書く Neo-Fantasia

silverexorcist posted on Oct 15, 2012 at 10:39PM
There are lots of things we don't know about our government, as well as many other situations. Conspiracies and theories are always coming and going like the tide, but being able to tell what is truth or not is nigh impossible for those who have nothing to do with this 'dark side'. But what if this 'dark side' wasn't entirely sure of what they were either? What if the reason they hide things from us is because they don't have the answers for the questions they know we'll ask? Perhaps they are truly hiding things for our benefit. Or perhaps not.

In this world of uncertainty, I give one of my perspective of things. Danger, conspiracies, cunning, violence; all come together to make one epic sandwich of a story! (terrible metaphor, I know, mais c'est la vie >.<) As they say, everything happens for a reason. But just who is deciding what that reason is? And, if there is such a force, why?

I present to you Neo-Fantasia, my brain child! Please feel free to comment and criticize. I take reasonable opinions into deep consideration, after all.

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1年以上前 silverexorcist said…
Chapter I- The Shining Armor of a Certain Knight

Patronus is a specialized organization that was born to handle the individual organizations that threaten America. Based in Washington D.C’s Washington Monument, Patronus is an organization from the United States’ ‘dark side’. The ultimate leadership of Patronus’ functions goes to the Vice President of the United States, and the Senate and House of Representative have more or less minimal influence on decisions made. Patronus is filled with specialized workers, such as researchers, scientists, hackers, informants, and so on. But what makes Patronus an especially unique organization are the field agents, called Vigilo. The Vigilo are a mix of military soldiers and detectives, trained to fulfill the main duty of Patronus; handling, dealing, and even destroying external organizations. The Vigilo are people who are especially talented and are usually trained from a young age, given ranks depending on their ability. Recently, there is a new phenomenon where human beings are born with a special potential to be put under a special hypnosis that gives them special ability. At first labeled as occult, this allows people to overcome their restraints as a human. But so far, the only way this can be done to be comprehended by scientists is to relate the abilities as interpretations of various stories. Much of Patronus’ Vigilo are made up of these special people, called einherjar. Organizations all over the world are researching the strange ability people are born with, and America is one of the leading groups.

Nobody knows what the sudden appearance of these abilities mean. What is the true nature of the interpretation of stories? Is it the work of the devil or the blessing of an angel? Where did they come from and, more importantly, why now? These questions ring through the minds of many scientists and politicians on the ‘dark side’ of the world.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Cicero Kalifa coughed violently as he sat on his throne like seat in a dimly lit room. He sat behind a desk with several papers strewn across it and the majority of the light illuminating the room came from the cracks between the blinds of the window behind him. Several men in suits stood before him on the other side of the desk with firm expressions on their faces. One of these men moved forward as Cicero coughed, but Cicero waved one hand dismissively to stop him.

“I’m fine.” He assured briskly. “More importantly, are the preparations done?”

“More or less.” One of the men nodded. “Things will be set in a few more hours. The major details have already been dealt with.”

“Excellent.” Cicero sighed deeply. “I’m honestly getting too old for this, you know. I certainly hope I last through the ceremony.”

“You needn’t worry.” The man grinned so widely, no one else in the room believed it for a second. “By time the ceremony is over, there will be a suitable heir to inherit your spot, so everything will work out just fine.”

“Hmph.” Cicero simply snorted in response. “What about our request? Did they respond yet?”

“Yes. The Vigilo we requested is already on his way.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lloyd Hamilton yawned widely as he set done the large sandwich in his hands back in its wrapping. A few of the people nearby glanced at him but looked away disinterestedly almost at once. The lone girl sitting beside Lloyd smiled in amusement as she watched.

“You’re pretty laid back, aren’t you?”

“Well it’s not like I’m nervous or anything.” Lloyd replied as he rolled his shoulders casually. “The odds of you being attacked are pretty low, so can you blame me for being relaxed?”

“No, I sort of like it.” Bella swung her legs back and forth like pendulums as she wiped her fingers on a napkin in her lap. The two of them were sitting on an outdoor bench in a Virginian neighborhood. It was the middle of summer, so it was pretty cool out, but the shade provided by the trees helped shield them from the sun’s rays, making a nice atmosphere. Lloyd was a tall twenty year old man with a sturdy build and short dirty blonde hair and tanned skin. He wore a simply grey V-neck that exposed his tough muscles and a bracelet with a Christian cross hanging loosely was attached to his left wrist like a charm. Lloyd Hamilton was a C-rank Vigilo, the lowest rank achievable. As such, he’d been tasked with a rather simple mission. Be this girl’s bodyguard for the day and make sure no harm comes to her, despite the low possibility of any danger whatsoever. Apparently, Bella had something important coming up by the end of the day and her family wanted to make sure nothing bad happened to her. While their own men kept their distant eye out, Lloyd was directly her bodyguard. Bella didn’t seem to mind at all. The two of them had thoroughly enjoyed their day wandering the city and visiting stores. They were enjoying each other’s company more than they had expected. It was probably for that reason that Lloyd was mildly disappointed when a limousine pulled up by the curb nearby and a few men stepped out, looking in their direction. They were the people from Bella’s family, so Lloyd felt little reason to get worked up. He simply sighed in dull acceptance as one of the men strode over in their direction and Bella hopped up to her feet. Lloyd sometimes forgot that she was actually older than him since she was so short and had such a sweet face that reminded him of a little kid. That was probably one of the few awkward things about the time they spent together.

“Good luck with tonight.” Lloyd said, though he didn’t know the details on what she was doing. Though Bella’s back to him, he was sure that she was making a face when she hesitated before answering.

“Thanks. We might see each other again…so bye for now, I guess.”

The man who had been approaching waited patiently as Bella muttered her good bye and walked over to him. He locked eyes with Lloyd and nodded his head briefly. Lloyd’s eyebrows rose as he noticed the man’s Russian features and noted the trench coat he wore, as well as the scarf, military pants, and furry boots. He looked as if he was preparing for a Siberian winter even though it was the middle of an American summer.

“Thank you for your assistance.” The man spoke English easily enough, though he still had a detectable accent. “I’ll be taking things from here, so you’re hereby relieved of your duties.”

“Thanks.” Lloyd replied simply. “You’re a Vigilo too, aren’t you?”

“I am. My name is Winslow Torchinovich. You are Lloyd Hamilton, correct?”

“Yeah. Glad to meet you.” Lloyd stifled another yawn as he turned his gaze toward the leaves of the tree hanging over them. “Take care of her.”

“That’s my job.” Winslow raised a hand to his temple and held it flat in a salute. “Have a good afternoon.”

“Same to you.”

Winslow and Bella headed back to the limousine and the slender vehicle turned out of the neighborhood and out of sight. Lloyd’s eyes trailed the spot where the limo vanished for a few seconds before he sat up with a sigh and crumpled his sandwich wrapper in his hand along with Bella’s before tossing them in the nearest waste basket.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The capital of the United States of America is Washington D.C. That’s pretty much common knowledge. It’s also common knowledge that the capital is not in a particular state. It’s a lone district trapped between the states of Maryland and Virginia and is named after the first president of the United States. This district is home to the commander-in-chief who leads America’s executive branch, the Supreme Court that leads America’s judicial branch, and Congress, which leads America’s legislative branch. By splitting up the responsibilities of government among several people, they limited the amount of power a single person could hold at a time and limits influence as well. That is democracy the fastest growing type of government today, spreading almost like a virus, except under positive connotations.

In this district, there are numerous important spot, such as the White House, the Pentagon, House of Representatives, and Senate. However, there are also landmarks meant to only be tourist attractions, such as the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. However, that’s just on the surface. Unbeknownst to the general populace, the latter of the aforementioned two is an extremely significant and practical landmark. The Washington Monument is an obelisk with several historical meanings, but it is also the headquarters to the organization of Patronus, an organization created in order to protect the United States from all sorts of threats from organizations and sometimes individuals that can’t be dealt with so easily publicly due to many restrictions. Though the majority of the obelisk is a tourist attraction, beneath the ground is a labyrinth of hallways, rooms, chambers, and so on that serve as the headquarters to such a big organizations with roots that spread all over the world, essentially. Of course, such an important spot is off limits to the public and anyone without the authority.

Lloyd strode through the bustling hallways with his hands pocketed, yawning once more. He had wanted to go straight home after checking in so he could take a nap, but he wasn’t even sure if he would make it that far. He’d decided that taking a nap in the lounge was probably an easier option. So after he handed in his report for how his day went, he immediately collapsed on a comfortable couch and shut his eyes. The lounge was a large room with soundproof windows all along the walls, so those inside and outside could look for someone if they need to, but the sound of the people working couldn’t be heard by those on break. Even though Patronus was a pretty active and focused government organization, it was still essentially American at its core. Those who had the option to take a break were taking full advantage of it, so the lounge always had someone in it, though not much. Several televisions were showing various news and political channels in case anyone needed to catch up with current events. By the sound of the weather man’s voice was drowned out as Lloyd began to doze off.

“Yo, bud. You still alive?”

Lloyd cracked on eye open irritably as a voice woke him up. He couldn’t be sure of how long he was out, but he knew it hadn’t been very long. A grinning face leaned over him, apparently amused by the daggers Lloyd was imagining into his skull.

“Not now, Ricardo.” Lloyd muttered as he shut his eye once more. “I’m too tired to deal with you.”

“Aw, how cute. You think I care. I think you and I both know who’s going to win here, so just give up.”

Lloyd sighed in exasperation as he opened his eyes once more and sat up in the couch. Ricardo regarded him smugly, his grey eyes shimmering like chrome.

“What do you want?” Lloyd demanded irritably of his friend. Ricardo had become a Vigilo not long after Lloyd due to some trouble with his ‘family’—an event Lloyd had had the misfortune to be thoroughly involved in. Ever since then, the two had been close friends and had helped each other in several cases. Though Ricardo was already a B-rank, he wasn’t an einherjar with special powers. He relied on his wit and combat ability, which was hardly uncommon among Vigilo, who were a mix of detectives and military soldiers. Some showed more signs of one side than the other. Lloyd wasn’t the best at detective work, if he was totally honest.

“So how was it?” Ricardo asked as he folded his legs and rested his elbows on his knees, laying his chin in his palms as he stared at Lloyd with an excited expression. Lloyd frowned as he leaned back slightly knowing Ricardo was simply trying to make fun of him. “You spent a day with a rich lady around your age. Got any plans on how to inherit her fortune and estate?”

“You woke me up for this?” Lloyd sighed in exasperation.

“It’s a very serious question!” Ricardo disagreed with a hurt expression. “Think about how long I’ve been waiting around, wondering if I’d be able to coerce you into giving me a portion of all the green you get!”

“Then let me tell you that your suggestion is entirely immoral and absurd! I was ordered to protect Bella, not find a way to steal her family fortune!”

“Wah?! You’re already on first name terms with her? You sly little dog!”

Lloyd pinched the bridge of his nose in exasperation as Ricardo snickered. There was really no point in arguing. Ricardo decided that he’d frustrated Lloyd enough and took a slightly more reasonable tone.

“Well, it’s not like Lloyd the Pious would have chance anyways. It looks like the man Bellatrix Kalifa is going to marry is far more ambitious than you.”

“What?” Lloyd looked up at Ricardo in surprise. Ricardo sat back with one arm resting on the back of the couch in a relaxed position as he spoke.

“I did a little digging around after you left for work. I was curious about what important event they were having that called for having a Vigilo—even a C-rank—bodyguard the girl for just the morning ‘till afternoon. Looks like it’s an arranged marriage.”

“An arranged marriage? Are you sure?”

“Yep. The groom is Hector Joyce, I think it was. Both the Joyce family and Kalifa family are in charge of powerful underground organizations that are allied with us at Patronus. The leader of the Kalifa organization is an old man who’s on his last legs, but he’s only got two daughters for children and the wife passed away a while ago. I guess they wanted a male heir, so they’re marrying off the eldest daughter to the eldest son of the Joyce family so the two organizations can merge. It’s a good deal for the Joyce family, since they gain control of the Kalifa organization, which had always been both bigger and stronger than them—hey, where are you going?!”

Lloyd had abruptly stood up and rushed out the door. A pretty young blonde had entered the room at the same time and seemed surprised to see Lloyd rushing toward her at full throttle.

“Lloyd?! What’s up-?” She began in a startled voice. Lloyd rushed right past her and out the door without even pausing to reply. He hurried right down the hallway toward the elevator to leave the underground headquarters and find his car that was parked nearby.

What was going through his mind was pretty simple. He was remembering all the times Bella had spaced out earlier that day and had been startled when she addressed her. He remembered how sad her eyes had been as she spoke of how much she was enjoying her ‘normal’ day out. But most of all, he remembered how she had hesitated to respond before saying good bye. It was entirely obvious to him, who had only met that woman several hours ago, that she was not the least bit happy about the marriage. In fact, he was sure that she was entirely against it.

For that reason alone, he resolved himself without thinking about. He was going to rescue that girl from the in considerate men who sent her off to be married against her will. The fact that he had not known who she was just twenty-four hours ago meant nothing to him. He knew her now, and that was enough.



There was once a small town at a certain place.
A small town surrounded by walls, the king and his people lived in that city.
One day, a dragon came to town from the vicinity.
The king and the people intended to defeat the dragon together, but failed.
The violent, angry dragon spat fire, raging in the city.
The king and the people, to appease the dragon, brought two sheep every day.
However, the number of sheep was limited.
When the sheep weren't enough, the people sent a sheep and a child.
The children began to disappear from the city.
Finally was the turn to offer the king's daughter, the princess.
The king pleaded to the people to let the princess go.
The people didn't agree because they already sent their own children.
Thus, the sheep and the princess were sent to the home of the dragon.
The princess grieved for her own fate.
At this time, a wandering knight rode to her side on a horse.
He wielded a holy sword along with a lance, and is a Knight among the Knights.
His name, supposedly, was St. George.
last edited 1年以上前
1年以上前 silverexorcist said…
Chapter II- Delayed Rescue

James McDougal glanced at the rearview mirror apologetically for the hundredth time, his conscience eating away at him slowly. He was looking to see if anyone was following them. The bullet proof side windows were so thick and tinted, they were black both inside and out, and so no one could look through them from any angle, making the car ride much like being inside a cage being transported. Only the back window and front window could be seen through due to obvious safety issues. James was the chauffer who’d been chosen to drive Bella Kalifa to get her dress and put it on before taking her to the sight of the wedding ceremony. Bella sat at in the middle of the back seat quietly with her hands folded in her lap and eyes downcast. There were men in black suits on all sides of her in the limousine and one Russian man who’d been paid to be a bodyguard. Considering their size and professional aura, it was doubtful that the girl was thinking about trying to run away or find some way to escape. In fact, it looked more like she was resigned to her fate.

James didn’t like her silence. It only made him feel guiltier. He wasn’t in support of this decision to marry her off to someone from another organization, but he didn’t completely understand the political reasons behind it either. He could only feel pity for the young girl who was supposed to be their leader as he drove her to the last place she wanted to be.

“Ms. Kalifa,” James began once the guilt was too much to handle. “If it’s for the sake of the organization, it’s worth it, isn’t it? I get that you’re being forced into this, but please bear it for now.”

“I’m not complaining.” Bella replied in a steady voice that surprised James. He had thought that she was on the brink of crying. “I know why it was done and I do not blame father. If it’s for the sake of our family and organization, it would be selfish to resist. Even so, it’s kind of disappointing.”

“What do you mean?” The startled James could only ask, as he did not except her to voice her concerns in this manner.

“I was bracing myself for the responsibility of leading the Kalifa family. I won’t tell you that I was looking forward to it, but I wasn’t planning to run from it either. So suddenly being told that I would not be carrying that burden and that it would be placed on a partner organization instead gave me some mixed feelings. I was relieved at first. Not having to lead such an important organization is an enormous weight off of my shoulders. But I can’t help but feel guilty that it’s being placed on another organization’s shoulders. Doesn’t that just make me look even weaker? It’s a shame to the pride of our family.”

James couldn’t reply to that. Part of it was due to being unable to comprehend the level that Bella’s worry and anxiety was targeted toward. Her interests were toward the organization in whole, rather than just toward her own immediate situation. It wasn’t something a mere underling like him could understand.

The other reason was because a sudden loud them echoed as something landed on the roof of the limousine.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lloyd stood at the top of a large slope on a cliff side. It was evening with the sun just beginning to set, but he had prepared himself mentally for a long night even though his work was technically finished for the day. He stood in his casual clothing—that was admittedly bullet proof—with a small breeze blowing his dirt blonde hair back. Lloyd grimaced as he looked down at the deserted road below. At least, it was deserted until he noticed a limousine driving across it in order to reach its destination. Lloyd silently thanked Ricardo for his accurate information. After leaving Patronus, Lloyd had had to call Ricardo again to ask him to find out where the wedding was being held so Lloyd could head them off as soon as he can. This spot had seemed to be the best place to do that.

Lloyd began with a running start, rushing down the side of the slope and using gravity to increase his velocity. He only had one shot, but he didn’t hesitate to run as the limousine approached. The windows were tinted so black that no one would be able to see him coming from the sides—a major blind spot. With a single leap, Lloyd was sailing through the air with more air that he should have had even with the pull of gravity helping him. His jump had been more powerful than the average person could manage, sending him right on top of the limousine’s roof. After making sure he was steady, Lloyd raised his left hand up and flicked the cross hanging from his wrist. It immediately expanded quickly, showing a highly technical piece of equipment that defied the laws of mass. What had been a small two inch cross suddenly began a large shield several meters across the surface, fastened two Lloyd’s upper arm and held firmly in his left hand’s grip with flexible but sturdy straps. Across the front of the shield was the insignia of Patronus: a bald eagle holding an artistically drawn mass of bodily tissues and a cluster of body limbs in each of its talons. They resembled the brain and limbs of Patronus being held by the Vice-President.

Lloyd raised his shield above his head and smashed it into the roof of the limousine with all his might. The roof was strong, but Lloyd’s ‘aegis’ was made of a special material that was several times harder than steel. Dents began to form as Lloyd banged away at the same spot, making a large crater. Lloyd noticed movement as the windows of the limousine lowered and several men in black suits stuck their bodies halfway out, leaning onto the roof to aim their guns at Lloyd. Lloyd moved quicker than they could aim. He kicked a foot out and knocked the gun out of one of their hands as he raised his shield to block the shots from the others. Lloyd moved just as quickly to knock the guns out of the hands as well, disarming them completely. They moved back inside the car, probably to get more guns or allow the driver to swerve erratically in order to attempt to throw Lloyd off. Lloyd quickly brought his shield up above his head while standing and brought it down with his weight, smashing right through the roof of the limousine and creating a large hole for a person to fit through. Several surprised faces stared at Lloyd as he stuck his head and free arm into the limousine and spotted Bella almost immediately, who looked completely taken aback.

“Take my hand!” Lloyd called over the roar of the wind as he reached a hand out toward Bella. Sense returned to Bella’s eyes as she stared at the hand a long moment before reaching her own hand out tentatively to take it.

Due to his upside down position and having one arm busying supporting his weight, Lloyd was unable to defend himself as a heavy fur boot connected with the side of his face. Lloyd was sent flying back out through the hole he’d made, falling toward the asphalt speeding below him. Lloyd instinctively brought his shield up at the last second to brace his fall and he slid for a few seconds from his moment, creating sparks in his path before coming to a stop.

“Ow…” Lloyd muttered irritably as he sat up. He noticed that the limousine skidded to a stop ahead. He couldn’t understand why at first—if they kept driving, he would have problems catching up by foot. Then Lloyd realized it as a door opened and a single figure stepped out. Lloyd spotted Bella’s anxious face before the door shut, hiding her from view again. The figure that stepped out strode toward Lloyd calmly as Lloyd frowned, gripping his shield tightly.

