The final part of the trilogy is an overarching tale that spans 30 years. It covers several new areas of interest that have yet to see proper literature detailing the events that took place. This includes the establishment of the Vallarie Administration and the infamous first proper meaning between Claude Lasi-Faité and Vamana Uldericks.
Shadow Of Your Former Self
"Don't forget to pick up some milk when you're out," a soft feminine voice cooed from the kitchen.
"Of course not, darling," the young man called back, as he left the small ground floor apartment.
They had only been dating for seven months, but he already felt as though they belonged together. She had appeared like an angel when he was at his lowest. He remembered it all too clearly. He remembered lying soaked in the alleyway, blood dripping from his mouth, completely unresponsive to the world.
As he prepared for death, a needle lying only a few inches from his arm, all the events of his life seemed to draw into his focus. When she found him, his bicep still had a piece of cloth tied around it tightly. His shirt was torn and his trousers were stained with mud.
"I was not destined to die that day," he mused aloud, as he looked at his arm. The the small pinprick scars from the needles were visible against the pale sodium glow of the street lamps. She had saved him from the abyss, and he thought himself to be eternally in her debt.
Yet, his saviour remained unaware of everything his life entailed. Yes, he had given up the drugs but he knew that his talents for thievery still remained in their prime. It seemed such a waste to stop stealing now that he was in a more stable state of mind. Being saved from his drug addiction was the best thing that ever happened to him.
For now he was able to carry out his plans in a full state of consciousness. Since becoming clean he had become more reckless in his endeavours. Taking greater risks, knowing he could actually now reap the reward. Petty theft was no longer his style, people were far too easy prey.
As he made his way down the empty alleyway, he felt a gentle breeze wash over his face. It was refreshing at first until it suddenly stung his face. Blood began dripping from his cheek.
Immediately he took an offensive stance. It seemed too precise and unusual to have been the wind. He realised it had all the halmarks of an Air Elemental.
"I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want," he called out, nervously, "but if you persist I will be forced to do something you will severely regret."
Slowly his hands seemed to become devoid of light, as he tensed up his muscles.
Suddenly a current of air gushed right towards him, he projected both of his hands out in front of them and focused his mind. The artificially induced wind was halted in an instant.
A gaunt young woman, resplendent in a torn blouse and skirt, leaped out from behind a building and started to sprint towards him. She stopped abrubtly just before she reached him, realising that he was still standing.
"That's not fair, you're supposed to be dead already," she yelled, "I guess I'll just have to do things the old fashioned way."
As she finished her sentence she withdrew a handgun from the inside of her blouse.
"I-I'm warning you, p-please stop," the young man protested, "you don't want to see what I'm capable of. Please, I don't want to hurt you."
"Is that supposed to be a warning?" she sarcatically spoke, "it's utterly pathetic."
She aimed the pistol with both hands and pulled the trigger.
The young man jumped to the side, narrowly dodging the bullet.
He hit the concrete with a distinctive thud, landing uncomfortably.
His hands were now devoid of any light. The pupils in his eyes were dilated.
"I warned you," he carefully pronounced, "now run! Run if you want to keep your wicked life!"
"Shadow Elemental, how trivial," she stung, before unloading the entire clip into the young man's body.
Except the bullets never met his flesh.
All of them had been brought to an immediate halt in mid air.
"RUN! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! RUN!" he yelled, fear prevalent in his voice.
"Run! Run!? You've cost me far too much now, pal," the vile young woman spat, "I won't be leaving until I've finished the job."
She roared, as she threw blades of air at her target. The young man dodged them with unnatural speed and dexterity before leaping up onto his feet in a single bound.
"Then I guess that leaves me with no choice," the young man sneered.
He charged at his assailant, bowling her over before he pinning her to the ground.
"Ugh, get off of me!", she squealed, thrashing around as she tried to escape the clutches of the young man.
"I told you to run when you had the chance," he spoke superciliously, as he forced his hand down her top. Inside he found a purse, "this will do for now."
His other hand was still firmly pressed against her stomach.
"FUCKING GET OFF!" she yelled, "HELP ME! GOD HELP ME!"
After placing his most recent acquisition into the breast pocket of his shirt, the young man punched the woman firmly on the head.
Suddenly she was still. The squirming stopped and her eyes slid shut.
He brought his hand to her mouth and smiled. She was still breathing. He took out a piece of cloth and picked up the handgun she had dropped, placing it in her left hand.
