Left on the Doorstep by carlsojos

"Nick? My house, now!" Nick woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of his phone ringing, and the Director of the Bio Plant didn't exactly explain himself before he hung up. Without a real reason to declare the call a dream and go back to sleep, he threw on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, and walked over to the teleport station to go to Paseo.

Once he was in sight of the Central Tower, his handheld reports a new text message. Too tired to read the small screen, he simply hits the call button. "...Hello?"

"Nick? Why are you up?"

"Mom!? I could say the same thing about you. Don't you have your second job in the morning?"

"I take it the Director called you, too. Do you know why we're meeting at his house? He isn't answering the door."

"Uh, I'm afraid not. Gimme a couple minutes, I can get in." Nick picks up the pace as he walks through the central plaza. He notices that all the security bots seem to be rushing towards some store to the west, but decides that somebody might've tried to shoplift or something. He notices half a dozen other people when he makes his way up the gravel driveway to the old manor.

"What's happening? Did the director find out something about that accident?"

Nick's parents wave as he walks up. "I don't know, but for some reason he's not letting anyone in. You don't happen to have a key, do you?"

"No, but let me see that lock...." Nick pulls out a toothpick and a bankcard, and with a few minutes of trying, manages to unlock the door with a satisfying click. He turns to the other people who were watching, "Some green-haired girl taught me how to pick locks in exchange for an expired ID card, once. Should've known better, I found my apartment ransacked the next day. Wait here."

Nick walks into the massive estate, and finds all the lights off as he makes his way across the entryway. He notices a strange noise, and follows it towards the study on the north end of the ground floor. "Director, are you here, sir?" He notices light coming from a door left slightly ajar, and pushes it open. The next thing he sees convinces him to dive to the ground.

"What the hell!?" The sound of a firearm discharging over his head is definitely a powerful wakeup call, but fearing for one's life isn't found at the bottom of a cup of coffee. He rolls out of the way as a tranquilizer dart ricochets off the tile floor. "What are you doing?!"

"Nick?" An old man in pajamas walks into the hallway, shotgun in one hand, and a tranquilizer rifle in the other. "Why are you here?"

"You called me in the middle of the night, telling me to come here. I was hoping you'd at least explain yourself." Nick's handheld buzzes again as he stands up. "Hello?"

"What happened in there? We heard someone firing a gun!"

"I'm okay, Mom, but the Director's off his rocker. Tell everyone to meet us in his study."

The director finishes telling his story to his captive audience, and it takes a minute before the other scientists began talking amongst themselves. One of them steps up, "Why haven't you called security?"

"I already did! They haven't come yet!" He dials a number on a phone, and turns on conference mode for the others to hear.

"This is the automated greeting for the Paseo Security and Patrol Department. We have already received a call from your number, and a security unit is expected to arrive in... 432 minutes. Please be patient, as a security unit will be with you in... 432 minutes. Thank you." The phone disconnects, and the director crosses his arms.

"Seven hours! What if she comes back?"

"If everything you're telling me is true, how do we determine her capabilities? How'd she enter the house?"

"I have all the files on my terminal upstairs, but I'm not going anywhere without my shotgun!"

Nick yanks the firearm out of his hands and puts it on the table. "Your trigger finger's way too itchy to be carrying that. Stay here, I'll go myself." Nick climbs the stairwell to the third floor, and notices the breeze blowing through the house.

When he makes his way into the bedroom, he immediately notices the mess from an obvious struggle. "I guess he wasn't lying." Nick picks up a laser sword, and turns off the emitter so he doesn't hurt himself. "Who could possibly afford such a powerful weapon?" He steps over to the terminal, and notices a cable hanging out from behind it. When he turns it on, he notices that the desktop is completely empty. Even after searching the entire computer, he can't even find budget files!

He pulls out his handheld and dials the mansion. "Nick?"

"I can't find the project files. Did you get rid of them?"