“This is highly unorthodox.” The Vigilo with the Russian accent commented as he stopped just a few meters from him, arms held firmly behind his back as he stood erect with perfect posture. He regarded Lloyd without any signs of irritation or surprise. He seemed quite curious as he looked Lloyd up and down. “Were you ordered to chase after us? I wasn’t informed of any changes in plan.”

“I wasn’t ordered to come.” Lloyd spat as he gripped his self-consciously. He didn’t like this man’s posture. It wasn’t a fighting stance, but Lloyd saw notes of fluid control and expert handling. This was no amateur in combat. “I came on my own when I heard what was going on. They plan to use this marriage for their own reasons! They don’t even care that the two don’t want to get married to each other!”

“I’m aware of this.” The Russian replied far too easily. “I was told everything when I accepted the task. Everyone else who is involved is aware of it as well. The only reason you were not informed is because you were not directly involved, I’d imagine.”

“Don’t kid around! Do you think I’ll just sit by when I know something like this is happening?! Did Bella look happy about getting married?”

“I can’t say she did. She looked more reluctantly resigned than anything.”

“That’s my point! We can’t just let this slide—”

“Hold on.” The Russian’s voice remained smooth and level, but he held a hand up to interrupt Lloyd. “You mean to tell me that you came all the way here just because she doesn’t want to be married? You are completely ignoring the fact that Patronus is aware of and is sponsoring this event simply because it doesn’t sit right with you?”

“You’re damn right.” Was all Lloyd could say in reply. The Russian sighed in exasperation, as if he couldn’t believe Lloyd had so readily admitted to it.

“You’re mediating as a third part to events completely unrelated to you. I’ll have to treat you as a threat and dispose of you promptly.”

“I don’t care. It doesn’t change what I have to do.”

The Russian raised an eyebrow at Lloyd at this last comment. “Big words for a C-rank. Fine then—prove to me you have what it takes to save this poor girl from her boorish fate.”

With that, the exchange of words was over. The Russian let his arms hang at his sides loosely as he watched Lloyd tense his body before rushing in. The Russian let his weight lean to the side and he narrowly avoided Lloyd’s first punch, stepping around Lloyd and kicked one leg up at the open path to Lloyd’s chest from the side. Lloyd attempted to throw his weight to the side in order to lessen the damage, but he still felt the wind knocked out of him as he stumbled to the side as he kick connected with his side. Even so, Lloyd gritted his teeth as he swung his shield out fiercely, aiming to smash it into the Russian’s side. The Russian stepped back just out of the shields range before suddenly rushing in and turning on his heel, swinging one foot in a half circle arc, right at the side of Lloyd’s head. Lloyd brought his shield up to block and was surprised by the weight behind the kick he felt. Obviously, the boots were reinforced to increase weight and damage, but the man’s martial arts were top notch as well. Lloyd crouched slightly and bent his knees as the Russian kept his kicks coming from all sides. Lloyd’s shield was harder than steel, and so wasn’t going to give in to mere melee kicks, no matter how strong. But the shock of the impacts shook through the shield and into Lloyd’s body, shaking his bones. Unwilling to remain on the defensive, Lloyd quickly dodged to the side as the Russian mistakenly made a wide kick, opening his side for a moment. Lloyd quickly grabbed the Russian’s coat with one hand and shifted his feet to push all the weight down onto his body as he flipped the Russian over his shoulder. Standing on solid asphalt, throwing techniques were dangerous. One good throw could knock out all of someone’s organs. No matter what training one has, there was no way to strengthen your organs.

But the Russian did let him get put in that situation so easily. He allowed Lloyd to pull his weight over his shoulder and folded his arms over his chest as he did it. Lloyd was surprised as the Russian literally ‘moon-saulted’ with his legs sticking stiffly toward the sky with his head just a few inches from the ground as his entire body rotated, bringing the soles of his boots flat onto the floor. With his arms still folded, the Russian charged forward and kicked out with one leg, striking Lloyd across the face mercilessly. Lloyd was thrown back by the brute force of the strike and nearly fell to his knees thanks to how unsteady the attack had made him. He realized just what this man’s fighting style was. By taking full advantage of centrifugal force, he used his opponent’s moment against them to unbalance them and even send shocks traveling through a defensive stance to harm them internally. He had made himself top heavy by folding his arms so tightly, as if he was doing a stereo-typical Russian dance. A normal person would throw off their own balance like that, but he had clearly trained to learn how to keep himself steady and even use it to his advantage. His kicks were even stronger as he continued to barrage Lloyd, and faster—such that Lloyd could hardly keep up. Even so, Lloyd adamantly brought his shield up each time and block the strikes and try to find another opening to target. He found it difficult, though, as the Russian’s attacks were coming from strange and unorthodox positions. At the rate they were going, Lloyd was going to collapse from exerting himself before he got the chance to rescue Bella. An image of her sad expression appeared in his head against his will.

“…Damn it!”

Lloyd nearly yelled this allowed as he gave up trying to block the Russian Vigilo’s strikes as he brought his fist up fiercely. The Russian had apparently not expected this sudden attack, as the fist connected with his jaw directly.

However, there was not as much force behind it as there should have been. The Russian had unfolded his arms and brought out his palm to strike Lloyd’s shoulder at the same exact time, preventing the fist from following through. Lloyd bit down on his limp as he felt a pain go through his shoulder. Had the strike dislocated his shoulder?

Lloyd attempted to draw back for a moment and assess his damage, but the Russian had no intention of doing so. The Russian rushed forward relentlessly and spun on the sole of his foot in mid movement, still flying forward as his heel connected with Lloyd’s side, along with all the momentum he had. The force sent Lloyd sprawling off the side of the road and into the grass of the slope. Lloyd coughed violently as he spat out dirt and grass, but he couldn’t lift himself. He could already feel his eyesight going hazy. He only saw the Russian’s back before he blacked out completely.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Bella was worried. She was afraid she might have been hallucinating. She had thought for a moment that somebody had actually landed on the limousine and broke through the roof, holding a hand out to her as if to pull her out.

But that was insane. No one would go that far, even if they were trying to kidnap her and prevent the wedding for whatever strategic reason. It was completely insane. James was still clutching the wheel of the limousine tightly and murmuring “My heart stopped beating…”.

Such a situation only happened in movies and books. There was no human being who would be so reckless in this world.

Was there?

Bella looked up as the door to the limousine opened. She attempted to see outside, but a trench coat was in her way, preventing her from seeing anything before the door shut once more.

Winslow Torchinovich sat on the seat beside her, arms folded. He had a small mark on his cheek that might have been a bruise from being punched, but his expression gave nothing away as he told James to keep driving and the underling obeyed immediately.

“…What happened?”

Bella hesitated to ask, mostly because she wasn’t sure she wanted to know how the S-rank had handled the ‘threat’.

“What happened out there?”

Winslow’s blue eyes flickered in her direction briefly before he answered.

“I disposed of the ‘main protagonist’ who wished to be a hero and stop the ceremony. By any chance, you didn’t ask him to come, did you?”

“…No.” Bella shook her head as her lips trembled slightly. So she had been right. “I didn’t.”

“I see. Pity.” S-rank Vigilo Winslow Torchinovich stared at the black window as if he were trying to see through it as he muttered mostly to himself. “I had thought that idiots like him were long extinct.”
1年以上前 silverexorcist said…
Chapter III: Glorious Resolution

Alicia Sophocles stood in an office room before an irritated man in a black suit, glaring at her with his arms folded across his chest. Alicia was a young pretty woman long golden colored hair and brown eyes to match. She wore a brown blouse that was tucked into a miniskirt and had high stockings that exposed skin at the top of her thighs and below the end of the blouse. The skirt swished around with Alicia’s movement as she shifted her weight. No one paid any mind the blushing bodyguard in the background whose eyes were wandering. No one could blame him, after all. This woman embodied the values of classical art. ‘Ideal beauty’ was one way to describe her. She looked as if she had been sculpted to be perfect, almost flawless in appearance. Considering the line of work she did, that sort of thing was quite dangerous. People who stood out tended to be targeted, after all. But because of that, people tended to overlook all sorts of things, which she worked to her benefit. By purposely attracting attention, she could hide everything she needed with ease, which made it quite ideal. Being targeted so often put her in danger often, though, so the fact that she still stood in her sculpted condition now was a testament to her ability.

“I really am sorry about his actions.” Alicia said sincerely to the frowning man. “He’s reckless by nature, but that’s no excuse. I take responsibility for not having stopped him—please look at this incident as his own individual actions rather than something decided by Patronus as a whole. None of us condone is actions, though he wasn’t technically disobeying any orders.”

“Yes, yes. I get it.” Severus Pecan snapped impatiently. “Just go and recover his body right away before anyone notices an unconscious person lying by the roadside!”

“That would be hilarious…” Ricardo Capistrano murmured under his breath to the side with a self-satisfied expression. Alicia’s eyes flashed as she gripped him by the air and yanked hard.

“Ow! I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I won’t make another outburst, I promise!”

Alicia sighed as she released his ear, still frowning disapprovingly. “Are you conveniently forgetting that it’s your fault this happened? You should be the one apologizing.”

“I don’t apologize.” Ricardo replied with a grin, though he was clearly completely serious. He likely wouldn’t have even been in the base of the Kalifa family organization if Alicia hadn’t forcefully dragged him over after Ricardo had told her why Lloyd had acted so strangely earlier. “I’m still glad we left Lloyd to his own devices. He got his butt whooped! Come on; let’s go see his pitiful state! I wanna’ gloat!”

“Just wait a minute. I want to speak to the leader of the Kalifa organization first. It’s his daughter Lloyd’s trying to save, after all. We should at least see him before leaving.”

“You can’t.” Severus Pecan said immediately. Alicia raised her eyebrows at that.

“And why not?”

“He’s severely ill and is resting now without seeing any visitors. I’m currently in charge during his absence, so just seeing me is fine.”

“Ah. I see.” Alicia’s expression didn’t change while Ricardo coughed conspicuously. She ignored him. “It was you who requested the S-rank Vigilo to be a bodyguard too, right?”

“I suggested that Mr. Kalifa send for one, yes. It was to ensure security. Obviously it was a good choice.”

“Oh, I agree. He stopped Lloyd in his tracks just like he was supposed to. He fulfilled his job requirement to the letter, which is just fine. But what I find strange is that even with someone like that there, neither you nor the fiancée’s father have gone to the wedding. If Mr. Kalifa is really sick, I can understand that. But the aide who is only temporarily in charge should be present to keep an eye on the organization who’s going to inherit that spot, shouldn’t he?”

Severus staggered for an entire second and quickly attempted to reply, but Alicia had already turned her back to him and headed toward the door. Ricardo stuck his tongue out at Severus immaturely as he trailed behind her.

“Well, your internal affairs are none of our business.” Alicia went on calmly. “We’ll go recover Lloyd as instructed. Just don’t think of us from Patronus as some helpless pawns. Or else you’ll be the one who ends up being helpless.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The wedding took place outdoors and was far less extravagant than one would expect of such influential organizations. In fact, if someone drove by, they would have assumed it was simply a normal somewhat well done wedding paid for by a middle class family. In a way, there was some strategic thought in it. No one wanted to attract unwanted attention, especially since the two parties involved with underground organizations. But that was simply the surface reason. In truth, wealthy organizations did not enjoy spending money, contrary to popular belief. Rather than showing off their affluence, they prefer to save in every spot they can, dollars at a time. It all ended up adding up to a severely watered down version of a wedding compared to what it could have been. To a fiancée who dreamed of becoming a princess and making the wedding day perfect, this would be a major disappointment.

However, Bellatrix Kalifa was not such a person. The glance she had gotten of average wedding setup as the limousine approached did not interest her too much.

James McDougal coughed in surprise at the sight of it while Winslow Torchinovich’s lips twitched (whether in disgust or amusement, no one was sure). But Bella’s thoughts were focused on the man who had come to save her. A man reckless enough to rush to her aid despite the organization that hired him being in support of the entire event. A man stupid enough to jump on a moving limousine and fight an S-rank Vigilo. She wanted to be angry that the man who she had only known for less than a day was putting himself in danger pointlessly for her. She wanted to call him a fool, which he was. But she couldn’t keep herself from being happy. In fact, she was still smiling. It was a sad smile, but a smile all the same. As she was escorted out of the limousine and brought down an aisle to the alter where the man who waited to marry her stood, her smile remained on her face, more real than any expression she had made in days. The priest gave her an encouraging (and ignorant) smile as he began speaking the words to bind Bella to the man standing beside her with an air of triumph.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“…What do you think?”

“What do I—What do you mean, ‘what do I think’?”

“Well…” Alicia hesitated a moment before continuing. “This impression in the grass is obviously in the shape of a body…and that impression over there was probably a shield…”

Alicia Sophocles and Ricardo Capistrano stood at the side of a road, staring at a spot where the grass had obviously been crushed by two different objects of weight. Alicia looked somewhat bewildered, whereas Ricardo was simply uncaring.

“He should have been completely incapacitated.” Alicia went on as she touched a finger to her forehead in exasperation. “Damn it…did we get unreliable information? Or did a third party pass by and pick him up?”

“It’s obvious, isn’t it?” Ricardo glanced down the road in the direction the tire marks on the asphalt were heading in. “A normal person probably would still be unconscious here on the road, predictably so. But the main protagonist doesn’t give up after one game over. He’ll insert more coins, replay, and try again until he wins.”

Alicia gave Ricardo a disbelieving look but the Italian mobster ignored her. Honestly, he’d expected this unlikely outcome. He would be disappointed to see anything less from a C-rank like Lloyd.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The priest stumbled on his words as his eyes stared past the couple he was wedding together. Every head in the audience turned as well to see what had caught the man’s attention. Bella turned slowly at first as he thought of how surreal the moment was before she saw the somewhat beaten figure standing at the end of the aisle she had just walked down, gripping a shield in his hand as the other hand brushed several errant blades of grass from his dirty blonde hair. His eyes were hard as they focused directly on Bella. Though he didn’t say a word, Bella knew what those eyes were saying.

I’m going to save you, so stay put.

“Lloyd…” Bella murmured softly as she started forward without thinking. But a figure stood with their back to her, blocking her advance as they looked in Lloyd’s direction with a caustic expression. Hector Joyce, the soon to be head of the Kalifa organization and husband of Bella Kalifa, looked thoroughly amused at the sight of the tired Lloyd.

“I had heard that a brainless errant Vigilo was trying to interrupt the wedding for whatever reason, but seeing it with my own eyes is quite different. Why did you get up after being beaten so soundlessly? Are you in love with my fiancée?”

“I don’t have a reason that petty.” Lloyd growled as he trudged forward. “I just refuse to see a friend of mine be forced to do something so stupid.”

“A friend? You just met her today, didn’t you?” Hector chuckled aloud. “Is that the best lie you could come up with? It’s pretty obvious that you have some political interests that you’re trying to protect. Well; no desperate acts will do anything now.”

Lloyd didn’t both responding. He simply crouched slightly as he held his shield up and charged forward. Lloyd barely took two steps before a heavily clothed figure rushed out of the audience and kicked out at Lloyd’s head from the side. Lloyd narrowly blocked with his raised shield, shifting his weight back as the attacker swung around in midair and swung their other foot down like a guillotine, pressuring Lloyd to keep him from continuing forward. The attacker landed on the ground and unfolded his arms as he frowned at Lloyd.

“I’m surprised you’re even conscious.” Winslow muttered as the wedding ceremony continued on behind him, ignoring the two of them as the audience moved several seats away to keep a safe distance. “Are you an einherjar that gives you increased durability?”

“I’m nothing that special.” Lloyd gritted his teeth as he braced himself, charging forward once more as he couldn’t wait. “I’m just a C-rank Vigilo trying to uphold his own ideals!”

The flat surface of a shield and the heavy fabric of a boot connected in the air over and over again as the two attacked furiously. Lloyd’s attacks were surprisingly fierce and energetic as he pushed himself despite his dizziness from the earlier blow he’d been dealt. It was true that Winslow was more trained and was clearly a higher rank, but that didn’t stop Lloyd as he forced himself to keep up with the attacks. He managed to lead Winslow among the empty seats and decreased his maneuverability to an extent as Lloyd quickly hopped over the backs of the chairs. Winslow jumped agilely onto the tops of the chairs and caught the sides of them with his boot, kicking them out like projectiles. Lloyd crouched behind his shield to block them all defensively. With a single powerful jump, Winslow hopped into the air and brought one foot down like an axe. Lloyd quickly brought up his shield once more to block, but soon changed his mind. Instead, he lowered his impregnable weapon. A look of surprise crossed Winslow’s face, but it didn’t make his attack hesitate for even a fraction of a second. Lloyd bent his knees to brace himself as the boot swung down on his shoulder with dangerous accuracy and force. Lloyd brought his arm up at the same time and grabbed Winslow’s leg as it landed, and Winslow landed unsteadily on one foot, staggering for a moment. Without wasting the moment, Lloyd brought up his shield with all the force he could muster as he pivoted his hip to gather all the centrifugal force he could.

“AAAAARRRGGGGHHHH!” Winslow’s shield mercilessly smashed into Winslow’s unguarded body with the force of a speeding minivan, throwing the S-rank Vigilo flying back as Lloyd released his arm. Winslow crashed over several of the surrounding chairs in a painful position, which caused several of the curious onlookers in the audience to gasp in shock. They had a number of reasons; seeing an S-rank (or any person at all) hit like that would make anyone cringe. Lloyd only took a single second to breathe before whirling around, rushing toward the altar. The speaking priest came to a startled stop once more as his eyes widened, seeing Lloyd charging forward.

“Bella! We’re getting out of here!” Lloyd said as he ignored the priest entirely, reaching a hand out toward Bella. It was only then that he hesitated for a moment. He’d attacked thus far because he knew that Bella did not want to go through with this marriage. But even if she didn’t like it, she may have felt it necessary due to the political reasons. If she refused to go with him, he wasn’t planning on making her. But then, what would he do from there?

It was as this hesitant thought came to mind at last that a tearful smile spread on Bella’s face as she took Lloyd’s hand firmly.

“You kept me waiting.” She managed to say as she wiped away the few tears rolling down the bridge of her nose with the sleeve of her dress.

Meanwhile, Hector Joyce was thoroughly abashed. He looked in Winslow’s directions, but the injured Vigilo was pushing himself out of the wreckage of chairs slowly, rubbing his bruised head with one hand with a groan.

“Damn it…” Hector murmured angrily. They were so close. Once he managed to marry that insufferable girl, he could become the entire head of the joint organizations, gaining power of the Kalifa organization. The wealth and power were worth any tactic—even marrying someone he cared nothing for, such as Bella, or hiring a dog from the government, like Winslow. But that S-rank he’d put his trust in had lost royally when it counted most. He couldn’t have it. He wasn’t going to lose so easily.

“Hey! You lot! What are you doing?!” Hector roared angrily at the body guards from the Kalifa family. “This man is obstructing your work! Shoot him down!”

The sound of guns having the safety taken off and aimed echoed throughout the air as a dozen guns pointed at Lloyd as Hector hurried off of the altar along with the priest, who scrambled away in terror. Lloyd pushed Bella behind him as he raised his shield up to protect the two of them. He grimaced as his right arm ached painfully. Winslow’s kick had probably bruised his bone, and the damage from earlier still hadn’t vanished. Even so, Lloyd was determined to find a way to fight his way out of this along with Bella. He was just unsure of how he was going to do it.