Carefully he then moved her towards a drainage pipe and tied the other hand to it.
Pleased that she would either be found by her gang or picked up by the police, the young man continued on his way.
He checked his mechanical analogue watch and decided that he had done enough. The purse had contained a large sum of money and a couple of credit cards. He knew it would be a lot less hassle to make do with what he had obtained than to continue his plan to steal from the homes of the wealthy.
He turned to walk down the alleyway once more, towards his home and the woman he loved.
Crystal Clear Intentions
It was a new dawn. A new day. The day everything would change. All of my efforts had lead up to this point.
Eight years ago I was nothing but a lowlife thief, an insignificant street rat that would never amount to anything. But then everything changed. I made a mistake. A grievous error. I killed a woman in cold blood. And that thief became a murderer.
That in itself spawned a drastic upheaval in my life. Suddenly I was a higher class of criminal. My activities were now no longer so harmless. Yet, of course that was only the tip of the iceberg, for my selfish actions brought me to the attention of more than just the authorities. For that was the day the wrath of Damien Anderson was unleashed upon me.
As time went on "murderer" became "serial killer" and extinguishing life became all but a daily occurrence for me. Massacres were now something that was expected of me, yet a life of chaos would never be the end of it. I realised that the one thing I required most of all was power.
As I stand here today, supping champagne with my conspirators, I can't help but feel the satisfaction of achieving that goal. From assassinating high priority targets to acquiring small-scale businesses. Everything I had done was in preparation for this moment.
The day I would take power of an organisation that could stand toe-to-toe with the mass conglomerates that ran the world.
I turned to face my most loyal associates. Men and women who had aided my efforts from the start. My "Inner Circle".
Jordan Hansen, a dispossessed Sector XII Officer, was engaged in a conversation with a man I did not recognize. Hansen was a man that who had come to my attention at the end of the last century. A very capable soldier and a seasoned commander, who was in the eyes of his government regarded as worthless. Yet, their inability to spot his talents beyond elemental power would be their undoing, as the gifted man came into my service.
Harald Albraun was speaking with his sister-in-law, Stephanie Christelle. The former had been a benefactor and a close friend for several years now. He understood my worth and respected my determination. He was a European nobleman who had been stripped of his power when the last rulers of Sector IV had been deposed, and a new one instated by the Ildano Corporation. I had promised I could return his nobility one day, provided I had the right tools.
The latter was a young woman who had made my acquaintance rather recently, and she had been offered to me as a wife by Harald, on the behalf of her father. I of course politely accepted, not wishing to offend the Albraun's or the Christelle's patriarchs. She seems a kind and affectionate person. Although at only sixteen years of age, I can't help but feel she is rather young.
Notably, her father was not present at our small celebration. I could only assume he had more important things to attend to back in Toulouse.
I could see Kila Norovich and Petra Alamani rather obsessively engaged in a discussion. Every now and then a brief snippet of the conversation would reach my ears, usually a tidbit concerned with destabilising the Euro Zone or Siberian Zone. Norovich was a former Siberian Agent, one with no amnesty for his former employers. They had killed his family and nearly managed to get him. By some random freak of chance I had ended up saving his life. He was a man with an important skill set I just could not pass up, and thus I promised him the destruction of Sector II if he were to support my cause.
Alamani was nothing more than a glorified bureaucrat. He was insignificant compared to Norovich, but I needed his services none the less. As an informant already planted firmly within the Euro Zone, he was sadly rather key to my future plans.
I looked at my watch. It was the perfect time as all of our shares had just been be transfered into a single entity.
I took my glass of champagne and tapped it thrice.
"Ladies and gentleman! I would just like to announce that the foundation of our new organisation is officially complete!" I projected enthusiastically.
There was a cheer from those present, accompanied by a rather subdued round of applause.
"The Vallarie Administration, our glorious new enterprise, is now a tangible entity!" the words leaped from my tongue.
Everyone raised their glasses and toasted the pronouncement.
"And exactly who will lead them?" a sly voice emanated from the edge of the room. It was the mysterious man who I had noticed speaking with Jordan, "who will sit at the head of this fine organisation? An organisation that you have funded under a pseudonym, Mr Lasi-Faité!"
Indignant at this rude interruption I called for my guards to seize him. Yet, there was not reply. No response. That was when I noticed that the room was eerily frozen still. And that everyone was somehow locked in place.
"What is this trickery!" I exclaimed, horrified by the situation.
