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This article is a part of the K21 Squared timeline.

This article belongs to Solomus-BlackWing. Please do not edit this article without their permission.

CloudedRectitudeCuvva

TBACloudedRectitude
Cast (In Order of Appearance)
K21LOGOV2.2
Nanobyte - Honour05:37

Nanobyte - Honour

Shortly after Laurence is rediscovered by Ghost K, the Guardian of Water teams up with Li-Pau Nao on a reconnaissance mission in Sector I Middle Eastern Colony after they receive intelligence that the "American War Relief Effort" has been siphoning off funds to the terrorist organisation known as the Restored White Armies. What starts as a reconnaissance mission to determine the validity of this information quickly spirals out of control as the truth comes to light. Goals are questioned, suspicions arise, and the opinions of others are changed.

Prologue

Damien stalked into the briefing room, making sure those who were called had showed up. He was pleased to see his fellow senior officers; Kenneth Lysander and Mathieu Dalton, were sitting around the oval shaped table. They acknowledged their commander as he sat down in his seat at the front of table.

“Thank you both for coming here on such short notice.” Damien nodded.

“Well, you only ever summon us so promptly for the most important of matters,” Mathieu replied composedly.

“So, what is this about Anderson?” Kenneth asked, eyes narrowing.

Damien’s face grimaced. “Informants out on the field have brought to our attention that the American War Relief Effort, or AWRE as they are commonly known, of Sector I is possibly a front for the RWA. Latest reports suggest that they are distributing funds to the terrorist organisation while providing the RWA with a potential staging post in the Middle East.”

For a moment, neither Kenneth nor Mathieu replied. The Guardian of Ice’s face had paled, and the temperature had dropped slightly. Dalton sat back in his chair, pondering.

“If the RWA is being funded by such an organisation…by God, with the amount of support the AWRE has received over the past few months…” Kenneth trailed off, unsure of what to think.

Mathieu leaned forwards. “Can we be reassured that this information is valid?”

Damien frowned. “No, we can’t be certain.”

Mathieu nodded. “Then we need to concretely verify that what our informants have sent us is in fact true.”

“So direct reconnaissance is in order.” Kenneth crossed his arms.

“That would be the wisest choice of action.” Dalton agreed.

“Then it’s settled. A team of two would show the greatest chance of success.” Damien spoke as he got out of his seat.

“Who do you plan to send on this mission?” Kenneth asked curiously.

Anderson chuckled, “Assemble the rest of the team in the mess hall, I have someone in mind.”

*

“Wait, me?” Laurence asked, dumbstruck.

“Yes Laurence, you. You haven’t seen active duty since you returned to the fold, you need the practice out on the field. Not to mention you’re always complaining about how you can’t ‘prove yourself’ to us. Well, now’s your chance.” Damien chuckled.

Laurence grunted. “So to prove myself, I have to complete a mission you assign me on out of the blue? How the hell is that fair? Especially as I distinctly remember the last time that happened I disappeared for fifteen months.”

“It doesn’t have to be fair,” Damien snarled. “You will do as your superior officers order you. It is of the utmost concern that we test your capabilities in the field in a less controlled environment. Training here can only go so far.”

“Okay okay, I’ll go.” Laurence sighed.

“Good lad, now then… we will have to determine who will accompany you for this mission…”

“Commander?” Li-Pau Nao, Anderson’s protégé murmured.

“Yes Nao?” Damien crossed his arms.

“With your permission sir, I ask that I accompany Corporal Valentine on this mission.”

All went silent for a moment. The entire team’s attention focused on the youth.

“Is there a reason for this request, Li-Pau?” Anderson narrowed his eyes.

Nao rubbed the back of his neck. “I know I’m not the most experienced member, but I’ve dealt with the RWA before. If they’re involved, my experience could prove to be a vital to the mission's success.”

“The RWA are rather predictable, experience countering them would hardly be a vital factor.” Kenneth retorted.

Damien growled. “Lysander, I am both your commanding officer and his guardian. I will decide what is best for Nao. Not you.”

“Understood.” Kenneth begrudgingly accepted.

“Good, as for you Li-Pau,” Anderson turned to face his protégé. “Are you certain you can handle this?”

Li-Pau grumbled. “I’ve been here for over a year, sir. Everyday you’ve told me that Ghost_K expects me to give it my all when it comes to assignments. Sir, I am positive that I can manage to undertake this mission.”

Anderson smiled. Ever since Nao had arrived at Block 441, he had tried to mold Li-Pau into a mirror image of himself. The youth proved himself to be an excellent addition to the team. Even so, he still had a lot to learn. This would be the first mission he’d participate in without a senior officer watching over him. Even so, this would show Ghost_K just how far his training had taken him.

“Request granted, Nao. You will accompany Laurence on this field operation, you will attempt to verify the rumours surrounding the AWRE if they appear to be true and dismiss them if they are clearly false, understood?”

“Yes sir!” Nao saluted before walking out of the mess hall. Laurence soon followed, mumbling to himself.

"One last thing. Do not take any unnecessary risks, this is a routine recon assignment," Kenneth added, looking directly at his own protégé. Laurence Valentine.

As the doors closed behind them, Damien nodded to the others.

“You’re all excused.” He spoke.

As the rest of the team left, Damien was stopped by Kenneth, concern was sculpted on his face.

“Are you sure this is a good idea? Nao hasn’t been on a single mission without our supervision. Added to that, Laurence has never actually seen active duty outside of the Commonwealth Palace Fiasco. And I needn't remind you of the fact he was missing fifteen months.” Lysander spoke cautiously.

“I am well aware of that, but the psychological report deemed him fit for duty,” the Commander retorted.

"I don't care about a goddamn psych evaluation, it's not safe to put both of them out on the field like that! It's damn well irresponsible."

"Perhaps," Damien nodded, “but a bird that is constrained to its nest cannot spread its wings. This will be the perfect opportunity to see what the two of them are capable of.”

Kenneth sighed. “Or get them both killed.”

Chapter 1

The armory seemed rather quiet, though that was to be expected when there were only two individuals gearing up for a reconnaissance mission. Li-Pau sat quietly in the corner, picking and choosing what would come into use during the team’s time in Sector I’s middle eastern colony. So far, Nao had strapped on a set of suppressed combat pistols to his legs, along with a few EMP grenades. Off to the other side of the armory, Laurence was searching for anything that would compliment his role as a ranged specialist. He had already looked an NTW-20, with an adjustable scope, and strapped it to his back, and had sheathed a pair of daggers along his thighs.

Out of the corner of his eye, Laurence noticed the doors to the armory slide open. The Guardian of Water turned to find Alison Katsura walk into the armory. She waved to him.

“I came to see you before you left.” She smiled.

Laurence nodded. “Thanks for coming.”

“What else am I supposed to do before you leave?” The Guardian of Fire joked as the two embraced each other.

Alison whispered, a hint of wariness in her tone. “Can you trust him?

Valentine sighed. “I’m not sure yet, but I’ll be on my guard.”

Alison nodded slowly. “Careful Laurence. Nao is the commander’s protégé, if what you’ve told me is true…”

I know,” The Guardian of Water nodded. “I’ll find out how much he knows and determine how deep his involvement in the conspiracy actually is. In the meantime, I want you to-

“Are you ready yet Laurence?” Nao called, interrupting. “Or do I have to leave without you?”

Damn it.” Laurence gritted his teeth, letting go of Alison. “Right, I’ll be with you in a moment.”

Valentine quickly turned back to Alison. “While I’m gone, I need you to dig up everything you can on this guy, okay? I want to know how he plays his cards if it comes down to me fighting him.

Alison nodded. “Okay, just…be careful.

The Guardian of Water nodded before walking away. “I will, I promise.

*

Laurence and Li-Pau walked through the airport. They had been able to sneak their gear past security with sleeper agents and concealing their weapons. Laurence had placed his sniper rifle in a lead lined oboe case while Nao was carrying his handguns in a lead lined toolbox. Laurence noticed Li-Pau smiling, and he didn’t like that.

“What’s so funny?” Valentine asked his partner.

“Hrm? Oh, nothing’s funny. I just remembered when I first arrived here, that’s all.”

“What happened when you first arrived here?” Laurence asked inquisitively.

“We were followed by RWA assassins, Damien told me to go on, apparently he was going to take care of them himself.” Li-Pau’s smile grew slightly.

“How’d that turn out?” Laurence grumbled.

“Well, I didn’t get a chance to see the fight in person, but I was able to hack myself into the security cameras in this area, and watch the fight that way.”

“And?”

“It was amazing! I’d never seen anything like that before! By the end of it certain areas of the airport had been levelled!” Excitement was clear in the youth’s tone, something he rarely expressed.

“God…I wonder how many innocents died from that…” Laurence trailed off in anger.

“Oh, well…official reports stated six confirmed deaths, but Damien always tells me the end result always requires sacrifice.”

Just like Damien, Laurence thought in frustration. Turning those ignorant to the truth into you’re pawns.

“There’s our flight.” Li-Pau gestured towards their flight number.

“Let’s get going then.” Laurence nodded as the two of them walked towards the exit.

Chapter 2

The flight to Sector I’s Middle Eastern colony had been a terrible experience, though Nao never enjoyed plane rides in the first place. The flight had been an unbearable three hours of Nao’s life wasted. He shuddered as he thought of the amount of work he could have completed during that time rather than listening to music and saying “No thank you.” To the flight attendants question: “Would you like some tea, sir?”

To make matters worse, once they had landed, the airport security seemed to have been keeping a close eye on the two of them when they collected their luggage. They were either paranoid, or the enemy disguised as security. Li-Pau decided it was more likely the latter as six security officers had stopped them ten minutes after their flight had landed, and immediately pulled weapons on the duo.

“Gentlemen, we'd like you to come with us,” The first officer commanded, the acronym AWRE Security Division emblazoned on his white shirt, “And we won’t kill you two.”

“You think you can threaten us? We’ll kill you before you lot can even pull the trigger.”

“You punk, we’ve already drawn enough attention as it is,” The second officer hissed. “Staff Sergeant, I implore you to give us permission to shoot them.”

“Permission denied corporal,” The first officer hissed back. “We’d have a lot of explaining to do. Besides, the Colonel wants them alive.”

Laurence’s visage darkened. “Is the AWRE always this friendly towards visitors? Or do the Restored White Armies like to make special exceptions for long term enemies?”

