z
  • Home

Young Writers Society


16+

The Lie that Saved the World Chapter 3

by VengefulReaper


Warning: This work has been rated 16+.

“Steve? Where am I?”

The air fled the room in an instant as everyone looked to Steve expecting his response.

“Hello, Ethan,” Steve said clearing his throat. “You’re…in The Alliance underwater bunker just off the coast of Durban. The real Alliance bunker.”

Ethan’s brows furrowed in confusion. “What did I walk into in the forest? Where was I? Why are you here?” asked Ethan in quick succession.

“Look…I know you have a lot of questions bu- “

“I do, and I need them answered now. For all I know, I could be a victim of kidnapping,” demanded Ethan.

Steve sighed lowering his head in defeat. He motioned for everyone to vacate the room so that only Ethan and Steve remained in the abandoned med bay. Amber shot Ethan a meek smile on her way out before closing the door behind her.

“The Alliance isn’t just a relief organization, Ethan. It’s also a military force. We fought in the war on two fronts. One against our political enemies such as the reformed USSR and another against our own defected organization, SEKT. When the world war ended, our political enemies seized but SEKT remained. Their goals don’t seem to be politically influenced at all.”

“Is that who those shooters were?” asked Ethan.

“Yes. The assault you dropped in on was a raid on a SEKT intelligence outpost in the Alps. All our outposts are in the Abandoned Regions so that the public doesn’t detect our skirmishes.”

“Why do you keep this from the public? Shouldn’t they know? They could help you, right?”

Steve hesitated, biting on his lower lip. “Because coming clean with the public would result in a full-scale war between the two of us. The earth can’t withstand another nuclear war. It’s best for the people if we keep this hidden so that SEKT can’t use their nuclear warhead.”

“If SEKT is as bad as they say they are, wouldn’t they use it anyway?” asked Ethan.

Steve chuckled, “They wouldn’t dare. If SEKT wanted to be seen publicly, they’d want to look like the freedom fighters of society. It’s all about image and nobody wants to be the villain.”

“Why would they want to be see- “

Steve cut Ethan off, “That’s enough of that. You’re not going to need this information anyway. Once I wipe your mind and drop you off at the teleporting station, you’ll go back to your normal life and forget any of this happened. Deal?”

Ethan nodded. “The less I know of this the better.”

Interrupting Ethan and Steve’s conversation, Breach, the third man Ethan saw in the exo-suit swung the door open.

“Steve, we’ve processed the intel. We need to talk to you, now.”

Steve excused himself from his conversation with Ethan and retreated to the back area of the med bay. Breach slipped out a slim tablet and handed it to Steve to examine.

“Fuck,” Steve whispered. “A bioweapon of this scale?”

“And it’s been flying under the radar of the public for a while. We don’t know how widespread this is,” added Breach. “We need to get someone to examine this ASAP and then inform the higher-ups of this.”

“Get it to Amber now. I have other problems to deal with,” Steve ordered, handing Breach the tablet.

Before Steve could walk away, Breach grabbed his arm. “What are you going to do about the boy?”

“Get his mind wiped, of course,” Steve said. “What else can I do?”

Breach gave Steve a worried glance. I can wipe him, right? Steve asked himself.

“You’ll leave the boy brain dead, Steve,” Breach muttered, worried that Ethan may hear him. “The events he saw were too severe to erase fully. Something as traumatic as losing an eye would trigger off a memory of this event even if the wipe was successful.”

Great! Just great...

“You could just kill him, you know,” Breach shrugged. “We’ve done it before.”

“Absolutely NOT!” yelled Steve. Noticing Ethan had his head turned to his direction, he gave him an uncomfortable smile and resumed his hushed tone. “He’s Haley’s son! I can’t kill him!”

“Shit,” Breach whispered. “I didn’t know she had one.”

“Not many do. John and I tried to keep it a secret but now it’s only a matter of time before everyone finds out.”

“Didn’t he have an interview with our folks in the lab just a day or two ago?” Breach asked pulling up the interview file on Ethan.

He handed Steve the tablet with a document on it. Steve scanned the document.

Interview notes 1175: Ethan James Rider

FOR PURPOSES OF ADMINISTRATION ONLY.

Published by Jenna Furrowman, Chief of Research, Alliance Laboratories.

Ethan James Rider. While a capable researcher and perhaps genius inventor, he has been found in possession of activated Secronium. Thus, he was blacklisted from all research in his field.

The report continued listing Ethan’s achievements at an educational and research level.

I, the chief of research at Alliance Labs, see great potential in Mr. Rider but question if helping to achieve his potential will lead to more good than harm. During the interview, he despised biological warfare and thus wanted to find a way to abolish it by any means necessary.

