|Cast (In Order of Appearance)|
After the death of Damien Anderson, Li-Pau is torn between his duties as an officer and the wishes of his former mentor. Eventually he elects to go AWOL in search of the infamous Claude Lasi-Faité, journeying to the terrorist's last known location. At the same time, Miki Albraun is ordered to find the rogue GHOST Agent and return him to Block 441. Meanwhile, a dangerous idealist lies in wait to hamper the plans of the GHOST team, while the legacy of a villain may serve to alter the life of the Guardian of Air.
Chapter 1 - Li-Pau Nao
I raced through the streets of Rue Lamartine, dodging the masses of pedestrians. It had only been a day since I had left Block 441, the day my mentor had met his end. Upon hearing the news I had immediately dropped all of my responsibilities.
Now, the only thing that mattered was to search for Damien Anderson's killer, the infamous terrorist my mentor had been hunting for the better part of his life. A man known by many names, commonly referred to as Claude Lasi-Faité.
Things were bad, GHOST was in turmoil as our commander's untimely death was followed by Kenneth Lysander's sudden disappearance. He had to be found as soon as possible, as he was the only one fit to lead the organisation as the former Deputy Commander. However, it had been my determination for Damien's death to not go unpunished that lead me to where I am today.
At first, my search had taken me to my target's last known location, the city of Bangalore, India. The time I spent in Indian Zone had not been pleasant in the slightest. Soon after my arrival in the city, the trail went cold, and I was forced to work on the insight of citizens and the occasional trader. They rarely, if ever, had any suitable information and I was beginning to think my target had slipped away.
However, my luck changed as I was given a tip off that my target had been spotted in an airport, boarding a flight for his homeland of the European Commonwealth. In particular, Paris. My contact also informed me that he was heading for a particular area of the city known as Rue Lamartine.
I wasn't certain about the validity of this information, but I needed something to go on, and took my chance. My musing ended as I reached the bar where my target was supposedly seen last. I entered the bar, tossed the hood of my hoodie over my head, and sat in front of the counter, waiting for the bartender. Eventually, a large man dressed in a ragged shirt with overalls walked over to where I was sitting, he was cleaning a cup.
"What're you 'aving boy?" He asked in a thick French accent.
"Information about one of your customers," I plainly answered.
The man leaned back; a curious expression crossed his face as he looked from side to side. Convinced no one of any note was in earshot, he leaned in close to my ear, "I don't tell notheen' for free."
"How much will it cost me?"
"Fifty euros." He spat, "and you better not be a cop."
"Thirty." I shot back, "and I most certainly am not."
The bartender leaned forward, his breath smelled of whisky. "Fifty, 'r I blow your brains out." As he finished his sentence I noticed a pistol slung under his jacket. I could tell by his expression that he was ready to use it.
I looked at the man in the eye. "Forty, or you drop dead."
The bartender snickered. "How do ya propose t'do that?"
Without hesitation, I sent a quick shock of electricity at the man’s arm. He grunted before stepping back, clenching his wrist, he looked at me, and I knew then the man would cooperate.
"Fine! Forty, just promise me you'll get the 'ell outta here after!"
"Done deal. Now I just need you to answer a few questions." I gave a brief smile.
"If I must." He nodded.
"Okay. First off, have you seen any men of distinctive note come by here? In particular one in his Late forties with grey hair and a penchant for sunglasses. Ring any bells?"
The man scratched his head for a moment, and then shook his head. "Nah, no one like that."
I nodded. "Alright, no worries, I may have been mistaken. Second question, I have a list of aliases here. I want you to tell me if you have heard any of these before."
The bartender nodded. "Hit me."
I pulled out a data-slat. "Sleeping Teledu… George Maloy… René Martain… "
The bartender raised his hand. "'ang on, 'at last one sounds familiar."
I closed the data-slate, and looked up at him. "Yes?"
"René Martain, I 'eard the name tossed around... quite recen'ly."
"How recently?" I asked.
"About an hour ago," he chuckled, "'ad you been in a bit earlier you could 'ave 'ad this information for free!"
"How?" I clenched my fists.
"Someone gone an' asked me."
"Who asked you?" I demanded.
"Ah, now dat will cost you as well, my friend, for he is one of my most loyal customers."
I gritted my teeth, "fine, I'll give you the other ten euros you asked for."
"Ah, excellent," he grinned, as I placed all fifty euros on the table, "He is a youn’ man, I think he is about the same age as ya. If yo' gonna look fer 'im, he was dressed in black. All goth like."
I shot out of my seat, I had a lead, "Where was he going?"
"Not far," the bartender replied. "Jus' leave the bar and take a left. Then keep walkin' until you hit the street market."
I nodded and passed the man fifty euros, before making my way to the exit. I was only stopped as the bartender called me. I turned to see what he wanted.
"One last thing. The guy you're looking for, Andrew Sol's his name, well, 'e isn't exactly the nicest of fella's. Per'aps think twice before trifling with 'im."
The look on his face was worryingly stern. In many ways it reminded me of the way Damien, and my father before him, would look at me whenever I suggested something reckless or dangerous.
Regardless, if this young man knew anything about Claude, it was a risk worth taking.
Chapter 2 - Miki Albraun
Changes to my schedule annoy me even at the best of times.
Both Li-Pau Nao and Kenneth Lysander were missing, and worst of all, Damien was presumed dead. It had been twenty-four hours since any further evidence had decided to show up, and my patience was wearing unbearably thin.
Due to my sickness-induced insomnia, it was usually typical of me to continue my work late into the night. Normally I took this so-called "disability" for granted, as it ensured that my presence would remain undisturbed for a few hours at the very least, but despite this daily pattern of activity, tonight happened to be very different in many ways. To begin with, I managed to get four hours of undisturbed sleep.
This annoyed me, I had only expected thirty minutes at least, but instead my body had just decided to crash out for over eight times longer than for what I'd hoped. Fluctuations in daily habits usually were always cause for concern, for in my mind predictability ensured security. Now the only thing on my mind was the fact I had to catch up on four hours of work.
After getting out of bed, I hurriedly readied myself. I activated up my holoslate bracelet's clock application briefly upon putting it on, getting a grasp on how many hours I had to work with.
21:30. I had slept in, most certainly an unusual behaviour on my part. Though in business terms this was a nightmare for me, emotionally I hadn't felt so refreshed in such a long time, I could even effortlessly manage a smile.
For a second, It almost felt as if I could relate to Alison in this sense. How stupid of me, letting my emotions get in the way. Successively afterwards I brushed the thought away.
I worked my way through the empty hallways of Block 441, entering the information archives room; only to have the previously calm and dreary night air be perturbed. It was habitual of myself to log onto the facility's main computing system, usually recapping on any changes to the database that came through during my few hours of sleep; and tonight I was met with an almost frightening surprise.
There was a notification on the screen detailing a national security alert from the Euro Zone. I double-clicked the linked image and resized it to 100 precent. Though the photo was blurry, and in a stark, high-contrast monotone, I could make out a hoodie, and some very familiar spikes of hair protruding out. What confirmed my suspicious even further, was the pattern on his sleeve.
I sat myself down and began to think.
"Aha." I laughed quietly. "Old habits die hard."
Things were beginning to look favourable to us. Mere seconds later a name flashed up beneath the picture. Li-Pau Nao.
"Got you," I spoke coldly, although I couldn't stop myself from smiling ever so slightly.
Before now I had been stuck in a dead end, though I at least had a general Idea that Li-Pau had left our headquarters in a hurry, with the hopes and intentions that nobody would come out after him; but I only had a handful of evidence to prove so. My suspicious first arose on the very day of his disappearance, I noticed that his laptop and its accompanying bag were missing, and as well as this, this computer's hard drive had been wiped clean. This indicated he was hiding something, hoping that his browsing history wouldn't leave a whole score of potential clues that would have no doubt pointed directly towards where he was heading off to.
He could have quite easily left without a single trace if he had realised that a thorough deletion of all system files were greatly suspicious. If it were me, I would have simply run a system restore. There could have been two possible theories here: one, Li-Pau did it himself, or two, the system was hacked, where it would have run the automated system deletion code. However, it was undoubtedly the former, proven by the fact that there was a complete uninstillation of all backups within the system as well.
I was disappointed in him because of this, yet just as concerned all the same.
This deletion of all backup files also made his desperation to cover his tracks all the more obvious. Under normal circumstances he wouldn't have left any discernable trace. Clearly the pressure of the situation he had found himself in had made him sloppy. He had potential, Nao, but it seemed he had more to learn about maintaining high standards at all times. Especially when pressed for this rare commodity.
If my observations weren't enough, I had one final piece of evidence to prove that It had to be him. Though the browsing history could be deleted, the user logins had been left untouched. The last session that was online was User: Ghost-id-07.
"07…" I repeated to myself. Undoubtedly Nao's username.
My hypothesis was solid, however, the question still remained all the same.
Of all the possible suspects within our team who would be prone to a total and sudden disassociation with us, it was somebody I thought as not even qualified to be part of such a ridiculous list. And since then I've been constantly finding myself asking the same question,
"For what was this all for, exactly…?"
Suddenly my thoughts were interrupted to the sound of a door sliding open, and I was met with a concerned Mathieu Dalton.
"What do you want?" I asked calmly, certain to be met with disappointment due to my recurrent lack of information.
"Any updates?" He asked, exhaustion hidden within him under an extreme sense of perseverance.
"One." I replied.
"That's still progress, what Is it?" He said, his words almost jumping at me.
I silently opened up the image of Nao on my screen, and a wash of interest to hold of Mathieu's face. It had only been recently where he had reluctantly taken the position of acting commander, and it was evident that the stress was having a very detrimental effect on his wellbeing.
"We'll have to act immediately, no point in sitting around any longer. Miki, would you kindly go search for him. I'll stay here and keep track of any further evidence. I'd say it'd be good for you to get a break from this monotonous routine." He ordered.
Chapter 3 - Andrew Sol
I hated this place.
The bar was the only one that served me, most of the others told me to 'piss off' at the first instance. Only this barman, the sweaty, greasy money-grabbing sod he is, served me, and only then if I give him a sweet enough bribe. If I could have gone anywhere else, I would have. The floors were sticky with beer spillages that never got cleaned up, the once white walls were stained urine yellow with similar grime and the same old, tired, jazz was played through the cheap speakers. Around me were other hopeless drunks trying to drown the rest of their day with cheap alcohol.
But drinking was not the top of the agenda. My informant had told me to meet him here, that he had some information on someone big. I had opted to sit on the table in the corner, away from the others. He had said to meet him about half an hour ago. Just where the hell was he?
Irritated, I went to the bar. I needed another drink to wash down my disappointment.
I saw the barman was in a conversation with two alcoholics, who had both finished work and were slurring to the barman about their day. Moaning about financial deals going badly or co-workers they were trying to get in bed. I really didn't care. I just wanted a drink. I stood away from the duo.
"Another glass please." I said.
"Okay, kid." The barman said, half smiling. "Five euros."
"But the board says ten cents." I argued. "Can't you just charge me normal price?"
I saw a flash of irritation in his eyes behind his glasses as he leaned in closer in an attempt to intimidate me. "The other board says 'No ID, no sale', kid. If I'm ignoring that board I'm ignoring this one. Five euros, pay up or piss off."
Defeated, I got my wallet out. "Fine." I said. Handing the note to him. He snatched it away and quickly produced my drink. I took the glass to my table and sat down.
It took about a minute before I realized that something was left there. It was a plain brown envelope. Curious, I took it from the table and opened it. The first thing I pulled out was a glossy photograph. It was taken hastily but showed a man of around my age with average length black hair and purple eyes. In the picture he was wearing a grey hoodie with a red stripe. I could tell immediately the guy came from the Chinese District of the People's Republic of Asia, he looked exactly like the bastards who were responsible for the oppression of my homeland.
I put the picture on the table and examined the other papers in the envelope. There were two. The first one was a wanted poster showing the same man on the front, albeit slightly poorer quality. The next paper, however, was far more interesting.
It was a police document on the wanted criminal Li-Pau Nao, member of the illegal vigilante group GHOST. It said he was a “Highly dangerous Lightning Elemental. Exercise extreme caution and only approach with Elemental Suppression Agents.” I had to smile. GHOST were a big deal. If I killed a member, it was another scumbag removed from this earth. I had to do this. Needed to do this. Just before sliding the evidence into the envelope I looked at the information under 'last sighted'. The words: 'Rue Lamartine, Paris, France, Approximately 20:32 today' were underlined.
I almost spilt my drink when I read this. I suddenly checked my watch, 21:21. The bastard had been in this exact bar only about an hour ago.