“You catch on fast kid,” the third officer stated. “But that won’t help you here.”

“Oh, it’ll help me alright.” The Guardian snapped.

“And how exactly will it help you?” the fourth officer questioned.

The young man turned towards officer, and snarled. “Because it means I don’t have to hold back when I kill you.”

The first officer laughed. “Tough talk for someone who’s surrounded,” the staff sergeant nodded to the second officer. “Cuff him.”

The second officer withdrew a pair of hand-cuffs and slowly walked forwards, gun still fixed on the Ghost K agents. As he made his way to Laurence, he pointed his weapon at the Guardian’s temple. “Hand’s behind your back.”

In response, Valentine’s hand bolted upwards, grabbing hold of the man’s wrist. He then maneuvered himself out of the way and used his free hand to grab hold of the man’s throat, Laurence then twisted the man’s wrist, causing him to drop the gun before Valentine kicked it towards Nao. The Guardian of Water turned to his accomplice and growled. “Kill them already!”

Li-Pau nodded before firing a bolt of lightning at one of the RWA agents, killing him, he then grabbed hold of the pistol Laurence had gave him and pumped four rounds into the next officer’s chest. By instinct, Li-Pau then proceeded to duck, and a bullet raced above his head. The youth turned around and fired a round into the man’s leg, causing him to stumble over.

Meanwhile, Laurence had already choked the second officer to death, and had thrown two knives, killing the remaining officers in the process.

Li-Pau hoisted himself to his feet, before walking over to the officer his had shot in the leg. The man was desperately trying to crawl away; a trail of blood was following him as blood poured from his leg. Li-Pau fired another bullet in the man’s leg, causing him to scream. Nao then proceeded to drive his foot into the man’s back, and bent down. Li-Pau twisted the man to his side before grabbing hold of his collar with both hands, having placed the handgun off to the side.

“You’re going to answer my questions, you understand?” Nao snapped.

“Go to hell!” The RWA soldier growled back.

Li-Pau grabbed hold of the man’s neck and smashed his head to the floor. “Listen! I’ll kill you if you don’t answer me. Now, what exactly were you-”

Nao was cut off mid-sentence as a gunshot rang out, and the officer slumped to the floor, a hole in his forehead. Li-Pau turned to find the handgun he had put off to the side was gone, and found Laurence behind him, pointing the gun at the dead man’s skull.

“What the hell are you doing!??” Li-Pau cried out.

The Guardian of Water casually threw the weapon off to the side, before turning back to his partner. “Look around us, Nao! There are panicked civilians running for their lives and, more importantly, we are running out of time. Real airport security will show up and no doubt try to arrest us, and I’d really like it if we didn’t have to butcher innocents during this mission. We don’t have time for interrogation... Besides, the man wouldn’t have told us anything anyway.”

Li-Pau scowled, before sighing. “I guess you’re right, we should get out of here.”

“Agreed.” Laurence nodded before the two of them ran out of the airport, leaving six dead bodies in their wake.

Chapter 3

Laurence set up his sniper rifle upon the flat rooftop of a large, concrete building that overshadowed the AWRE warehouse. The Guardian slotted a fresh clip into the rifle before lying down, his cheek pressed against the butt of the silenced sniper. The night sky was studded with various stars and clouds. The moon stood out among them, as if it were staring down at the population of the world.

Valentine shook his head, snapping back to reality. The Guardian peered into his scope of his rifle to find the facility heavily guarded, at least six were protecting the door, along with seven others standing upon the flat roof of the building. As the Ghost K agent continued to examine the building with his scope, he found Nao crouched behind a thick bush, invisible to everyone around him.

“In position.” Came Li-Pau’s voice through a communications device nudged in Laurence’s ear.

“I see you,” Laurence replied. “Proceed with the plan.”

“Copy that.” Nao responded.

With that, Li-Pau grabbed hold of a guard that was unfortunate enough to walk in front of the bush the youth had settled behind. With a quick jerk of his hand, the guard’s neck snapped back and his body fell limp. The Ghost K agent quickly dragged the guard behind the bush to keep the body out of sight.

Valentine couldn’t help but frown at how quickly and quietly his partner had killed the man, no doubt this was due to Damien’s training. Laurence snapped back to attention before radioing in to Li-Pau.

“Head’s up.” The Guardian spoke into the coms before lifting his gaze to a guard that was standing on the roof, near the edge.

With a pull of the trigger, a high-caliber sniper round shot out and killed the guard. The poor sucker’s body fell off the roof, and into the arms of Nao. The youth grunted before tossing the grunt behind the bush with his comrade.

“Moving up.” Li-Pau whispered before rushing forwards, carefully keeping out of the sight of security.

“Understood,” Laurence confirmed. After a few more moments Laurence nodded to himself. “Move up now.”

“Right, keep me covered.” Li-Pau spoke quickly before making his way to the door.

“What the hell do you think I’m doing up here?” Valentine grumbled.

Nao didn’t reply, instead he bent down on his knees, examining the lock in front of him. After a quick inspection, a smile came across Nao’s face. “They sure went through a lot of expenses for this thing.”

“Is that a problem?” Laurence asked.

“Not at all. I just find it interesting that they went through all this trouble for a simple warehouse.”

“Just pick the damn lock, we’ll look into this later.” The Guardian snapped, suddenly irritated.

“Copy that.” Nao replied, careful not to provoke the man with the sniper rifle any further.

Li-Pau gave another look at the lock. It was a biometric electrical lock, requiring a fingerprint scan in order to unlock. After that there was a pin tumbler lock located just above the electrical one. The first thing Nao would need were fingerprints, and he knew just where to get them. Without hesitation, Li-Pau sprinted to where he had hidden the dead guards. Carrying the whole body would be bothersome, and he didn’t have the time to do so anyway. Without hesitation, Nao withdrew a small carbon-fiber knife and dug it into the dead man’s wrist, promptly cutting the man’s hand off. As he finished his gruesome work, his ear buzzed to life.

“What the fuck are you doing!?” Laurence snarled, clearly against the idea of someone’s hand being cut off.

“I need fingerprints,” Nao responded. “And carrying a dead body isn’t going to help my situation.”

There was a muffled noise on the other end of the coms, Nao presumed it was Laurence sighing. “Alright, just get on with it.”

With that, Nao ran back to the door, placed the severed hand’s thumb on the scanner until it turned green. After which Li-Pau threw the hand off into the bush, and withdrew a handful of lock picks and a torsion wrench. After a few moments of work, the youth was able to pick the lock. Smiling at his handy work, Nao opened the door.

“I’m in,” Li-Pau chuckled. “Tell me if any of the guards come in after me.”

“Copy, just make this quick.”

Nao nodded to himself, before walking into the warehouse. After looking around, Nao could tell that the building wasn’t much other than shelves and safes. Each shelf stacked with boxes, each labelled. Near the end of the warehouse, a small office was located in the right hand corner. That was his best bet, if he would find anything worthwhile, it would be there. Making sure there was no one around, Nao sprinted towards the office. The youth opened the door, hoping that anything would stick out.

When nothing did, Nao quickly went to work at opening drawers and inspecting cabinets. As he did so, Li-Pau failed to see the small group of RWA soldiers sneaking up on him. The officer at the front of the group snickered.

“Well lookee here, looks like we have ourselves a little spy.”

Li-Pau turned around, shocked to find the group had snuck up on him. Before the youth could make a move, the officer at the front fired a shot point-blank with his pistol. The force of the shot sent the youth falling back into a desk behind him. As Nao struggled to his feet, the officer fired again, and again. Li-Pau fell onto his rear, unable to stand up. The officer turned to his grunts and nodded.

“Get him up, we’re taking him with us.” The officer commanded.

The grunts moved up to pick up the youth by his shoulders. The grunts suddenly screamed as electrical currents were sent into their palms from the Ghost_K agent. In retaliation to this defiance, one of the grunts pulled out a baton and clubbed the youth in the back of the head. Nao grunted before falling unconscious. The grunt that had clubbed him suddenly spat on him.

“Stupid fucking brat,” he growled. “I should kill him right-”

“Just pick him up!” The officer shouted.

“Yes sir.” The grunt mumbled before picking up the young elemental.

The officers dragged Li-Pau out of the building, led by their officer before their march forwards was suddenly stopped by a thundering sniper rifle bullet. One of the grunts off to the side fell to the ground, a large, gaping hole in his forehead. One of the grunts screamed before firing randomly into the night, hoping to kill whatever had brought down his comrade.

“Damn it! Shut up and move you fucking idiot!” The officer commanded, hoping to inspire some morale in his men.

All but the one soldier spraying randomly sprinted behind cover, the other grunt was shot in the chest, sent falling back as his head collided with the pavement.

*

Laurence snarled as he fired another shot from his sniper, the bullet missing its target by a few centimeters. The Guardian was instantly thrown into rage when he saw his partner being dragged out the front entrance by a group of RWA soldiers. The fact that none of the regular security made any move to stop them told Laurence all he needed to know, the RWA were the AWRE.

The Guardian had managed to kill two soldiers before the others ran for cover, the bastards. Valentine would make sure they’d regret messing with Ghost_K. Laurence peered into his scope again before firing another shot, unfortunately missing his target.

“FUCK!” Laurence shouted, standing up out of prone.

Suddenly, one of the other soldiers peered out of cover, directing the others to a vehicle. Valentine smiled wickedly as he pulled his finger on the trigger. Nothing happened. Laurence inspected the rifle to find it had jammed. Furiously, Laurence unjammed the rifle before looking back into his scope. The Guardian’s eyes widened as he saw the soldiers had jumped into a truck and started to speed away.

With no way to stop them, Laurence watched hopelessly as the RWA soldiers drove away into the midnight with his fellow agent.

Chapter 4

“Talk you stupid brat!” The officer growled through clenched teeth with another punch to the face.

Li-Pau coughed violently afterwards, he had been punched, kicked and struck in the stomach hundreds of times. The youth had been strapped to a wooden chair and had been imprisoned in a small room. Inside the room, four RWA soldiers surrounded him, each ready the beat him to a bloody pulp. Nao didn’t know how long he had been kept hostage, but he knew he wouldn’t be leaving any time soon.

“I said talk!” The officer spat as he nailed the Ghost_K operative in the stomach.

