The sixth part of the trilogy, Shattered Endeavours provides a what could be consider a conclusion to most events of the series while tying in with the main K21 Squared story line and leaving some questions unresolved that may be answered in the sequel. It is a disjointed mix of short stories that focus on key events that are related to the plot of K21 Squared.
The first short story is set in Sector VII Upper African Zone, 15 months after Tarnished Perceptions. The second short story is concurrent with the first, but instead focuses on the liquidation of tainted assets within the Upper African Zone. Part three details a political marriage within Sector IV Euro Zone. The fourth story takes place in the Sector V India Zone, centered around the death of a Guardian and the effects it has on the Ghost_K team. The final part finishes in Sector XII Oceanic Zone, as parallel retelling of the opening events of K21/1 - Dusty Blinds.
CONTAINS COARSE LANGUAGE AND SEXUAL REFERENCES
"OH! MY! GOD!" shouted an ecstatic young woman, in rapturous delight, "I DON'T BELIEVE IT! WE'VE FOUND YOU! WE'VE ACTUALLY FOUND YOU!"
She sprinted over to a dazed young man, resplendent in a two-piece suit, wearing sunglasses and a fedora that covered most of his dark hair. He was walking along the blazing streets of the Cairo urban sprawl, roughly in the direction of where the woman had been standing.
"And just who the hell are you!?" he barked in surprise, his voice hoarse.
"I-I-I am Alison Katsura... " she spoke, nervously, with bright turquoise hair covering her eyes. She quickly fixed her fringe and proceded to continue. "The Guardian of Fire. Agent of Ghost_K. I'm sort of like you."
She smiled, awkwardly as her light purple eyes glistened in the sunlight.
"So Zalmon has already been replaced... " the mysterious individual mused, immediately deducing the nature of the encounter.
"Oh you mean my predecessor. Oh yes, I've heard lots about him from Damien, Ken, Mathieu and Miki!" she exclaimed, before continuing on into a long flood of information that was supposed to only be recited to new recruits.
He decided that he would continue to ponder his predicament and just ignore the ramblings of the odd young lady who had approached him.
"Just how long have I been gone... a day... a week... a month?" he whispered, under his breath. The young man suddenly clutched his head in agony. Images of distorted, broken, memories sharply flashed through his mind. The Holy Commonwealth Palace. The fire fight. Hostage taking. The building collapsing. Black cloth bags. Bright lights. Two faces. Two leering faces. They were so familiar to him but he couldn't place who they belonged to. A woman as well. A kind woman with long blonde hair who tended to his needs every day. And then suddenly a hotel room in Bordeaux. He remembered waking up there, as if everything had just been a dream. As if nothing had been real, an airplane ticket to Sector VII tucked into his pocket. He groaned in pain as the memories suddenly faded.
"Umm, sorry, did you say something?" Katsura enquired, the noise having taken her attentions away from the drivel she had been spouting, and back to the young man.
"It. It's nothing. The heat, that's all. Can we just get to Headquarters? Towards the Guardian Tower. That's why I wandered back here in the first place." he barely managed, before pointing to a gleaming white building on the horizon/
Alison began to speak again, rather rapidly, "Oh yes, of course. Umm sorry, I got carried away there. I'm a bit new to this you see and-"
The young man placed a hand up to her mouth.
"That's quite all right, sweetie, we were all new once," he pronounced in a rather condescending and impatient manner, "but I would quite like to get out of the burning sun and back to headquarters."
"Oh yes... of course! Right away!" she hurriedly grabbed him by the arm in a peculiar manner, "but I don't know what you mean about a Guardian Tower?
He looked at her with a look of contemptous bewilderment before speaking.
"Look, I know the way back from here, you don't need to guide me like some kind of dog. I made my way here from bloody Bordeaux, I'm hardly going to forget the shortest leg of my journey," he sighed, before pointing again at the tall white structure that was located closer to the inner city, "the tower is just over there. Seriously, how can you claim to work for our organisation and not even know where our main base of operations is."
"S-s-sorry, It's just that doesn't belong to Ghost_K. Or at least I don't think it is. I mean. Umm... we operate from a warehouse called Block 441. Now. Umm. We should probably hurry! Everyone will be relieved to know that you aren't dead!" Alison exclaimed, tugging on his arm.
"AREN'T DEAD!?" he suddenly burst out, breaking free of her hold, "I've only been gone about a week! For fucks sake! You guys are really fucking optimistic, huh!"
"W-well... it's been more like... fifteen months... " Katsura said in a slightly embarassed way, blushing slightly as she clasped her hand around his. "but it's okay, you're safe now."
She then hugged him spontaneously, as he froze in utter disbelief.
"F-fifteen months," he stuttered.
The revelation had come as a great shock to the young man, but Alison was sure to consolidate him before finally fulfilling his request to find some shade. They had headed towards a large spiral staircases that connected the ground level areas to the underground sections of the urban jungle. She started to fill him in on everything he had missed, starting from the most recent events and working back, as she wanted to see how far back he remembered. He had largely just nodded and agreed with what she said, as they ventured down the stairwell. That was, until something she said struck him like a brick.
" ...And well, it turned out one of the Royal Princesses was actually the next Guardian," Alison rattled on, "Miki Viollete. Well, that's not her real second name. I can't remember what it is, but she needs to hide her identity."
The mysterious young man suddenly stopped walking, just as the pair entered the lower depths of the metropolis.
"Hold on. You mean, Mikayla Albraun? The Fourth Heir of the Vallarian Royal Family? Daughter of the deceased Harald Albraun, the man who was murdered by Damien Anderson's hand? THAT MIKI!?" the man said, alarmed.
Here the air was far cooler, as the settlement was completely subterranean and shielded from the harsh rays of the sun.
"That must be her. But don't be silly, Laurence, her father wasn't killed by Damien! Oh no, it was Claude who did that. Kenneth told me," Katsura ignorantly argued back, in defence of her leader.
Both of them were carefully watching their step during their descent down the large underground flight of stairs.
"Figures," he snidely shot at her, "that they would twist the truth like that. The lying bastards."
A sudden, yet refreshing, light gust of wind flooded the staircase
"What?" she questioned, confused.