"Ah yes, I recognize that face, 'e came in earlier. Naturally, I decided to do a little digging," the bartender looked down at the pictures, as he took away my empty glass, "and then I phoned the police, of course."
"So why did you decide not to tell me any of this before now!?" Was the sudden outburst that left my lips.
"You didn't ask," the barman stated, "but that reminds me, he seemed a little intent on finding you!"
"WHAT!?" I yelled, outraged at the indignity.
"Yes, he left this establishment looking for the hunt," the bartender casually remarked.
"And who told him this information," I snidely queried.
"Business, is business, my friend," he glibly retorted before moving over to the next table.
Realizing there was no use fretting about the past, my thoughts turned towards my new prey. First of all, I'd need to find the others. Since if he was GHOST, he was going to be tricky. That, and they would want in on something this big. On top of this, the bounty on his head was also incredibly enticing, five hundred thousand euros dead or one million if taken in alive.
However, my only real question was: How long had René been waiting for me to leave the table?
Chapter 4 - Natalia Christelle
It was another drab night in the Holy Commonwealth Palace, as I watched the rain splatter against the window of my study. Another day I had spent being groomed for royal duties. It was a tedious affair. The day had begun with a long drawn out clothing process, with maids dashing around as my mother tried to settle on the look I should be presenting that day. Personally I would have been happy with a modest blouse and short skirt, but my mother always had other ideas.
One must look like royalty, she would remind me each morning.
I remember when I was younger, being so excited by the whole process. Being treated like a princess was just a marvelous affair back then. But it had never felt the same since the incident. For the last four years the routine just felt tedious and pointless. My friends were all dead. They had been family as well. They were irreplaceable, and the palace was much emptier without them.
As always, being dressed was followed by a formal breakfast, which in turn lead on to elocution lessons. It was ridiculous that my mother still insisted on the archaic idea. A small break was permitted after the tortuous affair, which I used as my husband had instructed, to practice my marksmanship at the shooting range. Today I had opted for a small handgun. It was comfortable and packed a reasonable punch.
Sadly, without my husband here to dictate otherwise, I was not allowed to spend the whole day there. Thus, my next appointment was a rather frivolous luncheon with the Director of Trade. His stories always bored me, but as I always did with government ministers, I noted down every last detail that left his lips. This was so that my darling husband could read it over when he returned from his business overseas.
As the afternoon wearied onward, and I realised my mother had left the Palace on official business, I decided to abandon my scheduled cooking class. Instead I ventured to find my personal trainer so that we could work on hand-to-hand combat. After a long intensive session I was forcefully recalled to dinner by my mother who had, much to my dismay, returned early from her travels.
I largely tuned out as she laboured on about how I should neither be spending time at the shooting range nor choosing to abandon scheduled appointments. This was nothing new, so I had just come to hear it as white noise. After dinner I realised I was missing the company of my father and my husband. They always added much welcomed variety to my otherwise monotonous life. Sadly, the former had not been sighted in weeks and the latter was away on a peace keeping mission in South America. After changing in to my causal wear, in order to alleviate the boredom, I spent the rest of the evening practicing my elemental abilities.
Something I knew my mother disapproved of, but my husband had always encouraged.
As my husband had instructed, I requested a detailed intelligence report from the Department of Internal Security to be handed to me in person at 00.00 hours. The same I had done every night since our wedding day.
I checked my watch. 23.54.
The ticking of the old grandfather clock that was situated in the corner of the study was slowly wearing at my sanity.
Much to my surprise, the door suddenly burst open, and I was met by the Director of Internal Security. He seemed rather fatigued and out of breath.
"Je suis tellement désolé pour l'intrusion, Madame," he panted, "mais j'ai eu de vous informer aussi vite que je le pouvais. Princesse Mikayla Albraun a été identifié à l'Aéroport International de Paris. Elle est venue sur un vol en provenance du Secteur VII, sous le pseudonyme de Brigit Feierabend à 23,25h."
"M-Miki... " was all I could manage.
He passed me a dossier with a CCTV image of a young woman attached to the front.
I was speechless. Just too overjoyed at the fact my older cousin was still alive. All this time I believed that she had been kidnapped by GHOST and killed. And here she was. Alive.
"Dois-je informer Son Altesse Royale ainsi, madame?" he politely asked.
"Non, ce sera tout," I spoke plainly, "Je-je vais lui dire moi-même. Je vous remercie, Directeur."
"Mais il ya plus, madame. Plus tôt dans la journée, nous avons reçu un rapport des autorités de Secteur V que Ghost K commandant, Damien Anderson, a été retrouvé mort dans un entrepôt à Madurai. Spécialistes en médecine légale ont établi que, dans l'état de l'organisme, l'incident s'est produit il ya vingt-quatre heures." the Director informed me in a professional manner.
Tears started running down my eyes. It was a light amongst the darkness. A sign that everything wasn't as bad as it seemed. The man who had destroyed my family and destroyed my home had finally faced retribution.
"Madame, il ya encore un élément d'information essentiel. Agent de GHOST et criminel recherché, Li-Pau Nao a également été identifié dans le Secteur IV. Il a été trouvé aujourd'hui dans un bar à Paris, 20,32. Nous mettons dans nos meilleurs efforts pour le traquer et le traduire en justice. A ce moment, nous ne savons pas comment il a réussi à entrer dans le pays," he finished.
It was startling to hear. GHOST agents threatening the security of the Euro Zone once more. Suddenly it made me very worried about Miki.
"Que faire si il essaye de kidnapper elle à nouveau!" I piped up, "Peut-être qu'elle s'est échappée K Ghost et il est venu ici pour l'intercepter?"
"Je peux vous assurer, madame, nous faisons tout en notre pouvoir pour suivre à la fois vers le bas," he said in very calm manner, "si tel est le cas, nous ferons ce que nous pouvons pour empêcher que cela se passe."
The clock suddenly began to strike midnight.
"Maintenant, si ce sera tout, je retourne à mon poste," he politely requested.
"Oui, oui, bien sûr," I replied, rather flustered, as the ringing bells from the clock droned on.
At that moment an idea struck me. It was reckless and foolish.
But I had to find Miki. I just had to. No matter what.
I walked over to my desk and unlatched the bottom drawer. From within I withdrew a leather holster and a sleek, black, handgun. I opened an upper drawer and took out a clip of ammunition. I slotted the cartridge into the firearm. After checking to see that it was correctly loaded, I switched the safety on and placed it on the desk.
I attached the holster around my left thigh and carefully slotted the gun within holder. The top drawer contained another holster and a ceramic knife. I strapped this around my right thigh before sliding the blade into it.
Satisfied that I was suitably armed, I made my way out of the study and set course for the Royal Airstrip.
I was going to find Miki. I was going to rescue her.
And, if I had to, kill Li-Pau Nao.
Chapter 5 - Li-Pau Nao
I'd been questioning bystanders for the better part of three hours by the time I made it to the end of the street market. I was starting to feel that the helpful tip off I'd payed good money for was nothing more than a red herring. I'd found no sign of the hunt nor this "Andrew Sol" fellow and as the night wearied onwards it had all the halmarks of a wild goose chase. People claimed to have seen the raven haired boy, but could only place him as being here a couple of days ago, and that they usually saw him travelling around with a pack of bounty hunters (usually refered to as "the Hunt"). Other than that, it had been mindless annecdotes and requests. Unsurprisingly, my patience had worn thin.
Yet, it was as I reached the end of the market, walked past the last of the stalls, my attention was captured by something that brought out a primal fear within my very being. Freshly printed wanted posters now littered the area, each one with a picture of my face plastered upon them. I slowed down my pace and walked over to the nearest one, in order to examine it further. My eyes widened as I read the apparent bounty on my head: €500,000 dead or €1,000,000 alive. I looked around; making sure no one was paying attention to me.
Thankfully, the civilians seemed focused on whatever they were buying at the street market, and I decided to tear down the poster. I examined the area, searching for any other posters I could tear down. I spotted one a few meters away, and advanced towards it. I knew tearing down these posters wouldn’t help as much as I’d like, as several large advertising holograms now projected my details to the wider populace. I felt something hit my nose, and realized it had started to rain and, judging by the clouds, it was going to turn into a deluge very soon.
Focus. Tear down the posters.
I walked towards the next poster and began to tear it down. To my horror I felt a tap on my shoulder as an insolent voice rang out from behind me, "Oi! Just what do you think you're doing, punk!?"
I froze. It could be a police officer. If he recognised who I was then I'd be in trouble. I didn't need this inconvenience, not now.
"Are you deaf, kid!?" he barked at me.
I turned around carefully and kept my eyes obscured by the hood of my sweater.
"I just wanted one as a souvenir. Can't be any harm in that?" I improvised hurridly.
The man looked at me with a harsh stare; clearly he was looking for a fight. The man wore a black jacket; a white t-shirt was visible under it. A black beanie was pulled down to his eyebrows, which brought out his morbid black eyes. I noticed he had a katana strapped to his back. He clearly wasn't a police officer, but I didn't doubt that he was likely more dangerous.
"Yeah, well they're up there for a reason. So that it's easier for us to find criminal scum like that bastard there," he snapped, pointing astutely at the photograph, "now don't let me catch you doing that on my turf again."
He flipped me off before storming off down the road.
However, my attention was now no longer captured by the wanted posters. While the man was clearly not who the bartender told me about, his appearance was suspicious enough to make me feel as though he could provide useful information, whether he wanted to or not. It seemed more than likely that he was a bounty hunter. If I was lucky, he may even be connected to with the "Hunt".
“Excuse me sir!” I called at him, trying to make my voice sound innocent.
The man turned to me, he seemed irritated that I had decided to open my mouth again. He walked over to me and narrowed his eyes.
"What do you want kid?" He growled. "I told you I don't ever want to see you here again."
He then looked down at his watch and cursed under his breath.
"Shit. I'm late as it is. Thanks for that, ya little shit."
The time read 00.20.
"Ah yes, you seem to be in a bit of a hurry, but I was just thinking about repaying you for the trouble I caused. That is... if I could just ask you a few questions as well..."
He suddenly looked less dejected and more intrigued.
"I'll pay you fifty euros now," I responded, "and then we can negotiate the rest?"
For a moment, he said nothing, looking around just as the bartender had done. He looked back at me and shook his head, "not here kid, too many people around."
"Then where do you propose?"
The man pointed to an alleyway a few meters away from our location. "That alleyway, no one should see what we're doing there. That, and the feds get mighty antsy seeing that amount of money being passed between strangers."
I crossed my arms, I was suspicious. It wasn't every day I was directed to meet somebody in an alleyway. Even so, my desperation overwhelmed my suspicion, if this man knew anything about Claude or his associate, then it was worth a shot.
I nodded, and he motioned for me to follow. As we entered the alleyway, the man turned to face me, his expression told me he wanted to get this over with. I slipped him the fifty euros I had promised.
"Right, what all do you want to know?"
"That depends, how much do I have to pay you?"
He paused, then grumbled. "Fifty euros per question."
"Deal," I agreed. "Okay. First question. Do you know someone by the name, Andrew Sol?”
He paused, I looked at him, and his expression of a slight smirk told me what I needed to know. "You do, don’t you?"
That’s when he snapped. In a moment’s notice the man pinned me to the wall, putting pressure on my neck with his arm. I squirmed, trying desperately to break free from the man’s grip. He looked me in the eye and snickered.
"I can’t believe you fell for this." He laughed.
My face paled. I realized he had lead me into a trap, he had never intended to give me information. I cursed myself for not being more cautious. The man looked at me, and his smile grew wider.
"I knew it was you," he chuckled. "you’re that member of Ghost K, the one on all those posters. I'm glad you stopped me again. I didn't get a good enough look of you the first time."
"You don’t want to do this." was my answer.
"Oh, but I do. You’ve got quite a bounty on your head kid, Jack’s going to flip when I tell him I’ve caught you. Now, don't worry, I don't want to kill you. You're worth far more to me alive."
I had to think fast, I couldn’t die here, not when I was this close. I decided to take a chance. "You still didn't answer my first question you know."
"You think I will, Nao?" He retorted.
"C'mon, think of it as my dying wish," I smiled innocently.
For a moment, he stared at me, no doubt wondering if he should. He snarled. "You're scum, I hate scum, but a deal's a deal. Yeah, I know him, he's the newest member of my gang. Oh, don't worry, you'll meet him soon enough. When we hand you in to the authorities you guys will have plenty of time to chat. Now, if you'll excuse me…"
With that, the man put his right hand up to his ear, keeping his left arm down to my throat. I noticed a small, phone-like device was strapped to his ear. No doubt a communication’s device. He pressed it and a green LED lit up.