"Also, I see a cable that isn't connected to anything. Did Neifirst steal anything from your terminal?"

"I don't know. But I do have a notebook in my sock drawer, if you don't mind bringing that down." Nick walks to the dresser, and after digging around a bit, finds the old notebook, of the cheap kind schoolchildren usually carried. He makes his way out of the room, but spots some droplets on the floor. Out of curiosity, he follows the resulting trail to the other side of the house, and spots another broken window, with the fragments on the floor instead of outside.

He looks through the broken pane, and looks out over the yard, still asleep as the sky begins to turn light. It's well-kept thanks to the work of the director's gardener, but the hedge surrounding the entire property means that nobody likely saw what happened. He heads back to the dining room, where everyone else is waiting.

"That's the notebook. Thanks, Nick." The director takes it, and opens it up to a page showing a large stream of numbers. "These are the numbers that we worked out during the testing phase. You'll be able to see here that there is quite-"

The sound of the doorbell echoes through the house, and the director of the Bio Plant sweat drops as thoughts of a psychotic numan standing at the door flood his mind. Already irritated by the whole ordeal, Nick shakes his head and gets up. "I'll check the door; you guys try to work out what to do."

Nick makes his way back through the old manor towards the front door, eyeing every shadow with suspicion, lest he be caught off-guard with such a dangerous creature on the loose. As the wooden double-door comes into sight, he peers into a small video screen beside the frame, calling out to whoever's on the other side. The screen shows nothing but the deserted street, save for some stray cats, and no sign of whoever rung. He slowly opens the door and steps out to look around.

"Whoa!" Nick suddenly notices his foot land on something, and the surprise throws him off balance enough that he falls off the stairs into an adjacent bush. He stops himself for a second, and he hears whatever he stepped on cry out. "What in the world...."

The programmer pulls himself out of the thick hedge and looks down at an infant, wrapped in a torn and bloody cloak. He picks up the child, and brushes away the cloak, revealing purple hair and long, pointed ears.... "Impossible... there's no way you can be Neifirst..."

"What the hell is that, Nick?!" The head of the Bio Plant fell out of his chair when the infant was unveiled from the cloak, and it took three of the other scientists to stop the old man from charging.

As the struggle disperses into another room, Nick puts the infant onto the table for everyone to see, eliciting a range of responses from awe over the girl's cuteness to confusion on how she was born. Nick finally speaks up, "I found this girl out on the front step when I checked on the doorbell. Apart from the hair color and skin tone, she appears remarkably similar to Neifirst. What should we do with her?"

One scientist speaks up, "This occurrence is completely unprecedented. We should study this specimen."

Another shakes his head, "And how do you propose to do that? The Bio Plant is still closed for Mother Brain's investigation; we don't have a proper lab right now."

"We could assemble sufficient facilities from our personal budgets to suffice until the Plant is released from custody."

"Another question is what types of investigation we should undertake. Does this creature feature the same anatomy as the one she came from?"

Nick, fed up with the cold conversation, slams his fist onto the table. "Quit talking like she is nothing but an experiment! Don't you think there was a reason Neifirst broke out in the first place?"

The murmur of the gathered group stop for a minute, before one of the older members of the group stands up. "You saw the Director, though. You know he's gonna order this... Nei to be disposed of as soon as he gets back. We should learn what we can- hey, do we even have a project number assigned to her yet?"

Nick picks up the infant, "She isn't an experiment, she's a person who cannot be represented by a number. Mom, Dad, this way." His parents fall in line with him as he walks towards a desolate part of the manor and he hands the girl off to them. "Listen, that guy's right about the Director wanting to kill Nei here. Take her away from here, I have a vacation home on the other side of the continent that I've been keeping. Take her there, and take good care of her. I'll cover for your absence until she can protect herself."

Nick opens the front door of the house and lets his parents out before closing it again. Mother Brain knows I'm gonna catch hell for this....