Shining Fantasy: Chapter 15

 

Palacio jumped from the tent, sending the tent crashing down on Achilles, Lauren, and Diana.
“I’ll protect you guys!” Palacio shouted, pulling out his laser gun.

The moment he shouted, he squeezed the trigger. Chaos erupted inside the tent as the three others were desperately trying to see what was going on after waking up from a deep sleep. Noticing he shot into the trees, he quickly holstered his laser gun, and proceeded to remove the tent from his friends.
“Sorry! I got spooked… I heard something.” Palacio giggled, removing the fabric off of the others.

Achilles was the first one to roll out. He jumped to his feet, and gazed at the crashed tent. You could tell his heart was racing 100 miles a second.
“You’re crazy…!” Achilles shouted, putting his hand to his chest.

Diana kicked Lauren from the tent, and rolled out gracefully. She jumped to her feet and quickly bashed Palacio on the top of the head.
“What the…!” Palacio shouted, placing both hands on his head and kneeling in pain, “Why did you hit me??”
“Stupid bastard… Are you trying to get killed?” Diana shouted.

Suddenly, there was another flicker of movement from the direction Palacio shot. The four stood calmly, watching the trees shuffle. Lauren quickly glared at Achilles, watching his movements. Achilles, on alert, reached to his side and grabbed his half working saber, and held it tightly. It was only for a second, and then the leaves and tress were silent again. It was so silent; you could hear a pen drop a mile away.
“… I…” Palacio started to speak.

From the bushes, a shadowy figure rushed from the leaves, and quickly hit Achilles before he could pull out his saber. When he fell to the ground, the shadowy figure threw itself straight up into the air, flying far away from the range of the laser guns. Lauren quickly fell to Achilles’s side, trying to bring him back to his feet.
“What was that??” Palacio gasped, jumping back.
“That… looked like a shadowy apparition…” Lauren replied, helping Achilles back to his feet.
“But during sunrise?” Palacio asked.
“That’s really odd…” Lauren replied, helping Achilles dust off.
“Lauren… I got it…” Achilles snapped slightly, dusting himself off, “What’s a shadowy apparition?”
“It… It’s like a scout of Silan. They scout out areas directed by Silan himself… But, this is Motavian. Why would demons be here…?” Lauren explained.
“If he’s scouting the area, how about we get moving? I’m not thrilled with being demon food or anything…” Achilles responded.
“Not arguing that.” Lauren replied back, smiling ear to ear at Achilles’s words.
“Sounds good…” Palacio responded.
“Good… This ground is jacking up my hair…” Diana pouted, holding her dirty, dry hair.

With this said, the four gathered what they could carry. Using the slightly torn Tent sheet, they loaded what supplies they gathered from the area into it and bundled it up tight. Palacio volunteered to carry the sack with a large stick over his back due to his strength overall.
“So, which way do we go…?” Lauren asked, looked at Achilles intently.

Achilles looked back at Lauren, confused.
“I… I HAVE…” Achilles started to respond.

There was a silent voice in the back of his head.
“Go south… The sun rises to the east… The sun sets to the west… Head south, to the Devil’s tower…” A warm, soft voice spoke to Achilles.
“Um, Achilles…?” Diana asked, drawing a blank.
“The sun… rises to the east… So, let’s go this way…” Achilles responded, pointing towards a direction.
“Why… that way? It’s the same way as every way!” Diana responded, growing slightly impatient, “This is… a forest! We’ve never experienced this amount of vegetation before…”

Palacio and Lauren both looked at Diana with a curious look on their faces.
“I… I just know.” Achilles spoke back.

This said, Achilles started walking towards the direction he pointed. Lauren, who didn’t doubt Achilles, eagerly ran to his side. Diana, however, was extremely curious at Achilles’s actions.
“Palacio…” Diana asked, starting to follow Achilles, “The hell was that about?”
“What do you mean?” Palacio replied, walking side by side with Diana, “He’s… being Achilles I think? I’ve only known him a couple days.”
“Huh…” Diana replied, crossing her arms, “It’s strange. He woke up four days after we got here, and then that night he and Lauren come back from the forest… A girl that we just met mind you…  And now, he immediately knows what direction to go. It’s like he… has an inner voice telling him what to do…!”
“Why not let him decide where to go…?” Palacio asked, looking at Diana, “If you really think about it, he’s the only one with real combat training… You are a thief in a gang… Lauren is a certified follower for an agent… and then there’s a houseboy, me. So, what’s the problem…?”

Diana glared at Palacio, puzzled.
“Really now…? I guess I’m some dumb slut that steals from the poor huh?” Diana snapped.
“Wait, no… I didn’t mean it like that…” Palacio responded, a bead of sweat running down his head, “I don’t know about the dumb slut and stealing, but I’m just going by off what you said earlier… I am, for certain, that Achilles and Lauren will take us wherever their instincts tell us. Just have faith, cutie.”

Diana started turning red hearing his compliment.
“You think… I’m cute?” Diana smiled.
“Yea, you kind of remind me of a cute older woman I ran into in a grocery store!” Palacio smiled.

He looked up in thought.
“Yea! She was old though… Too dusty for my taste; but she did have some cute-“

Without letting him finish, Diana jumped onto Palacio’s back, and started pummeling his head relentlessly. He attempted to fight back, but with the position she was on him, he was unable to avoid being struck. Lauren, looking back at the two, smiled, and looked back at Achilles.
“They’re so cute together…!” Lauren giggled.
“Yeah, they are funny…” Achilles chuckled only for a second.
“Achilles… You’re acting strange today.” Lauren sighed.
“The fact that we’re on Motavian… Our home is destroyed… and you want to ask me why I’m feeling strange? That’s kind of stupid.” Achilles shouted, “I’m borderline ready to snap! My whole life’s work has been destroyed! Everything! My sandwich shop, my beloved, my ambition, died along with our home planet. Do you think we’re here to save the world?? Since we got here, I’ve done nothing but resent doing anything but being in my shop as our planet exploded!”

Hearing Achilles shout brought everyone to a halt.
“Achilles…?” Palacio gasped, pushing Diana away, “Really now? Is that why you’ve been acting retarded…?”

Achilles turned towards Palacio with a devastating look on his face.
“Retarded, no… Logical, yes! My whole life exploded with that planet. My whole way of life; everything…!” Achilles shouted.

Palacio quickly walked up to Achilles to the point where their chests were touching.
“That sucks for your sandwich shop doesn’t it?” Palacio spoke softly.

Diana started to grab hold of Palacio, as well as Lauren with Achilles.
“Yes! Do you even know how long I worked to achieve my dreams??” Achilles asked Palacio.

Taking his right hand, Palacio balled up his fist and with all his strength, punched Achilles in the face. The force sent Achilles straight to the ground. Before he could react, Palacio once again pushed Diana away and jumped on top of Achilles.
“I lost everything! You talk about your precious shop! I lost my daughter, you conniving bastard! My wife disappeared a few years ago, and I had to leave my daughter behind… But you lost the most didn’t you?? You piece of shit! I’ll kill you!” Palacio shouted, pummeling Achilles in the chest, arms, and face.

Lauren and Diana started to grab Palacio’s arms, but were unable to due to his strength.
“You’re acting like you lost everything! You could put a shop out here! I can’t get back what I lost, no matter how bad I wish for it! You think your struggle is maddening?? I’ve almost lost the motivation to live!” Palacio shouted.

Taking a deep breath, Palacio stood up from a beaten Achilles, and took a few steps back while shaking his hands.
“I understand you lost your shop. But take into consideration what others have lost as well. Diana lost all her friends, and her family. Lauren lost her family as well… I lost my only daughter, and now I have no hopes of finding my wife. Think about that before bitching about some shop.” Palacio spoke softly, “Now… Let’s go.”

Without hesitating, Diana walked near Palacio while Lauren helped a beaten Achilles up. As he stood to his feet, Lauren took a step back from him.
“He’s right… you know.” Lauren replied.

Achilles wiped the blood on his face onto his sleeve, and spit a mouthful of blood as well. He looked at Palacio, and looked down in shame.
“I… I’m sorry.” Achilles replied softly.
“I know… you are, but I think this is when you really need to pull yourself together, and figure out what you really want to do.” Lauren spoke, turning away from Achilles.

Turning her back on Achilles, she walked swiftly to catchup to Palacio. Achilles stood, with blood dripping from two small open wounds on his face, and looked at the ground in shame.
“I’m… Sorry…” Achilles continued to murmur to himself.

As he also started walking behind Palacio, Diana walked rather close to him.
“I… lost control…” Palacio murmured to himself.
“No, Palacio… It’s alright… “ Diana replied, attempting to place her hand onto his back.

