The Walls Have You

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The Walls Have You It's Been A While

NOTE: This interlude is only available when It's Been A While is live and is not added into the Archives after BW ends.
Male Lungmenite icon.png
Yanese Villager Male icon.png
Storm Cloudbeast icon.png
Storm Cloudbeast
Yanese Villager Female icon.png
Phantom Crossbowman icon.png
??? (Doc)
Musbeast icon.png
Yan Indoor A
PL Safehouse
Lungmen Back Alley
A strange, supernatural incident takes place at Emperor's bar, with unusual noises coming from the walls. Xiaohei arrives to investigate, only to find a small animal in the air ducts.
<Background 1>
The frost-like moonlight shines down on the paulownia table in the middle of the hall. Sitting at it are a husband and wife. The wife rubs her hands as though she has something to say, while her husband props his head up with his hands, attempting to catch a nap.
She swallows her saliva and begins to speak hesitantly.
Wife Dear, I heard a strange sound in the kitchen today... It sounded like... da-da-dah. It was so frightening.
Husband So? Is it worth making a fuss over? All houses creak like that to no end when they get on in years. We just moved in. You'll get used to it.
Wife No, I don't mean creaking. I-It sounded like there was something inside the wall.
Husband Damn it, woman. Stop wasting time listening to the walls and do some housework for once! I go out. I work my butt off to make a living. All I want is to come home to a nice, hot meal on the table, but, instead, I get nothing.
Wife I-I couldn't... I felt a chill down my spine whenever I stepped into the kitchen. It was like... there was something looking at me.
Husband Enough quibbling! You just want to slack off, don't you?! Maybe a good beating'll teach you how to get your work done!
Wife I-I'm sorry, please! I still haven't healed up from last time!
Husband Then get your big butt back in the kitchen and get me a warm bottle of booze! And fry up some peanuts, while you're at it.
Wife No, please, I'm scared to go in the kitchen!
Husband Then it sounds like you ain't been hit enough!
Wife Please, forgive me! Have mercy!
Husband Let's see how you feel after I–
Wife Listen! It's that noise again!
Wife I'm not lying! That's the noise!
Husband Fine. I'll go and see what's up. But if I don't find anything, you better be ready for a whopping.
Wife I, I–
[The husband goes to the kitchen.]
Dark rainclouds shroud the moon outside the window. A storm is brewing.
Wife Dear? Dear?
Do you see anything?

The wife waits for a long time and hears nothing. Only a barely audible noise can be heard from the kitchen.
She holds her breath and stands up to listen more closely. All she can hear is the sound:
The wife's expression changes immediately and her pupils dilate. Cold sweat drips from her forehead, and just as she is about to run to her neighbor for help, her husband speaks.

Husband Come here.
Wife Dear, are you okay?
Husband It's all okay now.
The wife picks up a candle and inches towards the kitchen before nudging open the slightly-open door. Inside is pitch black; barely anything is visible.
She holds up the candle to find her husband leaning against the wall. She breathes a sigh of relief.
[The wife approaches the husband.]
Wife Did you find anything?
Husband Come here. It's all okay now.
Wife Dear, you already said that. Why say it again?
Husband Come here. It's all okay now.
The dim, yellow candlelight flickers in front of her husband's face. She suddenly notices that he's been completely expressionless ever since she entered the kitchen, repeating the same phrase again and again.
Come here. It's all okay now.
A bolt of lightning strikes outside the window, briefly lighting up the entire room.
That's when she realizes that her husband isn't leaning against the wall. Rather, his entire body has fused into the wall, with only his pale face still visible.
At the same time, a familiar noise can be heard once more.
At last, she cannot contain herself anymore and starts screaming.
<Background black>
??? Aaaaagh–Stop it!
<Background 2>
[The events from before turned out to be within a horror story told by Croissant to Sora, which freaks the latter out.]
Sora Aaaahh! Croissant, stop! I-I don't want to listen anymore, *whimpers*.
