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Daniel felt groggy as he woke up. When he came back to full wakefulness, he noticed his surroundings and became alarmed. As he looked around the room, he realized that he must be in some sort of small clinic. On the right side of his firm yet comfortable bed was a table with a plate of cookies (of all things), a wastepaper basket, and another bed, and on the left there was a mini fridge and a cabinet. On the opposite wall was a desk with a chair, a door, and a smaller room he assumed was a bathroom. On the wall to his right was a door. On the wall to his left there was a set of double doors. He wondered what this could mean. His captors had kept him in a stark cell with only a hard mattress, a toilet, and a sink for water. Though these conditions were much better than the ones he’d had to endure for these long weeks, he still felt uneasy. Were his captors playing some kind of trick on him? Had some third party had gotten involved, and if so, who and why?
Slowly he rose from his bed and took a couple unsteady steps. Then he froze in place because he had looked through the windows of the double doors and had seen two men outside. One was Hispanic and Daniel guessed that the other was Korean. They wore almost identical outfits consisting of turquoise shirts, blue-grey pants, a dark gray belt, and short reddish-brown boots. They both wore dark blue jackets, but the Latino’s jacket had red orange sleeves and the Asian’s had silver sleeves. Attached to their belts were wide pouches which gave them the appearance of wearing fanny packs, but also resembled the utility pouches Daniel knew that some mercenaries wore. The duo suddenly noticed Daniel, who tensed and prepared to defend himself as they headed in his direction. However, they showed signs of neither malice nor haste as they came inside.
“Don’t worry,” the one with the silver sleeves told him. Confirming Daniel’s assumptions as to his ethnicity, he added, “You may call me Kim.”
“I’m Estes,” said the one with red orange sleeves. “You doing all right?”
“What’s going on here?” demanded Daniel.
“We freed you on our boss’s orders.”
Estes gave a proud and somewhat devilish grin. “Well, pumping a place full of knock-out gas tends to quiet down any guards inside. Plus, Kim and I have special abilities.”
Daniel realized why he had been so groggy and slow to wake up, but he wondered what the “special powers” comment could mean. Shelving that question for a moment, he asked, “You said on your boss’s orders. Who is it you’re talking about?”
Instead of answering the question directly, Kim pulled out a radio from his belt. “He’s awake, and I think he’d like to speak with you.”
“Good,” replied a voice on the other end. “I’ll be up shortly.”
Kim put the radio back in his belt and told Daniel, “There’s one thing you should know. Our boss is unusual.”
“What do you mean?”
“You’ll see,” Estes told him. “Don’t worry about it.”
Daniel tried to keep an eye on the duo as Kim went to the mini fridge and Estes headed toward the table between the beds. Kim retrieved three bottles of cold water while Estes brought over the plate of cookies and set them on the foot of the bed. They began eating and drinking and motioned for Daniel to do the same. Upon seeing them eat and drink the provided food and water with no hesitation and seemingly no ill effects, he reluctantly did the same. The gulps of water on an empty stomach caused pangs of pain. After eating a cookie the pain subsided and he continued his meal.
Suddenly Daniel realized something. “My stuff! Where’s my-” Estes pointed out a satchel underneath the bed. Daniel dug through it, found a picture, and hugged it close to his breast, struggling not to cry from the emotion as Estes and Kim gazed in confusion and surprise.
True to his word, the boss entered the clinic shortly after Daniel’s repast. Daniel gulped, and for a minute all he could do was stare with wide eyes. The boss wore a dark blue hat and trench coat, and underneath the coat was some kind of silvery-blue chain mail. What was unsettling was his head and form. The boss was half-man, half-iguana, and on top of that his skin was light blue. A row of white spikes ran down his head and along the tail Daniel could see poking from the bottom of the coat. His legs bent backward at a curved angle, and each of his hands and toes was clawed.
The iguana man addressed Daniel. “Hello. I am Gerard Ripley.”
Daniel stammered, “You…You’re the one who has that gang, Basilisk!”
Ripley gave a proud grin and tipped his hat. “That’s me.”
Daniel remembered that Basilisk was notable for having members with supernatural powers, and once again he wondered what sort of powers Kim and Estes possessed.
His thoughts were interrupted by Ripley noting, “It looks like you’re in good shape.”
“What do you know about it!?” demanded Daniel.
“Not as much as you might be assuming,” Ripley told him. “I don’t know who is responsible for the experiment performed on you, but I found out about your case, and so I decided to rescue you.”
Daniel looked at him warily. “What do you get out of it?”
“The primary thing is that I was able to rescue someone, possibly save a life. However, I will admit that I’d like it if you decided to join Basilisk.”
“What if I don’t?”
“Then, like I said, at least I performed a good work in rescuing you.” He pointed out the doors in turn. “The double doors lead to the balcony. We’re on the second floor. The door over there leads to the clinic bathroom. The door I came through leads to the stairway. The door opposite the double doors opens to a corridor leading to the elevator, though if you turn the corner you’ll also come to the stairway.”
Daniel observed the iguana man for a moment, then without another word he grabbed his satchel. Moving quickly and warily, he left through the last door Ripley had pointed out. As he turned the corner, he expected someone to come through the other door and stop him, but no one did. He descended the staircase, expecting to hear, but never hearing, someone in pursuit. He came to the first floor and stared down a long corridor which was devoid except for a few pieces of furniture. At the far end was a window and a set of double doors with a decorated shield hanging over them. There were doorways and open doors all the way down the corridor, but all the rooms were dark. He noticed that there was a doorway situated in the stairwell. He cautiously opened it, propped it open in case it was a trick and he needed to retreat, and exited the building. Outside he found surprisingly well-kept grounds, including a garden, a small pond, a gazebo, and some trees. Surrounding the property was a short fence consisting of seven layers of bricks. It would be easy to scale it and leave. He took a couple steps forward, but something stopped him. He stood there in thought for several moments before turning and re-entering the building.
When he returned to the clinic, he found the trio still there. They didn’t seem a bit agitated by his departure, nor did they seem surprised by his return. Ripley smiled. “Whether or not you decide to join, you’ve made the right decision by staying. We hope to make your stay a beneficial one.”
Since this is my story, my drawing is staying where it is. However, you artists out there are free to submit your own renditions of Gerard Ripley (alias Dart Tongue, The Dragon, and The Blue Terror) in this section.
Written by Raidra