Palacio shrugged, slightly pushing Diana’s hand from him.
“No… There’s… Too much on my mind.” Palacio responded, gazing into the floor.
“You can… talk about it, Palacio…” Diana sighed, retracting her arm.
“… I… I miss my family.” Palacio sighed, looking at his bruised hands, “I… Miss Shimara, so much… I would have done anything to see her again. My daughter was sick… And she made me leave her on that cursed planet…”

Diana placed her hands in her pockets, hearing Palacio’s sorrowful voice.
“How… did you guys meet?” Diana asked.
“How…?” Palacio sighed, and cracked a grin, “It was about twenty years ago… I was in the peace corps. Man that was a good year! I saw Shimara, I call her Sharon, training for the Agency. That day; that very important day, her squad was training in the field next to our building. She was in charge, and she looked so gorgeous… Those amazing legs, that beautiful hair swaying…”

Diana cracked a grin also, watching Palacio get excited.
“She wore literally nothing. Like a black tank top with her belly showing, and a black skirt that barely trickled down her thighs. She also had some kind of silver wrist brace, but… I watched as her and her squad were sparring with each other. She was like lightning all over that field. Quickly capacitated every single one of her people, and helped them back up afterwards. Never seen anything like it… But in the distance, I saw some kind of creature. It was red, with tentacles coming out of it. It also moved really fast. My unit got deployed as well, being that Sharon’s unit wasn’t activated.” Palacio explained.
“Wait, I thought Agents were always active?” Diana asked.
“Not exactly. Whenever there was civil disturbances in the Peace Corps get deployed. If it manifests into a bigger situation, the Agents get deployed. About ten years ago, the Peace Corps got disbanded, and the Agency increased its manifest. Anyway, we all grabbed our gear and headed out. As we got closer, I watched as Sharon started to combat the beast. Although she was superb in her fighting technique, she wasn’t acting with her team. Her teammates were killed by the time we got there. Before we could fight the beast, I watched Sharon get grabbed, and thrown into the ground like a rag doll. Watching her body impact the ground at that level of force, I’m shocked she didn’t splatter like a tomato. Naturally, being a man of my own code, I ran to her side. Once I checked her vitals, I was about to run back into battle, when my team lead ordered me to get her to safety. While my teammates fought the creature, I worked on getting her broken body to a safe place. I remember feeling her bones crinkling and fragmented in my arms while I ran into the building… Never felt anything like it before.”Palacio shivered slightly.

Diana started to shiver also at the same thought.
“Anyway, we got inside, and she woke up. I almost dropped her… because she was so bruised and banged up, I didn’t understand how she could be conscious without screaming! I took her to one of the cots in the back, and grabbed some medicine. When I got to the cot, she was desperately trying to get out of the cot. But of course, when you have virtually every bone in your body shattered, it’s kind of hard to. She did, however knock the medicine out of my hand, and pointed to the pouch on her waist. Not going to lie, where she was pointing, my brain hit the gutter real fast! I reached for the pouch and pulled out a tiny golden vial. I opened it and fed it to her slowly. The moment she closed her mouth to swallow it, she jumped out of the cot, pushed me to the wall, and kissed me.” Palacio smiled, blushing.

Diana’s face drew blank from Palacio’s reaction.
“So, she pulled off me, and told me… She wanted to marry me. I didn’t know what to say, or think… She slipped a piece of paper in my pocket and ran off again. Man, she was fast too. When I reached down, I saw that it was information to her number, address, rank in the Agency, the chapel she wanted to get married at, and her entire name. I just couldn’t believe it!” Palacio giggled.

Diana stood with her eyes and mouth wide open.
“So… they killed the monster by the time I get outside… Sharon was nowhere to be seen, and my guys were tending to the wounded, and the dead. To make an even longer story short, I went to her home address the next day, and she was waiting on me.” Palacio smiled, looking ahead of him.
“That’s a crazy story!” Diana cheered him on.
“Yes… Yes it is, isn’t it?” Palacio smiled, looking into the sky, “And… you know something Diana? I don’t think she would like if I spent my last days mourning…”

Diana smiled, and grabbed hold of Palacio’s arm.
“I don’t think she would either…” Diana smiled.
“Wow, what a crazy story…” Lauren smiled, walking up to Palacio.

Hearing Lauren startled Palacio.
“Uh, yeah… don’t sneak up on an old guy like me, okay?” Palacio smiled, with a bead of sweat rolling down his head.
“Sorry!” Lauren replied.
“How’s Achilles doing?” Palacio asked, turning his head to see Achilles.
“He’s… lost in thought.” Lauren sighed.
“Is he… thinking about that shop, or Alicia?” Diana asked, crossing her arms.
“Diana!” Lauren snapped, throwing her arms to the ground.
“Shush… Lauren.” Achilles murmured, walking beside Palacio and Diana.

The three others walked in silence at Achilles’s presence.
“No… It’s… alright.” Achilles replied, holding his face where one of his wounds were bleeding, “It’s about time I shed some… light.”
“Achilles… I’m sorry I lost control.” Palacio said, pulling out a handkerchief from his pocket.

Achilles pushed Palacio’s hand away.
“It’s alright… I have a thing against using other people’s snot rags. I heard everything you said Palacio… I was touched… I can’t help but laugh at some of your remarks, but I was touched… and I’m… sorry for… Everything that you…” Achilles froze.

This made the other three stop, and turn to face Achilles.
“I hear… something.” Achilles whispered.

Without hesitating, Achilles darted to the left at a high rate of speed. Curious of Achilles’s actions, the other three followed him. It wasn’t long before they passed by several large trees, and stood next to a river with a large bank on it. Achilles stood tall at the bank, looking down at another ledge. Below, he saw two people fighting each other. One person wore torn, black clothing while the other had pink hair, also wearing rags with rusted armor.
“Who… are they?” Palacio asked, panting.
“P… Palacio?” A warm voice was heard from the distance.

Palacio stood straight up; a tear instantly started to roll down his face. To him, it felt like a large dagger shot straight through his emotions. Diana, hearing the voice turned around and was greeted by a similar woman that Palacio explained, standing next to a girl that wore a stained gown.
“I…” Palacio swallowed hard, “I recognize that voice, but…”

The woman with the torn gown tackled Palacio from behind, bringing him to his knees. Out of instinct, feeling the warmth of the hug, he clenched her arms, and held tightly. He looked up to the sky, and tears started flowing from his face.
“This… can’t be!” Palacio cried.

Lauren, grabbing Achilles, started to head down the hill as Diana watched Palacio cry in happiness. Shimara, who was standing next to Becca, put her hands to her face at the sight of her husband.
“Palacio…” Shimara gasped, slowly walking towards him.
“This is so amazing!” Diana cried as well, with tears of joy.

Down below, Mateo and Vakarra were sparring.
“Left jab, Mateo! Let’s go!” Vakarra shouted, lunging at Mateo.

Mateo attempted to guard, but Vakarra faked the attack, and followed with a right knee to the gut. The impact immediately sent Mateo to the ground. Vakarra used this opportunity to kick Mateo in the face, sending him to his back.
“You’ll never get the chance to kill Arthur fighting like this!” Vakarra shouted, circling Mateo.
Mateo coughed, unable to speak.
“Get up! We have much more training to do!” Vakarra shouted, ripping off a shoulder piece, “I did not rescue you to be bullshit!”

Hearing Vakarra infuriated Mateo. Grabbing his stick with both hands, he jumped to his feet once more, and lunged at Vakarra. Cracking a grin, Vakarra quickly dodged the attack, and with the hilt of the stick, struck Mateo in the back sending him to the ground in pain.
“You ought to be ashamed of yourself! You lack the proper skills needed to be an agent.” Vakarra sighed, placing the stick on her shoulders, “If you can’t even defend yourself with me, do you honestly think Arthur is going to show you mercy?”

Achilles and Lauren stopped at Vakarra’s words.
“Um… ma’am? Why are you savagely beating him up?” Lauren asked.

She glared behind her and caught a glimpse of Lauren.
“Lauren Techanol… a follower from the C14B sector.” Vakarra smiled, turning around, “And Achilles Torelami,  former agent. Left due to unknown causes. Affiliated with Alicia Forndike, A mystic – angel mix. You started a sandwich shop.”

Lauren and Achilles gasped at her words.
“But… How…?” Lauren gasped.
“Up on the hill, Palacio, Shimara, and Becca Forlamini. Married twenty years ago and had a child, who fell terminally ill. Diana Besley. Wanted for countless crimes against the Agency, and the government. Affiliated with a crime lord. Do not underestimate me.” Vakarra explained.

