|Cast (In Order of Appearance)|
When Nao loses his parents in Sector III, the young Nao meets an unexpected ally. But what is this man hiding? Can he trust him? And if he can't, where is he taking him? And what challenges will they face along the way? This short story tells the tale of Nao four years before the present day.
Nao hated flying, he hated planes, but most of all he hated the fact that he had to sit back and wait for this flight to end. It had been two weeks since he had witnessed the death of his parents, two weeks since his life and turned upside down, and yet it seemed like just yesterday that it had happened. He wore a grey hoodie, it's hood over his head so that his face was covered from view. His hands were covered with bandages he wore when he was free-running.
He slouched back in his seat, trying not to make eye contact with anyone. He was confused, he was scared, and rightfully so. His parents had just died two weeks ago, and he hadn't told anyone about it, not even the man that agreed to take him away from Sector III. Nao hadn't really explained the situation to him, he had merely found him in the streets of Shanghai after he had been running for what seemed to be an eternity. He had simply asked for his help and demonstrated his elemental talents. The man had simply obliged.
For some reason, Li-Pau felt like the man was keeping more secrets than he was. He turned slightly so that he could see him. He was sitting next to him, staring out the window in a strangely analytical manner, while occasionally checking a small data slate.
"Tea?" came a squeaky voice from behind him.
Nao turned to see a flight attendant standing next to a tea cart.
"Sorry?" he asked as if he hadn't heard her.
"Tea?" she repeated. "No thank you." Nao shook his head.
The flight attendant simply nodded and turned her gaze to the man behind Nao.
"And you sir?" she asked.
The man turned, and smiled.
"Yes, thank you."
The flight attendant simply turned to the cart, took a small cup and poured tea into it and handed it to him. The flight attendant then bowed and turned to face the other passengers.
Nao turned to see the man bring the cup to his lips and then inhaled deeply through his nose. He then, quite suddenly, just poured the tea on the carpet that was in front of them. Nao couldn't help but ask as to why. The man turned and contorted his face into a frown.
"Why am I not even surprised... Such poorly disguised poison as well."
"That tea was poisoned?" Nao whispered back.
"Without a doubt." the man nodded.
"How can you tell?" Li-Pau asked.
"Hunter's instinct," he slyly grinned, "and a lot of training."
"You're a hunter?" Nao asked.
"How many more questions are you gonna ask?" he laughed.
"As many as I can." Li-Pau smirked.
"Well before I answer yours I at least wish to know what your name. For that fake ID Card I had made up for you, you claimed your name was Ji-Lan Sung. What is it really?"
That's right, he hadn't revealed his true name to the mysterious man yet. Nao thought to himself.
"Li-Pau Nao, but just Nao for short. You're ID Card called you John Smith. But that seems too common a name to be true."
"Well of course you would see straight through a poor pseudonym like that. Clearly I've chosen well for a new recruit," the man laughed, " Well, the name's Damien. Damien Anderson."
Nao nodded, and then remembered about the poisoned tea.
"Why would someone try and kill you?"
"Why wouldn't someone want to try and kill me?"
"So what? A man like you, with multiple identities, must be a criminal?"
"Far from it," Damien laughed.
"I'm involved in law enforcement."
"Oh." Nao said.
"Don't worry about it, it's not everyday you find out tea aboard an airplane is poisoned." he winked.
Nao simply nodded and turned to face the flight attendant. She didn't seem like the kind of person to try and kill someone, then again, that's probably why she was picked for the job. He wanted to know why she would try and kill Damien, but it was probably best if he didn't. Damien tapped his shoulder.
"Hey, I know you probably have a lot of questions, and I'll answer them when I can, okay?"
"Okay." Nao nodded.
"Good," Damien nodded, "but I need to have a word with the in-flight service" Damien stood up from his seat, waved for Nao to make room for him to pass.
"So, if you'll excuse me."
Nao obliged by moving his legs. Damien thanked him as he tapped the flight attendant's shoulder. She turned with a smile on her face.
"Ma'am, could I see about getting some more tea." Anderson politely asked.
A look of abject horror shot across the flight attendant's face for a brief second before she regained her composure, and sweetly smiled again.
"Oh, why of course," she replied in a gentile manner, "but I'm afraid I've just ran out. You could come with me up towards the cabin, near the supplies, and I'll see what we have left.
"Thank you, kind woman," Damien responded in an instant.
Nao turned around to view the pair and was completely bemused. It was clearly some kind of trap, as steam was still rising from the teapot.
Both of them began to walk towards the front of the plane. Li-Pau kept an eye on the would-be assassin as she passed, but he couldn't make out any sign of concealed weapons.
