Hello again, all, and welcome to the first chapter of my new Professor Layton fanfiction, The Process of Shattering! This story is one of my personal favorite works, so I have very much been looking forward to presenting it to everyone here at the wiki! However, please keep in mind that this fic is rated T for mild violence and language, and will almost certainly contain SPOILERS for the various entries of the Professor Layton series. In particular, this chapter will contain spoilers for the third game of the original triology, Professor Layton and the Unwound Future. Subsequently, those who have been considering playing the game and do not wish to be spoiled may wish to hold off on reading the chapter. Nevertheless, I hope you guys enjoy the premiere of the fic!!
Chapter One: Awakening
For a little while, everything was very dark and very quiet. In a strange, surreal kind of way, it was actually quite peaceful.
In the distance she heard shouts of panic and a faraway siren, and little by little she was drawn back into awareness, staring at what she slowly began to realize was the ceiling of the lab. At least, she thought it was the ceiling of the lab; the whole thing seemed to have been burned and parts of it were missing, plus she was inexplicably dizzy and the whole room was fighting not to become a blur of colors and shapes. The voices grew closer and clearer, yet she could not for the life of her figure out what they were saying, the words all blending together to form an incomprehensible, alien language.
Very strange indeed.
Abruptly the unmistakably strong smell of blood assaulted her, and she let out a low groan, barely keeping herself from emptying the contents of her stomach on the cool tile floor of the lab (at least, that’s what she thought it was – she could make blind guesses as to her surroundings, but ultimately she wasn’t entirely sure what anything was at the moment). Her weight shifted enough that her head flopped limply to one side, her thick bangs falling in her face, and from her new position she could see that the entire area was filled with debris and a part of the wall was gone and good lord the floor was a lot redder than it usually was. In some distant part of her mind she registered that the latter was because someone had gone and bled all over the floor, and instantly a cold dread flooded her body as she realized whoever it was had done so quite close to her, considering the proximity of the crimson pool.
It was several long minutes later that it dawned upon her that this was because she was the one who was bleeding.
…she felt very dizzy all of a sudden.
Arbitrarily she began to wonder why she was still lying there as she was, casually mulling over the concept of getting back up. Tentatively she lifted her left arm in an attempt to determine if such a thing was possible, only for a horrid scream to rip itself from her throat as unimaginable pain surged through the entirety of her being, pulsing outwards from her shoulder – which felt as if some foreign object had been violently wedged into it – and momentarily blinding her with sheer agony. Gasping out a shaky, sickly sob, she let her hand flop back down into the crimson puddle that seemed intent on surrounding her, feeling a warm, wet, vicious substance coat her shirt so it stuck to her aching abdomen.
Could she still move? Yes, it would appear the possibility was still there. But should she? Absolutely not, she decided rather quickly, trembling just ever-so-slightly in the aftershocks of the pain.
As she lay there, wondering why she was so dizzy and trying to make sense out of anything that was happening, a voice that was distant yet closer than the rest, which had been present in the background this entire time and held an eerily familiar tone, stopped rather suddenly. A second passed and then she heard footsteps, faraway at first but approaching her rather frantically, and then a figure knelt beside her and an adult hand cupped her face. She blinked languidly and, fighting through the dizziness and the urge to just fall into the blackness again, glanced up to find the desperate and horrified and inquiring face of Mr. Allen, the scientist who worked with her mother.
…her mother. Where was she? Wasn’t she at the lab? Hadn’t she seen her right before…?
She had no more time to wonder, as her eyes rolled back in her head, and she reentered that dark, still place just as Mr. Allen shouted out something about someone still being alive.
Briefly she stayed there in the blackness, feeling as if she was floating; then a familiar touch abruptly drew her back into the cold pain of reality, like she’d been pulled out of an ocean that threatened to drown her only to choke on the freezing air. She blinked spastically, not certain where she was for a moment, and then locked eyes with those of the figure – a different one now – hovering over her with the same expression Mr. Allen had borne moments before. She breathed a silent sigh of relief as she registered who he was, his presence instantly causing a glorious and much-needed calm to wash over her. Thank God, her father was here now. He was here, and thus, everything would be all right. That was what he always told her, after all.
For a moment she tried to reach out for him, to call out and tell him how bloody glad she was to see him and beg him to reassure him as he always did, but another fresh wave of pain rolled over her and only a moan managed to escape her lips. Even so, he seemed to understand, squeezing her hand tightly and forcing a comforting smile onto his face. “It’s all right,” he assured her shakily, a tone to his voice she couldn’t quite place. “It’s going to be all right, sweetheart. I’m right here. Everything is going to be just fine.”
She only had time to blink once in response to him before she found her body being lifted, his face leaving her vision and her fingers slipping out of his grip, and in an instant she sunk back into the darkness.