"Look. I was there. At the Palace. I saw the body. The injuries had been caused by protruding spikes of stone," Laurence spat. "only Damien could have been that precise."
"S-sorry... " Alison apologised, "I didn't know. I was only saying what I'd been told."
"It's quite all right... but for some reason... over those last few days... or months... " he drifted off.
Laurence vividly remembered when he had found the other princess, Natalia Christelle. When he kicked open the door. When he tackled her to the ground and silenced her. When he dragged her over to the corner of the room.
"Are you okay?" Katsura enquired, "What were you about to say?"
"Oh, it's nothing... just thinking about the palace. That's all," he quipped as his mind drifted back to the scene. To Annemarie Lucia-Engel. To when she had had a gun placed against Natalia's head. It was wrong. The whole damn Ghost_K team was wrong. He regained his train of thought, "It's just that... I've been questioning the morality of the team ever since the Palace Ambush... And that for something that happened fifteen months ago... why is it so fresh in my memory... "
"Oh, well... I see... " Katsura mumbled, slightly confused.
As they reached the bottom of the steps he noticed a familiar individual was just stepping out of single story concrete building. Valentine didn't want to be noticed that soon, so he improvised a distraction technique.
Laurence quickly grabbed Alison and gently pushed her up against a wall. He looked into her startled and frightened eyes, before speaking softly.
"Stay quiet and don't make eye contact with Commander Anderson... " he whispered.
Valentine slid his left hand down her body, towards her short black skirt. Alison struggled slightly, unsure at to what he was doing. She almost screamed just as he placed a finger against her lips.
"Stay still, it's part of the act, I don't want him recognising us yet... " Laurence hissed, "just play along."
Katsura nodded, and responded by placing her arms around his waist. He took his right hand and slowly unzipped her black tight fitting jacket, revealing a very low cut white t-shirt.
"I need to tell you something very important," he spoke quickly and quietly, just as he brought his other hand around her back in order to bring her closer into an intimate embrace, "Damien Anderson cannot be trusted. Ghost_K is corrupt."
"Okay... " Alison breathed, her breasts pressed up against Laurence's chest.
"You need to know the truth," Valentine spoke in a hushed voice, "all of Miki Albraun's family were killed by that man. Don't ask me how I know this. Because frankly I am not sure myself, beyond seeing Harald Albraun's corpse."
Alison moved her head towards his in order to kiss him, closing her eyes. Realising that to refuse would draw unwanted attention to their location to and possibly alert Anderson, he promptly reciprocated as she slowly rubbed her leg up against his. Laurence was completely bemused as she passionately enveloped his mouth and slowly danced her tongue around his. It lasted for more than 2 minutes before she retracted backwards.
"He's gone," Katsura piqued up.
Laurence looked around to see that the entrance of Block 441 was no longer occupied by Damien Anderson. The man he had been trying to avoid.
"Well that was one hell of an introduction!" Alison exclaimed, "Only known you 30 minutes and you have me up against the wall!" She winked at him as he turned back to face her.
"Yeah, sure, I guess," he rushed, "but I didn't want to be caught. I still have more to tell you."
"Sure thing, lover boy," she teased, grabbing his hand lightly, "what all is so important that you had to seduce a helpless girl like me."
The atmosphere changed in an instant, as he grabbed her hand tightly and forced her arm against the wall. He stared directly into her pupils.
"Look, I don't have time to play games with you," he snapped, "that man is dangerous. Damien Anderson is a murderer. His accomplice, Kenneth Lysander has also been responsible for the deaths of innocent people. These are facts those monsters clearly elected not to tell you. None of that team can be trusted. Not even Mathieu. And God help Miki if she is working for Damien, because she has probably been brainwashed."
"P-please let go, you're hurting me," she squeaked.
"Now listen here, " Laurence continued on, coldly ignoring her, "you cannot tell another soul anything I have just said to you. Or we are both dead. Don't think Damien wouldn't kill you just because you are a Guardian. How else do you think he became leader of the team?"
She looked at him aghast, in utter horror. Guardians weren't supposed to kill one and other. It was not right. It was against everything she had been taught.
"Th-then why did you tell me... ? " Alison wept, "why did you burden me with this awful knowledge."
Laurence looked into her eyes again and released the tight grip he had on her hand. He smiled warmly, and gently clasped both of his hands around hers.
"Because I need at least one person I can trust," he spoke sweetly, "I need someone who can help me deal with what I know."
He brought his arm around her shoulder as the young woman lead him towards the doors of Block 441.
CONTAINS VIOLENCE AND GORE
I casually sauntered up towards the front door of the gargantuan building that shared architectural similarities with a termite mound. A colossal mega-structure, formed from the intertwined matrices of manufacturing works, office blocks and retail outlets. Towering black obelisks stood as great blemishes upon the horizon, the very sun itself was obscured by a canopy of bridges and walkways. For it was the very heart of a business conglomerate that spanned the globe. Calypso Industries. The official "sponsors" of the Upper African Government.
It was wholly amusing to see a familiar operational style in place. Calypso Industries enjoyed the same privileges of my own company, only they tried to be subtle about it. Everyone knows that my beloved Vallarie Administration and the Sector IV Royal Family are one and the same. But Calypso Industries liked to play down their involvement with their own Sector's political affairs.
Of course, secrets don't stay hidden forever. And a man of my station is clearly aware of such underhanded practices, for I regularly utilise them myself. All Europeans know Stephanie Christelle is their Queen, yet few know I am their leader. I knew fine well that Calypso Industries were the Sector VII government.
As I reached the entrance to the building, the large automatic doors ached apart. Clearly worn from over use. What greeted me was truly astounding. A sight that was not befitting of the structure's haphazard exterior. The entrance hall was lined with polished white marble and adorned with a multitude of gold decorations. It was clear that the organisation wished to emphasise their power and wealth through this display of finery. A gleaming gut centered within a filthy, stagnant hive. I smirked slightly as I noticed the symbols of all twelve sectors, arranged in numerical order, had been lined up opposite the primary entrance. These massive effigies appeared to have been cast from solid gold, and I can only assume that they were indeed made from the metal.
