spread the virus further! You probably heard about that disgraced lieutenant general who was about to get court martialed. He knew it was biological warfare, but before he got the chance to convince anyone else of this, he contracted it! He had to evade quarantine ’cause he was the only one who realized the truth, and he had to find a way to stop it from happening! He found a group of other evaders, and after this group did their own research, not only did they discovered that Venenatus Sanguis can be controlled to do what they want, but we figured out that the origin of the virus came from another planet so that she could destroy humanity!”

“So, those were manifestations I saw?” Professor Chadron probed. “You can control it to do what you want?”

“Yeah, most of the time, we can control it,” Bernadette replied. “It feeds off the energy inside us, so if we experience strong feelings, we can still manifest a beast, but with enough practice and concentration, it doesn’t happen very often!”

“Fascinating!” Professor Chadron pulled out a notepad and jotted all of this down. “So, you guys are trying to get rid of this corruption so everyone can go back to finding a cure without interference?”

Gwynivara reached into her pocket and answered, “Actually, we already have it!” Professor Chadron almost fell out of his chair after she made this claim, so Gwynivara went into more detail, “We recently found where the origin hid herself, and when we battled it out with her, she almost lost. She disappeared and left this as a peace offering.”

Professor Chadron queried, “If she’s trying to spread Venenatus Sanguis further, why would she give you this?”

“She wanted us to think she surrendered, but obviously, she didn’t actually plan on giving up that easily!” Bernadette divulged. “I don’t think she ever meant for us to get this far! She didn’t tell us anything about it! We don’t know how to use it! We have no idea how to administer it or how much each person needs! We can’t even say for sure that it works except for the fact she tried to use this as leverage once to entice to her side! We’re pretty sure it works, we just can’t say how!”

“Mind if I take a sample?” Professor Chadron requested.

Gwynivara felt a little strange handing it over to someone outside of the Rebellion, but she didn’t have any logical reason to mistrust him. A small part of her feared that as soon as she handed it over, Abigor or Rafeneita would suddenly appear in Professor Chadron’s stead, and she never would have forgiven herself for falling for such an elaborate disguise! She also considered the possibility that Professor Chadron would turn on them and abruptly abscond with it, but her gut told her to trust him, so she placed it onto his outstretched palm. She could tell that Bernadette joined her in partly expecting something dramatic to occur once this momentous act had taken place, and they both had to scan the room just to make sure that they hadn’t been tricked. Once it sunk in that they wouldn’t encounter any obstacles in reaching this milestone, excitement started to seep in. They finally got to a stage where they could anticipate making significant progress in their mission!

As Professor Chadron gingerly unscrewed the ornate lid of that vial, he speculated, “If this came from another planet, we better hope that the ingredients can get replicated here on Earth! Otherwise, this would only be enough to treat a few people!” Gwynivara and Bernadette hadn’t thought about that possibility until right then, and their pulses raced as he used a dropper to take a small portion of cure. He prepared that small bit on a slide, and they prayed that he would deliver welcomed news to them! After he studied it in his microscope for a while, he mumbled an observation, “Oh, it’s heterotypic!”

“It’s what?” Gwynivara reacted in confusion.

“Oh, my apologies for the ambiguity!” Professor Chadron addressed them after he wrote down more notes. “Most vaccines are made with a deadened or weaker version of the disease or virus so that the immune system can learn how to attack it properly, and it if it ever enters the person’s body again, the body remembers how to combat it. A heterotypic vaccine uses a less threatening disease or virus to cure something more deadly, like how cowpox can be used to treat smallpox. Venenatus Sanguis is transmitted through pathogens in the manifestations’ saliva, so it makes a lot of sense to fight it this way actually!”

Bernadette urgently asked him, “Can it get replicated on Earth?”

Professor Chadron very considerately answered, “Yes, we could easily recreate the enzymes in this formula!” Bernadette and Gwynivara grinned widely to hear this, and then they hugged each other sheer relief!

“You girls should be proud! You made a discovery that will change the world for the better!” Professor Chadron lauded them. “You’ll go down in the history books for this!”

“I wish it were that simple!” Gwynivara lamentably differed with him. “No one is gonna buy that an alien dropped it out of the sky for us, especially since the FBI thinks we’re part of a murderous cult1 And now that Rialowe is creating doubt in the Public Health Center, we need to find someone with scientific credibility to convince everyone that it’s legit and that they should all take it!”

Slightly taken aback, Professor Chadron responded, “You me to take credit for it?”

Bernadette urged him, “You can tell the honest story later, just for now, we need to get this cure out there as fast as possible, and it sounds a lot better that an anatomy teacher figured it out instead of some people wanted for murder!”

“Ah, I see your point! In that case, I’ll do it!” Professor Chadron accepted this endeavor. “In order for me to prove it works, I’ll need to test it on people positive for Venenatus Sanguis. Would you two like to volunteer?”

“Of course!” Gwynivara readily agreed, but after the words came out of her mouth, something occurred to her, and she instantly walked back her previous stance, “Oh no, we can’t! WE gotta kept our ability to do incantations so we can defeat Rafeneita!”

Bernadette let him know, “That’s the alien’s name. She’s so powerful, we would never be able to defeat her without it! But don’t worry though, we know plenty of other people who would love to do it! Not everyone who joins us wants to fight, some just want to live!”

Professor Chadron chimed, “Wonderful! Just have them call my new office number when they’re ready to stop by! Do you have a phone number so I could reach you in an emergency?”

“We live in a cave in the middle of the woods right now, so…” Bernadette rejoindered.

“So, that would be a no!” Professor Chadron surmised. “Oh well, it’ll probably fine! I’ll let y’all go now, but before you head out, just let me get one more sample of this.” He indicated to the cure.

As he used his dropper to fill as mall vial of his own, Gwynivara offered, “You can keep the whole thing if you want! We trust you with it!”

Professor Chadron politely declined, “Thank you for saying that, but I have too many people coming in and out of here all day long to really keep it safe. Besides, someday, the world will know the truth about where this cure came from, and with this vial in your possession, we’ll have prove that you brave young ladies helped save the world!”

“Thank you so much!” Gwynivara beamed with pride as she shook his hand in appreciation.

“Yeah, thanks a million!” Bernadette echoed her sentiment.

Professor Chadron smiled warmly at them, “My pleasure, my dears! Keep me posted, okay?”

Gwynivara reassured him, “Don’t worry, we will!” She and Bernadette practically skipped out of that classroom, and they all merrily waved to each other before they went their separate ways.

Kierram and Rebekah met them at the exit, and when they saw their exuberant expressions, a weight lifted off of their shoulders as well. Rebekah verified with them, “He’s gonna do it?” They both nodded, and Rebekah chirped, “Oh, thank goodness! You’ll have to tell us all about it on the way back to headquarters! I wanna get back quick, I’m starving!”

“Before we go, do you either of you have enough change to make a phone call? We need to talk to the Rebels in Great Dismal Falls, it’s important!” Gwynivara’s eyes flickered between the other two hopefully.

“I do, but I can’t give it to you. We might have a problem…” Kierram bore a very grim look on his face…

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