"It is no trick, my son. This is what my ability permits me to do!" the shadowy gentleman stepped out into the light. He was middle aged, resplendent in a fine looking tuxedo. Like myself, he was wearing a pair of sunglasses, "now, back to my original question. Who exactly is going to run this little affair!"
As he spoke, he took a champagne glass from one of the inanimate people and took a sip.
"That's hardly any concern of you!" I spat.
"I believe it is the right of an investor to know how his money is being spent!" the suited man laughed, "I'm very interested in the actions of my employees."
I stood their in disbelief. This was the face behind the man who had been funding my actions. This was the person responsible for guiding my hand for the last few years.
"So you are William Sandro!?" I cried out, slightly worried about the intentions of this man.
"Correct! Well, that is a convenient pseudonym. I prefer to be known by the name Asiduus Aeviternus," he playfully pronounced, "and you have been in my employ quite some time."
"Well," I summoned up my usual persona, "don't you think I have used your money productively!"
"The future will decide that." Asiduus glibly stated, "now please answer my question."
"Surely it is obvious, Mr. Aeviternus! I will have my darling future wife serve as CEO! She has already adopted the name of Libor Vallarie Kwolac," I smirked, confident with my plan, "she is an ideal puppet who will do as I command."
"How clever! For it allows you keep your own identity hidden," the man contemplated, "although such genius comes as no surprise! I have always known that you were the most worthy of my children. That you would make a most worthwhile investment!"
"What on earth do you mean!" I shouted, confused by the previous sentiment.
"That I am your father, dearest Claude. The one who gave you life." the Aeviternus stated, a smug smile on his face.
The air seemed to chill for a second and suddenly the man was gone. As if he had never been there in the first place. The cheers of my associates resumed and I could here one of them comment that their glass had vanished.
It seemed unreal. That entire situation. The conversation. It was as if it was a waking dream. A nightmare. It couldn't have just happened.
"You didn't think that they were really your parents... " a whisper reached my ears from behind where I was standing. I turned around to face the direction it had come from but alas no one was there.
Stephanie seemed to notice my peculiar behaviour and walked up to me before asking after my stunned state, "What's wrong, Claude? You look like you've just seen a ghost."
A Light In The Darkness
"Is that you home now?" a sinister voice rang out down the hallway, "Oh, darling Kenneth, back so late from another mission?"
The man who had entered the domicile froze in an instant. His muscles noticeably tensed up at the sound of the voice. It was an impossible voice. One that belonged to a man he thought was dead.
"So, what was it today?" the voice rasped, "Hostage taking? Assassination? Murder? Just how were you managing to spread more order in this world? Just how were you bringing more light amongst the dark places."
It was clear that the house was darker than usual. Only the hall light had been on when the man had entered the building. He slowly unzipped his black jacket and slid his left hand towards the holster he was wearing.
"Or am I mistaken?" the voice mused, "Was, was little Kenny playing the good guy again? Saving kittens and thwarting the villains?"
The man moved slowly down the hallway, towards the room from which the voice was emanating. He slid the safety off of his gun and moved his index finger towards the trigger. Suddenly the hallway light was extinguished and the entire house was plunged in to darkness.
"You're not fooling anyone, Ken," the voice continued, tauntingly.
It was at that point he found the room he was looking for. He burst in and withdrew the gun. Seeing a shadowy figure waiting for him, he pulled the trigger and loosed off all the bullets the clip held. To his horror he found the bullets had all failed to hit their intended target, and had merely fallen to the ground.
"N-no... i-it... c-can't be... " the man muttered, defeated, "you're dead. This can't be happening. You were reported as being dead."
"I merely had it aranged for an alias to be reported dead. Juan Iral had recently become rather unpopular with several South American governments after assassinating one too many an official, so it was a good time for him to die," the shadowy man crowed, "I admit, he'll be sorely missed by everyone, Kenneth."
"B-but... I saw you being thrown out of the palace... moments before it was destroyed... " the Guardian of Ice barely managed to speak.
"Thankfully my niece saved me... " the mysterious man lamented, "Which reminds me! It's time to get down to business... "
The darkness abated slightly, allowing a light to illuminate the features of the sinister individual. A ghoulish grin permeated his face.
"Do you remember how you ended the life of my darling sister-in-law? Do you remember how you were an accomplice to murder of my nephew? Do you remember butchering my two nieces as they begged for their lives? Do you remember how you nearly killed little Miki?" the voice venomously pronounced.