The duo disappeared behind a curtain that hid the cabin door, as well as the food stores, from view. Suddenly the piece of fabric began to shake, as if someone was struggling against it. The rest of the passengers appeared to be oblivious, but Nao couldn't stop himself from leaping out of his seat to investigate.
He wrenched the curtain aside to see...
Arekusanda Aiko sat in the dark room, his eyes fixed on the projector screen infront of him. He had seen the target in Shanghai, but avoided contact and had hired assassins to get rid of them. They had happily obliged due to their loyalty to the RWA. He knew they were skilled at what they did, and that was taking care of people quickly and swiftly. However, he had put to much faith in them, as they had no idea as to how skilled the prey was.
The poisoned tea was the first mistake, making no move to hide the scent of it, which was a big mistake, a very big mistake. Next, they believed they could take him on three on one. Another mistake, as he had knocked two of them out in a matter of seconds. However, three others took their place, and the prey found himself surrounded. It would have been the end, if it weren't for the boy. The boy was Chinese by the look of it, though he couldn't really tell. That blasted hood covered most of the boy's face. While any other appearance wouldn't have made a differance, the boy was quick. He had closed the curtain and knocked one of the assassins; the one that was about to kill the target, to the ground. After that, Aiko's focus was on the boy, it wasn't the fact that he had knocked out one of the assassins. (as surprising as that was) No, it was how he had knocked out the assassin that surprised Arekusanda. The child had fired a quick bolt of lightning from his fingertips, sending the assassin flying to the ground in a mixture of blood and smoke. An elemental. Aiko thought as a sly smile crossed his lips.
This is getting interesting.
Nao ducked as another assassin swung his arm at him. He sent another bolt of lightning out of his fingertips, sending the assassin stumbling back in agony. He then swung his fist at the attendant, knocking him off his feet and onto the floor. He could see Damien nail another one in the nose, sending him spinning to the ground as blood flew out of his nostrils. That was the last one. Nao joined Damien as he picked up the attendant and begun his interrogation.
"Who sent you?" Damien growled, clearly angered.
The attendant chuckled; he wasn't going to answer.
"Why should I tell you?" he growled back at Damien.
"Do you want to end up like your friends?"
"I'm not scared of you!" the attendant spat.
"Oh, I'm not going to hurt you," Damien turned to face Nao.
"But I'm sure he'd be more than happy to burn you alive with his lightning."
The attendant still wasn't talking.
"No? Fine, then I'll toss you out of the plane." Damien said as he turned around, still clutching the assassin in a firm grip around the neck, walking towards the door.
"You're mad!" the assassin cried out, clearly scared now.
"Am I? Trust me pal, I'm not afraid to throw you out of this plane right here right now."
While Li-Pau knew Damien was intimidating the assassin, Nao knew that Damien was dead serious, and that scared him a little.
"I'll...I'll never tell you!"
"Suit yourself." Damien smirked as he opened the hatch.
A large gust of wind nearly threw Nao off balance as he grabbed hold of a nearby table. Teapots and plates flew out the open hatch, barely missing Damien as they flew by. Damien held onto the doorframe with one hand, and the attendant with the other, he held the attendant out the hatch, ready to simply drop him.
"One chance, who sent you?"
The attendant had pure horror in his eyes, knowing that his life held in the balance, literally. Despite this, he spoke one last time. Nao couldn't hear him, mainly because the wind made it so he could barely hear anything, the fact that the assassin had whispered didn't help either. However, he knew that Damien had heard the assassin as he nodded.
"So that's who." he smiled grimly as he let go of the assassin, watching him fall down ever so quickly.
Damien closed the hatch, the sudden gust of wind was gone, and Nao struggled to stand upright, and tried to stop the ringing in his ears. He saw Damien turn to him, and smile.
"Sorry, I scare ya?"
"No, just surprised." Li-Pau muttered.
Damien smiled, but there was no humor in it.
"I know who tried to kill me, or rather, us."
"Who?" Nao asked, excitement as well as curiosity filled his voice.
"Never mind, I'll fill you in on it later."
Damien turned to the teacart, and frowned.
"Unfortunate, I'm going to be so parched for the rest of the flight."
He patted Nao's shoulder as he began to walk towards the curtain.
"C'mon kid, let's take our seat, you deserve a rest."
As Nao and Damien left the plane, they heard their fellow passengers gasp at the unconscious flight attendants, and helped them to their feet. Damien and Nao ran out the exit, refusing to look back at the plane. Nao stumbled through the crowd, struggling to keep up with Damien.
“This way.” Damien waved.
“Where are we going?” Li-Pau asked.
“Our team has a ride parked for us in the parking lot.”
“Our team?” Li-Pau asked.
“Yes, like I said before, I’ll explain on the way.”
“Alright, let’s just hurry.” Li-Pau replied.
