The tweeting of birds danced through the air as sunlight filtered through the branches of trees coated in morning dew. A rabbit calmly searches for food through the leaf litter and pine needles for it's breakfast. Hopping into a small out cove, the rabbit picked up a new scent that it couldn't identify. As it approached a large object laying on the ground, the scent grew stronger. Suddenly, movement caused the rabbit to perk up it's ears and become alert. It didn't know what had moved, but it was ready to bolt at the first sign of danger. It was then that the object with the strange smell that it had been hiding behind moved and the rabbit booked it back into the woods.
A groan rang out in the small space as Devin slowly sat up. Devin held his head as he could feel a sticky and sour tang coating the back of his tongue. He felt sore from the hits he had taken the day before from the guy he had defeated. The thought of the people he had killed caused his stomach to flip harshly and bile to rise. Devin turned to the side and heaved as what was left of the contents of his stomach splattered onto the dirt. Devin could feel the guilt gnaw at him as he tried to catch his breath. All those lives, but it was either them or him and Devin wasn't going to give up this life. He had chosen to fight yesterday and now he would have to live with it.
Slowly standing up, Devin noticed that his muscles were sore and his joints creaked. He concluded that his body wasn't accustomed to the power he had been wielding. He would need to somehow gather more spirit points and practice without alerting the powers that be. It was then that Devin realized that since he transformed there might be people searching for another resurgence of power. A particular blonde came to mind as Devin slowly trudged forward. He knew that he needed to get back to the hotel one way or another.
After what felt like hours Devin stumbled onto the dirt road that lead to the base, but he didn't know what way was what. The rumble of an engine alerted Devin that a vehicle was coming towards him. Slipping behind a tree just in case who ever was driving wasn't friendly Devin saw a black SUV speed past. Assuming that that direction was towards the base Devin started following the road in the opposite direction in the hope of reaching town. He trudged as he tried to speculate what the state of affairs were now.
The base was a mess and would be in need of some serious repairs. The workers probably scared off for good and most likely he was reported as MIA now. He needed to see if he could find a lead on who those people were working for. Mr. Beanpole said that they were members of an organization that was looking for research on super soldiers and mutants. It could be AIM, but they were more likely to collect actual mutants and get their own data than steal others so which other group was responsible?
It was mid afternoon when Devin finally limped into town and a further twenty minutes to arrive at the hotel. Entering the elevator, Devin punched his floor and watched as the doors closed. A shudder rocked the metal box before it began to rise. Three floors before his stop the elevator stopped and who should appear but Yana the maid. As she looked up she recognized him and a radiant smile graced her face before morphing into a frown at the ragged state his clothes were in on top of the dirt and other debris that was stuck to him from his nap in the forest.
"Sir are you okay?" Yana asked as she entered the elevator.
"I've been better." Devin replied as he made room for her. Stepping in Yana was now sporting a concerned look as she noticed a slight limp in his steps. Soon his floor arrived and Devin stepped off and began to walk down the hall when Yana called out to him again.
"Mr. Price, may I be off service to you?" Yana asked as she stepped out as well. Devin was going to refuse her when a particularly annoying pang ran through him from the strain he was still recovering from. The long hike from the woods definitely didn't help. Taking a deep breath Devin released it in a long, drawn out sigh.
"I appreciate the concern, but I'll be fi-" Devin said before Yana approached with a frown again. The girl's face was constantly changing. Devin knew that look from previous girlfriends in his last life and amounted to a lecture on why he should do what she says.
"Not to be rude Mr. Price, but I think that you are far from fine." Yana said as she approached him even closer. Devin knew she had a point, he was sore, exhausted, and suffering from the strain of his first transformation. He could use a hot meal and an even hotter shower.
"Alright, if you want to help then I need a meal brought to my room as well as some aspirin and ice. Work was more eventful than anticipated." Devin said, the last part more of a self comment than a statement. Yana nodded as she turned and started back into the elevator. Devin seeing her leave slowly moved towards his room.
'Alice, are all of this side effects from having transformed for the first time?' Devin mentally asked as he opened his room door. Miraculously he somehow still had his key card in one piece in his pocket though he had lost the paper sheath that had covered it somehow.
'Negative sir, the side effects from transformation extend only to the strain on your muscles and the micro fractures in the bones of your limbs. The rest is from the blows that you received as even though the dragoon armor is strong so was your opponent and you still received the shock from the blows. In total the injuries you have from the enemy amount to a severe case of bruising covering your back and a rather large knot on the back of your head from a piece of flying debris.' Alice spoke, giving him a quick summary.
'I'm assuming that practicing with the transformation will lessen the strain of using the dragoon forms?' Devin asked as he debated on whether to start the water in the shower yet.
