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The Lie that Saved the World Chapter 4: Induction

by VengefulReaper


Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language.

Ethan walked into the teleporting room in the Alliance base. It was no larger than the size of a living room. Only four terminals were accessible with one being overheated and in desperate need of maintenance. Breach knelt on the ground, his hands coated in dust and stains as he tried to fix the broken terminal. He let loose a loud cough that echoed through the deserted room and down the hallway.

“Are you alright, sir?” asked Ethan politely, tapping the man on his upper back.

“Yeah. Just some nuke-dust from the power cells getting up my nostrils,” he shrugged. “Oh, the name’s Breach. I’m the resident engineer here for the base on this level. Do you need some help?”

Ethan shook his head, “No thanks. I’m just on my way out.”

“First time?”

“Yeah. Why?”

Breach handed him a small bag, “You might need this for the food you ate last night.”

Slightly concerned, Ethan accepted the packet and walked over to the teleporter. He swiped the card he was given, and the terminal powered up.

Please select your station.

Ethan punched in the coordinates of the tree-shaped station back home and stepped inside. Don’t you dare give me another error message! Warned Ethan. His figure disintegrated into particles smaller than dust before vanishing from sight.

On the other end of the terminal, Ethan re-materialized from the very dust-like particles he’d been reduced to at the base. Even though he’d been to work every day through a teleporter, he’d never switched mediums before. Teleporting through the air was far easier and less strenuous on the person than water was. This was the first time Ethan had teleported from water to land and it was making his stomach churn.

A lump in his throat formed. The lump became larger and larger as the pressure built up. He felt a mix of fluids and solids rush up his esophagus like a wellspring reopening. Ethan barely managed to put the bag to his mouth as the vomit spewed out leaving a foul stench behind.

Disposing of the bag, he scurried out of the branch and into the empty elevator. It was late at night which was far from peak traveling times so the station was dead quiet. So quiet that if a pin were to drop, Ethan could hear its echoes through the building.

As Ethan exited the elevator with nothing but a coat on to cover his blood-stained clothes, he had one place he needed to visit; Sarah’s apartment. She must’ve been worried sick for the past day or two I was gone, he thought. I didn’t exactly sign a non-disclosure agreement, but something tells me that Steve doesn’t care about legal stuff when it comes to keeping this a secret.

Arriving at the thatched house, Ethan once again knocked on the oak door. He could hear Sarah’s footsteps from the other end of the door drawing nearer. She stopped just short of the door and waited for a moment before Ethan heard the door lock unlatch. As the door creaked open, Sarah’s face zoomed through relief, worry, and rage all in a few seconds.

“Oh my God! What the hell happened to you? Where’ve you been? Where is your eye? Why are you limping? Why is your shirt bloody? Why...” she rambled on.

“I’m fine. A terminal glitch dropped me somewhere and I got mugged. I’m going to get my eye replaced soon. It’s all fine…” assured Ethan.

Without a moment’s hesitation, Sarah brought her open palm over the back of Ethan’s head and slapped his neck. Ethan winced as the sharp pain ran down his neck followed by the slow burn of the slap.

“Don’t you know how worried I was, you idiot! Why didn’t you call? Or message me? Or something?”

“I don’t know. I was too busy being unconscious!” hissed Ethan trying not to wake the neighborhood late at night. Sarah clenched her fists and let out an exasperated sigh.

"Who took care of you? Did you get to a hospital?"

"No. I just found a random fully sanitized bandage in the trashcan next to me and decided to heal myself while I was knocked out..." Ethan mocked sarcastically.

"Ethan. James. Rider. This is not the time for sarcasm!"

"Okay, okay... I got to a hospital. A lady was kind enough to take me to one when she saw me nearly passed out," Ethan said trying his best to cover up where he went.

"Oh. Well, thank God for her. Do you want to come inside?"

“Not right now, I need to get some rest and sort out some things first. I might take the week off too,” Ethan declined politely.

Sarah nodded, “take all the time you need. Just call if you need anything, okay?”

Ethan cracked a rare wide smile, his remaining eye twinkling ever so slightly. She couldn't decipher what it meant. It was the kind of smile you give someone just before you leave them. A smile born from happiness but with an undercurrent of sadness.

"Ethan...Is something wrong? Has something changed?" she asked. "You seem different."

Everything has changed, he thought. I can finally change things. I can finally put an end to all of this. The thought of telling her everything crossed his mind. But in the end, he knew this was something that would bring her more pain than relief. It's not her burden to carry. It's mine, he thought. But he knew he couldn't keep it from her for long.

"No... Just trying to wrap my head around things..."

As he turned away from her she grabbed his arm, "I know you're not telling me everything."