Li-Pau spat on the floor, a mixture of saliva and blood staining the concrete. The soldiers looked at the puddle in disgust. The officer that had punched him in the gut snarled, raising his fist, ready to strike him again. Before he could however, a calm, calculated voice sounded from behind the officer.

“Come now Travis, we don’t want to kill the young man.” The newcomer spoke smoothly.

The officer’s face paled, and he suddenly snapped to attention. “Colonel Majis! Forgive me, he’s been stubbornly quiet since his apprehension.”

The newcomer turned his head, smiling. “That will all change in good time, let me take a crack at breaking our guest.”

“Yes sir!” The officer nodded before stepping aside, allowing his superior to walk forwards. The colonel had a thin build, cropped blonde hair and a scruffy beard. Majis leaned forward, staring into the youth’s eyes, grabbing his jaw with his right hand, forcefully turning Nao’s visage back and forth.

“You will tell us what you know,” The colonel smiled coldly. “Or you will never see the light of day again.”

“I’ll take my chances.” Li-Pau growled at the RWA colonel.

Majis’ smile grew wider, and he patted the prisoner’s cheek. “Well, good sire, we’ll see how you fair in the morning,” Majis turned to his subordinates. “don't bother feeding this one. Don't let him drink. Then you can take another crack at him. If he still refuses to speak, then he’s more trouble than he’s worth. Until then, keep him locked up in cell 4. Understood?”

“Yes sir!” The soldiers saluted.

Majis nodded, before turning back to Li-Pau. “Strange, you seem awfully familiar…” The colonel’s eyes narrowed, before he turned and walked out of the room. With that, one of the soldiers took his rifle and slammed it into Nao’s face, knocking him unconscious.

*

“He’s what!??” The Ghost K commander nearly shouted.

Laurence sighed, so far, the online conference with the rest of the team had gone poorly. It started off well with Valentine reporting that the informants report being true, and that the RWA was being funded by the AWRE. However, the meeting had taken a turn for the worse when Laurence had told the rest of the team what had happened to Nao.

“Commander, it was my fault. I wasn’t fast enough, I could’ve saved him, I..”

“You’re damn right it’s your fault!” Damien blurted out furiously.

The Guardian of Water cringed. It was obvious that Li-Pau’s loss wasn’t just some ordinary casualty to the commander. If Nao had been captured by the RWA, then there was no telling what had happened to him. The RWA could very well be torturing the poor agent as they spoke, either that or he was already dead. Anderson’s voice rang out again, causing Laurence to snap back to attention.

“Valentine, I’ll be damned if I’m going to let you leave Nao to the enemy. You’re going to find him, and bring him back, dead or alive. It doesn’t matter, point is that you’re not leaving without him.”

Laurence’s eyes widened, dumbstruck. “But…where the hell do I even start!?”

“That’s your problem, not mine. Get to work Valentine, Anderson out.”

The feed went dead. Leaving Laurence alone in the damp apartment the team had rented for him and his comrade. Laurence sat back in his chair, groaning. How was he supposed to find the youth? Even if he did, there was no guarantee that Nao was still alive. The Guardian groaned, this was going to be a long night.

*

Li-Pau’s head throbbed uncontrollably, the injuries he had sustained were finally catching up to him. The Ghost K agent woke up in in the middle of being dragged by his arms on a cold, concrete floor. Nao tried to turn his neck, only to bite on his lower lip at the pain that followed. The youth let his head fall, and let out a brief sigh.

Suddenly, Li-Pau was dragged up to his feet and thrown to the floor, what followed was the sound similar to a gate closing, and Nao realized he had been thrown into, what appeared to be, a prison cell. Struggling to sit upright, the youth looked around, and found four others sitting or lying down in the same cell. They were all garbed in dark grey jumpsuits.

By fearful instinct, Nao reached for his throat, hoping the object he so desperately clung to was still wrapped around his neck. Horror weaved its way into Li-Pau’s heart as he realized his chain necklace was no longer there. Nao’s stomach churned, and the youth felt as though he was ready to vomit. Curling up into a ball, Nao wrapped his arms around his legs and began to sob. The chain-necklace Li-Pau had been wearing was the last thing he had as a reminder of his parents, and was frankly the last thing they had given him before their untimely deaths.

Li-Pau felt his side being hit, and the youth turned to find a young redheaded teenage girl looking down at him. Her face told Nao immediately that she wasn’t happy.

“What the hell’s wrong with you?” The young woman snapped, crossing her arms.

“Nothing.” Nao snapped back.

The woman scoffed. “Yeah right, you were crying a few seconds ago, what the hell’s wrong with you? Man period or are do miss your mommy?”

Nao narrowed his eyes. “What?” the youth asked, dumbfounded.

The woman scowled. “Forget it, just get up and stop looking so bloody pathetic.” She commanded.

Nao sighed, but got to his feet. Once he did, he was the one that towered over the woman. The redhead looked up at him, and frowned. Despite the facial expression, the woman stuck out her hand. “Roxanne,” she introduced herself. “Roxanne Chataway.”

Nao grabbed hold of Roxanne’s hand. “Li-Pau Nao.” The youth replied.

Chataway tilted her head. “Chinese?” she asked.

Nao nodded in response. Chataway let go of Nao’s hand before gesturing to the rest of the prisoners. “Well china-boy, welcome to our little family, if you can call it that. Over there’s Cam, the fat dude. Sleeping on the bed is Natasha, complete whore if you ask me. And finally we have Samsun, creepy bastard, doesn’t like to talk much.”

Li-Pau nodded, he decided to have a closer examination of his cellmates. Cam was, as Roxanne described him, plump. He had a long, ragged beard that went down to his neck, and was bald, he seemed rather old, late fifties. His hands were veiny and chapped. He was constantly fiddling with his thumbs. Natasha was a black haired woman, Nao guessed she was in her early twenties. What caught Li-Pau’s eye was how her hair was much more silky and smooth, compared to the others, she seemed as though she was sleeping in her own house. Finally, there was Samsun. Samsun looked like he was in his mid-thirties, grey hair was cut short to expose his ragged and scarred face. He was looking up at the ceiling, as if anticipating it to collapse on him.

Roxanne tugged at Nao sleeve, and Li-Pau turned. The youth soon realized he hadn’t examined her in great detail. Chataway was, by all respects, a rather attractive young woman. She was tall, voluptuous and, in Nao's eye at least, beautiful. Even if she was a little ragged around the edges with her cracked lips and bruised skin. Li-Pau guessed she was in her late teens, no more than a year or two older than he was. Her curly red hair fell down to her shoulders, she had high cheekbones and tired, dark brown eyes. For a moment, they looked at each other, without saying a word. Roxanne then proceeded to snarl and slap Nao across the face. “Don’t you dare look at me like that!” she growled.

Nao rubbed his cheek, he hadn’t expected her to react so ferociously. “Look at you like what?” The youth asked.

In response, Chataway brought her hand behind her head and proceeded to launch a full-blown frontal punch, aiming for Nao’s nose.

Li-Pau’s training kicked in, and by instinct the youth grabbed hold of her wrist. Spinning on his heel, Nao was able to get behind her, and proceeded to put his weight into his legs. Pinning the young female to the wall, cheek first, Nao had the hand she had used to try and punch him with behind her head, with her other one pressed against her back.

Roxanne struggled endlessly, she wasn’t about to give up. Li-Pau sighed, and decided it was time he put a stop to this pointless feud. Concentrating, Nao sent an electrical discharge through his palms, which proceeded with Chataway screaming as she was shocked painfully. Disbelief came over Nao as he realized how powerful his attack was, and then remembered he wasn’t wearing his elemental conductor.

Letting go of Roxanne, Nao stepped away. The young woman slumped to the floor, before turning to her attacker. A mixture of fury and fear plagued her eyes, along with tears. She turned away suddenly, and began to rub her wrists. Li-Pau looked around, and noticed that none of the other cellmates had changed their posture. Disgust ran through the Ghost K agent, but he decided that this wasn’t the time. Looking back at Roxanne, Nao didn’t want bad blood betweem the two of them when they hadn’t even known each other for ten minutes. Slowly walking up to her, Nao bent down and patted her shoulder.

Without hesitation, Chataway spun around and nailed him in the mouth. Sprawling back, blood trailing down his chin, Nao lay on the cement floor, looking up at Roxanne. The woman stood up, wiping away tears, before smiling crudely. “I’ve been told that I’m a good actress.” She spat.

Li-Pau tried to get up, but Roxanne pinned him down to the floor with her foot placed on his chest. She knelt down, foot firmly placed on his chest. Fury was evident in her eyes.

“Now listen here you,” she said. “We got off to a bad start, a very bad start. But I want you to tell me something.”

“Shoot.” Li-Pau replied.

“Are you an elemental?” she asked.

Slowly, Nao nodded. With that, a genuine smile crossed over Chataway’s face. She released the pressure from her foot, and grabbed hold of Li-Pau’s arm before hauling him up to his feet. She looked at him, her smile growing, but suddenly faded.

“You weren’t affected.” She said plainly, as though Li-Pau knew what she was talking about.

“Affected…?” Nao questioned.

She suddenly grabbed hold of his left wrist, removing the sleeve. Nao’s eyes widened as he saw a metal slab weaved into his wrist. A bright red light shone from the slab of metal, and a few wires were noticeable. The youth looked up at Roxanne, and she looked back at him, her expression was much less surprised than his was.

“This right here,” she said. “This is an elemental nullifier.”

Slowly, Nao nodded. He knew that elemental nullifiers were used by military contigents that were tasked with dealing with elementals, but he had never seen such a design.

“So I’m guessing these things are used to keep elementals like me in check.” Nao stated.

“Elementals like us.” Roxanne corrected.

The Ghost K agent looked at his cellmate in total shock, he hadn’t expected her to say that. Chataway gave a slight smile, before pulling down her sleeve, revealing a metal slab almost identical to his.

“You didn’t think you were the only special one here, did you?”

Li-Pau frowned, unsure of what to say. “So…what’s your element?” he asked.

“Fire,” she replied. “I’m not that powerful though, unlike some people I know.” She leaned in, smiling again.

“So, how are you using your element?” Roxanne tilted her head.

That was a good question, a good question Nao didn’t know the answer to. He looked up at Chataway, shrugging.

“Not sure, these things are supposed to nullify my elemental abilities, so I don’t know how I’m using mine.”

