Chapter 2 "Snakes" 12

Going downstairs, to the basement, Alma takes a quick look around, looking for signs of Mayumi. She doesn’t see anyone, but she hears voices engaged in idle chatting in the room immediately to her left. Although the door is open, allowing her to see an office equipped with furniture and a number of instruments that quickly reveal this room to be a physician’s office, she still knocks, capturing the attention of the two men sitting within. Ah, yes... the two mortals who always seem to keep away from the other officers...

“Excuse me, gentlemen,” Alma says in a polite tone. “I wonder if you have seen a Bunny walking around these parts?”

"A rabbit walking around?” one of the mortals, a well-built, pale man with hair far too grey for the relatively young age his face indicates, dressed in loose leather overalls partially covered by a heavily stained lab coat, asks. “Has one of my rabbits escaped?"

“No, Syro!” the other mortal replies. This one also appears to be young, his tanned skin covering a friendly face, crowned by short dark hair. He adjusts his pristine white lab coat as he says, “You haven’t had any rabbits since di whole Fifi incident.”

“It was all Machado’s fault!” the man now identified as Syro cries. “Fifi would have never hurt anyone!”

“That’s not what he said when she bit off a piece of his ear, loco!” the darker mortal says, before turning to Alma. “Anyway, I recognize you, señorita. You are one of the new Guardia Dei, yes?”

Her mana headache taking this chance to grab Alma’s attention again, while a small voice in the back of her mind begins to bother her with a real concern that these mortals may not be fully rational, the goddess replies in what she hopes is still a gentle and polite voice. “Yes, I am. My name is Alma.”

The slightly saner mortal is the first to respond. “Well, this is Syron, our genio loco,” he says, pointing at the man in overalls. “And I am Nataniel, di house physician.”

“Pleased to make your acquaintance,” the man in overalls waves at the goddess. “Call me Syro. Everyone else does.”

“And call me Nataniel,” the other mortal says. “Everyone else calls me Nate,” he adds in a slightly resentful tone.

Alma nods slowly, in a subtle bow, all the while wishing she had never stepped into this room. “Very well, Nataniel, Syro, it is a pleasure to meet you. Now, regarding the Bunny...”

“Alma... Alma...” Nataniel mutters as if trying to remember something.  “Hey, aren’t you la señorita they say created bunnies?”

“Bunnies?” Syron’s head shoots up. “You created rabbits? How amazing! What instruments did you use? I've been trying to clone them for years!”

“I did not ‘clone’ anything,” Alma replies, her patience growing thin. “I am not even sure what you mean by cloning.”

“Syro, she is a goddess. She uses magic,” Nate explains to his friend.

“Hmpf... magic...” Syro grunts in clear disapproval of the word. “Tri-modal unstable phase-shifting non-electromagnetic radiation, you mean.”

Como lo quieras. I’ll just call it magic for short.”

“Anyway,” Syro goes on. “I could use your help in creating some rabbits to serve as test subjects. The powers that be have refused to give me a budget to get more. They claim rabbits are expensive,” he says, rolling his eyes.

“If you hadn’t insisted on going forward with that two-headed rabbit you made...brr!” Nate shivers in apparent terror.

“OH, C'MON!! FIFI WAS NEARLY PERFECT!!” Syro shouts at him. After a second thought, he adds in a softer tone, “Sure, she couldn't feed herself and her teeth tended to fall out every now and again... But I was so very close...”

“Gentlemen, please,” Alma intervenes, rubbing her eyes in sheer pain. “All I need to know is if you have seen a young girl with bunny ears walking about.”

“No, señora. No chicas with bunny ears here. Maybe she is upstairs, where all di offices are?”

“Yes, maybe she is there.” Alma immediately takes the opportunity to end the conversation and leave. “Thank you, Doctor Nataniel.”

De nada. Hey, I know I’m not trained to treat gods or anything but you look very pale, señora,” Nate notices.

“Oh, worry not,” the goddess smiles to assure him. “I will be fine. Thank you for your warm reception and for the information, gentlemen. I am sure I will be seeing you around,” she says, turning to leave.

"Can I test some weapons out on you?” Syro suddenly asks, making Alma freeze in her steps and turn to face him. “They are nonlethal, I assure you. At least I think so... And as a goddess, you probably shouldn't mind," he shrugs in almost absolute confidence.

“I –” Alma stutters, not quite processing the request.

“Go, señora,” Nate saves her. “Get out of here before he turns you into one of his bunnies.”

Alma nods in grateful agreement and leaves the basemen. She heads upstairs, her head pounding again. As she climbs the stairs, the small voice in the back of her mind screams at her, What, oh what have you done to get yourself sent to this hell hole?!

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