Before Vakarra said anymore, she caught Mateo attempting to get up. With her foot, she raised it, placed it on Mateo’s upper back, and drove him back into the ground.
“Whoa! Why are you pummeling him?” Achilles asked.
“It’s not pummeling… It’s training for the Agency. Mateo asked me to train him hard, and make him strong. So I’m doing it.” Vakarra explained, glancing at a struggling Mateo.
“Wait… The Agency?” Achilles gasped, reaching for his saber.
“Yes.” Vakarra smiled, “What are you going to do about it?”

Without hesitation, Achilles charged for Vakarra and turned on his saber. To her surprise, she dropped the stick, pulled out her saber, and blocked Achilles’s attack before it could hit her. Vakarra stood motionless while Achilles pushed as hard as he could, with both hands on the saber.
“Stop this!” Vakarra shouted.
“The agency is corrupted by demons! Leon… he tried to kill us as one of the provinces came to this planet…!” Achilles shouted

Hearing Leon’s name made Vakarra shove against Achilles so hard, he flew past Mateo and Lauren, and impacted into the rocks. His impact knocked the saber from his hands, and he fell to all fours stunned. Seeing he was incapacitated, Vakarra sheathed her saber, picked up her stick, and walked towards a struggling Mateo.
“You fell… with the province?” Vakarra gasped.
“Yes…” Lauren gasped, running to Achilles’s stunned body.
“Get up!” Vakarra shouted, attempting to kick Mateo in the midsection.

Using Achilles as the distraction, Mateo pushed with all fours, missing Vakarra’s kick. With the stick in hand, he swiped towards Vakarra’s midsection as fast as he could. Right when it made impact, Vakarra ensnared the stick with her right arm against her body, and used her left fist to punch Mateo in the face as hard as she could. Even though he ricochet, he spun around Vakarra, wrapped his arms around her midsection and started to pick her up in the air. Smirking again, she grabbed Mateo’s hands, squeezed them to the point where they crackled, and pried herself from his grasp. Grabbing the stick she ensnared, she started relentlessly attacking Mateo with it.
“This is not how you protect yourself! Get with the program or you could die before you ever get the chance to lay a finger on Arthur!” Vakarra shouted.

Becoming more infuriated, Mateo grabbed hold of the stick, and swiftly kicked Vakarra in the mid section. To his surprise, the kick didn’t even phase her. She took the stick, and made a jabbing motion towards his head. Once the stick touched his skin, she held back, and relaxed her body. Coming to a full standing pose, she dropped the stick as Mateo hit the ground.
“That’s enough for today.” Vakarra smiled, reaching down to help Mateo up, “Let’s clean you up and take a rest.”

Mateo struggled even to look at Vakarra’s hand. Out of anger, he took what little strength he had, and smacked Vakarra’s hand out of the way.
“No… We… can’t stop yet.” Mateo coughed, wiping blood pouring from his mouth.
“Mateo you’re worn and broken… You need to rest, if you’re to get better…” Vakarra explained, reaching out to him once more.

He stared at her hand, and started filling with anger once more.
“Would Arthur? Would Silan??” Mateo shouted, blood and sweat dripping from his face, “What about Emmy? I have to save… her!”

Vakarra took a step back.
“You’re not going to get there without resting! Think logically, Mateo!” Vakarra shouted.

Mateo relaxed his arms, and looked towards the ground.
“I guess I could…” Mateo sighed.

Unable to keep himself up, he fell to the ground on his back. Vakarra, Achilles, and Lauren watched as his body hit the ground.
“You beat him to death…” Lauren gasped.
“He asked for it.” Vakarra sighed, kneeling to check on Mateo.
“Why on earth… would someone ask for something that stupid…?” Achilles asked, slightly struggling to stand.
“What is it to you?” Vakarra snapped, grabbing hold of Mateo to hoist him up, “You people don’t realize what has transpired… do you?”

Lauren looked at Achilles, and looked back at Vakarra.
“A province landed here, and some ploy involving demons?” Lauren explained.
“Missie…” Vakarra sighed, bringing Mateo to his feet with his arm strapped around her neck, “More is at work than you realize. Let’s get back to our camp. We will continue to discuss more.”
“Sure…” Achilles agreed.

Walking beside Vakarra, they scaled the small hill towards a small path where Palacio was reuniting with his family.
“Are you guys coming??” Vakarra asked.
“We… need a bit. We’ll catch up Vaka…” Shimara responded, still embracing Palacio.\

Following a shrug, Vakarra started walking down the path with Mateo at hand. She did a slight nudge with her right shoulder into his torso to see if he was conscious.
“He’s either unconscious, or asleep. Either way, he pushed way too hard…” Vakarra sighed.
“Who… is he?” Lauren asked.
“I recognize him… Him and a girl came to the shop the other day.” Achilles remembered, snapping his fingers.
“Mateo Leohan. Lived in the Northern Province. Him and his friend, Emmy. Mateo is the son of Julius and Vira Leohan, two of the best agents on the force. I trained with them specifically. It’s been his lifelong ambition to be an Agent of Raven, but thanks to Arthur and the corruption of the Agency and government, his parents disappeared and Mateo was banished from joining.” Vakarra hesitated.
“That’s really depressing…” Lauren explained.
“When the order to dispatch the Eastern Province went out, I started heading to the Central Reactor to detach the rest of the Provinces because I didn’t see the need to leave them. My counterpart… Leon dared me not to do it… Then I came across a demonic general, Zilan. He… did some kind of mind control, and turned me against my own people…” Vakarra explained, glaring towards the ground, “Next thing I knew, Mateo was standing above me… We went to the reactor, to find Zilan, and Shimara, who was also being controlled. Although it confused me at first, as I watched Mateo fight Zilan one on one… I noticed he infused himself with mystical energy… All in all, I defeated Shimara, and I took her to safety and escaped the explosion barely… When we got here, Shimara came to her senses… We found a ride, got it running, and as we were leaving, we snatched Mateo from being attacked from Arthur and Silan, King of the demon Empire… They have his friend Emmy in captivity… Because she has emitted large pulses of Mystic energy… levels not recorded for years. Mateo here, wants to save her.”

Lauren uttered a sigh.
“That’s a mouthful huh?” Lauren grinned.
“Sounds like an adorable love story to me…” Achilles replied.
“The fact he took on Zilan the way he did intrigues me… But he barely was able to hold his own. He even mentioned holding a conversation with Silan before being swallowed by a white light. No human has ever successfully done that before without being corrupted. Being one of the highest ranking officers in the Agency, Mateo asked me to train him. Every day, every night. Rain, snow, whatever came our way. He wants to get better and stronger.” Vakarra explained, looking forward on the path.
“All that sounds dull and bull.” Diana laughed, running up to the group.

Vakarra glared at Diana, watching her stand close to Mateo. She started poking his back, and his arm.
“If you consider getting your ass kicked by a girl with pink hair training… You sure jacked him up really good!” Diana laughed.
“Hold your tongue, little girl! What would a criminal know?” Vakarra shouted.
“You tell me, pink eye! I’ve never met a natural pinky…” Diana replied, plucking a piece of hair from Vakarra’s head.
“Show respect, thief!” Vakarra shouted.

Escalating her frustration, she took Mateo’s arm off her neck, and started to place him on the ground. Taking initiative, Achilles and Lauren nodded, and grabbed hold of Mateo’s arms as well. As they held him across their shoulders, they watched as Vakarra stood tall. Diana placed her hands on her hips and started laughing hysterically.
“I heard your prissy ass earlier. You know all about me huh?” Diana smiled.

Vakarra gave Diana a blank stare.
“What about you girly? With that hair of yours, you could be some freak demon with pink powers or something. Yeah! How do we know you’re not allied like Leon, and the other freaks in that Agency? Maybe a spy?” Diana laughed once more.

Vakarra looked down to the ground with a pained look on her face.
“You want the truth?” Vakarra responded.
“Diana, that’s enough!” Lauren shouted.
“Stop being a bitch, Diana!” Achilles shouted as well.
“Can it cheese!” Diana shouted, flipping Achilles the bird, “Lets see some clarification!”

Taking a deep breath, Vakarra balled her fists up, and glared at Diana as if she was dirt.
“Do you see this armor I’m wearing?” Vakarra asked.