"This is William. Everyone, make your way to the street market. Rue Lamartine. You won't believe this, but I've caught…"
I didn’t let him finish, I grabbed hold of his left arm and sent currents of electricity through it. William screamed, and I felt the pressure on my throat loosen up. I kicked him in the stomach, knocking the breath out of him and sending him stumbling backwards, clumsily falling into trashcans behind him. I began to walk towards him, but was stopped as he launched one of the trash cans at me, using nothing but the motion of his hand.
Gravity Elemental. I realized as I ducked from the trashcan.
William sent another one flying at me, this time I destroyed it with a lightning bolt. I was disgusted to find burnt trash had stained my shoes. As I examined my shoes, I noticed the ground was getting smaller, but wider. Horror struck me as realized I was being lifted, I found William raising me with by raising his hand. With a quick flick of the wrist, I was sent flying backwards. I hit the cement wall and suddenly fell downwards, gravity returning to normal. As I got up to my feet, I found William sprinting away, towards the street market. I cursed, what a coward! Regardless, I couldn't let him slip away, and I began to give chase.
The bastard was fast, probably because he was used to running away. My lips curled into a snarl as I saw him use his elemental abilities to push pedestrians aside like ragdolls. Leaving them to fall into my path, no doubt a futile attempt to slow me down. As I reached an acceptable distance, I shot a bolt of lightning at his leg, causing him to fall forwards. As he struggled to get up I kicked him in the back, his face landing in a puddle of water. I flipped him over, before he could say anything I sent a lightning bolt into his neck, realizing he had no more use to me alive.
I took the communications device out of the dead man’s ear, and then proceeded to place it in my own. I heard a deep voice on the other end of the headset.
"William? William! Answer me for Christ’s Sake!"
I smiled. "Your plan hasn’t changed, make your way to the street market as William instructed."
"Who is this!?!" The man screamed.
"My name is René Martain, I request to speak with Andrew Sol, alone."
I cut the link; I didn't need to hear the man's reply, I didn't have to. If Sol really was an agent for Claude, he'd come, and with his arrival, I would be one step closer to finding Claude, and avenging Damien's death.
Chapter 6 - Andrew Sol
Walking down the road, I already knew this would be a pain in the arse. I'd probably get another boring speech from Jack about trusting this “René guy”, how he's dangerous, I should be more careful and all the other such crap I usually get when I tell them about a new target I've been told about by my informant.
Turning the corner and walking through the rubbish-strewn alleyways, I saw my destination: Matt’s flat. As I climbed the concrete steps, I checked my watch: 00:22. Shit! I was running about an hour late! Well, if they had the meeting where I had suggested, instead of Matt's place, we might have got the bastard already. I approached the door and knocked. After a few seconds of waiting, the proprietor, dressed in his black hoodie and baggy chinos, opened it, fixing me with a cold, hard glare.
"You're late Kid," He told me coldly, "you called for this more than an hour ago."
"Look I can’t be dealing with this, just let me in." I snapped back.
He moved aside to let me in his flat. Walking through the whitewashed hallway and avoiding his BMX leaning against the wall, I emerged into the living room to find Amy, Jack and Flow glaring at me, each with an irritated look plastered on their face.
Flow was leaning against the wall, his head just below a wooden shelf with a large speaker resting on top. He was dressed in his blue coat and scruffy jeans. Amy was sat on the brown, three seat sofa in the corner, worn and frayed. Amy was wearing her denim shorts, tights and trainers but swapped her pink top for a grey coat. Sitting next to her, Jack was leaning back, with his hands behind his head. He was wearing his blue trousers but opted for a hoodie to keep him warm. None of them were happy with me, and I felt their gazes upon me as soon as I walked in. Matt filled the doorway and I leaned against the wall to dispel my tension.
"Just where the hell have you been?" Amy exclaimed. "You tell us to get here for an urgent meeting and then you turn up a hour late! This better be good."
"I had something I needed to do first and…" I stopped abruptly when I realized something was amiss. Two of the hunt, weren't here. "Wait a minute, where's Will and Danielle?"
"Danielle's out of town, Toulouse if I recall," Amy spoke plainly before her tone shifted, "and Will… "
The young woman sighed heavily.
"Fuck knows, probably a brothel."
Jack ignored her remark and spoke. "So... what’s this all about Sol?"
He got off the sofa and approached me menacingly, attempting to stare me down. "This better be good." He whispered.
I tried to ignore his gaze and get on to what I actually gathered them there to tell them.
"A few hours ago, in the bar, I was given the classified details of a high level security threat from my informant," I tried to continue but I was cut off by Jack's response.
"Your informant!" He practically screamed. "you mean that fucking René guy... AGAIN!? Don't you remember our little discussion about why a guy like him is bad news?"
"Yes I do but…" I was cut off again as Jack continued his rant.
"Then why the hell are you still taking tip offs from that bastard?" He leaned in closer, trying to make me feel more uncomfortable. Bilious anger bubbled beneath the surface of my skin, and it took all my patience to conceal it.
"C'mon Andrew. Tell us." Flow chipped in. "Not a secret is it?"
"What are you waiting for, come on!"
"Because he just gave me information on Li-Pau Nao!" I blurted before I could stop myself. The world turned silent.
"Wait, you mean the GHOST Agent?" Jack questioned, obviously startled by my claim. "The one who apparently just came into the Sector and has got his face plastered all over the holo-boards?"
I sighed, removing the papers from my coat’s pockets to give hand them to him. Jack hurriedly snatched them away and examined them. "Its all there. Picture, Keidis rating, last known location. His bounty is 500,000 euros dead and 1,000,000 euros alive, we can take this fucker down and split the haul."
"Only one problem here kid." Jack said, with a sigh of irritation. "his last known location may be local, but that was almost four hours ago! You of all people should know how easy it is to disappear in that time. Or are you forgetting that Paris is a big place, kid?"
He angrily threw the papers back at me and walked back to the sofa. It took all my effort not to end his pitiful life there and then. I could feel my palms start to burn.
But instead, like an idiot, I retorted.
"Well we would have had a better chance to get this bastard if you guys had met me where I had said to! Then we'd be closer to the scene and I wouldn't have had to traipse all the way over here!"
As soon as the words left my lips I knew I made a huge mistake. Jack turned around and began to walk back towards me, I could see he was going to punch me. However before it got to that, the radio in the corner of Matt’s flat crackled to life.
"This is William. Everyone, make your way to the street market. Rue Lamartine. You won’t believe this, but I've caught…" he shouted in pain before the link fell silent once more.
Jack quickly forgot his beef with me and ran to the radio, trying desperately to get some form of response. "Shit, why isn't this working?" He tried for nearly a minute, eventually screaming into the mic system: "Come on, respond you bastard! William? William! Answer me for Christ’s Sake!” Instead of Will’s voice, we got another, heavily accented one. His grin was almost audible.
"Your plan hasn't changed, make your way to the street market as William instructed," the stranger said in a mocking tone.
Jack lost his cool, and he snapped. "Who is this!?!"
“My name is René Martain, I request to speak with Andrew Sol, alone." Before Jack could respond, the stranger cut the link. He angrily tried the feed several times, before hanging it up and walking away.
“Fuck!” He exclaimed. "The feed's dead."
“We've gotta go down there.” Amy piped in. “If he’s using Will’s headset, he’s either unconscious or dead.”
"This is why I told you not to fuck with René." Jack bitterly snapped at me, "I just knew he'd turn on us if you kept taking his tip offs. You get nothing for free in this city, and now, because of your stupidity, there's a good chance William's dead! You stupid little cunt."
"Sorry Sol, but things do not look good. Especially as the whole thing is probably a trap as well," Amy chipped in, "if he's got William he may be trying to flush the rest of us out."
I assessed the information. For one I had to say that Amy was probably right. It was blatantly a trap.
Secondlu, there was a crucial factor that I was sure they were unaware of. I simply didn not buy that this guy was René Martain. Over the past three months the man had only phoned me once on the mobile phone he had given me, with his voice heavily filtered. On top of that, he had never called me Andrew Sol before as he had insisted on referring to by my birth name. Barring that one phone call, all of the information that he had given me came through simple text messages that detailed meeting times and dead letter drops made by an old man in a tweed suit at the same table in the same bar. He had been careful to conceal who he really was; he would never have been this careless. However, if Will's headset was being used, the gravity elemental was more than likely either badly wounded or dead. Faced with the two possibilities, I finally decided.
"We should go." I said finally. "I'm quite convinced that this joker is not René. Therefore, he is of an even greater concern as it is quite clear he is dangerous. Hell, if we're lucky it might even be that bastard Li-Pau."
Jack looked like he wanted to snap my neck. It seemed like he was ready to lunge at me, go off on one and start arguing. However, much to my surprise (and relief) he just sighed, looking somewhat defeated, "I guess you're right. Come on, we should all go. Whoever he may be, if he’s kicked Will's arse, the least we can do is return the favour."
Matt turned away to go to the door, followed by Jack. Amy lifted herself from the chair and walked through the doorway. We all left the house and walked towards the market. This was going to be a pain in the arse.
We put our headsets on and began to make our way over to the market, jostling through the densely packed stalls and pushing our way through.
"I don’t like this," Amy said finally, "we don’t know anything bout this guy. This is big league stuff."
"If I’m right, the man we last spoke to was Li-Pau, Amy," I responded, "and if I that theory is correct, it’s going to be a difficult fight."
"How can you be so certain about this, Sol?" Jack retorted angrily, still irritated with having to do this.
"Barman at the pub said the GHOST bastard was looking for me," I reluctantly confessed, "the only freaking reason that Chinese prick knows my name is cause he paid him for it... "
"Wait. That barman sold you out!? How much did he tell the Asian fuck?"
"As far as I can tell?" I sighed, "Just two names, mine and René's. But it doesn't fucking matter, if we play it right we all have a few hundred thousand euros each. If we play it wrong, things can go very badly from here."
"What's his rating?" Matt asked.
"About Theta Level on the report. This guy's gonna be tricky."
"So are you telling me," Amy began, "That any of you crazy bastards actually believe that our little gang of misfits honestly stands a chance at taking down a guy who is packs this much punch with Lightning? And I doubt I need to remind you that he has been trained by the Guardians and, therefore, likely honed his abilities to a lethal degree?"
"Well come on, I guess we'll have to find out! Wont we?" Jack snapped back through gritted teeth.
After forcing our way past a meat seller and a dense crowd that had formed around one of those irritating folk bands, we saw him, leaning against a pillar in between a bakery stand and a fruit and veg stall. He matched the picture I was given almost perfectly. Black hair, purple eyes, grey hooded top complimented with a red stripe, free runner bandages around his hands and black drain pipe trousers. He was watching the busy market, looking our way and I realized, there was absolutely no way we could take him by surprise here. Even taking a quick glance I could see Will wasn't anywhere nearby, and I could see this unnerved Jack greatly, but there was no point in dwelling on this now. I just knew one thing.
That I was right. This man was Li-Pau Nao. And what's more, I would be the one to capture him.
"Li-Pau Nao. Correct?" I asked as I walked towards him menacingly. On my left were Amy and Flow, while to my right, Jack was sauntering in an aggressive manner. Strangely, the GHOST agent didn't seem to make any attempt to back off or even look for an escape route. Instead he simply smiled.
"It seems my reputation precedes me." He responded. "And you must be Andrew Sol, I presume?"
I couldn't help but smile at his calm tone. This kid underestimated his opponents; many people like him were easily taken down through their arrogance. "Yes I am. Now look, I need you to come with us. So I’m going to give you a choice right now." My smile widened and I activated my element, wreathing my hand in an intense blue flame.
"You can either choose the easy way, in which we just bring you in quietly. Or go with the hard way, where we drag you to the police station, piece by smoldering piece. Which will it be?”
Chapter 7 - Li-Pau Nao
I realized two things as Sol’s hand blazed to life in blue fire. The first, that Andrew was a plasma elemental, like my father. Second, he thought he could threaten me with such a gesture, which was laughable. I also noticed that he had not come alone, but with four others. No doubt they were here for the bounty on my head. The big, muscular man stepped forwards.
“Before you decide, I have a question of my own.”
I shrugged. “Go ahead.”
“Where the hell is William?” he snarled.
I leaned back, smiling. “Ah yes, your accomplice.”
As an answer to the man’s question, I moved my hand back, and unsheathed the katana I had acquired after William’s death. It was a well-kept blade, and I couldn’t just let it go to waste. I could tell by their expressions that they had all seen the blade before. The man’s face burnt up with fury.
“You bastard!” he cried out.
“I was surprised Will didn’t use the weapon. It is a thing of beauty.” I said apathetically.
“Regardless,” Sol snapped. “My question still stands. The easy way, or the hard way, which will it be?”