'Correct, also as you become accustomed to the change the likely hood that you will fall into a battle rage lessens as well.' Alice said, reminding Devin that he had indeed had that very problem happen. In the game it was stated that humans didn't have "war" as a part of their nature and that they fight by entering a kind of insanity and it was that "Battle Rage" that was what fueled the spirits in the form of spirit points. So in essence by fighting Devin could gain points, but he also run the risk of being swallowed in that battle rage once he transformed. Now Alice said that practice would help him to control it so he wouldn't lose himself in a battle.
Devin was just stripping off his shirt when he heard a gasp behind him. Turning quickly and summoning one of the handguns from earlier Devin found that he was so focused on his thoughts he had missed Yana opening the door and entering. He let out a slow breath from the adrenaline that had shot through him from the surprise and quickly moved to hide the gun from her sight.
"You shouldn't sneak up on people girl. One day you might get hurt on accident."Devin said irritably. Yana didn't hear his comment as she was preoccupied by horrifying image of the purple and black bruising that covered the expanse of Devin's back. Silently she walked toward him with one small hand raised, but before she could touch the damaged flesh Devin's voiced snapped her out of her horror induced trance.
"I wouldn't touch that if I were you." Devin said with a now calm smirk on his lips at her concern with his condition. Yana turned red as she realized what she was about to do and busied herself setting the cart of food up and placing the bucket of ice and pills on the table. She had also brought a bottle of whisky from the downstairs bar as her father had once been known to enjoy a glass after a rather troubling day of work before everything changed.
"Is there anything else I can help you with sir?" Yana asked as she folded her hands in front of her with an expectant look. Devin thought about it and felt he didn't want to be left alone in case the thoughts of what he had done should come back.
"Stay, tell me more about yourself a bit since we seem to keep bumping into one another so much." Devin said as he motioned to the couch opposite. Yana hesitated for a second to debate whether or not she should,but something about the strange foreign man somehow set her at ease so she took the proffered seat.
"What would you like to know?" she asked as Devin uncovered the food revealing a large bowl of stew and a chunk of bread alongside.
"Tell me, how did a pretty, young girl such as yourself end up cleaning sheets, delivering food, and sneaking peeps at your sexy clientele in this wonderful establishment." Devin said with a teasing smirk before taking a bite of the savory stew. Yana blushed at the teasing of how she had seen him half naked twice now before starting on her past.
"My parents were poor farmers in a small village near here. I was the middle child of three. I have an older sister, Izabela and a younger brother, Henric. About five years ago our mother became ill and passed away not long after as we didn't have the money for a doctor or medicine. Our father began to drink all the time in his grief. Izabela found work to support Henric and me as father usually spent all his money on drink. One day we were told that father had gotten in a fight with another man and had been stabbed. He had died from his injuries leaving the three of us alone." Yana recounted with a sad expression. Devin knew that there were people who were without medical aid or necessities living in hard times, but to have an actual individual in front of him was surreal.
"I'm sorry to hear that. My condolences." Devin said even though it probably meant little after the fact.
"Thank you." Yana said with a small smile and glistening eyes. With a deep breath and a small nod, she continued.
"My sister is working in a tavern on the other side of town and my brother is attending a school near the central plaza. We had to sell the farm and now live in a small apartment in the less likable neighborhood." Yana said. Devin frowned at the circumstances of the young girl. His was telling him to help them, but his brain was telling him that he didn't really have the ability. Devin's attention was averted as the ringing of a phone chimed in the air, but from the look on Yana's face she couldn't hear it. It was then that Devin remembered that he had put his phone in his storage just in case before he entered the base yesterday. Entering the next room after excusing himself for a minute, Devin pulled his phone out and answered the call.
"Mr. Strom, what a surprise hearing from you." Devin said after a glance at the ID number.
"I could say the same for you Mr. Price. What happened after you opened fire on those men?" Strom asked with a note of suspicion. Devin knew that he was fishing for something so his best choice would be to lie his ass off.
"After I took out the grunts, the big guy punch a hole through the walls to the outside. I did my best to try and take him on, but he went through some kind of change and nothing worked so I decided to lose him in the woods. After a bit he disappeared and I tried to head back to check on everyone when a huge shock wave hit me. I was thrown through the air and hit a tree. I woke up this morning and somehow made it back to town." Devin said as he changed some small details to omit the fact that he killed the guy.
"Hmm interesting. I hope you understand that we would like to keep the circumstances of what happened and whatever information you may have heard private. We would be willing to provide a bonus for your silence on the matter." Strom said in his best convincing voice. Devin took a minute to weigh the options of the matter and it was then that he had a brilliant idea.
"Mr. Strom my food is at the door. Would it be alright if I think over your proposal while I eat and then I'll call you back?" Devin asked as he rapped on the counter next to him to simulate a knock on a door.
"Of course Mr. Price. We hope to hear a favorable reply for both of us." Strom said as the call ended. Devin locked his phone and decided that it was time to implement his plan to take care of two birds with a single stone as he walked back in to have a chat with Yana.