[video=youtube;VDj67VZnbUw]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDj67VZnbUw&feature=related[/video] Outside of a mangled, half-way demolished brownstone 4: 35 AM, Chicago, IL Two lab technicians in somewhat scruffy-looking white coats walked out of a shabby-looking warehouse into the dusty gray rubble that was strewn about the ground. A large mangled USA flag was torn to bits nearby, the pieces trampled and dirty, the flagpole probably somewhere nearby- if it hadn't been scrapped for parts to make into some sort of weapon for self-defense in this dystopian life. A small scrap of the tattered flag moved slightly in a small gust of a breeze; and what used to be blue, with one corner of a star, whirled around gently and slowly in the dusty air, and as it landed, the two technicians heard quarreling. Almost as if on cue, a large group seemed to come into the area, two people within the mass of bodies having some sort of an issue. Which wouldn't be that big of a deal if they weren't all on the same side. Sadly, they were. They were like a pack of rabid wolves, which had become so disillusioned, that they would rather fight with one another than face the quiet wind in this forsaken world. Most of them were shamelessly addicted to one substance or another during relaxation. It wasn't uncommon for one of them to pass on due to an overdose of any drug or on an excess of drinking. If not for their leaders, or the so-called "Pack Mentality", they would be nothing more than greedy, selfish, barbaric men and women, vying for a chance at a better life. One of the lab techs moved to try and calm the two, but was held back by the other technician in a silent form of communication. It would do no good to try and stop them, the act wouldn't be even close to appreciated. This wasn’t a simple tiff, this was trying to prove dominance. This was how insanity was staved off but bred at the same time. The two participants of the argument glared at each other, both equally scruffy-looking from a lack of decent-looking clothing, They circled each other, one taking a large shard of glass out of his pocket, a piece of cloth had been carefully wound around it so that it would not cut him while he held it. A make-shift weapon. The look on his face was of pure anger and irritation, obviously this argument had been going on for quite some time, but the technicians were witnessing the argument escalate to a physical, violent level. A glimpse into it was soon revealed. "How do we know if we actually have the Artifact?! Why the hell did we trust the ruskies?! Who's to say that little "Interpreter" isn't just some scheme to- "Scheme to WHAT? Last time I checked, we aren't exactly a force to be reckoned with! Why the hell would they waste their time trying to wipe out a group like us?! Don't think we're so high and mighty, got that? We're just the lucky group who's so low under the radar, Russia didn't mind handing her over to us. It's not like it's even going to work.... I think this warfare has gone on too far to be saved." The second pugnacious person snarled. He pulled on some tattered gloves and launched himself at the other. Obviously he was planning to use nothing else but his own body to defend and attack with. One of the lab techs ran back into the warehouse, the flicker of his coat tailing behind him was out of view soon. Meanwhile, the two bodies had collided. Within moments, the shard of glass was flung against a crumbling, half-demolished wall, and the gloved opponent had the other in a blood choke. The other members of the mass finally moved, pulling them apart, spurred into action right as another man came back with the lab tech, his clothing was much cleaner, and it was well-decorated, and was easily identified as a military outfit. Upon seeing him, peace returned to the group. He was obviously their superior. The reasoning was simple. He had a way of talking, and leading others, he had gained trust and support. His nickname, however, seemed contradictory to his goals. Bloodlust. He wore a pair of cracked, dirt-specked shades, and they clashed with his otherwise pristine outfit. "Is there a reason why this group can't get along to save your own skins? We HAVE the Artifact, and we have a job. We need to search out three families. If we do this correctly, there will be peace." The man stated, using grandiose gestures on the word "peace", it wasn’t something he believed in anymore as a solid idea, but the concept still…. It was the last hope for the hard working survivors who looked up to him as their leader, they all needed something to believe in. Even if it was near impossible. Even if it WAS impossible. But yet…. Obviously this was a thought that was somewhat hard to masticate after decades of this lifestyle, where rules had boiled down, simply to "Every man for himself". The concept of peace was considered while their superior continued. "Now, I know everyone's weary, but there is one subject we have to go over before I allow you to get back to your.... little skirmish.... The fact is, we need to find a mate for the Artifact due to some things that have transpired...We're trying