She remained here for far longer than she had before, and eventually began to ponder over just what had occurred to leave her there, lying flat on her back and bleeding on what she thought was the floor of the lab. Hard as she tried, though, the answers never quite came to her; every time she felt herself growing close it flitted away, like a bird that refused to be caged. After a while she gave up on uncovering the full story for the time being, settling instead on picking up the minor bits and pieces of information she did recall, hoping she would eventually be able to connect them all and weave them into a coherent story.
She remembered being with her mother.
She remembered being hit.
She remembered the last thing she’d known before darkness was a sharp pain in her shoulder and a deafening noise.
But above all, she remembered being scared.
…A steady beeping noise slowly but surely drew her back into a foggy awareness.
Blinking slowly, she glanced around her through half-lidded eyes, discovering that her surroundings had changed rather drastically from what they’d been before she’d plunged back into the darkness. She was now lying down somewhat more comfortably on something far softer than what she continued to assume had been the floor of the lab, covered with a light sheet, her languid and raspy breathing aided by a device that had been placed over her nose and mouth. While the sharp pain and feeling of a foreign object had been removed from her shoulder, they had been replaced by a duller but ever-present ache spread throughout the entirety of her body, which felt like it was attempting both to rip itself apart and pull itself together at the same time. Offhandedly she noted that she did not see as much red as before; in fact, her surroundings were a depressing collection of whites and beiges and greys.
For a moment she struggled in an ultimately doomed attempt to sit up, but a gentle touch urged her back down. She blinked several times in rapid succession, searching for the source, before her eyes settled on the face of her father.
“…daddy,” she managed to wheeze, pleased to discover that she was actually capable of speech this time. He smiled down at her in response, a sympathetic gaze, though she couldn’t help but note the uncertainty and sadness in his expression, along with several emotions she did not have names for.
“Shh,” he whispered, brushing her ever-unruly bangs away from her face, so lightly and cautiously that it seemed he feared his touch could break her. “Just rest, sweetheart. Everything’s all right now. You just rest.”
Once again she blinked languidly – it seemed to be the gesture she defaulted to now as she processed information – and quickly found herself agreeing with his statement; she was still tired and aching and just the slightest bit dizzy, so rest seemed like an excellent idea. Before that, however, there was something she needed to know, a question that was burning itself into the forefront of her mind as she continued to puzzle this whole situation out.
“…w-where’s mum?” She forced out, a bit more strength to her voice now, turning to her father and struggling to keep her eyes open in her exhaustion. “Is she here too…?”
For just a split second, she thought she saw her father’s eyes widen just a fraction, glistening in the dark room as if they were filled with tears. His face twisted in a way she couldn’t quite place, and he was silent for several moments, jaw slightly slack as if he was trying to figure out what to say. Finally, he gave a heavy sigh and wordlessly cradled his daughter’s face, kissing her forehead gingerly and rubbing reassuring circles into her cheek with his thumb.
“…you need to rest,” he murmured, staring down at her with that nameless expression. “Just rest, my dearest. I promise you, everything will be all right.”
She felt a distinct sense of alarm before the darkness once again claimed her.
Trapped once again in this endless, eerie limbo, she found herself making two lists – one of people whom she knew to be well, having seen them in the time since she’d first awakened, the second of those whose whereabouts and welfare were still unknown to her. The first list was completed fairly quickly, as the only people she’d seen were her father and Mr. Allen, so she moved on to the second. Her mother, the mother she absolutely knew she’d gone to the lab with that morning, the mother who she now hadn’t seen and who her father seemed unusually reluctant to discuss, was the obvious first addition to the list; after that she added Clive, the older boy who lived in the apartments near the lab and whom she suspected she’d seen before her awakening, though her memories before the initial darkness continued to be fuzzy and incomplete. She also mentally scribed the name of her mother’s employer, Mr. Hawks, though to her confusion and worry, his welfare seemed less than important to her for reasons unknown. Then of course, there were Clive’s parents, whom she knew he lived with in their flat near the lab. And what of the policeman who often patrolled the corner down the way from her mother’s work? Or the old man who walked past with his wife every day? Or the lady on the bus that took her mother and her to the lab, the one who always carried that little dog with her?
From there the second list continued to spiral out of control, the names piling up as the people she hadn’t seen, the people who could very well be in trouble for all she knew, continued to rush to the forefront of her mind. Her grandparents on her father’s side, whom she’d never met, and her grandfather on her mother’s side, whom she hadn’t seen since she was a baby. Her father’s former professor, who she’d met once but didn’t remember well. Her parents’ friends from their college days, one of whom she’d apparently met shortly after she was born, and their new son, who she’d never seen. The older woman who lived in the flat across from hers, who often watched over her when her parents were unable. Her father’s old friends from high school that he’d mentioned once in passing. Any grandparents Clive might have. Reminded of her friend, she quickly added him and her mother again for good measure, half-consciously neglecting to do the same with Hawks. Panicking as she realized just how lengthy the list was growing – threatening to expand even further, with names and faces assaulting her at a rapid-fire pace – she frantically returned to her first list and began repeating the names of Mr. Allen and her father, over and over just to give herself the illusion that someone, anyone was still all right—
Abruptly she awoke once again, eyes snapping wide open and tiny fingers gripping the sheets that covered her for dear life, her breath short and sharp and her body drenched in a cold sweat. Trembling, she glanced towards her side and found her father, having fallen asleep still sitting beside her with his hand clutching hers, something in the corner of his eye that looked suspiciously like a tear.