Of course it was the Vallarian Hawk that first caught my eye. It looked very majestic beside the golden star that symbolised Sector III. It was very amusing to see the mark of a communist nation represented so decadently. To its left, the eagle was flanked by the sigil of Sector V. An archaically designed heraldic symbol that had been replicated perfectly in this metal medium. Every last detail had been etched on.
It was at that moment that I elected to fix the positioning of my sunglasses and increase my pace, as the the central information desk drew nearer. I was met by a tanned young woman, who had just raised her head from a data tablet.
"Why hello there, sir," she politely pronounced, "what can I help you with?"
I tipped my head forward, as I removed my fedora, and slowly scanned the upper half of her body. Long brown hair cascaded down beyond her shoulders, meeting the silver blouse she was wearing. Attached to the blouse was a name-tag that bore the logo of Calypso Industries that had been juxtaposed with the words "Danielle Mauril".
"Why yes, Danielle," I pronounced eloquently, "I have an appointment with the CEO at three o'clock."
She looked at me as if I spoken a humorous line. Bemused and slightly irate. All of a sudden the woman's expression changed as she looked over my attire and noticed the platinum badge pinned to my breast pocket. Director of Trade: René Martain.
"Oh! I see, you are one of them," she squeaked, seemingly nervous with excitement, "One o-of the c-corporate elite here for the trade conference!"
"I suppose I am," the words loosely fell from my lips.
"Why it's a-an honour, Mr Martain," Danielle shuddered, as she suddenly stood up, "but we weren't expecting any of you on the ground floor. Surely you would have flown in and landed on one of the higher levels? Nearer to the canopy?"
"I could have, but I prefer to see everything for myself," I spoke softly and quietly, before pointing at the gold symbols, "and I would have missed all of this had I done things the easy way."
"W-well of course, b-but still... " she trailed off, still in awe. It was rather surreal seeing the reactions of common people to their ruling masters. Clearly she was also hoping that my presence would somehow benefit her situation, as if I was a sign from a higher purpose that her life would change. Not wishing to disappoint my captive audience, I continued.
"Well Danielle, I would quite like to have a personal guide with me. I'll pay you triple your annual salary, right now in cash, if you agree to accompany me," I slyly propositioned.
"U-um... w-well... " the young woman was completely dumbstruck by the thought.
"And you can work for my company on double salary, straight away, if you agree of course," the speech playfully left my tongue.
"R-right a-away sir," Danielle replied, shaking slightly, "I'll accompany you at once."
"Excellent, you can escort me to the CEO, bring me to him and hand in your resignation in person," I winked, "sound like a plan?"
"Of course," she responded in an instant, as she climbed over the desk, data slate in hand.
I smiled at her, and she motioned me to walk over to the other end of the room, towards a colossal column that was dotted with several entrance ways. From the schematics that were visible upon the young woman's data slate, I was able to determine that it was the central lift system, the fastest means of accessing the higher floors of the tower.
The lift was surprisingly spacious and offered a perfect secluded location for analysing further areas of the building. Danielle had handed me her data slate after we had entered and I had become involved in searching through a multitude of alternate paths to the summit that existed throughout the gargantuan construct. Each one was a potential escape route, but the most convenient was a direct line to an airstrip that was located upon the canopy.
I suddenly forced the lift to stop when we reached that floor.
"Change of plans, my dear," I confidently announced, "I'll need you to acquire a vehicle for me, as I have no intention for us to walk back."
"What do you mean?" Danielle responded, confused.
I threw her an electronic cash card, that she failed to catch. The young woman had to bend down to pick it up.
"Use this to purchase us an adequate aircraft. I have a vital engagement to attend to back in the homeland after this, and I do not wish to be late. Please have something ready for my arrival," was the command that was issued from my lips.
"O-of course, b-but why the change of plan?" she spoke up, worried.
To this, I responded with a wink.
"All will become clear soon enough." I coyly remarked.
The young woman exited the lift and I reengaged the vertical transport. The data slate was still firmly held within my hand and as I looked upon my exit strategy a slight grin made its way onto my face.
It was at that point the lift suddenly stopped. Top floor.
The doors quickly shot apart and I was immediately met by a group of ten armed security personnel.
"Sorry, sir," one of them spoke, "standard procedure."
It was the one who had addressed me that withdrew a metal detector from his belt and scanned me. As I had expected, it turned up negative.
"Looks like you're clean," he stated, "please proceed to the CEO's Office, Mr Martain. Director of Trade."
Two of his subordinates flanked me and brought me to the office doors. The duo pushed them open and I was met by a large conference table that had a Calypso Industries Executive from each Sector but my own seated at it. I took my place to complete the arrangement.
As well as the twelve major stakeholders, representatives from the eight main Calypso Industries Departments were also present within the room. At the fore of these individuals was the Head of Military Research.
This was ultimately a grave mistake. With all of the eggs in one basket an opportunistic fox could easily devour them all in a single strike.
As the CEO entered the room to address his subjects I brazenly stood up.
"Mr Martain! Sit down in the presence of your master!" barked one of the other board members, a Sector III official.
"Now why would I do that?" I quipped, "as far as I am concerned I am my own master!"
"Sit. Down." the official spoke through gritted teeth, as the CEO glared at me. Seemingly affronted by my innocent interuption.
"I would prefer to stand when I am making an example of someone!" the words were joyously pronounced from my mouth.
"ENOUGH OF TH-" the CEO himself bellowed, before suddenly being cut off.
A sliver of shadow energy pierced his gluttonous throat. The ballooned form seeped bright red blood over the suit of CEO. He brought his hand to the wound as the two guards stationed outside of the room burst in.
They were easily cut down by twin beams of light. My attacks had seared holes directly through their chest, disintegrating their hearts in an instant. The bodies of the two men hit the ground with a satisfying thud.
It was at that point the representatives stood up and attempted to escape. Of course, I was not going to allow such cowardice.
I focused my mind on increasing my bodies reflexes in order to distort the passage of time. The shadow abilities allowed me to move faster than humanly possible. In a single bound I was standing in front of the doorway, right before the panicked crowd.
