Artemis 9: Part 6
Tides of mystery
The cafeteria was empty save for a woman, slightly younger than I, sitting at a table in the corner. Her dark hair was thrown into a messy bun that perched precariously on her head while her clothes seemed to hang from her body as if they’d dried there.
Heldur and I approached her slowly since she seemed absorbed in the act of playing with her waffles.
“-My name is Alison. Not Artemis 10,” the woman interrupted without looking up from her plate.
“Indeed. This is Artemis 9, your predecessor. You two should get acquainted over breakfast and then meet Dr Sylvanus in the Garden,” Heldur forced a smile, bowed deeply, and walked out.
“Jesus, do these people get any weirder?” I said aloud.
“Wait until you step out of line,” Alison said as she drowned every square of her waffle in syrup.
As she flooded her plate, I noticed her arms were covered in large bruises, “Did they do that to you?”
“They tried to take me from the hospital. When I refused to go with them, they attacked me. I got one of their eyes though,” she said with a smirk, “fuckin’ bastards.”
“So what did they tell you? I mean… about all this?” I asked.
“They said I’m some space princess or something. I don’t even like Star Wars,” she rolled her eyes.
I bit my lip to stop myself from asking how anyone could dislike one of the greatest works of science fiction of all time. Instead I asked, “They said I’m your sibling or something…”
She looked up at me for the first time since we’d met. Her bright grey eyes shone back into my own, “Yes, I could feel a connection as soon as you landed. What is your name?”
“I kinda dig ‘Artemis 9’ actually. Makes me feel-“
“Like a science experiment? Because that’s what we are to them, apparently,” Alison stated flatly as she held her haunting gaze.
“Well… It’s better than what I was before,” I said, “Before all this I was nothing but some poor, crazy, divorcee with no family except for a cat.”
“Yeah they make you desperate so they can take advantage of you more easily,” she said without skipping a beat.
“Is that what they did to you?”
“No. They just decided to take me whether I wanted to come or not. Heldick says everyone gets a choice but,” she waved her bruised arms in the air, “I guess we know how THAT worked out.”
“Do you believe any of this stuff? Aliens and royalty and sex juices and what not?” I asked.
“Do I believe there are bad people kidnapping and selling other people for power? Yes. That’s real. Do I think there’s some alien assholes from outer space doing it? No.”
“So you don’t believe in the alien thing at all? Do you think this is some sick psychological experiment? Because I think-“
“Slow down, Flash Gordon. You’re definitely not in the hospital anymore. They took us from there and brought us to some secret place underwater that they insist is the lost city of Atlantis. We’ve literally been kidnapped and you’re wondering if our kidnappers are telling us the truth?” She looked at me as if to say, Use your brain.
“They brought you here first? They took me to some mountain somewhere and then there was an emergency or something and we had to come here,” I explained, curious to know why they’d originally separated us, “Do you think we’re related at all? Because you mentioned a connection-“
“We’re definitely connected. I feel closer to you than any other human I’ve ever met before. Even my mother,” she said flatly and returned to her waffle.
“Oh. Um okay,” I stammered as I sat down across from her. A plate of fried eggs, bacon, potatoes covered in sausage gravy, and coffee appeared before me out of nowhere, “Woah! How exactly do you explain the magically appearing food?”
“I haven’t figured that out yet,” she said as she poured her coffee onto her plate, “They’re gonna make us go see some doctor next, huh?”
“That’s what he said,” I managed to say while my mouth worked on breakfast.
“I’m not taking anything they give me,” Alison said as she glared at the door.
“Yeah well I’m curious to see what all this is that they’re talking about. This seems like an awful lot of money and effort just for a kidnapping, right? I mean if it WASN’T real on some level, why do all of this?”
“I don’t know. I just know I’m getting out of here. ‘Curiosity killed the cat’, you know,” she said.
“Ah yes, but ‘satisfaction brought it back’,” I said smiling.
“So you’re just going to go with it all? And what if their goal is to kill you or worse, use you to kill others?” She said as she stared into my soul.
“Well the way I see it, somewhere between the outlandish nonsense they’ve told us and their willingness to assault us unless we comply, lies the truth. And since it would seem you’ve got the ‘find their limitations as fast as I can’ route already down, I figured I’ll go the other way to see if I can assess the middle ground from a… safer vantage point,” I said after I swallowed the last of my coffee.
“Well aren’t you just a master of mystery?” Alison said sarcastically.
“It’s always worked for me before,” I said, leaning back in my chair, “That was delicious. Then again I hadn’t eaten since Monday so-“
“So what happens when you find out the real reason we’re here? You gonna ‘stop the bad guys,’ Superman?” Her sarcasm dripping from the last word like queso on a hot tortilla chip.
Am I still hungry?
“Well firstly, Kal El was a dope ass name and I would gladly trade ‘Artemis 9’ for it. And secondly I was simply thinking of the easiest way out of here that didn’t involve the assault of my person. But taking down some manipulative assholes does sound like a ripping good time,” I smiled slyly.
“Yeah well if they find out you’re just complying until you don’t want to anymore, you’ll end up more than bruised,” her gaze fell to the now swollen waffles.
“Well then I’ll just have to make sure they don’t find out,” I said as I stood up and offered her my hand, “Would you like an escort to the doctor?”
She narrowed her eyes at me as if she were reading my thoughts, then she laughed. It was a loud, silly sort of laugh that made her nose tremble a bit when she snorted, “Okay then. But if they stick me with anything, I’m coming for you first.”
“Fair enough,” I smirked as she stood, refusing my hand as we made our way to the Garden.
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