…she remembered everything now.
Chapter One Trivia
Be warned that links to character pages may include spoilers.
- The chapter titles for The Process of Shattering were picked to summarize the central emotion, complication or change Maria faces in each chapter. The first chapter's title, Awakening, was (rather obviously) chosen because it is the chapter where Maria awakens for the first time after the accident that changes her life.
- Five chapters of The Process of Shattering were written before all became lost during the Great Flash Drive Crash of 2011. The published chapters, subsequently, are the "second draft" of the story.
- During the first chapter, Maria is approximately two and a half years old.
- "Mr. Allen" is scientist Dimitri Allen, who, as Maria states, worked with her mother, Claire Foley. Flashbacks during Professor Layton and the Unwound Future establish that he was the first on the scene after the accident occured; subsequently, the authoress thought it only reasonable that he would be the one to discover the injured Maria.
- Although it is not stated by Maria during the chapter, her father is, obviously, professor Hershel Layton. Unsurprisingly, she thinks of him simply as her father rather than referring to him by name, hence why his name is not used in the chapter.
- One of the authoress' favorite parts of writing The Process of Shattering is illustrating not just Maria's growth after the accident, Layton's own struggle between facing both the grief of losing the woman he loved, and the necessity of having to reassure and care for his daughter. His reaction towards Maria's inquiry about her mother was supposed to be the first of many scenes depicting this conflict.
- Prior to Maria awakening in the hospital (while she was in surgery), the authoress imagines Layton being in denial over the situation, refusing to believe Claire is dead and repeatedly asking hospital personell to contact her so she might be with the injured Maria. Subsequently, his having to pull himself together to care for and comfort Maria, while obviously a struggle for him, also serves as a way to force Layton to cope with the situation. This will be reflected on more in an upcoming chapter.
- All of the people Maria mentions in her "list" are either blatantly existing Professor Layton characters or a reference to them, with one exception.
- As previously stated, her father is Professor Layton himself, while "Mr. Allen" is scientist Dimitri Allen.
- Clive is a character who was also present at the scene of the accident in a flashback during Unwound Future, and is featured more prominently in later parts of the story, along with the companion piece Long-Forgotten Happiness.
- Maria's mother is, as previously mentioned, Claire Foley, established to be Layton's girlfriend at the time the accident occured during Unwound Future.
- "Mr. Hawks" is Bill Hawks, who Unwound Future establishes to have been the head scientist at the lab where Claire worked. Hawks is featured more prominently in later chapters.
- Clive's parents were briefly seen during a flashback image in Unwound Future.
- The authoress imagines the policeman to be Inspector Chelmey, who was still a constable at the time of the accident.
- The "old man and his wife" are a reference to Capone and Mitzi, an old married couple who appear as minor characters in Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box.
- The "lady" who always carries "that little dog" was a reference to Babette and her beloved dog Tom, who also appear briefly in Diabolical Box.
- Maria's grandparents are non-canon imaginings by the authoress, as no information on either character's families were revealed at the time she began initial work on the story. She imagines Layton to have an absentee father and a strained relationship with his mother, while Claire was raised by a single father after losing her mother to illness when she was young. Again, none of this is canon, simply the authoress' musings.
- The "former professor" of Maria's father is Dr. Andrew Schrader, who first appears in Diabolical Box. He makes an actual appearance in a later chapter.
- The friends of Maria's parents are Clark and Brenda Triton, who first appear in Professor Layton and the Last Specter. Clark is established to have been a friend and classmate of Layton's when the two attended Gressenheller University. The authoress futher imagines that his wife, Brenda, was friends with Claire, and that the couple met through Layton and Claire. Their son is, obviously, Luke Triton, who is established to have been a baby at the time of the accident during Unwound Future.
- In the first draft, "the older woman" was simply an unnamed neighbor of the Layton family. Eventually, she evolved to become Rosa, a woman who works at Gressenheller as a maid in Last Specter. Her residence near Layton's is simply more authoress musings, and came about partially because of confusion preceding the release of Last Specter: the authoress read that she was Layton's maid, assumed that meant she worked for him personally, and subsequently decided it would be reasonable for her to live nearby; only after the game's release did she learn that she actually worked at Gressenheller, and by then she did not want to change Rosa's place of residence.
- The "old friends from high school" Maria mentions her father talking about are Lando and Sharon, both of whom are established to be such in the as-of-yet unreleased Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle.