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Crux

"This is Crux reporting... Mission completed."

4,154 views · located in Earth || 3020

a character in “A Garden for Sinners”, as played by Equilibrium

So begins...

Crux's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Stella Iaret Character Portrait: Crux Character Portrait: Uno Summus

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In the darkest of nights, the echo of death rings like a gunshot.

Dark. Cold. Silent. It is a fitting description for the eyes of a certain individual covered with the cloak of mystery. Atop of a communication tower, a silhouette could be seen standing with a stern obligation. The moon hidden behind the rolls of cloud. It was a night like any other. There was nothing to be considered as grand or as poetic as those written in clever prose. Even the cold evening breeze passed like a stranger without a word. Yet, it knew what was about to occur. A sliver of light penetrated through the barrier of darkness as it glimmered on the crisp frozen steel. This particular object would be labeled by many as a gun. A weapon which can harness various intentions yet can only deliver violent results.

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This was currently in the hands of a man. His black hair was ruffled lightly by the winds. He wore black colored clothes which meshed him with the darkness as his background. His eyes of ice blue hidden behind black glasses. He rose his gun and pointed it at a certain direction. One could not tell as the scenery before him were nothing more but clustered buildings which stood as testament to mankind's civilization. Without hesitation, he pulled the trigger. There was not a sound which could be concluded it has a silencer on. The man lowered the gun and turned on his earpiece. "Crux reporting in." There was an answer on the other end. It was hardly audible but good enough for the one listening to."Target neutralized." Another answer echoed from the other end. "Understood. Heading for Rendezvous."

Crux removed the earpiece and simply turned his back as he departed the area. The mission he had been given has been properly executed. If one would want the result, they could look into the window of a building 5,000 meters east from his current position. There a man was down on the floor with a pool of red surrounding him. Near the fallen man, there was a woman and a little boy completely stricken by disbelief, fear, and immense sadness. Their faces in horror as tears fall from their eyes like water ravaging through the fields. According to his files, the man is known as Steven Hearth, one who holds position in the administrative section of the Government. He had been found funneling information to people who should not know anything at all. As for the man who had done the deed, it was nothing but mere consequences of his work. Ah yes, it was nothing more but a day's work.

He entered his vehicle and then removed the shades he wore. It revealed those brilliant blue eyes of his. He grabbed hold of his tablet and looked at the next location of his target. You see, he has two people needed to be liquidized as soon as possible. It has been labeled as priority number one. One was already done. Opening the file, he was presented with a complete bio. It was someone named Stella Iaret with a connection to the EDEN project. He had not been informed specifically what such endeavor entails. Yet, he had been cautioned about this female. He was to expect heavy resistance. Curious, however, it was not enough to hold his interest. All he has was a spark which easily fizzled out. Regardless, he has no intention to fail.

Just like that, Crux made his way to where this Stella will be found and when he does, he will put a bullet in her head. As if answering his intention, the rain began to fall, but it will not hamper the Ghost.





We have an odd predicament, don't we? But, it's fun.

Image"Rain, how quaint." This was a murmur which came out of the lips of a man looking at the manufactured skies of men. His hair of purple and blue draped around him like a flamboyant crown. Eyes of orange brown held a tint of annoyance. A good thing, it did not twist his beautiful face. Rather, it added an illusion of humanity. He wore a long trench coat which served also as a sort of protection from getting wet. Of course, it was not nearly enough. "I would raise my fee after this." He noted as he walked along the streets of the suburban area. It had been a while since he came to this place. It was far too boring for his tastes. Well, his current job was around here somewhere.

To his understanding, he is to retrieve something of great importance. In truth, this particular hired gun could care less about the reasons or purpose behind his current job. All that he was interested about is the money he was getting paid for it. The sum was rather large, or strictly speaking the largest fee he ever had. So, there was no way he was not going to accept it. Another thing which intrigued him was the note stating, dead or alive. Well, he generally preferred dead since things will be less complicated. All he had to worry is to get that something quickly to his employers before it smells like rotten cakes in his possession. With that decided, he walked through the streets without bothering with the current weather system.

Soon enough, he was seeing his moneybag with the accompaniment of something which resembles of a canine. Great. The more reason he was leaning on the term of having it dead. He did not stop from his pace and only stopped when he was in front of a woman who was a lot smaller than him. "Hello there, need an umbrella?" He stated with his ever casual friendly tone. There was also a smile on his lips. However, his eyes did not hold amicable sentiments. It held a dangerous glint like none other.

"I should warn you. I don't take a no for an answer." There was still the smile present and his tone suggested nothing but playful tone. Yet, the presence he exuded was nothing to be noted as friendly.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Stella Iaret Character Portrait: Crux Character Portrait: Steven Potter Character Portrait: Uno Summus

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Stella Iaret Character Portrait: Crux Character Portrait: Uno Summus

0.00 INK

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For every action, there is a fee to collect.

This girl has fire in her. The smile only grew a margin depicting his interest. That's good. It will be fun to break her apart. Perhaps, he could start with that mangy mutt of hers. He was pretty sure that he would do the felines a great favor in doing so. "Practice, you say..." He ended his sentence with a thoughtful hum. His eyes did not looked away at her form. He also did not do anything to prevent her from leaving. Actually, he even stepped aside to let her through. But once she had gained a decent distance from him, he spoke once more. "Then, I will have you Stella Iaret as my sparring buddy." He stated it in a manner much like similar to someone discussing the afternoon weather. This was enough to declare that his appearance before her was not a simple stranger passing by. It was done with purpose and design.

He began to walk towards her. Each step he makes seemed to create a resounding echo from the puddles created by the rain. "You know..." He stopped exactly behind her and positioned his mouth awfully close to her ear. "I like you, so I'll kill you now." He did decide earlier that he preferred a dead object. It is less the hassle and more siesta time for him. The sound of a metal sliding out of a scabbard could be heard. It resembled that of a bell foretelling the start of a mass. His intention was very clear as the brightest of days. The blade within his hand was to pierce her heart. However, its angle changed in a split second as the sound of metals ringing reverberated. His eyes of orange narrowed with warning. The scent of danger now hanged with great intensity.


Interruptions had always been unwelcome.

Based on the information given, his target would be around the residential district. He had checked the schedule ahead and even created a situation which would provide his target to be a bit late than necessary. Upon his arrival, Crux did not bother himself with the rain created by the fabrics of technology and the convenience of time. It was inconsequential to him. He walked through the empty streets as he blended perfectly with the dreary scenery around him. As he located his mission, he found something which he was not particularly fond of. There was another person with the target. It would have been fine if it was nothing more but a mere civilian. But, it was apparent that was not the case as the gleam of a sword caught his eye. Without a moment's hesitation, he fired his gun.

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A whistle meshed with the melody of the falling rain. "Another player, huh." Those eyes of orange glittered with curiosity and a sense of entertainment. It could also be seen in his smile. He was rather enjoying this confrontation. The bullet was actually going straight for Stella. By instinct, he had blocked it as he has a great distaste for someone else taking the credit. Furthermore, he wanted the money. "Change of plans, Star." He stated with a playful wink thrown her way. But after doing so, a barrage of bullets rained upon them. Clearly, there was no regard of causing a ruckus. It was quite dark. There was no question about it. The shooter was nowhere in sight. He never had troubles seeing in the black. So, it would be a good estimate that whoever was shooting was at quite the distance. In any case, he managed to block some of the bullets.

As for the others, he used the natural architecture around them to block it. There were some opportunities when he threw some of his knives. Of course in the process, he had already grabbed hold of Stella, or rather he was toting her like a sack of potatoes. There was no way he was going to lose his money over to someone who is a coward by using guns. He continued to run using the structures as a cover. Adding to that, he was also relying on his intuition. It never failed him before. "This is going to be a bumpy ride." He noted especially towards the package in his arm. Managing to find a break in the attack, he took out his communicator. He raised an eyebrow. "The network has been locked down. Impressive." However, there is a slither of a smile much like that of a snake.

"Not good enough though." Within a few seconds, the alarms were blaring which signified the coming of the police. He liked that.

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There were no intelligence about another interested party being involved. One thought going through his mind, there had been a leak. He would have to clean that up. In any case, he focused on the current situation before him. The stranger was rather proficient in a battle. This much he could say based on how the person moves and reacts to his attacks. He even had to dodge some of the knives thrown in his way. It made him wonder if this certain individual have implants to see him since he was certain that with cloak of the night and his distance, he would be undetectable physically. Perhaps, a great sense of trajectory, but they were all just mere assumptions based on his observations.

Crux continued to release a succession of shots. He must not allow his mission to get out of this place alive and as for the company, killed as well. However, they were resilient. However, his momentum was shattered when the sounds of alarm came back. He had locked the network access and isolated the frequency to his own. Now, he was sure that unknown is a professional. He would have to withdraw as his involvement must never be known as indicated in his mission objectives. He walked away from the scene before anyone could notice his presence. Some of the residents were already coming out of their houses or peeking from the windows to see what was happening.

In his opinion, he does not like it.

"It seems you're more worth it alive." He stated as he had managed to get far from the imapct zone as he liked to call it. Of course, Stella will be positioned on his shoulder. "I'll have you accompany me for a while." He stated with a rather confident grin, before looking around them. It seemed there was something missing. "Where is that overgrown mutt of yours?"

A good question.

"There had been complications." Crux stated while driving his hovercraft. He was talking through an earpiece. "If that is your wish. I understand, Sir." His eyes then drifted towards his passenger at the backseat. "I will pick it up and then find them." He ended the call. It seemed he would have a companion from now. He then looked forward once again. "Let us go and find your owner." His passenger was nothing else but a wolfhound.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Stella Iaret Character Portrait: Darcia Character Portrait: Crux Character Portrait: Uno Summus

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#, as written by Ion



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“No matter how I look at it… this sucks.”



She stopped walking when she heard her name, narrowing her eyes and turning halfway around as though to say something caustic. Getting bothered on her way home by some weirdo who knew her name and seemed to find her utter lack of manners amusing was not the makings of a good night. In the end, though, she rolled her eyes and turned back around, debating just making a break for it. If he tried to chase them while they were running, she wouldn’t feel terribly bad about using some slightly more aggressive methods to keep him away. Nobody liked a stalker, after all.

Scratch that, this guy was a murderer. Who just said they were going to kill you, anyway? Like it was just something that people did casually? She wasn’t sure she wanted to know, but that had rather effectively cemented her decision. She was getting the hell out of here before this became a repeat of the Incident. “Look, no offense or anything, but I really don’t feel like being—ah!” The sound of a gunshot reached her ears, and the translucent barrier flickered into place over her skin—entirely unnecessarily, it turned out, because her stalker/would-be killer was apparently not okay with her dying some other way.

She almost felt like laughing. It was just so ridiculous.

Fortunately, she managed to keep her composure, scowling at Violet (that was what she was going to call him, she decided, because of the hair) when he winked. Really? They were getting shot at and he was making side commentary? Who the hell did he think he was, anyway? She was halfway to turning and fleeing the scene—let him deal with it if he thought getting shot at was so much fun—when she was unceremoniously picked up and deposited over Violet’s shoulder. “Are you serious right now? Put me down!” She was perfectly capable of handling a few bullets on her own, much as she really wished she weren’t, but she had enough sense not to interfere with his motion all the same. Flying around like this was not great for her concentration, and she wasn’t exactly field-tested in creating force-fields on the move.

“If I get shot, I will definitely bleed all over your nice coat,” she muttered, really not able to do a whole lot else without risking making things much worse than they already were.

When they finally came to a stop, however, all bets were off, and she shoved until she was off his shoulder and had her feet back on the ground, dusting off her jeans and sweater with a baleful look in Violet’s direction. “Great. I’m honored,” she deadpanned, setting herself to rights and looking around. They’d made it quite a ways from where they started, and—dammit, where was Ash? She looked around frantically, whistling low and melodic, the trill not unlike the sounds her birds made at home, but there was no response.

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As if someone had flipped a switch, Stella deflated, the proud set of her shoulders slumping and the hard glare in her eyes softening to something melancholy. All those bullets… Ash wasn’t stupid, not by a long shot, but he’d never been shot at before. The chances he’d survived… Stella bit her lip and shook her head. He was an old dog, really, she’d known she’d lose him eventually, but… gritting her teeth, she shook her head. He wasn’t dead. She refused to believe it, and this was hardly the time to be getting upset about it. She had other things to deal with first.

Like the annoying jerk that wouldn’t leave her alone. “Remember that practice I said you needed? Start now. I’m not going anywhere with you. I neither know nor care what you’re doing, but I am going to find my dog, and then I’m going home so just… back off.” Probably the more reasonable questions to ask in a situation like this were things like who are you and what do you even want with me in the first place, but it wasn’t like she trusted that he’d give her truthful answers even if she did care. This wasn’t the first time somebody had tried to kill her, and judging by what had just happened, it wouldn’t be the last. She could deal with that later. Right now, she needed her dog and her bed, in that order.


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“Affirmative. This one understands its imperative.”




Though perhaps she would have preferred to remain in the garden, Darcia had been summoned to the offices of Commander Stein, and given instructions to await pickup by another operative, this time for an execution. She didn’t generally let herself think about her work too much, because she had no choice but to do it, but some part of her did acknowledge that she liked these missions least of all. Still, there was no choice, and that was simply the way of it. Her command protocols left no room for argument, and so she returned to her small quarters, suiting up into something more appropriate for the job, which was in this case a uniform molded to her specifications, the largest component being leather for durability, with the joints made of something more elastic, to allow her full range of motion, or close enough to that.

Because it was slightly conspicuous, though, she also wore a standard-issue duster coat, waterproof and sufficient to obscure her from neck to knee. The rain seemed to be tapering off a little outside, but it was waterproof just in case. Project Zero was not so inelegant a machine as to really have a concern for water damage as such, but precaution rarely went astray. To keep it out of the way, she braided her hair up and around the crown of her head, the rest of it trailing in a loose, low ponytail down her back. Satisfied that she would be able to perform either athletic or diplomatic maneuvers to a high level of efficiency, she exited her quarters and headed for the pick up point, affixing the comm device to her ear. In theory, she didn’t need it, but it was easier to relay information to human counterparts using her voice rather than via direct manipulation of the grid.

On her way through one of the hallways, however, she heard voices, and paused. One, she recognized immediately. Dr. Dietrich Engels was the head of the Government Sciences division, and the blood brother of Darcia’s creator. “...can’t believe he’s ordered her damn execution.” He sounded equal parts resigned and irritated, or at least those were the words she’d been taught to give to such tonalities. “Think of all the data we could get if she was brought in alive. An actual Flower—from the Seeds and all. It’s a goldmine of information, and all he sees is a threat.”

“Now hold on a moment, Dietrich. We don’t know for sure that’s what he’s thinking.” The second voice belonged to a female, Dr. Ilyana Golikova. She was a geneticist also, somewhat younger than but almost as renowned as Dr. Engels.

There was a harsh masculine sigh, and Darcia could almost imagine Dr. Engels shaking his head. “Who cares why? The point is, he’s doing what everyone in the damn military does, shooting first and asking questions later. If we had the Rose, the rest of this project… it’d be simple.” Darcia wasn’t precisely certain what they were talking about, but decided it wasn’t her business. She was generally informed of what she needed to know, and while she would never deny that she was a curious being, she knew better than to eavesdrop, especially when there were things she should be doing instead. So she left the conversation behind and proceeded the rest of the way to the location she’d been given to rendezvous with the other agent.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Stella Iaret Character Portrait: Darcia Character Portrait: Crux Character Portrait: Uno Summus

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A gun and A grenade, A Chaotic Mission, indeed.

