ToKyotchi Chapter 52

The Cell

Che’s head was swimming as opened his eyes, just making out the stark white walls of his holding cell. His surroundings were now as cold and unyielding as the future he was now anticipating.
Everything around him was illuminated by harsh LED lighting embedded in the ceiling, casting an unforgiving glow that highlighted the sterile cleanliness of the space. The walls were composed of sleek, seamless metal which emanated an eerie hum, suggestive of the advanced technology hidden beneath.
A solitary cot and a stark, transparent partition for sanitation needs made up the sparse furnishings. The traditional cell block bars were instead replaced with a disconcerting, shimmering energy field at the cell entrance, its faint hum a subtle warning of its presence.
Che peered beyond the energy field, able to make out a long corridor that extended far into the distance, a seemingly never-ending passage of reinforced steel doors punctuating its length. By his estimate, even if he managed to escape his cell, he’d only be able to flee down the corridor for a short while before being cornered.
Che groaned, flexing his right hand as he tried to bring it up to his face only to find it halted by some sort of constraint. His eyes fully snapped open as he realized he had been cuffed using metal restraints. He tugged against them, futilely trying to break free from his captivity until the familiar sound of a sliding door alerted him to someone’s presence.
A figure glided toward him, their features obscured by the energy field. As they got closer to the cell, Che realized it was none other than Professor Avis, her usual icy demeanor now mixed with contempt.
“You’re awake,” she spoke in a low, controlled tone. “Good.”
“You!” Che snarled as he attempted to jump at her, trying desperately in vain to free himself. “You! Where is Lorenzo? The tanks! The bodies! What did you do with them?”
The professor’s expression remained stoic and emotionless as she surveyed Che. “I don’t know what you think you saw, but our research is strictly for the benefit of science and humanity. And you had no business being at the Marbot Research Facility.”
“Lies!” Che spat. “You’re a monster!”
The professor shook her head before sighing heavily. “I have no idea how you came to that conclusion. After all, it appears that you’re part of the reason for the recent attacks. Isn’t that right?”
Che felt an unwelcome wave of nausea wash over him as he considered the professor’s words. She wasn’t entirely wrong, but there was no way she didn’t have anything to do with what was happening.
“I knew something was off when you kept asking about the restricted area before classes had even started,” Professor Avis continued. “That man who’s been trying to attack the headmaster. Not only do you know who he is, you’re the reason he’s here in the first place. Do you deny it?”
Che hung his head and remained silent, the truth of her words weighing heavily on him. He had no choice but to accept his role in the growing spiderweb of events.
The professor, seemingly satisfied with his silence, nodded, her expression softened by a slight hint of sympathy. “Perhaps, then, you can understand my position. You are complicit in all of this.”
“How long have you known?” Che asked, his voice suddenly small and scared.
“Long enough,” the professor responded. “But I can assure you that I am not here to punish you today. I came here for answers.”
“Answers,” Che scoffed. “I can’t even get real answers from you, and you’re probably lying anyway.”
Professor Avis sighed. “Then let’s promise to be honest with each other starting now.”
“Just tell me!” Che shouted as he yanked against the metal restraints, his desperation for escape growing by the moment. “What are you going to do with the remaining students? What does Yokan want with them?”
The professor kept her gaze steady, her face unreadable as she spoke. “That’s what I came to ask you.”
“You! The lab in the restricted area!” Che exclaimed, his voice trembling as he spoke. “You were the one behind the disappearances! You! The faculty! The headmaster himself! You’re probably all behind it!”
The professor stepped closer to the energy barrier, her dark eyes meeting his own. “You make such sweeping accusations when it was you who so craftily planned to sneak into the restricted area with the help of a student…”
“And what about you?” Che asked, eyes wide as he leaned forward. “I wasn’t the only one planning something, was I?
The Professor gave a slow nod, her expression unreadable. “Yes, you’re correct. Your trip to the Marbot Research Facility was a trap, one that you seemed to knowingly walk right into.”
Che felt a deep chill run through him as he finally understood what was happening. He had been set up by someone who wanted to use the students for their own ends, and now it seemed that Professor Avis had something sinister in mind.
