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In Bloom

The group moved through the eternal dark of the Under works. Beetle-like they scurried beneath the enormous service pipes relying on the dim red lights of their torches to avoid the vast chasms that dropped away into the depths below.

Four of the five were hunched and secretive, well practised in the art of moving around in the bowels of the city. The fifth stumbled amongst them glancing around in panic at every unexpected sound and tripping and fumbling over every obstacle. Unlike the others who wore dark clothes and masks he wore a grey lab coat and a pair of stylish spectacles that did nothing to hide his face.

He clutched a small silver canister to his chest with a white knuckled grip. A small digital display on the outside of the canister projected the logo of She'Ying Holdings. A sharp outcrop of stone caught his foot and he went down hard twisting his ankle. As quick as he fell, hands reached out and grasped his arms and torso and he was dragged back to his feet and urged onward at a painful shuffling pace.

"Be more careful Doctor." a gruff male voice hissed from his right and he gave a brief nod in reply.

They soon came to a low platform with steps leading up to an automated rail system. Two of the dark clad figures moved forward and set to work on a nearby control panel. There was a bright spark of electric discharge as one of them did "something" to the circuitry within.

The Doctor peered over as the two worked noticing a absence of tools or any attempt what so ever to touch the machine they were studying. So at least two of them were of the Chosen. He itched to ask questions but he knew that now was not the time. These people were all business, not the light headed idealists he was used to debating with in the deep grid chat rooms. This was serious business.

His other two companions stood flanking him and he noted that they watched him like a hawk. He supposed they did not trust him, but he had been called by Logos himself. He was the key! the herald of the machine. He clutched his canister tightly as he assured himself of his worth to the machine, but could not shake the fear that was rising within him. In the distance he could see the bright lights of Sojo and wanted nothing more than to run, to reach the relative safety of...

"Get ready." one of the men whispered breaking his train of thought. The distant hum of an approaching rail cart grew louder and more insistent and the men drew back slightly into the shadows as it approached. One of the Chosen raised his hand towards the cart and with a sudden screech it came to a halt at the maintenance station.

"3, 2, 1... go go go." as they all clambered aboard the cart a distant explosion lit up Sojo and then they were moving. The Doctor looked back at the burning town, a distraction to keep the corps looking in the opposite direction while they made their way to the true target. The Encorp SRS water filtration plant.

Sealed within the cart they waited for what seemed like forever as the machine brought them ever closer. He looked down at the canister and smiled.

"What's in there Doc?" asked one of the Chosen, a boy in his late teens. He studied the boy for a moment wondering what it must be like to have all of that power, to be able to touch the machine with his mind,

"Ah, a red Orchid, rufus draco or Dragon."

"A flower?" the kid exclaimed incredulous. The others were looking over now as well with confused frowns.

"N..not just a flower." exclaimed the Doctor. "A m..miracle of nature frozen in time."

"What will it do?" asked the kid.

"Nature is a whore kid, its going to fuck us all." the Doctor turned at the sound of the other mans voice, the one who had caught him when he fell outside. He noticed for the first time the shocks of red hair that poked from behind the mans mask.

The cart came to a sudden stop and the two Chosen went to work making sure they were safe to exit. After a moment there came a soft hiss as the exit slid open and they all filed out onto a wide platform at the mouth of a wide dark tunnel.

"This will lead us to the City reservoir" explained the red head, "The kid and I will escort the doctor, you two stay here and watch our backs."

Leaving two of their companions behind the went on into the tunnel moving at pace now. The entire city was on high alert and it was only a matter of time before someone somewhere spotted them. So far so good. The end of the tunnel was looming now, they were nearly there.

"Shit get down." spat red as two figures stepped into the light ahead. "Private security."

"W..what should we do? Sh..ould we go back?" the Doctor asked as red shared a look with the kid.

"I will take care of this." he said at last and began to creep forward through the darkness.

"What is he doing?" the Doctor hissed and paused as he saw the kid had his eyes closed and a small stream of blood was trickling down from his nose. There was a scuffle in the tunnel ahead, a sharp cry but no gun fire. The Doctor trembled with fear and made to dart back the way they had come. The kids arm whipped out and grabbed his own.

"No." he said firmly and there was something in his eyes that made the Doctor slump back to the ground.

"I am sorry... I.." he fumbled for the words but the kid just stood and gave him and understanding smile.

"It's safe now lets go."

They made their way to the scene of the fight where they found two dead guards and their own companion lying in a spreading pool of blood a dagger protruding from his chest. His mask had been torn free releasing a wild bush of flame red hair. The kid knelt and clutched the dagger pulling it free with a sickening sound that brought bile to the Doctors throat.

They came then to their destination. A platform overlooking a vast underground reservoir. The kid looked up at him and for a moment he returned a blank stare before coming to his senses. With shaking hands he began to open the canister he carried, talking hurriedly as he worked.

"The Rufus Draco, or red dragon was designed as a weapon in the final days of the resource wars on earth, before the exodus to mars. When in bloom the flower releases a unique toxin that reacts with water instantly thickening and.. poisoning the supply. The H2O is transformed into a gelatinous substance blood red in colour and toxic to the human body. The spores reproduce creating an ideal environment for the Rufus Draco to survive and multiply."

There was a sharp his as the Doctor opened the canister to reveal a beautiful red orchid in full bloom. His gasped with delight at the sight of their rare treasure and then in again in sudden pain and confusion. Looking down he saw the knife protruding from his stomach, he could feel the blood flowing.

"You have served the machine well." the kid smiled as he pressed the canister against the Doctors chest crushing the flower. With his other hand he turned the blade tearing at the Doctors innards and loosening his bowels. He tried to mouth the word why? as he looked into the kids eyes, the eyes of the Chosen as he spoke with a voice to old for his youthful frame,

"I will strike the living water of the City, and it will be changed into blood. The fish will die, and the river will stink and the people will not be able to drink its water. So says the Machine."

With a firm push the Chosen tipped him and his treasure into the water below.

OOC: Poisoned water guys, have fun :)

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