Disappointment. Yes, it does leave a bad taste to his senses. Never once did he fail to complete the mission given to him. Regardless, he was not able to experience the full range of feelings of defeat. As such, it was simply brushed off much like dust in the wind. After all, he was not done yet. He will see this command to him be done splendidly. Still, he would give due credit to the anomaly he had come across with earlier. The stranger was combat efficient and can hold to his own even to the point of destroying his lock-down protocols. He had already done a background check and had a list of possible identities. To narrow it down, he used an image to find a facial match. He had managed to source it out from the security cameras installed in the area. It was not a clear image, but it was good enough to give it a run.

It had yield a result which he had found the need to be noted. There was not much of information in regards of personal details. However, it had given him an identification through the recorded crimes linked to the stranger now known to him as Uno. It could also be described as impressive judging by the notorious deeds committed by this felon. He could conclude that this man was probably ordered by someone else. If that was the case, he would need to dig a bit more deep. In the end, there is nothing more effective than eradicating the source than cutting down the replaceable limbs. His thoughts ended at that point as he had finally arrived at the prescribed location. After situating his car properly, he exited along with the wolfhound he had taken from the scene. A leash in his hand.

To anyone who is familiar with Crux, this would be a rather peculiar scene. To others, it was considered normal despite the rarity of animals nowadays. Nevertheless, what he found rather profound instead was the canine's lack in resistance to his lead or company. Naturally, the animal, known for its loyalty, would have fight him or even expressed a desire to search for its owner. It was completely absent. As such, he had decided that this wolfhound was either uncaring or clever. What the case may be, he was now the current keeper of it and has already a use for the dog in mind. With that, he entered one of the Trivium buildings. This one was specifically assigned for Scientific Research and Technology Advancement.

The guards attempted to halt his entrance moreover with his canine package. This was not a problem as he showed his badge in which they immediately apologized and even gave him a salute as a sign of respect. As for him, he simply gave them a sufficient nod implying that it was fine. Deeper he went as he inclined himself to find it. Then after a few minutes, he had reached his objective. There before him was the pinnacle of Android Technology, known as Project Zero. He had been informed about it but the knowledge he has was limited to a need-to-know basis. However, he had never had the opportunity to personally see or speak to it. Thus, this will be the first time.

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"Good evening. I am Crux. I am here to pick you up." He introduced himself in his ever usual business etiquette and spoke of his purpose. As for the wolfhound, it simply stood there by his side with its silent observation. It will not be above him to say that Project Zero was a visage of a beautiful human female. It was created with finesse and sophistication unlike any other he had seen. A melding of machine and humanity, it was a rather conflicting notion since from the very beginning. Nevertheless, Dr. Solomon Engels had truly proven his brilliance. The authenticity of its design was remarkable and worthy of emulation. Still, this would be a decision left for his superiors and whatever it might be, he will stand by it. "If you are ready, let us leave. We will discuss the details at my vehicle." After stating that, the canine by his side finally moved. Its action was rather surprising in a sense as it went towards Project Zero.


This is why I prefer dead people.

At least the girl has guts. He would give her that much. Most people would have been in hysteria right about now. Her? It was far from that. Actually, it would be more fitting to say she was annoyed as hell. This only gave him the insight that she was either used to such stuff or had a previous experience. Anyway, he did not have much time to ponder as she had openly declare that she was not coming with him, she was going to find her dog, she was going home, and he was to back off. Yeah, it would be the best place to be right now. Of course, he was being sarcastic about it. "No can do. You're my meal ticket." He stated without reservation. That was something he was not going to hide. This was after all his chosen profession.

"Plus, it seems I'm not the only one who's after you." He stated with a matter-of-fact tone. That bullet was headed straight for her, which means, she was the target. As for him, he was excess baggage. "That shooter will come back for you. I won't be surprised if that person is at your home now or even interrogating your mom and dad with a nice cup of tea." Though the methods were cowardly in his opinion, it was highly skilled, organized, and planned. He was dealing with another professional. So, he could assume that the shooter has a very well-verse knowledge about her, the target. Because, he was on the same boat. "Someone has already put a bounty on your pretty little head." Upon saying that, he pushed her towards a nearby wall and imprisoned her with both of his arms blocking her exit from both sides. "Either way you interpret it. I won't let you go."

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Without warning, he kissed her. This of course was not filled with romantic intentions or was it covered with innocent adoration. Even more so, it was not the start of a love story. That gesture of his was a method to make her take a tablet which readily melts within seconds. He ended the kiss and the effects should be manifesting now. "Good night." The drug will cause minor numbness of the senses at first and then induce instant sleep. It only lasts for a few hours which depends on the recovery of the body. Well, he could have just killed her, but he had a feeling, it would be good for her to stay alive. As for him, he wanted to hurry and dump her to his current employer and get it done with. Because his senses are telling him, he had stepped into a middle of douche bag hole much greater than himself.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Stella Iaret Character Portrait: Darcia Character Portrait: Crux Character Portrait: Uno Summus

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#, as written by Ion



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“This one wonders: how much is a life worth? It is guarded so dearly, but taken so easily…”



She had not been waiting at the designated location for more than a minute before two people showed up. Or, more accurately, a person and a dog. She wasn’t sure why that was where the line was drawn—though not as intelligent as primates, dogs and cats and the like were hardly stupid, just different. Perhaps she only thought so because she occasionally saw more similarities between herself and such creatures than herself and humans. After all, her primary prerogative was obedience, as well.

This dog was quite large, his back easily reaching her waist. Then again, Darcia wasn’t any more than 62 inches tall, so by scale, many things were large. It had a well-maintained coat of white fur, mostly short but faintly curly, and his pink tongue lolled out of his mouth, though she noted that he wasn’t making a mess or anything. He seemed quite content to heel at the side of the person walking him until spotting her, and she reached out without fear to pet the animal, who sniffed her warily for just a moment before deciding that she was entirely acceptable and pressing his nose into her palm. Though her left hand remained occupied with the spot behind the dog’s ear, she was not so impolite as to ignore the human. He introduced himself as Crux, which immediately brought up a linguistic note on the word and a heavily-redacted personnel file from her data storage. Apparently, much of what this man did was deeply classified. Then again, she wasn’t able to see much of her own file with her level of clearance either.

Still, what she read assured her that she was not being put in the hands of an amateur by any means, and the android tilted her head slightly to the side. “This one may be referred to with any designation of your choosing. It is, however, most often called Darcia, or Zero.” Like any android, she would answer to whatever he told her her name was for the duration of the time he held her command codes, but unlike any others, she had a preference on the matter, however slight. Speaking of the command codes… Darcia retrieved an envelope from the inside pocket of her coat, and held it out to him. “Commander Stein requests that this one remind you that its command codes, while temporary and expiring at the termination of this mission or its target, are nevertheless highly-sensitive data, and should therefore be destroyed upon comprehension.” It was a standard line, something she was told to give to everyone she had not worked with before.

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Darcia smiled gently and nodded, allowing that it would be best to talk further once in the car, and followed him to it, passively cataloguing environmental data as she went. It was simply habit, and it extended to collecting observations about the person in front of her as well. On typical human aging patterns, she would put him in the middle of his third decade, perhaps twenty-five or six years. His hair was dark, his eyes uncommonly bright. By principles of symmetry and aesthetics, she guessed that he would count as remarkably attractive, to others of his kind. The file did not indicate any family or significant attachments to speak of, but then, this was not at all uncommon for those who make their living in the way he did. There could also be something under the redactions that she did not know about at this time. In terms of cold logic, it was irrelevant, though of course, she knew quite well that she was imperfect in this regard, and so some measure of curiosity, however slight, lingered. Was it not in the nature of humans to seek company?

Nevertheless, when she slid into the passenger seat of the vehicle, the dog happily locating himself at her feet, what she spoke of was only the business they were contracted to finish. Darcia forewent the use of a seatbelt, partially because she had no need to worry about sustaining too much injury of thrown from the vehicle. The other segment of reasoning was simply that, if she needed to move quickly or jump from it in the event of a chase, a seatbelt would only be one more thing in her way.