I smiled. “Andrew, if anyone should be threatened by elemental abilities, it should be you fools.”
“Hard way it is!” Sol growled, furiously, he morphed the blue fire into a ball before launching it at me.
My elemental accelerator flashed blue as I charged my ability, before halting the ball of plasma with a lightning bolt.
The others didn’t wait to join in. The muscular man charged forwards, I noticed a jagged bowie knife fall out of his left sleeve and into the palm of his hand. My self defense training with Damien chipped in as the man lunged forwards. Immediately, I swung my katana downwards, parrying the attack. The man lost his balance and continued to race forwards, which lead me to smash my elbow into the man’s chin, which caused him to fall backwards. I stepped towards him, and brought down my blade, aiming for his shoulder. My attack was blocked as the man brought his knife up. I noticed a second bowie knife fall out of his other sleeve. He proceeded to stab my side with the weapon, before I grabbed hold of his wrist. A crooked smile crossed the man’s face.
“Now’s your chance! Hit him hard!” he called back to his allies.
I didn’t wait to see what they’d do, as I sent an electrical discharge into the man’s wrist. The man cried out in pain, dropping his bowie knife. I pulled on his wrist, setting him off balance for a moment, and then proceeded to kick the man in the shin. I ducked as a spear of plasma raced over my head. I turned to see Sol to my left. I elbowed the man in the throat, sending him stumbling back, before dodging another spear of plasma before turning to Sol and the rest of my opponents.
“Just die, you scum!” Andrew spat.
I grunted. “I’m through playing games with you.”
“We can take you,” The woman growled. “You’re nothing more than an arrogant prick!”
“Agreed, nothing more than an arrogant arse.” The man in the blue coat grumbled.
“Then allow me to show my full potential!” I called out.
I focused, my elemental accelerator burned a brighter, harder blue than the last time it had. I piercing headache came over me as I tapped into the synaptic systems of my opponents. I clenched my fists as my eyes burned, no doubt they were bloodshot. One after another, like ragdolls they started to fall to the ground. The last to fall was Andrew, no doubt because of his elemental gift in plasma, which gave him a slight resistance to the effects of electricity. Even so, he eventually fell, proving my attack to be a success.
I sheathed my katana, placed my hands in my pockets and began to walk away from the scene. The street market had cleared itself of civilians when Andrew had activated his plasma ability, which made this the perfect opportunity to approach him while he was in a catatonic state and then secure him in preparation for a much needed interrogation.
I had made nine steps towards him before my eyes were drawn towards his. My eyes widened as I saw his eyelids were opening as he started to struggle to his feet. I immediately frowned at the thought of having to subdue him again. His plasma ability had developed to a higher state than I estimated, which meant he had resisted the bulk of my attack and any attempts at replicating it would have been more detrimental to my own health than to his.
As Sol go to his feet, he noticed me standing where I was, and his eyes blazed into a fury I had not seen for quite a while. Both of his hands blazed to life, and before I knew it I had to duck as a ray of plasma energy pulsated above my head. I realized facing him here would ensure the worst case scenario on my end, so I decided exhausting him would no doubt aid me. My free-running skills helped greatly as I ran out of the street market onto the sidewalk and up a wall so that I had the high ground advantage. I heard Sol call from behind me, though I was already aware that he would be following me.
"You fucking coward! Meet your fate!"
I was tempted to turn around and kill him, but I unfortunately I needed Andrew alive. If there was any hope in finding Claude, my best chance right now was Sol. As the wall ran out I was forced to maneuver my way through the pedestrians, often giving them a slight push so they didn't slow me down. A few of them recognised me, gasping or crying out: “Police! Police!” It didn't matter to me, I hoped the crowd proved to be more troublesome for Andrew. I turned to see how he was faring, and my eyes widened as I noticed he was catching up with me. The bastard was not only able to resist electrical currents, but he was almost as athletic as I was?
I shook my head, refusing to accept such a thing. I noticed a balcony attached to one of the buildings coming up, and smiled. I quickly shot out a lightning bolt, hoping it would cause the balcony to collapse. My hopes were reassured as the balcony crumbled into piles of cement and blocked the sidewalk. I was able to run past the debris before it blocked off the path, and continued to run through the crowd, shocked to find the sidewalk blocked by a destroyed balcony. I turned back to find Sol hastily climbing the debris, the obvious decision. Sol jumped down and began to give chase yet again. I heard him scream.
“H-How could you! You fucking bastard! There could be innocent civilians trapped in that rubble!”
“I don’t see you helping them!” I called back.
As a response, a sphere of plasma raced past my head, colliding with the wall to my left. I was about to shout at him again, but my attention was caught by something else. A few meters from my location, a large alleyway was clearly visible, giving an alternate path from the sidewalk. I realized this would be ideal to get away from the pedestrians and avoid any unwanted casualties; it might also give me the upper hand when I had to confront Andrew. I spun on my heel and ran inside the alleyway, knowing full well Sol would pursue. As we continued to run through what seemed to be endless corridors of dumpsters and trashcans, I eventually made my way to a dead end.
I cursed, kicking a nearby trashcan in frustration, before turning to find Sol standing behind me. The expression in his eyes hadn’t changed, he was furious, and no doubt he longed to strike me down. He stepped forward, and my elemental accelerator burned to life. Before I did anything, he suddenly stopped, and snarled at me.
“Y-You bastard. You arrogant bastard! I don’t know what you did to them, but they're completely paralysed! You think you’re so high and mighty!” He spat. “But you’re nothing! An arse working for one of the biggest criminal organisations known to man! Everyone in Paris knows what GHOST did at the Commonwealth Palace! It was all over the news! I don’t know what you want from René, but you can sure as hell know that I won’t tell you anything! I’ll die before I give any information to someone like you!”
I stood there for a moment, considering my options. I realised Sol was serious with what he said, every last bit of it. The revelation that he would not give me what I wanted, no, what I needed struck me hard. I quickly grabbed the hilt of my sword before speaking to Andrew again.
“Then you are simply an annoyance.” I sighed.
In a moment’s notice, Andrew’s hand burned to life and blue flames shot out at me from the palm of his hand. I rolled out of the way, taking cover behind a nearby dumpster. As I did so, I closed my eyes, hoping to tap into Sol’s synaptic systems with a stronger force than the last time. I was cut short as the dumpster I was hiding behind erupted by a force of plasma energy. The force of the eruption caused me to fall back, landing on my shoulder. As I struggled to my feet, I noticed Sol walking towards me, his hands were covered in plasma, burning bright blue.
I noticed that I had landed in a puddle of water, no doubt caused by the rain yesterday. An idea hatched in my mind, and without thinking I sent electrical currents into the water. I felt my arms shack slightly as high voltage electricity ran through my body, the damage was reduced due to my element capabilities.
I looked over to find Andrew suffering far worse than I was, his body spasmed out of control. I stopped sending electrical currents, and Sol stepped back in pain, his overcoat steaming. I got to my feet, and began to walk towards him. I withdrew my katana and lifted it above my head, bringing it down upon Andrew.
My eyes widened as Sol blocked the attack with his wrist. At first, I was stunned, but soon found he had wrapped his wrist in a cloak of plasma energy, just like he done with his hands before. I realised my blade wouldn’t stand a chance against such a defense, and decided to improvise.
I focused, and my blade was suddenly wrapped in electricity. The blade dug into Sol’s wrist, and he winced in pain as he tried to defend against the attack. I smiled, at this rate my blade would cut straight through his wrist, and the rest of the fight would fall into the palm of my hand.
My thoughts were cut off short as I smelled gas, and smoke. I was struck with a curious sense of horror and astonishment as Andrew’s entire arm blazed to life in blue flame. At first, I thought this was part of his plan to fight me, but his expression told me otherwise. He looked at his blood stained arm with the same expression I had, and before we knew it Sol himself was cover from head to toe in blue fire.
I stepped away from Sol as the ground around him was enveloped in a blue conflagration, the puddles of water steamed to life.
I was bewildered, trying to think of a logical explanation for this calamity, and remembered something I had heard quite some time ago.
I walked the damp halls of Block 441, constructing a small storage device in my hands. Next to me was my superior; Mathieu Dalton. Dalton looked down at me, and gave a slight chuckle.
“You really are talented at crafting these little curios, aren't you?”
I shrugged. “I’ve been constructing things all my life and was once apprentice to a mechanic. From there I guess I never stopped branching out.”
Mathieu nodded. “If it's something you possess a natural passion for; I wish to encourage you to keep at it.”
I wasn't used to compliments at the time, and simply continued to work. “Thank you, I guess.”
I looked up briefly and noticed a slight look of disdain at my dismissive answers. As I looked downwards once more, I couldn't help but see the rank slides that were attached to his jacket. A thick yellow bar with a small white bar lying parallel to it. Damien had gone over rank structure with me in the briefing. He was a GHOST Major, and thus my superior officer. I blanched slightly before returning to building
“Now then, there’s something I’d like to talk to you about.”
“I’m all ears, sir” I replied, slowly placing down the item I had been building.
“I trust Miki gave you the elemental accelerator?”
I nodded. “While I was recovering from… what did she call it? Elemental suppression?”
“Elemental sickness,” Dalton corrected, “And it is linked to the topic I wished to discuss with you.”
“Oh?” I asked, my attention now fixed firmly upon the Guardian of Plant.
“Yes, I need to inform you about a more serious condition some elementals can suffer from.”
“What is this condition?” I tilted my head.
“The official term for it is Elemental Oversync.”
“Elemental Oversync…” I repeated. “How does that work? Sir.”
“Untrained elementals with a high left sided Keidis Scale are the primary sufferers of this affliction. It is almost fifty times more likely for it to happen to them than those who have access to proper training and equipment. Now, while you are already relatively well trained in your ability, it is still important for you to be aware of this potentially occurring.”
“Right… because my estimated full capacity is… what did you say again?”
“About one thousand. Which is abnormal in individuals who do not possess the Guardian Gene nor the theoretical capacity to possess it. Individuals such as yourself who wield one of the Secondary Elements.”
“Oh, is there anything I should be worried about.” I looked down at my feet.
“No, it just means you are exceptionally fortunate, but we’re drifting away from our topic. Elemental Oversync is very dangerous, and should always be the primary concern of elementals with a high Keidis Rating, along with the dangers of Elemental Depletion.”
“How is it dangerous?”
Mathieu raised his head, looking at me in the eye. “What happens is that the elemental emits a powerful outburst of energy. This manifests differently depending on the element they have been gifted. This outburst is extremely difficult to control and as a result, it could cause serious damage to the area and elemental alike. Depending on how serious the outburst is, of course.”
“That sounds chaotic.” I mumbled.
“But what you must understand is that is merely the external outcome of the elemental outburst,” Mathieu's tone shifted to a much darker one, “As elementals with a rating over five hundred can suffer from a condition similar to elemental depletion if an oversync occurs. This is due to the effects of rapid energy loss upon a living organism. Without the necessary energy for basic functions such as keeping the cardiovascular system running, there is a very high chance of the elemental dying.”
My face paled, and I came to a halt. Dalton slowed down, and eventually stopped, turning to face me. His expression told me he wasn't happy about what he said, but that he knew he had to have said it.
“The elemental accelerator I gave you should help prevent such an outburst, but you should be wary of this if and when you encounter any other elemental out in the field, understood?”
I nodded. “Yes, sir, I think I understand. They may not be as well trained or equipped as myself.”
“Exactly. Anyway, come now. Damien wants to see you.”
As the ground around Sol burned everything to a crisp, I realised what had happened. I checked my surroundings, hoping to find any source of cover. No such luck, and before I could react, the flames grew thicker, and the walls around me burned to life. I was cornered by the flames, and as Sol screamed in agony, a flash of blue fire surrounded me, burning everything around me. I felt flames lick my clothes as my vision suddenly clouded, and all went black.
I'm not sure how long I was out for, but as my vision returned, I realised I was covered in soot, and was laying on the ground. I felt my skin burn, and struggled to turn my head. As I did, I saw Sol stagger to his feet, he looked injured, but he seemed to be in a better state than I was.
Pain overcame me again, and my vision was going black yet again. As it did, I saw Andrew limp away, leaving me to die in a soot covered alleyway in Paris, Rue Lamartine. I futilely reached out hoping to send one final bolt of lightning from my fingertips. My vision went black before I had a chance to see if it worked.
Chapter 8 - Miki Albraun
Upon touching down outside the gleaming white concrete spires of Paris's international terminal, once again I was met with the same recurring thing that never failed to surprise me; however this time it had only managed to get me very worried. According to my general knowledge, the European Commonwealth's anti-criminal policies were in all respects just as criminal as what they set out to oppress. Underneath your typical Imperial creed and the security that its demonstrated strength and ruthlessness it provides, the Vallarie Administration did not care about their citizen's true well-being in the slightest. The only thing that mattered was eliminating competition on their soil and generating income through any and every means necessary.