Before anyone could fire their guns, a sudden elegant figure danced through their ranks from behind. Their movements were so perfect and fluid; it was as if they were gliding. The men yelped in shock as a soft hand grabbed their wrists and pulled them into a painful pin before tossing them to the ground, confiscating their guns at the same time. All twelve of the armed men were easily incapacitated from this sneak attack. Even as two of them managed to realize what was happening in time to fire their guns, the elegant figure seemed to slide past the bullets unharmed before throwing them onto their backs as well, leaving them groaning. Once all the men were on the ground, the figure began to glide up toward Lloyd. Lloyd attempted to evade, but he flinched as his arm arched and he felt the sides of a pair of elegant heels pressed gently but firmly against the sides of his face as the elegant figure did a handstand directly in front of them. With a single sharp twist of their body, Lloyd was thrown to the ground with enough force that his feet left the ground for a moment. Lloyd groaned painfully as he felt the figure pressed their weight against his back as they sat down, preventing him from standing.

Bella stared at the woman who had so easily incapacitated the hero who had saved her, along with all the men who had been aiming to attack them. She had long blonde hair and was undeniably beautiful, as if sculpted to be the way she was—idealistically perfect.

“W-Who are--?!”

“I am Alicia Sophocles, the caretaker of this reckless fool. Vladcas!

The last foreign phrase was accompanied by a brisk flick on Lloyd’s nose and the hero flinched as he whimpered. He wasn’t scared or hurt, so much as dazed and confused. Why was Alicia, an A-rank Vigilo from Patronus, present when Patronus was supporting the wedding?

Apparently Hector was wondering the same thing as he demanded answers verbally.

“Why are you here? What possible purpose could you have in interrupting our wedding even further? Is Patronus going back on its claim?!”

“Please relax.” Alicia sighed. “I had originally come here to follow my orders to pick up Lloyd here, who was performing unauthorized and unneeded duties independently.”

“Then why did you strike down my men as well?”

“Because they are not your men. They are mine.”

Hector Joyce was startled to hear this new, but familiar, voice. Another limousine had pulled up next to the first one that Bella had arrived in and a single elderly man stepped out along with smirking Italian who looked like some sort of mobster. The old man was obviously Cicero Kalifa, the still current head of the powerful organization currently dealing with succession issues.

“F-Father?!” Bella gasped in surprise as she started forward down the altar. “I thought you were too ill to stand!”

“I had to give that impression so this people would take their eyes off of me.” Cicero Kalifa sighed apologetically as Ricardo pulled another person out of the limousine none too gently. “They had someone watching me twenty-four seven. Little did I know that it was my own aid.”

The man Ricardo had forced out of the car glared with irritation at the ground as Hector stared in shock. It was surprise at seeing who Cicero was talking about. It was surprise that he had been caught. Hector himself had chosen Severus Pecan to be a spy as he worked his way up to the more influential ranks within the Kalifa organization. It had been he, of course, who convinced Cicero Kalifa to go ahead with this wedding without telling him how badly his daughter objected to it. Their goal all along was to usurp the position as head without a straight out fight. But it seemed that the old man had yet to go senile. He had cautiously waited and called two extra Vigilo under false pretenses, making excellent use of the errant Vigilo who had come to save Kalifa.

“I’ve grown tired of these pointless squabbles over power.” Cicero Kalifa went on with an irritable sigh. “As you can see, I am quite alive. And yet here you are, trying to get someone else to take my place. If I simply officially choose an heir, then all of this will end, yes? Then allow me to do so. When I pass away—which will not be any time soon, mind—I name my daughter Bellatrix Kalifa, as my one and only successor to my title and fortune! Understood?”

“NOOOOO!!!”

The voice of the outraged Hector echoed throughout the air as he drew a handgun from the nearest bodyguard to him. Severus shook out of Ricardo’s grasp in time to run himself into Cicero, preventing the old man from doing anything as Hector aimed the gun at Bella, who was still in the middle of hurrying over to her father. Lloyd felt his heart skip a beat as he saw this, but even if Alicia didn’t have him pinned, they were too far away from him to do anything. The sound of a gun firing sounded through the air and everything went silent as everyone watched the handgun Hector had grabbed fall to the ground. A bullet had gone sailing past his head, narrowly missing enough to let the wind pass over Hector’s cheek. Ricardo held a shotgun up, aimed directly at Hector.

“Hands in the air where I can see them, faggot.” Ricardo ordered. “Now!”

“H-Hold on! We’re allies with Patronus! You can’t just—”

“Do you think we’re just soldiers who can’t do anything without orders from our superiors?” Ricardo smirked sadistically as he leveled the nozzle of his shotgun with Hector’s face. “I’ll blow a hole through that skull of yours before you can order one of your precious bodyguards to fire at the brat instead. If they could fire on their own, it might be different. How about we see just how worthless your soldiers are?”

Hector’s eyes flickered toward the men in black standing nearby. They all had hesitant looks on their faces that didn’t inspire much confidence, whereas Ricardo radiated with every intention of shooting. Seeing that he had no choice, Hector slowly raised his hands above his head in surrender.

“Smart boy.” Ricardo snickered. Bella turned her gaze away from the torturous sight, looking instead to her father.

“How did you contact them?” She asked fervently. “If you were pretending to be sick?”

“I used your chauffeur as a mediator. I didn’t want to put him in danger, but he insisted on being of use. If he’d been caught, he could have been killed by the spies.”

The chauffeur could only be James McDougal, the cowardly and uncertain man who’d driven her to the wedding while trying to console her. Bella looked among the crowd to try and find him, but he blended in too well. She couldn’t spot him anywhere nearby. She would have to remember to thank him and possible promote his rank.

Lloyd sighed in relief as he watched things finally resolve themselves. He didn’t get to be in the spotlight all the way to the end, but he hardly cared. The wedding was off and it seemed like Bella had a proper future ahead, one that wasn’t destined for misery. It made him happy to know he actually made a difference in someone’s life. Alicia sighed as she watched a satisfied expression appear on Lloyd’s face. She had intended to scold him fiercely for acting so stupid, but she couldn’t bring herself to get mad at him when he acted with such good intentions. Instead, she directed her attention to the Russian standing nearby silently, having watched the events from the sidelines without showing any intention of getting involved.

“You’re not going to do anything?” Alicia asked curiously.

“My mission was to protect the young lady. She appears to be much better than previously, so I think it’s safe to say that my mission is a success.”

“You’re really okay with this?”

“Don’t get me wrong—I’m well aware that it was no I who ended up properly protecting the lady’s interests. In the end, I ended up having to fight the person who was truly doing his best to save her.” Winslow looked up to Lloyd, who was too preoccupied to even notice their conversation. “He has earned some of my respect and much of my gratitude.”

“Don’t give him too much credit.” Alicia warned. “He just did all the reckless things while others helped out from behind.”

“Perhaps, but sometimes we need a hero like that.” A wry smile appeared on Winslow’s face as he nodded once to Alicia and turned his back to them before headed off, apparently leaving without saying goodbye. Alicia remained where she was with a displeased look on her face. Hero? That was just like what Ricardo called Lloyd. Just a few hours and Lloyd had already got someone else calling him something like that. But to be fair, Lloyd was a C-rank Vigilo who had managed to defeat a S-rank, even if it had taken two tries. Though the rankings were not entirely indicative on combat abilities, it was still a pretty ridiculous idea. Alicia preferred to think that Winslow had gone easy, but she just couldn’t be sure.

Alicia muttered under her breath in Greek bitterly and finally got Lloyd’s attention as he looked up.

“Alicia?”

“It’s nothing.” She sighed. “I’m going to let you off for today, but don’t let me catch you pulling stunts like this again, understand?”

“Sure, but, um…could you please get off of me?”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Vice President of the United States sat alone behind a desk in a lone room in the White House. As a man who existed for the sole purpose of taking the president’s place in the case that something happened, he didn’t have much to do all day except advocate the president publically and speak on the president’s behalf. The Vice-President did have some responsibility as the head of the Senate, but the duties there truly fell to the Majority Leader.

So when the Vice-President wasn’t doing any of the minimal duties he had, he focused on his work as the head of Patronus.

“I see…Right.” The Vice-President was saying as he held a phone up to his ear. The phone was attached to a device the size of a medium sized box that prevented hackers from tapping the line. And even if they did, it was so heavily coded, it was doubtful that they could understand a word spoken. “It’s just as we predicted then.”

“Of course it was.” A bored sounding voice replied over the phone with a heavy sigh. “These sorts of predictable power struggles are the easiest to predict. What is difficult is what comes after.”

“They’ll probably begin to start moving along with their own plans now, so we’ll have to start acting at the same time.”

Waiting for the opponent to move was usually a less than wise plan, but sometimes a plan would be entirely useless unless the other acted first. It was like in chess where you had to wait for your opponent to place their pieces in a certain place before you could enact your own strategy to swiftly take them out. Patronus was the sort of organization with both a military aspect as well as a political aspect. Balancing these two aspects properly sometimes took time and effort, but it was worth it in the end.

“So then, Mr. Vice-President, who should we prepare as bait?”
last edited 1年以上前
1年以上前 silverexorcist said…
Chapter IV- "WELCOME TO HEL"

Lloyd yawned aloud as he cracked his knuckles and rolled his neck. He was walking through Patronus’ underground headquarters at eight in the morning, which was considered early when you didn’t go to sleep until about three that same morning. Lloyd had been up working off his punishment for acting without permission. In Patronus, there were harsh rules to prevent the Vigilo for doing whatever they wanted. But it was more like they were punishing kids. Lloyd had been forced to help reorganize the storage rooms of Patronus along with some other C-ranks who’d done various stupid things, spending the whole night moving heavy objects and rearranging boxes. It was tedious, but got a point across. Patronus openly discouraged independent action but silently applauded it. Vigilo were both detectives and soldiers and had to be able to act in emergencies even when there was nobody around to give orders. That lone fact was what made the Vigilo more dependable than a mere military faction.

“That’s a bad habit you know.” Alicia Sophocles sighed as she strode ahead of Lloyd, glancing back at him irritably as the sounding of him cracking his shoulders repetitively echoed in her ears, annoying her like a broken flickering light. “You should see a psychologist about that.”

“Thanks, but no thanks.” Lloyd yawned again. If he was totally honest, on a normal day he might have been a bit more occupied appreciating Alicia. Her long blonde hair swayed with her hips as she walked and her singsong voice was soothing to hear, even when she was scolding. “I’m comfortable with my flaws.”

“Are you implying that I’m not?”

Lloyd simply looked at her with a tired expression. Alicia was a Greek Vigilo who was pretty much the physical manifestation of perfection in a multitude of ways. She had become an A-rank because of her perfect handling of every task and mission given to her. In her school days, she had perfect grades in every class and did perfectly on her projects and the like. She was your predictable Mary Sue. Well, sort of. She was an einherjar, just like Lloyd. She had a thought pattern that mimicked Cinderella, just like from the stories.

A woman who only had a single night of being a true princess, Cinderella had to be absolutely perfect, without exception. Her dress needed to be perfect. Her dancing needed to be perfect. Her hair, her voice, her movements, and so much else had to be perfect. This, mixed with the classical values of ideal beauty, strength, and so on from Greece from which Alicia descends from all added up to create the ‘perfect’ human.

Of course, Lloyd questioned that. Wasn’t being perfect an imperfection in and of itself?

“But you should really think about it.” Alicia continued their earlier conversation with a lighter tone than before. Lloyd was relieved that she decided against continuing to nag. “Ricardo may have been joking, but he had a point. Holding a shield alone defeats the purpose when you go on the offensive. You should carry another weapon.”

“I act to protect my ideals,” Lloyd replied stubbornly right away. “Not to cut the ideals of others.”

“Yes, but even a sword can be a shield if you use it right.” Alicia stopped walking as she looked back at Lloyd, putting her hands on her hips. “Or do you mean to say you’d be tempted to use it for a different purpose?”

“…”

Lloyd didn’t have a response to that.

“Oh dear, it seems that the princess is worried about you. Perhaps she’s afraid that another dragon will pay you a visit, St. George?”

Lloyd looked up at the approaching speaker. Alicia and Lloyd had turned down another hall where the meeting rooms were. Most of them were empty this time of day, so of course there were little people in the halls here. The one who had spoken had apparently come down the hall from the opposite direction and overheard them speaking.

“Hello Tomoe.” Lloyd greeted as Alicia sighed. Tomoe Shinyaku was an average height Asian woman who was shorter than Alicia without the ever-present heels. She had long whitish blonde hair to her hips and wore a short sleeved pink shirt and a long red skirt that nearly reached her ankles, which were hidden by white split toed socks. Lloyd suspected that the style was meant to mimic a Japanese kimono, though he had never asked. Tomoe was a Vigilo and colleague of theirs, as well as another einherjar. She represented the Japanese ideal of perfection, which had a philosophy of its own, and was an A-rank Vigilo.

Predictably, she could be considered Alicia’s rival.

“As if there is anything that could harm this man directly.” Alicia responded to Tomoe’s earlier light comment with a bitter tone. “I’d be far more concerned if someone beside him was shot at rather than himself. He’d probably throw himself in front of the bullet without thinking. And survive.”

“True enough. You should really be more careful Lloyd. You shouldn’t put yourself in danger so often without thinking of the consequences. I heard that not too long ago, you got between a marriage of two families and fought an S-rank Vigilo.”

Tomoe read the passive look on Lloyd’s tired face and shook her head back and forth. She held up the folded face fan she held in one hand and touched it to her forehead lightly.

“Really now. You make me want to feel pity for poor Alicia with all the trouble you cause her. It’s not a good feeling.”

“And what exactly do you mean by that?” Alicia demanded as her eyes narrowed on Tomoe’s face. Tomoe opened her fan with a twitch of her fingers and hid her mouth and nose as she fanned herself gently, throwing strands of her blonde hair back.

“Oh? Aren’t you Lloyd’s self-proclaimed caretaker?”

“Of course not! I’ve simply known him for a long time and he’s become a friend of mine, so I worry sometimes! What fault is there in that?”

“None at all. I was just under the impression that your ability strived from being perfect in front of a pri—”

Tomoe was cut off as Alicia frantically pushed the face fan onto her mouth, preventing her from speaking. It was rare to see Alicia, the perfect woman, so flustered, but it was pretty normal for these two inadvertently break one another’s pace and make each other slip up.

Lloyd, on the other hand, was not even listening. He had noticed two men in suits nearby talking to each other as they walked by, paying no mind to the three. He didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but he heard something that interested him.

“The senate is convening early?”

“Hmm?” Both Alicia and Tomoe turned their attention to Lloyd at these words. They took a step away from one another and quickly regained their composure. It was Tomoe who answered.

“Yes, but it’s a closed session. I’m not sure what it is for, exactly, but I suspect that it is a matter of national security. I doubt there would be any other reason.”

“Who called for it?”

“The two senators from Idaho, from what I heard. They aren’t having any members from Vigilo attend, which is strange. I guess they’re being really sensitive about what they’re dealing with.”

“Hm.” Lloyd folded his arms over his chest as he frowned slightly. “I guess so.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Gilbert Renolds was one of the Einherjar that existed outside of Patronus. Though Patronus was an organization that picked and chose its future Vigilo at a young age and especially watched out for children showing signs of special abilities, it was not like they had eyes everywhere. There were many people with special abilities who had not been recruited by Patronus the moment they were of age and lived out in the world. But their abilities made them the targets of other organizations as well, which made a ‘normal’ life a rare possibility. About one in everything one hundred einherjar made it to adulthood without being pulled into the chaotic underworld of society. Gilbert was one of the ninety-nine that was not so fortunate. He knew just how cruel society could be and wanted to be able to do something about it. That was why he had agreed to using his special ability for this purpose. His ability could be considered a reference to the Little Bo Peep story, where a little lamb constantly followed a young girl in a fawning manner. No matter where Little Bo Peep went, the lamb followed. Conversely, Little Bo Peep had the ability to ‘make others follow him’, but in a metaphorical sense. If he wanted to turn on faucet, he could influence others around him to want to do it as well and attempt to get it done. His ability would be useful for motivating lazy workers, but it wasn’t omnipotent. He could only make others do something he wanted if they already had similar interests. If they were hesitant to turn on the aforementioned faucet, Gilbert could influence them toward the decision he would make and have them turn on the faucet. The greatest advantage of this faucet was that it wasn’t detectable by those influenced. Only a person who was aware of the ability and was watching for it might notice the change. It was a dangerous weapon against the ignorant.

That was why he’d been chosen for this job. Only he could influence two of the United States senators to call for this closed session without leaving a trace behind. It had worked wonderfully—all was going well. He’d only been ordered to too that much, oddly, but he was satisfied with how perfectly he’d pulled it off. He could just relax and be proud as the others fulfilled their part of the job.

But first, he needed to get away from boy following him.

“What do you mean ‘you don’t know who he is’?”

“I mean that he’s followed me all through the city and I can’t seem to lose him.” Gilbert answered into the phone with an annoyed click of his tongue. He held his watch up as he strode down a crowded sidewalk and saw the familiar face among the crowd further behind him in the reflection. He grimaced as he slightly picked up his casual pace. “He may look like a kid, but he definitely knows how to inconspicuously follow someone.”

“If he isn’t taking action, then he probably doesn’t have any real proof of what you’re involved in. He might think of you like a suspicious character and is keeping an eye on you to see what you do.”

If that were true, then there would probably be others who were tailing him as well. But that didn’t seem to be the case. Gilbert didn’t notice any other faces that seemed to hang around nearby, aside from the boy following at a safe distance. Gilbert considered the possibility that this boy was from Patronus—the Vigilo didn’t have a uniform, so it was possible. But the boy just seemed too young to be a part of such an organization. And if he was, wouldn’t he have taken action already?

“What should I do?” Gilbert asked into the phone anxiously. “Continue to try to lose him, or…”

“You freaking decide.” The voice sounded somewhat bored. “Kill him if you need to. Just don’t make a scene—oh, he’s starting to wake up. I’ve got to get started with my game, so I’ll talk to you later!”

With that suddenly excited voice, the person on the other end of the line hung up. Gilbert sighed in exasperation as he shut his phone and pocketed it. He glanced into his watch’s reflection again as if checking the time and noticed the boy suddenly picking up his pace, swiftly dodging through the crowd as he closed the distance between them.

“Shit—!” Gilbert cursed as he began to stride through the crowd as well. He needed to lose this obnoxious kid and fast.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Michael Bernstein grimaced as he looked around the dark room. He had been lying on a carpet in the middle of a room with the lights off and blinds shut. His eyes were already adjusted to the dim lighting, so he could easily tell that the room was an office. A projector screen had been pulled down and the projector was on, showing an eerie blanks screen. Michael pressed a hand to his head as he struggled to remember what had happened. He had been heading to a closed session for the senate to finally discus an important bill related to terrorism. He had been talking with the other senator who had shared his agreement that they needed to shut down the ambitions of a certain senior senator who was causing trouble for them.

Not long ago, the senate had been ninety percent against the bill, but this senator had made a pain of himself and skillfully began convincing the senators otherwise little by little, eventually to the point that the bill had gone through the eternal cycle of revision several times. But even with all the changes made, the exact detail that had Michael and his supporters against it and had this certain senator advocating it had yet to disappear. It was unlikely to, as well, so they needed to veto and be done with the bill once and for all. That was the purpose of the closed session.

So why was Michael in this unknown room all alone? He suspected that he had fainted at some point upon arriving in Washington D.C., but that hardly explained his situation.

“Well then, shitty senator, can we get started?”

Michael gave a start as he realized that there was indeed another person in the room. A young girl had been leaning against the wall just outside of his vision, but once he turned his attention to her, he could see her very clearly through the darkness. She wore gothic style clothes, which made Michael cringe. The girl had black tight pants, high black leather boots with spiked heels, a black t-shirt so small that it exposed the soft pale skin of her stomach and navel, and fingerless black gloves with spikes over the knuckles. She looked very unruly with a dangerous smirk and piercing eyes. Her hair was dyed completely black, but several strands hanging down by her face were dyed golden. The girl had an arrogant gait as she walked from the wall to the desk, her smirk widening as Michael stared at her in stunned silence. The sound of her boots violently hitting the floor was audible as she reached the desk and sat on it shamelessly, bringing one leg up to rest the heel against the top of desk, stretching one arm over her knee casually.