Diana took a few glimpses of Vakarra.
“I see some, but not much. What’s that have to do with anything?” Diana asked.
“To become a Lieutenant… You must be willing to give your life to the agency. This armor prolongs life and enables us to draw unlimited mystical energy. On the day you are sworn in, the armor is infused onto your body… Unable to remove it. The only time you can remove it is if you die or you are banished from the Agency.” Vakarra explained, placing her hand on her chestplate.
“Really, now? That’s not good enough… Tell us more!” Diana shouted, reaching to her backside.
“I’ve been with the agency over two hundred years. I’m not much older than the rest of you, truthfully… That’s when I made the rank Lieutenant. I can hear the call of Commander Arthur in my head, as well as my counterpart, Leon. Their calls are faint now, but I can still hear them. With each day passing, more of my armor comes off, and I become what I once was so many years ago. This chest piece… and this left gauntlet is all I have left.” Vakarra explained, looking at her left gauntlet.
“You won’t… die will you?” Achilles asked.
“Heavens no!” Vakarra replied, “I will be twenty-seven again.”

Diana took a small step back.
“All my life, I wanted to stand tall and proud among my peers and lead them all to victory. And I achieved that, and watched slowly as the organization I loved and cared for fade away to corruption, greed, murder, and sex. Things never were like this. Not like before. Since Arthur took command our order has fallen apart… “ Vakarra explained, looked to the ground once more.
“Wow… that’s a touching story!” Diana shouted, pulling out a dagger, “Anything else to add?”
“Yeah, there’s more. When this armor comes off completely, my memories of everything I learned in the past two hundred years will repress to nothing, and I’ll have the exact same memory as I did back then. I won’t remember anything… “ Vakarra sighed, with a tear beading on her eye.

Feeling the tear bead on her face, she closed her eyes and shook her head slightly, getting rid of the tear.
“That doesn’t matter right now. I have to train Mateo as much as possible before I revert… My former self… wasn’t too keen on training others.” Vakarra explained, “I learned so much in this timespan… To lose it all in a blink of an eye, is hard for me to digest.”

Diana lowered her dagger.
“That’s… That sounds horrible… Why won’t you retain your memory?” Diana asked.
“It’s the law of a lieutenant. It’s been like this for generations.” Vakarra explained, “Since the foundation of our home, Angels, Mystics, and Humans lived together peacefully. Among them were six defenders with the leader of them being the almighty ruler over the races. The defenders were crafted magical armor that allowed extended life, enhanced strength, stamina, durability, wisdom, and sight. The ruler’s armor was crafted to be near immortal, due to countless assassination attempts from the Demons. Over the years, rituals were starting to be performed, and leaders as well as protectors, were switched out every so often to give the people something to look towards. Hence why the Agency was formed. Commander Arthur, when he decided to pick up the mantle, he somehow gained the rank Commander, and dismissed four of the six protectors. He single handedly destroyed the armor, and chose a leader himself. Although by then the peace between the Mystics, Angels, and Humans were broken, people still looked towards the leader as the authority figure.”
“So why is your armor coming off? We watched you rip a piece off…” Lauren asked.

Vakarra lifted her right hand, and stared into her palm.
“I have enjoyed these two hundred years as a protector… Or as Commander Arthur put it a Lieutenant. But I watched what my beloved society has transformed to… I do not wish to be apart of the organization anymore… Its meaning has severely tarnished over the years… The sooner this armor comes off, the better. I kind of miss my younger self. Rambunctious, always thirsting to fight, I miss having the dream of achieving something big. Two hundred years is a long time… I’m tired.”

Vakarra lowered her arm, and turned her back towards Diana.
“Let’s get back to camp. We’ll talk more there.” Vakarra stated.

This said, Vakarra motioned to continue forward. While Achilles and Lauren followed Vakarra, Diana followed a short distance pondering everything Vakarra said.
“I wonder if my gang is alright…” Diana asked herself.

It didn’t take too long before they reached where the camp was. The camp was nothing but a crashed, destroyed ship with very few open compartments. From the few days Vakarra and the others stayed, You could see random torn sheets hanging over the compartments where they stayed at.
“Put Mateo over there.” Vakarra pointed to one of the ground level compartments.
“So uh… Where do we stay, captain lady?” Diana asked walking next to Vakarra.
“Doesn’t matter to me, just keep your belongings to yourself.” Vakarra replied, glaring at Diana.

As Diana shrugged her shoulders, Vakarra walked towards a compartment next to Mateo’s and closed the sheet. Achilles and Lauren came from Mateo’s compartment not soon after.
“This… looks like a ship!” Diana gasped.
“Yes, it’s a scouting ship.” Shimara said, walking up from behind Diana.

Startling Diana, she jumped ahead a tiny bit, turned around, and grabbed hold of her dagger ready to unsheathe it. Realizing it was Palacio’s wife, she released the dagger and placed her hand across her chest.
“Scared the shit out of me…” Diana panted.
“Relax!” Shimara smiled, “So… you’re Diana!” Shimara smiled.
“Yup, I’m beautiful and dangerous!” Diana shouted.
“Well you certainly are, aren’t you?” Shimara giggled.
“She’s a handful, I’ll give you that!” Palacio laughed, with Becca next to him, “She saved my hide a couple times!”

Diana blushed slightly.
“I heard a lot about you… Shimara…” Diana replied, feeling embarrassed with Palacio’s comment.
“As have I!” Shimara smiled, approaching Diana, “You’re quite the fighter, I was told.”

Diana looked slightly puzzled as Shimara started circling around her. Palacio and Becca stared at her; confused.
“I… do what I have to to survive…” Diana replied, feeling uncomfortable.
“Who taught you how to fight?” Shimara asked scornfully, her circles getting closer towards Diana.
“When you live on the streets, you have to do what you can to survive…” Diana replied, feeling more uncomfortable.
“Interesting.” Shimara said, her voice going more dark.
“Um… honey, what are you doing?” Palacio asked.
“Mom…?” Becca questioned.
“You’re kinda in my space…” Diana murmured.

With one swift motion, Shimara reached for Diana’s back pocket and pulled out a shiny necklace. She held it high enough for Palacio and Becca to see it.
“My, what a pretty necklace.” Shimara shouted.

Diana attempted to grab it, but was shoved back by Shimara.
“Palacio… This looks like Becca’s necklace, doesn’t it?” Shimara asked, chucking it to Palacio.

As Palacio caught it, he examined it in his hands, to quickly see the initials B.M. He looked at Diana with a pained and confused look.
“How… did you get this, Diana? It was right in my…” Palacio questioned in shock, patting his pockets on his body.

Diana, also looking shocked, looked at the necklace again, and back at Palacio.
“Wait…” Diana replied in a stuttering voice.

Palacio stormed to Diana, coming nose to nose with her.
“Despite everything that’s happened in these few days, you had the audacity to steal from me??” Palacio growled, “I thought she was dead… I thought my wife was gone forever… and one of the heirlooms I kept on me you stole?”

Diana’s face turned white for a brief moment. A sense of pain coursed through her body.
“I didn’t steal that… Palacio…” Diana replied, looking into his face, “I had no idea you had something like that…!”
“You disgust me… Stay away from me, my family… and don’t you ever come near me again. I was a fool to trust you as I have…” Palacio growled.

Ramming Diana’s shoulder, he stormed towards the camp, with Becca following. From the force, Diana almost fell to the ground but quickly staggered to her feet. As Shimara passed by Diana, she came to whisper distance.
“Come near my family again… And I’ll kill you, understand? Might want to hightail it out of here missy…” Shimara whispered with a sense of delight.

Diana made eye contact with Shimara as she passed by. To her surprise, Shimara was twirling the same necklace she pulled from Diana’s pocket. She gave a miniscule grin, then turned her back onto Diana. Diana stood mortified, and stunned by what just transpired.
“I… didn’t steal anything… from him.” Diana murmured to herself, “I… really didn’t…”

With her head towards the ground, she approached one of the compartments of the camp. Seeing all the ground level ones were full, she jumped and climbed to another level and used that. Instead of taking in the view of a temporary home, she found the closest object that resembled a bed, sat in it, brought her legs up to her body, and buried her face into her legs. Unable to keep in what just transpired, she started sobbing.

At the same time, inside Mateo’s compartment, Lauren reached for her backside and pulled out her pouch.
“I have some medicine that should clean some of these wounds.” Lauren stated, pulling out a couple green herbs.
“Alright…” Achilles responded, looking out the hole of the sheet covering the compartment.
“Something the matter?” Lauren asked, dabbing the green herbs on some of Mateo’s wounds.
“It’s weird, but… Diana is standing there with Palacio and his folks… Just… “ Achilles replied.

Curious, he stood up, and peeked closer out the hole in the sheet. He watched as Shimara started circling Diana. From that far distance, Achilles could tell something was wrong, or was about to happen.
“That woman… I think her name… was Shimara? She’s circling Diana like she’s a demon or something… It’s weird.” Achilles said.
“It’s probably nothing…” Lauren shrugged her shoulders.

Lauren pulled out a red leaf, and started dabbing a piece of a damp cloth with it.
“Mateo, this is going to burn a lot, but it will heal really fast… Alright?” Lauren said, closing her eyes.

