{.chapter 16.}

becoming not-enemies is hard. and boring.

And we were running like as if our lives had depended on it, I tell you. We didn't know what was going to happen and we hadn't intended on finding out. So what would've taken us about twenty minutes to get to the bunker took us about... seven or eight.

When we reached the door to the underground bunker, I planted one of my hands on the wall of the tunnel for support, panting, every cell within my very being probably wanting to kill me right now. In between gasps for breath, I managed to hiss at Future, who was busy trying to wrench the door open, "I... really... really... hate you."

"Whatever. Get inside."

~.x.~

Friday, August 29th, 2025; the day on which we surfaced for the first time

I hate being underground. Aside from the fact that it kind of freaks me out, it's hard to see, even with all the lights that are set up in the tunnels and bunker{s?}. And it's cold. But anyway, we've all been underground for I guess two days and I already hate it.

...so, anyway, I've mainly been keeping to the smaller, quieter rooms, where no one's near as likely to bother me. I was abnormally moody and felt kind of sick, so I was going to do everyone a favor for once. And, uh, I didn't feel like dealing with people. For once.

I glanced up when I heard the door open, seeing the Future Warden slipping in. My facial expression didn't really change, save for me raising one eyebrow. "What is it?"

At first, he didn't respond, nearing me. "I was going to ask you something, but first, what are you doing here?"

I just kind of shrugged. "Feel sick. I think it's because I'm not used to being underground." No idea if that was true enough, but you get airsick and seasick, why not groundsick?

"Maybe." He gave a thoughtful kind of shrug before situating himself next to me. "If that's the case, then you'll love my plan. And if it's not, you get to leave for a while, so you still win."

I raised an eyebrow once more, glancing over at him. "Really now?" I asked skeptically, but then again, he seemed rather sincere about this.

In response, he nodded. "Mmhmm. Castor and I were planning on heading up into Superjail and activating some more machinery and such. And you're apparently five different kinds of special today, so I thought I'd ask." He paused. "Fine, I'd ask you even if you were perfectly fine, but that's not my point. Are you coming?"

Well, it didn't sound like a bad idea, I'd give him that much. "Uh, sure. When? Now?" Because I totally wasn't going to complain with 'now'.

We both shrugged. "Doesn't really matter. We're pretty much ready to surface... whenever we feel like it."

I stood up, albeit in a shaky manner, letting the wall support me. "Go on ahead without me. I mean I'm coming, I just feel..." I started to feel queasy again, and I preemptively covered my mouth with a hand, moaning slightly. "...kinda like that."

He winced. "You don't have to, but okay. See you at the mouth of the tunnel, then?"

"Yeah. Sure. Okay."

~.x.~

In about an hour or so, the nausea had finally more or less subsided, and now I was only a few minutes away from the mouth of the tunnel. I was hearing voices - I mean real voices, not the ones you hear in your head - and it was likely the Future Warden and the younger twin. It wasn't like I could understand that much, and besides, if it was anything important, then I supposed that Future would give me the memo when I got there. That was the theory, at any rate.

I was still using the wall as a means of support, just in case. I was thinking that I wouldn't really need it, but it was better to be safe than sorry. Or something like that.

...I'm starting to sound more and more like the Future Warden. That's... kinda disturbing. Moving on.

But now I was close to the end of the tunnel, where I saw Castor and Future Warden waiting around and talking. As I got closer, Future Warden redirected his attention to me. "You're here!" He sounded legitimately surprised. "Are you okay?"

I was getting really tired of that question. "I'm fine," I replied {and somehow managed to not snap}, and gave a very brief nod to Castor. "Subsided for the moment. Shall we head up?"

"Sure, unless Castor's got something to say."

Castor looked like he was about to panic, but he regained his composure just as quickly. "...yes, actually. I had been unable to seal the jail in time, and is likely still radioactive."

The Future Warden pursed his lips, and he nodded. "Well, good thing I have hazmat suits and anti-radiation pills..." He flashed a quick smile, which was not reciprocated by either of us. "Come on, let's go. We'll head up once precautions are taken."

I pursed my lips as well, following him. "You're in an unusually good mood. Still."

"Why shouldn't I be? We didn't die. Maybe the soldiers abandoned on the surface did, but we didn't." I stared at him blankly, trying to see if he was just being a pain, but when he continued to have a calm smile, I quietly sighed.

