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Helmet Tipping

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After what seemed like an agonizing eternity Jebediah managed to kill the last Sleepwalker Experiment on the room, shooting a nexus bolt right onto its head and decapitating it. The lifeless body slammed to the ground and Jeb breathed out, leaning against the worn locker door catching his breath. 

He wasn't tired nor hurting, despite having many open wounds in his body; the Halo somewhat helped him have way more stamina and pain tolerance than normal. But Jeb was still susceptible to emotional distress and, quite frankly, killing so many people in a single day was taking a toll on him. Not like half of the victims were people anymore, though…

Jebediah dropped the empty gun to the floor and opened a locker to find a loaded one. He unlocked it and headed to the door behind him; pressing the touchpad beside it so it slid open. He walked into the next room, surprisingly empty, and climbed a small staircase to be met with the last door he'd have to cross before fighting the Director for a second — and hopefully last — time.

What was the point in adding posters that said "WARNING: SECURE AREA" beside that damn door? He'd crossed them before to talk with Phobos numerous times and those posters made no sense to him. Everyone knew there was just Phobos inside, being Phobos. It probably was to scare the rookies, but the rookies never went past the second floor most of the time. Ridiculous… Jeb walked to the door and was about to press the pad when he heard voices coming from the office. None of them sounded like the Director's. He put his ear against the door.

"And you looked everywhere, meaning in every corner of the building, right!? "

"We did! He's just… gone!"

As someone groaned in frustration Jeb frowned and kept listening. "This cannot stay like this. We have to keep looking before this place falls apart." 

Footsteps rapidly approached the door and Jeb dashed in front of the lockers, opening the nearest one to step inside and hide in it. Peeking through the louver he saw a riot guard walking out of the office and two more following along with an Agent Mk0. 

The first riot guard turned around to look at the other grunts. "Agent, you and your people look in the Sci-Post. You two, the Quarters. I'll ask for more guards to travel here and look around for the Director, and stop Dr. Jebediah if they see him."

"Shit, he's here?" The Agent asked. "I thought he'd be done after wiping the Sci-Post…"

"He's here, and he snatched the Halo. But we have to focus on finding the Director right now. Let's go."

The four grunts ran to the door on the other end and left the room. After a few seconds Jebediah slowly opened the locker and walked out. He headed to the office door and pressed the pad beside it.

The office looked as normal as ever, except for the fact the big window on the right side of the room had a section that was broken and an office chair was on the floor beside it. Jeb walked inside and looked at the window, frowning in confusion, and made his way to the centre of the room where he looked at everything: the window, the lights in the ceiling, the training dummies on a corner and the lounge section on the other side of the room, where Phobos' desk and cabinet were as well.

If someone wanted to bust through the window and kidnap Phobos he could've easily killed the culprits, not to mention the shattered glass would be on the office floor. If Phobos tripped and fell out of the window from such a distance he would've been seen outside dead or with severe damage, even with his magnified strength and size. But with the chair beside the window? Jebediah sprinted to the cabinet and swung the doors open, where he found Phobos' signature helmet and red goggle.

"I can't believe it." Muttered Jeb in surprise, gripping the cabinet doors. "Phobos dissented? "

—————————— 

As soon as Phobos jumped out the window with the jetpack the first thing he did was fly above the building and head into the opposite direction of the Nexus city. It was surprising how fast the jetpack was and Phobos had to show Hofnarr appreciation for rambling about them whenever he saw him again. 

With a black backpack on one hand, Phobos had been flying for more than half an hour and his heart was racing. He also felt exposed without the helmet and goggle. Insecure. Phobos knew he was as powerful as he was with them on, but he was told to wear them all day long except for sleeping and he'd gotten used to them. It was comforting. It was a reminder of his role, of his god-like superiority in the Nexus.

This was why he left them behind.