“Yo.” She greeted casually. “Aren’t you going to fucking say anything?”

“Who are you?” Michael managed to say as he finally recovered from his shock. He was a little bothered by the girl’s loose tongue and careless way addressing him, even while knowing he was a senator. But it didn’t bother him any more than her offensive appearance. He hadn’t known that someone so short could be so…tough-looking.

“Well, that’s a start.” The girl sighed. “I’m Samantha Tilburg, a member of HEL. And before you ask; no, I’m not a damned kid. I’m a fucking twenty-eight year old midget. Deal with it.”

Words failed Michael once again for a minute. To be honest, he wouldn’t have necessarily called Samantha a midget. She was about five feet tall, give or take. He’d seen midgets before. To be frank, they were dwarfs. But he didn’t mention that since the subject was irrelevant.

“What is HEL?”

“Hmm? Oh, well, if you don’t know what it is, don’t worry your ignorant little head about it. It’s better if someone like you didn’t bother with the ‘dark side’.”

Michael frowned. He had guessed that HEL was some sort of organization; since he highly doubted that anyone would seriously tell someone that they were a ‘member of hell’ with a straight face. He’d obviously been right, but it troubled him that she refused to give him a straight answer. He would think that knowing would be his business.

“Then tell me this…Ms. Samantha. What exactly am I doing here? I have a session to attend as a member of the Senate. If I’m late—“

“Don’t worry about that either.” Samantha smirked sinisterly as she stopped picking at the black paint coating her nails thickly. “And don’t be so formal. Just call me Sam.”

“Okay…Sam then.” Michael felt an uncomfortable sensation in his chest, suddenly becoming very nervous. “Why should I not worry about the convention? I was one of the two that called for it.”

“Yeah; good job on that. Things are going smoothly thanks to you. Your job is done. Nathaniel would have called for the closed session a long time ago, but he didn’t want to take the risk of doing too much and drawing attention to himself. That’s why he patiently waited for you to call it yourself. Now that that is done, he needs you to stay away from that closed session. He managed to get roughly two-fifths of the senate on his side, but there are a lot of others in the grey zone. If you’re not there, the main speaker for the opposing side won’t be there to unite these undecided senators against him. I’m sure you’re smart enough to know what he’s planning, right?”

Michael had paled immediately upon hearing the name Nathaniel. Nathan Smith was the certain senator who was basically leading the support for the bill that Michael was resisting. If the numbers of senators on each side was so significant, it was clear that he was planning to filibuster, or talk continuously in order to postpone voting. Without three-fifths of the senate voting for cloture, no one could stop a senator from filibustering. Michael was essentially the head of the opposition to the bill, which meant that he posed the biggest threat of bringing the senate together for cloture. Nathaniel was an eloquent speaker who reminded Michael of the stories he had read in his high school days about men like Cicero in the Roman senate centuries ago. Even when they had opposite stand points such as now, Michael always felt some respect for that man. But now Michael saw that he was also ruthless and willing to go to extremes in order to get his way. Had he actually…?!

“Exactly.” Sam read the horrified expression on Michael’s face and seemed to find it enjoyable. “I was hired to kidnap you, shitty senator. You’re not going anywhere.”

“Ugh!” Michael immediately tried to stand, but failed miserably. He barely got to his knees before his arms and legs trembled and he collapsed. He felt weak and had trouble controlling his limbs. He guessed that he’d probably been drugged. Sam cackled at the pitiful sight without much pity.

“Hey, shitty senator.” Sam continued to grin as a strange movement occurred behind her. Michael’s eyes widened as he saw a long metal tendril extend through the air with three prong claws on the end, probably for grabbing things. It was a mechanical arm, essentially. Michael had never seen one in person before—only in movies. It was strangely surreal, seeing it up close. “Do you think I’m some sort of villain? I’d honestly got no interest in this crap. Indirect methods in politics? Talk about pointless. You people argue every damn day about the country but you don’t get anything done. And when you do get something done, you’re too damn slow about it. I honestly don’t care about the government. It would be interesting to see it burn down in flames. But at the same time, seeing it actually succeed despite how crappy it is might be interesting as well. What do you think?”

Michael didn’t know how to respond. He couldn’t see this situation happening in anything but a movie. Sam looked his dull expression over with her harsh eyes for a moment before sighing miserably.

“How boring.” She muttered irritably. “You’re not even worth talking to.”

“What are you going to do with me?”

Sam snorted as Michael squeezed out those words.

“Well, I was only told to keep you here until further notice. Whatever else I do is purely my choice. I was hoping that you’d be good for some conversation, but you don’t meet the standards at all.”

Sam sighed and the mechanical arm shifted around impatiently. A small smile reappeared on her face.

“Alright then!” She said as if suddenly deciding something. “Let’s move on to Plan B then!”

“Plan…B?”

Michael gave a start as the blank screen on the projector screen suddenly switched to a new screen. Sam had drawn a remote from within her t-shirt and pressed a button on it as she aimed it at the projector. A screen with the words “Plan B” written across it in bright red letters appeared in a glaring font. Michael stared at it for a moment as if unable to make sense of it.

“I’m the type who seeks out personal pleasure to keep myself occupied.” Sam was speaking on her own while completely ignoring Michael’s mental state. “Not sex or anything, you damned pervert. I just mean enjoying life to its fullest and all that crap. I can’t have myself dying of boredom, can I? So to occupy myself, I made a little game, custom just for you.”

With that, Sam clicked the remote again and the screen switched to a video. It was apparently through a video camera, as it was live footage of something going on in a completely different room.

“Well then, let’s begin!” Sam smirked widely as her mechanical arm drew a smart phone from the desk beside her and held it up in the air. “The rules have been changed up a bit, but we’ll be playing Russian roulette! Our contestant is the congressman of Idaho, Michael Bernstein! On the screen before us, five people are strapped to chairs with powerful rifles pointed at their temples! All are dear people to our contestant, so he’ll want to keep each of them alive! Only one of these five rifles is loaded, and he must choose one to fire by picking a number 1-5. If he picks one that is not loaded, the entire family may leave in one piece! If he chooses wrong, however, we can expect chaos and trauma!”

The tentacle-like arm slithered down to hold the phone up directly in front of Michael, who stared at it with disbelief. The keypad for the dial screen was up, and numbers one through five were highlighted in red. Sam had probably messed with her phone’s settings just for the sake of that effect. She truly was a monster.

“Using the questioner’s mental state as a clue is fair game.” Sam went on with an evil smirk, speaking calmly and easily as if she were truly a game host. “Searching for hints in the footage is fine too. You can even pray to whatever god you feel like or choose at random! Of course, you can just as easily choose a family member you’ve always hated to minimize loss! Your time limit is sixty seconds, Mr. Bernstein, at which point the ‘real’ gun will automatically fire. Please; try your best.”

Michael’s eyes flickered slowly from Sam’s evil face to the screen, sweat pouring down his entire face as his heart rate quickened by the second. His wife, only daughter, his daughter’s husband, and his two grandchildren were strapped to those chairs. There was no mistaking those faces at all. Threatening the lives of a person’s loved one could not have been tactic widely used by HEL. In fact, Michael was sure that this girl had insisted on this tactic for herself. She had considered this to be ‘Plane B’. Perhaps calling herself a villain hadn’t been too far off.

“…Why?” Michael croaked. “Why go this far?”

“Hmm? I’ll take a shot in the dark and say that you want to know why I’d use this method to achieve my goal. It’s simple, really. Doing something simple and easily predictable would be pointless. Even if a cliché method would work, I come from a group of radicals who want to bring change. If that’s the case, doing something ‘just’ wouldn’t cut it. No; if I want to get through to this bullheaded country, I need to do something ‘evil’. Even we villains have standards, you know.”

Even though she said that simply with a smile, Michael couldn’t comprehend it. The life of one of his family members was in his hands, but he didn’t know which one it was. The odds of picking an unloaded gun were exceedingly high, but the idea that he still had a one in five chance of choosing wrong froze him in place.

“D-Do I get a hint?”

“There is a bunch. You just have to find one.”

“Shit! Please, I’ll do anything! I’ll even cut off an arm; just give me a hint!”

“Twenty seconds left, Mr. Bernstein. This really shows what you can do under pressure. Is this what congress does all day when they convene? No wonder nothing gets accomplished.”

Michael gave up on trying to persuade the villain. He had no time, so he had little choice but to bet on the one in five chance. Michael pressed one finger to the smart phone’s screen and the artificial tentacle immediately retreated to show the phone to Sam, who eyed it apathetically.

“Number three, is it? Is that your lucky number or something?”

“…”

“Choosing the son-in-law comes as no surprise. Is it because he’s not related by blood? Or do you just not like your daughter’s choice?”

“Was the gun loaded?!”

“Don’t be so impatient. Are you hoping it wasn’t the one? Or are you hoping that it was loaded?”

“How can you even ask something like that?!”

“Pfft, how boring. Ah well. It’s time for the moment of truth!”

The mechanical arm swung the phone around in its hand dramatically before snapping forward and pointing the phone’s screen at Michael. The situation in the room was unchanged on the screen on the projector.

“The footage you see here is not live. It’s a looped scene from an hour ago.”

“What?”

“But the number you pressed is remotely connected to the corresponding rifle—meaning that you pulled the trigger yourself.”

Having the timing switched on him was enough to make Michael’s stomach drop. But Samantha’s cruelty did not end there.

“And the biggest climax has yet to come! Remember when I told you that only one of the guns was loaded? I lied. In reality, every single one of the guns was loaded, so no matter which you chose, you would have shot someone. Don’t you just love quiz questions so simple, you’d have to really bust your ass in order to get them wrong?”

Michael Bernstein was unable to reply. His eyes were wide with shock as his mouth moved wordlessly, unable to keep up with what was going on.

“So, with the odds at a full 100%, your son-in-law has had his brains blown out by none other than his own father-in-law! How do you feel?”

“Stop it…”

“And this is the fun part. The victims were only told that Mr. Bernstein would be choosing who would die. The look on the survivors’ faces will be worth seeing. Will they be sheathed in hatred toward the man they had once seen as their own family? Or will they all be too deep in shock to even remember what they were told? Perhaps the poor grandchildren who saw their own father’s head turn to mush before their eyes have been driven into pure insanity? Let us turn our attention to the big screen as we turn to the real…no. To the live footage!”

“STOOOOOOOOP!”

Michael’s yell meant nothing to Samantha whatsoever as he yelled at the top of his lungs. He put so much energy into it, blood vessels in his eyes popped and he began to cry tears of blood. He soon collapsed as he passed out, unable to handle the stress. Sam ignored him as she manipulated the remote for the projector, switching it to the live footage.

“Hmm…?”

A frown appeared on Sam’s face. Considering the planning and situation, what should have come up was a bloody scene with four restrained people in chaotic states as they grieved over the corpse in the third seat between them. But instead, all five seats were entirely empty, though the chair and rifles remained in place. Only one figure remained in sight of the screen, standing among the seats daringly. A large smirk spread across Samantha’s face as she recognized the face.

“Vigilo…”

“Oh, so you’re there now?” Lloyd Hamilton turned his attention to the small camera that a normal person shouldn’t have noticed without knowing what to look for, especially since it was camouflaged. “You’ll be happy to hear, congressman, that your family is safe. I managed to get them out before the gun fired. They told me that you were the one shooting, so I guess you were forced somehow. Well, that doesn’t really matter. I’ll be up there to deal with that terrorist wannabe, so just sit tight.”

Without waiting for a response, Lloyd headed out of the room and left the camera staring at an empty room. Samantha stared at this picture for a long minute in silence before laughing maniacally and hysterically, clutching her sides as her mechanical arm supported her to keep her from falling off of the desk.

“Incredible! You really are some kind of hero, huh! Swooping in at the most convenient last second and saving the day…I thought idiots like you were long dead! It looks like the power of the einherjar is better than I thought! Fine! No problem! It’s the hero’s duty to stop a villain’s ambitions! Come and try to stop me, Lloyd Hamilton! I’ll rip your limbs from your body and beat in the meek sense of self-preservation that you lack!”
1年以上前 silverexorcist said…
Chapter V- Argue For and Against

{Patronus HQ; Mess Hall}

The mess hall in Patronus was made well, as if the people in charge had not withheld the budget when it came to building the particular section of the organization’s headquarters. The architecture had several different kinds of stories made into the moldings and a massive mural stared down at the people within the mess hall from the ceiling. Paintings covered the walls, but only enough so that it didn’t seem cluttered, most replicas of famous paintings spread throughout the world. Even the tables were noticeably made out of fine metamorphic rock, such as marble.

Of course, keeping such an extravagant place clean was no simply tasks. The maids and cleaning crew of Patronus were actually very valuable, contrary to general echelons in the business societies. In fact, people believed that while on HQ’s soil, there were very few people who held more authority than them, on a fundamental level. They even held the right to punish Vigilo who left messes or broke anything within the HQ, especially the mess hall. That threat alone kept the entirety of Patronus quite clean. The men and woman of Patronus were more than willing to clean up after themselves and take care not to break anything that looked remotely valuable. That, along with the fact that Patronus’ chefs were high class, made Patronus’ mess hall almost restaurant-like in comparison. It was here that workers of Patronus could speak to one another with light conversation and relax from their duties, even if it’s just for a little while. Loitering in the halls where you stood the chance of getting in someone’s way as they worked was very ill advised, so to talk you would have to walk along with the flow of the working people as you talked, which was hardly a way to relax. Predictably, people preferred to sit in the mess hall, which was always open even when it wasn’t serving food. So it wasn’t uncommon to see people in this lavish area of Patronus at all.

“I’m telling you, that’s what I heard.” One particular member of Patronus was saying as he spoke earnestly to two of his friends while they sat at a marble table with the base shaped like Atlas holding up the world. He was in the department that specialized in gathering information. “It sounds crazy, but there is no doubting that these people were serious when they said it.”

“And that’s exactly what you reported?” One of his friends asked with a dull, disbelieving expression. The first man nodded.

“Word for word. Of course, it’s just a rumor, but isn’t it interesting to think about?”

“Hasn’t everyone wondered about that sort of thing before?” The third man seemed altogether amused. “But I wonder what it was? Were they simply lookalikes? Or maybe a time traveler? Or multiple dimensions—”

“Stop it.” The second man sighed. “You’ll hurt yourself if you get your hopes up like that. It’s just a rumor. Besides, I doubt it’s true.”

“So you think it’s just made up?” The first man raised an eyebrow. “Smoke doesn’t rise from where there is no fire, you know.”

“Then mass hysteria. Whatever. I just know that it’s not realistic. Even for America, it’s just too crazy.”

The third man opened his mouth in rebuttal but hesitated as a snort reached their ears for a fourth person. The three were surprised—they’d thought that they were the only ones there. After looking around, they quickly discovered that someone else was hidden beneath an adjacent table.

It was a pretty strange sight. Though people often escaped to the mess hall to relax from work for a little while, this person had apparently done something even more drastic. A pretty young woman had drawn together several chairs from around the table and lined them up together so she could lay down on them like a couch and had done just that. Her eyes were shut and her breathing was easy, as if she were fast asleep. She wore a black sleeveless dress that exposed her thighs from halfway down her thighs and below. The dress exposed part of her cleavage in a strangely alluring way and she had crystal teardrop shaped earrings hanging from her earlobes. The woman’s skin was a tanned color and her hair was long, fluffy, and brunette. Her features were Hawaiian, but the three couldn’t get past the fact that she was asleep (or pretending to be).

There was a brief silence before the woman cracked an eye open as if to check to see if they were still looking at her. Seeing that they were, she sighed without much enthusiasm and rolled from lying on her shoulder to her back as she spoke drowsily.

“What?”

“Well,” The first man hesitated before speaking. “For a second, I thought you were listening in on our conversation and laughed.”

“It wasn’t a laugh. It was a snort of derision.” The woman readily replied as she lazily raised a hand. She pointed one finger in the direction of the second man as she continued with her eyes still shut, as if she were trying to keep herself from completely waking up. “He said something pretty narrow-minded and I couldn’t help but hope was kidding. Apparently not.”

“You really think that the rumor is true then?” The second man demanded indignantly. “If so, you’re just as crazy as the rest of them.”

“Why? Because I won’t blindly wave aside any new possibility placed before me? I’m not saying it’s true—I have no proof. But as the guy with the slanted eyes said—smoke doesn’t rise from where there is no fire. Mass hysteria doesn’t even begin to encompass the odds. Perhaps they were all from the same fetus and purposely dressed the same in order to mess with people. D.C. does attract a lot of freaks, you know.”

“That’s true.” The chuckled lightly. “Anything could be true.”

“Well, no. What you were saying before about time travel and multiple dimensions was just a bunch of stupid and childish ideas. My six year old nephew probably could have thought of that. Even so, I guess that would be more interesting.”

“What do you think, then?” The first man asked with a raised eyebrow as he leaned back in his chair. “Quadruplets? Lookalikes? Or just plain coincidence?”

“Could be any of them.” The woman partially opened one eye to look at them with a bored light in her eyes. “I mean, how often do you get over five dozen people reporting sightings of the same person of at least four different places at the same time?”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

{Abandoned urban area in Maryland}

Gilbert Renolds wielded a strange power and utilized it for his own purposes. That was pretty common in the world he lived in. Little to the world’s knowledge, there were countless organizations of all sizes throughout the globe with various plans and goals of their own. While these organizations had their own stated goals, each individual person had their own goals and plans that brought them into such an organization. By accomplishing the organizations goal, one could accomplish their personal goal. That was the basic mentality of the world he lived in. By using each other people could attain their selfish desires, whatever they may be.

Of course, such goals often involved innocent lives either inadvertently or on purpose. As such, Patronus existed to destroy these selfish organizations for the good of society. That was their ostensible reason, anyways. Really, Patronus was just another organization whose selfish goals happened to involve protecting the masses. The world they lived in was quite dishonest.

Gilbert, of course, used his powers for his own goals. He honestly wasn’t interesting in getting people hurt for no reason. He had gone out of his way to head into an empty multi-leveled garage, heading up the stairs at a rapid pace. He wasn’t after someone. He was trying to get someone off of his tail. Sadly, even as he reached the second to last floor, he could hear the sound of someone else’s footsteps still following after him. Gilbert clicked his tongue in irritation as he looked around the lot and saw a few abandoned cars gathering dust nearby, making a somewhat feasible hiding spot. He headed over immediately, thinking all the while about how he would have preferred if the boy had given up. He truly did not like to endanger uninvolved people, but he would not hesitate if he needed to in order to accomplish his goals.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Fai Locksley stepped out onto the second to last floor of the multi-leveled garage, the type you’d usually find near an airport or the middle of a busy city. This one had been abandoned due to terrible location and the fact that all the nearby areas that had once been sights of interest were now empty. The nearby highway had given cars a reason not to drive by locally, which had resulted in mass bankruptcy for this general area. It went to show just how easy it was for infrastructure to affect business when one wasn’t careful. In fact, a big business that was currently benefitting hugely from the new highway that had been built was probably at fault for having paid the city to hurry the construction. Whether they had predicted the side effects or not was up to speculation, but Fai suspected the worst.

Fai Locksley was a Vigilo whose appearance was not an accurate portrayal of his actual age. Physically, he appeared about the age of an elementry school boy. He wore a white hoodie, skinny jeans, and brown leather boots that reached up to just below his knees. His appearance was thin and lanky, as his limbs appeared longer than they should be proportionally. In actuality, Fai was in his thirties. According to medical tests, he’d been infected with a bacterial disease sometime around the age he physically appeared and his body had simply ceased growing. They speculated that it was a morphed form of Clostridium botulinum, but they had little to no proof.