Croissant Heh, I ain't done yet. Y'all wanna know what happens to the wife, don'tcha?
Sora (Covers her ears) No no no no I don't wanna know!
Croissant Hahaha, then how 'bout you, kiddo? Wanna hear the rest?
Xiaohei Go on. I'm listening.
Croissant Look at ya tryna stay all calm. Stop pretendin'. I know a scaredy-cat when I see one.
Xiaohei But... It really wasn't that scary.
Croissant Heh, drop the tough act. If yer really scared though, I can give ya a big ole hug to calm ya down.
Xiaohei Thanks, but I think she needs it more than me.
Croissant (Turns around)
[Sora cries in fear after hearing Croissant's horror story.]
Sora (Sobs)
That was so scary... *sobs*... Why'd you have to tell us such a scary story? You're such a meanie!
Croissant Urgh... Sorry. Haha... I was just tryna give the kid a spook. Sure didn't expect to hit a full grown girl in the crossfire.
Sora *Whimpers*... Are you saying I'm more of a scaredy pants than a kid?
Croissant Naw, that ain't... Eh, my bad. Just stop cryin', alright?
Anyhow, kiddo. Ya really weren't scared? Fer real?
Xiaohei Not a bit.
Croissant Damn, ice cold.
Don't care how it ends, then?
Xiaohei The wife-beater got his punishment. That's good enough for me.
Croissant True 'nuff, bet she's gonna way happier without that asshole.
Then I guess ya ain't scared of spirits bitin' off yer toes, either! Rawr!
Xiaohei (But... I'm a spirit too.)
Actually, I see this sort of thing happen all the time...
Sora What?! Don't tell me it's... a true story?!
Gee, thanks Croissant, now I'll never get a good night's sleep ever again...
Croissant Hell naw, I pulled that straight outta my– Hey, you alright, Sora? Snap out of it. Hey!
Xiaohei Um...
(What do I tell them? Where I'm from, this kind of thing can usually be blamed on people with spatial powers...)
(I feel like just about everyone at the Hall for Spirits is already used to it, though.)
[Emperor joins in.]
Emperor I asked you two to fetch me Lee's boys, so how come it's been half a day and ya'll are chilling out here? What, you two really so lost without my guidance?
Croissant Sorry, Baws. We waited half an hour, and we ain't seen any of Mr. Lee's folks, only this little boy. So we've been havin' ourselves the most boring thirty minutes.
Sora The most terrifying thirty minutes...
Xiaohei Excuse me, are you Mr. Emperor?
Emperor The one and only.
Xiaohei Mr. Lee sent me to take care of the strange sounds in your shop. My name is Xiaohei.
Croissant Haha... Surprise, Baws!
Emperor I hope those past thirty minutes have been REAL boring, 'cause this is gonna be the least boring-ass weekend you'll ever have.
Croissant Really understatin' overtime there, Baws...
(Why didn'tcha say so sooner, kiddo?!)
Xiaohei (You never gave me a chance before you jumped into that ghost story.)
Croissant Uh... Well...
Emperor Has Old Lee filled you in on the details?
Xiaohei Only the gist.
Emperor Fei-zai, bring the boy up to speed on what you saw.
[The bartender joins in the talk.]
Barkeep Starting about three months ago, I've been hearing some weird tapping sounds. Like, "da-da-da," on-and-off in the kitchen and the storeroom. It's especially noticeable at night when it's all quiet outside.
We've also had some smaller food items go missing from both places, so I'm guessing there's some kinda small animal hiding inside the walls. And, most importantly–
Emperor Most importantly, that damn pest has gone and chewed up my limited edition vinyl! Ain't nobody walking outta my bar alive after hurting my babies.
Sora (So this is where you got the story, Croissant?)
Croissant (Haha, I've been learnin' from the baws how to draw inspiration from everything...)
Xiaohei Why not call a professional exterminator then?