"They were all as corrupt as you. Anyone associated with you knows no innocence, Claude," Kenneth retorted.
"Trying to be smart I see, trying to act tough... I can understand that," the shadow man responded gravely, "but let's see how your family appreciates your morality."
"YOU MONSTER! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH THEM!" the Guardian of Ice yelled.
The entire room became awash with light. To Kenneth's horror his wife was suspended from the ceiling by a rope attached to her hands. A gag had been tied around her mouth. Beside her, sitting on a wooden chair, he could see his son bound with duct tape on his legs and arms, with a strip attached across his mouth. Claude was seated upon an armchair, resplendant in a tuxedo, his left hand ablaze with light energy.
"You killed members of my family. You made them suffer unneccesarily," Claude stopped for breath, anger dripping from his voice, "it is now time that I returned that favour."
"Please let them go! You're grievance is with Damien, not me. He slaughtered your family. Not me!" the Guardian of Ice spoke, distressed by the state of affairs.
"Damien is an amoral monster with neither a soul nor a family," the suited man replied, "yet you seem to possess both. I cannot make him suffer. Neither am I strong enough to kill him."
A sneer spread across Claude's face.
"So you must face penance in his place," Claude recited, "that, and I have footage confirming you killed my darling sister-in-law. My wife has been struck by a grievous grief since her sister was found dead. Let us see your own wife suffer such pain."
As he finished his sentence he stood up from the armchair and brought out a knife with his right hand. With his eyes still firmly upon the Guardian of Ice and his left hand directed straight at Kenneth, Claude stabbed it into her hand. She began thrashing about in pain, as muffled screams filled the room.
Kenneth Lysander responded immediately by directing a shard of ice at Claude, but it was intercepted by a blast of light.
"I admire your spirit," the suited man gloated, "but you can't win."
Maintaing his eye-contact with Kenneth, Claude then punched her directly in the stomach.
"ZARA! NO!" Kenneth cried out before unleashing another shard of ice directly at Claude.
Unfortunately this was what Claude had been hoping for, as he moved Zara in front of the shard. It tore through her flesh like butter and pierced her other hand cleanly. Blood started pouring from the wound.
Realising what he had done, Kenneth fell to his knees.
"I-I'm so sorry... my love... "
"It's almost biblical," Claude sneered, before forcibly removing the gag.
Zara Lysander screamed in agony as her protests were no longer muffled.
"HELP ME! PLEASE MAKE IT STOP!" she yelled.
"Did, did you hear that? She wants it to stop. I could do that in an instant, but there would be no fun in that," the suited man said with a sadistic joy in his voice. He withdrew the knife that was lodged in his victim's hand and used it to slowly draw a line from her collar bone to her pelvis. Her clothes were torn by the blade and blood began to seep from the newly opened wound.
"LET HER GO! LET HER GO OR I'LL FUCKING KILL YOU!" Kenneth shouted.
"Please, by all means try."
In a fit of anger Ken hurled several shards of ice at Claude as he rapidly cooled the room. The Shadow Elemental leaped to the ground and forced the young boy down with him. With his boot firmly placed upon the child's flank, he stood up and stared directly at Kenneth.
The Guardian of Ice went pale as he realised what had happened. His wife had been perforated by shards of ice. They had struck her in multiple times. One shard was lodged in her neck, another had pierced her right eye. The left eye remained permanently open, dilated and unblinking.
"Oh... oh... dear... " Claude mocked, "it seems Kenneth has done the same to his wife as he did to darling Anneliese."
"YOU BASTARD! I'LL FUCKING KILL YOU! YOU MURDERED HER!" Ken yelled, distraught.
"I did nothing of the sort. Your recklessness killed her," the suited man spat, "but I guess this makes us even."
Suddenly the room was plunged into complete darkness. Kenneth couldn't see a thing. He began moving about randomly as he heard binds being ripped off.
"Eric!" he shouted, frightened at what was happening, "oh God, please tell me you haven't killed him as well."
The panic grew as he began thrashing around the room. And then, just as suddenly as the lights had vanished, the house was flooded with light.
The Guardian of Ice was filled with relief when he saw his son lay unconscious upon the floor. All of his binds cut. However, tucked into the breast pocket of the childs shirt lay a note.
Kenneth hurridly opened it and started to read.
Mercy is a rare gift few possess. To kill an unarmed person is as unsporting as it is cruel. Consider this my final act of humanity.