“What? You scared those attendants are going to follow us?” Damien snickered.
“No, I’m worried they have other assassins around.”
Damien’s smile faded. “Without a doubt.”
“What?” Li-Pau choked.
“Don’t worry; we have a few contacts tailing us.”
By instinct, Nao turned to see if anyone was following them, but he couldn’t tell with the large amount of people walking in different directions. Nao frowned, he wasn’t scared, not this time. Though he was cautious, caution was natural.
“Shit.” Damien mumbled.
Li-Pau turned towards the area Damien was looking at. There, leaning on a post, was a rather bulky man, Nao around his neck, and dark brown slacks. He had light grey mountaineering boots, which were covered in mud as though he had just returned form a treck in the swamp.
“Who’s that guy?” Nao asked.
“You ever heard the term the enemy of my enemy is my friend?” Damien sighed.
“Well, this guy is the enemy of my enemy, but he’s not our friend.”
“Then who is he?” Li-Pau raised an eyebrow.
“A real jackass, Mitch Ochoa.”
“So what’s he doing here?”
“Hell if I know, just keep your distance and continue…”
Damien was cut off by a loud voice in front of them.
“Anderson!” Ochoa called, a smile on his face.
“Fuck me.” Damien sighed.
“Well, fancy seeing you here.” Mitch’s smile grew wider and wider.
“Who sent you?” Damien growled.
“Does it matter? I haven’t seen you in such a long time, and the first thing you ask is…”
Mitch was suddenly grabbed by the shirt collar and raised off his feet; by Damien.
“Listen well, I don’t know who the hell sent you, but you can tell him he failed! Now get lost before I level this airport!”
“That’d be hilarious, to watch the great Damien Anderson kill hundreds of innocent citizens over a grudge.” Ochoa smirked.
“Does it look like I care about civilian casualties?” Damien growled.
“Clearly you don’t, but I’m certain that boy who’s following you is worth something.”
Damien slowly turned to Li-Pau; his expression told Nao that he was ready to kill Ochoa by any means necessary, Nao would have to work fast if he was going to make it out of here alive.
“Mitch, what are you doing here?” Nao asked calmly.
Ochoa smiled. “Well, since you asked nicely, I’m here to bring you both to Block 411.”
“You lying son of a…” Damien began, but Mitch raised his hand to stop him.
“Before you bring the building down on our heads, I do have a letter from Kenneth, if that means anything.”
Nao saw civilians had begun to take notice of what was going on, Li-Pau tugged at Damien’s sleeve.
“Damien, put him down, we don’t want to attract more attention, do we?”
Damien sighed. “I don’t trust him.” The hunter whispered.
“Neither do I,” Nao whispered back.
“But do we have a choice?”
“I can hear you.” Mitch snickered.
Damien turned and growled. “Damn you and your Sound Element!”
“Sound Element?” Li-Pau asked.
“Forget it, just let me go.” Ochoa commanded.
Without any warning, Damien threw Mitch to the ground.
“There,” Damien smiled.
“I feel a little better. Now, about that letter from Lysander.”
Mitch got to his feet, withdrew a crumpled letter from his pocket, and handed it to Damien. “Here.”
Damien took the letter and began to read it, he began to frown. “Damn.”
“What’s wrong?” Li-Pau asked.
“We have less time than I thought,” Damien turned to Ochoa.
“Alright, where to?”
“This way.” Mitch gestured.
As the three of them began to walk through the crowd, a swarm of thoughts clouded Nao’s mind. First, how did Damien and Mitch know each other? Second, what was a Sound Element? Third, what was written on that letter that had changed Damien’s opinion so quickly, and what did he mean by “Less time than I thought.” Whatever the case, he didn’t want to know, but something told him he would soon find out. His thoughts were disrupted by a sudden loud voice.
Nao turned and his heart did a summersault. Behind them, no more than twenty feet away were six figures dressed in a white and blue combination, same as the assassins on the plane ride.
“Damien! Behind us!” Nao shouted.
Damien turned and cursed, at the same time Mitch smiled.
“Friends of yours, Anderson?” Ochoa asked with a smirk.
“Shut up! Get the kid out of here! I’ll take care of our friends!”
“B-But the plane ride…” Nao couldn’t seem to finish, adrenaline rushing through him.
“Don’t worry,” Damien smiled.
“That was in the air when they actually stood a chance, the ground is my home-turf.”
With that, Damien turned and raised his arm. As he did, a mixture of earth and metal spiked from the ground and impaled one of the six assassins. Nao could hear civilians whisper “Elemental!” or “I’m getting out of here!”
Nao felt someone tap his shoulder, he turned to see Mitch, still smiling.
“Come on kid, didn’t you hear him? We’re getting out of here.”