Emperor I did, but those morons had the balls to tell me they'd have to tear down the whole damn wall to find whatever it is.
And there ain't no place in Lungmen with more character than this bar here. Only a philistine would even think of laying a finger on it.
Xiaohei (The entire place is decked out in gold... Laojun's hideout was prettier.)
Emperor Lee said you'd have a better idea. Now don't you disappoint me, or you'll have hell to pay.
Xiaohei Hmph–
(I wouldn't have come if I hadn't promised Mr. Lee.)
I gave Mr. Lee my word, so you can bet your butt I'll get the job done.
Emperor Then show me what you've got, kid.
(Reaches flipper out to pat Xiaohei's head)
Xiaohei Don't touch my ears, thank you very much.
[Xiaohei leaves.]
Croissant (Whoa, that's somethin'. Kid's brave enough to lock horns with the baws.)
Sora (He'll remember him for this... Oh, I'm so worried.)
Emperor (What a funny kid. Might be fun to keep him around to tease. I gotta come up with an excuse to nab him from Lee.)
<Background 3>
[Xiaohei looks around.]
Xiaohei No one's following...
Where are the air ducts...? Oh, there we go. Up there.
Heixiu, I'm counting on you.}}
Heixiu (Climbs into the air ducts)
Xiaohei There you are.
You burrowed yourself pretty deep inside.
You don't wanna come out on your own? Guess I'll have to come get you then, huh?
In the blink of an eye, the metal ring hidden up Xiaohei's sleeve slides out on its own and makes a few loops in the air before transforming into a number of balls of different sizes.
Xiaohei points at the entrance of the air duct, and the steel balls rush into the vent one after another. The sharp sound of their bouncing chases the unknown creature inside to a vent on the other end.
On hearing the rattling "da-da-da" sound, Xiaohei removes the vent's cover and finds a small animal all curled up and trembling.
[The source of the sound in the walls is revealed to be a Terran rodent.]
??? *Chirp*.
Xiaohei It's okay now. Come here.
Sorry, I wasn't trying to scare you.
??? (Cautiously climbs onto Xiaohei's palm)
Xiaohei You're even tinier than Biu.
??? *Chirp*...
Xiaohei You need to find somewhere else to live. The people here don't want you here anymore.
??? *Chirp*?
Xiaohei If you stay, you'll be in danger.
That weird penguin said you chewed up his things and he's gonna show you what for.
??? *Chirp*!
Xiaohei Don't worry, I won't hand you over to him.
Off you go now. I'm gonna let you go.
<Background 4>
Xiaohei This is the bar's backdoor. Get going.
??? *Chirp*.
Xiaohei No need to thank me. See ya.
[The rodent leaves as the storm cloudbeast from before shows up.]
Xiaohei What are you doing back here?
Is that... something in your mouth?
Storm Cloudbeast *Whine*...
Xiaohei Spit it out!
Open wide! Stop biting! It's going to die.
Storm Cloudbeast *Spit*.
[The storm cloudbeast spits the rodent from before.]
??? *Chirp*...
(Falls onto the ground)
Xiaohei Is it hurt from the bite?!
Storm Cloudbeast (Tries to get up and run)
Xiaohei Don't you run! Get back here!
Storm Cloudbeast (Sprints away)
Xiaohei Careful!
[The storm cloudbeast crashes into a shelf.]
Storm Cloudbeast Mew...
(Falls onto the ground)
Xiaohei Crap!
The shelf that the storm cloudbeast slammed into starts to tumble over. With no time to worry about the wares on it, Xiaohei dashes forward to grab the two animals before it falls on them.
By the time he regains his footing, the shelf behind him has collapsed with a loud crash.
Croissant The heck's goin' on in here?!
Sora Ahh! That's the crate of booze the boss bought just the other day!
Emperor Mind explaining what going on, boy?
Xiaohei I...
(Lifts the small animal up with his left hand)}
I found this critter inside the wall!