Before Mateo could say anything, she placed the rag onto his left arm with a deep gash. She pushed onto it as hard as she could as Mateo let out a horrid scream. He held back flailing as hard as he could, but this only caused his whole body to shake. Within a few seconds, she released the rag and the wound was completely gone. Mateo quickly jumped to his feet, and grabbed hold of Lauren. This caused Lauren to throw her hands up in the air.
“You’re a fucking psyco!” Mateo shouted, pushing Lauren against the wall, “But… Thank you…”

With a sigh of relief, he lowered Lauren back to the floor, and sat back down on the bed. Lauren, slightly terrified, lowered her arms back to her side, then sat down in a chair next to the bed.
“Sorry…” Mateo sighed with relief again, “Force of habit… I haven’t felt pain and exhaustion like this in so long… If we were back at home, I could just conjure up a vial of angelic potions, and be healed instantly… But… I only have two vials left… I’m trying to save them for dire-need situations…”
“You know angelic alchemy?” Lauren gasped, looking at Mateo.
“I do… I brought some books but… I have no clue where my vehicle landed… So I can’t make anymore. I know some off the top of my head but…” Mateo started explaining.

Lauren grabbed hold of Mateo’s left arm.
“You must teach me!!” Lauren smiled, staring at Mateo.

Mateo looked at Lauren, attempting to pull his arm away.
“Uh… sure!” Mateo smiled, struggling to get his arm aray.

Instead of releasing his arm, Lauren pushed off of the floor, and running into Mateo, causing Mateo to fall onto the bed and Lauren to end up on top of him. She looked deep into Mateo’s eyes, and smiled.
“I’ve loved alchemy since the day I went into the follower’s academy… It’s been my life’s passion to get ahold of that level of alchemy…”

Mateo, becoming really uncomfortable, started trying to pry himself from Lauren.
“I’ll teach you what I know, now get off me!” Mateo shouted.

Blinking for a couple seconds, Lauren shook her head and quickly realized what she was doing. A bead of sweat started to roll down her face, realizing she was sitting directly on top of Mateo. She quickly jumped off of him, and sat back in the chair with her face turning beat red. Mateo rolled back to a sitting position, glaring at Lauren like she was crazy.
“You’re crazy… Lauren, was it?” Mateo giggled.
“Uh, yeah…” Lauren smiled, her cheeks turning more and more red.

Achilles turned from the hole in the sheet and looked at Mateo with a concerned look on his face.
“Mateo, who is that girl? Shimara?” Achilles asked.
“Shimara was a top level agent…” Mateo shrugged his shoulders, “Besides that… I’m guessing that is Becca’s mom, and that man’s wife?”
“Something just took place outside… and left Diana in tears…” Achilles replied, crossing his arms, “It was unnerving to watch, to say the least…”
“Meh, don’t worry about it too much. Remember, our home just exploded.” Mateo stated, “A lot of people died… The fact we survived, and in one piece, is a miracle on its own. On top of that, she could be going through survivor’s guilt.”
“I… guess so.” Achilles answered, “She wasn’t like that ever. Even when we landed here…”
“Wait… you made us that sandwich!” Mateo pointed at Achilles, “You ran that sandwich shop a few days ago!”
“Yeah… I used to…” Achilles sighed.
“Cheer up boss!” Mateo smiled, jumping from the bed and placing his hand onto Achilles’s shoulder, “We’ll fix things… I guarantee it. Somehow, someway.”

Achilles looked at Mateo for a slight second with disbelief. He was sort of blown away with the tone of hopefulness in his voice. Becoming slightly eager, Achilles smirked, and placed his hand back on Mateo’s shoulder.
“Yeah… somehow, we will.” Achilles smirked.

Releasing Achilles, Mateo walked outside, and stretched for the sky.
“What a beautiful day…!” Mateo smiled.
“… to get crushed!” A female voice echoed.

Quickly reaching for his saber, Mateo was unable to pull it out as he was kicked in the back. He stumbled forward, pushing his hands out to catch him. Using the momentum he was falling forward, he quickly turned around, and used it to lunge himself forward. Within those couple seconds, he was able to pull his saber out. As the figure he was closing in on came to his vision, he attempted to run the figure through. Suddenly, he stopped with only centimeters from the figure’s body. Vakarra swiped Mateo’s attack with her golden saber, and pursued to run Mateo through. Thinking fast, he took a few steps back, followed by a lunge to gain a tiny bit of distance.
“I see you’re healed and ready to go…” Vakarra smiled, her saber in front of her.

Mateo held his saber behind him, in a defensive stance.
“What are you doing, crazy woman? Are you trying to kill me for real??” Mateo gasped.
“To train hard, you must fight for your life!! Prepare yourself!” Vakarra shouted.

Without hesitation, Vakarra lunged forward at Mateo. Feeling hesitant and uncomfortable, Mateo stayed in his defensive stance. As she swiftly got closer, several beads of sweat began running down his face. Gripping his saber, he countered Vakarra’s lunge and in the same motion, spun around and swiped at her midsection. Vakarra and Mateo went a good distance away from each other before they touched the ground again. At the same time, the two spun back around and glared at each other.
“I need to explain a couple things to you, Mateo.” Vakarra smiled, lowering her saber, “I didn’t expect… this to happen so soon so you need to listen to me…”

Mateo lowered his saber, and shut it off. While holstering it, he gazed at Vakarra’s movements as she approached him.
“My time has come sooner than I expected… All the wisdom I wanted to pass down to you is going to fade in just a few moments…” She smiled, shutting off her saber, “I wanted to test your reflexes… You’re definitely not ready to take on a force like Arthur…”
“But why all of a sudden, Vakarra?” Mateo asked.
“Here…” Vakarra said, grabbing hold of Mateo’s hand, “Swap me sabers.”

Placing her saber into Mateo’s hand, he handed his saber to her at the same time.
“With this weapon, you will be able to pierce Arthur’s armor. It was forged directly from the Angelic Forge of Nazdoo… Nothing can pierce its light, and it can cut through any object… Even Angelic armor. The armor Arthur wears can be destroyed with this also… “ Vakarra explained.
“Vakarra… why… All of a sudden? You said earlier you have about a week or so…” Mateo asked.
“You’re a tough fighter, Mateo… Our of all the people I trained, you can take a beating, and don’t know when to quit. You’re really courageous, and I wish I could have seen you be administered as a real agent…” Vakarra explained some more with a smile on her face.
“Why… are you telling me all this?” Mateo asked, puzzled.
“Listen…” Vakarra smiled, feeling the chestplate on her chest falling off, “When this falls off, you must convince me to stay with you. There’s a journal in my room I’ve been writing things down incase something like this happens. You must get me that journal…”
“Wait… why?” Mateo asked.
“Everything up until now… I won’t remember any of it. Since I was granted this armor…” Vakarra said.
“But…!” Mateo gasped.
“It’s alright… I want this. I no longer want to be apart of an organization… that betrayed everything I ever believed in…” Vakarra nodded, “ My old self is kind of like you… I’m smart, but I can’t do tactics very well. I’m very nervous when it comes to following orders”

Vakarra glanced up to see Shimara looking down at her with a black expression. They made eye contact for a few seconds before Shimara turned the other way to go back into her compartment.
“… And above all things…” Vakarra looked into Mateo’s eyes, “Be wary of who you trust…”

She started to radiate light from her chestplate. Mateo looked closely at Vakarra’s face to see a tear form up. Watching it streak down her face put pressure on Mateo’s heart.
“Please… Keep me safe…”

Before Mateo could agree, Vakarra’s chestplate fell into pieces. Its shards glimmered until they hit the ground, where they completely disintegrated. Mateo took a step back and covered his eyes as Vakarra was enveloped into a blinding light.
“Vakarra!!” Mateo shouted.

Once the light subsided, Vakarra fell to the ground on her hands and knees. She started to pant from exhaustion with sweat beading and falling off her face. Staggering, she was able to stand to her feet. She now stood about 5’2 wearing brown rags enough to cover her body. With holes in it, you could see small portions of her body such as her stomach, chest, hips, and legs. She wore wooden sandals with the bottom of them coated in a rubbery substance for excellent traction. Across her shoulders and her upper body, there was a lighter tanned piece of cloth with a hood on the back of it. On her belt that was made of rags as well, she had holstered Mateo’s old saber. Instead of her hot pink hair being long, it stretched to her shoulderblades. Her skin was slightly tanned, and she had pink eyes.
“Huh…? Where is this? Are we at Northern province?” Vakarra questioned, pointing at Mateo, “You, explain… where are we?”
“Uh… “ Mateo replied, lowering his arm from the blinding flash, “Hi… I’m Mateo.”