As well as this, one of the more striking aspects of their legal system was a zero restriction to most conventional firearms and narcotics. I could barely stop myself from smirking in amusement as I passed straight through customs without too much of a worry. I was met only with a quick identification of carried firearms, and an entry tax applied to any narcotics. Due to only carrying a satchel, phone and other typical tourist apparel, my time in customs were simply a brief brush through.
Aside from their unique immigration restrictions, there was another purely iconic aspect of European life that managed to distinctly set it far apart from the other nations: a nationally supported bounty on all criminals. This manages to cleverly stitch together with the Commonwealth's unfalteringly efficient policing and military forces, creating a system of law which evokes an eerie feeling of being watched every second of the day, be it through the eyes of the ever-present policing officers or possible vigilantes. This system has proven terrifyingly successful, to the point where crime on the surface is for the most part non-existent, and it's only due to the brutally imperialistic response to any collateral damage to taxpayers' lives and property that such a chaotic system has fallen apart from its own perpetual instability.
The VA had undoubtedly thought this through. They're just your typical superficially pro-peace and productive nation, undoubtedly attracting tourists from the other more noticeably oppressive nations, when all the while they are equally corrupt as the rest.
All in all, this amalgamation of pressing facts began to get me worried.
I made my way out of the terminal, grabbing a quick takeaway coffee to further keep away suspicions and caught the Metro into the heart of the city. Though I never actually planned to go this far, whilst on the train I quickly noticed that I only further blended in with the aid of my Germanic complexion. It was practically seamless to the point of being amusing. To them, I was not a stranger, but a European who had returned to their glorious home soil.
"Excellent" I remember thinking. However, upon exiting the train, making my way underneath the major canopy and to a ground-level business district, something caught my eye. Something worryingly familiar.
Several hundred meters ahead of me, amongst the flurry of the grounds and was a whole succession of continually scrolling, bright images of fugitives plastered across as a typical LCD wall finish. It was a gigantic mural, with names and faces shown clearly to the passing public. Juxtaposed above these images was a large digital clock. 00.30.
Below this digital clock, at the forefront of the wanted images, was none other than Li-Pau himself. Euro-grade security scanners would have only had to get a glimpse of him to record an entire, crystal clear front and side photo-realistic reconstruction of his complexion.
Now everybody knew who Li-Pau Nao was and what he looked like. He was trapped, most certainly trapped. He wouldn't be able to properly navigate anywhere save the darkest and most confined of alleyways of the city. Even the air-ducts and sewer systems would offer little respite.
However, at the very least, this had the likelihood of slowing him down. Conversely this was incredibly worrying, for I had no clue as to a plausible location for where he'd be hiding for such alleyways existed virtually everywhere. Furthermore, I was merely situated on the ground level. Both the canopy and the subterranean parts of the city could offer routes for such a desperate criminal.
I sat down on a bench in the centre of the undercover complex and cleared my thoughts, keeping in the back of my mind that I most likely appeared to be a typical stressed businesswoman. I needed to think.
"Due to the very publicly broadcasted information on him… I could ask anybody. However, due to my non-combat related appearance, asking just any passer by would raise suspicions. "
From behind me, a voice interrupted my thoughts. A native French accent was clear within him.
"Excusez-moi, mademoiselle. Nous voudrions que vous épargniez un moment de votre temps."
I stood up and turned around, finding myself to be met with two heavily armed Vallarian Police officers. I felt a jolt of panic however, realising that their weapons were lowered, I contained it instantaneously.
It was national protocol to use French as the primary language within the Euro Zone, and this was even more evident with governmental officials. I reminded myself to stay in character. I told myself that If I was met with a situation like this, I would act like any normal European citizen would. In this case, it was two Commonwealth Officers. It'd be certain that they'd be the first kind of people the spoilt European citizens would like to suck up to.
"Oui, naturellement. Ce qui peut je faire pour vous?" I calmly replied, uttering each word very slowly while emphasising my more German accent, "but could you please speak with me in English or German, for my French is not very good."
"My apologies, miss," he politely gestured before continuing on, "but we are on the hunt for a fugitive. It appears that this particular criminal is proving to be very difficult to track down to a singular location. We would like all citizens to remain on alert and report his activities to the police if spotted."
He presented with a data slate that had an all too familiar image pasted upon the screen. Once again it was our AWOL associate, Li-Pau Nao. My luck was unbelievable.
"When did you last see him?" I asked, speaking each word clearly, clutching my satchel with a free hand as I acted like I was concerned for my own well being.
"Reports say he was right here in Rue Lamartine. But please, there's no need to worry, we have special weapons teams looking for him. In the meantime there's people like myself also making a general search for leads up here in public."
The officer hesitated. Something seemed to have stuck him.
"I'm sorry but… for the sake of a separate case we're investigating. What is your name?" The officer asked. He seemed off-tone.
"Mm? Why must you know?" I replied out of the blue. I was unsure how to answer him. I felt a touch worried, and I contemplated a safe way to detach myself from the conversation.
"That is a confidential matter. I must also note that, of anybody, I'd expect a native to comply with such a question immediately. What is the meaning of this reluctance?"
At that moment his partner raised his assault rifle to be level with my chest.
"Dammit." I stressed mentally. Any mistakes and I'd be dead. I needed to think of a way out of this.
"I'm most sorry." I cut in, clearing my head. "I've been abroad in India for the past few months and I'm still constantly on-guard when it comes to the authorities. My name is Brigit Feierabend. Is there any other information you wish to know from me?"
"That will be all, mademoiselle," he mused, "but I would implore you to check over this photograph and tell me if it looks familiar."
He tapped again on his data slate and a new image appeared. It was a faint photo of a young girl, and I was struck with extreme concern. The little girl had flowing, pale pink hair and cloudy red eyes. She was dressed clothing typical of aristocracy. She looked exactly like myself.
This couldn't be right.
"It's from a missing person investigation. It is now as a cold case, but it is a Royal matter so it is to be investigated indefinitely. The name of this girl is Princess Mikayla Albraun, and she has been missing for the past five years. I am sure you can associate that with the GHOST terrorist incident round about the same time. This is all I can tell you, however, I noticed that compared to her, you looked very familiar… "
Five years. That's when I lost my memory. My never-ending endeavour to uncover my past was screaming at me to ask more questions, but I couldn't. Nao's security… my security would be in jeopardy.
This was bad. I could barely keep a straight face.
The officer took out a camera and edged to turn it on. I acted upon instinct. I kicked the camera from his hand and ran for it. The immediate taser shots fired at me were knocked back by what seemed to them as 'a mysterious wall of air.'
As fortunate as the sheer scale of uses of my elemental ability granted me, it did little in changing the fact that keeping my head low was a constant, painfully difficult issue. I darted through the crowds of people surrounding me, trying to lose my pursuers in the confusion. I found myself just wishing Li-Pau hadn't dragged me into this mess, cursing at him for doing such a stupid thing like this.
I kept in the back of the mind that I needed to find him. He was nearby, but it did nothing to change my feeling of hopelessness.
I darted into an alleyway in between two retail outlets, hoping that I could at least lose them before any chance of backup was called with me in their sights.
This was useless. Now my cover was blown, and all I could think of was the fact that… this is what I deserved. I let my emotions get In the way. Of course my facial expression would have been obvious to the officers. Now I'm a prime suspect; on the exact same page as the person I was sent to locate.
Finding Nao would be impossible. I almost felt certain had let everybody down. Then… there was the photo. My past was so closely within my grasp.
My mindless sprinting through the enclosed walls that surrounding me whilst heavy thoughts heaved their way through me seemed to be too much. I lost balance, tripping over an electrical cable, landing onto the ground ahead of me, full weight crushing me left arm beneath me in a painful sprain.
"Nghh!!" I yelped.
A scream of pain shot through me as I attempted to gather myself together. I felt defeated, stupid. I was feeling and thinking to much. My personal thoughts were getting the better of me. This was unacceptable.
Was I really a royal princess? Was I really that girl in the photo. She looked so happy. As if she didn't have a worry in the world. Was that me?
The feeling of losing this chance… that could never present itself ever again. It felt so… hollow...
"Gah!!" I cursed to myself "Stop feeling! Stop thinking about that! Stop feeling this… emptiness!"
I sat up painfully, and clenched my arms around my knees, burying my face into my legs as I willed the feeling to go away. Here I was, turning into a nervous wreck, knowing full well that something crucially important was at stake; yet all the while I couldn't bring myself together.
For some reason, I managed to liken myself to a blank sheet of paper.
All I did was record and transfer information. I did it without a word, yet all the while, there was no substance. I was nothing, nothing but a husk of a young adult.
"No… not that. I'm just an…"
Just an android. Not human. An echo of the person I once. Nothing but mere segments of code, told what to do like an obedient little dog.
I heard an explosion in the distance, and it shook me violently out of my darkened, near sobbing state. I got up, brushing tears aside. My legs felt weak.
A voice emanated in the distance. It was the voice of a man, cursing virtuously about the likelihood of innocent citizens being trapped under rubble.
A vigilante? Was this a lead that could save everything?
“I don’t see you helping them!” Came another voice.
My senses recalibrated, fully startled. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. It was some distance away, but that was undoubtedly the sound of Li-Pau's voice. Instantly I made my very best attempt to pull myself together, hauling myself up off onto the pavement, punishing my sprained ankle as I pressed weight onto it.
"Come on now Miki! Get over it!" I spat through clenched teeth. I hoped that whoever was pursuing him did not have direct ties with the European police… or at the very least, was in any way not overly logical to immediately run away from. I was in no emotional state for a long and winding pursuit.
Here I was, letting emotions take a hoist over my better judgement...
I ran down the alleyway, each stride an individual wave of pain that had to be held back, but I simply couldn't stop. I hit a T junction straddled between two streets, taking a stab in the dark as I made a left, making an effort to follow the sounds that I sought. Time and time again, these sounds elemental conflict was all so familiar to me.
Another explosion ringed through the air, along with the clang of metal hitting concrete; yet, something felt wrong.
"Ahh!!! What the heck? Why can't I….!!" Screeched a voice all to familiar to me.
"No..!!" I moaned, barely audibly. It couldn't be too late, not after all this...
I sprinted out from the alleyway and into an opening, only to find my pursued suspects waiting just ahead of me.
It was all so quick. I barely caught a glimpse of the man that stood above the eighteen year old lighting elemental I had looked so hard for. With a flash of instinct, I willed the surrounding air around this man away in a tight vacuum, shooting down the barometric pressure beyond his body's capable limits. He choked, unable to breath as his lungs refused to take in sufficient oxygen. His joints gave way, and soon he was on the ground in unbearable agony.
Such a drastically aggressive solution would only be temporary, - nor did I have any wish to murder him - and this therefore lead me to immediately make a quick, pained effort to lift up the unconscious body of Li-Pau that lay beside me.
"Elemental sickness… Of all times, why did it have to be now…"
I ran. As quickly and as painfully as I could; I ran. Tears poured fourth, and I fought them back as valiantly as I humanly could.
"Oh Nao… Why did you have to do this? Did you… did you ever think about me?"
What lay ahead of me blurred into a haze of adrenalin, I was despondent, I was physically injured, I was exhausted and I was angry, but of all raging emotions that pained me then, the only thing that lingered with my right until the very end was a certainty about one single thing: He was under no circumstances whatsoever going to die that day.
"You're s...such an idiot! You're... you're not the only one that looks out for you, y...you know!!"
As I reached the automatic doors of the medical centre, the will to hold back tears proved futile as I collapsed to my knees and lay his body upon the ground.
"N...now we're even..."
Chapter 9 - Natalia Christelle
"Stabilising position at fifteen thousand feet," were the words that I heard from the cockpit. It was rather unusual to hear spoken English instead of my native French, but protocol was protocol, for it was the language of the skies, "we are now directly above the last known location of the fugitive Li-Pau Nao"
"Understood, Flight Lieutenant," I replied over my helmet's communicator, "open the cargo doors."
"Say again, Officer Christelle?" my pilot queried in a rather confused manner.
"Open the cargo doors," I repeated, "and that is a direct order, not a request."
"Officer Christelle, that would be most unwise as it would lead to decompression," he spoke, challenging my authority.
"You will open the goddamn doors, Flight Lieutenant," I shouted, "this is a direct royal order. If you do not fulfill it I will see you tried for treason."