After careful consideration, it is in the best interest of the institution and its reputation to decline Mr. Rider’s research proposition, however groundbreaking it may be.

***

"He could be more useful than he seems."

The conversation faded from Ethan’s ears. He decided to get one last ear in on the conversation as he pretended to leave the room for a change of scenery. As he paced towards the door in his hospital robe, Ethan slammed into what seemed to be a brick wall.

“Excuse me, sir. I’m so sorry, I was just going to get some fresh air,” lied Ethan.

John tapped his feet on the ground. He then placed his hand on Ethan’s shoulder. His hand alone weighed more than a mountain. A small grin spread across his face.

“Certainly. Though fresh air is hard to come by when you’re underwater,” he stated blandly. “If you’d like a change of scenery, Amber will show you to the observatory. It’s quite beautiful, I’ve heard.”

“You haven’t been there?” Ethan asked.

“Oh, I have. I just don’t know what it looks like.”

Ethan forced out half a laugh partly disturbed by how observant a blind man could be.

John nodded to Amber and then silently glided across the room to meet Steve and Breach in the corner. Amber lead Ethan to the end of the main hallway and into an intimate spherical room. A room completely secluded from the base and solely made from glass. On the outside, the tides of the clear blue ocean ruffled the leaves of the coral reef at the seabed. The fish swam carefreely in and around the holes of the rock features in their schools.

“Uhm!” Amber cleared her throat drawing attention to herself. “I think you owe someone a word of thanks…”

“Oh, yes. Of course. Sorry. Thank you for saving me back there,” Ethan said apologetically.

“What are you going to do? Get your mind wiped?”

“No. I heard what Steve said. There's a bioweapon on the loose.”

“Why you? You could just have your mind wiped and then treat the patients of that bioweapon like you usually do. That’s helping too, you know.”

“With being blacklisted from the market?” scoffed Ethan. “No chance. I can't stop this like a scientist.”

“And you’re willing to fight for it?” she asked.

“I’ve come too far to turn back. It’s easier for me to keep going. I don't know if I want to do this, but I don't have a lot of time so it's worth a shot.”

Amber shook her head, “good luck convincing Steve to let you join.”

Amber turned around at the doorway and tossed Ethan’s card he used at the station to him. Ethan flipped the card from one side to the other. From the Gold-feathered shield to his photo and then back to the gold-feathered shield.

He crushed the ID card in his hand with all his rage channeled into it. His photo split down the center and his digital ID disappeared as the card was deactivated. He let the card slip through his fingers and drop onto the concrete floor barely making a sound.

Ethan stepped out of the observatory unfazed by Steve leaning with his back to the wall. Without uttering a word nor sharing a gaze, he continued onward, his slim feet sliding smoothly across the tiled floor. The red patch on the bandage wrapped around his eye had grown to twice its size in the time that had passed. His leg felt lighter, but the acute pain reminded him of how weak he was right now.

“Ethan,” began Steve in a hushed voice barely audible to Ethan.

“Don’t try and stop me, Steve,” hissed Ethan without caring to cease in his path.

“8 am sharp. Right here. Don’t be late.”

Ethan paused briefly. He finally turned around to meet Steve’s gaze for confirmation. Steve threw Ethan the teleporting card to access the facility. The card was almost identical to his previous one.

The gold-feathered round shield appeared on one side with notable highlights of lush green and rosy red on its borders. The rear side of the card, however, was as blank as a new canvas with only a single barcode denoting the number and branch. Ethan tucked it into his back pocket and strode through the hallway. There was no going back now. He’d thought he’d have to choose between his friends and his vengeance. The chance he’d succeed was almost zero before but now, he knew what he needed to do.

A voice in his head told him not to. To run as far away as he could from all this but that voice had always been there. Perhaps the only reason he'd made it this far was because he ignored it. So why on Earth would he ignore it now?


Is this a review?


  

Comments



User avatar
178 Reviews

Points: 34
Reviews: 178

Donate
Tue May 10, 2022 2:46 pm
MaybeAndrew wrote a review...