"Do I need to?" Ethan snapped.

"No, no, of course not. But I do need to know if my friend is okay. And you don't look okay."

Ethan sighed and ripped his arm out of her grasp, "I just got mugged. I need time to recover. I'm fine."

Walking down his driveway, which was right next to Sarah's driveway, Ethan opened his front door with his house remote. He entered his cozy apartment. It was spotless and organized. Not a single plate was left unwashed. His work desk was clear of any rubble that most people would leave around. It was so clean, the only specks of disorder in his apartment were the laundry room and the dustbin.

The one-eyed man felt his chest tighten. Shit! I've gone too long without inhaling, he cursed. Sorting through his drawer, he pulled out his pump and relieved the pressure with one deep breath. He needed to get some sleep before the next day. Switching off his lights and setting his alarm, he tucked himself under his sheets and shut his eyes.

Just as he thought. He couldn't sleep. He tossed and turned from one side to another but he couldn't get all the thoughts out of his head. So, he did what any smart person would do to dispel all these thoughts; physics. The one thing in the world that brought him serenity in times of distress.

The realm of equations, statics, and mechanics gave him questions to think about that eclipsed any thought in his mind. So, he pulled up his most recent research project. As Ethan continued, his mind drained of thoughts and became clear and calm like the night. Time flew by as Ethan's blank page became riddled with notes. Ethan's eyes began to close. His head fell onto his notepad as his snores echoed through his apartment.

The blaring sound of his alarm clock made him jump out of his skin as he quickly reached over to switch it off.

After rushing into the shower and putting on some comfortable clothes, he left the house for the station. As usual, he proceeded to the designated terminal on the back of his new Alliance card. A normal terminal? What if someone accidentally used it? Is this the Alliance's secret recruiting strategy? questioned Ethan as he walked up to it and inserted the card.

Teleporting in 3…2…1… Please remain calm and keep your arms inside the terminal!

The screen flashed red once more making Ethan panic. Surely not two days in a row, right? Ethan felt his stomach turn inside out as the terminal transported him. The last word he saw on the screen was the word ‘Error’.

To his surprise, Ethan found himself in the teleporter room of the Alliance base. This time, he managed to keep his breakfast down and walked to the command room where he was to meet Steve and John.

On his way through the hallway, he bumped into Amber who was wearing her usual lab coat and stethoscope. 

“Hey, Ethan. Glad you found your way here. Did you have your breakfast sucked out of you as you exited?” she asked with a cheeky grin.

“No… That happened yesterday.”

"Oh, so you're probably in the diarrhea phase now..." she accidentally thought out loud.

"What?"

"Nothing," she said hastily with the most genuine smile she could muster. “Oh, by the way. A word of warning: don’t use that card on any other terminal other than the one that leads you here, okay?”

“Why?” asked Ethan.

“Because that card forces an error message in the terminal that will ‘accidentally’ drop you off here. If you use it on any other terminal, it’ll drop you somewhere else and the card will disintegrate.”

Well, that would’ve been useful to know when Steve gave it to me.

“Thanks for the heads up!” Ethan shouted as Amber walked down the hallway.

Ethan entered the command center at the far end of the main hallway. The large, automated doors opened as Ethan approached them and revealed a compact room filled with holo-desks used for mission briefings and meeting rooms. At the center was a circular table with Steve and John standing beside it.

“Hey, kid,” greeted John. He showed Ethan to a set of elevators at the back of the room.

The elevators were the same model as those in the station. Multi-directional and high speed. As the three men entered the elevator, Steve pressed the button for the lower levels of the Alliance. Ethan felt his chest close in. Three masks popped out from the elevator ceiling. The three men grabbed the masks and attached them to their faces.

“We’re going through the seabed now, so the pressure is getting higher. The base underneath is depressurized, but the elevators aren’t. We’ll just need these masks here,” Steve said.

The elevator doors opened and the three left their masks behind. Ethan’s eyes widened in awe of the sheer amount of space in the Alliance base. The ceilings were four or five stories high, and the hangar stretched for at least 10 football fields. It felt like the hangar stored an army's worth of supplies and weapons.

The barracks were situated on the second level and housed equipment for every operative in the building. Its elegant design optimized the space it was afforded by housing as many people as possible without feeling cluttered.

“I told you, Ethan,” Steve began, noticing Ethan’s expression. “The Alliance is a military force before it is a relief organization. You didn’t think that tiny bunker was all we had, did you?”

Steve didn’t wait for Ethan’s response but rather directed him to the main hall. On the front wall hung three flags, each with the Alliance insignia embroidered onto it. The first was a crimson red flag with a neon green border, the second an azure blue flag with jet black highlights, and the third, a more familiar one to Ethan, a snow-white flag lined with gold.