Perhaps it was due to this disease that Patronus had recruited him as a Vigilo, taking advantage of his appearance for certain jobs that included him infiltrating the ranks of his targets, observing, gaining intel, and, occasionally, elimination of said targets. Some of his colleagues jokingly called him a male kunoichi, but he preferred the term ‘assassin’.

Fai had begun following Gilbert Renolds solely because he found the man’s actions suspicious. It was difficult to single out one suspicious seeming person among a crowd of people, but that was what had made it easy. When it large crowds, a person either assumed that they could not be singled out and relaxed, or they assumed that they were already being watched and stiffly acted naturally, even if they had done nothing wrong to begin with.

But this man had been to natural, as if he was trained to do a job, and then blend back in with the crowd. Most of it had been Fai’s intuition, but he took great pride in his instinct. When the person he’d been following with the intention to simply ask a few questions began to show signs of noticing Fai and taking evasive action to lose him, Fai suspicions were confirmed. Now he intended to arrest the man before questioning him.

So Fai was stunned for a moment when rather than finding the man he was chasing in this garage, he instead found himself being surrounding by five or six officers. Had they noticed the man as well? He had always thought that police officers were rather dull-witted when it came to these sorts of things.

“Hey kid, don’t you think it’s a bit dangerous to be running around here?” One of the officers asked without a smile on his face. They were all wearing shades, so it was difficult for Fai to appraise their thoughts with his eyes. “This isn’t really a good part of the neighborhood.”

“Really?” Fai responded with an innocently childish voice. In three decades, it had yet to crack from puberty. “It seemed like it was empty, so I thought it would be fine. I saw a funny looking man, so I followed him.”

“That funny looking man was probably minding his own business until you started chasing him.”

“Aw, no way! My parents told me a guy like that is probably hiding drugs or something! Why else would he run at the sight of a kid? It seems pretty strange!”

“Where are you parents anyways, kiddo? Do you have their phone number?”

While Fai denied having any such thing in an innocent voice with a bright smile, he frowned internally. Those cops should have been more worried about the man he’d been chasing. Just one or two could have stayed behind the take care of the harmless looking elementary school kid while the others focused on the man who was apparently suspicious enough to run away from said school kid. But instead, they all stayed behind for this one kid. Why was that…?

Just then, Fai shifted his weight and moved his feet swiftly and expertly, quickly side stepping as one of the officers from behind that he’d been keeping mental tabs on lunged forward with a small black device in his hand, electricity crackling between the two prongs extending from it. Fai grabbed the officer’s wrist in both of his hands and used the man’s momentum to send him sprawling forward onto the dirty asphalt. Throwing techniques on solid asphalt was quite dangerous, but Fai had been kind enough to shift the man’s body to avoid any serious damage from occurring.

As the man groaned on the ground, the other officers became tense and hostile, taking out their own black devices. Fai lowered his center of gravity as he drew sheathed crescent blade from his hoodie’s pocket and drew it from the sheathe with a fluid and practiced movement, holding the blade in the opposite direction that one would normally hold it, similar to a ninja. Fai’s kind, childish face quickly hardened as a dangerous aura spread around him.

They aren’t being controlled. Fai realized as he watched the surprised looks cross their faces. Nor are they traitors or spies who infiltrated our ranks. In that case, shooting me would have been smarter. They would have no reason to be so gentle as to knock me out with a Taser. Especially since I hadn’t done anything to warrant that kind of sneak attack.

But that didn’t explain their actions. If they were under some sort of hypnosis, they wouldn’t have shown surprise at Fai’s sudden change of character. Which meant that they were still acting under their own will…or thought they were.

Hypnotic suggestion?

Before Fai could elaborate on that thought, the men rushed at him from all sides. Five full grown men attacking a lone elementary child. These men must have had no shame. Well, it wasn’t like Fai could talk.

Fai didn’t cut them or try to block them, which is all one would assume the knife is good for. He simply tightened his grip on the handle of the short blade as he ducked underneath the outstretched arms of the officers, evading the Tasers by a hairs breath. Taking advantage of his small frame. Fai gripped the arm of one of them men and twisted his torso, as if to throw him. Since the man was so much bigger and was stationary, Fai could not throw his weight. But the man served as a temporary shield against the four other Tasers aimed at him. The back of Fai’s hilt slammed into the man’s jaw and his grip on the Taser loosened. Fai pulled it from his hand immediately and knocked the man out within the next moment. As the officer dropped like a fly, the other four hesitated for a brief moment, unsure of what they had just seen happen.

That moment of hesitation spelled the end of the skirmish. The Taser flew out once more from below as Fai crouched beneath the tall men, and they all collapsed to the ground just like the first. Fai didn’t leave out the man he’d thrown to the asphalt earlier, feeling slightly sorry that he’d still had to injure him like that on reflex. With the six police officers unconscious on the ground, Fai wiped his fingerprints off of the Taser and tossed it to the ground beside the men.

After that was done, Fai, sheathed the knife and pocketed it in his hoodie once more as he strode over to the nearest side of the garage, overlooking the city below. A single police car was driving away from the bottom floor of the garage, heading onto the empty street to drive away. There was no doubt in Fai’s mind that the car was stolen. He didn’t even need his sharp instinct to guess who had hotwired it.

“Geez,” Fai muttered as he glanced back at the unconscious policemen. He’d made quite the mess. “What organization could be making use of an obnoxious ability like his?”
last edited 1年以上前
1年以上前 silverexorcist said…
Chapter VI- Defend Against the Darkness

Lloyd could only be grateful for how lucky he had been. He’d been in one of Patronus’ many facilities scattered across the east coast, taking several tests (blood tests, physical tests, etc.) It was entirely normal for him to go through that sort of thing, but he’d decided to walk back once he’d finished with his tests. He’d made that decision by whim. He’d passed by a large windowless building and had grown curious; entering the seemingly harmless structure to find out what it was, due to having no sign outdoors. He’d made that decision by whim. After seeing that no one was within the lobby, he’d looked around explored a few empty rooms. By whim. Time and time again, his whim brought him closer to the room with five trapped people who were tied to chairs with rifles pointed at their head point blank. He didn’t hesitate to release them and send them out of the room. He’d made them promise not to call the police or report the incident. He was sure that it would be obscured and influenced by those at the top anyways to prevent this incident from becoming known.

As such, he was determined to solve the case alone. After observing the lines that the camera in the room were attached to, he was able to figure out where the person watching must have been. Of course, he didn’t know who this person was. Judging by the voice he’d heard in response to him speaking, he guessed that it was a girl, but that was all he could tell.

Sure enough, Lloyd found the room he was looking for. The door was hanging open slightly and he pushed it open slowly, waiting for a response of some sort. There was nothing. Lloyd pushed the door open completely and looked around the dark room. It was strange. Lloyd had thought it was a windowless building, but there was a large window behind the desk in this office, closed off by two curtains drawn together. He didn’t dwell on this long, though. There was a projector turned on, showing an unmoving picture on the screen. It was an empty room with five chairs lined up with rifles hanging over them. There was no doubt that Lloyd had come to the right place.

But why was it empty?

Well, Lloyd sighed under his breath. It wasn’t like he could have expected this person to stay in one place while he blatantly said he would be coming. They had obviously kidnapped a senator for a reason.

Lloyd passed a hand through his hair in exasperation as he considered what to do next. Searching for clues as to which way they had went seemed like the best action to take. But before he could act on that thought, the sound of glass shattering echoed through his ears as light suddenly flooded into the room. Lloyd whirled around just in time to see a long tendril shoot in through the now shattered window right toward him. He immediately attempted to throw himself out of the way, but the finger-like claws on the end of the tendril managed to firmly grip the edge of his shirt. Before Lloyd knew what was going on, he was being dragged out of the window like a rag doll and tossed from two stories in the air.

“Aaaagggghhhh!” Lloyd cried in shock as he stared wide eyed at the asphalt below. Considering the height at which he was, he would probably survive, but with a few broken bones. He frantically grabbed outward as he felt, barely managing to grip onto the nearest power line with one hand in order to retard his fall. Once the power line reached the extent of its flexibility, it slipped out of Lloyd’s fingers and shivered back and forth like a harp string being played. Lloyd collapsed onto the asphalt from a relatively shorter distance than from before, surviving with only a scrape on his elbow.

“Oww…” he muttered as he sat up. “What the heck was that?!”

“It was a hello from me to you, shitty hero.”

The sound of concrete being dug into floated down to Lloyd’s ears as a figure hung on the side of the building he’d been thrown from. It was an unrealistic moment. A small woman wearing gothic clothes was practically floating in the air in a position one would expect if she had wings providing her with the lift to remain aloft. However, she had no wings, though that would have made much more sense. Instead, four large mechanical arms extended out of her back with three prong-like finger/claws sticking out from the end, digging into the side of the windowless building to create leverage to allow the person to remain in place. Each of these arms was at least six inches in diameter and had the crushing force to break the side of the building so easily. Lloyd suspected that if he hadn’t dodged the first attack and had gotten a body part grabbed instead of just his shirt, he might have been crushed by the force.

“What? No witty reply?” The girl sounded mildly disappointed, though her smirk didn’t fade. She folded her real arms over her chest as she glowered down at Lloyd with her piercing eyes. “Ah well. My name’s Sam Tilburg and I’m from HEL.”

“…I’m Lloyd Hamilton.” Lloyd replied cautiously as he held himself in a position where he could move at a moment’s notice in case she sent one of those mechanical arms down at him again. He wasn’t sure if he was supposed to have laughed when she said she was ‘from hell’. Either way, he was unsure of what to make of this girl. Those arms weren’t attached to a backpack or any machine. They were literally sprouting from her body. Did she have them attached to her nervous system so she could use them as actual body parts? That sort of concept was alien to Lloyd. He didn’t have the active imagination to even begin to think of what something like that meant. “You’re the one who kidnapped the senator and threatened the lives of those five people, aren’t you?”

“What do you think?” Sam snorted. “I’d set up that game just for my little hostage, but you ruined the best part! Well, he’d passed out by the point anyways, so it’s not like to matters.”

“Where is he?”

Sam read the stone cold expression on Lloyd’s face with an excited light in her eyes.

“That’s a good look. You’re thinking that you have to focus on getting him out of danger first, right? Or are you trying to think of what you’ll do if I use him as a human shield?”

The four arms protruding from Sam’s back shifted slightly to move Sam out of the way, exposing the limp body of a man in a suit, being held up by four more arms extending out of Sam’s back. These four arms were much smaller by comparison and had five ‘fingers’ sticking out of them, more rounded than the other four. It was obvious that these four arms were made for precision and meticulous work that the four other arms were too big and cumbersome for.

Lloyd assessed the senator’s situation quickly. He was unconscious and had red smears underneath his eyes, as if he’d been crying blood, but he was still breathing and had no other visible wounds. His life wasn’t in any immediate danger, then.

Just as Lloyd thought that, Sam held up a silver object and Lloyd reacted instinctively. He drew a hand gun from his belt and fire two quick shots at Sam before she could use the knife. The sound of metal hitting metal echoed loudly and Lloyd gritted his teeth as he heard one of the ricocheting bullets hit the asphalt nearby.

“I’ll praise you for aiming at my legs even in this situation,” Sam said with no real praise in her voice. “But you’re just wasting ammunition. Didn’t you think that when you saw that I had metal pieces outside of my under control, maybe my insides aren’t normal either?

“You’re a cyborg.” Lloyd spoke in disbelief. “Parts of your body have been turned into a machine.”

“Bravo.” Sam smacked the hilt of the knife in her hand against the palm of her free hand, mimicking the sound of clapping. “You’re exactly right. I’m the first cyborg in existence. Half my organs and bones have been replaced by machines in an experiment to see if my body would reject it all. Those scientists were a bunch of fucking sadists, but they got the job done.”

Lloyd clicked his tongue as he aimed once more, but Sam just rolled her eyes.

“I told you, you’re wasting ammunition. The best you’ll do by randomly shooting is hit the guy you’re trying to save by accident with a deflected bullet.”

“You’re a cyborg; half of your body is machine. But that also means half of your body is human. Not every part of your body will be made of steel. For instance; I bet those are your real eyes.”

Sam didn’t seem the least bit dismayed to be called on her bluff. In fact, she merely grinned as her four small mechanical arms roughly placed the unconscious senator on the roof of the windowless building. The sound of the big arms digging into the side of the building echoed through the air once more as she climbed downwards to the asphalt like a spider.

“Let’s put your daring to the test, then.” Sam said as she planted the soles of her boots onto the street and her four small arms receded into her back. The four big arms remained, standing upright in the air like snakes coiling to strike. “I’m going to show you what it’s like to lose all of your organs, one by one, without any narcotics!”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“HEL?”

Alicia Sophocles spoke the name in confusion as she continued to pace back and forth through her kitchen. Alicia lived alone in a nice house that one would expect to belong to a middle class American. Up until the previous year, Alicia had lived with her jobless brother and her two aging parents, but all three had moved away; her brother to find work and her grandparents to Florida to retire. Even when it was quiet in her home, Alicia was still used to cooking meals for four people, so every night she cooked for herself rather than going on to it. With the practice she had, she could probably have become a chef in a three or four star restaurant; though she didn’t realize it since the only people who had ever tasted and complimented her food were her family.

Sitting on the counter, her cellphone was on max volume and speaker so she could hear what the person on the other end was saying as she continued to cook.

“That’s right.” The voice confirmed that she had heard right. “It’s a terrorist group in the west that’s starting to cause some trouble. A lot of organizations are beginning to support them, and rumor has it that even some people in D.C. are working with them. Our western branches are reporting all sorts of cases where organizations have lent HEL their support in funding and the like.”

“What are they after?”

“That we are not sure of. Our intelligence groups say that they plan to become the next biggest organization in America. Others say they plan to take over all of America. The general consensus is that whatever they are planning, it’s going to be at odds with Patronus at the very least.”

“And? What exactly do you need me to do?”

“There’s an organization in the midwest that e believe is showing signs of defecting as well, but it is absolutely vital that we have them remain on our side. We want you to go and parley with them and make sure we keep their support.”

“And which organization is that?”

“Umuofia.”

Alicia frowned. If she remembered right, that was the African American group that had formed from former slaves that existed for the purpose of defending colored people from the shadows and had a big influence on the NAACP. Umuofia had formed at first for the sole purpose of maintaining the Underground Railroad. Since then, they had found other reasons to continue to exist to this day.

“Wait, why on earth are they important to HEL?” Alicia asked as she paused from her cooking. “And why is it vital that we keep them on our side, compared to any other organization that may defect?”

“That is all irrelevant information, Ms. Sophocles. You simply need to focus on your objective.”

“But why-”

“You will head over by plane tomorrow afternoon and be escorted along with another A-rank. The odds of there being any fighting is minimal, but be prepared nonetheless.”

Alicia sighed. She knew she wasn’t going to convince this guy to explain anything to her, so she just gave up for the time being. She’d figure out what was going on once she was there.

“Who is the other A-rank?” Alicia asked without much enthusiasm as she returned her attention to the can of milk she was opening with a can opener.

“Tomoe Shinyaku.”

The sound of metal tearing pervaded the empty house as Alicia’s arm made an unnatural spasm. The voice over the phone paused for a moment.

“Ms. Sophocles? Is something the matter?”

“Nothing at all.” Alicia replied in a singsong voice as she tossed a pile of napkins onto the spilt milk on the floor. “I’m just a little excited, is all.”
1年以上前 silverexorcist said…
Sidestory I (SS1)- The Cycle Continues

The sound of gunshots echoed through the air of the Virginian night within an alleyway. Two groups were on opposite sides of the alleyway, hiding behind trashcans for protection as they fired at each other. Any bystanders would mistake them for mafia gangs, though technically they would not be too far off. They were two groups fighting for dominance. However, their circumstances were slightly less simple than what one saw in the movies.

The gun fight had been going on for a few minutes with more or less minimal wounds as both sides preferred to play it safe. Neither side really felt the need to put the life on the line in this skirmish, which slowed down the process substantially. A lone eighteen year old adolescent girl clicked her tongue impatiently as she saw this.

“Honestly,” She muttered darkly as she watched the guns firing while standing at a respectable distance away on top of a sleek red buggy parked conveniently at the perfect vantage point to watch the skirmish. “These people are so unmotivated. Sis should really reconsider who her subordinates are.”

Standing beside the car, Lucas Smith, the man who had been ordered to be her bodyguard, simply frowned as he heard this.

“It’s not good to be picky about who follows you.” Lucas chided. “That’s an arrogant perspective a person should never have.”

“A little arrogance is good for a person’s ego every once in a while.” The girl disagreed dispassionately. “If our guys were arrogant, they would have shown more initiative and would have destroyed the enemy already. The Joyce organization is pretty pathetic, if you ask me. After all the trouble they went through to take over politically, it’s pretty obvious that they lack when it comes to combat. Patronus made it clear that they’re keeping their hands clean of this, so we’re free to do what we want. We should take advantage of that.”

“What do you intend to do, Ms. Marianne?”

Marianne Kalifa grinned as she held her hand out without turning to look at Lucas, clearing enjoying her position standing on top of the car.

“Hand me the keys.”

Both sides of those having a gun fight were beginning to wonder how they would be able to finish things. The sluggish shooting wasn’t going to work for long. Eventually, a group would have to try and advance and would either take over the other side or get shot down trying. It would be a risk worth taking, but these people were unsure of who would be the one to attempt such a thing. The Kalifa organization had been ordered by their newly appointed head to act according to their own judgment, but they were not used to doing such a thing. The poison left behind by the infiltration of the Joyce spies had left its mark on them and they were unsure of what action would be correct. Acting on their own would be difficult.

But they didn’t need orders to be given in order to know to get out of the way as the headlights of a car suddenly flashed on them. The roar of an engine purring filled the air as a sleek red buggy headed directly for the alleyway. The Kalifa’s threw themselves out of the way in time as the buggy rammed through the lined up trash can, sending them flying in every which direction. The Joyce’s had a different approach. They immediately began to fire on the buggy head on to prevent it from reaching them. Many of the bullets pierced the hood and hit the engine, which inevitably sparked the fuel. An explosion filled the thin alley with flames and smoke and the force threw back both sides ferociously, throwing many people onto their back. A lone person strode through the flame, standing at the center of the chaos, completely unarmed with her arm folded across her chest.

“Oh dear,” Marianne spoke aloud so that the Kalifa’s behind her could hear her as they attempted to recover. “It looks like I’m unguarded. The men from Joyce will probably capture and rape me. Whatever shall I do…?”

They sparked the fire in the souls of the member of the Kalifa organization. They rushed through the plume of smoke filling the alleyway immediately in order to reach Marianne immediately, roaring with passion as they resolved themselves to protect her from the Joyce organization, which was also recovering from the explosion. Lucas alone was holding a cell phone up to his ear, speaking frantically to the main secretary of the Kalifa organization.

“Yes, hello? Please patch me through to Ms. Bellatrix immediately! I need her permission to spank her younger sister immediately!”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“…Is what he said.”

Bellatrix Kalifa pinched the bridge of her nose as she sat behind a desk in the throne-like seat belonging to the head of the Kalifa organization. Not long ago, it had belonged to her father. But after being named heir and the sudden passing of the previous head, she’d abruptly found herself taking the seat. James McDougal stood before the desk, having just relayed a message from Bella’s younger sister’s bodyguard.

“I feel guilty for appointing him as her bodyguard.” Bella murmured under her breath in exasperation. “She’s too reckless. Blowing up a car and pandering to the male demographic of our men in order to get them to show more incentive? Honestly…”

“To be fair, it’s because of her that we’ve made so much headway against the Joyce family.” James offered as consolation. “It won’t be long now until the fighting is over.”