A smile broadened upon my face as my eyes became stained pitch. I waved my hand and beheaded the man who was closest to me. As I finished that attack I brought my hands to the throat of a smartly dressed woman, snapping her neck in a fluid motion.
My right leg found the stomach of the man who bore the title Head of Military Research. Enhanced by unholy talents the kick ruptured his internal organs before the force sent him flying into the wall.
A foolhardy, well built, young man charged at me as my foot reached a stable alignment upon the ground. He attempted to punch me but was intercepted by a wave of light energy that I was able to forge into a shield. It burned the flesh of his hand and he winced in pain. I quickly silenced him with a quick incision drawn across his throat.
I noticed one of the women was reaching for a firearm from one of the dead guards. Realising this was a potential threat I instinctively dove towards her and forced the weapon out of her hands while throwing her to the ground. I brought my newly acquired pistol to her head and discharged a shot into her skull.
Of course, there was a second weapon still present within the room, so I rushed into a group of people who had surrounded the corpse of the other guard. One of them had already taken the gun, and I felt a shot impact on my chest. I stumbled back and fell to the ground.
The one who had fired the shot ran over to me and lowered the gun so that it was pointing towards my head. As he squeezed the trigger I dodged my head out of the way of the shot while simultaneously grabbing my own gun and unloading a round into his heart. As the man fell upon my location I grabbed his weapon with my other hand and leaped up from the ground.
However, the pain from the first shot was now burning into my chest and I knew I would need to be quick in my disposal of the remaining targets. I aimed the handguns at two different people and fired them in a synchronised strike. The bullets shattered the skulls of these victims and blood violently exploded out from their wounds.
To my annoyance, the executives had made it to the doorway and were attempting to force it open. I loosed off a barrage of shots at these vermin, emptying the clips.
I wounded five of them in the back, but their deaths would not be swift enough. I focused all of my energies into a single shot of my combined gifts and hurled it at the survivors.
The explosion that followed was marvelous. It lived up to my expectations and more. Flesh and bone erupted into the air. I relished the carnage as blood splashed against the walls of the room.
While the explosion was sensational, the aftermath was a true masterpiece. Red liquid stained the walls. Bodies had been ripped asunder. Torn apart by the shadow energies. Happy that my business had been completed on schedule I sauntered out of the hellish nightmare that had overcome the CEO's Office.
However, just as I was about to leave, something caught my attention. It was the CEO himself, still clinging onto life, crawling towards where I was now standing.
Blood poured from his mouth as he attempted garbled speech. I pitied him.
Thus, I walked up to him and placed my hands on his head. I then took my thumbs and pressed them into his eye sockets, forcing his eyes to burst. He struggled slightly before suddenly falling limp.
Satisfied that he was definitely dead, I began to stumble out of the office and dragged by injured frame towards the lift. However, as soon as I left the CEO's Office I was met by a quartet of armed guard.
Tired of the game, I launched a beam of searing white light against the ceiling. Blinded by the blast, they started firing blindly. I narrowly dodged a fatal shot as I moved my head so that the bullet only clipped my ear. Suddenly the point that I had hit with my elemental beam started to fracture. The very structure of the roof had been damaged.
I loosed off a second attack, knowing full well what it would do. As the beam struck the intended target the entire ceiling caved in, crushing the four soldiers. With all tasks at hand complete, I continued my strenuous journey towards the lift.
At this point I was practically crawling, and I had to force myself up right in order to press the button that allowed me to summon the device. Having pressed it I fell to the floor. I groaned in agony as the bullet wound on my chest started to leak blood. My left ear was singeing with pain as bright red liquid spilled from the ruined lobe.
The lift doors opened and I used my abilities to propel myself off of the ground and into the compartment. Yet, I misjudged the power I put into the blast and ended up hurling myself against the wall. Luckily I had landed next to the control panel. I knew which floor my escape route was located on. I slammed my fist against the button before my arm fell down by my side. The doors closed.
I truly was a sorry sight to behold. My fine suit stained with so much blood all while my shirt became soaked in the liquid. I waited for what seemed like eternity, before the mechanical portal was no longer closed to me. Seeing my escape was so near instilled a new vigour into my wracked body.
Delirious, I ran straight towards the landing deck, shouting the name of the woman.
"Danielle!" I cried out, mournfully.
No response. She had likely just abandoned me and stolen my money.
"Danielle!" the utterance was slightly weaker this time.
I grabbed my chest as blood still continued to seep from it. I forced more pressure on to it to try and stem the flow. That was when I saw it, her body lying lifeless beside a sleek private jet. Blood had pooled around her head and a clear entry wound was visible upon her temple.
"How amusing," echoed a chillingly familiar voice, "that this young woman was such an optimist. I mean, she had her whole life ahead of her... until she uttered your name."
A man stepped into view, outfitted in a simple grey coat and charcoal trousers that were complemented by black boots. He slowly walked over towards me as I clutched my chest.
"V-Vamana... " was all I could utter.
CONTAINS VIOLENCE AND SEXUAL REFERENCES
A young woman lay shivering on a concrete floor. Her blonde hair scattered upon the ground as the white fabric of her wedding dress had become splayed out upon the unwelcoming surface.
"I-I-I a-am s-sorry... " she stuttered, her grey eyes filled with terror, "m-my m-merciful l-lord... "
"Insolent wretch!" a grey suited figure bellowed at her.
He walked over to her and withdrew a knife. For a brief second his bleach white hair was reflected on the side of the blade. He knelt beside her quivering frame, before making an incision into the dress.
First the grey clothed man sliced off the straps of the dress. Then he began to systematically tear into the fabric, forcing it off, piece by piece from the skin the frightened girl. With all of the fine materials removed, he turned his attention to her underwear.
"V-V-Vamana... " she squeked
At that utterance he struck her cheek with the back of his hand.
"How dare you speak my name!" he barked.
She could feel the force of the strike reverberate throughout her face, from the point of impact to where her skull met the cold concrete.
Vamana forced his hand upon the woman's breast as he cut free her bra, before proceeding to unceremoniously peel the white lace material from her and throwing it on the ground. The terrorist drew the blunt edge of the weapon down from the woman's breasts to her groin. With a quick incision, the white panties were liberated and thrown beside the remains of the rest of her clothing.