Guarding The Past
"It's good to see you are awake Mr. Valentine," a voice superciliously pronounced, "we were beginning to get slightly worried we had gone too far."
"What the hell have you done to me!" the man referred to as Valentine yelled in frustration.
"Don't you remember?" a shadowy individual queried as he entered into the room, resplendent in a two piece suit and black fedora, "you came to us seeking assistance."
"I did what!?" the restrained man exclaimed.
"You came here, to me, with the intention of seeking our assistance," the suited man reiterated, "and I am more than happy to oblige."
"To do what exactly!?" Mr. Valentine shouted.
"You and me, my dear Laurence," the man spoke as he removed his hat, lifting up his tinted sunglasses at the same time, "why, we are going to save the world."
The room was suddenly ablaze with light. Revealing a small cell that had a single bed within it. Upon that bed was the man known as Valentine. Forcibly held down horizontally by a series of restraints.
"If that was my intention I'd have never come to you, Claude! You're a villain!" Valentine shouted.
"What of Ghost_K, Laurence? What do you remember of them?" the suited man queried.
"They are even more despicable than you!" the Laurence spat, "they are murderers. They abduct children. They ruin lives. Their only motivation is to destroy."
"What about Damien Anderson?" Claude toyed.
"A criminal. An agent of chaos intent on destroying the world. A murderer as morally blank as yourself!" Valentine bellowed, "HE KILLED THEM ALL! Slaughtered the entire Albraun Family for no reason."
"Kenneth Lysander?" the suited man mused.
"He murdered his wife!" the restrained individual began to rattle the bed.
"Ah, good, I was slightly concerned that our conditioning was failing to sink in properly." the mysterious individual smiled.
"What conditioning!? What do you mean!?" Valentine yelped slightly, in a manner akin to a wounded dog.
"Even better, you have no memory of our previous encounters either," the smile broadened on the face of the suited man.
"I've never met you before in my life! I honestly hoped I never would. I've seen the reports!" Laurence struggled violently, "I've seen what you've done! You're a murderer!"
The man smirked before kneeling down beside the bed.
"Now, now. It would help matteres immensely if you remained calm. You're no use to me in this state," Claude mused.
"What do you mean use!? What the hell do you mean!?" Valentine roared.
"Shh... shh... shh... " the suited figure hushed, "you've asked that question thirty-six times now."
"What!? No I haven't! I've never met you before in my life!" Laurence struggled again, panicking.
"That is correct, you have not," Claude responded, "as far as you are concerned you have never met me. Now, do you know of the attack on the Holy Commonwealth Palace?"
"Why of course. Yes. Wait a minute. I was there. I remember. There was a fire. I tried to douse the flames. I cannot remember why!" Valentine exclaimed, clearly distressed.
"You wished to save the Royal Family, Laurence. You are a hero. You can never forget that," the suited man smoothly pronounced.
"Yes. I remember being a hero. My intention was to protect and save people," the restrained man managed to speak in a calmer manner.
"Yes, you were definitely a hero. And as a hero you must save the world. You must do everything in your power to achieve that goal. Nothing can stand in your way. Friends. Comrades. Lovers. None of them can remain as an obstacle to your destiny," Claude cryptically continued, "one of those obstacles is the Ghost_K Team."
"Of course! Because the world is more important than a single human life!" Valentine proclaimed rather righteously.
"Excellent, it seems your secondary conditioning is developing right on schedule," Claude remarked before moving over to where Laurence Valentine and removing the restraints.
"Up we get," he said, lifting the young man to his feet, "we need to test your dedication to the mission."
"Understood," Laurence replied very quickly and coldly.
Claude withdrew a handgun and placed it in the right hand of the captured Guardian.
"Bring her in!" he shouted.
The criminal brought out a clip and through it to Valentine.
Almost instantaneously, the door to the cell opened. Two men, wearing the uniforms of Vallarian Guards, forcefully dragged a screaming woman into the room. Her head was covered by a hessian bag.
"That woman there is an agent of Ghost_K!" Claude playfully pronounced, "she came here to try and kidnap you. So that you would be forced into the service of the organisation."
"What is her name?" queried Laurence.
"That is irrelevant," the criminal carefully spoke, "she is intent on standing in the way of your goals."
Suddenly Laurence shoved the clip into the handgun, disengaged the safety and proceeded to unload three rounds into the stomach of the prisoner. The screaming ceased. Replaced by a ghastly gargling noise as blood seeped onto the fabric of the hessian bag.