His mind flashed to room M-10 and the bodies falling out of the tanks as he smashed them one by one. It was as if someone had possessed him, making him do something he would never have done in any other circumstance. He could still feel the acrid, green water that splashed up on his face as the professor entered the room.
“Experiments…” Che muttered darkly. “I saw people as young as six months old in those tanks…How could you?”
Che yanked at his constraints once more, desperation and rage filling him. He could feel his heart pounding in his chest as he stared at the professor, a silent plea for answers emanating from his eyes.
“That’s where…that’s where all the missing students went, isn’t it?” Che whispered hoarsely, his voice choked with emotion. “And Lorenzo, Vista, Reagan…there’s no way they’d agree to work with someone like that on their own. You manipulated them!”
In one swift motion, Professor Avis entered a code into the side console, deactivated the energy field, and slowly stepped inside the cell, small yellow orbs of light blinking in and out of sight all around her.
“I believe that’s quite enough,” her voice held an underlying tone of menace. “You are in no position to hurl accusations at anyone. You have been impersonating a deceased student, and I have proof that you tried to recruit others to help you fulfill a mission that involved you sneaking into a restricted area.”
She crossed the room so quickly that Che almost didn’t see her move. He could feel the weight of her gaze as she glared at him, and he was suddenly struck by a sense of dread. One wrong move, and he knew she’d electrocute him on the spot. He shuddered as he desperately tried to figure out a way to make it out of the situation alive.
“Now, what is that mission?” Professor Avis continued. The question hung in the air, her words echoing off the walls of the cold room.
“What did you inject me with in room M-10?” Che snarled. “Why couldn’t I control my body?”
The professor’s eyes narrowed as the yellow orbs crackled with electricity. Che clenched his fists and closed his eyes, desperation coursing through him as he considered the consequences of refusing Professor Avis’ demands. He knew he had no choice but to tell her what she wanted to know. With a sigh, he opened his eyes and forced himself to look at her.
“I’m here to stop a man named Yokan,” Che’s voice was barely more than a whisper. “And to protect people from whatever he’s planning.”
“Yokan…” Professor Avis said slowly, her voice laced with a dangerous sort of curiosity. “Is the man who flew down from the sky at the student assembly and who attacked you the other night?”
Che nodded. “And he’s going to hurt even more people if I don’t stop him. He wanted me to come here and find him, and I had to play along until I knew where he was. I’ve been trying to prevent him from going on a rampage at my expense.”
“At your expense?” Professor Avis scoffed, her tone incredulous. “Look around you! Students have been vanishing left and right, We’ve had two major attempts on the headmaster’s life, and now classes are concluding 4 weeks early. You’ve accomplished nothing!”
Che shook his head. “I’m not done yet. Yokan still needs to be stopped.”
The professor opened her mouth to speak but was stopped by some commotion behind her at the end of the narrow corridor. Footsteps echoed in the distance as a guard approached. He stopped just behind Professor Avis and spoke in a low voice.
“Professor,” he said. “A word from the headmaster. He’s received a message.”
“I’m busy,” Professor Avis snapped without turning to face him.
“It’s the royal palace,” the guard insisted, gesturing for her to follow him. The professor’s expression softened ever so slightly before she finally nodded.
“Very well,” she replied, her tone still icy but her face now visibly troubled. However, as the guard turned to make his way down the corridor her expression changed again, her lips twitching into a small smirk before she glanced back at Che.
“Well, I must say this has been moderately entertaining,” Professor Avis shrugged, “but now that the royal family is involved there won’t be any need for this act of mine. Don’t you agree?”
Che’s heart was pounding in his chest as he soaked in what she was saying. She was involved after all. She’d been grilling him for information about Yokan, but it was all a game. He’d been played, and now she’d gotten exactly what she wanted.
What did the royal family have to do with her, Yokan, and whatever they were planning? Che didn’t have time to dwell on it for long; she was already walking away, taking a moment to pause as she called behind her.
“You won’t stop Yokan, and you certainly won’t stop me.”