“It understands that the target is a woman named Stella Iaret, currently accompanied by an unexpected other, designated Uno. Do you have a plan to apprehend?” She could offer tactical suggestions if necessary, but most government operatives knew quite well what they were doing when it came to these things, and she suspected that in this, the man named Crux was no different.




“How—you—damnit...”




Meal ticket? In addition to being mildly insulting, she didn’t miss the implication—he was a contract killer. Or apparently abductor, in this case, not that she really cared. It wasn’t even all that surprising. Who else would carry weapons around like that, even though they were illegal for anyone not wielding them in the name of the government? The only people who usually dared were members of underground criminal organizations and assassins, plus maybe those rebels she occasionally heard rumors about. Well, of all those things, she’d suppose he was either some kind of crime boss (the idea of him being someone else’s flunky didn’t seem to match his image somehow), or some kind of independent contractor. Apparently, it was the latter.

Sometimes she hated being right.

Not that there was much time to consider it. With a sudden force she had not been expecting, her back was pushed to the wall, and though she was sorely tempted to try and duck under his arms, she didn’t like her chances. Her temper flared—this guy just took way too many liberties with someone quite used to being left alone—and the color of her eyes started to change, even behind the false contacts muting them to a dim brown. The red light was unmistakable, though, and something in the gravity shifted, everything around them becoming just a little heavier. Stella blinked—she hadn’t intended to do that. Perhaps it was the mention of her parents—for all he knew her name, he obviously hadn’t done all his homework, and somehow that was vaguely reassuring. Maybe there was still a chance she—

Her world stopped for just a heartbeat. This, she could easily attribute to the fact that his mouth was on hers, and considering she’d been just about to say something, neither pair of lips was closed. Something slid from his to hers, and that certainly wore away the shock. Reflexively, she swallowed, and immediately knew she shouldn’t have. It was with much more sluggish motions than usual that she shoved as hard as she could at his chest.

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“You utter… bastard.” Her words were thick, and her tongue felt like a lead weight in her mouth, uncooperative and heavy. “If I ever see you again, I’m going to…” The sentence never finished. Stella’s eyes slid closed, and her body went slack, seeming almost to fold in on itself and collapse to the ground. The extra gravity lifted as she lost consciousness, but she was, for the moment, utterly dead to the world.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Stella Iaret Character Portrait: Darcia Character Portrait: Crux Character Portrait: Uno Summus

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There is only one thing needed to do.

To him, a name is something he is not entirely attached to nor is he particularly discontented with such calls. It is why he had never paid any attention to his or had the purpose of obtaining such. Regardless, he would admit they are convenient as it serves as an identifier in the throngs of people. It was far better than being summoned with a you or hey since it could also cause confusion in the process. In regards to this android, it will be fine with any titles of his inclination. Still, it provided him two preferable choices. "Darcia, it is." He stated as it would be most suitable in the conduction of interrogations and giving it more human-like necessities as required for the current mission. Furthermore, the name was sort a fitting statement, darkness.

Halting his thoughts at that, he took hold of the given envelope. That is right it is under the directive of Commander Stein. It is a given he must say. His eyes trailed a bit longer on the object in his hand. This would be its command codes as deemed by protocols. Well, it would be no problem for him to keep such information solely in his mind. "I understand." He then proceeded to lead it to the car, seeing its gesture of agreement. It was the same with the canine in his care who appeared to have taken a shine to Darcia. As long as it would not be a hindrance or interfere with his plan, he will not do anything about it. In the end, his focus was on the completion of the order.

As they make their way, they do stand out among the curious glances of people. Those who are familiar with Project Zero and Crux view them as an odd combination. In a manner, it is a scene only sorted through the pages of myths and overcompensated imagination of men. An added charm was the canine companion making it much like painting of couple out for wonderful walk. Yet as everyone knew, it could not be far from the truth. They soon reached the hovercraft as he waited for Darcia to enter and which the canine followed. The dog seemed to have created an affinity with it. When done, he followed suit, taking the driver seat once again.

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Without wasted movement, he began their journey on the streets. Much like a signal, it began to discuss the specifics. It had been briefed about the target and the attache which was to be expected. "No. Any who makes contact with the mark is to be erased." This had been the new dictum integrated in his mission log. Containment was a great concern which they will address as instructed. "Based on this Uno's criminal records, it suggests a psychology of a condottiere." He made a turn at the curve as the rain had soon came to a stop. It was one of those advisory showers to recreate a normal pattern of weather. "That meant one thing." There was no qualms that the target might have been killed. He was certain that she was alive and with that felon. As such, he will force that man's hand and see how he reacts to such eventualities. "Darcia, kindly find his padrone."


Why make it difficult when you can make it easy?

And so, the beauty has finally fallen to sleep. If that was so, it would make him like the evil fairy or jealous queen right? That would have been cool for about ten seconds. In any case, he had managed to catch her before being a heap on the ground. Although, those eyes of orange held an edge. There was a shift around them. Somehow, he felt a bit heavy. His senses gave him a jolt to step away. However, he ignore it as his instincts were directed at his moneybag. As if by pure chance, the apprehensive presence disappeared and his intuition had stopped putting out the red flags once the girl had fallen out of grace, so to speak.

"How curious..." He noted lightly but then again, he was more interested with the money. With that said, he carried her in a manner seen during weddings, a bridal carry. This action certainly lacked the warmth and sweetness which usually accompany it. He could care less really as he began to direct himself to the place where he had parked his hoverbike. The faster he dumps the brood, the better life will be for him. He repeated that new slogan of his subconsciously like a magic spell which would ensure his success. Once, he found his mode of transportation. He settled himself with the girl now being securely placed in between his arms. Well, he can't have the girl fall on the streets. Well, he could, but then again decided against it. "Here we go, money."


Everyone has its role. Everything has its place. I will show yours.

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There was not much to say. There was not even enough for him to act upon. However, there is a slither of emotion which presented upon his face. It was disappointment. To ensure the favorable outcome of this venture, the Equalizer had been sent. The result was failure which lead to the permission of having Project Zero on board. With the two top weapons of the Government, they should be able to handle that measly girl and that wretched companion of hers. So, it would be normal for him to be patient and wait for another report. "They will execute your command without fail even if they would defy the heavens. Prime Minister." This was the declaration of the Supreme General and seeing the dismay of his Superior had made him rather unease.

The Prime Minister placed the documents he was reviewing to look at his guest, Caine. This man had served as his bodyguard and now was promoted as the leader of the Military. It is such a great responsibility, but he believed in Abernatty's accomplishment. Yet, those times are now far different to the current. "Do not fail." He had finally spoken which meant that he was truly serious about this matter. Caine humbly bow in understanding and acceptance. "I shall."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Darcia Character Portrait: Crux

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#, as written by Ion



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“Data retrieval protocol acknowledged. Initiating Network interface.”



It made sense. If in fact the person Crux had previously run into was a contractor, someone had to be issuing the contract. Those people did not do anything for free, after all, and it seemed extremely unlikely that this Uno would intercept a target first and find someplace to sell her later. That was not unheard of, exactly, but such operations were usually already conducted with a buyer in mind, and only at great risk. “Affirmative,” she replied, moving her left arm from its spot on the dog’s head. She turned her palm upwards to face the roof of the car, and looked at it for a moment.

Something flickered, like a light underneath her skin, and then it dimmed again, but not without leaving behind a holographic projection. Blue-white light was shaped into the various components of what looked like a very complex HUD, and these spread out around her, the initial command from her own engines picked up on by the advanced technology in the vehicle. She was soon surrounded by screens, which wrapped nearly all the way around the seat she was in. To her right was the image Crux had earlier captured of the target and the extra. Already labeled clearly was the name Iaret, Stella R., as her facial structure had been easily recognized by the Network.