"Perfect!" exclaimed Claude as he brought a syringe to Valentine's neck and injected him with a powerful sedative. The firearm fell to the floor as Laurence became limp. Claude carefully lifted the unconscious man back on to the bed and reattached the restraints. He stooped over and picked up the black handgun.
"Get the body out of here!" he ordered to his two subordinates, "and have someone clean up this mess. The room has to be in the same condition Subject Psi found it in."
They responded immediately, dragging the corpse of the young woman out of the room. One of the men reappeared with a mop and started to wash the floor.
Having completed his intended purpose, the suited individual exited the room and closed the door firmly behind him. As he entered the corridor he was met by a short blonde haired young woman, "He's still hesitating I see. By my estimates it will be another three weeks before we can move onto phase two."
"So I had figured," Claude replied, stroking her face, "I am most enthralled with your deductions, my dear Vallarie. You never cease to impress me."
"Why of course, but I have far more important matters to attend to," she replied, "I can't spend my whole time here."
The woman allowed a slight grin to etch itself onto her face, before suddenly moving on to another topic, "I'm still not so sure about your proposals for a political marriage."
"It is of no concern at this present moment and we have already discussed this in full. Natalia will be wed when she is of age," Claude snapped.
"Yes, I understand, darling, and that's not what I meant. I just don't see the necessity in at all," Vallarie objected.
"Vamana is an educated man of ethics and understanding," the suited man replied, "I want to keep him close."
"He's a double-crossing liar, at worst, and a weak fool, at best!" She stared directly into Claude's eyes, "you should have seen how he squirmed in the presence of your father... "
"This is not up for debate, Stephanie! We've already agreed to this. He is extremely important for public image," Claude slickly pronounced before grabbing his wife by the waist.
"His or mine?" she spat back, repulsed by his arrogance, "because I am not at all enthusiastic about giving our beloved daughter to a monster, for the benefit of his popularity."
"That's all a matter of perspective," Claude mused, forcing her closer into his embrace, "but I can ensure you she will be in very capable hands."
Let Old Acquaintance Be Forgot
"It has been quite some time," a young man with bleach white hair and piercing red eyes spoke softly, "you don't look like the man I remember."
"Time is such an abstract concept to me now," a far less composed and scruffy individual responded with his head in his hands. He had a dirty beard man and dusty hair. It was probably once blonde, but it had become stained heavily by the dirt that littered his cell. His blue eyes were as faded as his tattered clothes, "I can't remember what time it was I was last free... "
"My sources tell me it was 2117. A nasty little affair involving a certain Chinese national and our old friend Kenneth Lysander," the albino man bluntly stated, as he sorted the positioning of his grey suit.
"What's it to you!?" the crouched up man snapped back. It was clear that he was somewhat frighted by the concept of a visitor entering his cell as he shook slightly while huddled in the fetal position, "why can't you bastards just fucking kill me!?"
"That is because there was an occasion where you saved my life. Which is something that I do not take lightly, Mitch Ochoa," the enigmatic man with the scarlet eyes said clearly and calmly.
"Just who the fuck are you!?" the man in the corner whimpered.
"That is because you have refused to use your eyes. I'm sure if you saw who I was you would be far more courteous," the fair skinned gentleman knelt down to be closer to the man he had named as Mitch Ochoa.
Mitch uncovered his eyes and craned his neck upwards.
"T-Thomas... " he scarcely breathed.
"Please, come sit with me on the bench," the grey suited man said amicably, pointing to a plank of wood that was suspended from two pieces of chain and affixed to two hinges.
The scruffy prisoner struggled to his feet, before limping towards the wooden bench and sitting down, letting out a sigh. The suited man let out a sigh of his own before lying against the cell wall. Mitch gave a gruff laugh, before hunching over his legs, bringing his hands up to his chin.
"What’s the matter Thomas?" The prisoner asked. "Can't look at an old friend in the eye?"
"No, your scent doesn't help either." the man identified as Thomas replied, looking slightly repulsed.
The prisoner waved his hand. "Regardless, you've made quite the name for yourself since I last saw you. Off around terrorising the world and calling yourself Agent 01. I’m surprised the guards just let you walk in here without trying to collect that enormous bounty on your head?"
"They didn't get that far, I had the entire premise liquidated of personnel before I arrived," The suited man replied in a completely composed manner.