As for the shelf...
(Lifts the storm cloudbeast with his right hand)
This guy knocked it over!
<Background 2>
Storm Cloudbeast Mew...?
Xiaohei Oh, you're finally awake.
Storm Cloudbeast Mew...
Xiaohei You're getting me in big trouble. What'd you follow me for?
Storm Cloudbeast (Droops its head)
Xiaohei I told you. I'll help you out, but I'm busy today.
Storm Cloudbeast (Lies down)
Xiaohei Whatever... Blaming you's not going to help right now.
Croissant Hey, kiddo? What're ya talkin' to that cloudbeast for? C'mere, I reckon Baws is only 'bout 60% mad. You might still get back in one piece.
Sora Hey, stop scaring him.
Xiaohei I'll find a way to pay for the things that got damaged.
Emperor Hmph, that's the finest vintage rum brewed from Bolívar's sweetest sugar cane that year.
But my spiritual needs come first. I'll deal with your punk ass later. First, I'mma take a good look at the vermin that chewed up my vinyls.
Xiaohei What'd you guys do with it...?
Emperor Fei-zai, bring me the cage!
[The bartended walks in with a small cage.]
Barkeep Coming up, Boss.
??? *Chirp*!
Croissant Ah, so it was a musbeast.
Sora It looks so cute!
Xiaohei What's a musbeast?
Croissant They're critters that live in the Sargonian wilderness. Travelin' merchants sometimes bring 'em to nomadic cities to sell as pets. On account of how cute they are.
Xiaohei But if it's a pet, what's it doing in an air duct?
Croissant Well, they're nocturnal. Also pretty skittish and they don't warm up to folks easy. Some like to throw 'em out 'cause they don't like how rowdy the little fellas get at night, or maybe they're just plain sick of takin' care of 'em.
Air ducts are hidden and cool, just like the caves they're s'posed to live in. So you sometimes find 'em makin' themselves at home and startin' a litter.
Sora Shouldn't the owners be punished for being so irresponsible?
Croissant Hah, Lungmen ain't got no laws like that. Even if we did, enforcing 'em is a whole 'nother story.
Barkeep You're too kind, Sora. You can't even imagine how much damage these musbeasts do to the city's infrastructure.
Their teeth grow so fast that they've got to wear them down every day, so they chew on anything they come across.
You know the blackout in District 13 last year? That happened because a pack of musbeasts chewed up an underground power line.
Croissant As I 'member it, the city wasted a whole lotta money last year tryna exterminate 'em.
Xiaohei (Frowns) But... they came here against their will.
Barkeep And we spent all that tax money against our will too. What're you gonna do?
Sora Can't they catch them and release them back into the wild?
Croissant (Shakes head) And throw good money after bad? 'Sides, are there even any good habitats near Lungmen's route? Heck, they might end up causin' even more damage to the environment.
Sora If they're pets, then there's got to be a demand for adopting them, right? How about we put up some notices in front of the shop and look for a new owner?
Barkeep That might've worked a few years back, but these days you hear nothing but bad news about them. I hear they're even about to put out new regulations against keeping them. Who'd come looking for trouble?
Sora Hmph, if you're so smart, then let's hear your idea!
Barkeep Eh... Just find a barrel and drown it. That's how I used to deal with pests back home.
Xiaohei (Grits teeth) What gives you the right to do that?!
Barkeep Hah, I've met plenty of kids like you. You feel bad for them because they're cute. You wouldn't even be complaining if they were ugly.
Xiaohei That's not true!
Barkeep What're you glaring at me for? We found it in our store, so we get to decide what to do with it.
Xiaohei It's not like they wanted to be here. It was you people who brought them here and abandoned them. How is any of this their fault?!
Barkeep What's your point? Survival of the fittest, kid. We humans are on top of the food chain, so of course we get to decide what to do with them!
Xiaohei I've heard enough!