He stood up to admire his handiwork.
"P-p-please... " the young woman was sobbing slightly.
She was completely exposed. Vulnerable to the whims of her captor.
"Shh... shh... shush now... " he spoke with a tone of false sympathy in his voice, "I am not some monster Natalia... This is merely to demonstrate how our contract will work... "
A grin made its way onto the terrorist's face.
"B-but... I-I l-love... you... " Natalia interrupted, "I w-want t-to do as m-my l-lord c-commands... "
Vamana suddenly threw his knife at her. The blade narrowly missed her neck as it bounced off of the hard flooring.
"RULE ONE!" he roared, "NO INTERRUPTIONS! In my presence, you speak only when you are spoken to. Do you understand."
Natalia nodded, tears streaming from her eyes.
"Rule two. You are loyal to me, and me alone," Vamana relayed.
"Y-yes... m-my l-lord... " the young woman replied, as eye shadow stained her beautiful face.
"Rule three. You adhere to everything I command you to do," he smirked, "you perform any action I require of you. Without question. Without fail."
"O-of c-course... " she wailed.
"Those are the basics, other rules may be added should the need arise. But you WILL obey those three no matter what," Uldericks laughed, "for you are mine to command. And I am yours to follow. Is that clear?"
Natalia meekly nodded again, her naked body still quaking.
He continued, "And should you break any of these rules. The consequences will be... regrettable."
"U-understood... " the young princess cried.
"Now stand!" he commanded, "for I wish to take your measurements for a proper uniform and body armour."
The young woman did as she had been commanded and rose to meet her captor at eye level.
Vamana withdrew a length of measuring tape from his jacket pocket before walking up to his property. He forced the length of plastic ribbon against her bare flesh as he wrapped it around her waist.
"22 inches," he Uldericks stated, as he tapped a small device attached to his ear.
He allowed the measuring tape to fall freely and dangled it down towards the floor, where he trapped the end with his foot. The grey suited man proceeded to bring the tape up to the head of the young woman.
"5 feet. 2 inches," he mused, activating the communicator once more, "definitely a height I can work with... "
Natalia was still quivering, fear in her eyes. He coiled up the measuring tape and placed it back into his jacket pocket.
"Now... what you must understand is that I am a cruel man. That I do not suffer fools. And I do not tolerate those who outlive their usefulness," Vamana venomously pronounced, with a particular emphasis stressed on the last word, "yet, I am aware that my subordinates require to be maintained. In particular I am aware that you have acquired an emotional attachment towards me."
The smartly dressed terrorist slowly stepped towards the young princess. He brought his right hand to the back of her head and slowly pushed it towards his. Vamana bowed his head slightly and coldly, mechanically, planted his lips onto hers.
His right hand slid down her smooth body in a peculiar manner. It was not affectionate in nature, culminating in a motion that was more akin to one that would be made when admiring a piece of machinery.
Natalia responded by bringing her hands to his head as she closed her eyes. Her mouth opened slightly, as she expected him to do the same. But Vamana's lips remained pursed shut. She opened her eyes in astonishment as an unusual feeling overcame her and ingressed into her being. Vamana's calculating crimson eyes stared back at her.
She felt as though their gaze penetrated her very soul. Natalia shuddered slightly as she moved to bring her arms around the man she adored, becoming lost in a feeling of bliss.
He lowered his eyebrows slightly before making a brief utterance, "Hands by your side."
Natalia obeyed in an instant, aware that failure to do so would invite repercussions, but overall she no longer felt afraid. The emotion had been supplanted with a curious excitement. Uldericks removed his left hand from the back of her head and brought it to Natalia's face as he continued to examine his property.
He smirked slightly as he moved it from side to side.
"A fine face for film," Vamana casually remarked, "perfect for propaganda!"
Natalia gasped as he brought his hand down towards her neck.
"Yet I could break you at any moment," Uldericks spoke with a sinister sting in his voice as he applied a small amount of pressure to her neck.
The young woman moaned as the force intensified.
"P-please... Please... Please... " she mewled.
She moaned louder as his fingers forced themselves against her. She screamed vigorously as the feelings climaxed for a brief second. And then, her emissions died down to a gentle expression of relief.
Vamana released his grip. He brought his right hand to his jacket pocket in order to extract a folded piece of cloth from within. He unfolded it and proceeded to wipe both hands with the napkin.
Uldericks folded it up again and placed it within his suit. His hand remained inside it as he retrieved a black handgun.
Holding it by the barrel, he handed it to Natalia.
"Now that we are done with the pleasantries, your loyalty will be tested," Uldericks carefully announced, "You are to shoot the next man who enters this room."
"B-but w-what about clothes?" she questioned.
He suddenly projected a blast of light energy close to where she was standing. It violently exploded against the wall of the warehouse as he opened his mouth.
He tapped the communications device that was attached to his ear.
"Send him in."
Vamana withdrew a magazine clip for the firearm and hurled it at Natalia. She wasn't quick enough to catch it as the casing struck her stomach. It fell to the ground with a metallic clang.
She stooped to pick it up as a faraway door on the other end of the warehouse opened. A Vallarian Officer, carrying a small pile of clothes, had entered the large building.
As he approached the duo a look of horror struck his face as he realised that the Royal Princess was completely nude. Vamana's ghoulish smile did nothing to ease his worries.
"WHAT IN GOD'S NAME IS GOING ON!" he burst out, "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO HER ROYAL HIGHNESS!"
Natalia slotted the ammunition clip into the handle and walked up directly to the soldier. She brought the gun up to face of the young man and pulled the trigger. The bullet struck him in the eye socket, causing blood to erupt from the entry wound.
Vamana started to clap his hands together as the body of the officer slumped to the floor.
"Nicely done, my dear," he remarked, grinning like a madman, "you didn't even hesitate to do it."
"Of course not, my husband. For I am yours to have and to hold," Natalia uttered in an adoring manner, as a smile overcame her blood splattered face, "for better and for worse."