"Not surprised," Mitch snorted, looking back up at the man standing in front of him with his faded eyes. "Doesn't mean shit to me though, I want to know why you bothered coming here in the first place, obviously wasn't to catch up on old times or I'd have seen you much sooner."
"It wasn't," Agent 01 told his former ally, "Instead, I offer you something I’m certain you've craved for quite some time."
The former mercenary knitted his eyebrows narrowly. "And that would be?"
"Freedom." The suited man replied coolly.
The man shot up from the bench, before cursing under his breath at the pain that coursed through his left leg. The scruffy American struggled to stand upright as he looked back at the suited Canadian.
"What’s the catch? Since, knowing you, there’s always a catch... " The prisoner hissed.
"It's quite simple," Vamana spoke softly, "I need you to eliminate an extremely high profile individual."
"Oh, is that so?" Mitch wheezed, "Assassinations aren't really my kind of thing. Muscle for higher or security contractor, sure, but an assassination takes a lot more to pull off. It's not exactly my kind of area."
"From where you are currently standing, surely it does not matter if it is your area of expertise or not?" Uldericks said in an almost inhuman, robotic manner.
"Yes, but surely you could find someone more suited to the job?" queried Ochoa, still suspicious at his apparently lucky break.
"Easily," Vamana's words bluntly reached his associate's ears, "but there is not other who I can trust more than you."
At that, Mitch laughed.
"You' obviously don't know me very well!" he feigned bravado.
"Actually, I know you far better than I think. You risked everything to save me from the clutches of Ghost_K, you remained loyal to me instead of a stable job prospect," Vamana spoke in a meticulous manner.
"Hey, what can I say, I like taking risks. I wanted the chance at a cool million," Ochoa continued to bluff, "and damn did that gambit pay off. You payed me almost ten times the amount you promised."
"Yes, but the risk you took was motivated by more than just avarice," Uldericks chose his words carefully, "I've studied that day in great detail and I believe you did it because you were my comrade. I trusted you with my life that day and you made sure it remained safe no matter the odds. No matter the personal sacrifice. If you were entirely mercenary you would have left me to die and returned to your normal life."
"Well, given where my loyalty to you got me, I'd say maybe I made the wrong decision," Mitch scoffed, "I'd have never earned the wrath of Damien Anderson. I'd never have ended up in this goddamn cell. My leg wouldn't be lame. My spirit wouldn't have been broken."
"Ah yes, but do you regret the path you chose that day?" was the question that penetrated Mitch's very soul.
"Well... I... no, I've never regretted it. I lived more that day than I had done in the rest of my life. The riches you gave me served me well for a very long time," Mitch lamented, "sadly I was too careless with that money. It would have been enough to set me up for life... but I was greedy... I needed work... and that is what lead to my eventual downfall..."
"Precisely," Vamana stated, "and that is why I trust you with this mission. No matter the odds, you will see it through to win the freedom you so thoroughly desire."
Ochoa smiled slyly, "You've changed, old man. I don't remember you ever being so sharp."
"I've researched this greatly, Mitch Ochoa," Uldericks said with a lighter tone, "if I were not certain that you were of use to me, you'd already be dead."
One Fine Day
"Calypso Industries have fallen!" the announcer repeated, "Elder Vuma is dead."
I was sick of the television.
Turning it off proved to be just as distracting. The sound of the news reports merely being replaced with the anarchic noise of the riled masses who had taken to the streets.
"Down with the Government! Long live Ghost K!"
Once again the Sector had fallen into political turmoil. I missed the stability Calypso Industries had brought to the region, but the Upper African Zone had never been the same since the attack four years ago. Elder Vahakian had done his best to keep order, having been appointed as acting Leader of Sector VII after the Board of Directors were massacred.
Sadly for us, he was weak. An idealistic fool with sympathetic leanings towards vigilante organisations. It was pathetic, really. Many mourned his death. I did not. Elder Vuma had come in as a shining beckon of hope. It seemed he had the power to restore order to the region with the reestablishment of Calypso Industries as a viable organisation.
Now all those efforts had been undone, and once more Sector VII was in turmoil. Ghost_K didn't have the potential to rule efficiently, either.
What they were now was a mocking shadow of the organisation once lead by Damien Anderson. When he was still in charge they had been advisors to the Board of Directors, they had authority and power. He was a man that could lead. A man fit to rule a nation.