“Well,” Chataway shrugged. “They don’t actually seem to nullify our abilities, I've found, this thing here is more of a knock-off if anything.”

“So, what does it do?” Li-Pau questioned.

“It sends a powerful shock of electricity into your nervous system,” Chataway replied, crossing her arms. “Though now that I think about it…”

“I’m a lightning elemental, Roxanne.” Nao replied, it was his turn to smile.

For a moment, Roxanne said nothing, she suddenly began to laugh, and then gripped Nao’s shoulders. “Then you’re our ticket out of this hellhole.” She said.

With that, the two prisoners sat down, and began plotting their escape.

Chapter 5

While he hated admitting it to himself, Cody’s day just kept getting worse and worse. First off, he had discovered this afternoon that his girlfriend had been cheating on him with a football player, neither of them saw the light of day after they had admitted that to him. After that, Cody had the cops busting down his door and charging him for being involved in the drug trade that was all too common within the middle eastern colony. Hell, those cops might have very well been members of a drug cartel themselves, the authorities were all corrupt shits anyway. After getting arrested, his parents bailed him out, but told him that they had enough of him. With that, Cody had been left alone, and decided it was high time he try to earn cash, and that’s when things took a turn to hell.

He had decided to involve himself in the very thing he had been falsely accused for, the drug trade. Boy did he regret that decision. No more than two hours after he joined, the cartel’s hideout in the streets had been raided, by just one assailant. While at first they had a good laugh at the sucker, things took a turn for the worse as the cartel leader was murdered in cold blood. After that, cartel members had been picked off one after another by the assailant, and pretty soon Cody found himself alone, hiding in one of the many storage areas of the hideout.

Gunfire resounded just outside the storage room, followed by the screams of the dying. Cody felt as though he wanted to puke, but tried to keep himself together. More gunfire followed, the sound of a sniper rifle. Cody knew that the hideout was all close quarters, and a sniper bullet at such close range would leave a guy in pieces if they took a direct hit.

Another shot, and this time a boy was sent flying into the door of the storage area, opening the wooden door. A clear view was given to Cody of everything outside, and he didn’t like what he saw. Scattered around the hideout’s floor were the bodies – and body parts – of various cartel members, what was worse was the sight in the very middle. Standing in the middle of the carnage, like some phantom of death, was the assailant. The figure turned his head and stared at Cody for a moment. The lone cartel member flinched, reached desperately for the pistol that was strapped to his leg.

Before Cody could remove the weapon from its holster, the assailant charged in a blur. Kicking the cartel member in the stomach, Cody was sent falling to the damp wooden floor. Coughing violently, Cody stared up at the assailant. Fear washed over the cartel member as the shadow pointed a handgun at his face, ready to shoot. Words produced out of the figure’s mouth, calm, calculated, and overall chilling to the bone.

“Where can I find the AWRE headquarters?” the figure asked, his finger never lifting from the trigger.

“W-What?” Cody asked fearfully.

“Where can I find the AWRE headquarters?” The figure asked again.

“No!” Cody cried out. “I don’t know, I just joined today! I-I’m not sure what you’re aski-”

The cartel member never got to finish his sentence, as the shadow fired his pistol, leaving a bloody hole in Cody’s forehead. Laurence strapped his pistol to his thigh, before turning to exit the cartel’s hideout. “Waste of my time.” The Guardian of Water grumbled to himself.

*

It had started to rain, and Laurence scoffed to himself as he left the wrecked household. He had been searching for leads, anything that could link him to the AWRE’s main base of operations within the colony. So far, nothing. Just links to other cartel hideouts, and while Laurence was happy to rid the world of corrupt filth, he wasn’t finding anything that could link him to his colleague’s location.

Walking down the sidewalk, Valentine mused to himself about what he should do next. He knew he couldn’t just go back to the Block, despite the team finishing the mission. Damien would have his head for leaving his teammate behind. As the Guardian continued to walk, a group of heavily built men stepped out of an alleyway a few feet away from his location. The group of musclemen stopped before turning to face him, their eyes never leaving his. Valentine counted five of them, and smiled. This wouldn’t take very long.

Stopping in his tracks, Laurence waited for his opponents to make to first move. Finally, one of them stepped forward. He was a bull of a man, his leather jacket had been ripped and torn to reveal his muscular arms, which had probably been built by steroids. A large cigar was wedged between the man’s teeth, and his hands were stuffed in his pants pockets. The muscle man removed one of his hands and pointed a fat finger at the Guardian.

“Y’know, the AWRE is lookin’ fer your ass, and payin’ mighty high prices if we turn ya in.” The man chuckled, coughing up smoke as he did so.

Laurence smiled. “That so? Well, you gents have the option of taking me to their headquarters, or dying right here, right now.”

The man laughed. “Dat so? Well, look behind ya, you lil’ smart ass!”

Valentine sighed, before turning his head around. The Guardian wasn’t too surprised to find another group of musclemen had blocked the path behind him. Laurence turned back, and shrugged. “And? That's supposed to be a threat, is it? You don’t have a clue who you’re dealing with.”

“That so?” The man asked. “Den just show me who I’m dealin’ with!”

Laurence shrugged again. “You asked for it.”

With the single motion of his wrist, a puddle that lay in front of the man rippled, and a wave of water shot out of it, spear tipped. The water blew through the muscleman’s chest, blood mixing with the water. The man screamed, his cigar falling out of his teeth.

Laurence lunged forwards, grabbing hold of the man by the back of his shirt collar. The Guardian stepped behind him, giving him some cover from the other men behind him. Withdrawing his pistols, Valentine pointed his weapons at the other muscular fools before they could take three steps forward. Firing his handguns, three of them fell face first onto the pavement, blood trailing out of their wounds. The fourth charged, swinging his arm wide, aiming for the side of the Guardian’s head. Ducking, Laurence brought his weapon up to the man’s chin, and fired.

Leaving the four dead vigilantes to themselves, Valentine turned back to the other musclemen that had been blocking the way behind him. Unlike the others, who had charged forwards, the other vigilantes had stayed behind and had drawn out assault rifles. Each of them fired a hail of bullets, tearing the leader’s body to shreds of flesh and bone. Disgusted, Valentine threw the mangled corpse off to the side before firing his own weapons. Killing one of them instantly with a well-placed headshot, the Guardian struck down the others with bullets to the chest and legs.

The other two musclemen fell to their backs, one of them dying, bullets riddled his chest. The other struggled to sit upright, clutching a bullet wound he had sustained to his lower right leg. Firing another bullet into the chest of the already dying, Laurence walked up to the last remaining vigilante before grabbing hold of his shirt.

“Where is the AWRE headquarters?” The Guardian snapped, having no time to waste.

The man looked up at his attacker, fear plagued his eyes, and yet he managed to answer. “I-I can take you there, just don’t kill me!”

Snarling, Laurence grabbed his handgun with his free hand, bringing the weapon to his forehead. “Tell me where to go and I’ll think about it.”

“Alright! Alright, I’ll tell you, just…point that thing somewhere else.”

Valentine nodded, before holstering his weapon. The man sighed of relief before sitting upright. He pointed down the sidewalk. “It’s really not that far away, just a few blocks and you’ll have a clear view of the place. It’s actually a prison. Big, grey building, not that far out of town. It's surrounded by barbed fences and all that kind of stuff.”

Laurence nodded.

“I’ve kept my end of the bargain, now you keep yours. Let me go.”

The Guardian turned back to the man, frowning. “I said I’d think about it, and I’ve made up my mind.”

Without hesitation, Laurence concentrated his abilities and rippled the bloodstream within the man’s throat. The neck burst open, blood staining the pavement. “And that’s my end of the bargain.” Laurence said to the corpse before walking off, down the street.


*

Li-Pau looked up at Roxanne, uncertainty was clear. “You sure this is going to work?” he asked her.

“Of course I’m sure, china-boy.” Roxanne replied, smiling.

“So when do they usually come to take us?”

“The guards usually show up at around five in the afternoon. Then we basically work our asses off for an hour until being brought back into our cells.” Chataway explained.

“Okay…so how do we slip past the guards again?” Nao asked her.

Roxanne rolled her eyes. “Jesus, weren’t you paying attention?”

“Sorry, I drifted off, had something else on my mind.”

Roxanne gave a cheeky smile. “Like what? You got a girlfriend back home, eh? Or you’re the son of Sector III's Chairman?”

“What? No! Nothing like that!” Li-Pau blurted out.

Roxanne laughed. “I’m messing with ya, china-boy.” She laughed some more. “But yeah, the plan is that Natasha gets in with the warden, and steals the keys when he’s not paying attention.”

“With the warden?” Nao titled his head. “How the hell is she supposed to do that?”

“There’s a reason why I call her a whore, china-boy,” Chataway responded, turning to face Natasha. “Isn’t that right slut?”

“Up yours bitch.” Natasha snapped from the other side of the cell.

Roxanne rolled her eyes. Before turning back to Nao. “So after we get the keys, you take care of the guards. We grab our stuff, and we’re home free.”

“What about the other guards? What if we’re caught? What if-”

“Jesus, china-boy. Have some faith in us will you?” Chataway interrupted.

“Okay okay, I’m just worried is all. So what time is it now?”

Roxanne smiled. “Four fifty-nine.” She chuckled.

Chapter 6

The prison appeared exactly how the vigilante had described it. The prison was a large, grey building on the outskirts of the settlement. Tall barbed fences surrounded it, with only one visible entrance. The entrance was a heavily guarded gate, two guards dressed in flak-jackets wielding submachine-guns stood outside the gate. Getting inside would be a hindrance, and Laurence would prefer if he didn’t have to deal with two heavily armed guards at the moment.

Thinking on the spot, Laurence stopped less than a dozen feet away from the entrance, making himself visible. One of the guards saw him, and walked over to where he stood, the man’s gun pointed at the Guardian.

“State your name and business.” The guard growled.

Instead of doing what he was told, Laurence gave a quick flick of his wrist and the guard’s neck burst open, blood poured from the wound and the man collapsed. the other guard had seen this, and was now running to his downed comrade. Laurence almost smiled.

Stepping back, covering his mouth with his hands, Valentine decided to play this safe.

“H-He just collapsed!” Laurence shouted with fake shock. “I-I don’t...”