Phobos was constantly told that if he were to die chaos would ensue; order would fall apart and experiments would get out of control. That he was the reason the city was perfect. And he accepted that responsibility proudly. He wore the title of Director with pride. But then Jebediah turned against him and it changed everything for him. 

When he got the news that Christoff "proclaimed he'd end the madness" Phobos brushed it off as jealousy and Jebediah's own madness. But the short fight between them was off-putting for Phobos. It felt different. It made him feel regret, anger, sadness even. it deconcentrated him enough for Jeb to knock him down, so he ran off and stayed in his office, feeling. That sense of justice, of wanting to write your own destiny, of wanting freedom, it resonated with him, it heavily reminded him of— 

Phobos realized he lost some control of the jetpack and was rapidly approaching the ground. "Oh shoot—" Dropping the backpack Phobos gripped the straps, which didn't help in anything, and tried stabilizing himself, only to completely lose control and spin on the air for a few seconds before landing on his face and sliding on the floor. 

If it wasn't for the bandages wrapped around his mouth he would've, quite literally, eaten dirt. Which also reminded him of Deimos, the clone that got out of the tube shortly after him; they’d tell each other to eat dirt in an affectionate manner. 

Deimos was Phobos’ little brother. Not literally, but their bond was enough for them to act brotherly towards each other. Deimos was assigned as Phobos’ right hand so they trained together, they supervised the other clones together… there wasn’t much they didn’t do together. As Phobos lifted his face off the ground with a bleeding nose he recalled how he grew sure of his role as the Director and Deimos grew distant. The taller grunt would ramble about being an Emperor and taking over everything just like the Superior made him to be, whereas the smaller grunt wasn’t as hyped to rule alongside Phobos as he was in the beginning. Phobos brushed it off as fear and he understood that.

One day, Deimos went out on a mission. He wasn’t assigned to it but he went anyway, saying he had to help. And he told Phobos he loved him and would be back for him. He was declared dead along with three other agents the next day.

The only thing Phobos was told was that Deimos’ heart rhythm monitor flatlined suddenly and his GPS stopped working hours before. Nothing else was known. From then on, Phobos was alone. 

He never cried because he wasn’t allowed. He never mourned because he wasn’t told to mourn. Tears fell from Phobos’ eye down to his nose as he took off his bandage, exposing his heavily scarred mouth and cheeks. He was a dissenter now. He could do whatever he wanted. So he wept. Phobos grabbed the bandage and sat in the dirt, in the middle of nowhere, mourning for Deimos who died more than half a year ago. He ran a hand through his head, feeling the spiky little hairs, and sobbed as he thought of how his little brother’s death was so sudden and unexpected, there was nothing that hinted at it and nobody had an actual answer for it.

Phobos slowly stopped crying. He pondered. 

Like me right now?

Phobos leaving his position as the Director must’ve been— no, was unexpected, sudden and unhinted at, even for himself. Maybe a bit unplanned… perhaps Deimos acted off weeks before his "death" because he had a plan. Phobos wiped blood from his nose and sniffed before standing up and looking around, finding his backpack just a few meters away. Heading towards it he wondered if Deimos could really be alive, hiding from the Nexus. Could you really hide for that long? Whatever he planned was being executed perfectly, because nobody had said anything about Deimos ever since his death.

Meanwhile Phobos just grabbed a few extra clothes and left.

Phobos kneeled in front of his backpack and took off the annoying clothes he always had to wear: his gloves, his really long trench coat, the sweater and lastly the shirt and tie. Sighing he looked at the sleeveless turtleneck bodysuit he was wearing underneath all that. He wasn't allowed to wear that because it "wasn't formal" and "not fit for an Emperor". But he liked it, so he'd wear it underneath everything most of the time. He folded the clothes and neatly put them inside the big backpack before putting the bandage in a side pocket. He replaced the jetpack with the backpack and held the former in his hand. For the first time, Phobos wasn't really sure where to go.

"Where are you, Deimos?" He asked out loud, looking at the sky, before walking in what he thought would be the best direction.