The man was a little less clear, and she tapped the blank spot where his full name would be if they had it, swiping her right hand in an arc over the insubstantial “screen” in front of her as though running it along a solid surface. Doing so spread several documents, associated photos, and other information across the rest of the HUD, and Darcia’s violet eyes flickered over all of it more quickly than any human could read, another flick of her wrist banishing the information back from when it had appeared. Old case files, a few grainy photographs… with a career as apparently prolific as this “Uno” had, it was a mark of his skill that he Network possessed so little information on him. The oldest document was one from a City orphanage, indicating the check-in of an unidentified child, believed to be the same person. If it was, it marked his age as twenty-four years, and his hair color not naturally purple, but that was about it as far as useful information went. Apparently, he was a mystery before he could so much as speak.

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Thoughtfully, Darcia pursed her lips, scanning her own memory for other incidents, currently unlinked to Uno, that nevertheless followed his modus operandi. Perhaps ones where witnesses, scarce as they might be, would remember someone with odd coloration or exceptional facial symmetry and height. It was not every day that one encountered someone who looked like that, and his apparent inability to blend in visually may be the biggest clue they had. She chewed her lip as she searched, a strangely-human gesture she had developed independently of her programming. The bluish light of her displays reflected in her eyes, giving them an uncanny sheen, and for a moment, she was completely still as her own data storage interacted with the screen, causing her visual memories—of documents, of crime scenes, of people, even, to flicker over the surface, many too fast to be properly processed by anything but a computer or something like it.

Now, if some of these were linked, what were the suspicions as far as contractor went? If she could narrow the field a little, she could start looking for incidents linked or suspected to be linked to the same person or group of people, and that would give the most likely result for Uno’s padrone, his patron. Most mercenaries had more than one, but she was willing to suppose, psychologically, that someone would not hire a mercenary for a job with this kind of priority without first being personally assured of their capability, which suggested a history, however short. Add to that the very short list of people who knew enough about what Stella was to bother targeting her, and a picture began to emerge, of the most likely suspects.

“Subject identified,” Darcia said into the silence of the car, the slightest of smiles on her face indicative of her success. A motion from both her hands rotated the screen in question for Crux’s perusal. There wasn’t a lot of information, just a blurry photograph in profile and a last known address, along with a designation. It might be a name, but more likely it was only an alias. One did not survive very long acting against Government interests unless one was very, very careful. Unfortunately for this person, they had chosen to hire a man to deal with a Government mark, and that was definitely a way of drawing too much attention. Nevertheless, the evidence that it was this person was quite conclusive, though putting it all together had not been a simple task. It had taken even something as efficient as Darcia a full two minutes of dedicated concentration to connect the dots, and she had direct cognitive access to the Network.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Stella Iaret Character Portrait: Darcia Character Portrait: Crux Character Portrait: Uno Summus

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A contract will always have its expiration.

Like clockwork, Darcia has began to process his request. It synchronized beautifully with the technology present within his vehicle which created a myriad of crystalline blue light around it. From the corner of his eyes, he could see the compiled data extracted from the Network arranged in a pattern discernible to its eyes. This gave his prior information about it a more sturdy framework. Its analyzation and comprehension are beyond that of other androids he had the privileged working with. Project Zero was truly an advancement in the field of biomechanics. He would be a liar not to shimmer a curiosity about how it was created and the gears which makes it live. Nevertheless, Crux was not swallowed by it. In the end, his interest was much like the fluttering wind. It was there and gone the next.

As such, his thoughts drifted towards the main objective of the mission. It was the deletion of Stella R. Iaret. Not due to arrogance or pride, his superiors must have great desire to see the girl die. After all, he will not be sent out to the field unless the parameters involves the utmost security of the Government. His conclusion was only deepened by the accompaniment of the Prototype. It was a curious thing, indeed. Somehow, this night had become a rather interesting one for him. However, he has no willful intentions to pursue his subtle questions. For, it was nothing more but a fragile smoke, unable to be grasped fully. There was no use wondering about it and placed his attention in accomplishing the specified goal. For result was the only thing that brought complete assurance both to him and his leader.

Hearing Darcia's statement, his eyes traveled to the rotated screen. It was good work as information was scarce and all was done within two minutes. Details were not abundant and the image provided little to no identification. Fortunately, it did not pose a problem for him. His memory recalled a chanced meeting as they call it from three years ago. "Lancelet Morgen." He read the name attached to the file and the last known address. Many points had finally made sense. With a turn of the wheel, he easily changed the vehicle's direction causing a minor dishevel in traffic, but nothing uncommon nowadays. "Good work Darcia." He noted with a glimmer of a smile on his lips. There was always a benefit to offer praise when it is due, even if it should be expected or inculcated.

For now, he has a destination in mind and they were headed there.


There is something worse than dying...

Usually, a meeting place would be far from the pesky audiences. It was significant, abandoned, or isolated. Well, they could even be all of it. The most common factor, it was a very fitting place to conduct business which could turn sour within a few exchange of words. However, this was not the case for this specific employer of his. He was currently at the most luxurious and popular Existensia, a hotel and casino establishment located within the entertainment district. So, it would be an underestimation to say there were a lot of people, it was a full house. Anyway, it does have its perks and was not the first time for him dealing with this particular client.

He had completed a few jobs for this patron of his and one of the meeting place they had was at a public swimming pool in broad daylight. His regret, he didn't get to swim, but the view was great with all those scantily-clad females. "Good evening, will you be staying with us or to play?" That was enough to stop his wandering mind as his eyes focused at the hotel staff who looked at him with strained curiosity and taught politeness. He must be wondering about the one in his arms. Actually, he would have preferred to threw her over his shoulder. He decided against it as it would attract preying eyes. "Here." Waving a piece of card he had taken out earlier. The concierge recognized it immediately and gave a firm nod. "Please follow me, Sir."

Entering an elevator, he was brought to the topmost floor, the penthouse suite. As he stepped out of the elevator, he felt a cold draft spreading within him. There was something wrong and he was now alone. The one who lead him here has already left. That was to be expected. His eyes gazed at his package who was still asleep. There was no certainty when she would wake up. So, it is imperative for him to make a quick exchange. However, his senses were telling him not to go any further. Narrowing his eyes, he proceeded to the main doors of the suite. There was a scent of staleness in the air. It was unnatural silent as well. There were many signs, but his drive to attain his money overwhelmed anything. He had managed to open the doors even with the mark in his arms.

Once, the door was opened. It was not going to be closed anytime soon.

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A solid shot to the head. He had given it a better measure by also implanting a bullet into the heart. Lancelet Morgen, it was indeed an alias to elude any pursuers and to obtain a degree of anonymity. With such assurance, Crux had asked Darcia to search once more for a person named, Remullio Jackson. He was one of the security personnel for the Science Division in the past and closely worked with the Engels' siblings, before he retired from the Government. However, it seemed that the connection was not severed and instead was fostered to be granted with underground dealings. Thus, it was not impossible for secrets to be spilled at this point which could be compared to the pile of dead bodies around the suite. Yes, he did dispose of the bodyguards while he was at it and was followed shortly by their employer.

Those eyes of blue gazed at the android as his companion . He was not going to take any chances moreover, when he had first-hand experience with that hired gun's physical prowess. "Darcia, make sure there is no escape." He stated very clearly and a trap has been made as they now lay in wait.

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Uno was taken surprised by two things. One, his bank was dead. Second, a bullet was straight for his head. With his heightened senses for danger, he had managed to avoid being fatally hit. Still, he was grazed by it as his right cheek now sported a thin red line. He then quickly run to a safe spot but not while being consecutively shot at. It was rather hard to fight back since he still has the girl in his arms and the notion to keep the girl out of harm. It would be about a good time for her to wake up, really. He procured from his coat pocket a smoke grenade and threw it towards the shooter to provide much needed cover and a distraction. As soon as he could see that there was enough smoke to hide them physically, he made his way towards the elevator. "Just my luck..." He murmured to himself in annoyance.

There was a girl blocking it. So, the shooter was not working alone. And in truth, his senses were telling him to back off about right now. Why is that exactly?

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Stella Iaret Character Portrait: Darcia Character Portrait: Crux Character Portrait: Uno Summus

0.00 INK

#, as written by Ion



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“Situational prerequisites met. Engaging aggressor protocols.”