Alright, fine, I give up. I just kind of accepted this, and he led us into a cave-like room filled with all kinds of equipment - I guess an appropriate term for it would've been kind of like a storage room. I guess. There was a small armory to our left, and the rest of the cave was just filled with random crap that I wasn't sure how Future Warden got the foresight to hide away in here.

By now, Future had already slipped off to a hollowed out hole in the wall where there was this collection of bottles, and he had already grabbed three, one of which he decided to chuck in my direction without warning. With a startled jump, I managed to catch it, and I continued to look annoyed as he did the same to Castor, who took the same action in complete stride. Future Warden noticed my frustrated glare, and he rolled his eyes. "What? Just take some pills and put on one of the suits over there and meet me back by the elevator."

I didn't feel much like saying anything in response, either, so I just choked down two pills and got into a hazmat suit. Actually, I think Future Warden was a bit off on the title, it looked more like an CBRN {chemical biological radiological nuclear} suit, but... eh, fine. He probably wouldn't appreciate me pointing it out anyway.

It didn't take too long for me to come back, Castor following suit, and only silence was shared between us as we slipped into the elevator {which we'd fixed yesterday... actually, I didn't help at all, but still, it got fixed, somehow}, and the Future Warden placed a few commands manually via some kind of computer, and while I was still rather nervous about being anywhere around him where technology was involved, it was kind of the point of no return. So far as I was concerned, anyway.

...well, we didn't die, and Future Warden didn't do anything at all to even have the possibility of it happening, so I guess I'll forgive him a little bit. Adding another tally for 'how much I trust future me'.

We reached the surface, and we emerged from the elevator. I was glancing around - or, more appropriately, forced to turn my head from straight on to left to right and back again to get the whole scope of the situation, seeing as these suits weren't exactly made for good peripheral vision, and... well, the younger twin hadn't been lying. There was clearly some nuclear and radiological damage. Most of it was fairly minor, and none of us had Geiger counters on us to see how radioactive it currently was, but my guess was quite a bit, which then made me wonder why Castor wasn't suffering from some form of radioactive poisoning. Then I decided that maybe he was just a freak of nature and that I shouldn't really worry about that. But anyway, the damage on the jail was more or less much less substantial than I would've guessed.

I mean, sure, some equipment was clearly broken, and I saw various piles of ashes where soldiers that we'd abandoned up on the surface died where they had stood, but oh well. All we'd have to hope is that the technology we needed to turn back on was still in one piece.

This ended when the Future Warden spoke. "Okay. I need to find the main power supply and get that working." He turned his head to look at Castor and I, and he stared at us for a few moments before he had come to a decision on his part. "And you two will activate some machines that'll absorb the radioactivity in the air. All of them."

He was about to escape before I interrupted in a confused manner, "All of them? Did you really have to specify?"

"Well, yes, I did, and I was going to keep it at that until you asked." He sounded plainly irritated, and he waved one hand in the air in a bored manner. "We've got enough of these droids to clear the world of it in a few weeks. A few couple hundred of them. So let's quit talking and get this done."

I just kind of stared as he darted off to escape any more questions, and I blinked before I noticed that I was being left behind here. I held a tiny bit of resentment towards being left with Castor, but I couldn't really argue now, so I ran to catch up with the other. Once I had, I slowed to a walk, staring at the other cautiously. "...so... do you know what he's talking about? I don't." This was my best attempt at being 'friendly', or at least not wanting to eviscerate him, which, for me, and considering my current feelings toward the other, was probably the same thing at this point.

Castor didn't so much as glance in my direction. "Somewhat." Well, so long as neither of us wanted anything to do with the other, that was fine with me. I guess.

So we walked down the damaged halls in silence. In a very awkward silence, I should say, where both of us would've rather preferred to be anywhere but there. And it turned out he wasn't lying when he said 'somewhat'; he wasn't really sure where these machines were, either, so we checked every room we passed to make sure we didn't miss them.

Eventually, we found them. It wasn't a small room; this was huge, with rows of these small machines that looked like they were capable of flight, or at least levitation, one of those two. And there were... probably hundreds of these things. "I really hope we don't have to activate these manually," I muttered, staring at looked like a daunting task ahead of us.

