Oh hey guys. Lemme dust up this fic a bit. I'm back full throttle! Pardon my poor guess-timations when it comes to day/month/year time discrepancies.
Italics are flashbacks in this chapter. Enjoy~!
Chapter Ten: Exodus
As the blues of the sky crashed into the prominent grays of skyscrapers and sharp rainbow-fluorescent neons of billboards and street signs from a distance, one inmate at the Project Morning Reformatory was waywardly distracted from her duties at the library and chose instead to stare longingly outside the various windows that lined the walls of the room. This wing of the reformatory happened to have one of the best views of nearby civilization. And oh, how she craved the smell of car exhaust, the sound of crowds bustling 24/7, and the taste of real food. Oh, how she longed to return to her old habits of unruly shopping splurges and carefree dancing.
Ai looked down at her chest, covered by that horrendous orange jumpsuit. She grimaced as the books she carried weighed against her body, feeling the coarse material of her white undershirt chafe the delicate skin underneath. A formerly svelte form was now a thing of the past as the uniform presently covered her gaunt figure that forced the woman to turn her eyes away in shame upon seeing her reflection on any mirror. Oh, how she wished she could fast-forward time and set into action everything drafted into her sharpened 'criminal' mind. She practically craved exposing this reformatory's secrets and sought after freedom to determine the truth behind her imprisonment at the damnable place. It instilled a primal fury inside her, with the strange unworldly desire to be unleashed from the prison walls nearly breaking her will to maintain sensible control.
But it would have been a result of selfish impulse, it would have been all too hasty. If Ai had learned anything at all during her sentence at the penitentiary it had been the traditional lesson of patience. Patience was no longer merely a virtue taught to instill fear and values into ignorant, impatient minds. Oh no.
Patience was now the key to freedom.
Kamei Eri proved to be quite the valuable asset to this convict's plans. It had been nearly a year since the two were first introduced and little did either suspect they would be tip-toe-ing about the prison walls with the weight of their covert affairs on their shoulders.
Ai never questioned the librarian's intentions or why she seemed to be so invested with her personal endeavors of bringing the institution down, and truthfully the convict found little interest in the matter. All she knew was that she had an ally, a means to an end.
The convict not only had the valuable profiles of former inmates at her fingertips, but she had current locations, occupations, and contact information as well. Ai made the wise decision of asking the librarian the favor of contacting these inmates to provide testimony for the annual penitentiary report, using a fabricated yet operative identity her former patients would recognize. The annual reports post-escape during Nakazawa's time did almost entirely without mention of probation-status inmates and their whereabouts. As to how the warden managed to get away with such a glaringly missing piece of information on an official status update was beyond both of the women. They could only guess large sums of money - and women - were involved.
Furthermore, because of Eri's previous position at the medical ward, the convict had access to classified medical profiles of past and present inmates. All the reported cases of rape and abuse were documented meticulously, but always swept under the rug for the sake of the reputation of the institution. However, from what the librarian could recall of the cases from her days at the ward, the majority of the abuse the female prisoners suffered would never be erased. The scars were a permanent fixture adorned on their bodies and minds.
It was crucial these former inmates cooperate. Ai and Eri had to approach these women through delicate means and being discovered would not be an option. Ideally, the two hoped to not only receive recorded testimony, but to also have the women reveal key locations in and around the reformatory where the inmate abuse occurred. If all went according to plan, their plotting would prove to be quite lucrative in their favor.
After establishing secure means of contacting former inmates and utilizing the expertise of the penitentiary hackers to mask their web-based plotting, Ai decided it was time to commence the second phase of her plan. She hadn't made the best first impression upon one of the members of the bomber group, but thankfully Ai had found a comrade in Shimizu Saki.
The bombers' beloved Captain hadn't made leaps and bounds to become a person whom Ai could confide in, but the unspoken invitation was always there since their first meeting. Once discovering from Koharu that the bombers were assigned to clean-up crew services around the penitentiary, Ai knew at once she would require their assistance. She wisely approached Captain as her group took their daily jog around the recreational grounds. After questioning the leader over her lack of enthusiasm in her step, Ai discovered that Captain and her crew were once again rejected for the opportunity of being released on parole.