CONTAINS VIOLENCE AND GORE
"Old friend, it's been too long," a smug voice pierced the air, "and I am so glad you opted to come alone."
"Of course. Other people simply get in my way," the man the taunt had been aimed at gave a swift retort. He stepped forwards into the centre of the industrial warehouse. The man was resplendant in a uniform of the Ghost_K team. Upon the shoulders of the militaristic jacket he wore, were the rank bars indicative of the position of Ghost_K Commander.
"Someone told me you had a proposition," the voice rang out, echoing against the walls of the vast building.
"Well, I've come to realise I made a mistake hunting you. I let anger and revenge dominate my life," the man replied calmly, "Mathieu made me see that you and me were not so different. He may have intended that as a warning against my action, but I came to realise you could be a valuable ally."
"Oh?" the voice piqued up with great interest, "is that so?"
As if out of nowhere a black suited figure appeared directly in front of the Ghost_K Commander.
"Claude," he stated, fixing the positioning of his fedora, "just think about it. With the power of the Guardians you would be unstoppable. We could take the world and bend it to our will."
"True... but first, Damien, let me to enlighten you as to why we are, as your friend put it, so similar?" the suited man scathingly forced his words through gritted teeth.
"Why would that be?" Damien replied.
"Because you made me the man I am today," Claude spat, "I've spent years living like this now. I've become so accustomed to killing it is a part of my daily existence. And you know why that is? Because Instead of receiving help, instead of people trying to have me change me ways, I have been hunted all my life. I didn't mean to kill that poor girl... "
A slight tear appeared at the corner of the criminal's eye.
"Intent changes nothing, you were a natural born killer, you slaughtered her so efficiently. You were destined for the life you lead due to the gifts you possess," the Guardian of Earth taunted, wishing to exploit the apparent weakness in his advisory.
"But you know the worst part. I came to enjoy it. I found new, inventive ways of slaughter," Claude lamented, "as I lived each day on the run I had to do everything in order to survive. I learnt new tricks I could use to kill people more quickly. Slowly that killed me inside."
"That is what people like us have to do. I was in very much the same position. Even before I dedicated my life to hunting you. We have to adapt to survive," Damien twisted his words. He could say his prey was weak for turning.
"But the thing is, Damien. I also learnt that there were more twisted devils than you. When I had nowhere else to go I sided with them. You forced me to ally myself with lunatics and psychopaths. And what about me? Well you molded me into the perfect murderer... " a sinister grin overcame his face as the words left his mouth, "and that ultimately you made me a darker demon than them all. They have petty goals and ambitions. What do I wish for? Chaos. Pure, unadulterated chaos."
He began to laugh maniacally.
"But that... that's insane!? You can't wish for nothing but chaos!? I mean... you already wield considerable power. Why not wish to make it greater?" Damien questioned, dumbfounded by the lunacy he had just heard.
"I don't care for any power that would allow me to rule the world. Hell, I don't care much for power at all! I intend to see the world burn in retribution for your mistakes. The World Justice Uprising will be tame by comparison. I have plans in motion for something absolutely," he paused for breath, "Spectacular!"
"There is no logic behind this! What all will that achieve? It's hardly retribution." the Earth Elemental spoke, slightly more panicked than before.
"Damien Anderson. Vamana Uldericks. Asiduus Aeviternus. Fools who think they can shape the world in their own image. Yet I am a benevolent demon. I intend to leave them a more malleable Earth that they can attempt to rebuild to match their twisted ideals," Claude's grin broadened, "but first I must sunder that world. Bring it to the brink of oblivion."
"So you will help me achieve that? By leaving me a war torn Earth?" the Guardian inquired.
"No! For the Ghost_K team is already neutralised. I have things set in motion to ensure they do not get in my way much longer. Thus, I have no use for you," his tone suddenly shifted to an even more sinister one, as he directed a scything wave of shadow energy at Damien's throat. Blood began to pour from the wound instantaneously.
"But... why... " he garbled through blood.
Claude ran over to his injured adversary and held him upright as the man clung to his bleeding throat.
"Because, old friend, Mathieu was wrong. Despite the superficial similarities we are not alike... " the criminal smiled enthusiastically, "and you made the fatal flaw of dropping your guard. Had you preempted my strike I would have accepted the offer. But I can not allow myself to ally with a man who has become so weak... "
"Wou... bastard... " Damien spat out.
"Nothing personal," Claude spoke slowly, "but seeing as you are beyond savior at this point, let me tell you a little secret. I'm sure all this time you've truly wondered who I am?"
He moved his lips right next to Anderson's left ear.
Damien's eyes widened at the name, "No... no... you... can't... be... th-that... is... "
Claude smiled broadly as he helped the Guardian of Earth slowly to the ground, as he realised the man was nearly dead.
"Now, pleasant dreams old friend," he softly spoke before snapping the man's neck.
It was at that point Claude withdrew a communications device from the jacket of his fallen foe.
He switched it on and awaited a reply.
"Damien!? Where the hell have you been? Your ID claims you are in Sector V." a familiar voice crackled over the phone.
"Oh my, dearest Kenneth, please give my regards to your wife," Claude taunted.
"WHO IS THIS!? What have you done with Damien!?" the voice of the Guardian of Ice roared back.
"Oh Damien wished to gain my allegiance. And then he well... how can I put this lightly... he died!" the Criminal spoke playfully, relishing the torment.
"AGENT 01!?" the Kenneth shouted, confused
"Guess again," the words danced from his mouth
"C-Claude... " the voice on the other end spoke, seemingly deflated.
"Perhaps," he teased, "anyway, I must be going. Just wanted to deliver the delightful news that your brave leader is dead. Au revoir, mon amis!"
Kenneth stood there in disbelief. He attempted to reply but the signal had already been cut off.
"Ken, who was that?" asked the voice of a young man.
"I-it was nothing Laurence... nothing... nothing at all... " the Guardian of Ice trailed off.
"But I've never seen you so startled before. You mentioned Agent 01 and Claude. Something is up," Laurence stated, having evaluated the situation.
"No... no... it's quite all right. I just need to get some fresh air. Hold this please," Kenneth commanded with a lifeless stare, his voice empty of any emotion. He handed Laurence the communicator and proceeded to leave the room they had been standing in.