“Calm down!” The other guard snapped. “Stay back, let me see what’s wrong.”

Valentine nodded and stepped back, giving the other guard room. The guard knelt down and stripped his comrade of his flak jacket, pressing his ear against the downed guard’s chest.

“C’mon, c’mon,” the guard muttered. “Breathe.”

Leaning forwards, Laurence pressed the barrel of his silence pistol and fired it into the man’s head. The second guard slumped forwards and fell onto his comrade, blood pooling out of the bullet hole in the back of his head. Leaving the bodies behind, Laurence marched forwards.


*

Majis sat back in his luxurious chair, wearing a business suit as he reviewed the new list of prisoners that had just been handed to him. The Asian man allowed a small smile to reach his lips as he moved on to the report that detailed the payments the RWA had received from the Sector I Government over the past month. The colonel smiled, cash flow had increased by at least double, as his little front organisation cleared the streets of dissenters. The AWRE had received more new members in the last week than the colonel cared to count but the old man had been careful to make sure there was no traceable link between these recruits and his primary employers at the RWA.

The colonel continued to sort through information and files when he heard a knock on his door. Majis looked up, annoyed, yet he called for the visitor to come in. The door opened, and Majis was greeted by the warden of the prison, pulling a young woman in by her long, black hair.

“Warden,” Majis nodded. “I see you’ve found yourself a new pet.”

The warden grumbled, before throwing the woman to the ground. “The bitch tried to seduce me, no doubt wanting-”

“No need for details,” Majis interrupted, standing up and walking over to where the woman lay on the floor. The colonel smiled, she was still conscious, so he wouldn’t have to wait for her to wake up so that he could interrogate her.

The colonel bent down and grabbed her by the throat. “If you care about your life, then you will tell me what you hoped to gain from seducing the warden.”

The woman looked at him, tears in her fearful eyes. “P-Please.” She started.

“Answer the question,” Majis commanded. “Or I will be happy to get rid of you.”

The woman whimpered. “I-I was told to seduce the warden, and then steal the key to our cell when he had his guard down.”

The colonel snorted. “I’m certain you didn’t work alone,” Majis told her. “Can you tell me who you were working with?”

The woman nodded. “My cellmates, Roxanne was the o-one who came up with the plan.”

A sickly smile crossed over the colonel’s face. “Thank you my dear, you have given me some most valuable information.”

Before she could respond, Majis punched her in the nose, knocking her out as it began to bleed. The colonel stood up and pointed at Natasha. “Pick her up.” Majis ordered the warden.

The warden complied, grabbing the woman once again by the hair and pulling her up to her feet. The warden then grabbed her stomach and flipped her onto his shoulder. Majis nodded for the warden to follow and left his office. Outside, two of his personal guards stood there, ready to defend their leader. The colonel nodded for them to follow, and the complied. Soon, the four RWA agents stalked through the halls towards the cellblock.


*

Nao awoke to the sound of metal chattering. The Ghost_K agent sat upright and stared out at the celldoor. Horror and surprise struck the youth as he stared at the colonel and two of his bodyguards, with a third man standing behind them. Majis stood outside the door, a crooked smile woven into his features. “I do hope you were having a good sleep.” The colonel told the prisoners.

“What do you want?” Cam muttered.

“I want you all to wake up.” The colonel snapped.

“Why?” Nao asked.

“Because I know about your little scheme to break out of my lovely prison,” Majis replied, shaking his head. “And after all of the hospitality I’ve shown you. I feel betrayed.”

With that, the celldoor opened, and the third man tossed Natasha’s unconscious body into the cell. Nao stared down at her, the woman’s nose was bleeding, and her face was covered in bruises. The other prisoners stared down at the body, and Cam began to panic, sweating.

“I-It was all that bitches idea!” The man exclaimed, pointing his chubby finger in Roxanne’s direction.

“Gee, thanks fatty.” Roxanne growled back.

“Fuck you!” Cam shouted. “I’m not dying because of your stupid-ass plan!”

“Now now, no need to point fingers at each other,” Majis’ smile grew. “I am well aware that Miss Chataway is responsible for this.”

Roxanne snorted. “So what’re you going to do colonel? Shoot me?”

Majis laughed. “Oh no my dear,” The colonel stated. “That would be far too merciful. No, I have a much more…appropriate, punishment in mind for you and your cellmates.”


*

Li-Pau had hated the RWA before, but his hatred burned so brightly now that he was ready to kill every last one of them. He knew he could use his elemental abilities, but using them now was pointless. The room he and his cellmates had been crammed into had three heavily armed RWA agents inside, so using his powers wouldn’t do much good in his current situation. The Ghost_K agent had heard the guards call the room he and his cellmates were in as “The Abattoir.” Li-Pau thought the name fitted rather well, since the area around him was sickening to say the least.

The room was painted in blood red – Nao hoped it was just paint – along with strings tied from the ceiling. Bones were tied through these strings, like some kind of sick set of wind chimes. Five wooden chairs were fitted along one wall, with five others on the opposing one. Nao and Samsun sat on one end, with Roxanne and Natasha on the other. Cam’s body lay in the middle of the room, a ragged cut ran through his throat. The man was lying in a pool of his own blood. On the wall in between the chairs, a large stone table was perched up against the red bulwark. Standing in front of the table, the torturer whom the guards had deemed as “The Anguisher” was sorting through the tools.

Li-Pau glance at his fellow cellmates, Roxanne was covered in cuts and stakes had been driven into her thighs. Her prison uniform was all but rags now, torn in more places than Nao cared to count. Tears were pooling down her cheeks as she bit down her lower lip, trying desperately not to sob. Natasha was stripped of nearly all her clothing, her wrists slit open with her stomach bared to show where it was now missing patches of flesh. Samsun wasn’t faring any better, as a large, medieval looking bagging hook had been driven into his shoulder, with his face covered in bruises and cuts. His arms were covered in stab marks, thanks to a combat knife that the torturer had strapped into his bloody apron.

The Anguisher turned to look at the Ghost_K agent from the blood covered table, a wide, cruel grin spread across his face. Nao had been last the torturer had picked to temper with. The man walked towards the Ghost_K agent, carrying a large, serrated machete in his gloved hand.

“Y’know, torturing a man is much like butchering a pig.” The bloodstained man gleefully stated, “and I always make sure that I hear my little piggies squeal.”

The torturer now stood no more than two feet away from his prisoner, wiping his blade with a wet cloth.

“First I’m gonna tear off your eyelids, then I’m going to pull out each and every one of your fingernails, before dipping your fingers in salt!” The Anguisher whispered into his prisoner’s ear.

Nao spat in his face, and the man roared in anger, before punching his prisoner in the face. The Anguisher then proceeded to hit Nao in the temple with the hilt of his machete. The Ghost_K agent grunted in pain, staring at the serrated blade.

"Oh you think you're so tough, dont'cha, boy?" the torturer chuckled, "by the time I'm done with ya, you'll be singing like a canary. Now do tell me, cause the boss is pretty damn interested, who are you working for?"

A rumble from outside the room caught his attention, and it was as if the whole room was focused on the door. One of the RWA guards looked puzzled.

“What the fuck was that?” The guard exclaimed.

“Get out and check!” The Anguisher yelled them. “I have piglets to saute.”

The second guard nodded. “As you say sir.”

With that, the two guards exited the room, slamming the door behind them. The torturer grunted before turning back to Nao. “Where was I?”

As soon as he ended his sentence, the torturer slammed his fist in the Ghost_K agent’s cheek. Li-Pau screamed louder than necessary, and the torturer laughed. “Whine all you want little piggy! No one will hear your pleas but me!” He shouted. “This room’s soundproof, so no one outside can hear you scream!”

Li-Pau looked up at his torturer, and smiled from his bloodied mouth. “That’s want I wanted you to say.” The Ghost_K agent chuckled.

Before The Anguisher could respond, Nao sent a bolt of electricity at the man. The Anguisher cried out in pain as he stumbled back. Nao stood up, still bound to the chair. As the Anguisher struggled to stand upright, Li-Pau sent another bolt of lightning at him. The Anguisher fell on his back, and Nao ran up to him. Jumping back first onto the torturer’s chest, the wooden chair broke easily under the youth’s weight. The RWA torturer howled as one of the wooden armrests stabbed into his stomach. The man grabbed Nao by the collar of his prisoner garb and threw him off to the side.

The Ghost_K agent broke into a roll and landed on his feet. The two looked at each other, waiting for one to make a move. The Anguisher roared as he charged forwards, impatient and eager to spill blood. The man swung his machete, aiming for his opponent’s throat, to which the Ghost_K agent ducked and sprinted forwards, slamming the wooden stake further into his opponent’s stomach. The Anguisher repudiated the pain that shot through him and swung his machete across Nao's back, causing the Ghost_K to cry out in pain. Nao swung on his heels and smacked the torturer across the face.

The Anguisher coughed up blood before stumbling backwards, with Nao running towards the stone table. The Ghost_K agent stopped in front of the table and quickly looked over it for a weapon. Taking a blood stained chicken sickle, the Ghost_K agent turned and stared down at his opponent. The Anguisher was on his feet, wheezing, growling. Li-Pau pointed his sickle at the torturer and snarled.

“By the end of this, you’ll be the one screaming.” Nao told the torturer.

Curling his lips into a wolfish snarl, the torturer charged forwards, swing his machete yet again. Nao sidestepped and parried the swing with his sickle. The Anguisher stumbled back, before regained his balance and lunging forwards. The Anguisher stepped sideways mid-lung, grabbing Nao by the throat and hurling him in to the table, proceeding to swing his machete downwards. Li-Pau deflected the attack and kicked the RWA soldier in the chest. The Anguisher fell back, tripping over Cam's corpse. Nao struggled to his feet before walking over to where The Anguisher lay. Nao knelt down, and swiped the sickle across the torturer's neck. The Anguisher grasped his throat, as blood poured through his fingers, as he died.

Nao stepped away from The Anguisher's corpse, panting. The Ghost_K agent turned to his fellow prisoners. Natasha seemed fearful, as if Nao had just replaced The Anguisher as her torturer. Samsun gave him a blank expression, before nodding approvingly. Meanwhile Roxanne simply stared at Li-Pau in utter shock, surprised at how he had managed to take down the brute.