Pulling the both of them aside from the perimeter where the remaining members continued to jog, Ai began to bargain. At first, bits and pieces of her plot were shared. There was hardly any need for her to tell Captain anything beyond the escape plan she had in mind anyway. However, once Ai heard the booming steps of Maasa, she knew she had to be a bit more convincing. It was rather distracting having the Captain's self-appointed personal bodyguard shooting daggers into her pathetic little body with just her eyes, but the innocent convict was in dire need of their assistance.
Thoroughly satisfied with the full report, Captain agreed to joining her fellow convict with her plans of escape. Without a doubt, having the bombers on her side meant Ai was one step closer to redemption and she would make damn sure history would not repeat itself.
Night had fallen and the guards had long since announced lights out for the convicts that evening. The moonlight had fallen through Ai's high cell window in such a way that it hit the wall beside where she lay. The tally marks etched on the molded concrete slab nearly reached a count of two years. She could hardly believe how time flew, nor could she hardly hide the smug look that graced her enervated face. With the prospect of freedom just barely out of her reach, could one blame her?
Because as if having the hackers, the bombers, and the librarian on her freedom faction of sorts was not enough, Ai also had one more resource that could not be forgotten. After much persuasion and persistent begging, she managed to drag Aika and Koharu to the weekly prayer group service with the pseudo-nuns. One year of dedicated attendance earned the plotting convicts various materials that would prove useful for the escape.
One resource in particular came with a notice:
"You have one week to use this. Changing addresses soon, too hard to keep in touch. Will give files to librarian."
This fortunate asset was discovered after smashing a statue of Mary in the private confines of her cell, and was distributed amongst the members of their closed group clandestinely. After one week, Ai took great care to hide the item in her Bible and return it to the nuns.
"We'll have the King James version for you next week, doll~" Kikkawa sang, tossing the Bible carelessly to her partner Mano. The two scurried away after a few winks and giggles. Ai and the hackers could only hope the nuns would pull through for them.
Now it was only a matter of time.
Blood spilled forth from her mouth, pooling between the clenched fists and scraped knees that held up her battered body. "This wasn't in the plan," Reina thought before the head of the guards placed a solid kick beneath her diaphragm, drawing forth another round of blood from the inmate's mouth.
Without any energy to even retaliate with an insult, Reina was lifted to her feet as officer Niigaki pulled up against the convict's collar and slammed her pitifully weak body against the wall of the cell. "It's been a year, Tanaka."
The beaten inmate simply grinned as the guard closed the distance between their faces. Once a breath away, Reina spit blood into the guard's face. The officer switched her grip from the collar to directly against the prisoner's neck, squeezing harder as she watched her prey begin to choke on her own blood. "You think I don't know? You think I'm that stupid? What do you think you're doing?"
After a series of gurgling, choking noises, Reina could only feign a triumphant smirk. "Something I should have done a long time ago."
The head of the guards dropped her victim, watching as she coughed up more blood to the floor. "You will never succeed, Reina. Not while I'm around."
Reina lay on the floor, watching as the guard turned to exit her cell. "You know I love a challenge."
The cell bars locked to an automatic close. The last thing she saw was the butt of the officer's gun.
It certainly was a sight to behold, a sight Risa wasn't necessarily comfortable seeing. Today was her first day wearing the official head of the guard's uniform, the position she mysteriously bequeathed from Nakazawa Yuko. After quickly examining herself in the mirror and straightening her cap one last time, Risa began to wander the office she inherited. For now the room was barren, save for a full length mirror, a desk, and a chair. The walls were freshly painted, she could tell; the odor of a new coat lingered too persistently.
Risa paced the floor of her office, waiting for the sun to finally rise. Concluding that no good would come from her restlessness, the newly appointed guard took a seat at her desk and re-opened the letter that sat upon it. Her mother had thankfully responded to her first letter after her release from solitary confinement. Within the letter, the officer discovered that the warden had stuck with his end of the deal. Her mother reported that a donation through an anonymous party had funded her past, present, and future surgeries and chemotherapy if needed.