"Understood, Ma'am," he sheepishly acknowledged, before meeting my request. The cargo door descended slowly as two hydraulic pistons forced the steel open. As the gap widened, I could feel wind gust into the cargo bay. I used my elemental powers to route myself into a solid position. Remaining unaffected by the air currents.
"What on earth do you intend to do now?" he queried, rather worried, as I walked towards the edge of the steel door.
"Jump of course!" were the last words he heard before I leaped out of the aircraft. I heard muffled static over the communications device, which I could only assume was my pilot's expression of disbelief. I smiled to myself.
I hadn't had this much fun in a very long time.
I checked my altimeter.
13,200 feet. My oxygen was fixed in place and free-fall boots strapped on tightly. I had everything one would require to perform a HALO jump. Save for of course, a parachute. I had my own plan to compensate for that.
10,400 feet. Thankfully Paris was a city that was largely free from a canopy, and the area I was aiming for was particularly underdeveloped in that regard. Otherwise this may not have been possible. I reviewed the mission plan in my mind. Eliminate Li-Pau Nao, rescue Miki and be home before the morning comes.
4,500 feet. It was approaching the time that I would need to focus all of my powers on to one single repelling motion. I considered how odd a sight it would have been to have seen a person falling from the sky. I doubted many people would be watching the skies, as the affairs of city life detracted away from any interest in the heavens.
1,300 feet. Brace for impact.
I focused all of my powers, my abilities to rapidly slow myself down. Manipulating the effect of gravity upon my body. I could see the area that I was aiming for. A small space of greenery amongst the metropolis.
900 feet. I was slowing down nicely. At this level, I was now actually falling between buildings. In fact, I had been for at least another three hundred feet.
600 feet. I could feel a noticeable deceleration in my falling speed. It appeared my gambit had payed off. I was incredibly glad that my husband had encouraged me to take up sky diving. Those skills were proving to be essential now.
450 feet. I was able to bring my attentions towards the large gleaming white buildings that constituted the majority of the city. Towering monstrosities of steel and glass.
425 feet. I was now gliding at a more comfortable, controllable speed.
400 feet. I checked all of my equipment. The airtank had done it's job and I had maintained a safe level of oxygen flow to my lungs.
200 feet. The glide continued for another relaxed nineteen seconds.
10 feet. I put all of my effort into repelling myself off of the ground and came to a very gentle touch down upon the verdant grass. I checked my watch 00.32. I was on schedule.
I received some odd looks from passersby as I removed the airtank from my person. It would be too troublesome to carry with me, so I decided to leave it by a trash compactor. After abandoning that piece of equipment, I elected to remove my helmet. It was good to breathe real air again.
There were hushed whispers as people gawked at my fully militaristic attire. Thankfully I had gone out of my way to disguise my appearance somewhat, so I do not think the citizens had realised I was a Royal Princess of the Holy European Commonwealth.
"Nothing to see here folks," I spoke clearly and eloquently, "just a routine training operation."
At that the small crowd of people became silent before dispersing. I knew fine well people feared the retribution of disobeying the Vallarie Administration. The mere fact that I was clad head-to-toe in their gear allowed me an unmistakable air of intimidation.
I carefully placed an earpiece in before switching it on.
"Flight Lieutenant Mariach, I have reached the drop zone, hold position and await further orders," I sent the message directly to my pilot.
"Message recieved, Officer Christelle," was the reply I heard back, a great amount of relief in the man's voice, "good hunting."
I smiled again before deciding I should fully evaluate my surroundings. The place I had landed in was a small patch of parkland located within an area of Paris known as Quartier de Rochechouart. The grass I had impacted upon was complimented by a few trees and I noticed a couple of benches dotted the surroundings. However, the most notable feature of this quaint piece of natural life was the multitude of colossal skyscrapers that surrounded it at every turn. Only two small alleyways led out from the park, with the rest of the space filled by gleaming white constructs that were over one thousand feet high. It was incredible yet domineering at the same time.
I brought out a compact flexi-glass liquid crystal display data-tablet. The clear piece of film buzzed to life as it met my touch, requiring only my minute electrical potential to kickstart it into life. I brought up a map and checked the last known locations of Miki and Li-Pau before determining a possible route of interception.
Just to be sure, I tapped in to the citywide CCTV network.
To my astonishment I found a facial recognition match that correlated with Li-Pau Nao. He was embroiled in a fight with a black haired young man. I noted down the location before breaking out in to a sprint.
Clearly the crazed GHOST agent was seeking to seed chaos and discord amongst my precious land, lashing out at it's innocent citizens. I was determined not to allow him to harm another living soul.
I ran as fast as I could, following the quickest route possible, using my elemental ability to provide short boosts of speed and increase my jumping distance. However, I was constantly weaving between the masses of people while trying to avoid colliding with the gargantuan buildings that penned me in to tight alleyways.
I finally made my way to a main street and was able to pick up the pace. According to my map I was only 200 meters away from the area. I sprinted faster and faster, as my lungs heaved under the strain. I was now struggling to breathe but I would not give up. I would make it to the scene of the crime and save that poor man from the villainous lightning elemental.
I weaved into an alleyway that had been subjected to damage. Debris blocked my path. However, I was able to use my natural elemental talents to overcome this obstacle in a powerful leap. As I landed on the other side I realised my body was spent.
Things only worsened when I noticed that no one was here and that my path forwards was obstructed. My heart sank. I had missed them completely. I collapsed to the ground in disbelief. I was too late. I wasn't fast enough. A young man was now likely dead because of my failure to get here sooner.
I felt a tear trickled down my cheek as I realised the hopelessness of the situation. Miki. My Miki. She was now in tremendous danger.
I started to cry, the tears now mixing with the rain, as I held my knees in my arms. It was so stupid. The whole damn thing. I hadn't been strong enough.
Yet, it was at that moment that I realised the absurdity of my situation. A young woman, outfitted in Vallarie Administration military uniform, sobbing to herself on the streets of Paris. In the rain. I started to laugh as I realised I must have looked ridiculous to any onlookers.
That small spark of happiness reminded me of the words my husband had spoken to me on our wedding day: One can survive only by ridding themselves of their greatest weaknesses. I had to get rid of the weakness that was clouding my judgement. My emotional attachment had brought me to the brink of giving up out of depression. I had to detach myself from my emotional ties until the job was completed.
I pulled myself together, stood up, straightened my apparel and started to think more rationally. I pulled out the LCD flexi-tablet and went straight to the CCTV network. I tried to access the camera I had used before but the feed was now dead. Something must have happened to it.
I started to examine the area more closely. The white buildings had been stained black by what I can only imagine must have been soot and there was suspiciously less surface water in this area than I had noticed on the way over. I checked further down the alleyway just to be sure. I could see fully formed puddles reflecting the gleaming white buildings. No soot.
That lead me to draw the conclusion that either a fire elemental or a plasma elemental must have been responsible for the damage. The fact that the cameras in the area were completely out of commission made me suspect the latter.
But Li-Pau was neither a Fire Elemental nor a Plasma Elemental. Records detailed him as only being blessed with Lightning.
Unfortunately, before I could draw any more conclusions from the evidence, I was approached by an incredibly rude, brutish man.
"Don't see you lot down here often?" he rhetorically questioned before forcing his palm on to my shoulder. This immediately made me feel uncomfortable, "a lost little girl playing dress up as a soldier."
The man forced me closer to his body. I glanced around and realised that no one else was in sight.
"Please, let me go," I feigned, "I just need to get home to my boyfriend."
"Well, naughty girls like you need to be taught a lesson," he sneered, "not to walk the streets at this time of night."
"Unhand me this instance, you brute," I spoke in distress, struggling to break free from his grip.
"Once I've shown you what happens to pretentious little runts like yourself," he grinned demonically.
I decided I may as well drop the charade. He didn't deserve to live, and I was more than capable of taking him down. I withdrew a combat knife from my waist and in one fluid motion managed to stab him below the belt.
"I feel one must learn not to trifle with little girls," I spat, "and in the condition you are now in, I don't see you ever managing to do so ever again."
I smiled sweetly as he groaned in pain before blowing him a kiss. I then remembered that I really shouldn't leave any witnesses, so I reached for the handgun that was strapped to my thigh.
"ARGHHH! JUST WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU!?" he screeched.
I brought out the gun and turned the safety off. As he squirmed in the rain, I carefully attached a silencer to the weapon before aiming it directly at his head.
"I'd much rather let you live in pain," I lamented, before pulling the trigger, "but that would be highly unprofessional of me."
The stupid oaf slumped into a lifeless heap. I walked over and withdrew the carbon-fibre knife from his groin before affixing it once more to my belt.
I decided I may as well keep the gun withdrawn, as I was on the tail of a dangerous man. It was then that I heard another groan emanating from the end of the alleyway. I noticed what looked like an industrial building flanked the gargantuan tower that blocked off the alleyway.
This was my only lead, as I could not tell where Li-Pau had vanished to, nor could I determine what had happened to his mysterious black haired assailant.
However, at that moment I realised that the door to a the white fronted warehouse was slightly ajar. I ran towards it and checked the lock. It was melted. With my gun drawn I slowly entered the building, ready to face whoever I was to find inside.
Chapter 10 - Andrew Sol
As I opened my eyes, my first thoughts were that it was still dark.
I had obviously survived my ordeal, though I couldn't say I survived unscathed: My muscles burned with an intense pain, my throat was as dry as sandpaper, my brain burned as it overheated within my skull and the back of my head ached with a bruise received from landing on concrete.
As a positive point, I thought, I can't see Li-Pau, hes probably been burned into a crisp.
This brought a smile to my face as I breathed heavily, each inhalation of air bringing ash into my lungs and increasing the pain in my abdomen. I tried to check the time, using the watch I'd strapped to my arm. While trying to move my wrist, I was met with a flare of agony for my efforts. Almost screaming, I turned to my hand, pulling my sleeve up gently to be greeted with the sight of my wrist bleeding a river of blood, the crimson fluid soaking into my overcoat.
I need to get out of here. I thought. Get someone to fix me up.
Slowly working through the agony of my condition, I slowly lifted myself off the floor, deliberately placing my weight on my left hand to restrain from damaging my right wrist more than the katana blow already did. Sitting up, I observed my surroundings. The alleyway was a total mess, more so than before. In the dim light seeping in from the streetlights near the roadway, I could see the walls of the buildings, the clean white walls burned matt black with soot. The concrete floor was practically dry, most of the water vaporized into steam from the ordeal. Pushing myself against the burned walls, I lifted myself up, using a large, damaged compactor to support me as I lifted myself onto my feet. Pushing myself from the blackened walls I began to leave, hobbling away from the scene of my confrontation.
As I began wondering away, I felt the angry jolt of electricity pervading my muscles, forcing them to contract and send even more flaring pain through my nerves.
Li-Pau. I cursed, turning suddenly to try and find him.
A small movement in the corner of my eye caught my attention and I saw the origin of the attack. Li-Pau Nao was laying on his back, coated in soot and ash, almost camouflaged in the darkened alley. I could see he was still alive, albeit unconscious, his body releasing short, painful breaths as he struggled to cope with the injuries inflicted on him. With great enjoyment and a large amount of pain I limped over to my quarry, slowly removing the knife I kept sheathed in my overcoat's large pockets.
"You've been a fucking massive pain in the arse for me, you know that?" I shouted at him, hoping to wake him up.
"You murdered William! You stole his sword! You paralyses my friends!" I practically screamed at his unconscious body, kicking a food tin upon the ground into the wall in anger.
"You told me I should be fearful of your abilities, well it doesn't mean shit if your not awake." My grin widened, I enjoyed this far more than was necessary, but I was being truthful, he had caused me so much trouble, and now, he was going to pay. "Cause right now, I could kill you without lifting a finger, but that'd be far too painless..."
As I was about to begin. Something felt wrong, another feeling smothered the headaches and fever. I was feeling light headed, like I had tried to swim for too long, I tried to force another lungful of ashen air in but my body was unable to take it in, it was like there was no air around me. I coughed and choked, trying desperately to breathe until finally, unable to stand and losing consciousness rapidly, I fell to the ground while my vision swam, incapable of focusing on anything.
Still too focused with my own excruciating goal of trying to force myself to breathe, I blacked out, not realizing until a few minutes after. When my lungs had finally began to contract and expand again, I rose to my feet, to find the GHOST agent I had spent so long hunting had disappeared.
Rising to my feet unsteadily, I cursed my luck. Shouting and raging, I kicked the burned rubbish strewn through the alleyway, watching it break apart against the white walls of the factory at the end of the alleyway.
Okay, Stop, think.
Even if he got away, I may be able to find him, there are millions of cameras, one will catch a picture of him. Even through this, I couldn't curb my anger. I got attacked and one of the most wanted criminals in the whole Euro Zone had escaped my grasp. My palms itched and burned uncontrollably as the urge to start setting fire to everything nearby in a ball of roiling blue plasma presented itself to me. The sharp pain of my wrist wound brought me back to reality.