“The Alliance has three regiments in it. The largest regiment, the militia, the covert unit or spy division, and then the one you’ve met and will be assigned to, the Infiltrators,” pointing to the red, blue and white flags respectively.

“You’re putting me in an elite squadron? Wouldn’t I pull the team down?” asked Ethan.

“Yes, but you’d be safe. The casualty counts in the militia are much higher than in the infiltrators and the spies mostly work alone. This is the safest place for you right now,” remarked John. “Come, let me show you to your barracks.”

Ethan and John ascended the spiral staircase, their feet clanging on the steps. They shuffled over to the first set of doorways in the corridor that had the Infiltrator’s flag carved into the wall above it. John ushered Ethan in. The barracks could have passed for spacious had it not been for the Exo-suits cluttering the left side of the open-plan room. A projector screen used for TV and a kitchen were the only two standout features that Ethan noticed. Each member had an individual station, stocked with their gear, weapons, and compressed Exo-suits. Breach emerged from behind his Exo suit, lifting up his welding mask.

“Have you prepared his Exo?” asked John.

“Yeah. I just finished the maintenance now, Boss,” replied Breach as he handed Ethan a cube the size of his palm.

“This is it? How’d you compress it to this size?” asked Ethan, bewildered.

“Oh, no,” chuckled Breach. “That’s the remote. That’s the Exo,” he emphasized pointing to the suit of armor sitting behind him. “Go ahead. Power it up. Let’s see that beauty come to life!”

Ethan pressed the button on the cube and the Exo’s floodlights switched on. The light did not reflect off but was rather absorbed by the jet-black color of the suit making the size of the suit almost invisible at night.

The hydraulic pistons slipped into place. Three streams of compressed air whistled like a kettle as the Exo suit stood up and scanned Ethan. The suit began to expand and contract until it matched his height and waist. Ethan’s ears caught a zipping of cables as the grappling hooks tightened and reeled in. A modulated, electronic voice emanated from the speakers on the chest of the suit.

“Recognized: Ethan Rider, Infiltrator. Code: 0005. Test file uploaded for first use. Welcome to The Alliance, Mr. Rider!”

Author's questions:

1. So, there's a clear break in the chapter from Ethan going back home to him entering the base again. I wasn't sure if I wanted to split it there into 2 chapters or keep it as one. Thoughts?

2. What did you think of Sarah's conversation with Ethan? Too long? Too short? Good or bad?

3. I've been told my transitions from scene to scene are a bit off and abrupt. Am I improving or just evolving backwards xD?


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178 Reviews

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Reviews: 178

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Mon Jun 13, 2022 7:04 pm
MaybeAndrew wrote a review...



Andrew is back here after a billion years. Sorry, was on vacation, but now, you should be getting a review from me every couple of days!
First off, I really liked this chapter, maybe my favorite one so far. You're definitely improving. It feels less rushed than before, and we're really starting to get into what feels like a defined story.
But to you're questions!

1. So, there's a clear break in the chapter from Ethan going back home to him entering the base again. I wasn't sure if I wanted to split it there into 2 chapters or keep it as one. Thoughts?

I didn't think it was too bad that they were the same chapter, I'd only say that I might have liked some more descriptions of how Ethan feels to be leaving his old life behind.
Also, real quick,

2. What did you think of Sarah's conversation with Ethan? Too long? Too short? Good or bad?
I really liked it actually! Made me hope we get to see more of Sarah, and made me like Ethan more. I wouldn't call it "To short" But I wouldn't have minded more of it, maybe even using it to teach us a bit about either of there backstory.
"No. I just found a random fully sanitized bandage in the trashcan next to me and decided to heal myself while I was knocked out..." Ethan mocked sarcastically.

I think we as an audience we understand that its sarcastic, so saying it is makes it feel clunky, especially because Sarah uses the same word in the next sentence.
Ethan sighed and [b]ripped /b]his arm out of her grasp, "I just got mugged. I need time to recover. I'm fine."

Ripped is a strong word, do you want to communicate that he violently and forcefully pulled his arm from her grip, and she didn't let go without a fight? If not, I might switch that too, "slipped," or "Pulled"

3. I've been told my transitions from scene to scene are a bit off and abrupt. Am I improving or just evolving backwards xD?
No, I think you're getting much better. There were only a couple places here where it felt really unnatural to me.

A few other points:

The one-eyed man felt his chest tighten. Shit! I've gone too long without inhaling, he cursed. Sorting through his drawer, he pulled out his pump and relieved the pressure with one deep breath. He needed to get some sleep before the next day. Switching off his lights and setting his alarm, he tucked himself under his sheets and shut his eyes.