“What about Damien?” Nao asked.
“Him? Don’t worry, if I know Damien, he’ll figure out something.”
“Alright, let’s just go!”
With that, the two of them disappeared into the crowd, leaving Damien as the Elemental crushed another assassin with a piece of the ceiling.
Nao and Ochoa slipped through the crowd pretty easily, barely attracting attention, no doubt the people following them were focused on Damien. He saw a few civilians turn and question what the two were doing, they didn’t bother answering. Neither one of them said much, focused on getting out of the airport as fast as they could. They eventually made their way to the unground parking lot, Mitch looking around every corner frantically.
“Shit, I forget what the car looks like.” Mitch grumbled.
“You what!?” Li-Pau shouted as his voice cracked.
“Relax, we can just…borrow one.” Ochoa smirked.
“How? The cars are bound to be locked.”
“Locked? Kid, I’m a Sound Elemental, haven’t you learnt anything from operas?”
“That they’re really annoying.” Li-Pau smirked.
“Forget it; basically I can break glass with noises.” Mitch rolled his eyes.
“You might want to cover your ears.”
Nao obliged, as he did so Mitch flicked his fingers, a loud shriek-like noise filled the parking lot as every single vehicle’s windows and headlights shattered. Nao ears were ringing, yet he could hear Mitch laugh.
“Sorry, I messed up, bad.”
“Don’t you know how to use your powers?” Nao asked, his ears still ringing.
“Of course I do, I just miscalculated,” Ochoa smiled at his handiwork, “C’mon, we gotta go.”
In a few moments of Ochoa playing eenie meenie miney mo, they finally climbed into a run-down pickup truck. Nao sat in the storage bed, and patiently waited for Mitch to start the truck. Patience soon fled him as he peered through the window. “What’s taking so long?”
"You ever hotwire a car before?" Mitch asked.
“I’m out of practice,” Nao shrugged.
“Well, could you?"
Nao laughed. "Let me take a look."
It took no more than a minutes, and Nao had gotten the pickup truck running, and smiled at his work, it wasn't that difficult to hotwire a car. In fact, Nao had forgotten just how easy it was. He jumped back in the storage bed and lied down, still smiling. His smile vanished as he heard shouts and orders coming from his right. He sat upright and turned, his face paled as he saw a large group of soldiers pointing and shouting in Nao’s direction.
“Mitch! Go!” Li-Pau shouted.
“What?” Mitch called back, frowning.
“Go! GO GO GO!”
Nao saw Mitch turn to see the group of soldiers, and quickly hit the gas pedal. The pickup truck sputtered before screeching forwards, Nao flew back in the storage bed, and hit his head. He didn’t care, he could hear gunshots being fired at them. He ducked, not knowing where they were shooting, but didn’t want to risk a bullet in the side of his head. Sunlight burnt his eyes as the pickup exited the underground parking lot. He heard Mitch curse, really loud.
“What is it?” Nao asked.
“This damn truck barely has any gas.” Mitch growled.
“You heard right, we picked a really shitty truck.” Mitch sighed.
“So what are we gonna do?” Nao asked, choked up.
“I dunno, get some gas?” Mitch laughed, though there was no humor in his voice.
“C’mon, there has to be something else, anything.”
“I have a plan.” Mitch smiled.
“You do?” Li-Pau asked, raising an eyebrow.
“It involves getting arrested.”
“WHAT?” Li-Pau shrieked.
“Hold on.” Mitch smiled.
Before Nao could reply, Mitch drove the pickup truck straight through a red light, colliding with another car. Nao slamed his head on the window, and everything went black…
The last thing Mitch wanted to do was get arrested, he already had a shady career with the authorities in Sector VII, the last thing he needed was to get arrested…again. He sat back against the wall, staring at the single light bulb that hung at the ceiling, swing lazily back and forth, back and forth. He turned his attention to the child that lay unconscious next to him. The kid’s head was bruised, his breathing was normal, more or less. Mitch had decided to let the kid sleep, he needed it. Ochoa sighed, he had known the kid for less than an hour, and here they were, barricaded in some dainty prison cell in Sector VII. The police let him call one person, so Mitch had called Kenneth, told him to pick them up, then bring them to Block 441. Ochoa’s gaze drifted to the iron bars that the cops had slammed his head upon at least seven times before tossing him in the cell. He smiled at the bloodstains, then rubbed his forehead.
How do you get yourself into these situations? He thought to himself.
His attention sparked upwards when he heard footsteps outside of his cell, two pairs. He stood up, preparing for the worse. His attention soothed when he saw two figures outside of his cell. One was dressed in a prison guard uniform, the guard’s face wasn’t visible under his mask. The second figure was in in his forties, roughly the same height as Mitch, blonde hair, and a pair of glasses Ochoa still detested. The most notable feature from the figures presence was how cold the air became in the short time he was there. Mitch smirked.