Meanwhile, Castor had already gotten over this and walked over to a terminal, typing in something before pressing a key or two, and the machines all turned on, as well as the ceiling in this room opening up to reveal the outside world, which they all flew out into, and to prevent any more radioactive particles than necessary to come in here, the ceiling closed once more, and I gazed at him with a mix of irritation and self-beration. Of course there'd be a computer that would activate all of this.

"We should go." I barely caught this, and was muttering to myself as we returned to the room we had came from, only to find that the Future Warden wasn't there. While the younger twin didn't seem to particularly care, I was a bit confused, and didn't even notice the other's indifference.

"What could he be doing?" I asked, more or less to myself, and had tried giving my future self a bit of leeway - maybe he was just... well, okay, fine, I couldn't figure it out. No good reason. Fine. I frowned, glaring at the hallways and leaning against one of the walls, waiting in the most impatiently patient way possible... if that makes any sense. Probably not.

Castor seemed a bit more nervous, watching the halls. "Perhaps we should just return to the shelter," he had said, and I glanced over at him, giving him a dry smirk {though I guess he couldn't actually see it. oh well, I tried}.

I seemed to relax, and as he was about to head back down, I waved my hands, shaking my head. "No no no. I don't- well, fine, head down, I don't care, but I have got to hear how he's going to explain this."

He just gave me what I could only assume was a confused look and just headed back into the underground bunker. Meanwhile, I returned back to leaning against the wall, staring down the hall with the most patient posture I could muster up.

~.x.~

About thirty minutes later, I was starting to get tired of waiting and half-considered just going back to the bunker so I could actually breathe again. No, I told myself. If he's gone for half an hour, then this has got to be good. That being said, I kind of doubted it, but I'd keep my hopes up, just in case. I don't think it even occurred to me that maybe he turned on the mainframe before we found the droids and went back to doing whatever he does in his spare time. Uh, well. At least I was right, otherwise I would've been waiting for days. Actually I take that back but seriously.

Upon hearing the sound of boots colliding with the ground, I blinked, staring in the direction I thought I could hear it coming from. It turned out I was right in my guess; within a few seconds or so, I could see the Future Warden, and I straightened up slightly, folding my arms across my chest. "What took you so long?" I was a little irate, sure, but his response was what really pushed me into confusion.

Future jumped, apparently not expecting me, and after he stared in my direction for a few moments, he hid his hands behind his back. He just seemed... abnormally nervous. "...I... got lost."

I cocked an eyebrow. "You got lost. In your own jail. That you've had for years."

"...yes." A hesitant response.

"I don't buy it." I watched him, hoping to scrutinize him for more hints as to what he was up to, but he gave away very little. That was probably because both of us had the full suit of protective gear on that's nearly opaque.

"Just take my word for it..."

That was my personal conundrum for the day. On one hand, I could say, hell no, I don't think so, but I don't think that actually would've worked out too well on the long run. Giving a slight frown, I sighed, rolling my eyes. "Fine. I'll take your word for it." Or not. I didn't really believe him. But anyway, conundrum solved!

And Future accepted this. "Good. Now let's just get back to the bunkers."

I watched him march into the elevator, and I followed, knowing that I really had no good reason for staying up here any more, and I really needed to not suffocate in this stupid CBRN suit.

~.x.~

{I think} Saturday, September 6th, 2025; the day on which I decided to just go with it.

I didn't see Future much after that. Mainly, he was off being busy doing... whatever he was doing. I didn't know. All that I knew was that he was holing himself away in some room and he hadn't left for a week. I wasn't going to bother him... well, I really wanted to, but I figured that I really probably shouldn't, how about that?

Luckily, he took care of that for me. "Hey, Warden."

...as one might expect, I had no way of expecting that, but at least I didn't freak out on him on the unannounced... contact... whatever. "What is it?"

"Go find Castor and talk to him. It's important. I'd come and tell you myself what's going on, but I'm busy."

I raised an eyebrow. "Well, why can't you just-"

Click.

He hung up on me. If I were holding the communication device, chances are I would've slammed it down on the ground out of sheer frustration, but I didn't... in either case. A rebellious part of me also considered not doing what he told me to do, because seriously, the bastard dodged my questions, hung up on me, and expected me to do what he told me to, and... seriously, how could he expect me to do that after all of... you know, that?