This confused me, Maybe I'm just an idiot (or haven't read the other chapters for a while XD) but has he been holding his breath for like, hours? How does that work?

The elevator doors opened and the three left their masks behind. Ethan’s eyes widened in awe of the sheer amount of space in the Alliance base. The ceilings were four or five stories high, and the hangar stretched for at least 10 football fields. It felt like the hangar stored an army's worth of supplies and weapons.

Oooooh, always love a big secret base.

“You’re putting me in an elite squadron? Wouldn’t I pull the team down?” asked Ethan.

How did Ethan know its the Elite Squadron? If it's from something off-screen, maybe mention that.
The hydraulic pistons slipped into place. Three streams of compressed air whistled like a kettle as the Exo suit stood up and scanned Ethan. The suit began to expand and contract until it matched his height and waist. Ethan’s ears caught a zipping of cables as the grappling hooks tightened and reeled in. A modulated, electronic voice emanated from the speakers on the chest of the suit.

“Recognized: Ethan Rider, Infiltrator. Code: 0005. Test file uploaded for first use. Welcome to The Alliance, Mr. Rider!”

I'm a simple man, I see an AI sidekick, and I get excited. I hope this suit has got its own little jarvis, if not, it's cool anyway.
Anyway, that's all just my two cents, hope it helped!
Thanks, and keep writing!
Andrew




VengefulReaper says...


Thank you so much for the review! It's good to have you back. Your feedback has helped me a lot so I really do appreciate your thoughts. As for the inhaling thing you mentioned: It's actually more like an asthma pump. He doesn't hold his breath for hours. Throughout the course of the day, the atmosphere blocks your lungs so you need that pump to clear it from time to time. You're spot on with Ethan not knowing it's an elite squadron. It totally flew over my head xD.



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Reviews: 52

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Sun May 15, 2022 1:05 am
SalisRuinen wrote a review...



Hey! Salis here with a review!!

First of all, let me just say it's great to have you back!! You were definitely missed, in terms of both continuing your story and making reviews of other people's works, so I'm glad things are getting back on track again. And now on to the review of this chapter, starting with your questions about it.

About splitting the chapter in two, I think doing it at the point you suggested would leave the two parts disproportionate. The first part will be much longer while the second part will be less eventful. I personally prefer longer chapters where the flow changes rather than shorter ones that seem to have a focus on only one thing, so I would suggest keeping this chapter as it is.

I think Ethan's conversation with Sarah could've continuied a bit longer, actually. Like at the moment he left, I expected her to stop him and ask for more details, seeing as how she could tell he had changed and had been through a traumatic experience. While he said he didn't want to talk anymore in the present, maybe she would still want to know more due to being worried for him. There could be a further display of his internal struggle of whether he should tell Sarah the truth or not before ultimately deciding to either stay quiet or lie to her in some way. And then he would actually leave. But that's just me because I generally enjoy those two's conversations very much.

I'd say you've made the transitions quite smooth in this one, so there is no issue with that. But you can put abrut transtions in the story every now and then when the situation calls for it to change the pace a bit. It's always good to switch things up from time to time.

Now, for my own thoughts on the chapter. There weren't all too many things happening in this one with the focus being on our protagonist getting used to and learning more about his new position. I think sufficient exposition has been provided now for things to get more dynamic from here on.

One thing I definitely look forward to seeing is how long he'll manage to keep his secret from Sarah and how she'll react once she learns the truth. She just feels like a very different part of his life than all the rest and I'm curious to see how he'll be able to balance his relationship with her with the new responsibilities he has. And I just overall love their dynamic, perhaps the only real rival for it being the one between Ethan and Steve, so the more there is of them interacting, the better.

The highlight of the whole chapter for me were the many examples of you paying attention to detail. Starting off with the difference between land-to-land and water-to-land teleportations to remembering about the need of using a pump on an everyday basis and finally the specifics of Ethan using his card on the particular terminal that takes him to the Alliance base. I just love it when the mechanics of things are explained as that makes them feel more real and allows the reader to better understand them. That is something I think you do very well.

It was a smart move on Steve's part for finding a loophole that allowed him to let Ethan join the Alliance while minimizing the amount of danger he would be exposed to by assigning him to the Infiltrators. How long will he be able to protect him for from here on is another matter entirely. Seeing as how Ethan will have his own Exo-suit now, things will definitely get more interesting and I can't wait to see what happens next!

Thanks for the great chapter! Keep at it!!




VengefulReaper says...


Thanks so much for the review! Good to be back. I'll definitely add to Sarah's conversation with Ethan. Please bear with me while I make my way through your chapters xD




you ever say spidgit finner unironically?
— FireEyes