“Lysander, it took you long enough.”
“Can it,” Kenneth snapped as he looked down at Nao.
“This is Damien’s protégé?”
“Yup, in the flesh.” Mitch nodded.
“Mmm, doesn’t look the type.”
“He is unconscious.” Ochoa gave a slight smile.
“I can see that.” Kenneth snarled.
“Okay okay, just get us out of here.”
“No?” Mitch raised an eyebrow.
“No, I’m getting him out of here.” Kenneth pointed at Li-Pau.
“What? Why not both of us?”
Kenneth smiled. “Well, I don’t want to, nor do I have enough money to get the both of you out of here.”
“I only have enough money for the kid.”
“Can’t you bust us out of here?”
“Oh please, Ghost K aren’t completely barbaric, especially when they’re getting rid of you.”
Kenneth turned and nodded to the guard. Before Ochoa could react, the guard fired his handgun, puncturing Mitch’s left thigh. He fell to the floor, grasping his leg as blood began to stain the prison floor. He saw the guard hoist Nao onto his shoulders and carry him out of the cell. Ochoa turned his head to Lysander, standing a few feet in front of him, the Guardian smiled.
“Anderson will be pissed that he couldn’t see you suffer like this…Raven.”
Mitch growled at the old alias he had used when he was working against Ghost K, and how Lysander knew who Raven actually was. As Lysander closed the cell door, he heard the Guardian speak again.
“You’re not dying, Damien would never let me kill you, considering how he wants you dead more than anyone else…well, almost anyone.”
Nao opened his eyes, he heard the hum of an SUV, and noticed he was in the back seat of one. He sat upright, and rubbed his temples, as his head still buzzed with pain. He looked outside his window, and noticed it was sunset. The purple and orange colors mixed a flourished in a pattern that could be considered beautiful. Li-Pau shook himself out of his thoughts of sunsets, and returned to the present.
“Umm, where are we?” Nao asked.
“Glad to see you’re awake,” Came a familiar voice.
The man in the passenger’s seat turned, and Li-Pau recognised Damien immediately. The earth elemental smiled.
“You were out for about two hours.” Damien continued.
“Two hours?” Li-Pau raised his eyebrows.
“Yeah, good thing Ken came when he did, you could have died.”
“Ken?” Nao asked.
“Wow Anderson, you weren’t lying when you said this kid asks a lot of questions.” The driver smirked.
Damien motioned Nao to the driver. “That’s Ken.”
“Okay…wait, you said I could’ve died!?”
“Apparently,” Damien nodded. “Kenneth told me you’re lucky you didn’t get a concussion.”
By human instinct, Nao rubbed his forehead, inspecting for damage.
“You still didn’t answer my first question.” Nao frowned.
“Hmm? Oh right, well, we’re about an hour away from the Block, unless something else goes wrong.” Damien winked.
“Right, so what happened to you at the airport?”
Damien laughed. “I counted forty-seven seconds before those assassins were paste!”
“Then what stopped you from coming after me and…”
Damien raised an eyebrow.
“Wait, where’s Mitch?” Li-Pau questioned.
“Rotting in prison, with a bullet in his thigh.” Kenneth remarked.
Nao’s eyes widened. “Is he dead?”
“Is the thigh vital?” Kenneth joked.
“I guess not…but why would you leave him there?”
Damien frowned. “Nao, I know Mitch helped us, but he’s not an ally. You understand?”
“I understand.” Nao lied.
“Good, now that we have some breathing room, I need to talk to you about what you’ll be doing at the Block.”
Damien gave a brief explanation. Nao would start out as a recruit, and would be trained by Damien. If he showed progress, he would move up along the ranks, until they found a permanent position for him.
Nao nodded. "Alright, sounds good."
“I'm glad, in the meantime you should get some sleep, big day tomorrow, introductions and all.”
“Right…” Nao agreed.
Kenneth waited for Li-Pau to fall asleep before he spoke again.
“You sure he can handle this? We live a rough life.”
Damien grimaced. “Don’t remind me, but he can do it.”
“You say that like you’re trying to convince yourself.” Kenneth remarked.
“I’m not,” Andeerson snapped. “He’s ready, besides, we need all the help we can get.”
"From a fourteen year old?" Kenneth questioned.
"Must I remind you that you were recruited at the age of eleven.” Damien snickered.
Kenneth paled. "I didn't mean..."
“Just give him a chance,” Damien interrupted. “I’ll be the one training him after all.”
“What’s that necklace for?” Miki asked.