Barkeep I could tell you the same, punk! Stay out of this!
Emperor Alright! You bitches are giving me tinnitus!
Shut up, all of you. I've made my decision.
Emperor cocks his gun and points it straight at the musbeast inside the cage. Faced with its imminent bloody demise, everyone's breathing quickens.
But just before he is able to pull the trigger, a small hand grabs the barrel.
Xiaohei You can't kill it.
Emperor You think your punk ass can stop me, kid? Maybe you've got skills, but have you thought about the consequences?
You're here as Lee's errand boy. You don't want his street cred to go down the drain 'cause of you, do you?
Xiaohei You–
I'm just...
Is this really the only way?
They were forced to leave their homes and roam the streets... Nobody wants that.
Can't we come up with something else?
No one lets them stay anywhere... It's got to be painful...
All they want is a place to live!
Emperor You done?
(Raises handgun)
Sora Boss, I can take care of–
Croissant Shush.
Xiaohei I can bring it back with me! Don't you dare kill it!
[The gun is revealed to be a lighter, which Emperor uses to light his cigar.]
Emperor What're y'all so tense for? I'm just lighting a cigar.
Xiaohei ......
That's... a lighter?
Emperor What else would it be? Etched ammo's mad steep. Why'd I waste any here?
You really meant all that, though? Not bad. Touching, even.
Xiaohei (Blushes)
Emperor Hmph, punks like you are cuter when you show your feelings. What's so fun about wearing a poker face all day?
Barkeep So, Boss, about the musbeast...
Emperor Keep it. I'll adopt it.
Xiaohei So... you were never gonna kill it?
Emperor Nonsense. You think you got what it takes to know the mind of a king?
Xiaohei ......
(Who the hell would know how you think?!)
Barkeep But the government is about to–
Emperor Do I look like I'm scared of that biznatch Wei Yenwu?
Barkeep Fine, you're the boss, Boss.
Emperor Hey, kid, stop standing around. Grab that cage and come with me.
Xiaohei Where? For what?
Emperor Just shut up and follow.
[Xiaohei follows Emperor as he walks out.]
Croissant Heh, that's 'bout what I figured'd happen!
Sora So you stopped me because you knew he wasn't going to kill it?
Croissant Who do ya think sold him that gun? Er, lighter?
Sora So you let me and the boy worry ourselves to death over nothing?
Croissant C'mon, like you didn't wanna see his poker face crumble too?
Sora You're such a meanie!
[Texas walks in.]
Texas What happened in the store just now? Why does Fei-zai looks so pissed?
Croissant Haha, he got embarrassed by the baws and a kid.
Sora Right, we found the critter in the wall. A musbeast.
Texas Figures. So how'd the Boss deal with it?
Sora Fei-zai said we should get rid of it, but he decided to adopt it as his pet.
Texas A musbeast... Not too surprising.
Croissant Eh, you know somethin'?
Texas He used to keep another small critter, too. A couple years ago, maybe...?
Sora How come we never heard about this?
Texas Because... he's shy?
Croissant So? What happened?
Texas What happened? Musbeasts have an average lifespan of two years. It died.
Croissant So that's why he's always gettin' hammered and listenin' to blues in his room 'round then?
Texas Probably.
Sora Oh no... I think I'm starting to tear up again.
Croissant Hey, stop!
<Background 5>
[As Emperor and Xiaohei walks through the back alleys...]
Xiaohei ......
Emperor So, you've been keeping quiet the whole time. Got nothin' to say to me?
Xiaohei Thank you, Mr. Emperor.
Emperor Like I care about your thanks, punk. That's not what I want from you.
Xiaohei Then I've got nothing else to say.
Emperor That's really all that you're bottling up?
Xiaohei Uhh...
Why did you decide to keep it? Does it just... happen to suit to your fancy?
Emperor Why else?
Xiaohei So if you didn't like it, you'd have listened to the other guy? Would you have killed it?
Emperor If I did, what would you do?
