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A Prologue

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Author's Notes

"Hello! This is a little something, not quite sure what. But it's something along the lines of 'a good starting point for this wild universe I have planned out in my head.' Hope you enjoy :)"


The dull, methodical beeping of the medical equipment was enough to send anyone to sleep. But Gerard's milky blue eyes remained open, staring intently at one of the screens.

He had only watched the other projections when instructed to, but he would always return to keep an eye on hers. He'd seen his own face appear a handful of times, yet her main focus seemed to be the man from the painting on the far side of the room. The scruffy, brown-haired man. Gerard raised an eyebrow as he studied him, seemingly smug in his windswept appearance.

He's a dream. He's not real. Fuck, he's just a man in a painting. He's probably dead.

The last thought comforted Gerard, probably more than he'd ever want to admit.


The beeping in the room had altered slightly, though he couldn't pinpoint where the source was. Nor did he care.

"Davault, check on McFarlane." Harrison Lockwood's voice seemed weary, and his colleague was napping on the sofa, directly below the painting.

Gerard rubbed his eye, tearing his eyes away from her dream. "McFarlane?"

"Monitor 8."

Gerard stood and stretched, his spine audibly cracking over the whirring of the equipment. He'd never expected his internship with Lockwood and Winters to end up like this, yet there was something comforting about the peacefulness of the operation.

Twenty four subjects, all asleep, their dreams exposed for the three men to observe.


Chael McFarlane, 20. Brown hair, a similar shade to the man from the painting. Gerard scoffed quietly at the association he'd made, and sat himself down before the screen. His smile quickly faded.


Lockwood yawned and sat down beside him. "Yes?"

"This guy is...strange."

"That's why he's here."

"No, the others are quirky, this one-"


"You calling my little brother quirky?" Cassius Winters chuckled, his hand squeezing Gerard's shoulder affectionately.

"Oh, sir, I didn't realise you'd woken up, I-"

"I'm pulling your leg, Gerard, don't worry," Winters grinned, glancing at the monitor.


"Your brother  is strange though, Cass," Lockwood took the final gulp of his coffee and glanced over at the monitor adjacent to McFarlane's.

"What can you expect?" Winters stood behind Gerard, massaging his shoulders gently. "He's a gem. They all are."

"Especially Sandström," Lockwood set his empty cup aside.

"I think Parsec and Sandström are the ones," Winters nodded.

"Along with your brother and Gerard? Perfect."

"Perfect," Winters sighed contentedly, glancing over at the painting of the man on the far wall. "It's all coming together."


Gerard shivered a little. He didn't know everything, and he always thought he was content with that. But the more the two older men discussed, the more curious he found himself.

"Get some rest, Davault," Lockwood smiled.

"What about the subjects?"

"Don't worry. We'll keep an eye on them. Besides. Today's the day."

"The day?"

"We're waking them up."

Gerard's eyes widened, and he glanced back over towards her screen.

Winters chuckled. "Don't worry about it, kid. She'll come around."

Gerard sighed. "Goodnight."

He left quietly, pausing only to take his coat from a hook on the wall.


"Who is he, Cass?" Harrison followed his friend's line of sight as soon as Gerard had closed the door. Cassius had been staring at the painting again.

"It doesn't matter. They're all dead, aren't they?"

"That's the one portrait you've done. All your other paintings are of boats and the sea. Landscapes. He must have been important to you. And it's so lifelike, you-"

"It doesn't even look like him," Cassius scoffed, turning away. "I'm not discussing this."


Lockwood sighed. He'd asked about the painting countless times, and all the conversations had ended the same way.

"Gerard won't be happy, you know," Cassius straightened up, changing the subject.

"We can't please everyone," Harrison shrugged. "Gerard's loyal. The only person who could possibly sway him is her." He nodded towards the girl's sleeping figure.

"So you're saying that if she doesn't trust us, Gerard will leave?"

"Nobody's leaving," Harrison grinned. "None of them would dare."

"What makes you so sure?" Cassius frowned. "Their dreams aren't the same as reality. They'll be more logical when they wake up. We can't just control them with all these ridiculous potions once they're awake."

"I know. Though we can guide them in the right direction. Your father was a smart man to figure all this stuff out, Cass."

"I know that. This whole operation wouldn't even exist without his books. But he was a psychopath. And an ass."


"I don't understand why you still hate him," Harrison frowned. "I didn't even know him, and I think he was a genius. Granted, he had his faults-"

"Many faults." Cassius' uncomfortable expression remained. "He's dead too. We need to focus on the ones who are alive, Harrison. What do you have planned for them?"

Lockwood reached into his pocket, producing a small vial filled with a clear liquid. "You know those dreams where you're falling, and then you land? But in actuality you just shift a little on your pillow, and you wake up?"

Winters nodded, though he was confused. He'd only ever had one dream like that, and it had been years ago.

"We have to wake them up somehow," Lockwood shrugged. "Might as well instill a little loyalty into them as well."

"We said no nightmares, Harrison."

Lockwood scoffed. "It's not a nightmare. Just a little jolt awake."


"Relax, Cass. You want to get back home, don't you?"


Winters sighed, looking at the painting once more. "Fine, do what you have to do. Just make sure none of them wet their damn beds."

"They're adults."

"They all have trauma."

"Not if everything worked."

Winters sighed. "Goodnight."

Lockwood smiled as his friend left, and slumped back in his chair, idly twirling the vial between his fingers.




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