Two months have passed since Draego’s funeral. Cyrilla has elected to stay in the Echor base for a time for a couple of reasons. She realized after her brief exchange with Castel and after she saw all of the base’s members gathered together that she had become a little disconnected. She was so focused on traveling around and learning more about the wilderness that she hadn’t been introduced to several of the uprising’s new members. This is a feeling that amplified after Draego’s death but she wants to be a reliable figure among the recruits. An inspiring person suited to being the base’s sole runner. Given her research, she already had a reputation that preceded her and she wants to fulfil expectations.
The other reason she has chosen to stay is to act as Adrium’s primary parent and learn more about her. Cyrilla assumed from the start that Adrium might need a special environment in line with most reptiles in order to properly grow but she was naive to ever think it would be that simple. Adrium is a mythical creature, the logical procedure for wildlife is inapplicable.
The members of R.U.N.N. are not currently looking at her like a two-month-old child. Adrium can already speak full sentences easily and has the form of a five-year-old. Her growth has been rapid, stressful for Cyrilla to attempt to keep up with. The day of uprising has been delayed on account of this, its spearhead being made to focus on this unexpected priority.
Since her first words, Adrium has been a constant well of wonder and questions. She’s always trying to watch people’s expressions and body language to determine what they mean and what they tell about said individuals. A parallel of Shiva in that regard, in fact the strategist has become like a second mother to the child. Shiva has always given off an air of harshness to new recruits, pushing them until they show their shortcomings, yet has taken to a carer role quite well. She has maintained a level head throughout Adrium’s growth, in fact it excites her since it means she may soon have an official junior for her role.
Although, that is a future that may not come to pass dependent on the result of the now. Today, Adrium is seeing two expressions in a purity she has never previously experienced. Up until now, the people around her have worn faces of concern or uncertainty, their true thoughts hidden in a veil. Even Cyrilla and Shiva, the two closest to Adrium, hold things back from her. Today, though, there are no masks.
First, she sees an anger driven by acidic madness worn on the face of the base’s chef, Guill. Guill has always been an eccentric woman, there is a reason why Anna didn’t want Cyrilla to meet her when she first joined. While Alan gets priority on slain creatures for the sake of drawing their magic, Guill is the one who gets the remains. She creates her tools of monster’s bones and intimidating meals of their flesh. She’s always keen to get her hands on new types of monsters to sample their meat, whether they should be eaten or not. It’s a miracle her body has survived everything she has put into it and a wonder how everything she serves is both edible and quite good.
The reason for Guill’s hateful aggression towards Adrium is drawn from no fault of the mythical child. Guill’s body may have survived the years but her mind has become that of a monster’s. She practically becomes feral when it comes to her work, others in the base rarely go into her kitchen while she cooks in fear of being hunted themselves. Like a beast in a cage that is willing to share its scraps with the ones who provide the resources. When Guill became aware of Adrium, her bestial sense was awakened.
The words that dribble from slobbering mouth now, the first time Guill has actually laid eyes on Adrium, are; “You’re a delicacy I must have.” It matters not to Guill that Adrium has a humanoid form, only that she is a creature of the wilderness. Her body must certainly have a luscious taste to match her mythical origin.
Shiva is the one who currently stands between Guill and Adrium. Cyrilla has been sent out on a scouting mission to keep her senses sharp, something Anna has been enforcing for a couple of weeks now. Guill is a titan, nearly as large as Garv, and is physically the strongest member of the base apart from Cyrilla. With her out of the way, no one could hold back Guill as she emerged from her kitchen and stormed into the front room where the current stand-off takes place.
“Stand down, Guill. You can check what I have marked down as food reserves but Adrium isn’t there. She’s a member of R.U.N.N., just like the rest of us,” Shiva states with confident stance.
“For how long? She could grow into a monster just like any other. You shouldn’t get attached to livestock,” Guill steps up as her aggravation grows.
“In such a case Cyrilla would be held responsible, not you. I’ll also remind you that you’re weaker than her, in case you’ve added forgetfulness to your menagerie of shortcomings?”
Guill snaps. “You will not call me weak. I will fight her later, right now I’m hungry.”
With that statement, Guill takes one of her large hands and tries to shove Shiva to the side. Shiva is able to stand her ground until Guill draws a bone-carved knife from her right side and stabs it into Shiva’s arm. Shiva recoils from the pain and loses her footing, allowing Guill to push her flat onto the wall.
Nothing stands between Guill and Adrium, but what the chef sees is not what she expects. Adrium’s face displays no fear or confusion, it is a reflection. Adrium is angry, she wants to kill Guill as much as Guill wants to kill her. The same hungry saliva leaks from her mouth, the same feral look in her eyes.
“See? She is a beast, it is better to make her into meat now,” Guill taunts Shiva, who she still has pinned.
This time, it is Adrium who takes a step up. She has grown fast but is still not of a size even remotely comparable to Guill. She doesn’t even reach the chef’s waist and yet she displays the same fearlessness as Shiva.
“You serve yourself up? Good,” Guill hisses as she raises her knife.
Adrium does not flinch as the blade comes falling from above. Before it can even reach her, she takes another step forward and grips Guill’s belly. She has no claws and yet her fingers tear through muscled flesh effortlessly. The swing of the knife arcs behind her and Guill attempts to change course to stab Adrium in the back. Adrium pivots in place, grabbing Guill’s arm and gripping it tightly. The immense strength of the child sends a paralyzing shock through the limb, stopping it completely. There is no contest in this game of strength as Adrium bites into the arm and begins to tear flesh from bone. Intestines push their way out of Guill’s wounded stomach and she topples to her knees. Neck in reach, Adrium makes another imperceivably fast swipe to deal a killing blow.
Blood pours over Adrium like a shower of red. Guill’s left arm goes limp and Shiva finally shoves it aside to see this scene in its entirety. She looks to the doorway to Anna’s room, several others including the boss herself are watching in confusion as to what just happened. They don’t even realize that Guill is dead yet. In the following silence there is no sound of struggle. Just the squelching of teeth chewing through raw human flesh. Shiva catches a glimpse of Adrium hungrily devouring the organs that dropped from Guill’s belly.
“Adrium?” she attempts to break the trance that appears to have befallen the child. Adrium appears to take no notice. Shiva raises her arm with the intent of gripping Adrium’s shoulder but the atmosphere surrounding Adrium is not that of an innocent child. It’s akin to that of a wild beast who could lash out and Shiva just saw what happened to Guill.
Pushing back the fear, Shiva carefully makes contact with the child. When she does, Adrium stops eating and turns to her. Shiva can’t mask a face of horror when she sees blood and viscera on the face and teeth of a child. The image is somehow made worse by the fact that Adrium’s expression isn’t that of an aggressive beast. She looks horrified as well.
“Did I do something wrong?”