to find out more information now....." The man’s voice drew everyone to attention, and he tried to inspire them to act like a team for more than a few moments…. **************************** 6:21 AM Chicago, IL Within the shabby warehouse/brownstone The Russian was asleep next to the Artifact's box when something softly knocked around inside of it, and he jolted awake in an instant, moving quickly to let the woman out. Her pale body weakly wrapped its frail-looking arms around the Russian, and her head lolled against his shoulder and he slowly and gently scooped her slender body into his arms, easily, as if she weighed nothing at all. She murmured something to him and he replied back, kissing her forehead, then he turned to the few lab techs still in the room and asked them for some food for the woman, referring to her as Celia. One of them left while the woman gestured back to the odd pool of water and the man gently sat her down at the edge, her legs submerged in the water. She kicked her legs in the liquid, almost absentmindedly, but noticeably weak. She wore a bright, inspiring smile that seemed to lighten the mood in the room for a moment, before becoming quickly dismissed and unnoticed. One of the other techs finally asked the Russian his name, to which, he replied with "Sergey Olik Alexandrov" in a monotone, emotionless voice. He then turned and spoke more in that odd base language, to which the woman seemed to brighten up, smiling more before wrapping her arms around the Russian. She started chittering off more in the language, her eyes bright and unclouded. Happiness seemed to be something she wasn’t low on. It was an addictive sight. You’d want to watch her smile and grin for as long as anyone could possibly stand. "What did you just tell her?" One of the other techs asked curiously and Sergey smiled slightly, a sight rarely seen. "I told her about our family." The translator explained quietly while the techs stared at him blankly. He continued. "I'm one of her descendants. My mother's great great grandfather was one of her mates..... She is family to me..... I was telling her about my younger brother.... His wife just had a child a small time ago..." Sergey murmured quietly while the Artifact rested her head on his shoulder, smiling widely. "How old IS she?" Another tech asked and the translator shook his head, obviously unwilling to share the information, or unsure about it. "What is her name?" The Russian looked up at the tech that asked the question and chuckled. "She forgot it.... but she likes the name Celia.... She is getting hungry and requires food..." Sergey shrugged slightly, the small traces of a the smile from before were now quickly leaving his face, and he resumed a more serious, business-like façade. As if on cue, the tech that had left, returned moments later with a tray of what seemed to be a meager meal along with the nicest, cleanest silverware they could find, and sadly, that too was a far cry from what used to be considered by those adjectives. "We don't have all that much...rations are getting smaller each day.... we're trying to get more... but for right now, this is all we can give you." The tech stated quietly, an undertone of fear and shame in his voice. Honestly, they didn’t know how long it would be until more food was available. Trying to grow their food was near impossible in this day and age. And catching something sometimes proved to be too much work for to small of a meal. He set the platter down near the Artifact, who immediately began shoveling as much food into her mouth as she could, without using any of the silverware presented to her, instead, scooping up what she wanted in her hands. The Russian stopped her and began to show her how to use the implements. The tech that looked on grew irritated from this display, obviously angry, the other techs looked on for a moment, then continued their work. "You're kidding right? Our “savior” is so fucking old, she doesn't know how to use a- "She has forgotten, also, she is also very hungry." The Russian stated, a hint of anger edging his voice, it was evident that it wouldn't be a good idea to irk him anymore, the others looked up again, one left quietly. The Artifact looked on as Sergey stared at the other man. "We are so fucked." The same tech spat before moving to leave the lab, the woman, seeming to understand, lowered her gaze, frowning a little, saddened, Sergey put a hand on the woman’s shoulder, comforting her slightly before rising to his feet, moving towards the man. "If you hadn't taken some of her blood, you wouldn't have such a problem." Sergey spat quietly as the lab tech stopped, turning slightly and then looked at the Russian interpreter over his shoulder, a frozen look of indifference on his face. "So let me get this straight, we're screwed unless we find her the right mate.... and that's to make up for taking her blood?" The Russian nodded two times seriously and the tech sighed and continued on his way out after turning away. “Honestly, man, we’ve been searching, no one’s owned up to taking her blood. How does she know that it’s us? Couldn’t it have been one of