Andrew here with a review!
These questions really help, so I'll jump into it now!
1. I've heard my pacing is an issue and chapters come across as rushed. Am I improving here?
It's better than the last chapter, but I'd still say you need to slow down a bit, especially in transitions. There were a couple of times here when I got kinda lost because the transition was so fast I didn't realize what scene we were in now.
2. Is the metaphor of the card effective or should I just take it out?
I really liked the metaphor of the card! I'd say maybe even lean into it, communicate how the card makes him feel while looking at it, how destroying it makes him feel. Maybe even go back and put it that mentioned in previous chapters.
3. Are Ethan's reasons believable? What did you think of his eagerness to join? Too abrupt?
His backstory with his mother's death is good, but I'd say I would want a little more time to play these emotions out, maybe give him some more time while he's recovering to have conversations, think, and remember.
4. Is Ethan's spying in on Steve's conversation an effective way to dodge boring exposition (I'm trying to avoid that in these and instead work it into the dialogue)?
I liked it, though I'd say I was a bit confused about the whole bioweapons situation. Have these bioweapons been ravaging society in the past?
5. Is there anything I could add/trim from this chapter that would either make it more fleshed out or make it less fluffy?
I'd say maybe give the flashback to his mother's death more room to breathe. You could even make its own chapter. I wouldn't mind more walking around the bunker and seeing things and talking to people in ways that would flesh out our character more and get him to a place where it feels very natural for him to accept the job and for us to root for him to get it.
But that's just my two cents! Hope it helped!
Anyway, a lot of good stuff here. Powerful emotional ideas, and cool worldbuilding.
Thanks and keep writing,
Andrew




VengefulReaper says...


Thanks so much for the review!
I am thinking about reworking my first chapter to be the aftermath of the bioweapons that killed Ethan's mother. I think the backstory may fit in well there. I'm not sure, but I'll definitely flesh it out a little more.



User avatar
52 Reviews

Points: 100
Reviews: 52

Donate
Mon Mar 28, 2022 6:53 pm
SalisRuinen wrote a review...



Hey! Salis here with another review!

First things first, to answer you post-chapter questions.

I'd say your pacing is great in this chapter. Everything that happens in it is leading toward a very important decision, so it's understandable that things should be taken more slowly. It makes the choice made by Ethan that much more impactful. And I don't think your chapters are rushed in general. The second half of this story's first chapter may have been an exception, but I am certain that was deliberate to create more stress for the main protagonist as he was thrown in an entirely new environment and it served its purpose perfectly.

About the card, I think the symbolic use of objects is an excellent approach in storytelling in general and the one you've used here carries great meaning, so it would be better to keep it.

Ethan's reasons are more than believable for me. The highlight of this chapter for me was without a doubt his flashback about his mother's death. After such a description I would've been surprised if he didn't want to join. He has been looking his whole life for an oppotunity to rid the world of bioweapons and although the ideal version of that for him probably wasn't joining the Alliance, it is clear he's driven enough to accept that if it will bring him any closer to achieving his goal.

Ethan learning what he needs to know by spying rather than being told those things by Steve was ingenious. Another highlight of the chapter for me as it both broke my expectations for a long explanation by Steve from the beginning of the chapter and showed Ethan is willing to do whatever it takes to know more about things that concern him, even spying on a man he was very close to once.

Something you could add to the chapter is describing how Ethan is experiencing some pain, mainly in his eye socket, because losing his eye was without a doubt the most devastating injury he suffered. He has certainly been given something to dull the pain, but you mentioned he felt pain in his leg, so that means he should be able to feel some discomfort from the place where his eye used to be. It would also be a nice addition to what the character' journey within the chapter is, showing how he's felt mental pain in the past and is dealing with physical pain in the present.

I like how you played with the reader's expectations in this chapter. I was certain Ethan would choose to join the Alliance but after the sudden interruption of Steve's explanation to him, I thought maybe this was going to happen further ahead in the story. Turning things around for the protagonist with the mere mention of bioweapons was great to clarify his motivation further.

Nothing illustrated that as good as the flashback, though. I think it may be the best piece of text you've written so far that I've read. It was very, very impactful. And it gave so much information about the character through an event to which he was mainly a witness, rather than an active participant.

Amber testing Ethan's resolve was also a nice addition to the story. It made sense than other than Steve, no one else from the Alliance would put any faith in the protagonist as he had been a civillian up to this point. And having Steve listen in on the converstation made the path toward the protagonist announcing his choise a lot smoother. I imagine that if Ethan and Steve were to have this conversation, it would've been a lot longer as Steve would try to convince the Ethan to not join the Alliance time and again until he was convinced of his unyielding determination. This version was much better.

Lastly, giving a look at Steve's thoughts on the matter was great. He is clearly a very complicated character, who's had a lot to deal with in a short amount of time himself: first being reunited with a man he had last met when he was a boy, seeing him being badly wounded, learning of his decision to join the Alliance and finally accepting that. I'd love to get more focus on Steve every now and then as following a person as conflicted and tormented by regret as him is always very interesting.

Thanks for the great chapter and keep on writing!





The ink in which our lives are inscribed is indelible.
— Helena 'HG' Wells, Warehouse 13