Deciding now was a better time than ever to begin the morning roll call, Risa walked through the halls of the housing wing she used to occupy. Quickly glancing through the list in her hands, the officer read several unfamiliar names. How long had she been gone?
...At least Reina was finally transfered from solitary confinement, to the infirmary, and now back inside her cell. The same one she occupied since then.
The new officer walked towards her companion's cell and gently tapped the against the bars with the end of her officer's baton. The response she received wasn't what she expected.
"What the fuck are you doing wearing that shit?"
No amount of rhyme or reason would break her companion's blind anger. Reina began to grab the meager sheets she had on her cot and throw them at Risa in her raging fit. Before Gaki could even respond to calm her friend down, a male subordinate officer appeared at her side. Without so much as a formal bow to his superior officer, the man reached within the prison cell to grab hold of Reina in the midst of her temper tantrum and delivered a loud slap against her cheek.
Shortly after releasing the convict from his grasp, Risa impulsively smacked her officer's baton across the man's head. It was within reason, of course, as the head of the guards recalled that Tsunku instructed her to deliver punishment to any inmate or officer showing signs of bad behavior. As the aftershock of her impulsive assault of a fellow officer wore off, Risa needed to defend her actions. She would not tolerate this sort of behavior against the inmates, and certainly not to her dear friend. "From now on, I will handle inmate #1111 myself."
However, time passed and regardless of her good intentions, Risa was not given an ounce of forgiveness by her former comrade. The rebellious actions grew more frequent and more violent, and retaliation was needed to defend herself. After dutifully reporting to the warden, he merely responded, "My, my. That one just doesn't want to learn her lesson. I suppose we will have to return to a more serious means of punishment, won't we officer Niigaki?"
Later that evening, Risa took Reina from her cell. The inmate offered no resistance and followed the officer, the sound of their steps against metal stairways echoing through the hall. The two former companions remained silent until they exited the prison interior and found a police car outside.
Not a sound was uttered until the two reached their destination.
Risa looked over to her handcuffed friend in the passenger's seat. "My mother."
Unexpected tears roll down the yankii's face as she screamed, "So you're selling me out? What am I, your fucking sacrificial lamb for your vegetable of a mother? After all we've been through, this is what I get?"
Whatever pity the officer took upon seeing her companion's tears vanished without a trace as anger quickly filled its void. "JUST BECAUSE YOUR MOTHER NEVER LOVED YOU DOESN'T MEAN YOU HAVE ANY RIGHT TO TAKE IT OUT ON ME OR MY MOTHER!!" Risa watched as her outburst seemed to silence her friend's sobbing.
"...I didn't have a choice. They were going to hurt you..."
The officer exited the vehicle and retrieved Reina from the other side. Her hands were gripped tightly inside the yankii's cuffed ones as she led the both of them to this random building at the outskirts of the penitentiary grounds. Risa had never been here before, so she could sympathize with her companion's fear. She merely followed the instructions Tsunku had given:
"Just knock on the door, show them your badge, deliver the inmate, and leave. Come back before dawn. Don't ask questions."
Another guard appeared at the door, and Risa did exactly as she was told. The man at the door watched the inmate in his fellow officer's hands with hungry eyes. Risa turned to Reina, feeling her friend squeeze her hand and seeing the fear in her eyes. The horrified state her companion was enough to drive her mad with guilt.
The male officer grabbed Reina by the shoulder and before he closed the door completely, she managed to say, "And what do you think they'll do to me now, Risa?"
The door shut in front of Reina's crying face.
As instructed, Risa returned to the building to retrieve her companion. The same guard from before delivered the inmate. The sun began to rise and realization hit as solemn silence fell between them. They were no longer friends, comrades in arms. The fine line had finally been crossed, the breaking point of their friendship was reached and divided them into their own sides of lonesome wretchedness.
So that last bit with the TanaGaki flashback was supposed to be an omake, but since I've been gone for so long, I gave ya'll a mashup treat x3
So what is Eri cooking up? Do we trust her? Why does Ai need the bombers? What's that item she got? DID I KILL OFF REINA?!
Four more chapters!!!! Who's ready for more?