your-….” The man trailed off as the Russian suddenly was right before him, looking him in the eyes, looking as if rage was a big possibility at the moment before the Artifact waved her arms, hooted, and hollered, burling off in that odd tongue, speaking rapidly. He quickly calmed and looked at the small frail-looking woman who paused in her actions to give a small, innocent, unsure smile to him, obviously in some show of reassurance before he glanced at the technician. His face retracted some of the anger it once held, but remained extremely serious. “My family has guarded her since we came into possession of her during her slumber. We’ve taken it very seriously. If anyone so much as tried to get a glance at her, they were dead in the next moment. I apologize, but that’s much more to show than the displays I’ve seen since I’ve arrived here with her. I’ve seen nothing in your little… group… other than internal disputes, hassled scientists and most likely, everyone in this area has no idea how important that woman is. Honestly, it puzzles me as to why my family handed her over to you…” His voice was cold, detached as he sauntered back over to the pool and wrapped an arm around the Artifact as she smiled and pointed to the pool, which the interpreter nodded slightly and lowered her back into the water, watching for a moment as she floated around on the surface before submerging completely, she swam under the surface for some time, undulating, twirling, spinning, turning, soaring through the liquid. The Russian watched with a smile while the technician shook his head, seeing this as an argument he would never gain any ground on, and left while questioning why her blood was so important. ************* "Have you found where those three families are, yet?" Bloodlust snapped at a solitary technician, away from all of the rest of the hubbub in the area. The technician looked tired, as if he was going to fall asleep at the first chance. Bloodlust, on the other hand, was in a rare bad mood. There had been no progress with this damned search for many hours now, and they didn’t have much time left. "The first family, most of the current generation of male members are currently living in their birthplace, so they'd be all easy to find.... The Yakinata's are nearby the northern remains of Kyoto.... The Cegne's have actually moved from Oregon, They've been tracked to the border of Canada, northern Washington.... And the Brownsmith's are still in Australia we think....There’s been some pretty bad rumors going on about two kids with that last name… but we're having a hard time figuring out where they are beyond that.... We just got done finding the Cegne's.... I'll know more about the Brownsmith's in six hours..... There's nothing else I can do. This computer is trying it's hardest, and at most, the progress is going to be slow, given how everything is so spread out. You're just lucky that before the world went ENTIRELY to shit, that we all started getting micro-chipped." The tech snapped, Bloodlust, at his shoulder, glared at him threateningly. "I still think that's a violation of human rights, but if it saves our asses..." He grumbled. The tech gave a weak smile in return, nodding as Bloodlust motioned for him to continue. "If you send a group up to Kyoto and to Washington, I'll be able to give you enough info once you've tracked down those areas.... I'd suggest just analyzing the males, try to get some more information out of that ruskie. He might give you some.... less vague criteria..." The technician sighed and then moved out of his chair, rubbing at his eyes, suppressing a yawn. "The computer's still running and I'd prefer if no one came near this room while it's analyzing the rest of the info.... I need a nap.... if you need help, contact Michael, he's the only other person that I even come close to trusting with this equipment... I’m sorry, Stanen, this is the best we can do right now…." The tech informed Bloodlust, referring to him by first name before opening the door and led the other man out before separating to go take the a fore mentioned nap. Bloodlust, meanwhile turned back around for a moment, and peeked back into the room and took one long look at the computer screen before finally leaving again. There was one question that he still wondered. Who had stolen the blood? Bloodlust walked back along the hallways, the lights that lit that particular area constantly flickered as he looked into the room that held their hope. He watched as the Artifact smiled as she swam around in the pool, building her strength back up while she talked to the Russian. He then nodded slightly and moved on, planning to talk to him and a few others today. Later he’d have to contact that group in Russia and assure them that the Artifact was not harmed during shipping and thank them. Hopefully he wouldn’t have to include the fact that apparently someone took some of her blood and that they were being blamed for it. Or that he’d have to exhaust many resources to merely look for these people that had been mentioned. This was their chance… and it very well could be their last…. They had to make this count.