Vakarra walked up to Mateo and put her face extremely close to Mateo’s face. Due to her height, she stood on her tippy toes.
“Huh… You’re an interesting one… Mystic? Angelic? Human?” Vakarra asked.

While Mateo tried to answer, Vakarra started walking circles around Mateo, making him slightly uncomfortable. At the same time, she was making a “Mhm” sound.
“Um… I’m human…” Mateo replied, standing stiff.
“I don’t see human here… I see Human with mystical energy radiating… Also a tad bit of Angel and demonic blood. You’re a Quad!” Vakarra gasped, jumping back.
“Vakarra…” Mateo said her name softly.
“How do you know my name?? Where are we? The air is so fresh, it’s nothing like central station.” Vakarra snapped, looking around at her surroundings.
“Vakarra, calm down!” Mateo shouted, attempting to calm her down.
“This is… Motavian? Are we banished? What’s going on??” Vakarra gasped, grabbing her head.

Noticing her starting to hyperventilate, Mateo lunged for Vakarra, grabbing her by the shoulders. Feeling his grip on her shoulders made Vakarra stiffen up with confusion.
“Vakarra… Listen… A lot has happened. Please come with me, and I’ll show you everything you need to know, okay? You are 200 years into the future… You became a Lieutenant for the agency.” Mateo explained.

Vakarra started calming down, beginning to breathe normally.
“Uh huh…” Vakarra replied.
“Good… This way…” Mateo said.

Releasing her shoulders, Mateo walked towards Vakarra’s compartment with her behind.
“So… This is Motavian right?” Vakarra asked.
“Yup.” Mateo replied.
“How did we get here? The last thing I remember was kneeling before our leader and savior… Arthur. I was on this glorious stage with hundreds of agents watching me.” Vakarra responded.

Mateo stopped at the doorway of the compartment only for a second.
“You really need to read your journal.” Mateo said, walking into the compartment.

Curious to what he was talking about, she followed him into the room. As the flap shut, Vakarra looked around the room to see how clean and sturdy everything looked.
“Wow… This is a really nice room for the environment it’s in.” Vakarra said, admiring the room.
“I think you were a neat freak.” Mateo said, walking over to a box across the room.

As Mateo opened the box and sifted through it, Vakarra took baby steps around the room, admiring how nice everything looked. The walls were a reddish color, with the ceiling looking like white tile. The floor looked exceptionally polished and clean with a dark grey carpet on it. In the middle of the room against the left wall from the entrance sat a cot with three different fleece blankets on it. On the other side of the room, adjacent from the bed, sat a small table with three chairs around it with papers on top of it. Vakarra sat on the cot, and slowly leaned back until her back was perfectly snug on the cot.
“Wow, this is all mine?” Vakarra asked.
“Yeah… You were a lieutenant. You had the best of the best.” Mateo responded.
“I really don’t believe you… If I was a lieutenant, why would I be on Motavian? Was I on a mission or something? And Why wouldn’t I have a squad of agents with me?” Vakarra questioned, placing her hands behind her head.
“There’s… It’s complicated.” Mateo responded.

After digging through the box for a couple minutes, he finally found a book with a blue cover with Vakarra’s name on it. He walked over to Vakarra, and laid the book next to her.
“You told me to tell you to read this.” Mateo said, taking a couple steps back, “I’ll be back later on when dinner is ready. Take your time. I’ll be next door if you need anything.”

Vakarra rose up from the cot.
“Who said I even wanted to stay in a stuffy place like this?” Vakarra snapped, “How do I know this isn’t some ploy to rape me or something? I don’t even know who you are…”

Mateo looked deep into Vakarra’s eyes.
“Look… YOu told me to-” Mateo started to explain.

Vakarra quickly grabbed the book and tucked it into a pocket inside her ragged clothing. She stood up and started walking towards Mateo.
“You said that a couple times already. I haven’t seen any kind of proof that I was anything you have said so far! As far as I know, I’ve been brainwashed and you’re trying to control me!” Vakarra explained.
“But…!” Mateo started to say.

Vakarra grabbed hold of Mateo’s collar, and spun him to where his back was facing the room. With all her strength, she pushed Mateo into the room.
“Stay away from me!” Vakarra shouted.

Without hesitation, she turned her back on Mateo and ran as fast as she could away. Even though Mateo quickly got to his feet, when he walked outside she was already gone out of sight.
“Damnit…” Mateo sighed, looking towards the ground, “Now… what do I do?”

Sulking, he walked back to his compartment. Inside, Lauren and Achilles were leaned against the wall sitting on the ground with their eyes closed. Mateo sat on his cot, and looked at the two.
“They’re completely exhausted.” Mateo sighed, “What craziness…”

Following another deep sigh, Mateo reached for a book titled “Angelic Elixirs” under his cot, opened it up, and laid back. He slowly opened one of the pages, and began reading it. Meanwhile, above a couple floors, Palacio sat in the room with Shimara making food while Becca sat on the cot across the room, her eyes still swollen from crying so much.
“I… can’t believe I’m lookin at you right now…!” Palacio said, struggling to keep his excitement down, “What happened? I left you at that shop…”
“Dad… There was a boy that came in…” Becca explained wiping her swollen eyes, “He was in the shop before, with a green haired woman. Mateo, that’s what I heard him being called.”

Palacio took a quick gasp.
“He saved you…” Palacio sighed with relief, “Thank the heavens.”
“It’s a shame you needed saving…” Shimara snapped, slamming down a can of soup, “Your father shouldn’t have left you in the first place.”

Becca stood up and slowly walked towards Shimara.
“Mom… I wanted dad to leave me… I was sick…” Becca explained.

Shimara turned to the direction of Becca with a scorned look on her face.
“That doesn’t matter to me. He should have either stayed with you, or sat by your side like a true parent should have!”
“Sharon…” Palacio said softly, standing from his seat, “Please…”
“No, Palacio…” Shimara snapped.
“If you want to yell about something like that mom, where did you go those years huh?? You are fussing at Dad over something him and I agreed on! You were gone for how long??” Becca shouted.

Shimara looked at Palacio, then snapped back to Becca.
“I had a job to do. You know what my-” Shimara started to say.
“No, mom! Dad had a job to do too! You can’t scold him for something him and I agreed on years ago! From the day I got sick until now!” Becca shouted.
“Sharon… Becca, enough!!” Palacio’s voice thundered.

Hearing the base of Palacio’s voice made Becca go back to her cot, while Shimara turned back to the tiny stove. Struck by shock, Shimara didn’t dare to look back as Palacio took a deep breath to speak.
“We aren’t here to fight each other!!” Palacio shouted, “Too much has happened, and we’re all on the edge of our seats! It’s a miracle that we’re here at all… SO shut the fuck up, and enjoy the family time we do have! Who’s to say we’re not going to die in the next few minutes??”.

Shimara released the pot on the stove and turned to Palacio. With tears forming in her eyes, she ran and jumped into him, knocking him on his back. She laid on top of Palacio, and snuggled into his body.
“I’m… so sorry…” Shimara whimpered, “I’m sorry…”

With his hand, he put it through Shimara’s long hair and played with it.
“Shh… It’s alright…” Palacio said softly, “It’s alright…”
“So… where… were you Mom?” Becca asked.

Hearing the question, Shimara rose up from Palacio, and walked back to the stove. Tears started to form on her face again.
“Dear… I don’t know if I’m ready to speak of it…” Shimara hesitated.

Palacio also sat up, concerned at Shimara’s response.
“Yes, Becca… Let’s save it for another time…” Palacio spoke.
“Fine…” Becca responded, “I’m going outside for some air.”

Before her folks had a chance to say anything, Becca was already out the compartment. As she stepped out, she turned to the right and started going upwards, towards the top of the debris. As she walked on and across small gaps in the walkway, she looked towards the sky to see that the sun was setting. Once she reached the top, she sat down and gazed at the sunlight disappearing over the tree horizon. She drew up her legs and wrapped her arms around them.
“Mom… What happened to you…? You’re different… I don’t even recognize you anymore…” Becca sighed, pushing more into her knees, “Things are so different…”
“You don’t say?” Said a familiar voice.

Slightly startling Becca, Diana walked up beside Becca and sat down next to her.
“Every alright missy?” Diana asked, propping one leg up for her arm to rest on.
“Hi…” Becca responded, without even looking at her.
“I heard some screaming in y’all’s room… Is everything okay?” Diana asked, attempting to sound concerned.
“Yea… Everything’s…” Becca hesitated, remembering her mom’s words, “No… Everything’s not okay.”
“Well, speak up buttercup. I won’t bite…” Diana replied.