Nao walked over to his fellow prisoners and cut the ropes that bound them to the chairs. The Ghost_K agent proceeded to remove the stakes from Roxanne’s thighs, the bagging hook from Samsun’s shoulder, and cleaned Natasha’s wrist wounds with the wet cloth The Anguisher had used. The prisoners struggled to stand before looking at Nao, as if waiting for him to lead them to freedom. Roxanne gave a slight smile. “So what’s next, sir?” she said the last word sarcastically.

Nao gave a slight chuckle, before motioning towards the stone table. “Grab a weapon and let’s go. I want to see what got the guards’ attention, after that, we grab our stuff and go.”

The prisoners nodded before doing what they had been told, with Li-Pau helping Roxanne walk, as her thighs bore bloodied holes. Nao kept his sickle, holding it in one hand, along with the machete in his other. Roxanne held a pitchfork in her hands, and used it to help her stand upright. Samsun clutched the bagging hook that had been wedged in his shoulder in his left hand, and serrated scimitar in his right. Natasha held a baseball bat in her hands, large, steel nails pounded in the end of the club, and wore The Anguisher's apron. The prisoners nodded at Li-Pau, and Nao returned the gesture, before turning and opening the door.

Chapter 7

Laurence heard the alarms blaring and smiled, it had worked. The Guardian admitted to himself that he had done a better job at blowing up the armory than he had anticipated, but regardless, the attention of the guards was directed at him. If Nao was still alive then he should be planning his escape. If he was already dead, then at least the man responsible for his comrade’s death was most likely on his way to where the Guardian was. Smiling coldly at his handiwork, the Guardian quickly shut the door as he heard footsteps, multiple shouts, and orders called out down the corridor.

Valentine stepped away from the door, and began to look for a place to hide. Something caught his eye, and Laurence found a pair of smoke grenades placed lazily on the cement tiling. Straightening, the Guardian walked over to them, picked them up in his bloodied palms, took out the pins that sealed the grenades, and tossed them at the door before taking cover behind a ruined ammo crate.

In less than two minutes, the room was covered in a thick layer of smoke. Laurence heard the doors open, and his smile grew wider.

*

Sergeant Travis Gaheal coughed violently as smoke poured out of the armory. Yelling at his subordinates to follow him, Travis marched silently into the armory, gun raised, the soldiers under his command following suite.

“Stay close, be on your guard.” Travis ordered.

“Understood.” The other soldiers acknowledged.

It took five minutes to sweep the entire armory. Gaheal snarled as he noticed just how ruined the room was. Explosive damage was obvious, most likely fragmentation grenades. Any weapons or tools in the room no doubt aided the explosion to have devastating effect, whoever had done this clearly knew what he or she was doing. Travis’ team of seven soldiers continued to investigate the area until the sergeant realized one thing, something that sent chills down his spine. He had come into the armory with nine soldiers.

*

Laurence almost laughed as he strangled the life out of yet another unsuspecting soldier, the man died without a word. Laurence stood up, and remained completely still for another few moments. A footstep resounded from behind him, and the Guardian hunched down low, before prowling through the smoke to the source of the noise. Another soldier had his back to him, and Laurence smiled as he brought his knife to the man’s throat. Before he could utter a word, Valentine swiped the blade across the soldier’s throat, silencing him as the dying man gurgled blood. Lying the soldiers body on the floor, Laurence continued hunting. One soldier had his pistol raised, ever so cautious of his surroundings.

The man noticed Laurence sprinting in his hunched form, and was able to fire his weapon before the Guardian strangled him. With the element of surprise gone, the Guardian threw the body careless into a couple of weapon crates, before pulling out his own weapon.

“What the hell was that?” A loud voice cried out from Laurence’s left.

The Guardian turned and began to walk towards the voice’s source. The man was still crying out in confusion. “Sound off! Sound off damn it! Madin? Victor? Anyone?!?”

“You’re comrades are dead, scum.” Laurence responded, keeping to the shadows of the smoke.

“What the fuck are you?!?! SHOW YOURSELF!” The man screamed.

The Guardian chuckled as he brought up his pistol, and fired. The corpse of the soldier fell forwards with a large hole in the back of his head. Laurence holstered his weapon and sunk back into the smoke-filled shadows of the armory, lying in wait for the next unlucky group of soldiers to cross his path.

*

Li-Pau raised his hand, ordering his cellmates to come to a halt…again. Since their escape from “The Abbatoir” the prisoners had noticed just how active the halls of the prison were. Every so often, the group had to stop and hide as soldiers ran by. On more than a few occasions, guards had noticed them and had started firing. These short firefights would take five to ten minutes before Nao would grow impatient and eliminate them with bolts of lightning.

The Ghost_K agent had explained that their first object was the armory, since they needed firearms if they had any chance of escaping this hellhole of a prison. The next objective was to secure their belongings, and then find a way to kill Majis. The colonel couldn’t survive, he had to die, so that he would never cause harm to anyone every again. The crew had agreed to this and had been following him ever since. Truthfully, Nao had no idea where he was going, and constantly asked Roxanne which way to go, since she seemed to know the prison best.

As Nao turned yet another corner, and came to another halt. Roxanne and the others stopped and looked at him curiously.

“What is it?” Natasha asked. “More soldiers?”

“No,” Li-Pau shook his head. “I think we found the armory.”

The rest of the cellmates looked around the corner, their eyes widening. There, in front of them was indeed the armory, but it was not how they expected it to look like. The giant iron doors were wide open, smoke pouring out into the corridor. Nao narrowed his eyes as he stepped forwards, looking back at the cellmates and bringing his index finger up to his lips. The cellmates nodded and followed the Ghost_K agent silently, until they entered the armory.

“Can’t see shit in this place.” Roxanne mumbled.

Shh,” Nao hissed. “Just look for something, anything that could be of use.”

The team nodded before getting to work. Nao rummaged through the crates, searching for any weapons that he could use. Nothing. Continuing his rummaging through the crates, Li-Pau grumbled to himself as he continued to come up empty handed, and gave a silent laugh at the fool that was trying to sneak up on him.

Spinning around, Li-Pau through his fist at the person behind him. The Ghost_K agent's target grunted as Nao struck home, clearly the man hadn’t expected his prey to know he was there. Nao withdrew his fist before flying at the man with his sickle. The man jumped back as Nao swung his sickle at him, and the Ghost_K agent’s opponent quickly drew out a pistol, ready to fire at him point blank. Nao jumped to his left and rolled out of the way, onto his feet. Nao ran behind his opponent, before the man turned and fired blindly into the mist, no doubt hoping to land a lucky shot. Unfortunately for him, every shot missed. Nao smiled as he arched his sickle in an uppercut. The man cried out in pain as his arm was torn open by the weapon.

Nao’s opponent slapped the weapon out of his hand, and threw himself at the Chinese youth. The man grabbed hold of Nao’s wrists and the two were locked in a stalemate. Li-Pau brought his head back before slamming it across his opponent’s forehead. Eyes wide open, Li-Pau found himself staring into a pair of lime-green eyes. Reeling back, Li-Pau found the pressure on his wrists disappear as his opponent did the same. The smoke in the armory cleared, and Li-Pau Nao found himself staring at Laurence Valentine.

“L-Laurence?” Li-Pau’s voice cracked in disbelief.

The Guardian of Water gave a rough grunt before a sleek smile crossed his face. “Glad you’re still alive, squirt.”

A bloody toothed grin crossed over Nao’s face, partly because he had found his accomplice, the other part was smiling because of the contradictory nickname the Guardian had given him. Li-Pau walked over and picked up his sickle, wiping off the blood that stained the edge of the weapon with his prison garb, all the while hearing Laurence chuckling.

“You almost had me with that thing.” Valentine told his colleague.

“You almost blew a hole in my forehead.” Nao countered lightly.

Laurence chuckled, before turning to Li-Pau’s cellmates. Narrowing his eyes, Laurence gestured with a jerk of his head at the three other prisoners. “Who are you’re friends?” The Guardian asked.

“Cellmates,” Li-Pau responded. “They’re helping me escape.”

Laurence gave a slight nod before turning and nodding to the group. “Well, I hope you all weren’t hoping for weapons or gear, I used everything I could to create this lovely scene.” The Ghost_K agent extended his arms and waved around the armory.

“Great…do you have anything we can use?” Natasha moaned.

Laurence pursed his lips, before snorting. “Your wrists are split open.”

“Really? What tipped you off smartass?” Natasha snapped.

The Ghost_K agent looked at his Chinese colleague and shook his head as if telling the youth: “I’m very disappointed in you.” before rummaging through his knapsack. Laurence then pulled out a roll of bandaging tape and threw it at the female prisoner. Natasha hesitated and dropped the roll of bandages, before picking them up and began tying them around her wrists.

As she did so, Laurence removed the rifle slung along his back and placed it on the floor, before kicking it towards Natasha as she finished picking up the roll of bondage tape. Simultaneously drawing a silenced pistol as he kicked the rifle to Natasha, Laurence tossed the pistol to Samsun, who promptly caught it and nodded his thanks.

The Ghost_K agent turned back to Nao, and shrugged. “All out of extra weapons, kid.”

“That’s fine,” Li-Pau told his accomplice. “I already have one.”

With that, Li-Pau turned and took a rifle that was still firmly gripped in the hands of a dead RWA soldier. Examining the weapon, Nao cursed and searched the corpse for any other magazines. The Chinese youth smiled as he dug up an extra three magazines, and quickly took the RWA soldier’s belt. Tying the belt around his prison garb as a sash, Li-Pau neatly placed the other rifle magazines in the belt. Holding the rifle in both hands, Nao walked out of the armory.

“Let’s get going then, the exit should be down a few corridors.”

*

The prisoners, now accompanied by Laurence, hastily moved through the corridors of the prison complex, checking corners and other hallways as they did so. The line was spearheaded by Li-Pau, followed by Laurence, Samsun, Roxanne, and Natasha. The five runaways finally made it to a fork in the hallway, and Li-Pau examined the two signs that spoke of where each direction led.

The first one, which pointed to the right, had the words PRISON EXIT printed upon the sign. The second one, pointing to the left, had the words WARDEN’S OFFICE stapled upon it. Li-Pau stared at the left sign for a few moments, before waving for the group to follow him to the right.

“The prison exit is this way. C’mon, we gotta go before…”

“Over here! I see them!” A voice boomed from behind the group.