He didn’t respond, he either didn’t hear her or didn’t want to answer. Miki decided to go with former, as he seemed concentrated with the little appliance he was building. He bite back his lower lip, Miki realised he was thinking.
“What are you building?” Miki asked, trying a different question.
“Hrm?” Nao mumbled, as he lifted his head, looking back at her.
“What are you building?” Miki repeated.
“A data pad, two gigabits.”
“You can do that?” Miki questioned.
“Sure,” Li-Pau shrugged. “I made plenty of stuff like this back at home.”
Miki nodded, she admitted to herself that she enjoyed learning about her associates, considering how she knew nearly nothing about her past life. What little information she did know had been supplied by Damien Anderson. She looked back at Nao, who had only been here for roughly three hours, and yet he seemed right at home. Damien had asked Miki to watch Nao while he went out to take care of something. She didn’t know why he had asked her, but she had agreed anyway. Her gaze focused on the data pad Nao was working on. It wasn’t up to standard with the equipment she had seen before, but that wasn’t the point, she found it remarkable how a fourteen year old was even able to make a data pad in the first place. She looked up at him.
“You didn’t answer my first question.”
“Hrm?” Nao murmured.
“That necklace, what’s it for?” Miki repeated her question.
“Oh…this,” Nao frowned at his necklace. “Just something I keep, nothing to special.”
For a moment, Miki said nothing, examining Nao’s expression. She frowned. “You’re lying.”
“What?” Nao turned his attention to her.
“You’re lying.” Miki repeated.
He didn’t say anything, the two of them locked eyes for a moment, as if they were both trying to read the other’s thoughts. After a few moments, Nao smiled. “There’s no hiding the truth from you, huh?”
Miki smiled back at him. “No there isn’t.”
Nao sighed, he looked down at his necklace. “Well…this is the last thing I have to remember of my parents.”
“Oh…” Miki muttered.
“Don’t worry about it.” Nao replied as he went back to work.
“I don’t even remember my parents...” Miki looked down at her hands
She saw Nao put away his tools, and place his little data pad aside. She realised he didn’t want to seem rude, and frowned.
"If you want to work on your little project, you don’t have to- "
“No,” Li-Pau interrupted. “No it’s fine, I lost interest in it anyway.” He gave a slight smile.
Suddenly, the doors behind them opened, and Damien steeped inside the room.
“Sorry to interrupt, but I’m back,” Anderson looked at Li-Pau. “Nao, if you don’t mind, we have training to do.”
“Right…” Li-Pau mumbled.
“Excellent. Miki, after Nao's training would you mind giving him a tour of the Block?"
"I'll be sure to."
"Right then, c'mon Nao." Anderson called as he exited the room.
"Be right there," Nao called back. He turned to Miki. "See you later."
"Yeah, see you."
Damien brought Nao to the training facility, the biggest area that Nao had seen in the Block so far. The entire facility seemed to be made out of cement, Nao could barely make out the words: Rhombus Corp. painted in a faded white paint. Other than that, Nao found the crude symbols of Ghost K painted to cover some of Rhombus’ insignias. Damien stopped Li-Pau as they reached the middle of the facility. His tutor raised his hand, wanting him to stay where he was. Damien then walk off so he was a good seventeen feet away from his pupil, and turned.
“Alright then!” Damien called. “We’re going to see how good your accuracy is.”
“How exactly will we do that?” Nao called back in response.
“Like this,” Damien smiled.
With that, the cement floor behind Damien cracked open and large pillars of cement spiked from the floor.
“Alright kid.” Damien snapped. “I want you to focus, and destroy these targets as fast as you can.”
“Right.” Li-Pau nodded.
With that, Damien stepped aside, allowing Nao to get a clear view of the targets in front of him. Li-Pau raised his right hand so it pointed at the pillars, and shot a bolt of lightning from his fingertips. It raced forwards and ran straight into the first target. The pillar erupted, leaving a smouldering ruin of slag in its wake. For a moment, Nao smiled at his handiwork, pleased with what he did. He snapped back to reality as he remembered there were other pillars to dispatch. Li-Pau turned to the second pillar and shot another bolt of lightning, this time from the palm of his hand. The second pillar was cleanly split in two as the lightning bolt raced straight through it. After a few moments, the stone pillars were turned into a cairn of stones. Li-Pau looked back at Anderson, smiling. Damien stepped forwards, examining the display of stone. A smile crept across the guardian’s face as he turned back to his protégé.
“Impressive, I knew you were worth the trouble.”
“So,” Nao stuck his hands in his pockets. “Are we done?”
Damien shook his head. “No, your training session ends in fifteen minutes.”
“Oh, so do I continue target practice or something?”
“Well, we could continue target practice It’s either that or we could see how well you use your element defensively.”
“Alright, so how do I practice that?”