“It won’t be soon enough.” Bella murmured. “After the sudden passing of my father, things have really gotten terrible. We have much bigger things to worry about than the vengeful attacks from the Joyce organization.”

As she said this, she set a California newspaper on the desk in front of her, leaving it open to the page titled, “Everglades”.
1年以上前 silverexorcist said…
Chapter VII- Confrontation on the Empty Street

Lloyd’s biggest advantage was his weapon’s superior specs.

He wasn’t sure exactly how Sam’s mechanical arms worked, but they weren’t hard enough to break his shield. He’d figured that out after just blocking a few of her strikes that were aimed to grab him. At the same time, Sam’s mechanical armors weren’t going to warp and break from striking his shield either. With their reach and strength, Lloyd couldn’t hope to overpower them.

Lloyd had instinctively turned his mechanical cross into a shield, but it was far from its only capability. Though he called himself a Vigilo, Lloyd was really a soldier at heart. His custom made weapon was a reflection of that.

Lloyd allowed one of the blows from the mechanical arms to throw him over a car parked by the sidewalk, quickly landing on his feet and hiding behind the car as a shield. Lloyd’s shield quickly reassembled with many nanobots, changing shape entirely becoming more compact and longer to fit in his hands. It had already finished changing once two of Sam’s long arms smashed into the car’s windows mercilessly, tossing the piece of metal high into the air before it crashed onto the asphalt once more several yards away, flattened.

“This is really pathetic.” Sam said tauntingly as she smirked at Lloyd’s crouching figure. “I realize that you might not have come with a plan or anything, but hiding behind a car when you know it won’t help you? Don’t tell me you’re pissing your pants—”

Sam quickly brought her hands up to cover her mouth and eyes as a machine gun flared and bullets deflected off of her metal body. Lloyd kept the fire focused on her as he moved quickly to the side and drew something from his pocket. He pulled the pin out with his teeth and tossed the egg-shaped item toward Sam. The explosion that followed made Sam tumble a little, but she remained relatively unharmed. Lloyd clicked his tongue as he didn’t spot a single trickle of blood or a wound. Where her eyes the only weak spots?

His cross was a custom-made weapon that could turn into most metal weapons, though it had a very limited amount of ammo for things that fired projectiles, such as guns. Because of this, he carried other weapons, such as grenades with him. But like bullets, grenades held their lethal power in projectile force, rather than the explosion itself. When the grenade had exploded, the shrapnel had deflected off of Sam’s body as well. She simply continued to smirk at him as he turned his machine gun into an assault rifle. He tossed himself out of the way as two of Sam’s mechanical arms shot forward like lunging snakes, smashing into the asphalt where he’d been. While on the ground, Lloyd aimed and fired his rifle at various parts of Sam’s body to see her reaction. The bullets deflected off of her chest, abdomen, legs, and even neck. If he was able to use higher caliber bullets, it would probably be different, but 9mm was all he’d come with, and that was standard handgun level.

“Damn!” Lloyd cursed as he rolled quickly to avoid being crushed by Sam’s flailing arms. Their reach this time slammed into the telephone poles around them and send a few tumbling down, sending the electrical wires flailing in the air around her. Sam didn’t seem the least bit worried as she kept her eyes focused on Lloyd, ignoring the dangerously close live wires.

“You’re pretty well-guarded.” Lloyd said as he struggled to catch his breath once more after running around so much. “I guess since you know I know your weak spot, you aren’t going to let me get to it so easily.”

“What fun would it be if I made it easy?” Sam challenged with an eyebrow raised. She spread her real arms out, spreading her thin fingers wide. “As a villain, I must do my absolute best to completely and utterly destroy my enemy. If I’m an impossible hurdle, then it just means that you weren’t good enough! Come now; trapped by electricity and facing an opponent immune to your bullets, the stage has finally been set! Go home if it intimidates you; a hero shouldn’t be phased by something like this!”

Lloyd didn’t respond. He held up his rifle and it disassembled quickly, wrapping around his arms quickly like metal gauntlets. Lloyd gripped his hands in the chrome gloves as he held his arms horizontally at his sides.

“How many hours do you think I’ve poured into becoming a Vigilo?” Lloyd asked in a low voice, though loud enough for Sam to hear. “How many hours do you think I’ve trained my body in order to protect lives? If you think I’m going to give in just because bullets won’t work, you’ve got another thing coming!”

Lloyd rushed forward then with his hands still gripped into fists. Sam smirked as her metal arms flew out in four directions. Two of her arms knocked into the flailing electric telephone wires around them and sent them in Lloyd’s direction while the other two rushed toward Lloyd direction. Lloyd narrowly managed to dodge out of the way of the two arms attacking him and he drew something from his pocket as the wires approached. Sam’s eyes widened as the electrical wires whipped at Lloyd’s body but didn’t show any signs of harming him. Even so, the electrical wires slammed into parked cars, denting a few of their hoods. The sparks lit the fuel tanks and they exploded ferociously from around them, sending Lloyd sprawling. Even so, he forced himself forward all the while. Before she knew it, Lloyd had gotten too close for her to hit him with her mechanical arms. She immediately began to draw back in order to gain more time so her smaller mechanical arms could unfold from her back and attack Lloyd, but she was several beats too late. Lloyd stepped in firmly and planted his feet in the ground as he rotated his body. A fist slammed into Sam’s gut fiercely. Though the metal exo-skeleton was unharmed, the force of the blow pressed it against her remaining internal organs, causing blood to well up in her throat suddenly. She collapsed to the ground and coughed up the blood roughly in order to clear her wind pipe.

“Screw that!” Sam yelled angrily as her arms rushed toward Lloyd from four directions, aiming to maim him. “I’ll turn you into a fucking piece of beaten flesh!”

The sound of flesh being grinded filled the air right before asphalt was crushed and carved through. Blood splattered across the ground and a body stumbled onto its back.

The fight was over.

Sam stared wide eyed at Lloyd stand over her, completely paralyzed from the second blow to the gut he’d given her as blood drooled down quickly from between her lips.

Lloyd stood with one of her arms preventing the mechanical arm that had struck his side from digging too deep into his thigh. The other three had miraculously missed at the last second as his punch made Sam wince.

The two stared at each other for a long moment, ignoring the pain afflicting their bodies. A liquid was dripping from Lloyd’s metal gloves and his entirely body was soaked. Sam realized that the thing he’d drawn from his pocket earlier had been a bottle of pure water. It served as a perfect insulator for water if it had no impurities, so by splashing it around him when he’d rushed in earlier, he’d temporarily made him immune to the low volts of electricity.

The silence went on for nearly five seconds before Sam spoke angrily.

“Well?” She demanded as she spat out more blood. “Get on with it. I’m not no position to protect my eyes, so shoot me.”

“No.” Lloyd said firmly. “I told you that I’ve trained to save lives, not take them.”

Sam’s eyes widened at those words. Fury pervaded her body as she forced herself to sit up. Pain wracked her whole body, but she didn’t care. Her damaged ego numbed it.

“Fuck that, you pussy! I kidnapped a senator and his family, threatened their lives, and nearly made them all go insane from trauma! No; even ignoring all of that, we just fought for our lives just now! Why the hell would you let me live?!”

“I don’t need a reason to save a life.” Lloyd grimaced at Sam’s words in disgust. This only pissed her off more. “That goes for sparing lives as well. I didn’t become a Vigilo to kill people.”

“Bullshit! If you let me go, I’ll just come back to kill you, you bastard!”

“I didn’t say I’ll let you go. You’re under arrest for all of the charges you just admitted to.”

Samantha Tilburg grimaced as she spat a small amount of blood at the road in one last effort of defiance, glaring madly. Lloyd was secretly impressed. With the damage she’d taken internally, she should have passed out long ago. Whoever had modified her body had done an excellent job.

Lloyd knelt down to turn his custom weapon into a pair of handcuffs to put around Sam’s wrists when the sound of wheels skidding across asphalt reached their ears. Lloyd turned with a confused look. After the damage that had been done, he was sure that some members of the underground allied with Patronus, if not Patronus itself, would have had the street closed and a detour set up. Why would a car be headed to them?

What Lloyd saw instead of a car, however, was a large bulky black machine balancing on two wheels. Lloyd’s eyes widened at the sight of it skidding toward them. It was ugly and slightly nondescript, but one could take note of the two protrusions on the side of the upper part of the vehicle, as well as notice how the machine appeared to be standing upright, similarly to a human.

Lloyd had seen variations in movies and shows all the time, but seeing it in person lacked all irony and humor. It was too unreal.

“Is that a mecha?!” Lloyd exclaimed aloud before he could stop himself. Such a machine would be a superior artillery unit, capable of outperforming a tank effortlessly. Even so, he was surprised before scared. Had Patronus actually engineered a mecha? Was it unmanned?

The approaching machine came to a slowed stop before them and one of its burly ‘arms’ jerked forward. Lloyd looked up at the spherical piece of metal covered in hole for a moment in confusion before his eyes widened in pure shock and fear.

And then he was tumbling out of the way uncontrollably as a strong arm pushed his back, sending him rolling quickly across the asphalt.

“I fucking hate being in debt to idiots.”

Those last defiant words were lost among the sound of hundreds of bullets raining from the spherical object, digging into the asphalt mercilessly over a range exceeding five meters in diameter. Lloyd pushed himself to his feet and stared at the crippled body left behind in terror.

The mecha had killed Samantha Tilburg, so it was unlikely that it was on her side. But at the same time, it had attacked while blatantly putting Lloyd in danger, which meant it was unlikely to be from Patronus. Which meant a third party organization was getting involved? Were they in it for political gain? Military gain? Or was it a test run for the machine?

Whatever the reason was, Lloyd was filled with the urge to fight back. His hands gripped together as he eyed the machine, thinking of as many ways to fight back as he could.

It didn’t have a visible cockpit, nor even a window to look out threw, which meant it was either unmanned or worked via radar. As if in answer to this thought, an oval gadget sprouted from the right shoulder of the mecha quickly before retreating. The mecha turned toward Lloyd and Lloyd tensed. It was definitely manned. Which meant that Lloyd had a chance to make the man hesitate and target the fuel tank to explode it, just like the cars, by using the free wires around them.

But that plan ended as soon as Lloyd realized that it wasn’t using fuel. In fact, he couldn’t tell what it was powered with. There were no exhaust pipes anywhere to be seen, or even vents, so it couldn’t have been burning fossil fuels or else it would heat up and explode itself, as Lloyd was intending to do. But running on electricity would be far too imprudent, especially for a military weapon that would probably be used in situations where there was no access to electrical outlets. What the hell could it be powered by? Solar energy? But there were no panels, or fans of any sort to harness wind. It should not have had access to energy, and yet it was moving. It may have had a simple, yet foreign way of working, but Lloyd didn’t know. That fact alone paralyzed him and prevented him from acting properly.

The mecha held up what looked like an oversized bazooka and aimed it at Lloyd. Lloyd’s heart jumped as he instinctively activated his custom weapon, turning it into a shield as fast as he could. But the time it took to cover him completely was too long. The force of the explosion that flew from the barrel of the mecha’s weapon slammed into the half-made shield and sent Lloyd flying back several meters, stripping the shield off of him as he collapsed to the ground painfully. He tried to sit up but his wounds ached everywhere. He could feel his consciousness failing as he struggled to stand. Fresh wounds were bleeding and bruises were throbbing, and yet the mecha did not leave him be. It aimed the bazooka at the incapacitated Lloyd once more and prepared to fire. It’s thick finger prepared to press the trigger and Lloyd gritted his teeth as he braced himself.

Then the mecha hesitated. It drew back slightly as it’s radar popped out of its shoulder, but the bazooka still did not lower. Even so, it was clearly uncertain of what to do.

The cause of the military weapon that surpassed a tank’s hesitation was a young girl in a clean white outfit with a skirt that only reached about halfway down her thighs whereas her legs were sheathed in black leggings. The girl had her back to Lloyd, facing the mecha.

“Oho, so you actually paused at the sight of a civilian?” The girl spoke with an arrogantly amused tone. “And here I was worried that you’d fire on a little girl since you had already done it to that other one.”

Instead of answering, the mecha’s radar popped out of its shoulder once more as the pilot probably struggled to decide what to do. Lloyd’s vision began to fade out as the girl standing over him held a military radio up to her face and spoke into it, though the words were unclear to him. He lost consciousness just as a whistling sound filled the air, caused by something falling from the sky toward them.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When Lloyd came to, he was looking at a pair of legs sheathed in leggings once more. Sirens filled the air as well as the smell of smoke and fire. The sky had darkened due to the cloud of ash hanging over them and people were speaking quickly as they ran back and forth around Lloyd. A man in the military’s uniform was treating Lloyd’s wounds and held up a syringe filled with a drug to numb Lloyd’s body. Lloyd ignored him and struggled to look at the girl’s face. She still had her back to him.

“…Thanks for saving me.” He struggled to speak. His jaw felt numb. “But…who are you?”

“Just another person acting in their organization’s best interests.” The girl replied without turning. “And don’t thank me. This makes us even, so don’t worry about it. We’ll meet again. Eventually.”

And then, as if predicted by the girl, Lloyd succumbed to the drugs and passed out once more.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Blood splattered through the sewers along with the sound of machines forcibly supporting a person’s weight. It was hardly a glorious route to escape through. This person hardly expected things to turn out the way they would. To think that that man would have allies where least expected…it was unnatural. Whoever that girl was, it was unlikely that she had only arrived in time to see Lloyd being attacked.

Well, whatever it was, it didn’t concern this person. They just needed to escape and worry about vengeance later. No one was going to make a mockery of this person and get away with it.

Just as they were thinking this, this person froze in place as their body locked up. A small dart was sticking out of their leg, shot from the shadows of the sewer, and hit this person’s blind spot. Another person who’d be watching the fighting from the shadows, no doubt. It was clear that not many idiots left like Lloyd who’d fight honestly.

This last thought was thought wryly as this person collapsed to the ground, succumbing to the paralyzing poison within the dart. A silhouette slipped out of the shadows to stare down at their apprehended quarry with emotionless eyes. A single voice spoke tonelessly, void of ego or interest.

“Objective complete.”
last edited 1年以上前
1年以上前 silverexorcist said…
Chapter VIII- A Mission Briefing and a Metamophorical Interrogation

Being part of the secret organization of Patronus had its perks, such as travelling between states on a private jet with practically no cost at all. However, the privileges did not reach into every aspect of travel. Though they had been given a ride on a plane, they still arrived at a busy airport, albeit ahead of schedule. There were planes preparing to take off while others landed, so they had to wait on the private jet for nearly thirty minutes even after landing.

Alicia took the chance to get caught up on what had happened since she’d left the capital barely an hour earlier.

“One of the senators was kidnapped to prevent him from going to the closed session and a military class tactical weapon caused a high amount of damage to a single road.” The young pretty maid who had been tasked with accompanying Alicia on her mission reported the information she had received directly from the Patronus headquarters. She stood at a polite distance with her hands folded over her lap, wearing an authentic maid outfit of black and white cloth that hid her entire body from view, unlike the French maid outfits. Ironically, though, she spoke with a faint Parisian accent. “There were zero casualties and while the kidnapper has been arrested and detained, we have yet to find the one who performed the terrorist attack.”

“All that happened in just an hour?” Alicia frowned at the news. She smoothed down her long skirt unconsciously as she thought through the report carefully. “It must have been planned.”

“That is what has been speculated. However, one testimony—two, if you count the kidnapper’s—states that the terrorist had purposely used a bullet grenade on the kidnapper, so it is uncertain if they were truly working together.”

“A bullet grenade? Did it miss?”

“No, it was point blank. It left its target gravely wounded.”

Alicia wanted to argue that any human who was that close to that shower of bullets when it went off wound be killed instantly, no matter how lucky they were. But she knew that the maid was only telling her the information within the report, so it would be pointless to argue.

“Do we know what organization was behind the terrorist attacks?” Alicia asked this question with the most likely possibility in her head. The maid’s response confirmed her suspicions.

“The kidnapper says she is from HEL.”

HEL. Not the netherworld where demons and the eternally damned were supposed to exist, but an organization. By looking at the strange spelling, someone familiar with Norse mythology would recognize that it was a reference to the goddess of the underworld. Whether this name had some poetic meaning behind it had yet to be known. What was known was that the organization was directly opposing the U.S. government and getting people to rally behind them. It was difficult for a democratic republic like America to promptly put down a domestic terrorist group once it had enough support by the people. That was why Patronus, an organization that didn’t have to follow all the rules, was called in to deal with it. But even with Patronus, they had to tread carefully.

Alicia’s eyes peered toward the girl sitting in the seat beside her, eyes looking out the window of the private jet to watch the men loading bags into the cargo area of a passenger plane. Evidently, her attention wasn’t dominated by the view as the girl saw the reflection of Alicia in the window and turned.

“Yes?” She asked politely as she raised one golden eyebrow.

Tomoe Shinyaku was a young Asian around the same age as Alicia. Though some argued that were a lot alike, their differences were far more obvious. Their sense of style went without saying. Alicia was always wearing western dresses and heels, to the point where she felt uncomfortable when she went anywhere wearing something else. Tomoe wore a beautifully woven silk shirt and a wide skirt that hid her legs among the many folds, putting her womanly body to waste, likely on purpose. She even wore a pair of split toed socks and sandals as a reminiscence of her culture. One looked as if she dressed too gaudily and the other looked as if she dressed too objectively.

They had a good reason to dress the way they did, due to being einherjar among the Vigilo, but they wouldn’t bother explaining it if you asked. They’d simply reply, ‘It feels more natural’.

“Do you think that the attack was meant to be a message to us, who are trying to prevent another organization from joining them?” Alicia asked seriously to her companion. “It seems too flashy.”

“We’ll just have to find out, won’t we?” Tomoe replied easily as she hopped to her feet. “Look; one man is waving to us to tell us we can finally leave.”

The two A-rank Vigilo gathered their stuff as the maid bowed after them, staying behind to finish cleaning the jet and set everything in order before following after them.

The weather outside was nice for the time of day. A strong breeze was blowing and Alicia raised one hand up to keep her hair from flying into her eyes as she blinked several times to allow her eyes to adjust to the bright sunlight.

“The air is always so different when we travel inland.” She sighed as she took a deep breath. “The sea breeze is saltier and less dry.”

“But I doubt they are particularly jealous of our problem with hurricanes.”

Tomoe stepped out behind Alicia and the breeze immediately caught her pale blonde hair and threw it into the air along with the slack of the white headband tied around Tomoe’ forehead. Tomoe always carried three items with her. A white headband with a single red dot at the center to be position over her forehead, a face fan with a similar red dot on both faces, and a beautiful katana with an autumn colored sheathe and a reddish-brown cloth wrapped around the tsuba. Tomoe had the latter two items tucked in the sash wrapped around her waist, completely natural for her.

The two girls turned their attention to the two men who were striding over to greet them. Both wore military uniforms and walked with a purpose. It was obvious to the two that they had come with the intention to impress them.

“Ms. Alicia Sophocles, Ms. Tomoe Shinyaku.” One of the men greeted with a salute as the two walked down the steps leading from the jet to stand on the asphalt. At a lower altitude, the wind had dropped so Alicia didn’t have to hold her hair in place with her hand anymore. “I apologize for having to make you wait so long. It’s the end of summer, so families that we all on vacation are beginning to return now.”

“Ah, that’s what it was.” Tomoe murmured in relief, as if she had a heavy burden taken off of her back. “I had forgotten that school was starting again soon.”

“It’s fine.” Alicia assured the soldier. “We needed the chance to go over some current events anyways.”

The two soldiers exchanged a glancing before one of them asked, “Is it the terrorist attack in Virginia?”