The destination at which the car stopped was in the recreational zone, sometimes colloquially referred to as either the pleasure district, or, at least at night, the red light district. It appeared to encompass restaurants, gambling, theater, and at least one building that was most likely an illegal bordello. At the very least, there were no operating licenses listed for it within the Network. Fortunately for its proprietor, the two government agents nearby the premises had a different destination and a different mission to complete, and passed it right by without so much as a word.

Their entrance to what appeared to be both a luxury hotel and a casino was covert, and they moved unnoticed by the security. While on her own, Darcia would simply have engaged her cloaking mechanism, this time, she interfered with each successive camera they encountered, hacking wirelessly and setting it into a loop of empty hallway footage while they passed, then returning everything to normal once they were out of range. It kept her occupied until they reached the room they were looking for, and then it was the fact that they were swift and silent which prevented any additional alert. Crux indicated that the plan was to ambush the targets, and so at his word, Darcia moved to block the likely exits, of which there were two. Given that they were on the seventy-third floor of the building, in what she believed was termed the Penthouse, an exit by window would be suicidal, so that left the elevator and the stairwell. The former was well down the hall, but she engaged the electronic locks anyway. Probably better that opportunities for further civilian interference were minimal.

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The elevator was the most likely point of entry, and so she chose to wait by it, engaging her cloaking device and disappearing as the electronics bent the light around her. She still did not risk getting too close, lest some chance sound inadvertently give her away, and so waited until the targets had appeared and entered the room fully before moving in behind them. A few seconds was all it took to interface with the elevator and halt it, preventing the doors from opening or the car from moving, and by that time, things were already progressing further into the room. She could hear the soft sound of a silenced gunshot, and then a smoke grenade went off. Releasing her cloaking, Darcia engaged her heat-seeking vision, able to tell that the two people were headed towards her and away from Crux.

There was little opportunity for them to flee now, making it an optimal time to carry out the actual hit. “Please be advised: by order of the central government, you are sentenced to death. As further resistance increases the opportunity for collateral damage, this one is required to inform you that surrender is the logical choice.”

When no surrender was immediately forthcoming (it never was), she nodded slightly. “Very well. Aggressor protocols engaged. Power output: thirty percent.”

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Darcia’s eyes, an exotic shade of violet normally, took on a backlight, indicating some internal process change corresponding to the words. Her hands moved back to brush away her jacket, and from a holster strapped to each thigh, she withdrew an object that looked vaguely like a thin canister. These, she leveled quickly out to the side, and from each issued what had once been a collapsed metal rod of some kind, now entirely seamless. Along their surfaces, telltale blue-white flashes and a harsh crackling noise indicated a powerful electrical current.

Without so much as a warning, Darcia leaped directly for where the man was standing, bringing one of the batons around in a blurring arc, aimed directly for his head. As the girl was still unconscious, combat protocols indicated that the more substantial threat should be removed first, which meant him. Her eyes went a fraction wider, however, when she made contact not with her intended target, but a foot in front of his face, connecting with some sort of barrier that she had not seen.

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The barrier shattered under the force of her blow, but so did her baton, the end of it flying off behind her to hit a wall, leaving a series of heavy black scorch marks behind it. Tossing away the useless handle, Darcia readied her second baton, her eyes flicking back and forth between the man Uno and the now-conscious Stella, who took in her surroundings with obvious confusion swiftly replaced by something more akin to anger.




“That whole ‘sell the girl off to your employer’ thing worked out really well for you, didn’t it?”




Well, this was definitely not the most comfortable way she’d ever woken up. Perhaps fortunately, Stella’s immune system processed whatever it was she’d been drugged with a lot faster than it should have. Unfortunately, it would appear that she’d awakened just in time to die. She registered only the fact that something was headed towards her far too fast to be safe, and her instinctive reaction had, luckily enough for her, been to throw up the strongest barrier she could more quickly than she’d thought herself capable. She flinched when it broke—just who the hell was the person attacking her anyway? That wasn’t some ordinary swing—not if it could break the barrier like so much glass.

She didn’t need too much time to understand what was going on. Violet, the jerk, had evidently walked into some kind of trap, and now they were both going to die if they didn’t get out of here. She couldn’t say she cared that much if he died, given that all of this was his fault anyway, but she certainly didn’t want to be killed, and unfortunately at this moment, she kind of needed him, mostly because she wasn’t sure her legs would hold her own weight, what with the drugs still making her sluggish. Her mind, however, was sharp enough for the moment, and clearly her powers were operational.

It tool all of two seconds to realize that the girl who’d tried to kill her just now was about to attack again, and so she projected the barrier this time, throwing her back against the doors of the elevator. It wouldn’t last long, probably—Stella clearly hadn’t actually knocked her out. The elevator itself obviously wasn’t an option, and she doubted Violet could run down the stairs faster than their pursuer if she was still in tow. “Window,” she said quickly. “If you want to live, we have to jump out the window. Now.” If he could get them out that way, she could float them down to the ground safely… maybe. She chose not to express her uncertainty to him, though—it was either certain death or probable death, and she’d rather at least have a chance.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Stella Iaret Character Portrait: Darcia Character Portrait: Crux Character Portrait: Uno Summus

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Tsk! I knew I should have taken an advance...

If he wasn't busy running for his life or having his arms full with his now worthless package, he would have introduced himself more properly. After all, he is a fan of beauty and girls. Usually, a mix of both. The one impending his way towards the exit was easy on the eyes, petite and yet not short of being a woman. However, his admiration was taken up another peg when she declared a standardized dialogue which he had heard a lot from certain types of android. It clearly meant that she was working with the Government. That was hot, frankly speaking. It was always interesting to mess with those straight-laced type of people.

"Sorry honey, no can do." Uno stated with his ever-present cocky smile. Yes, it seemed that nothing truly gets to him or even bothers him. But, he was taken back a bit as his fantasy was shattered. Those enchanting violet eyes flickered and were enhanced with a ghostly light. That was only something he could attribute to machines. It seemed he was against an Android. Now, that was a surprise. He had never seen something like it. This one was more of a human even by his first glance. Unfortunately, he had no time left to appraise and even to ponder on the product of technology. The reason, he was better off dodging the blow which was directed at him.

Despite knowing that, he was a little low on how to avoid it. His actions were widely limited. It seemed he would have to rely on his strength of will. By instinct perchance, he pulled the girl in his arms closer to him. Perhaps, an effort to shield her. However, it appeared that it was not needed. Instead of a electrically-charged baton coming into his sight, there was a foot and he was pretty sure that it is not his. That was not really the thing which surprised him. It was more of the translucent glow which serves as a barrier and protected them, or may be the foot. Either way, it fragmented like glass upon contact, but it was enough to break the baton in half.

He looked at the girl he was still cradling in his arms. "Woah..." It seemed he was getting a clear picture why his now deceased employer wanted her very much which also applies to both the shooter and the android girl who are now apparently designated by the Government. "You are indeed a star." Well, he could also say that her beauty sleep didn't go as planned so, she was quite angry which he could tell from her expression. It was a good thing that the bionic chick was going to attack once more and apparently vented out her rage towards it with another barrier thing. But, it blocked the elevator, so that was a no go. He could not take the stairs with that android. There was no way he could outran a machine.

That was then, he was advised to go for the window. Great. They were currently on the 73rd floor, at the very top of this hotel. Does she expect for them to jump at such a height? However, her words demanded him to do so. Well, it was far better than being executed by those Government dogs. "Hold on tight then." He then made a mad dash towards the window, his senses alerted him once more as he caught a glint at the corner of his eyes.


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I have never been fond of chasing.

Despite the surprise and the apparent limitations, the criminal was able to create a diversion. The smoke grenade obstructed his sight as he knew that the felons will use this as a cover to escape. However, it is why he had Darcia handle it to prevent such contingencies. It would be far enough to handle this Uno who clearly was restricted in his combat abilities and as a mere human could not compete. The one thing he did not count on was the original target's interruption as he heard a collision of forces. His vision was obscured but, he could interpret the events through the sound of movement and noises. From his interpretation, Darcia had been impeded in carrying out the execution protocols. That was in a sense an achievement for anyone.