A young woman walked up to block Kenneth's exit, but she was brushed aside by a firm push.
"Out of my way Alison... " he barely pronounced, "I just need to get some fresh air... I'll be back soon... "
Alison walked over to Laurence and gripped his hand tightly.
"What do you think happened?" she asked, worried.
"My guess is that Damien was incapacitated. That is the most likely evaluation I can give based on what I just heard," Laurence whispered into her ear.
"Should we go after him? Anderson and Lysander were very close... " Alison quietly responded.
"We need to give him some space. Although I'd say it's vital we find Mathieu as soon as possible. He'll know what to do." he remarked.
Alison let go of Valentine's hand and proceeded to run down the corridor. She saw Kenneth leaving by the main entrance to Block 441 just as she collided with Miki Albraun and Li-Pau Nao, who were conversing about something rather trivial.
"Urgh!" she exclaimed, before apologising to the young couple for walking into them.
The Guardian of Ice continued on unabated, as the door closed behind him. He paused briefly to freeze the doorway shut with a quick manipulation of water molecules.
"That should stall them... " he muttered, before continuing on down the street. Before him were the gargantuan steps that led to the surface areas of the settlement.
Slowly Kenneth began to climb them, staring wistfully upwards in the process. The ascent was arduous, slowly exhausting the grizzled man. Yet his demeanor remained unchanged and constant throughout. His eyes soulless and empty.
His name rang out in the distance. He turned around and looked down the distance of a kilometer. he could see some familiar figures frantically making their way towards the grand staircase. He smiled briefly, considering that it had taken them close on half an hour to melt the ice that he had used to jam the door shut.
Lysander turned around once more and continued towards his goal. Ground level beckoned.
As he reached the final step, Laurence decided to pause. He looked at his uniform and elected to take off the jacket. He stared at the rank bars.
They indicated his status. His position. Deputy Commander. However, he knew that was no longer the case. Now he would have to step up as their leader.
Kenneth tore of the bars in disgust.
He couldn't do it. He knew he couldn't lead the team now. Not after everything he had done.
"I'm not a leader... I'm a weapon... " he mused, "a soldier... not a statesman... "
He threw the jacket down next to the torn pieces of cloth and walked off into the morning sun.
CONTAINS COARSE LANGUAGE
It was a warm Summer's evening, with the occasional cool breeze gently flowing over my face. As I walked down the quiet street I couldn't help but have my attention drawn to a large symbol that resembled the letter "G". It had been crudely sprayed over the image of Commander in Chief of the Australian Military Forces, David Kelly, Director of Operations, in fluorescent purple spray paint. It looked like it had been done so that it would appear that the great man had a tattoo upon his neck.
"Quite a shock to see that, mate," someone wearing a fedora halted in her movements as she walked up beside me and noted, "I didn't think Ghost_K had any grasp on this territory. It seems they have spread their claws to every corner of the globe now."
I looked over, noticing rank slide. It was an olive green colour with one crown displayed upon it and the name of our glorious nation stitched into the fabric at the bottom. She was another bloody Major like myself. A rather official looking name badge read "T. Tindall". Under the crook of her left arm I could see a rolled up magazine with what appeared to be a topless woman on the cover.
"I'd watch out on saying those sorts of things," I replied quietly, moving closer towards her, "Those kind of thoughts might land you right up shit creek. They might think you imply they're stronger than we supermen."
"Nonsense," she replied, "I merely give reason for the elevation of our guard. Especially with their terrorist attack on the Commonwealth Palace."
"They hit the Commonwealth Palace?" I asked, my left eyebrow shooting up in surprise, "I wouldn't have thought they were possessed of that sort of courage."
"Yeah, don't you remember? It was pretty bad," she responded, "Ghost_K had to ask for the Bolshevik scum to help them."
Nobody mentioned a name, but we knew who they were. The IWU. Those subhumans were quite possibly our greatest internal threat.
"Kenneth Lysander murdered his wife during it," she continued, "I think they've gone straight off the deep end, even for supporters of mob rule."
All of a sudden she took out a fob watch and checked it.
"Ah, I've got an Immigration Affairs meeting on sustainability in a few minutes," she stated, turning to leave "See you around, Major."
As she retreated off to her meeting, I decided to walk across the street. It was then that I spotted a military police officer approaching the billboard on the other side. Not wishing to draw attention to myself I kept walking.
"Ghost_K," I heard him mutter disdainfully. As I crossed the tarmac road. However, at that moment he noticed my presence and immediately challenged my position.
"Major!" he asked in a forceful manner that made the request seem more like an order, "I require your assistance."
This was exactly what I wasn't hoping for. The officer had immediately honed in on the extra decalage that had been embroidered upon my breast pocket. A stylised red flame that indicated that I was part of the Special Branch, Infernal Division within the armed forces and that I was capable of manipulating fire energy.
"It is always an honour to serve," I responded, saluting the young man who appeared to be a Lieutenant. I saw that like myself he had clearly originated from Special Branch as well. From the Aquatics Division by the look of his stylised blue tear drop decal. Police work seemed an awfully cushy job for such a low ranking member of Special Branch to be given. Bastard must have had friends in high places. After what must have been a delay of at least ten seconds he finally saluted back before opening his mouth again.
"Then you can do so by removing this taint! This FILTH! From our glorious land!" he roared slightly, clearly indignant at the presence of the graffiti.
"Is this all that is needed of me?" I vacuously spoke before checking my watch.
My hands ignited the air around them. When the flames had managed to build up to an acceptable level I projected them against billboard, scorching away the graffiti in the process.
"That will be all, Major," he barked, as he started using his own powers to douse the flames.
Not wishing to spend any more time in the company of this obnoxious police officer, I elected to walk away at pace as I considered the paperwork that would be involved in sending him off on an all expenses paid trip to a labour reform camp. I then remembered his surname sounded vaguely familiar and he probably had family up in the higher echelons. Still, I doubt even they would appreciate fucking with the Department of Intelligence.