Hearing Diana’s voice seemed to relax Becca a little. She lowered her legs, and placed her hands in between them.
“My mom said not to… speak to you.” Becca stated, “But… I don’t see why. You don’t seem like that bad a person to me.”

Diana snarled up for a split second, then relaxed.
“So… What’s on your mind?” Diana asked.
“You can kinda guess can’t you?” Becca joked, “Everything went to hell. Dad and Mom are so much more different now than before… It’s… so hard to not think about what’s going on right now…”

Diana sat on the floor next to the cot.
“With coming here?” Diana asked, wrapping her arms around her legs.
“When Mateo rescued me… I saw so many things… I think he thought I was unconscious… But I was well aware of what was going on… The streets were covered with people running, and fighting with each other. It appeared to be different factions of the syndicates were looting and fighting amongst each other. The hierarchy was gone… In the sky was littered with people who looked identical to soldiers from the Agency. Demons of all sizes were raining down from the ships and other things I’ve never seen before… It was horrifying. The demons were eating people…” Becca started to sob, “Then I blacked out. I woke up to see my mom standing on an embankment, looking off into the sun. She turned around and said hi Rebecca… Then I realized I could actually move on my own. I didn’t spend any time figuring out why. I just…”

Becca put her hands over her face, trying to hide the tears from Diana.
“I jumped in her arms and buried my face into her chest… She talked to me as if she hasn’t been gone one day. I was… still happy she was there, but… Something was really off. Out of place.  I took a few days to figure out why I was healthy, and had all my strength back. But, then I found Daddy. I just lost it, and here I am. Alive and completely healthy. It’s so hard to think for the better when I was so close to death. Then there’s survivor’s guilt. So many people lost their lives, who shouldn’t have died. I was chosen to survive… For what? I’m just a child with no special purpose…” Becca sobbed even harder.
“Becca…” Diana sighed, reaching over to her hair.
“Other people should have been saved… So many people died…” Becca pouted.

Tears started streaming down the sides of her face while Diana attempted to console her. Hearing her emotionally filled words brought pain to her own.
“Missy, don’t think like that…” Diana said in a soothing voice.
“It’s hard not to… All those men, women, and children were not ready to die. I watched frightened people sit in their windows awaiting commands on what to do. Children that play in the streets were cowering together from the confusion. I could have grabbed one or something as Mateo put me in that vehicle…” Becca cried.

Diana’s eyes started to tear up hearing her cry.
“I also had to come to terms with losing both of my parents. People even died now knowing if their children were safe…” Becca cried even harder.

Unable to bare anymore, Diana stood up and looked down on Becca. At the same time, she wiped the sprinkle of water from her face and clenched her fists.
“Becca! That’s enough!” Diana shouted.

Becca removed her hands and gave Diana a puzzled look.
“You can’t say anymore of that… That’s enough!” Diana shouted, “More survived than you think! As we left the provinces, we watched as the other three detached and flew off in random directions… A lot of people died, but it could have been much worse…!”
“But…?” Becca asked, raising up from the cot, “That doesn’t matter… Our way of life is gone… How much longer do you think we’ll survive on our own like this?”

Diana reached down and grabbed hold of Becca’s shoulders.
“Hey, hello? Earth to Becca?” Diana shouted, shaking her slightly, “I said enough of that!”
“And… My parents… They don’t seem like they know each other anymore… All they did coming back here was argue and fight.” Becca spoke softly, making Diana stop shaking her, “I… don’t know what to do but… to just give up. If… only they were more… hopeful”

Unable to hear Becca’s heart anymore, Diana pulled Becca to her chest, and hugged her tightly. Stunned for a moment, Becca wrapped her arms around Diana loosely.
“It’s… Going to be okay, Missy…” Diana responded softly, “Everything’s going to be okay…”

Becca took Diana’s words deeply. As they sunk into her heart, her grip onto Diana got tighter, and her face started tearing up again. While she did this, Diana could slightly feel Becca’s heartbeat from her chest, making her eyes tear up as well. At a lost for words, Diana squeezed her tightly.
“Excuse me… What are you doing in here?” Shimara snapped, walking into the compartment.

Diana didn’t budge.
“What are you doing to my little girl?” Shimara snapped again.

Without hesitating, Shimara took a couple bold steps forward, grabbed hold of Diana’s shoulder, and jerked her back. The amount of force she used to pull Diana forced Becca to let go of her. Diana staggered until she hit the wall across the room.
“What did I say about staying away, thief??” Shimara shouted, “And I see you’re brainwashing my daughter??”

Diana’s left hand slid to her backside, grabbing hold of one of her daggers.
“If you stopped being a bitch, and listened to your daughter for a minute, maybe I wouldn’t have to fill your role!” Diana shouted, glaring at Shimara.

Becoming frightened, Becca stormed out of the room. As she exited the room, Shimara smirked, and relaxed her arms.
“A long time ago when I was in the academy, I studied crime organizations…” Shimara smiled, walking over to a cabinet, “I had a term paper I titled Criminological Psychology. It wasn’t too hard to get information, because while I was at the academy, I still had assignments to patrol, and calm criminal threats. My favorite one was The Raiders Gang. Heard of it?”

Diana’s eyes got really big, hearing her former gang.
“Bound by honor and blood, am I mistaken?” Shimara giggled, pulling something from the cabinet, “One of the men I questioned… He seemed really attached to his family. I had to rough him around a good bit, but finally answered my questions. You might know him. Large guy, few tattoos on his back, and his left ankle… I think then, he was in his upper twenties, maybe thirties?”

Hearing the description brought the open-eyed Diana to a heated glare.
“He attacked me in cold blood after that, giving me this scar…” Shimara turned, pulling up her shirt, showing her abdomen with an X across, “He ran some unique claw through my abdomen. In a sense, I was impaled. Luckily, in the courses I took in the academy, I can block out pain…  So in response, I decapitated him. Was so sad, he had such a huge family back then…”
“… What…?” Diana gasped.

She released her dagger, and fell to her knees while Shimara approached her while holding something behind her back.
“So… You…” Diana shivered.

Shimara kneeled, coming eye to eye with Diana, who was completely overcome by grief.
“From that tattoo on your left hand, That would only mean you were apart of his crew, am I right? Maybe family perhaps?” Shimara spoke softly.

She watched as Diana trembled with grief.
“Ah, he was someone close to you I see… To be frank, he was trading some goods he found at the local donation and was headed home to see his family. He ran into a nobleman, and his voice is what caught my attention…” Shimara smiled while giggling, “Straight up didn’t do anything wrong… If anything, he was the most polite person belonging to any gang I’ve ever heard of.”

Diana quickly jumped to the side, reaching for her dagger. The moment she closed her fist against the dagger, she realized it was missing. Once she made another move, she realized Shimara is not only behind her, but holding the dagger to her neck.
“Don’t move…” Shimara said in a slightly darker tone, “I not only got recognized by my report, but it was published in the Regional Times as a big seller. From that incident, I crippled crime and crime syndicates such as The Raiders Gang. Without big name corporations funding them, society would only see them as uncommon thieves, murderers, and scum.”
“You… killed him? He was provoked… by something…” Diana said, trying to stay calm.
“Yeah, and that was with the simple questions I asked him. He feared for his life afterwards, and I defended myself.” Shimara said happily, “At that time, the code wasn’t enforced so…”

Becoming angered, Diana thrusted her arm into Shimara’s midsection, forcing her to drop the dagger. In a split second, Diana jumped to the other side of the room.
“Why… Why would you say such a thing, you heartless bitch! You killed him for… for… some paper?? Are you… Are you serious??” Diana shouted.
“Well, I didn’t do it on purpose…” Shimara smiled, holding her scar with her left hand, “But if you next some sort of context, there you go… And… Goodbye.”

Before Diana could react to her statement, both Becca and Palacio walked into the room. Diana’s mouth dropped as the two lay eyes on her, and then looked at Shimara holding her stomach with a dagger in the middle of the room.
“What… What’s going on here…?” Palacio asked, reaching for the jeweled dagger, “Diana, why is this even out?”
“The bitch tried to attack me…” Shimara whined, falling to her knees.

Palacio also fell to the floor to catch and console her. Becca, on the other hand, looked at dIANA concerningly.
“What did you do to her…?” Palacio shouted, glaring at Diana.
“What… I…” Diana tried to speak.

Without hesitating, Palacio reached in his back pocket and pulled out his pistol. Coming to a full stand, he aimed it at Diana, to the shock of her. Diana stood back a little, and slowly brought her hands to her chest.
“You bitch… I trusted you… All this time! How could you strike her??” Palacio shouted.