He would have to make a move and it is to be now. With his chosen weapon in hand, he had clear protocols and specifications as indicated in his mission log. He must not allow another escape as he was not the kind to never finish his mission. At the corner of his eyes, he saw Darcia being hold up by a barrier. In his initial observations, Uno does not appear to have any specific skills which could produce that. Moreover, the man's arms are currently full with the main mark.

Crux heard movement to his left. His ears are heightened and gave him more range than the capability of a normal human. The smoke seemed to make way for his eyes. He has a shot and he will make it count. The targets were moving towards the windows. It was an action of desperation. Still, there was no escape in that direction. They will be going to their deaths, but he will not take chances. It seemed they were able to get away from Darcia for some reason which he had not seen. He would have to confirm the details with it later. Raising his hand, he aimed at the anomaly which prevented him from carrying out his order the first time. There was nothing personal about it, just an order. Then, the trigger was pulled.

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Pulling, Stella closer to him. Uno made the jump by crashing through the life-size glass window. The smoke followed behind him as it finally got a way out which could be said the same about them. It was now or never and he would rather fall to his death, than be delivered to death by someone else's hands. The resounding broken fragments echoed around them. He was not sure what plan this not-so-ordinary girl in his arms has, but whatever it could be. It needed to work at all cost.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Stella Iaret Character Portrait: Darcia Character Portrait: Crux Character Portrait: Uno Summus

0.00 INK

#, as written by Ion



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“This information was not present in network files. Updating probability algorithms.”



The force that held her in place had, by some accident of circumstance or possibly skill, been positioned so as to pin Darcia while allowing for the absolute least movement, and so though the force itself was not more than she could handle, getting the proper leverage was proving to be difficult. In the end, she was simply required to discharge a small concussion—a drain on her reserves but necessary to put herself back in the situation. The forcefield collapsed, bursting apart and shattering, not unlike the window was about to, if the trajectory the marks were taking was any indication. Not bothering to pick up her second baton, Darcia leaped after them, reaching the window not more than a second after it was broken.

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The shattering glass reflecting the outdoor lights made seeing difficult even for eyes like hers, and she reached forward half-blindly, her hand snatching some fabric, her other braced against the ledge. Whatever it was was tightly-enough attached that keeping her grip actually pulled her out the window, though she tightened her grip on the ledge, preventing her own fall. Unfortunately, the fabric gave under the force of gravity on one end and her own strength on the other, and she was left dangling from the window-ledge, broken glass cutting into the synthetic flesh of her palm, causing a small leakage of her purplish-red “blood” to trickle onto the steel of her handhold. She did not even notice.

What was left in her hand was a scarf, the one Stella had been wearing. The fabric of it was a dark grey-green, and it fluttered in the wind that was inevitable this high up. Darcia’s lips pursed into a very human grimace, and for a moment, she considered launching herself after them, trying to catch them as they fell. But… seventy-three stories up was a long way, even for something made as strongly as she was. Her body, she knew, could be repaired, but if she landed wrong from this height, she threatened to destroy her internal programming beyond recovery, and her protocols were such that not even the pursuit of a high-priority target warranted taking that risk. Only a few things were, given that she would be impossible to replicate without her creator.

So she pulled herself back up into the building with her free hand, swinging lightly up onto the ledge. “Primary target has exhibited qualities not included in mission files,” she summarized. “While under ordinary parameters, death would be certain from this height, this one is… unsure. Results verification recommended.”




“Right. I can do this. …I think.”




Perhaps nearly eight hundred feet off the ground was not the place to be doubting oneself, but then, she’d never been forced to use her abilities so urgently, or so often, as she had on this particular day, and the one this situation called for was the one she was less sure of, besides. The barriers had always come easier to her than the gravatic control, and it wasn’t the sort of thing you could just practice anywhere you pleased. Still, their lives sort of depended on it right now, which meant it was quite literally do-or-die.

At the top of the arc of Violet’s jump, a bullet had come whizzing out of apparently nowhere and struck Stella in the shoulder, dangerously close to her neck, so now she was in a lot of pain, not to mention bleeding rather profusely, which was making it significantly more difficult than usual to concentrate. She bit down on a scream, refusing to let it leave her throat, and forced her breaths through gritted teeth. They were plummeting awfully quickly, and she suspected they’d probably reach terminal velocity before they hit the ground, though she couldn’t be sure at the moment. What was terminal velocity for two people, anyway?

Not important, Stella, get your head in the game here. If you don’t figure this out, you’re going to die. Right. Clenching her jaw tighter against the uncomfortable throbbing in her shoulder, timed with her frenetic heartbeat, she closed her eyes, and tried to remember how it felt every other time she’d managed to do this successfully. Like the time she’d floated that book down from a high shelf in the shop without once dropping it. They were an awful lot heavier than that, but it was the same principle at the very least.

Come on, come on! They were swiftly running out of time, and she shut out anything, any sensation or perception that had no relevance, even the rushing of the wind and the agony of the bullet wound. There!

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She felt the shift as everything clicked into place, the gravity around them canceling, at least mostly, when they were about three floors from the ground. It was a lot harder to maintain than floating the book around, but she managed to keep it steady until about five feet off the pavement, at which point, gravity abruptly returned to normal. She winced as they hit the ground, more from the slight jolt to her shoulder than any lack of grace on Violet’s part. Her nose, she noticed, was also bleeding, probably from the repeated exertion. She was a little too tired to care, at any rate, and her head listed slightly sideways, until it made contact with his shoulder, at which point, she jolted back upright.

“I’ve never floated a whole person before,” she confessed blearily, her otherwise-guarded tongue loosened by fatigue, residual traces of the drugs, and the general adrenaline response to almost dying. She was dimly aware that the really couldn’t just stay here, or else the scary android-girl and whomever had shot her would find them, but it was getting really hard to focus.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Stella Iaret Character Portrait: Darcia Character Portrait: Crux Character Portrait: Uno Summus

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This isn't flying, This is what you call falling with style.

There are times in life when one would require to pray to some entity of great power to save his life. However, it was not the case for a certain man. Instead, he revel in such situations where the boundaries of being alive and being dead intersect very closely. A challenging smile draped across his lips as he looked at the concrete ground which will serve as a cushion without an ounce of fear. Perhaps, there is also a connection to his belief that the girl in his arms was not the kind to go down just because she was asked to do so. Yes, he had hope even if many had told him, he has is not worthy of such things.

The descent was fast as gravity did what it was meant to do. It was to pull everything down, no exemptions. Blood droplets splattered across his face. He was aware where it came from as he noticed something wet and warm staining his hand. She was hit by the shooter. He had seen the glint of silver from the corner of his eyes. In response, he sped and radically change his trajectory in mid-air. Nevertheless, she still got hit. The shooter was truly of great caliber. Too bad, that person was on the Government's side. Seems to him, he had entered the Gates of Tartarus with nothing in tow but his balls.

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"If you're about to do something, do it now." He stated while pressing his fingers into her wound in a means to apply pressure. After all, he guessed that whatever she needs to do would require her awake. So drifting into slumber was not an option and thus losing blood too. Just a few short of the ground, he felt his body getting lighter. Soon enough, they seemed to be floating. May be gravity does provide a few exemptions. However, this short presentation was cancelled out abruptly. Good thing, he was quick on his feet and seemed to have inherited the grace of a cat. He always lands on his feet.

"Well, there's always a first for everything." Uno noted with his ever usual attitude of brimming confidence. "I've never saved anyone before." He added as he immediately made themselves scarce from that location. They can't stay there judging the weaponry the Government issued just to eliminate her. He was pretty sure they won't stop with just that. As he turned to a corner, he whistled and his hovercycle appeared. With added momentum, he jumped on it with Stella cradled closely to him. "Initiate Jammer. Stealth Mode activate." It was a good thing that he tweaked his ride when he had free time.