My train of though wandered to the meaning of the graffiti I had eradicated. It was rather curious to see a Ghost_K Symbol within the sanctuary of the Republic of Australia. Sympathy for those monsters was non-existent within Sector XII.
They had committed so many atrocities that only a madman would spread their symbol within our glorious nation. Added to that, supporting them in any way is an executable offence. It irritated me that someone would be so brazen to do so.
As I made my way out of the back streets I noticed a hooded girl running down pavement at quite some speed, she brushed past me as she ran down the alleyway I had just exited. Someone acting like that was clearly in some kind of trouble. It was likely she was fleeing from a hostile dissident or that she was involved in criminal activity as a drug runner. Either way, catching her would severely improve my chances for promotion.
I turned back the way I had come and reached for my gun. I turned the safety off and started to give chase.
I sprinted as fast as I could down the street and saw her disappear down an alleyway. However, I was too slow, as I was unable to see where she went afterwards. Gun in my hand, I edged further into the alleyway, cautiously gauging the potential threats that could be awaiting my arrival.
At the end I found the entrance to a cellar. It had all the hallmarks of a filthy worker hovel. A den of corruption and decadence. While the underclasses had to be kept like cattle, their stupid heifers still found ways of exploiting money from the more desirable classes through prostitution. Steroid fueled bullish scum profited greatly from a bustling drugs trade that funded their own indulgences.
The sight I found when I entered was utterly repugnant. Normally, a military officer would not be caught dead in a place like this, but if a young woman had entered into the locale, she was clearly in trouble. Added to that, reporting the location of this filthy place would considerably aid my likelihood of promotion within the ranks of the Department of Intelligence.
Filthy piggish people grunted at me when they saw my well mannered demeanor. Disgusting, these sort of people were even more deplorable than the Ghost_K team.
A large brutish man approached me, clearly offended by the presence of a superior being.
"Oi! G'it out uv 'ere now!" he growled,"Or ah smash y'ar pretty little 'ead in!"
Such nonsense was ridiculous. Not willing to be talked to in such a manner by brutish thug I shot my hand to his throat and ignited it.
He squealed in pain as his flesh burnt and my grip tightened. His body slumped to the floor as he passed out due to the intensity of the pain.
"Now, I am looking for a young girl with red hair!" I announced, "any who help me will be looked upon more favourably by Department of Justice!"
There was a general stare of disbelief from the uneducated masses that stood before me. None of them had the audacity to attempt to stand up to me like the previous brute, yet none of them were willing to help either. Clearly they had no aspirations for life. It was as if they were not even human.
"You military brats are just as dirty as the rest of us!" a tall, well built man chuckled, "I'll give ya ma unspoilt daughter if you're lookin' for a good time. Provided I get a handsome reward in return."
He winked at me before dragging a red haired girl out from behind a stall. The man forced her over to me before wrestling the skirt off of the young woman, leaving her lower half exposed.
"She's yours for a kick-back, mate," he continued, "a nice little job with the higher ups and a record set clean with the DIJ."
He winked at me again.
"I think you have completely misunderstood me good sir," I spat back, utterly repulsed by the proposition. The girl was likely only fourteen. Selling a person like that, even one of the lower classes, was despicable.
"What ever do ya mean?" he replied back, "One red head, as asked for!"
"I'm not after a prostitute," I hissed, "I am looking for a girl who ran down here about two minutes ago."
"Ah very well, mate," he replied, slightly dejected, "can't help ya there! Still, the offer stands. Ya can have her anyway, so long as I get that job."
Disgusted, I withdrew my handgun and aimed it at his head.
"You are hereby under arrest! The charge is Attempted Human Trafficking. You have no right to a fair trial due to the nature of your crime. The sentence is execution," I righteously proclaimed as I displayed my Department of Intelligence identification badge.
At that, I unloaded a shot directly into his skull. The daughter proceeded to run away, shrieking in panic. The crowd of onlookers went silent.
"Anyone else feeling lucky?" I baited as I pocketed my ID.
Everyone just stared at me, seemingly frightened by the events that had just unfolded. As I walked past the unconscious steroid fueled brute that had hassled me earlier, I made sure to unload a shot into his skull as well.
This had delayed my search more than I had anticipated, and was going to be a clear hindrance to my plans to find this girl. Something was very wrong if someone as young as her had made their way down here from the safety of the surface.
I continued into the bazaar, searching down alleyways, hoping to catch a glimpse of the young girl. After five minutes of searching I noticed a scattered pile of small objects littering the ground near the end of one of the alleyways. On closer inspection I discovered they were packets of powedered drugs.
I could only assume they were somehow linked to the mysterious red-head. It made some sense, as she had been running rather hastily and had appeared to have been burdened by something. Perhaps she had encountered something that made her panic and run.
It was unlikely to have been police, as they clearly weren't properly aware of the existence of this particular den. The abundance of freedom for these lower class scum was simply appalling.
As I ventured further away from the bazaar I heard the sound of a gunshot. Honing in on the direction it had originated from, I started sprinting. It was a long shot, but something just seemed like it was the right way to go.
That was when I saw it. A horrific situation. There was a young boy, bleeding out from a bullet wound and a brutish man holding someone up against the wall. I ran over to the teenager and placed my palm against his head. He was ice cold.
Seeing as the captive of the large man was clearly in some deal of pain, I ran over to where he was holding his prey hostage. To my horror it was the red-haired girl I had been looking for. Immediately, I withdrew my gun and sprinted towards the criminal who was physically abusing her. Just as I was about to shoot the ground exploded beneath my feet.
Suddenly I was catapulted into the air. Earth Elemental. It was the only explanation.
As I crashed down to earth my body became impaled upon a pillar of concrete.
With my waking moments becoming more and more disjointed, all I could see was the exploded remains of the brutish man and the unconscious form of the red-headed girl. I reached out my arm towards where she was lying in a futile gesture.
Her arm moved over to where mine one lying and I heard her say something fleetingly, "Daddy... "
|K21 - Subterfuge Chronicles · K21 - Deceit and Disloyalty · K21 - Forgiveness and Mercy · K21 - Aces High · K21 - Tarnished Perceptions · K21 - Shattered Endeavours · K21 - Decayed Moralities|