Unfortunately, for the wider populace, his antagonistic actions towards the Euro Zone were frowned upon by an elitist CEO who cared more about the international standing of Calypso Industries than he did about his own Sector. The way Damien Anderson had mercilessly butchered young aristocrats ended up being looked upon dimly, instead of being celebrated as the actions of a freedom fighter.
It was disgraceful that these fat cats would protect the interests of some spoiled royal family overseas instead of ensuring the future of Sector VII. Damien Anderson was a hero and a symbol of freedom against monarchistic oppression. Thus, our own government had become the enemy of this freedom and our hopes died soon after.
Only bad things had happened since the government had turned on Ghost_K.
Yet, the worse was to come after this visionary's death. For that was when a Guardian of royal heritage took control of the team.
So now, the damn fools were praising the acts of monarchistic scum instead of the actions of a true hero of the people. This, this piece of royalist filth, was not fit to be regarded so highly. It was a cruel mockery that the great Damien Anderson, who fought valiantly against monarchist hypocrisy, was succeeded by royal blood. It was despicable.
Mathieu Dalton, the so-called "Commander of Ghost_K" was far too much like Vahakian to be relied upon. He was a weak man who would lead us back to the brink of ruination.
As I saw my city reduced to madness I knew it was time to take up arms once more.
I had been instrumental in the demise of Vahakian and the rise of Duma. I already had weapons stockpiled for when the revolution came.
However, even now, Ghost_K were not the true enemy. It was Mathieu Dalton. He was to be captured and tried for his crimes, while Ghost_K would enter a new age of prosperity under my command.
I had detailed plans for them all. My plans were destined to see fruition.
Justice would be swift and they would pay for what they had done to me.
I reclined back into my armchair and pondered deeply.
Dalton would likely attempt to invoke an uprising from the embers of this travesty. In which case, I would need to allow this to occur before implimenting my final solution. I had assurances from the Sleeping Teledu that his operative was already firmly ingrained in place and that my own agent was ripe for initiation. He had already commended me upon the manner in which I had incepted the android into their midsts.
Yet, I was more concerned about how the Ghost_K team managed to escape in the first place. Duma had two of their agents captured. The rest had been trapped. Someone else had intervened. Perhaps my allies were not so loyal to me as I had thought. Ghost_K sympathisers?
However, the job was incredibly efficient. Maybe there was another plan I was not aware of. It seemed that I may have been played. After everything I had done to resurrect Calypso Industries, someone had come to destroy it. And it had displayed all of the hallmarks of the man I had trusted.
I leaned forwards from my chair. I liked to consider myself as a commander and a strategist. Yet, it seemed as though external forces were using me as a pawn. I didn't think that the Teledu was capable of such manipulation or planning. Another player seemed more plausible? The Restored White Armies may have been involved. Royalist fanatics possibly influencing my plans? Worse still, acting as the guiding hand of Claude Lasi-Faite? No. That would be disastrous. I felt sick from the thought.
Or maybe even Agent 01. I had served his organisation to try and discern his idenity. Yet, he was an enigma wrapped around a mystery. Shrouded in deceit. A terrorist more accomplished than myself. His paws in every cookie jar. Yet, his motives seemed rather abstract and obscure. His plans were meticulously convoluted. I shuddered at the thought of being tied up in one of them.
But I had been careful. Only dealing with the irrational Claude. Purposefully avoiding Arekusanda Aiko and Agent 01 since I left their service. Staying clear of other former employers.
Then it dawned on me. I was disquieted by the thought. What if Claude was more organised and calculated than he let on. The impulsiveness was but an act. That I had been used as one of his agents from the start. That we were never allies, never equals. He had just used me to further his own goals.
I relaxed after considering my situation. At least he didn't know where I was now. And I had used him as well. My little agent had been successfully deployed. I was no longer answerable to him. I'd just need to adapt my plan slightly to suit my own needs. I was not a pawn. I was my own master. The man who had infiltrated numerous government organisations and diced with the grand schemers that threatened the world.
And I, I would win. For I was driven by a more righteous cause. One of honour and revenge.
So let the streets run red with blood when the revolution comes. Dalton. Mark my words. I will see you die by my hand.
For there is nowhere left for you to run.
|K21 - Subterfuge Chronicles · K21 - Deceit and Disloyalty · K21 - Forgiveness and Mercy · K21 - Aces High · K21 - Tarnished Perceptions · K21 - Shattered Endeavours · K21 - Decayed Moralities|