Cyrilla pulls the baby out from the egg, revealing an amalgam between human and reptile. The baby’s skin is a light-blue and covered in scales. Her eyes gold and with emerging strands of light-green hair. The baby meets eyes with Cyrilla but makes not a sound. She doesn’t cry or giggle, instead she reflects Cyrilla’s look of confusion and intrigue. A face of such inquisitive complexity that one would not expect of a newborn. This child exudes an unnerving intelligence but, even more so, a great magical power. Cyrilla felt it the moment she made contact with Adrium. The tingle of magic throughout her entire body, causing her tattoos to lightly glow.
Selfish thoughts creep into Cyrilla’s mind. She knows that Adrium is an entity of the wilderness, a creature just like any other. It would be inhumane to take her from her habitat and her true mother. Yet, those thoughts are clouded by a curiosity justified by baseless theory. If Adrium looks like a human child then perhaps she can be raised like one. She could grow into a woman capable of leading R.U.N.N. to a certain victory come the uprising. The chance to watch that growth in itself is enough to tempt Cyrilla. She finally has a mythical being in her hands, after such a difficult journey. Cyrilla can’t bring herself to let Adrium go.
The runner clutches Draego’s skin flap in her hand and touches it to Adrium’s form. In a moment, the tattoo upon it lights up, allowing Cyrilla to activate the teleport. With the spell being fuelled by Adrium’s magical body, Cyrilla makes the jump all the way back to Echor with the baby still in her arms. The wide-open field of wilderness replaced with the familiar sight of worn soil and decayed buildings. The base is in sight, Cyrilla is home.
Clover is currently on the lookout rotation. He sees Cyrilla appear with a light-blue baby and a flap of skin in her hands. He makes no gestures this time, nor does he have the words to ask what happened. Cyrilla enters the base and there sits Shiva. She only hears one person’s footsteps. She looks before she speaks and sees that there’s no need to ask what was gained. Moreover, she’s too afraid to ask what was lost.
The silent path comes to its end as Cyrilla enters the next room. Garv, Alan and Anna are sat at their desks as they so often are.
“Cyrilla!” Garv’s mouth does not hesitate to open wide. His eyes follow suit when they see Adrium in Cyrilla’s clutch. “A baby?!” he suddenly raises to a stand. “You never told us anything about this! You’ve been running around all this time and in the meanwhile- don’t tell me Draego is the father? I swear, if that old dog laid his hands on you-”
Anna, having risen from her own seat, places a hand on Garv’s shoulder. Though she has to stretch up to do so, the weight of her grip makes the man feel half her size. Garv sits back down and Anna moves forward.
“What happened?” she asks, plain and simple. Anna isn’t imperceptive, nor is Cyrilla making any attempt to hide all that remains of Draego. Anna’s face is steeled, though the worst is inevitable.
The words get caught in Cyrilla’s throat and tears well as she knows what she has to admit. What she must put into words and thus make real again. “We… didn’t find a city. Where we should have found it there was an odd section of wilderness and… and we decided to scout it out. It was a swamp, everything was turquoise, we found creatures nothing like anything else we’d ever seen and… he died. Draego died because I was too dumb and selfish to say we should stop and head back…” Cyrilla falls to her knees as her sobbing intensifies. Her words become more slurred and dificult to make out. “I wanted to know! I couldn’t stop myself from wanting to know and I got him killed and-”
Before she can continue to berate herself, Anna tightly grabs Cyrilla’s arms and raises her back to her feet. Anna’s eyes are masked with a layer of repressed tears but they remain stern. “Don’t you dare blame yourself. You didn’t order or guide him, he chose to go just like you did. He had more experience, he should have known better, so don’t make him the reason why you lose your resolve,” she lectures. Tears begin to escape but she doesn’t falter. “The Cyrilla he brought back then would never be put down like this. She would have returned with resolve in her eyes and told of how a hero had fallen. You aren’t the kind of person who would disrespect his memory by pretending you should have made his decisions for him. So, stand and look to the future like he would have wanted you to!”
Cyrilla is stunned. The quivering of her mouth stops and she nods in acknowledgement. Adrium, confused, looks between the two women with a golden stare. Anna breaks her lock on Cyrilla to take in Adrium’s existence for a moment. Just as Cyrilla did, she sees the decidedly un-childlike discern in the baby’s face.
“I… suppose that story can wait,” Anna concludes as her focus turns to the skin flap. “Is that all that’s left of him?”
Cyrilla responds; “The rest of him was… eaten… in his final moments he gave me this. His teleportation tattoo, it’s what got me and Adrium out of there.”
“Selfless to the end… I’m surprised to hear there’s a creature out there that could stomach him,” Anna jests, letting a solemn smile return to her face. “I’ll gather everyone up. We’ll give a send-off to the part of him that’s left. He deserves that much.”
Cyrilla nods in agreement and hands Anna the skin flap.
“You get some rest in the meanwhile. You clearly haven’t fully recovered yet and… I know how hard it is. Just remember that the last thing he’d want is for you to wallow over him, alright?”
“Yeah…” Cyrilla agrees as she heads towards her room. The pain still throbs but it will heal in time. A life was lost and yet another was gained. There is still a future to be hopeful for- a future named Adrium.