“Simple.” Damien smirked. *
A few minutes into defensive training and Li-Pau already regretted asking about it. No more than a minute or two in, and Damien had already started launching spikes of rock the size of street cones directly at his protégé. While destroying them wasn’t difficult, they often shattered into sharp pieces and pelted Nao in the face. It wasn’t so much the pain, more so it was that it proved to be a distraction, which didn’t help in his current situation. Li-Pau fired another bolt of lightning as another spike raced towards him, dispatching it. Li-Pau bent down, panting. He was tired, and why shouldn’t he be? His attention snapped back to him as the final spike shot forwards. Nao raised his hand and fired another bolt. Nao’s eyes widened as he noticed nothing happened. He tried again and again, only to find the same result. As the cement spike was no more than ten centimeters away from Nao’s chest, the ground in front of him split open. A thick vine sprouted upwards, stopping the spike dead in its tracks. Li-Pau turned to find a tall African off to the side of the training facility. His left arm was a large, bionic augmentation. His face was a mixture of vexation and concern. Li-Pau heard Damien call to the man.
“Dalton! What the hell are you doing?” Anderson asked furiously.
“Saving the life of your protégé.” Dalton replied calmly.
As the two started to argue, Nao felt his legs go numb, his vision clouded, and he felt sick to his stomach. In his clouded vision, he saw Damien turn to him, and a look of disbelief came over him.
“Nao!” Damien shouted at him, just as everything went black.
Li-Pau felt his head spinning, he pressed his hand against his forehead to find bandages tied to it. He tried to sit up straight, only to clench his teeth to the pain he felt from doing so. He lied back down, letting out a large sigh.
“You shouldn’t strain yourself you know.” Came a voice next to him.
Nao instantly turned to find Miki sitting in a chair a few feet away from him, reading a book.
“W-What happened?” Li-Pau asked her.
Albraun turned the page. “You’ve suffered from Elemental Sickness.” She stated calmly, almost without interest.
“A condition some elementals suffer from manipulating their element without proper training.” Miki replied, still reading her book.
“How long was I out?” Li-Pau asked as he tried to sit up straight again.
“Two hours, thirty-seven minutes.” Miki recalled.
“Alright how long have you been here?”
Miki gave a slight smile. “The commander was right, you do ask a lot of questions.”
Nao groaned. “Not you too.”
Albraun’s smile grew slightly. “Don’t worry, it’s good to ask a lot of questions.”
Li-Pau turned to her. “Sure. You still didn’t answer my last question though.”
“Hmm? Oh, right. I’ve been here for two hours, twenty two minutes.”
“Okay.” Nao nodded.
Miki closed her book, and set it off to the side. “I just remembered,”
“Oh?” Li-Pau raised an eyebrow.
“Mathieu stopped by earlier, he told me to give you this.” She dug out a small, slimline metallic wristband out of her pocket.
“What is it?” Nao asked, immediately cursing under his breath for asking another question.
“An elemental accelerator.” Miki gave it to him.
Nao slipped on the wristband. For a moment, it glimmered blue, but it soon died down.
“What does it do?”
“It gives you a better control over your element, so you don’t suffer from elemental sickness again.”
“So…” Miki rubbed the side if her arm.
“I’m still supposed to give you a tour of the block, I just don’t know if you’re up for it.”
“I’ll be fine,” Nao reassured. “My back still stings, but I’ll be fine.”
“Okay.” Miki said as they got up and began to leave.
“Lead the way.”
As the duo walked through the halls of Block 441, Miki explained in great detail everything she knew about the Block. Its past history was what caught Nao’s attention. Originally, Miki told him. Block 441 was one of the many storage facilities used by Rhombus Corporation before it dissolved. After the original owners abandoned the facility, Block 441 suffered from a severe flooding until Ghost K discovered it. Since then, Block 441 served as Ghost K’s main base of operations. Other than that, the tour of Block 441 consisted of Miki explaining each and every room and facility within the Block, explaining the purpose of each room, which she seemed to take great interest in. Nao couldn’t help but smile at how enthusiastic Miki sounded as she continued to explain the purpose of the information archives, often getting sidetracked when she recalled some information stored in the facility.
“Alright, so if you’ll follow me I’ll take you to the primary storage facility.” Miki’s tone hinted that she was somber to leave the archives.
As the two made their way to the storage facility, Miki began to tell Nao what was stored in the facility. Walking through aisle after aisle, each stocked with different parts and pieces. Li-Pau continued to convince himself not to dig into the boxes for whatever scrap he could find. Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye Nao saw a shadow move in the distance. For a moment, Nao slowed down to see if anything else moved. After a few moments, Li-Pau decided to catch up with Miki.