The group of runaways turned, and were met with the faces of at least twelve RWA soldiers on the other end of the hallway. Before any of them could say a word, the group was being fired upon by the RWA personnel. Li-Pau jumped into the left corridor to hide himself from the firefight, and noticed Laurence, Natasha, and Samsun jump into the right corridor. Roxanne wasn’t fast enough, and a rogue bullet hit her pitchfork, knocking it out of her grip and causing her to fall on the floor.

Li-Pau grabbed her by the shoulders and pulled her into cover. As he did so, Nao noticed more RWA soldiers pouring into the corridor, each adding their own weapon into the fray of bullets. Nao hurriedly checked Roxanne’s wrist, and noticed the elemental suppressor was still attached to it. Beginning his work, the suppressor was soon removed, leaving a few scars in its place. Chips of cement were cut off from the wall, and Nao sat against the wall, occasionally blind firing into the hallway. The Chinese Ghost_K agent saw the emergency pipelines that hung from the ceiling split open, causing high pressurized water to shoot down into the corridor. Nao turned to see Laurence firing his silence pistol into the hallway, waving his hand for Nao and Roxanne to move to his position.

Nao gave a single look at the signs that hung from the wall, and shook his head. “Go on Laurence! We’ll catch up with you!”

“Are you insane!?” Laurence called back. “I’m not letting you out of my sight for the rest of this fucking mission, y’hear?”

“You’ll have to deal with me being out of your sight for now! You think I can make it through all of that gunfire?”

Laurence loaded another magazine into his pistol before responding. “I’ll get their attention, just c’mon! We got what we came here for!”

“No! I haven’t gotten what I came here for yet!” Li-Pau snapped before turning to leave, picking Roxanne up and swinging her arm around his shoulder.

“Nao, this isn't the time for revenge! Nao! Get your ass over here! Nao!

Li-Pau didn’t look back, he simply continued to trek through the hallway, towards the office of Colonel Majis.

*

The two guards outside of the colonel’s door went down instantly, the synaptic systems in their brain being shut down momentarily. Afterwards, Nao fired a round into the back of their heads. The Chinese youth motioned for Roxanne to follow as he placed his back against the wall at the side of the door. Roxanne did likewise with the other wall, and nodded.

Nao kicked to door open, and panned the inside of the room with his rifle. The room was rather large, with a maroon-colored carpet lining up with the balsa wood table in the middle of the room. A large window the size of the walls was spread out across the wall behind the desk, giving a clear view of the prison yard and streets outside. As Nao finished scanning the room, he motioned for Roxanne to come inside.

As Chataway closed the door, the trap was sprung. Instantly, Majis jumped out from behind the desk and fired a pump-action shotgun. Nao wasn’t fast enough to react, and was sent sprawling own to the carpeted floor. As Majis loaded another round into his weapon, a ball of flame hit his shoulder. The colonel screamed, before dropping his shotgun and grabbing hold of his burned shoulder. Roxanne didn’t wait, firing another bolt of fire at Majis’ chest, sending the colonel falling into his chair.

Roxanne picked up the shotgun the colonel had dropped with her right hand and helped Nao to his feet with her left. The Ghost_K agent thanked her for the assistance before sparking the palms of his hands to life with lightning. The Chinese youth grabbed hold of the RWA colonel by the throat, sending high voltage electricity to course through the man’s body. Nao proceeded to throw Majis at one of the room’s walls, and pointed his assault rifle at the man’s face afterwards. The colonel looked up at his assailant, curiosity and rage were visible in his eyes.

“Where, where have I seen you before?” Majis spat, his lips curling into a snarl.

“You haven’t,” Li-Pau spat back. “But there’s no doubt in my mind that you’ve seen the man that I came here to talk about with you.”

Majis’ snarl faded, but his anger and curiosity didn’t leave him. “Oh? And who might that be?”

“PDC General Jon-Tai Nao, Commander of Tokyo Operations” Li-Pau told him. “My father.”

Chapter 8

After another six minutes, the water finally drained from the pipes, either it had run out or someone had finally turned them off manually. It didn’t matter, now that the wall of high pressurized water was gone, Laurence and the two remaining prisoners were defenseless bar the weapons they held in their hands. Laurence was able to fire off another three shots from cover before he had the retreat, with Samsun and Natasha following suite. The three of them turned past a few corners before they came across a pair of doors. The Guardian of Water looked up at the sign that hung over the doors:

Prisoner Belongings

Valentine smiled, before quickly suppressing the action and turning to the prisoners behind him. “Come on,” The Guardian told them. “We don’t have long before those RWA bastards catch up with us.”

The two prisoners nodded, before following the Guardian inside. Once they were in, the team immediately noticed how large the room really was. From what Laurence could tell, the belongings chamber was half the size of Block 441’s primary storage facility. Columns of clothes, weapons, and all different sorts of belongings were gathered within boxes, labelled in alphabetic order.

The Guardian let out a sigh before walking forwards, Natasha and Samsun doing likewise.

“Split up,” Valentine ordered. “Look for your equipment then meet back here.”

The two prisoners nodded before sprinting into different sectors of the storage facility. Laurence walked forwards, checking for the category he was looking for. He eventually found it, the column section labelled “L” then proceeded to search the area.

Digging through various boxes and crates, Laurence found a variety of belongings, ranging from knives to trenchcoats, the Guardian sighed as he reached into the eleventh box. Instead of finding Li-Pau’s belongings, he found something that wanted to make him spit. In his right hand Valentine held an IWU ID card with a very familiar looking face on it. Before the Guardian could do anything, Laurence heard a distinct clicking sound which made him turn around. Disbelief truck the Guardian and what he was looking at, and the words spoken told him everything he needed to know.

“I do believe that belongs to me.” Natasha grinned wickedly as she pointed a handgun at Laurence’s forehead.

*

“So the prodigal son comes to avenge his weakling of a father?” Majis retained a confrontational tone, “this shouldn’t even be happening! My soldiers made sure to take out every one of you fuckers!”

He spat at Li-Pau’s feet.

“My parents did everything they could to hide me from monsters like you!” the Chinese Youth retaliated. “He outsmarted you and your backstabbing colleagues!”

“Nao,” Roxanne jumped in, still fixed on the weapon she was pointing at the colonel’s head. “We don’t have time for this!”

“This has nothing to do with you!” Nao cried out in rage.

The young female licked her chapped lips. “Nao…”

“Um, hello?” Majis growled. “Still sitting here, supposed to be interrogated here!”

The colonel spat at the lightning elemental's feet yet again, which ended with Li-Pau grabbing the RWA officer by the collar of his uniform and forcing him to stare at his interrogator.

“Listen here you traitorous bastard! You took the life of my parents in cold blood! In the act of selfishness! You only cared for your own gain and nobody else!”

“I deserved his position!” Majis roared. “I was a better leader than your father could ever be! Yet, fate robbed me of that promotion.”

“He trusted you with his life, and you just threw him away!” The Chinese youth screamed, before landing a full blown bash across the colonel’s cheek, and another uppercut across the man’s chin. Before anyone could respond, the Chinese Agent brought his foot up and kicked the man in the face. Blood spurred and deluged down Majis’ chin and throat, letting out violent coughs as he choked on his own blood.

The Ghost_K agent wasn’t done there, as Nao grabbed hold of the man’s hair and scalp before slamming Majis’ head against the wall behind him. Li-Pau proceeded to throw the man to the floor before slamming his foot into the colonel’s back.

“I am going to make you suffer, I am going to make you pay for your treason,” The Ghost_K Agent snarled and sparks of electricity danced across the palms of his hands. “And then, when I believe you’ve suffered enough, you’re going to tell me where I can find Arekusanda Aiko.”

*

“Well, I guess that means the name ‘Natasha’ is an alias then?” The Guardian of Water sighed.

“It was the only one I could think of on the spot, but yeah, Natasha is an alias that I’ve used for quite some time now.” The woman once known as Natasha replied.

“Doesn’t explain why your… ID card is located in the L Section, seeing as all I have here is a number... ” Laurence replied ever so casually, “1290394?”

“They most likely discovered my real name, leave it to Majis to crack open an alias like an egg.” The woman muttered, the handgun in her hand still pointed at the Guardian’s forehead.

“You know him?” Valentine asked, narrowing his eyes.

Know him?” The woman laughed. “I was sent here to kill him, eliminate the RWA’s influence upon the AWRE and Eastern Colony so that it could be replaced with our own.”

“Right then Miss…” Laurence trailed off.

“Laurel Alexine, Worker Intermediary of the International Wor-”

“Yeah, whatever," The Guardian of Water interrupted. "Well Miss Alexine, you picked the wrong time to expose your true identity.”

“And why is that? You’re on your knees, and I have a gun pointed straight at you, and I killed the other prisoner that would’ve gotten in my way. Where have I faltered?”

“You forgot that you’re dealing with a Guardian of Ghost_K.” Was Laurence’s response.

Before Laurel was able to reply, the hand was holding the handgun at Laurence exploded in a mixture of blood, bone, and muscle. Screaming in agony, the IWU officer fell back, gripping her exuding wrist. Valentine lunged forwards, grabbing hold of the blood-stained handgun before spinning onto his feet. Turning around, the Guardian emptied the handgun into Laurel, causing the woman’s lifeless corpse to fall onto the ground, motionless.

Laurence let out a grunt of acknowledgment, before tossing the emptied handgun off to the side and returned to searching for his fellow agent’s supplies and belongings.

*

"Arekusanda Aiko is currently located upon the Yakushima Island," Majis bluntly stated, "although he regularly changes his position depending on the movements of the People's Defence Corps."

“You’re lying,” Li-Pau growled, “Where can I find Arekusanda Aiko?”

As he finished the question he kicked Majis in the torso before dragging his head up and bringing his elbow to the man’s nose.

"I'm not lying. The Restored White Armies mean nothing to me. In fact, you would be doing me a favour by killing Aiko," a sickening smile came to be on the RWA operative's face.

Li-Pau just kicked the smug man in the face at that point. Majis started to whine in pain before it slowly warped in to maniacal laughter.

"You're lying! It must be a trap. Nobody gives up vital information like that so easily," Li-Pau seethed.

"Listen, you're a kid in a man's game," Majis coughed, "you are unable to put aside your emotions nor can you accept the facts when they are presented to you. I hate the RWA, it was foolish of me to betray the PDC. Since all I have done is suffer the extreme incompetence of the RWA ever since I was forcibly recruited by them."