Both of them tensed their shoulders as Alicia nodded.

“I see. A rumor had only just reached us about that event. To think that it was true.”

“It will be on the news within the hour, I’d imagine.” Alicia sighed. “But there is no helping that. We have to focus on our business here.”

The soldier nodded in agreement. “A car is waiting for us at the front.”

The other soldier held a hand out to Tomoe, who merely regarded him without comprehension.

“It’s rude to ask for something without even explaining why.”

“We are well-trained officials capable of handling any situation that may come along.” The soldier said firmly. “There is no need for you to carry around that antique. Our arms will be more than enough.”

Tomoe’s eye twitched at the soldier’s seemingly harmless words and her hand reached down for the sheath. But instead of taking it from her belt to hand it to the soldier, Tomoe abruptly drew her sword and swung it outward twice before the soldier could even flinch. By time he did wince, Tomoe was already calmly sheathing the blade. The ends of the soldier’s already short hair trickled to the ground and blew away on a gust of wind, and the soldier grimaced in surprise.

“Ma’am?”

“It’s even more rude to insult a warrior’s most trusted tool.” Tomoe spoke in a low tone as she glared at the soldier. “Kamisori Kazeken is a high grade katana. If you only see it as a mere antique, I’m afraid it would rust from just being in your possession.”

The soldier was stunned at the defensive vehemence in her voice and immediately apologized. Alicia sighed as she watched the exchange without saying a word, turning her attention to the figure that approached silently and politely while the soldier expressed his regret.

“Everything is set for us to go.” The maid bowed as she caught Alicia’s eye. “I apologize for taking as long as I did.”

“Who is this?” The other soldier asked as he stared at the maid with wide eyes. Apart from the surprise of seeing a person dressed as a maid in broad daylight, his eyes momentarily dropped a few centimeters from her face curiously. Alicia pretended she didn’t notice.

“In Patronus’ HQ, we have specially trained personnel, which includes our service workers. Please treat her as you would us.”

“My name is Jeanne Richelieu.” The maid bowed once more as she introduced herself. “It is a pleasure to meet you.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The atmosphere in the bottom most level of the headquarters of Patronus was irate. Patronus rarely kept prisoners due to rarely ever having a reason to. If they needed someone to be kept under surveillance and have their freedom stripped from them, they could easily send them to a maximum security prison. In fact, many of the prisoners in said prison fell under that heading. However, every once in a while they held a prisoner in the bottom most level in order to question them for information.

Although it was called the bottom most layer, it wasn’t the further anyone could go down. It was a massive room with a single entrance and a gaping chasm heading straight down into darkness. About twenty feet of floor extended from the walls in the circular room. From then on, there was only a deep drop for an unknown distance. The chasm was about one hundred feet in diameter and a single pillar of solid steel towered out of the darkness at the very center of the chasm. A pathway extended from one direction from the pillar to the floor surrounding the chasm and high blue tinted clear walls were erect on this pillar, creating a sort of room. It was empty, aside from the simple table and two chairs on opposite ends.

“When the hell am I going to get something to drink, damn it?!” Samantha Tilburg demanded furious as she slammed one boot on top of the table. She sat in one of the chairs with her arms folded across her chest tightly, glaring fiercely at the cameras inside the room focused on her. She still wore her black gothic outfit and there were bandages wrapped around her abdomen. She grabbed these bandages with one hand and ripped them off in disgust. “And the hell is with this toilet paper? I’m a fucking cyborg! I don’t need any damn pity from you bastards!”

Many people had already attempted to question her. It wasn’t that she had tried too hard to resist. She’d already given them loads of information. She’d happily told them about how they had been working with a senator within Congress and had told the entire truth about what had happened after fighting with Lloyd in the broad daylight. She’d even explained to them what she knew about that mecha that had attacked her. It had been from HEL, there was no mistaking it. It had been trying to kill both Sam and Lloyd. She’d managed to survive by luck thanks to her metal insides diverting the high caliber bullets away from her vital organs. It was while escaping that she’d been shot and paralyzed from behind and captured by Patronus. Though she was a cyborg, not all of her body was mechanical. Her backside, especially, was filled with holes where there was only flesh. Her eight mechanical arms folded neatly and compressed into a compartment in her back, but the amount of space it took was unbelievably small, so any parts aside from around where her shoulder blades were on her back were likely to be made of human flesh.

Since she’d been captured alive despite being near death, Sam felt no qualm or guilt with making a total nuisance of herself. She hadn’t even attacked any of the men who had come to interrogate her—she didn’t need to. By forcing the conversation to her pace and ruining their rhythm, she had made the interrogations extremely awkward and uncomfortable, to the point that the men were relieved to finally be able to leave and not come back.

A single man stood just outside the door leading into this room where Sam was being held captive, sighing as he heard her impertinent dirty comments.

“Good grief. Is that the cyborg girl everyone’s so excited to meet?”

“Yes sir.” One of the soldiers beside him nodded as he glanced up at the screen. “I’m afraid they don’t really know just how much of a handful she is, cyborg or not. I would never recommend meeting her.”

“I can imagine. She dresses abhorrently. Has she been hostile yet?”

“Not exactly. Verbal abuse aside, she’s been arguably cooperative.”

“I see.” The man replied simply as he raised a hand to open the door. The soldier’s eyes widened in surprise.

“Sir, like I said, I wouldn’t suggest meeting her!”

“I don’t mind.” The man assured as he pushed the door open and stepped in. Sam’s piercing eyes focused on him as he strode in a circle around her prison, heading towards the single path toward the one locked doorway to the room Sam was in. Sam snorted as he opened the door and walked in.

“A Russian, eh? I guess it’s time for the torture.”

“The United States frown upon torture and coercion, I’m afraid. Perhaps another time.”

Sam’s brow furrowed as the man took a seat across from her and sat back, watching her in return. Sam’s eyes focused on the double infinity symbol that formed a cross on the top right corner of the chest of the man’s coat.

“Shit.” She murmured softly as a grinned spread across her face. “They sent an S-rank this time? It looks like they’ve suddenly gotten serious.”

“So you know about S-ranks?” Winslow Torchinvich raised an eyebrow curiously. “Well I guess that’s not really a big surprise.”

“I can’t imagine anyone in the underworld not knowing about you guys. If you’ve heard of Patronus, you’ve heard of the S-ranks.” Sam dropped her boot to the floor and sat forward, leaning one arm on the table. “Five expert Vigilo with incredible combat skill and an IQ to match, the S-ranks are basically the generals of Patronus, though since Patronus is an unusual organization as it is, your roles are different as well. I heard rumors that two of the S-ranks are supposed to become the leaders of Patronus when those already in that position retire. And that only two of you are einherjar.”

“It seems that the underworld has really deified our rank.” Winslow sighed. “And I wouldn’t put too much stock in those rumors.”

“I figured that your chain of command would be a bit more complex than that.” Sam shrugged her shoulders indifferently. “So what do you want with me?”

“I’ve come to offer you a future.” Winslow replied, getting straight to the point. Sam stared at him in confusion for a long moment as she narrowed her eyes.

“…What?”

“You were attacked by your own ally. I would assume that means that they either want you dead or don’t care either way and prefer that you didn’t get the chance to talk. Now that you have given us the information we wanted, we have no further use for you. In other words, you are wanted in neither heaven nor hell.”

“You fucking bastard, don’t make such a crappy joke.” A heinous smirk spread across Sam’s face as she played with the beer can that had been brought to her earlier to satisfy her complaints. “So after being abandoned by my allies, you think I’m going to throw my life to you pussies for protection? Don’t mess with me. Why the hell would I trust you to protect me? Because you’re from the government?”

“Because your other option would be to face the death penalty.” Winslow replied calmly. Sam laughed aloud in response to that; it was not a reaction one would expect from someone told they were slated to die.

“So you’ve come to threaten me! That’s much better! If you had told me some shit about protecting me out of the goodness of your heart, I would have killed you in that chair!”

“I see you’ve spoken with a certain protagonist.” Winslow sighed as the corners of his lips twitched. “His ideals are unbelievable, aren’t they?”

“That bastard’s an idiot.” Sam agreed enthusiastically. “I wish I had managed to kill him when I got the chance. Granted; it looks like he has the strength to protect those pointless ideals he has. You S-ranks really are something else.”

“Pardon?” Winslow cocked his head fractionally. “Lloyd Hamilton is not an S-rank.”

“What?” Sam froze as she stared at Winslow once more in disbelief. “Then…what the hell is he?”

“We who achieve S-rank are given our own portions of America in which our influence is a part of. I’m the only one this far east, stretching from Maine to Florida. Lloyd is nothing more than a C-rank, the lowest tier we have among Vigilo.”

Sam’s eyes went out of focus as those words sunk into her. Then, in a flash, four mechanical arms sprouted from her back and shot forward faster and more deadly than arrows. Winslow hopped out of his chair an instant before it was shattered to splinters and crouched his body immediately as the soles of his boots touched the floor. With a single push, he shot toward Sam and drew a knife from inside one of his boots, flipping it open as he narrowly evaded the mechanical arms as they fired at him once more. Winslow jumped on top of the shaft of one of the arms and slid on it easily toward Sam, swinging his knife out. Winslow froze in mid-movement as a smaller mechanical arm fired from Sam’s back and flew toward Winslow’s neck. Winslow positioned himself to put his arm between him and the smaller arm while keeping the blade of his knife hovering over Sam’s exposed eye sockets.

“…”

Sam sighed as all five of her mechanical arms folded back into place, disappearing from sight entirely, and she sat back in her chair, stretching her legs out to place both boots on top of the table. Winslow returned to where the broken chair was as he stuck the knife back inside his boot.

“To think that damned hero is only a C-rank.” Sam muttered ferociously. “I had thought that heroes were ever benevolent idiots with no sense of self-preservation, but this is ridiculous!”

Winslow could understand Sam’s thoughts. He’d been momentarily subdued by the very same man not too long ago. Lloyd had put both his social and military rank in danger in order to save a single young woman. In a way, he resembled a certain S-rank in more ways than one.

“My vision of a hero differs greatly from that.” Winslow sighed in exasperation as he thought of that man. Sam heard this and raised an eyebrow.

“Does it? Then how about we have an intelligent conversation, Mr. S-rank? I may decide what to do after that. What do you think a hero is?”

Winslow eyed Sam curiously for a moment, as if deciding whether or not she was serious. After realized she meant it, Winslow sighed once more.

“Simply put, a hero is the very pinnacle of misfortune.”

“…?”

Sam frowned at how very vastly that opinion differed from hers. She hadn’t expected to hear something quite so morbid. Winslow noted her expression.

“Does it sound strange? I can understand if it does. But haven’t you ever read a book of any kind before? Let’s use that as an example. The hero—or the main protagonist—is in any story. There is one defining characteristic of these protagonists that make them different from any other character in any narrative in existence. That is; they will always draw trouble to them. Something unnatural or something unpleasant from the character’s perspective will occur. In mystery novels, a strange phenomenon is brought forth. In adventure novels, the main character faces challenge after challenge. A peaceful and easy life is impossible. The protagonist is literally forced to deal with one trial after another.”

“Of course. If not, there would be no story.”

“Exactly. There are two things we can say about a protagonist: they will inevitably face a harsh challenge and they will inevitably survive it. The latter’s only exception is when the story comes to a close, or the story will be forced to take on a new protagonist. So my point is; if a hero is always running into challenge after challenge, trial after trial, danger after danger, tragedy after tragedy, then would they not be extremely unlucky people?”

“But what does that say for us, who are always going through dangerous and trials like a hero? Are we all heroes ourselves?”

“Such things are impossible in reality.” Winslow said so firmly, Sam was startled. “A curse that forces a person into one baffling incident after another…such a thing cannot exist in this world. What I had explained is true, but implies that heroes and protagonists are existences that if they arrive at somewhere, an incident is sure to happen. Novels and stories are fictional worlds where a character can survive anything so long as the author writes it so. This world is different. If a person were to carry such a curse, the physical, mental, and emotional strain would kill them.”

“I see.” Sam’s smile was less intense than before as she sat back in her chair as Winslow fell silent, apparently done with explanation. “I see heroes as selfless fools without a sense of self-preservation whereas you see them as sadly misfortunate beings that do not exist.”

“I never said they do not exist.” Winslow murmured so quietly that he may not have intended for Sam to hear it. “I simply find the idea so absurd, they cannot possibly exist.”

Sam sighed, allowing him that.

“In that case, I’ve made my decision.”

“About what?”

“What I’m going to do.”

Sam hopped up violently and her chair skidded back a few inches from the intensity. Sam grinned mischievously across at the apathetic Winslow as she leaned over the table.

“If I work with you people, I may find myself with the chance to get back at those bastards who nearly killed me. Besides, more than one of you people has already caught my interest. If I stick around, maybe I’ll see one of those incidents you say gravitates toward heroes.”

Winslow shook Sam’s extended hand with the faintest of a smallest appearing on his lips.

“You’re just mad that they stabbed you in the back before you could. Well, I suppose such vertical relationships can be beneficial as well.”
last edited 1年以上前
1年以上前 silverexorcist said…
Chapter IX- Smoke Doesn't Spread From Where There Is No Fire

Patronus’ lounge rooms were usually empty around 8:00 in the morning. Those who just wanted to relax would probably stay home if they had that luxury. Those who worked through the night would be more focused on finishing their job so they can go home and sleep. Of course, there were still a lot of workers. Patronus HQ was never silent.

A lone woman sat at a table within the lounge, stifling a yawn. She had long brown hair that cascaded across her back and she wore a sleeveless black dress that exposed a small portion of her cleavage as well as her legs. Teardrop shaped earrings hung from her earlobes and her eyes were the color of melted chocolate. She sat in a relaxed position with one leg crossed over the other as she swirled her coffee with a stir absently, her drowsy eyes remaining unfocused. She didn’t even look up as the door to the lounge opened and shut to allow one person in side and a basket of bread rolls was placed on the table before her. A single girl sat on the opposite end of the table across from the first woman with her hands folded across her lap politely.

Anyone would have found this strange. The two girls looked exactly alike. Following the description of the first woman, the second had all the same exact features in body structure. However, her clothes were clearly different. She wore a round brimmed white hat with a red band around the base of the crown. She wore a black long sleeved shirt and a blue vest over it. She wore a red pleated skirt, blue leg warms, and simple white sneakers. The identical woman wearing the black dress normally scoffed at the other’s sense of style, but seemed too distracted to mention anything now.

Strangely, with the way they were dressed despite having identical faces, the one in the black dress appeared older.

“Older sister.” The girl in the skirt spoke calmly as the one she was addressing continued to stir her coffee absently. “Would you mind if I inquired something?”

“What is it?” Contrary to the ‘younger’ one’s polite tone, the ‘older’ one’s tone was bored and indifferent. The girl in the dress set down the stirring rod as the girl in the skirt continued.

“After securing the member of HEL as instructed, we immediately set out to recover the damaged pieces of the tactical weapon and brought them to the engineering division to be examined.”

“That mecha had been destroyed by a missile shot from the shore of Virginia, hadn’t it? I believe we had received a request to allow this and we agreed.”

As she spoke, the girl in the dress reached a hand out to the bread rolls in the basket the other had brought in, but the girl in the skirt pulled the basket out of her reach to prevent her from taking any bread.

“Yes. That being said; older sister, are you hiding something from me? If you tell me the truth, I won’t be mad.”

The girl in the dress frowned in discontent as she eyed the bread hungrily. She noticed the girl in the skirt looking at her expectantly (to an extent. It didn’t seem that the girl was entirely capable of showing emotions too well) and averted her eyes elsewhere.

“What do you mean?”

“You sold them, didn’t you? Those pieces we’d recovered.”

The girl in the dress continued to look anywhere but at the girl in the skirt and the girl in the skirt sighed miserably as she took that as the answer to her question.

“Honestly. Those were some valuable pieces of technology. We still haven’t ascertained what energy source was used to power it. Just selling it is extremely reckless.”

The girl in the dress shook her head back and forth at the girl in the skirt’s words.

“Lucy, just because I sold it while trying so hard to hide it from you doesn’t mean I didn’t have a reason to. I’ve already extracted as much information from the mecha as possible and sent it to someone else in another region for a second opinion. That hunk of metal was just taking up space, so selling it for a profit was all that could be done.”

“You wanted a second opinion?” The girl in the skirt repeated with a cock of her head, though her neutral expression didn’t change. “Then why not share it with us? You would have had our opinion in an instant.”

“It’s top secret information, if I’m right about it. Only a select few special engineers from other branches even know about it. If you all knew about it, it would be too much of a liability.”

These words may have seemed harsh to be spoken without even hesitating, but the girl in the skirt named Lucy only nodded in agreement. The girl in the dress grabbed a roll from the basket and took a large bite out of it.

The girl in the dress was named Lucinda Hokulanu. The official leader of Patronus was the vice-president, but there were times when he couldn’t do his duty, such as during election year. Also, as he only remains as vice-president for four years terms with a possible maximum of eight years, the efficiency of Patronus would be severely limited by the constant switching of the man in charge, especially if one’s policies conflicted with the other. And since they didn’t even know that Patronus existed until he became the vice-president, he had little time to prepare how he would lead. That was why he had someone else act as ‘brain’. Lucinda Hokulanu had the position referred to as the ‘brain’ of both Patronus and the vice-president where she advised the official leader and had an influential position higher than everyone else in Patronus, aside from one, who was called the ‘arms’ of Patronus.

Lucy was Lucinda’s ‘little sister’. Due to Lucinda’s abilities as an einherjar, she could communicate with her ‘little sister’ instantaneously through a form of telepathy, completely ignoring distance and range. As such, Lucinda was referred to as the ‘big sister’.

It was advantageous for the ‘brain’ to have this as there were exactly one thousand sisters throughout the world at that time.

As for why they were speaking in person rather than instantaneously through their form of telepathy; it essentially took the form of radio waves, which could be intercepted. The winds and walls here were soundproof and were checked consistently for bugs, so speaking out loud allowed them trade information safely.

“Who exactly did you send it to for a second opinion?” Lucy asked with the same expression she held the entire time. Though she could feel emotions, she was incapable of portraying them properly.

“Someone in the Midwest. They should be arriving soon with their escort.”

“Escort?”

“Ah, yes. Due to the state of the country regarding those annoying terrorists, we’ve being more lax about the regions. As such, the S-rank in charge of the Midwest insisted on coming to Patronus HQ in order to see the damage done for herself.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“That’s everything.” Falkner Marigold finished speaking as he set down his smart phone, which had a few paragraphs of text displayed on it. “The politicians will be meeting in New York, of course, and he’ll be bringing that person with him, though he didn’t really explain why.”

“I don’t pretend to understand Winslow’s thoughts.” Lacie Nightray sighed. “But if he made the decision, we can trust him. It’s part of his character to use unusually methods and achieve his goal in the end.”

Falkner Marigold was a young twenty year old with his dark brown hair lying flat, completely neglected. He wore a black suit and tie with the black jacket open so he could breathe and black wing tips. He wore prescription glasses strapped to his head due to his terrible eyesight and carried a backpack made of what appeared to be metal with him at all times.

Lacie Nightray was a woman whose age was uncertain, though she looked older than Falkner. She had long dark hair tied in a high ponytail that extended down to hang by her hips. She wore a blue shirt underneath a general’s military jacket that she left open, as well as long pants that were tucked into high combat boots. Lacie had pretty emerald eyes and was well-endowed, someone who might catch someone’s eye while walking down the street.

Both were sitting in an empty car in a moving train, heading east. There were other passengers on the long train, but none of them were ‘normal’, per se. Underground business men, organization member, and mafia were all on the train in the other cars with their own business to attend to. It annoyed Lacie that they would turn a blind eye to potentially illegal activity just because Patronus had already approved it as potentially benefitting them. Where was the honest American spirit? But Falkner had continuously told her that there was no helping corruption. The best she could do was remain patriotic on her own and refuse to give in to ‘dark side’, which was ironic since they were technically already a part of it.