Xiaohei I'd have stopped you.
Emperor Then good.
Xiaohei ...What do you mean?
Emperor If my decision wasn't gonna affect yours, what's the problem?
Xiaohei But–
Emperor If you've made up your mind, stop yammering and follow through with it. You better think it through first, though. Else you might regret it your whole life.
[Emperor and Xiaohei arrives at a place.]
Emperor Alright, we're here.
Xiaohei This place is...
Emperor You know it?
Xiaohei Yeah, Mr. Lee told me about the slums before. It's where the people with the Stone Disease live.
Emperor What else did he tell you?
Xiaohei That I should stay away.
Emperor He's right. This ain't a place for brats like you to be hanging out in.
Xiaohei Then why'd you bring me here...?
Emperor Because ain't nobody wants to come here, which makes it a perfect hideout for anyone who doesn't wanna be found.
[Emperor knocks the door and a veterinarian wearing white mask opens it.]
??? Hey, Mr. Emperor. What brings you here today?
Emperor I've got two critters I need you to take a look at.
??? What strange animals have you brought me today?
Emperor Show him, punk.
Xiaohei Here.
[Xiaohei shows the musbeast and storm cloudbeast.]
??? A musbeast? Oh, and a storm cloudbeast too.
Xiaohei Mr. Emperor, who's this?
Emperor A doctor. He's got mad skills. Knows how to treat both people and animals.
Doc Haha, I can deal with just about anyone or anything. As long as they're not scared to visit me, that is.
Xiaohei If he's so amazing, why hide here?
Emperor Ask him, not me.
Doc Eh, because I'm a criminal.
Xiaohei How could a doctor be a criminal?
Doc Because a doctor will always force you to face your pains in the most direct and cruelest way possible. They bring nothing but bad news.
Xiaohei That just makes you honest, not a criminal.
Doc Haha, the most honest people are also the cruellest.
Xiaohei So what are you getting at?
Doc Very good. Stay suspicious. Don't take everything at face value.
It's the things you're most sure of that will always betray you in the end.
Xiaohei Have you tried not speaking in riddles?
Emperor You done yet? So what's going on with the musbeast?
Doc Forget I said all that. Oww...
Here, sweetie, let me take a look... It doesn't look so bad. It's pretty thin, and its fur lacks luster, so it's just malnourished. Looks kind of out of it, though. Did something happen?
Emperor Is it sick?
Xiaohei Maybe it's scared? It was in the storm cloudbeast's mouth not too long ago.
Storm Cloudbeast (Licks claws) Ao...
Doc No wonder. Small critters like this happen to be a cloudbeasts' favorite meal.
This one really seems familiar, though... It's like I've seen it before...
(Picks up the storm cloudbeast)
Good boy, let me take a look. Ah, I knew it. I stitched this leg wound up myself. It's neat, elegant, and just perfect.
Xiaohei Do you remember its master?
Doc Hm, they brought this little fella to me three years ago. If memory serves, they had Oripathy. By the looks of it, they were on their last legs.
I felt sorry, so I patched the cloudbeast up for free, but then they asked me to keep the little guy too.
Xiaohei And you didn't.
Doc Of course not. I'm a doctor, not a philanthropist.
Emperor Not 'cause your broke ass couldn't afford it?
Doc See? What did I just say? The most honest people are also the most cruel.
Xiaohei Uh... I guess?
So... Do you know where that person is now?
Doc They was very sick, so probably dead by now? There's an empty lot on the outskirts of the slums, where people sometimes put up whatever an Infected's left behind, to remember them by. You could try checking there.
Come to think of it, I still remember them turning out their pockets to find every last bit of change, just so I would adopt it. Poor thing.
Xiaohei You still remember after so long?
Doc Well... I have a good memory. It's strange, isn't it? I even remember how much they managed to scrape together.
Xiaohei How much?
Doc Sixty-seven. Sixty-seven LMD exact.