Becca looked towards Shimara by the corner of her eye, and saw a smirk as she coddled her stomach.
“Palacio… I… I didn’t…” Diana tried to explain.
“Shut up with your lies!” Palacio shouted, shaking his head, “I should never have trusted you! You are a menace! I’m giving you five seconds to leave…”

Uttering a sigh, Diana’s arms dropped to the floor, and she looked at Palacio with a helpless look.
“I’ll… just leave.” Diana sighed.

While following her with the gun, Diana walked slowly towards the door. As she passed Becca, she brushed against her and put something in her hand. The moment Becca went to say something about it, Diana softly nudged her and shook her head no.
“If I ever see you around here again, I will shoot you…” Palacio said.

Suddenly, Mateo came around the corner, grappling the weapon, and pushing Palacio against a wall. Before he could retaliate, Mateo put his foot into his chest and pressed in.
“Fool! Nobody’s shooting nobody!” Mateo looked out of the room, “Diana, come here!”

In shock, Diana ran back into the room, puzzled about Mateo’s appearance.
“Get off…!” Palacio struggled.
“No.” Mateo replied, looking at Shimara, “Get up, and whatever happened, fix it.”

At the same time, Lauren and Achilles walked into the room.
“Listen to me, and listen to me carefully… Vakarra… is gone. Her lieutenant armor is gone, and she’s no longer able to… be here with us. She lost all her memory up to two hundred years ago, took some supplies and ran off. So… We need to make a plan of action.” Mateo explained.

Shimara stood up, seemingly unharmed.
“So what we need to do is…” Shimara started to speak.
“No.” Mateo responded scornfully, “There is a plan Vakarra already wrote down, and that is what we’re following.”
“Excuse me?” Shimara questioned, waLking up to Mateo, “I’m still a high ranking Agent.”

Mateo turned and came chest to chest with Shimara.
“You really think that is a level of authority that’s respected after everything that’s happened? Seriously? If you’re going to pull that card, shut up and get out of my face.” Mateo snapped.
“How dare…!” Shimara gasped.

Before Shimara could say anything else, Mateo pushed her against the wall, and pointed at her.
“No. As of now, there is no more Agency! Anyone in this room that wants to throw their rank around for stature can leave now… And don’t show your face around me again! They have sided with Demons, and destroyed our way of life! To call yourself an Agent is like calling yourself a Demon!” Mateo shouted.
“Mateo…” Achilles gasped.
“I have a plan, but we can’t be fighting each other to do it.” Mateo explained.
“To rid yourself of the agency??” Shimara gasped, “You can’t brush aside what it really is! in a sense it’s a form of treason! Just because things are crap doesn’t mean we can’t re-establish it!”
“Then leave.” Mateo responded, lowering his finger, “We have to pack up and leave by tomorrow. If Vakarra’s notes were true, the Agency will be here by tomorrow evening. We can’t be here when they get here. She said that anyone they come across, are being detained, and taken back to Infinite Tower for… as she called it, forceful re-educating and reconditioning.”
“Reconditioning…?” Diana questioned.

Mateo turned to Diana with a disgusted look on his face.
“In the basement of Infinite Tower, there’s a medical lab where they test subjects and commit heinous DNA experiments. Who knows what happens…”

Diana shivered slightly.
“So I could have a third eye? Or a tentacle come out of my stomach?” Diana attempted to kid around.
“More like… You turn demonic. They’ve been poisoning the Agents and turning them into half demons. I saw it with my own eyes when I fled the Tower.” Mateo explained, watching Diana back away a tad bit, “So we need to head in the opposite direction… At least, out of this forest. They plan on making a one hundred mile perimeter around Infinite Tower in hopes of terraforming the land… Achilles showed me a map of the area, so we’re heading south… Towards a town just outside the borderline.”
“I say we stay, meet up with the Agency… And figure out the next move!” Shimara shouted.

Angered, Mateo approached Shimara with his fists clenched.
“Then stay, I don’t really care… Achilles, Lauren and I are coming with me.” Mateo snapped.
“Then who’s staying with me?” Shimara snapped back.

Behind Mateo, Diana, Becca, and Palacio looked to the floor. As Mateo turned around, Diana looked up at him, and nodded.
“Come… Let’s get packing… We leave at dawn. Diana, come down, you can stay with us…” Mateo smiled.

Without uttering any words, Diana walked out of the room, followed by Achilles. Lauren, being paranoid by Shimara’s defense, stayed at the door.
“I guess the rest of you are staying…?” Mateo questioned, looking at both Palacio and Becca.
“I…” Becca uttered.
“They’re staying with me, kid.” Shimara smiled nudging Mateo in the shoulder, “That’s my family right there. They’re going to do whatever I say.”

With his fists still clenched, Mateo turned back to Shimara, and let out a sigh towards the floor.
“You… You’re a damn shame… and you’ve failed your family…” Mateo sighed.

His head facing the floor, Mateo walked towards the doorway, towards Lauren. Before exiting the room, he turned his head to the right to see the three in the room.
“I expected more from someone of your stature… When you saved me, I figured you and Vakarra were on the same page… I was completely wrong.” Mateo spoke softly, “I suppose you have your reasons… And I bid you all farewell…”

That said, Mateo exited the room, leaving Becca and Palacio shrouded in a blanket of confusion while Shimara stood with her arms crossed.
“It’s nice to see some things don’t change…” Shimara smiled, turning around.
“Yeah… I guess…” Becca murmured, looking towards the door.

Palacio slapped his hands together and forced a smile on his face.
“Who’s hungry? I know I am!” Palacio cheered.

Becca’s eyes instantly widened while Shimara smiled. Down the stairs, as Mateo entered his room with Diana, Lauren, and Achilles, the four sat around a table in the middle of the room with a lamp on. Outside, the sun was starting to set, making everything outside pitch black.
“Dude, you’re pro!” Diana smiled, looking at Mateo.
“What… happened up there??” Mateo questioned, wiping a bead of sweat off his forehead, “That was tense…”
“I… “ Diana hesitated, “I’m not sure… Something’s off with that woman…”
“Seriously…” Achilles agreed.
“Something’s definitely off, but we don’t have time to fight. Some of the supplies I’ve already gathered, as well as some rations for a few days. I hate camping… Probably as much as the next person, but we have to push to this town here…” Mateo explained, opening a map, “It’s a decent hike, but we’ll stay long out of the Agency’s reach.”

Achilles, remembering the dream from before, stood up and pointed to a point on the map.
“Here…” Achilles pointed out.

Puzzled, Mateo looked at Achilles.
“What…?” Mateo questioned.
“Here… We should go here…!” Achilles shouted, constantly tapping the spot.
“Well… I’ll figure out the cords tonight…” Mateo replied, “Does anyone have any objections to this?”

Mateo waited for a brief second, looking around the room for disagreements. After a few seconds, seeing nobody disagree, Mateo sighed with relief.
“It’s settled. Let’s get some things tied up and ready to go, then pass out. We leave at dawn.” Mateo smiled.
“Wait!!” Diana shouted, standing up.

Hearing hear shout started both Mateo and Achilles.
“Is there anywhere in this hunk of shit we can clean?? I’m so nasty!” Diana complained.
“As a matter of fact… No, there isn’t. On the way to our destination, it shows there’s a river… We can freshen up and camp there…” Mateo giggled, “I thought thieves were used to getting dirty?”
“Getting dirty, and getting our hands dirty are two completely different ideas, douchebag!” Diana shouted, sitting down.

She crossed her arms, and began to pout as Achilles, Lauren, and Mateo chuckled.
“You guys comfortable staying in here, together?” Achilles asked the two females.

Both Diana and Lauren looked scornfully at Achilles.
“Uh…” Lauren blushed.
“YOu perverted jerk!” Diana shouted.

Unable to react in time, Diana leaped over the table, grabbed hold of Achilles’s face, and started smearing her chest into his face.
“Is this what you want, you perverted little shit??” Diana shouted, pressing his face hard against her chest, “It’s sweaty, grimy, and not adorable!! The fact you could suggest a thing at a time like this shows me you’re a typical man that wants his dick wet!!”

That said, Diana jumped off Achilles, and started walking towards the door.
“Lauren and I will stay in the room next door, so perverted men can’t touch these boobs.” Diana snobby said.
“Uh… okay…!” Lauren replied, quickly exiting the room with Diana.

Mateo, unable to cope with what just happened, folded the map into his pocket and put his face to his head.
“Achilles… You’re a damn idiot…” Mateo sighed.
“Yea…” Achilles replied in a daze, “I suppose that wasn’t smart of me… huh?
“Asshole!” Mateo shouted, pointing at stuff across the room, “Now we have to pack everything ourselves! Good going! Lets get to work, asshole…”

Lauren and Achilles’s last name

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~ by Mateo the Wonderer on December 20, 2015.

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