Need to get this sorted out.
Reasoning I could do it myself and continue with the search for Li-Pau, I walked towards the still pristine white warehouse at the end of the alley. Getting to the heavily locked door, I directed by ability into the lock, incinerating the pins. Heaving the iron doors open with a pained grunt, I slipped inside.
Finding a light switch, I flicked it on, and the whole building was illuminated in a harsh white glow. The entire place was full of pallets of furniture, clearly this was some kind of furnishing shop I broke into. It took me about 2 minutes to find a first aid kit on the wall. Tearing down the plastic red and white case, I sprayed the disinfectant onto the deep cut in my wrist with a muffled scream, before tightly wrapping the white bandages around the still bleeding wound.
It'll do for now.
Reclosing the first aid kit and hanging it back onto the wall, I made my way to leave the same way I came in, through the still ajar steel door whose locks I burned through, when I heard footsteps. Judging by the volume and the short interval between steps, I could tell they were running. Thinking quickly, I turned the intense white lighting off, and proceeded to kneel behind a pallet containing a dozen unassembled shrink-wrapped tables. I peered around the corner of the tables, satisfied the gloom would hide me.
Watching the door open slowly, I saw the person I heard running. Without the lights it was nothing more than a silhouette, but I could see a distinctly female shape, the typical hourglass figure noticeable in the gloom. As she walked in she proceeded to flick on the light switch at the wall, and I could see her perfectly. She was young, possibly even younger than myself, with shoulder length blonde hair and light grey eyes. She was garbed in the same green uniform that was typical of European Commonwealth's military force. Looking at her uniform I saw there was a total absence of rank insignia on her. That couldn't be right, every military uniform had their rank slides displayed on it, and this one had nothing.
I shook my head, it didn't matter, there were more important things to worry about right now. She clutched a black handgun, her small fingers wrapped firmly round the weapon. My eyes widened as I saw, affixed to the end of the gun, was a silencer.
Nobody would even know.
She aimed out into the bright warehouse, the elongated barrel pointing firmly at my hiding place.
Shit! I've been spotted.
"Stand up slowly." She shouted, following it up by muttering: "I've got you now you bastard."
Realizing there was nothing else I really could do, I complied. Placing my palms on the back of my unkempt hair I stood up slowly, partially due to the pain my muscles were still in following my oversync. As I rose to my unsteady feet, I could see she was furious for some unexplained reason, her anger marring her otherwise beautiful features. Maybe she had been looking for Li-Pau, the same as me. She seemed disappointed. As she walked over to me she kept the gun still firmly pointed at my head. After she got close enough she removed a hand from the grip and put the barrel flush to my temple, her finger still firmly on the trigger. The end of the silencer dug into my temple.
I swallowed loudly. This was terrifying in a way Id never felt before, maybe this is what the criminals felt like before they were killed, this final, terrifying moment where everything was put into perspective. Not only would I die here, nobody will know of it or even care of my passing.
What was she going to do next? I thought. Arrest me for property damage? Maybe she'd just shoot me instead. She then proceeded do something unexpected.
Grabbing the back of my head, she leaned in and kissed me. Our lips met, and through fear of her pulling the trigger, I returned her affection hollowly. I felt a guilty pang as I remembered Melissa, but this thought was swallowed up in the depths of another thought at the forefront of my mind.
What the hell is going on?
The situation I was in had utterly confused me, a woman, seemingly separate from the rank structure of European Commonwealth's military, had found me in a warehouse, knowing where to look, she then proceeded to kiss me at gunpoint. Whilst thinking this, I didn't even notice her reaching inside my coat, removing my combat blade, the silver charm tied to the handle glinting in the harsh white light of the warehouse. Breaking away, she smiled playfully at me, showing the blade she had stolen from my person whilst still keeping her gun pointed at me.
"Little boys shouldn't play with knives." She remarked, giggling.
Completely dumbfounded by her ridiculousness and her whimsical nature, I tried a different approach, I was gonna be blunt.
"Look, can I just leave and go back to finding that Chinese bastard?" I asked, I had had enough of all of this and now wanted nothing more than to kill Li-Pau and get through this mess. Her eyes widened at the word "Chinese", obviously she was hunting the same man I was.
"Your the boy who fought Li-Pau Nao, aren't you?" She replied, her playful attitude not ceasing.
Knowing that I had no choice but to be honest, I nodded.
"How'd that work out for you?"
I was beginning to get tired of her childishness.
"Me and my friends tried to take him down, I'm the only one he didn't paralyse thanks to being able to wield plasma. Chased him into the alleyway." I pulled up my sleeve, revealing the already stained crimson bandage wrapped firmly around my wrist. "He fucking cut through my arm with a Katana for fucks sake. I only got the upper hand against him in the fight thanks to oversyncing."
I paused, sighing and trying to recite the events after this. "After I came to I found Li-Pau either unconscious or dying. I went over to kill him and something odd happened, I couldn't breathe. I think I blacked out for a couple minutes while choking. When I'd stopped, Li-Pau Nao was gone. I think he may have an air elemental helping him."
My final comment changed her completely. Her childlike smile disappeared and she became deadly serious. However she also seemed lost in thought as she slowly lowered her gun, before her right arm hung loosely by her side. "Miki?" was the only word that left her lips.
"What?" I asked, still desperately trying to piece together the situation I was in.
As if realizing she spoke her thoughts aloud, she suddenly composed herself raising the gun to point at my chest. "I want you to help me deal with the wanted criminal Li-Pau Nao."
This was practically a dream come true for me, I could hopefully finally kill Li-Pau, and truly make him pay. However my heart sank as I remembered an utterance by Jack a few hours earlier:
"You of all people should know how easy it is to disappear in that time. Or are you forgetting that Paris is a big place, kid?"
"One question," I countered, trying to be logical. "How the hell are we supposed to find him? He could be anywhere by now."
She grinned, reaching into one of her uniforms myriad pockets to produce what looked at first, to be a clear piece of film, before she tapped it twice with her finger and it buzzed into life, producing an image that I could see from here was Li-Pau in some unidentifiable part of the city.
"With this data slate I can access the feed of any security camera in the city." She chirped. "Using this we can find him and make a good guess on his journey."
This was incredible, how did I manage to get this lucky? with this, I could easily finish off the deranged lightning elemental once and for all.
"Okay." I responded finally. "I'm in, on one condition."
She raised an eyebrow quizzically. "Oh?"
"You give me back my knife."
With a shrug, she threw the blade, its carbon fibre edge burying itself deep in the furniture beside me.
It took me four attempts to wrestle it from the tabletop it had stuck itself in. In my peripheral vision I could see the young woman smirking. This was most likely at my apparent weakness. I slotted the blade in my black overcoat and followed the mysterious girl out through the steel door. It closed with a metal clang as I pushed the bolt through.
I followed the unknown soldier as she walked ahead, tapping upon her dataslate as the pair of us moved onward into the night.
Chapter 11 - Miki Albraun
“So he’s alright?” I asked, hoping I didn’t sound desperate.
The doctor nodded. “Yes ma’am, he’s conscious as we speak, though he won’t be back to full health for the next two weeks. He suffered second degree burns in various areas, so he should refrain from any strenuous activities until they fully heal.”
“Thank you doctor,” I said. “May I see him?”
“Of course,” the doctor replied, gesturing for me to follow. “Right this way.”
As I followed the doctor towards Nao’s room, I couldn’t stop myself from thinking about him. How he looked when I had found him in that alleyway, he seemed so…broken. After I had found him, I had looked for a hospital. While I was fearful that the doctor would recognise him from the posters, he had been surprisingly helpful. I was still suspicious, of course. It was possible that this was all just an act so that he could turn him in to the authorities and get the reward that was promised. Nevertheless, I left Li-Pau in the doctor’s hands, and was relieved to find that he had been brought up to full health.
The doctor eventually stopped in front of one of the room doors, and gestured with his hand for me to enter. “Right this way.” He said.
“If it’s all the same to you doctor,” I replied. “I’d like to see him alone.”
Slowly, the doctor nodded, and opened the door for me. I entered the room, and the doctor closed it behind me. The first thing I noticed was the large window that let in the morning sunlight. The second thing I noticed was the tall figure staring out the window, and I knew immediately that it was the lightning elemental I had spent all this time looking for.
Li-Pau was dressed in the usual hospital garment, a sky-blue robe that went down to his ankles. His hair was a mess, sooty and dry. Nao’s skin was a light red, no doubt from the burns he had sustained. I stepped forwards, and he turned around. My colleague’s face went for flippancy to confusion to utter shock. I looked into his amethyst eyes, and straightened myself.
Nao looked away from me, before sitting down on the hospital bed. “No one’s stopping you from coming in you know.” He said lethargically.
My face burned with anger, I couldn’t believe him. “That’s all you have to say to me!? After everything you’ve put me through? After everything you’ve put everyone else through!?”
He flinched. “Miki I…”
“No!” I snapped, feeling tears form in my eyes. “I’ve been through so much to find you! I was worried sick about you! And then I find you, in that alleyway, burned and unconscious! I was distraught with worry when I saw you like that! I-I…” That’s when I let it out. I covered my mouth as I began to sob, tears streamed down my cheeks.
Nao looked up at me. He opened his mouth to say something, but nothing came. He looked down at his scorched hands, and began to fiddle with his thumbs. I calmed myself down, walked over to him and looked down at him. “Get up.” I said.
He got up.
For a moment, I didn’t do anything, my cheeks felt wet with tears. I looked at him, I couldn’t believe him, I couldn’t believe what he had done, and in a moment of absolute anger, I let my emotions take over and slapped him across his burnt face. He made no move to try and stop me, still refusing to make eye contact with me. My emotions switched from anger to sadness and relief, and I proceeded to hug him.
“I was so worried…” I whispered. “I missed you, I just…why Nao? Why would you leave?”
After that, he started to cry, genuinely. “I’m so sorry!” He suddenly blurted out, still sobbing. “I’ve been selfish, and stupid, I was just...”
I let go of him, and put pressure on his shoulders, forcing him to sit. I then proceeded to sit next to him. He continued with his explanation.
“I thought I could find him, Claude I mean. I thought I could find him and avenge Damien. Avenge his death. I thought I was doing to right thing, I thought I was doing the best thing for the team. But I wasn’t, it was just some vendetta against him for the death of my mentor. Hell, I couldn’t even find him, just one of his agents, and I nearly died because of him.”
I mused about what Nao had just told me. I thought back to when I found him in the alleyway, the black coated silhouette that had been standing over his crippled form. I looked back at Li-Pau, he seemed exhausted, and without a doubt, remorseful. He looked at me, and we locked eyes.
“You know what this reminds me of?” I asked him.
He titled his head. “What?”
“Do you remember when we first met? That tour I gave you of the Block?”
He snorted. “How could I forget?”
I smiled. He was right, it was impossible to forget what had happened that day. “Well, this hospital room reminds me of the hospital wing back at the Block.”
He looked around the room, and nodded. “Yeah,” he agreed. “It does.”
My face throbbed, multiple cuts marked my cheeks and chin. They were already starting to heal, slowly, painfully, but nevertheless, they were healing. Two steel doors slide open, and I was carried into the hospital wing. Nao looked around, then brought me over to a small hospital bed. He laid me down on the mattress, pulling up a chair and sitting next to me.
He looked around, then grabbed hold of a small container. He read the label, before twisting the cap open and pouring a few small pills.
He turned to me and extended his hand. “Take them.” He said.
I looked at him, and gave a slight smile. “Nao, I’m fine. Really, it’s okay. I don’t…”
“Take them,” He repeated. “They’re painkillers.”
Without waiting for an answer, he took his other hand and wrapped it around the back of my head. He lifted my head and brought his other one to my face. He stopped a few centimeters to my mouth, and made no move to give them to me. I realized he was waiting for me to open my mouth. I complied, and he put the pills in my mouth.
I swallowed, and then laid back down, letting the pills do the rest of the work. Nao sat back against his chair, and let out a sigh. “God, I’m glad you’re okay.”
I looked at him, and nodded. “Likewise.”
He looked at me, and tears formed in his eyes. “It’s my fault you’re like this.”
I shook my head. “No it’s not. You did all you could, if it wasn’t for you, I would have no doubt been swarmed by those Chute Scavengers.”
“But if it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t have had to even go down there in the first place!” He shouted.
I looked at him, bemused. “You’re saying it’s because you were brought here that I’m like this?”