Nao grabbed Majis' hair and slammed the his head against the wall behind him. The older man just remained on his knees and bared it as Li-Pau roared "TELL ME WHERE AREKUSANDA AIKO IS!"

The Chinese lightning elemental just couldn't accept that his victim was not giving him the satisfaction of begging. He couldn't exact the revenge he so desired when the man he has wished to kill was both repentant of his crimes and cooperative.

"Li-Pau Nao... " Majis mused, "I did what I did out of selfish ambition. I may have got far in the RWA but I am a shadow of my former self. Please do me the mercy of ending my pitiful life."

At that, the young Ghost_K agent started to tear at Majis, kicking him and punching him as much as he could. There was an intense fury of Limbs flaying around as he wanted to make the man suffer.

"NAO!" Roxanne cried, igniting her hand so that it was surrounded by fire, "That's enough!"

At that Li-Pau suddenly slapped her, before punching her in the stomach, "NO! HE NEEDS TO KNOW MY PAIN!"

She crumpled to the floor slightly as she brought her hands to her stomach.

"Listen to her, Li-Pau Nao, she is right. I have suffered enough and I have told you what you wanted to know. Please can you just kill me," Majis spoke.

Nao turned back to his captive and grabbed his throat in his hands, "I'll kill you when I decide it is the right time to end your life."

"Very well," Majis sighed, "get on with it then."

*

Laurence grabbed a silver chain from a crate in the L section, before proceeding to throw off the lid and grabbing hold of whatever else was inside. A smile crossed over the Guardian’s lips as he held a grey hoodie with an all too familiar red stripe pattern stitched into the sleeves. Putting the crate off to the side, Valentine grabbed hold of the bag he had slung along his back, before proceeding to grab hold of his accomplice’s gear and throwing it into the backpack.

Once everything valuable was stored and ready, Laurence turned before heading towards the exit. If he knew Li-Pau, the Chinese elemental would still be at the RWA Colonel’s office, doing God knew what kind of torture to the man. Something unusual caught the Guardian’s attention out of the corner of his eye, before realizing what it was. Lying down on the concrete floor, a large gash in the back of his head, was Samsun. The IWU bitch had really killed him, though there wasn’t much to do now except find Li-Pau and get the hell out of Kuwait.

Grabbing hold of his handgun, the Guardian made his way to the exit before slowly opening the door. Luckily, the hallway in front of him was barren, and no soldiers were in sight. Holding the handgun firmly in his gloved hand, the Guardian continued to walk through the prison, checking corners and making sure that he wasn’t seen when soldiers passed. Eventually, Valentine made his way to the fork in the hallway where the team of prisoners had split up. The walls were still cracked and opened with various bullet holes, the floors were still wet from the blown pipes above, and the sign saying WARDEN’S OFFICE and PRISONER BELONGINGS remained intact, seemingly unchanged by the firefight that had ensued.

Taking a left, the Guardian continued to march forward ever so quickly towards the apparent Warden’s Office. After cutting a few corners and passageways, the Guardian finally made his way to a bulletproof steel door down the hall, two bodies sprawled on the floor either side of it, two holes in the back of their skulls.

Slowly opening the door, Laurence was greeted by a sight that he had, admittedly, expected. The first thing Laurence noticed was a middle-aged man lying on his knees, various bruises, cuts, and blood marking his otherwise white uniform. The second thing Laurence noticed was the red-headed female crumpled on the carpeted floor, clutching her stomach in utter agony. The third and final thing Valentine noticed was the Chinese Ghost_K Agent standing in front of the RWA Colonel, rage and spite clear as crystal in his eyes. The Guardian of Water let out an exaggerated sigh to draw the Lightning elemental’s attention.

“Am I interrupting? Because it seems like you’re enjoying yourself.” The Guardian of Water crowed.

“Find what you need?” Li-Pau asked, avoiding the previous question.

“See for yourself.” Was Valentine’s reply as he tossed the backpack full of belongings to his accomplice. As the Chinese elemental caught the bag, the Guardian raised his handgun and fired without hesitation. Majis’ body crumpled to the floor, a large hole where his temple was. The Chinese Ghost_K Agent looked at the corpse for a moment, his mouth open in shock. Turning to the Guardian of Water, Li-Pau threw the backpack to the floor before curling his hands into fists.

“You! What the hell did you just do!??” The Chinese elemental screeched.

“I just completed the mission, which you’ve stalled for long enough with your petulant petty personal problems.” Laurence answered casually.

In retaliation, Nao lunged forwards. The Agent’s hands were spread out, ready to grab hold of Laurence’s throat. The Guardian side-stepped before slamming the end of his pistol against the side of the lightning elemental’s head, before grabbing hold of Li-Pau’s unconscious body.

Throwing his accomplice’s unconscious form across his left shoulder, the Guardian picked up the backpack that contained his fellow Agent’s belongings, before extending his right hand towards Roxanne, who was still lying on the carpeted floor in pain. The young female took the hand before being pulled to her feet.

“Don’t tell me he did this to you.” Laurence grunted, jerking his head to the unconscious teenager slung upon his shoulder.

“Hatred can do strange things to people.” Roxanne lamented.

“Regardless, we need to move. I didn’t know what stuff was yours, so we’ll have to return to the storage wing and grab your stuff.”

“What the hell are we waiting for, then?” Chataway gave a slight laugh. “Let’s get going.”

*

The sky had changed from its usual bright blue to a dark orange, as the sun set upon the world yet again. After finally retrieving the remaining belongings and any relevant files, the team had finally escaped the prison and made way out of the city. Laurence and Roxanne stood upon a small hill, discussing a topic of great importance, while Nao hunched against a large oak tree, holding up a pack of ice towards his head. Letting out a sigh, the Chinese Agent stood up and walked towards the duo. Laurence and Roxanne looked at him for a moment, Roxanne giving a nervous smile, Laurence a stern, yet somehow caring, look.

“You finally calmed down now?” Roxanne asked flamboyantly.

“Or do I need to knock you out again?” Laurence chuckled.

“No need Laurence, I’ve screwed my head on straight.” Li-Pau mumbled in reply.

“Good, because we have something to discuss.” Laurence replied.

Both Nao and Chataway looked at the Guardian of Water curiously. “We do?” Roxanne asked.

“We do,” Laurence told her. “After witnessing what you are capable of, and how you’ve aided us in combat, I'd like to invite you to join Ghost_K, and help us with our mission of bringing peace to this world through the eradication of evil.”

The Fire Elemental stared, looking both stunned and dumbfounded. Licking her lips, Chataway gave a nervous smile before taking a step back. “I… I can’t. This is just too much, I mean, I wish you all the best and everything, but I can’t.” Taking another couple steps backwards, the former prisoner started to shake her head. “I’m sorry, I just can’t… It's just not who I am... ”

“Roxanne…” Li-Pau began before he was cut off by something he never expected.

It happened in an instant. At first, Chataway looked at the Chinese Elemental with sadness and contempt, before utter shock and fear plagued her eyes. Confusion struck Nao as he wondered what was wrong, before he was given an answer. A cracking pop sounded form behind the lightning elemental, before Roxanne slumped back and fell onto the grass behind her.

Nao turned around, and found Valentine gripping a handgun in his hand, smoke oozing menacingly from the muzzle of the weapon. “Y-You didn’t just…” Li-Pau began, unsure of what to say.

The Guardian of Water holstered his pistol, before turning to walk away. “Our flight back to Sector VII leaves soon, and I’d prefer to get out of this hellhole as soon as possible.”

“You just killed her…” Nao trailed off. “She was innocent, she helped us, and you just… killed her.”

“She knew too much for her own good, I gave her the option of coming with us. She refused. So, quite simply put, I had to dispose of her.” Was Valentine’s calculated response.

Dispose!?? She isn’t some fucking animal! She was human! Like you and me!” Nao shouted.

“Regardless, she was a liability. Even if she were to join us, she would have been a liability. The only difference being that she would have been a liability that we could look out for,” The Guardian sighed before walking away. “It doesn’t matter now, you can’t change the past, only hope to change the future. Come on then.”

"And sometimes the past can never be forgotten, because the actions you have witnessed are macabre and merciless." Nao mumbled.

"Aren't you the one that told me, quite recently, that the end result requires sacrifice?" The Guardian of Water snapped.

The Lightning Elemental's face paled, horror and disbelief visible upon his features. "That's... I... this isn't like that..."

"Isn't it? The hypocrisy in your statements are clear as crystal," Laurence respired. "But it isn't for me to say, bring this up with the Commander and see what he has to say about what I did. Now come on, let's go."

Epilogue

"How can you say that!? What he did was terrible and heartless!" Nao shouted.

"What he did was admirable and necessary. Laurence was right, she would have done nothing but hinder us." Damien Anderson replied.

The two sat in the meeting room, each on the opposite side of the other. Both Laurence and Li-Pau had just recently returned from their mission and given their report. Of course, not without Nao having a private word with the commander over the death of Roxanne Chataway.

"Hinder? She helped us, she would have been a benefit for Ghost_K had we kept her alive!" Li-Pau argued.

"With the proper training and care, which we don't have time to expend." Anderson growled.

"But killing the innocent..." Li-Pau began.

"What makes you think she was innocent, Corporal? She was in prison for a reason you know. Do you really think she wanted to do the right thing, or rather help you because it was beneficial in her current situation. Such was the case with, no doubt, the other prisoners that aided you and Laurence in your escape."

"Sir?" Li-Pau queried, unsure how else to put his curiosity.

"What did Laurence say her name was? Natasha? Yes, I think it was. Did you know that she was actually a member of the IWU that had been captured?"

"I didn't." Nao admitted.

"Yes, well, why do you think she aided you and Laurence in escaping? Was it because she had a change of heart? Was it because she wanted to be the hero? No, it was because it was beneficial. I'll bet everything I have that that was the same case for Roxanne." Anderson wagered.

"Sir I..." Li-Pau began.

"Dismissed Corporal," Damien interrupted. "We'll continue this discussion later."

AntecedenceLogo
Chronology
K21 - Twisted Deliverance · K21 - Clouded Rectitude · K21 - Bitter Reality · K21 - Bleached Delusions · K21 - Blinkered Discord

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