“Hey Miki,” Nao asked her, interrupting her speech.
She turned to him, a slight look of frustration overcame her, but it quickly died as she noticed the concern in Nao’s expression. “Yes?” she asked.
“Is there anyone else down here with us?”
Miki raised an eyebrow. “No, why do you ask?”
“I thought I saw something move over there.” Nao pointed to the area he saw the shadow.
As if on cue, Li-Pau heard a loud, unnatural noise sound from behind them. Li-Pau and Miki turned to see a group of silhouettes just inside their view. As the figures came closer, Nao got a good luck at them, and he didn’t like what he saw. Each figure was humanoid, at least, they might have been before. They were hunchbacked, abnormal creatures. Jagged razors for teeth stuck out of what used to be their mouth. Large talons stuck out where their fingernails should have been. Ragged garbs hung from their bodies, the skin for each creature was a pale grey. Li-Pau counted thirteen of them in total, each staring back at him and Miki with their sunken, dreary eyes. In a moment’s notice, the creatures snarled and charged at the two of them. Li-Pau conjured a bolt of lightning in his hand, at the same time his wristband glowed blue like when he had first put it on. Nao launched the bolt at the nearest creature, it collided with the creature’s forehead, causing it to explode in a mixture of bone and gore. Meanwhile, Miki summoned a powerful gust of wind which sent four other creatures flying back. Nao then fired another lightning bolt at a creature that had jumped at him. The bolt cut off the lower part of the creature’s leg. The cannibal spun to the ground, blood pour from its wound.
As the two continued to fight off the creatures, one finally made its way in front of them. Li-Pau shot a lightning bolt at its torso, which missed and took away part of its shoulder. The creature cried out before slashing with its talon, promptly cutting open Miki’s cheek. The sheer momentum of the hit sent the Guardian to the ground. The creature snarled, before the side of its head exploded from the force of another lightning bolt. From behind, another cannibal charged Nao, digging its claws into his back. Li-Pau cried out as the creature brought him down to the ground.
“N-No. Not here.” Li-Pau cried out.
Suddenly, the creature was sent flying to the side, sliding away from Li-Pau. Nao turned to see Miki struggling to sit up straight. A loud howl sounded from behind Nao, and before he could react the cannibal that had brought Nao to the ground pounced on to Miki, snarled as saliva shot out of its mouth. Miki screamed as the creature began to tear and her face and upper body. Desperately, Li-Pau got to his feet, unsure what to do. He fired another bolt of lightning at the creature, which simply made it angrier as it continued to tear at Miki with its claws. Miki’s screams grew louder and louder, and out of the noise Nao heard her scream for help.
“Nao! Please! Please help me!” Nao saw tears flow down her scarred cheeks.
Li-Pau clenched his fists, and without thinking charged the creature, tackling it to the ground. Nao closed his eyes, and sent electrical currents into the palms of his hands. The creature screamed as high voltage electrical currents were sent though it’s body. Eventually, the screaming stopped and the creature fell limp. He got up, sitting upright, his back was burning with pain he had never felt before. He immediately remembered Miki and turned to where she was laying down, breathing in quick gasps. Nao crawled over to where she lay, fearing for the worse.
“Miki! Miki, are you okay?!?!”
“I-I’m alright,” she whispered tearfully. “Just surprised…that’s all.”
“What were those things?” Nao asked worryingly.
“Chute Sc-Scavengers. A sub-breed of humans that occasionally make their way into the Block. Their usually dispatched by security d-drones though.”
Li-Pau found himself starting to cry. He didn’t know what to think, he felt as if this was his fault. If he hadn’t fallen into unconsciousness then they might not have run into the Scavengers. Miki might not be like…this. Nao began to sob, unsure what would happen. He felt Miki grip his hand, he looked at her to find her smiling at him.
“It’s going to be okay, I can regenerate from wounds quickly, so I’ll be on my feet in no more than…”
“Please Miki, save your breath. You shouldn’t waist it on me.”
“Nao…” Miki grimaced slightly. “P-Please don’t worry, I’ll be fine. I promise.”
“It could be a while until someone finds us…” Nao looked at the entrance to the storage facility.
“What are you thinking?” Miki tilted her head.
“I’m thinking this is the least I can do for you.”
With that, Nao picked up Albraun, and began to carry her out of the storage facility.
“Nao…” Miki began.
“I’m in better shape than you are,” Nao stopped her. “The least I can do is carry you to the hospital wing.”
“Do you know where it is?” Miki asked.
Li-Pau gave a slight smile as they exited the facility. “Of course I do. I just had a tour after all.”
|K21 - Twisted Deliverance · K21 - Clouded Rectitude · K21 - Bitter Reality · K21 - Bleached Delusions · K21 - Blinkered Discord|