Noticeably, he never said anything about him remaining patriotic.

As mentioned before, they were alone in the ‘boxcar’ in the train. Due to the heightened technology of modern day, there was little visible distinction between the separate cars of a passenger train. From the outside, it just looked like one long machine on wheels and one would never expect it to be several separately assembled cars attached to one another. On the inside, however, there was a sliding soundproof clear door between the cars that gave a sort of privacy to the passengers inside them. Since they were alone, Falkner felt no shame as he dug his hand through his half empty bag of chips.

“Ugh, customer satisfaction in why society…?” Falkner murmured irritably as he tossed a few chips in his mouth and continued speaking aloud. “Half of these bags are pure air. I have to buy two bags just to have the same amount as one should hold!”

“That’s a fact you discovered in elementary school.” Lacie sighed as she leaned away from him to prevent the crumbs from flying onto her clothes. “But even knowing that, you bought them anyways. Why?”

“Because being ripped off is still better than the nonexistent chips I had before…Damn. I just realized that that’s probably why the industries still get away with this kind of fraud.”

“You think?”

Falkner merely shrugged off this conspiratorial revelation and crumpled up the empty bag before stuffing it in his pocket.

“So, Lacie, mind telling me why we’re taking a train to D.C. instead of a plane?”

“Planes are metal death traps that serve as both a domestic bomb and an object of hate for the environmentalists.”

“I see…Now tell me why you refused to take a plane.”

Falkner raised an eyebrow as Lacie frowned at him. After a short moment, she sighed in exasperation as she crossed her legs and sat back in her seat.

“It’s autumn. Flying there would be faster, but then we wouldn’t be able to see the scenery outside. I prefer the multicolored background to the static ocean of blue and white.”

“Aw, how sentimental.” Falkner chuckled. “Sometimes I forget you’re a girl.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?!”

Lacie grabbed Falkner’s brown hair and gripped it tightly until tears welled up at his eyes as he laughed.

“Alright, alright, I’m sorry!” Falkner said at last. “Come on; your nails are digging into my scalp.”

Lacie folded her arms across her chest in an irritated fashion as Falkner rubbed his scalp tenderly.

“So when are you going to explain to me why you need to come to D.C.?” Lacie asked after a moment of silence. “I decided to come with you for my own reasons, but you were ordered to, weren’t you?”

“I’d been asked to cooperate with someone in Patronus.” Falkner replied absently after he casually glanced around to make sure there were no microphones are cameras nearby. “They’d sent me some data they wanted me to confirm and they want me to come in person to discuss it. It’s something I never expected to see, but the data is indisputable. To be able to identify the energy and then refine it properly…it takes nothing short of pure genius. I want to find out who it was that came up with the theorem.”

“Who sent you the information?” Lacie cocked an eyebrow in surprise. Seeing Falkner openly speak so much praise toward a person was rare, especially since he didn’t even know who it was.

“The brain of Patronus and the advisor of the vice-president.”

Before Falkner could continue, Lacie was on her feet suddenly, frowning as she looked out the window. In the boxcars adjacent to their own, the people inside were looking in the same direction in confusion and interest. A group of three vehicles were driving along the train at the same speed. It was off road, so they certainly had no excuse. There was the possibility that they were just some idiot high-school kids trying to race a train, but there was no way that they should have been able to safely keep up with their speed with normal cars. Plus, with several humanoid mechanical objects standing on the top of these vans looking in their direction, they had no excuse.

“Are those power suits?” Falkner frowned at the humanoid suits. They were meant to be worn by humans and act as a stronger and more powerful body. There were several types, depending on their purpose, so they were all shaped differently. They could be used primarily for rescue operations, maintenance, or even military operations. Those were their ostensible legal reasons, anyways.

Since these were so accurately shaped like humans, they were probably meant to increase the physical capabilities of the humans wearing them. Their thighs, in particular, were unnaturally large, likely due to the users planning on either running or jumping with them, something that focused on speed and balance.

Lacie’s attention was ripped from the vans outside as she noticed movement out of the corner of her eyes. She saw several people in the boxcar adjacent to them collapse to the ground for no apparent reason. There was no attacker or any screams, so it was doubtful that they had been killed or even wounded. It was far more likely that they had been knocked unconscious unknowingly.

Lacie grimaced as she looked upwards toward the ceiling with a suspicious expression on her face. The vents?

Lacie hurried grabbed the bag sitting on the floor by her feet and searched through it quickly. She picked out two small oxygen masks and tossed one to the distracted Falkner. He looked at it uncomprehendingly for a moment but understood as he watched her put hers on. As they did so, the sound of several heavy objects landing on top of the train’s roof echoed. The roofs of the vans outside were now empty of power suits, so the two could easily guess what had landed above them.

“They’re after someone on the train.” Falkner said shortly through his oxygen mask as he continued holding it to his mouth. Lacie nodded as she fastened the strap around the back of her head, pulling her long ponytail over it. Once she did, she began searching through her bag once more.

There were numerous people on the train who were involved with the ‘dark side’, including them. It was their duty as Vigilo to stop whoever these people were from succeeding at their mission, whatever it may be. They didn’t need to contact their superiors or commanding officers—they already knew what they needed to do.

Lacie held up a silver pair of goggles tinted so dark that you couldn’t see her eyes. She tapped the small button on the side of them and the goggles activated immediately. From Lacie’s point of view, she was seeing a dozen things at once. All throughout the entire train, there were several circular drones about 70cm hidden under seats. In their metal borders, they had two sets of propellers that looked similar to shampoo hats that provided lift and propulsion. The top of these drones was covered by a metal plate but the bottom was open to the allow the propellers to work properly. Surrounding the circular border, spinning teeth were set to spin around the circumference of the drones like a chainsaw. This was one of Lacie’s favorite device—the Edge Bee.

All twelve of the drones hidden in throughout the train activated at once to allow Lacie to see through their cameras. As she expected, each boxcar was filled with unconscious people. Had she not thought quickly, she and Falkner would be unconscious as well.

“Falkner, get rid of those vans.” Lacie ordered as she set the command for most of the Edge Bees the return to her position. “I’ll handle our visitors on top of us.”

“On it.” Falkner replied as he unlocked one of the windows and pushed it open. Lacie paid no mind to him as he jumped right out, taking his metal backpack with him. The Seven of the Edge Bees ripped right through the doors from either side to come right into the boxcar. They hovered right beside her like mini space crafts as she focused on the five that had not arrived. In the boxcars ahead of her, they hovered right up to the ventilation for the air conditioning for the entire train. The teeth on the five Edge Bees began spinning quickly like a chainsaw as they moved in and they shredded the ventilation to pieces, cutting it off completely.

“Now then,” Lacie murmured aloud to herself as her hands dropped to the hilt of the western sword at her hip. It was a sleek silver double sided sword that looked entirely normal, but the blade was made of a material so powerful, diamond couldn’t scratch it. Along with being extremely sturdy, this also meant that the blade could essentially cut almost anything. With her skill, she was able to use such a weapon in modern warfare.

She drew the sword fluidly as one of the Edge Bees descended low enough for her to step onto it with her combat boots. Two other Edge Bees soared to the ceiling vertically, pressing their sharp teeth into the top. They began spinning and turning like wheels, cutting through the thick wires and ceiling of the train, making a nice wide hole that flew away due to the air pressure, throwing the piece of metal into the trees they were passing through. The Edge Bee Lacie stood on flew upward through the hole, soon followed by nine others, and she stepped off of it once she was on the top of the train, holding her sword up threateningly.

All around her, at least ten men in the white power suits with the slim tops and thick thighs stood with dangerous looking rifle guns and armor that was probably able to deflect most bullets. Still, they hesitated at the sight before them. A woman with a military coat had flown out of the train filled with unconscious people, her long ponytail flying wildly behind her in the wind, with a dozen strange drones hovered around her with dangerous looking teeth spinning around them. Lacie’s glare practically burned through the goggles she was wearing as she looked back and forth at the power suits.

“Say your prayers, worthless terrorists.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“The sleeping gas was successfully distributed through the air-conditioning of the entire train. We’re able to proceed with the recovery operation.”

Lucius sat in the passenger seat of one of the vans driving alongside the train. The three vans were driving in an irregular pattern to prevent someone from singling any one of them out as the leader of the operation.

Lucius had a computer that held control of the small artificial ‘seeds’ they’d planted into the train’s air conditioning system before it had even left the station in preparation for this. The seeds, when activated, excreted a powerful sleeping gas that could harmlessly knock a person out within a short time upon being inhaled. They’re goal was merely to ‘apprehend’ their targets, not ‘eliminate’ or anything morbid like that. He felt he was much more suited for these operations when it wasn’t within their plan to take a life. In fact, there wasn’t even any confrontation planned either. The weapons the white power suits they’d brought were carrying were merely a precaution. It would all be over soon.

It was as Lucius thought this that the sound of a strange motor reached his ears over the roar of three vans, though he couldn’t describe it as loud. It seemed more like the sound was on a different pitch, capable of being heard even over the loud engines because it wasn’t the same ‘type’ of sound, though that was just his observation. Lucius glanced in the rearview mirror and his eyes widened as he saw a sleek black bike roared across the road-less terrain behind them smoothly, as if there weren’t a bump or irregularity in its path. The technology was either at the same level or, more likely, above the power suits’.

“What is that thing?!” Lucius demanded as the man in the driver’s seat beside him muttered under his breath as he glanced in the rearview mirror as well. A red light began to flash on Lucius’ computer and he returned his attention to it just to find more bad news. Someone had destroyed the vents and stopped the gas from pervading the air conditioning. The people inside the train would be waking up soon. There went the possibility of a smooth and easy operation. But who had managed to thwart them so quickly? Probably…

“Vigilo…”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Falkner Marigold liked to think of himself as a genius.

Just in a sense, anyways. He wasn’t the best when it came to philosophy or strategy games, and he couldn’t boast about his one-hundred-two IQ level compared to people like Lacie with an unreal level nearing a solid two-hundred. But when it came to mechanics and engineering, he shined.

The Edge Bee was just one of Falkner’s many inventions and was one of his favorites, which is why he had given it to Lacie. She knew exactly how to use it best without him even telling her, so he knew it was in good hands. It was the same for the Key Apparatus, the ‘key’ that could fit into any situation and solve it by turning into a weapon of choice. He’d sent it to the eastern region of America upon request when he was told there was someone who could make proper use of it. He felt no qualm with parting with his toys. He could make all sorts of things, but there was a limit to what he could use. Having his creations used by someone else was a joy to him.

Falkner’s top favorite, though, was the Highway Cheetah. A sleek black motorcycle that looked as if it would make any motorcycle enthusiast faint at the sight of it. But for those who paid more attention, they would see it had no wheels. The bulk of the motorcycle went right down to the ground, leaving no room for proper wheels.

The concept was simple. The reason skates slid so easily on ice was because the friction melted the ice into water beneath the blades of the ice skates to eliminate said friction and traction. The Highway Cheetah used this same idea to move. The very front of the bike released a thin gel-like substance for the entire motorcycle to slide over fluidly and quickly. This substance hardens and turns to fine dust seconds after coming in contact with the air as to not leave a noticeable track behind it.

It was because of this that the Highway Cheetah did not make use of a normal motor and made a completely foreign sound to a modern human’s ears. A person who’s used to hearing ice skates in a rink might guess that it’s similar, but the sound was still different nonetheless. With the method it used, along with a few other technicalities, the Highway Cheetah could theoretically cross any solid terrain with the same amount of control. Falkner had yet to see an exception. He simply glided over the uneven countryside alongside the train he’d been on after his metal backpack unfolded itself and turned into the Highway Cheetah for him to sit comfortably in as he chased after the vans.

Falkner adjusted his prescription goggles as he sped up the Highway Cheetah to catch up to the vans. The sound that was different from an engine became slightly louder as the bike obeyed to his gentle handling, out speeding the train with ease.

The back doors of the vans opened to reveal several people wielding guns and they all aimed at Falkner and his Highway Cheetah. Falkner didn’t hesitate as he swerved quickly to avoid the raining bullets. Many of the bullets simply bounced off of the Highway Cheetah’s hide harmlessly and Falkner didn’t put himself in a position for himself to get shot, making the sharpshooters’ job hard. Apparently realizing this, the sharpshooters drew back as a single man stepped forward in one of the vans, holding a large weapon in both of his hands as he knelt and began to aim.

“An RPG?!” Falkner gasp as his fingers naturally worked the controls to take evasive actions. The sound his bike made became much louder as he skidded sideways without losing any speed, turning the bike around three-hundred-sixty degrees in order to evade the rocket that shot from the weapon the man was holding. “Just who are these guys?”

The explosion that resulted from the missed attack created a tailwind that pretty much meant nothing to the large train and vans, but Falkner felt his velocity increase as he brought the Highway Cheetah to face forward once more. He flipped open a switch on the side of one of the handles and pressed the button firmly with his thumb. A hatch opened up on either side of his high tech motorcycle and rockets took aim in a direct path in front of him. He decreased his speed exactly as he fired the rockets in order to lessen the recoil as well as prevent himself from running into the blast. The rockets slammed into the ground around the wheels of the vans and sent all three toppling over. Falkner then increased his speed immediately to use one of the vans that was now on its side as a ramp to fly over the crater made by the explosion and the other toppled vans and people climbing out of them, landing safely on the other side. Falkner’s actions from there were simple and clear. He sped up to the front of the train and pressed another hidden button on the handle of the Highway Cheetah. The side of his bike began to emit interfering waves that caused the train to immediately slow to a stop. The beauty of unmanned machines certainly knew no bounds.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lacie had no doubts that Falkner could handle himself. As an A-rank, he’d be able to use his own judgment to properly deal with the vans on his own, especially since he had the superior technology.

Lacie, on the other hand, was in a different situation. Ten white power suits surrounded her with thick armor and a body made for speed—particularly jumping. They wielded guns similar to rifles in their slim hands and the men inside the suits probably had lots of training in the field of combat. Comparatively, Lacie had her thin western sword and twelve disc shaped drones hovering around her in the air. Though the discs had deadly teeth on the end that could tear through many layers of metal, their primary function was reconnaissance, which set their combat performance back quite a bit in an effort to save money.

The disadvantage was obvious, and yet Lacie simply regarded the power suits aiming their weapons at her with loathing.

“Those guns are too small to take out my patriotic spirit.” Lacie warned bluntly. There was no answer from the power suits and it was doubtful that they could even if they wanted to. Their slender fingers pressed down on the triggers of the guns they had, but the hovering discs shot out first, flying at the power suits. Gun shots rang out, but they missed entirely as the power suits were forced to move out of the way of the whirring chainsaws revolving around the disc-shaped drones. Lacie rushed forward with her sword drawn and attacked one of the power suits who were off guard. Lacie’s sword pierced the power suit’s chest and the tip exited out the back.

The power suit delayed for a long moment, and with reason. The power suit was made with several layers of thick metals made to deflect high caliber bullets and stay intact through mines and other explosives. Being pierced by a sword’s blade was a completely unexpected way for the user of the power suit to meet his end.

Lacie, on the other hand, didn’t seem to be the least bit surprised. She pressed one combat boot to the power suit for leverage and drew the sword out of the suit with a quick yank. The power suit fell limply off the side of the train and onto the ground. Despite their speed, it wouldn’t be a fatal drop.

The other eleven power suits would normally have fired upon her immediately, but the Edge Bees kept them busy. Especially after seeing Lacie’s sword pierce one of their ally’s suits, they rightly concluded that the Edge Bees had the same capability. They used their enhanced speed to move around the Edge Bees carefully and fire on them with their guns. The Edge Bees wobbled in the air upon impact from the bullets, but did not receive any major damage. One of the power suits had attempted to bash it with his arm and ended up losing the entire thing up to the shoulder. A simple kick from Lacie after that and the power suit went falling over the edge as well.

The battle that had been disadvantageous to Lacie at first quickly turned in her favor. The men in the power suits realized that fighting on top of the train meant that their movement was severely limited, whereas the Edge Bees hovered and wouldn’t fall or lose their balance. It was likely that their female opponent had known this all along, but they couldn’t do anything about it now. They could only last as long as they could as they were kicked off the side one by one, overwhelmed by having the deal with the hovering Edge Bees and the woman with a sword that could pierce their armor. Soon, there were only two left, both retreating to put distance between them and Lacie. They aimed their guns at Lacie, betting on her lack of ability to make the horizontal Edge Bees protect her full body.

Before they could fire, the train suddenly jerked as it came to a stop, and the power suit’s wavered for a second as they quickly adjusted to balance themselves. In that moment of hesitation, the Edge Bees rushed forward and slashed apart their legs. The power suits collapsed to the grass beside them as the train continued to slow its velocity smoothly until it ceased moving altogether.

Lacie sheathed her sword as she pushed the goggles on her head up onto her forehead and looked around with her real eyes. The train had stopped on long downward slope of a hill overlooking tall thick trees in both directions. It was interesting since the trees didn’t have any leaves on them until the highest points in order to compete for sunlight, leaving the trunks bare of branches and close to one another. Lacie was sure that they still hadn’t left the Midwest territory, though she wasn’t sure what state they were in. The sight such as this was the very reason she preferred trains to planes.

The sound of boots stepping over fallen dead leaves and snapping twigs ruined her momentary sense of peace. Lacie instinctively dropped to lay flat on her chest as the Edge Bees hovered close to her with their chainsaws stopped in order to remain absolutely silent. Lacie’s eyes narrowed as she saw several armed men hurry out of the trees to surround the train. Most of the men were going up the slope to where the power suits had been left behind, but a sizeable group remained behind with their guns pointed at the men in the three vans turned on their sides and Falkner.

“Drop any weapons and put your hands in the air where I can see them.” One of the men ordered roughly. “Now!”

The men climbing out of the vans listened without contesting, but Falkner grimaced instead.

“I am an A-rank Vigilo from the Midwest. Just who are you people and why are you here-”

“If you’re a Vigilo, then it’s all the more reason to take you in.” The man spoke in the same scathing tone, apparently unfazed by the rank. “We’re from HEL. You are all now our hostage.”

Falkner dithered for a moment before slowly raising his hands over his head. Lacie was about to jump from her hiding spot and attack when she noticed Falkner twitch his fingers strangely. It could have been a harmless nervous reflex, but Lacie had made the same signal to him countless times before. It meant; Don’t do anything. Lacie bit her lip as she noticed one of the men pointing what looked like a bazooka at the train. They were threatening to kill all of the people who had yet to wake up if Falkner didn’t cooperate.

“The targets have been recovered.” The man spoke into an earpiece as his eyes glanced at the men dragging the power suits into the woods further up the slope. “We’re taking them back to the main center where we’ll leave them with the other hostages.”

The man made a signal to his men and they surrounded Falkner and the terrorists in the white van, forcing them to trudge into the woods. Lacie’s entire body remained tense as they left the train in one piece, apparently not noticing her. Clearly they hadn’t been watching them the entire time.

Lacie’s eyes drifted to the bike sitting by the train, completely untouched. They had apparently failed to see any worth in the Highway Cheetah, which further confirmed Lacie’s assumption. Lacie hopped to the ground along with the Edge Bees and walked over to the Highway Cheetah with her hands gripped tightly.

HEL had captured high tech power suits and several terrorists, along with one Vigilo. It was uncertain what they were planning, but Lacie fully intended to recover Falkner, no matter what the cost. But in order to do that, she needed a military force.

“I guess it’s time to put your gadgets to full use.” Lacie murmured with chilling calm as she sat on the Highway Cheetah and started it up. “Falkner…don’t do anything stupid until I get there.”