He nodded. “What can I do? I don’t know why I was brought here, I can’t even protect someone from some mutant freaks. I can barely fight side by side with someone, let alone hold my own. If you ask me, Damien should have just left me in China.”
“And where would you be if he did?” I asked him. “He saved your life Nao, gave you a chance to do something good.”
“Exactly!” He shouted. “He saved me, how am I supposed to repay him for that? It’s not like I’m a good pupil anyway.”
“He’s supposed to train you Nao, you don’t have to be good. You just have to listen, learn, and do what our betters want you to do.”
He nodded, looking down at his hands, fiddling with his thumbs. I narrowed my eyes slightly. “Do you do that often?” I asked.
“Hm?” He mumbled.
“Your thumbs,” I pointed. “Do you fiddle with them a lot?”
“Only when I’m not sure of what to say.” He replied.
I looked at Nao, who was wrapping hospital bandages around his hands, as his previous ones had no doubt been burnt to ashes. I stood up and looked down at him. “How are you feeling?” I asked.
He looked up at me and gave a slight smile. “I’ll live.” He said.
I gestured for him to follow. “Then grab your stuff and let’s go. We are no doubt wanted back at the Block, and you’re a wanted criminal in this Sector anyway.”
He nodded, before walking over to his clothes. He stuffed his singed shirt and hoodie in a bag, put his chain-necklace around his neck, strapped a katana to his back, and slung a backpack over around his shoulder. He nodded at me, and I returned the gesture. We turned to make our way to the door, but stopped as we heard the doctor’s voice on the other side.
“They’re inside there, madam.” I heard the doctor say.
“Thank you, doctor.” Came a feminine voice in response.
At that moment, the door opened. On the other side of the door was a female military officer, dressed in full combat gear. A handgun nestled in a holster slung around her waist. Curiously, all signs of her rank or position were stripped from her uniform.
Next to the female soldier was a young man dressed in a scorched, soot-black overcoat, his face was a mixture of flippancy and cruelty. The officer looked at me, taking off her helmet to reveal her face. She had long, blonde hair, and grey eyes. I noticed that her eyes were full of joy and relief.
“M-Miki?!” The soldier exclaimed, and I flinched as she spoke my name.
Chapter 12 - Natalia Christelle
I cried with joy. I had finally managed it. I had found her
I had been running for so long. I had been searching since the day she had gone missing. Always I had found nothing but dead ends. No trace of what had happened to her. Miki Violette. She was the Guardian of Air. I had always thought she had looked familiar to me. Like a lost soul in a foreign land. Mikayla Albraun. She was my cousin.
It had been a long journey to the hospital, but the tracking software had pinpointed it as Li-Pau's last known location. Of course the clever rat hadn't used a real name but it was easy enough to find him based on his rather unique appearance following the multiple injuries he had sustained from his fight with the little Japanese boy.
At first my heart had sank when the receptionist mentioned he had been accompanied by a pink haired young woman. I had automatically assumed the worst. That she had been his hostage.
I snapped back to reality. She was standing before me in the same room as Li-Pau Nao.
"M-Miki!?" was all I could manage in surprise as I entered through the door.
"Just who the hell are you!?" were the words that left her lips as she took an adversarial stance.
It was at that point that my temporary associate walked up beside me. He whispered into my ear, "I've checked the other wards on this floor, no sign of the Chinese bastard."
"I am Natalia Christelle!" I exclaimed in disbelief at Mikayla's reaction, tears forming in my eyes, "Your baby cousin! Your oldest friend!"
"LIES!" exclaimed Miki, a venomous spite to her voice "I have no family! This must be a trick. A set up to take down GHOST's top agents. Just look at you. Suppressed handgun. No markings. No shame. You have all the hallmarks of a spook!"
"I-I... " I stuttered out of enraged confusion, "But I'm your cousin... your friend... "
At that point my Japanese accomplice made a startled noise
"She's protecting Li-Pau!" he bellowed, "we cannot allow this treason to go unpunished."
Andrew Sol went down upon one knee out of respect, before pivoting dramatically and doing something I was not expecting to see. The Plasma Elemental leaped up from his position to attack the injured man in the sky blue gown. However, before he could reach him, he was struck by an invisible force. It must have been Miki
Fear in her eyes, she launched the Japanese teenager towards me. I felt his lithe body collide with my own as I took the full force of the impact upon the hospital wall, my spine cracked against the ceramic tiles and I yelled out in pain.
Andrew Sol grabbed me by the right hand and dragged me up. I just looked at him in disbelief. He'd ruined everything. The son of a bitch had spoiled it. In a fit of unbridled rage I grabbed my ceramic knife and forced it into his stomach.
"YOU DUMB FUCK!" I exclaimed furiously in English, "YOU'VE RUINED EVERYTHING!"
As he staggered towards the ground I deliberately snapped off the handle of the blade, in the firm knowledge that the ceramic would have shattered.
"YOU'RE NOTHING BUT A SELFISH BASTARD!" I screamed, looking into his fearful eyes, before kicking him to the floor.
In my peripheral vision I noticed Miki was holding Li-Pau in her arms.
They were going to try and escape. I wouldn't let them. I used my own elemental talents to project myself right towards the duo. I didn't care what happened to me now. All that mattered was Miki.
"Get off us, you psycho bitch!" were the accented words that stung my ears as I tackled both of the alleged GHOST Agents to the ground. In the wreckage of the attack I could see that Miki had been impaled against some broken glass.
I sprang up as quickly as I could, dragging Li-Pau away from my injured cousin in a fluid motion. I immediately punched him in the face.
"WHY!?" I wailed with righteous fury, "WHY DID YOU TAKE HER FROM ME!?"
As his head swung backwards I could see a familiar anger in his eyes. A protective and righteous one. It was almost as if my dear cousin meant something to him as well.
"I NEVER TOOK HER FROM YOU! ALL I HAVE EVER DONE IS SAVE HER!" the Lightning Elemental shouted before elbowing me in the jaw.
This. This was strangely fulfilling.
I deflected his next blow before kicking him in the stomach. I assumed that he was either too injured and broken to use his powers or he was looking for a window of opportunity.
"WHAT WOULD YOU KNOW ABOUT SAVING HER!?" I spat, before landing a firm kick on his chest, "YOU ABDUCTED HER! YOU TORE HER FROM MY HOME!"
As I dodged another punch from Nao, I noticed that Miki was getting up from the floor.
"WE DID NOTHING OF THE SORT! WE SAVED HER FROM BETRAYAL! HER FAMILY WERE PRISONERS OF YOUR CORRUPT REGIME!" were the ignorant words spouted by this zealous fool. He clearly knew nothing of the monster that Damien Anderson had been.
He leaped at me again, this time with a kick. I barely managed to evade it.
"FOR SO LONG I THOUGHT SHE WAS DEAD!" I shouted, "GIVE HER BACK TO ME! SHE'S THE ONLY ONE I HAVE LEFT!"
My anger was abating. I could not fathom why, all that was consuming me now was sorrow and regret.
"SHE'S ALL I HAVE LEFT AS WELL!" Li-Pau tearfully exclaimed as tackled me to the ground, "AND I CAN NEVER LET ANYONE TAKE HER FROM ME!"
We fought ferociously, tearing into each other like savage wolves. Each blow I took was a righteous one. Each attack I inflicted was a dutiful one. As his fist found its way to my face I screamed in ecstasy. I could have easily killed him with a single shot from my gun, but fighting like this was far more intoxicating. I firmly slapped his face to the side before following up with a sharp blow from my elbow.
The Lightning Elemental responded with a firm knee to my groin. I felt the pain surge through me in an invigorating manner. I retaliated with a punch to his chest before forcing my arms around his neck. I could see the anger pulsating through his body as my hands grasped tighter around his windpipe. The young Chinese man gasped furiously as I tried to slowly end his life. That was when I felt his hands grasp around my wrists in a forceful manner. I had never had such fun before.
To my surprise, he suddenly flipped us over and forced himself on top of me as his grip on my arms tightened. I felt my hair drag long a sticky substance that I could only assume was Andrew Sol's blood. To my horror I noticed that his body was no longer there. I startled at the thought. I my distraction I had found that Li-Pau was exerting even more pressure against me. Not wanting to remain trapped, I used my power to project him off of the ground. His body impacted against the ceiling before I hastily rolled to the side as he fell back down to the floor. I stood up and pressed my boot firmly upon his spent frame.
As his hands were becoming electrically charged I decided that now was the best time to reason with him.
"If you leave now, I shall pay you in full the bounty on your head and the reward for finding my cousin. All charges shall be dropped against you. If not, then killing you is the only step I could take," I barked, "So, come Nao, what will it be?"
"I'll never give her up. She's worth more to me than anything you could possibly offer," the Chinese GHOST Agent defiantly stated.
I felt a surge of electricity impact against my body. It was exhilarating to have the energy pulsate through my being. However, before I could respond, I felt a hand grab my leg and drag me down to the floor. My body cracked against the vinyl floor.
"I-I'm so sorry... " were the words that found me. They were Miki's, "but he's all I've got as well... "
I saw her crawl up from the ground as I realized that I had been pinned to the floor. My body was being suppressed by an unnatural force. I used my own elemental ability to try and force myself to a standing position. Yet all I could manage was to push myself up on to my knees. As I cranked my neck up all I could see was Miki holding my gun, Li-Pau supported in her right arm.
"Please... Miki... " I sobbed, tearing out a photograph of the two of us from my jacket pocket and holding it aloft the floor, "just come home... you have a family here... "
"I doubt that you are a liar," she forced through her own tears, "I doubt that you what you said was false... but it just seems too good to be true... "
There was a loud bang as I felt a bullet impact upon my chest.
I slumped backwards from the impact, tears streaming down my face, as my legs splayed apart. How could she not know who I was? I had always looked up to her. My big cousin. She was the closest thing to a sister I had ever known.
I saw her calculating eyes staring down at my injured body. She snatched the photograph from my empty palm before walking away.
"We really should take her with us," I heard Li-Pau speak, "she'd make a good bargaining chip. We could use her against the government. For everything they did to us."
"Just leave it, Nao... " were the tearful words spoken by my cousin, "revenge gets us nowhere... just leave her be... we've already done enough... "
I stared up at the unfamiliar ceiling and became overwhelmed with emotion. I could feel myself slipping away. I'd never see my darling husband again. My dear papa would not be there for me now. Mother would grieve me, she always loved me.
I could taste blood pooling by the back of my throat.
"We need to go... " I heard Miki sigh in a deflated manner, "police are outside the window... "
"GET ON THE GROUND NOW!" I heard the shout of an angry woman. I could not tell who she was. Perhaps she was a doctor. Or maybe a policewoman. It didn't seem to matter anymore. There was some shouting I couldn't quite make out. I just couldn't focus my attention thoroughly on the voices.
I heard another loud bang. A gunshot? Or maybe that was Miki making her escape. I had once been told that Air Elementals could travel faster than the speed of sound.
"Target has escaped," I heard the angry voice again, "sending in agents to intercept."
I heard footsteps walking over to me, "Miss Christelle. Can you hear me?"
I could see that the woman was an officer of the law. I guess that the doctor must have phoned the police. If I could have laughed, I would have. Sadly, all I could manage was to cough slightly.
"Get a medic in here!" the voice exclaimed as I drifted off.
As I entered the hospital ward I was filled with a smug sense of accomplishment enmeshed with contempt. Much to my chagrin it had been my very own flesh and blood that had got in the way of my plans.
I sighed profusely as I walked towards the bed where the unconscious woman lay.
"You've come to really annoy me," was all I could muster, "although I guess you weren't to know that I had a little plan you were interrupting."
I stroked her cheek and her eyelids fluttered briefly.
"And, I must admit that you did well to bring my little pawn here. Right where he needed to be... " I lamented, "but you just had to spoil it all by doing something stupid. I mean, really, stabbing him with my wedding gift of all things! Then you couldn't even finish the job yourself? The little Chinese boy needed to die and you just played with him like he was your toy! Oh how childish."
She remained there, fragile and motionless in a drug induced sleep. I doubt she could hear me but I continued on regardless.
"You could have easily finished him off, my darling, you've been well trained and you were properly armed. Just a single round to his temple and you wouldn't be lying in this bed. But, you just had to make him suffer in an overindulgent fight."
I sighed again.
"Still, at least I'll be able to make use of this little situation." I smiled broadly, "the doubt you must have sown in poor little Miki's mind... it will provide the perfect opportunity to follow a different path... "
I stroked her blood-soaked hair before placing a gentle kiss on her lips.
"Now sleep well, my pet, for we do live in very interesting times."
|K21 - Twisted Deliverance · K21 - Clouded Rectitude · K21 - Bitter Reality · K21 - Bleached Delusions · K21 - Blinkered Discord|