...then again, I was bored out of my mind... and I didn't have anything better to do... and I wanted to feel like I was actually doing something important that wouldn't crash and burn right now... but I didn't really want to work with Castor, the less I had to do with him the better, and I just kind of wanted to spite my future self for the hell of it...

...oh, to hell with it. I'd go ahead and do it if only because I just didn't care.

...well, uh, I probably should've cared to some extent. Emphasis on probably.

~.x.~

"He wants us to do what?"

"The Warden wants us to watch the surface. For the rebellion and radiation levels, I would expect."

I grimaced, now starting to regret my decision. While I'd been wanting to do something important {and rest assured, I'm well aware that this was important in its own right}, this wasn't exactly what I had had in mind. And it was boring. Not to mention that I was expected to do this with the one guy whom I had no intent of trusting, let alone work or cooperate with. but I had no choice now.

I knew I should've just found an excuse to avoid this, chewed out by my future self or no.

But alas, it was a little late for "should'ves" now.

I sighed. "Alright, then. So what? Stare at cameras? Listen to any signals we can pick up?"

"I doubt it. The blast likely disabled the cameras." Castor briefly made eye contact with me before signaling me to follow him into the next room, which after a bit of mental grumbling about the situation, I did.

"What? You mean you can't just magic yourself over to where there were security cameras and sweet talk them into working again?" I snarked, voice more or less unamused, and Castor met this with an equally, if not more so, unamused stare. "What?"

Despite his apparent lack of amusement, he gave a harsh bark that I would assume to be a snicker or a laugh, though I use that as a very loose term. "I'm afraid not." He led us to some computers, turning them on - or at least one for himself - and activating a program. "The damage is more physical. That, and I do not-" He appeared to be distracted by the video feeds that appeared on the screen, meaning that the cameras were still functioning somehow.

"Huh." Guess they survived the blast after all. I was waiting a little back behind the other, not really wanting to be a part of this. Still. "Looks pretty convincing, Ill give them that. But what if it's fake?"

"Unlikely." While he spoke, I decided that I wasn't going to get out of here anytime soon and turned on a computer, initiating a different program. I'm pretty sure it had something to do with radiation...? Castor continued on, "There are video feeds from most, if not all, of the security cameras. My brothe-" He shook his head. "-Pollux, he would not do this. I do not think..."

This caught my attention. "Your brother? Pollux?"

He looked up, but refused to meet my eyes. "...yes. He is."

That's not vague at all. Of course I didn't know what he was answering. Could he read minds? I hope not. I don't want to know that. I assumed he couldn't. I was also going to continue my 'friendly interrogation'. "And weren't you two Generals of the rebellion?" It seemed like they were. That was how it was in my theories, what I heard, and what I'd written down, anyway...

Castor had fidgeted nervously, staring at the screen instead. "Pollux was. I... was not. Officially, in any case." Wow, he actually told me this? Was he lying? There was no way he could be telling the truth, no one's that honest unless they have some trick up their sleeve, so to speak. And anyway, I was going to keep him talking to see if I could line up the facts when he suddenly asked, "How are the radioactivity levels?"

"Uh..." I stared at the computer screen. How did he expect me to know? All I saw were a few straight bars filled in up to various points from various locations. With numbers. I'd never seen a Geiger counter before, to be honest, and so I was just... well... let my words speak for themselves. "Hell if I know."

For once, he stared at me in a deadpan manner, as if trying to see if I was just being a pain, but when he saw that no, I seriously had no idea how to read a Geiger counter, he sighed. "Forget it. Watch the video streams instead."

As soon as he turned his head, I glared at him, if only because it made me feel better. When I was satisfied - and when I decided that I didn't want to really be caught glaring at Castor - I returned my attention back to the monitor.

"Higher radiation levels than previously expected..." I heard Castor murmur under his breath.

Immediately, I could tell that I was going to be here for a long time.

~.x.~

September 20th, 2025: the day on which there was much awkward staring.

Even two weeks later, our relations - between Castor and I, in case you somehow forgot - didn't get much better. They also didn't get much worse. Now, you may be wondering how it didn't change, but think about it. I mean, let me give you our basic day as we're forced to work together: we met, we worked, barked orders at each other, and then left when the job was done. That was it. We just got the job done with little-to-no chit chat. And I hadn't seen Future for weeks - he was still busy doing... whatever he was doing.

Seriously, what in the world could anyone be working on for about three weeks?

But anyway, uh. Today, we had nothing to do. Not really. We'd taken care of what needed to be taken care of well ahead of schedule, and I was anticipating a long, slow day with nothing to do. That... wasn't exactly the case.

Somehow, Castor found me wandering the halls. I don't know how. I think part of me doesn't really want to know. But anyway, the point is he found me, seeked me out actively. I can't even imagine why, but it probably was important? From personal experience, I can confidently say that the twins don't waste their breath with pointless words. And besides, even if I could imagine why, I probably didn't really feel like it. One of those two, take your pick.

"Warden!"

I glanced back, spotting him. "Castor." My tone was surprisingly level, if not emotionless. "What is it?"

"I must speak with you. It is very important."

I waved this off. "Then why not bring it up with the Future Warden, or somebody who's not me?"

When I started to walk of, Castor teleported, reappearing just in front of me, blocking my path. "No. I must speak with you."

He was pretty determined, I'd give him that, and besides, I was getting the feeling that I wouldn't have much choice in the matter, lest he stalk me so I'd talk to him or something. "Okay, then...? What is it, really?"

"Not here!" Castor hissed, eyes widening considerably, and though he didn't panic on me, he looked like he was going to. Until his body relaxed slightly, anyway. "Not here. Anyone could be listening." Personally, I was wondering about his sudden burst of paranoia, and then I figured it would probably be for the best if I didn't find out. "Come, follow me."

He invited no response, and I gave him none. After a moment, I decided that it would just be in my best interests to follow him, but we walked only a few steps before he grabbed my wrist. While I was baffled, I didn't have much time to think on it. One moment, we were in the hall; the next, we reappeared in what looked like a small, closed off room. Of course. He had teleported to make the trip quicker.

...I didn't bother spraining a lobe over that.

"We are safe here," Castor said after a moment, letting go and walking over to a few file cabinets, digging through them. "We can talk here. Let me find it..."

I had no clue what he was even looking for until he pulled out a thin file with a few papers in it, flipped through it, and passed it off to me. Upon taking it from him, I skimmed over the file name. "...Polydeuces... Pollux?" I stared at him, raising an eyebrow curiously. "You kept a file on your own brother?" That's really screwed up.

"Keep," Castor corrected. "It is kept up to date."

What the hell? I had a dumbfounded look on my face, I imagine, and I looked at the first page, reading it. "Why?" Why would you keep a file on your own brother? I had wanted to ask, but instead I settled for, "Why would you give it to me?"

Castor gave a small frown. "I cannot let it leave this room, unfortunately, but I know you need the information. Read through it."

I watched him, like as if I were expecting him to be hiding something, but when that garnered nothing, I skimmed through the pages of information on Pollux. Some of it I already knew. Some of it was... Castor's theories about his own brother. I frowned, glancing at him. "How do I know you didn't fake it?"

"I wouldn't give it to you," Castor stated in a matter-of-factly sort of way, and I gave him probably my tenth confused stare that day. He didn't sound like he was lying. But why would he tell the truth...?

"But..." I frowned, reading through the pages again. Polydeuces, better known as Pollux, General of the rebellion army. Along with so many other pieces of information. It was almost... slightly unnerving. After few minutes, I glanced up at Castor. "What good would it do you to give me this?"

"You knew what was happening. I decided I should confirm your suspicions."

I frowned, shaking my head and giving him back the file. "Right." I watched him, still rather suspicious, and I took a few steps back. "I need to leave." I glanced at the door, and neared it {and then realized that I had no idea where it led; oh well...}, and once I was close enough to escape, I was about to leave before I turned my head, staring at Castor, who was staring at me. "Just... why didn't you tell anyone?"

He just shook his head.

{.end of chapter 16.}

-your Warden


I'm not particularly fond of this chapter... you can really tell where I got bored and where I got ideas, can't you? But trust me, on my pseudo-outline, I had for Chapter 16, "make the Warden and Castor not-enemies", and that's really hard to make interesting, especially in a boring underground bunker, and I swear it's important. But hopefully it turned out okay...

...in fact, it was so boring I never got around to rewriting chapter 8. Which in retrospect probably doesn't make much sense... but whatever.