The hovercycle began to change its covering into a reflective metal. It also raised its hood made of the same material enclosing them. This would allow anything around the cycle to be visualize which creates an illusion of invisibility. At the same time, it was now exuding jamming particles which would warrant them inaccessible to the Government's trackers. For now, he bought them some time. He needs to get lost and quick. There was no advantage for him to go head-to-head with those lapdogs. His contract has already expired with the death of his employer, so there was no use for him holding on to the girl despite how special she may be. She was useless baggage and was a beacon of trouble.

But...

"I'll take you somewhere safe. I promise." Uno noted with a different tone which he had used prior. There was a sense of concern and a singe of sincerity somewhere there. He pressed a button at interface panel of his cycle which opened a cartridge at the side. It was an anesthetic shot to numb the pain. He took it and inject her with it. Afterwards, he wrapped her form with his long trench coat. There was no choice he was going to bring her to his safe house. He had a debt to pay after all. There was no going around it.


Hidden details are good, but if it interferes. It becomes my business.

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No one could match against his accuracy. He was unbeatable in that area. Despite of that, this Uno had from time to time able to dodge his bullets in real time. That man's reflexes are to be noted beyond a human's normal capability. He must take into consideration that the felon might have undergone unauthorized enhancement experimentation. In any case, he still hit his mark although, it was not as lethal as he had anticipated. He saw Darcia dashing to the fray in an effort to prevent escape. However, they still got away and it was forced to relieve the chase for now. He would not put that situation above it. After all if she did get damage in the process, it would only impede the mission further.

Activating his earpiece once more, he walked towards the ledge. "This is Crux. Debriefing mandatory." There was silence on the other line before a response could be heard. "We are coming in." The communication ended at that. He looked down below and saw that two targets were still alive. Uno still cradling the main mark and sprinting to their escape. He did not follow any action as he could see a crowd of people, already intrigued of the event. There was no need to feed the fire. It seemed that Stella R. Iaret was more than what she appears to be. His eyes narrowed to a fraction of seriousness and curiosity. But, it was lifted once he heard Darcia's interpretation of the events. He looked at her and noticed her synthetic blood trickling from her palm.

"They're alive." He noted as he took out a handheld HUD. On the greenish-black screen, there were two red circle dots. He did not just fire one shot. Furthermore, his bullets held their own tracking device. But soon enough, the dots disappeared. They must have used a jamming device. He released a small sigh and directed his attention to Darcia. "We are returning. We need full access to Stella R. Iaret's files." After stating that, he took out handkerchief from his pocket and held its damaged hand. He gently wrapped the cloth around the wound. It is true that this would be deemed unneeded. After all, Darcia is just an Android. "Clean it up." He said decisively when he was done tying the cloth neatly around its hand. Then, he walked towards the exit. The scene of crime must be sanitized. There cannot be any evidences leading to the Government.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Stella Iaret Character Portrait: Darcia Character Portrait: Crux Character Portrait: Uno Summus

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#, as written by Ion



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“So... I guess that means no finding my dog and going home, then, doesn’t it?”



She probably could have debated him on whether he’d really saved her, exactly, considering that it was at least mostly his fault she hadn’t been in any fit state to save herself, but really she was too tired to get into the minutiae, and was willing, at least for now, to call it even. They were both not dead, and somehow that seemed like the thing that really mattered here. When they’d become a they, however tentatively, was a question she would ask herself later, when there wasn’t still the threat of being shot or… however that girl would kill them. Stella found she really didn’t want to imagine it.

So for now, she wasn’t going to argue too much about where they were going. Frankly, she was exhausted—and incredibly hungry, if the ache in the pit of her stomach was anything to go by. Whether that was a side effect of the sudden dramatic increase in her power use or just because she hadn’t had dinner yet, she neither knew nor particularly cared. It made her rather compliant as she was loaded onto the hoverbike, holding where she was instructed to hold and nodding slightly when he indicated they were going somewhere safe.

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Stella would be lying if she said she trusted him half as far as she could throw him, but for the moment at least, she didn’t have much of a choice. “Thanks, Violet,” she said, the words ever-so-slightly slurred as the shot started taking effect. He could, after all, have just left her there, and in this condition, that would likely not have ended well for her. She shifted her hands under the coat when they got moving, though, knowing from unfortunate experience what was likely to happen next. Sure enough, her healing factor kicked in, pushing out the bullet into her waiting palm. From the look of it, the thing was pretty high-tech—she wiped it as clean of her blood as she could on her pant leg and held it up for a moment before pocketing it. Maybe someone else could learn something useful from it, but she was by no means an expert on guns or ammunition.

She could feel her bleeding slowing, though she was holding onto consciousness by only a very thin thread. Soon, she promised herself. I’ll sleep soon.




“This is not the end. Of that, it is certain.”




By this point, Darcia’s internal neural network had informed her that pain receptors were firing in her hand, and she looked blankly down at it for a moment before Crux’s words drew her attention back to the ground, where the targets could just be seen disappearing from view. Soon, they were evidently off other forms of sensor as well, and while her counterpart check in with Central, she took a moment to confirm that the marks were indeed off all Network grids as well. It was a shortcoming of Network surveillance that most cameras did not have infrared or heat-sensing modes, but at this point, even those would have been mostly pointless, because while it would be able to tell that something was passing by, visual identification of that something would be difficult.

The android was brought back to awareness by the fact that Crux had taken her bleeding hand and tied something over it. Her eyes narrowed slightly, but not in a way that could be connoted as hostile, only slightly perplexed. Such an action was unnecessary—like any person would, she would cease bleeding eventually, and quite soon, given what she really was. It was almost kind—and nobody had been kind to Darcia since her creator had died.

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Of course, the prudential value of the action was made immediately clear, and then she understood. It would be more to dispose of if she continued to bleed, though she’d been sure to keep the affected limb away from anything absorbent—there were traces on the windowsill and a few drops dotting the stone tile of the floor. “Understood,” she intoned, inclining her head slightly and reaching into one of the deep pockets of her coat. Inside was just a small cleaning kit—she was, after all, a domestic maintenance model in addition to being a combat unit. And removing the traces of her specific presence was something she was long accustomed to.

So it was within half a minute that the entire area was bereft of anything but the general evidence of a confrontation—her blood, stray hairs, and Stella Iaret’s scarf had all been removed, bagged where necessary, and stowed. She hurried a little to catch up with Crux on his way out, lapsing into silence thereafter.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Stella Iaret Character Portrait: Darcia Character Portrait: Crux Character Portrait: Uno Summus

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Really, there is nothing free in this world.

Notably, it had been a long drive. Uno had to make sure that they were not detected or followed by any prying eyes. As far as he is concerned, both of them are now wanted. Well, it was not different from his previous status. But, he would have guessed he was bumped into the highest spot because of this event. As for her, her normal life is greatly shattered. He would not hold it above the Government if their pictures are shown across the digital screens scattered across the domes as crazed criminals or something. He would need to lay low and figure out how to get those lapdogs out of his hair.

The hoverbike came to a stop as the hood retracted to its storage revealing its passenger. He felt a bit relieved that there had been no obstructions along the way. Looking at the unique girl in his arms, he could tell that she was tired from this whole ordeal. Well, anyone would be when one moment everything was astonishingly normal and the next everything was absurdly fitting for some demented movie. He will be tired as well, however, this is a lifestyle which he had grown up to since he was a young lad. "We're here." He stated as he got off the bike and made sure she was comfortable as much as and went towards a seemingly abandoned house.

Inside, there was nothing different. It was clearly left in shambles by its former owner. His steps echoed through the hollow grounds as he turned into a corner. There he slipped through the gaping walls which overlapped each other giving an illusion that there were no entrances present. Through that narrow passageway were stairs leading downwards into a secret chamber. Once there, they stood before large bolted doors. The scanner located atop the steel frame activated and run a biometric scan of them. "Uno Summus. Please proceed for confirmation. Unidentified personnel. Not Authorized." A computer-generated voice reverberated through with the characteristic of a female.

He stepped towards the control panel which was raised from the ground. Presenting his eyes and his hand for scanning, his identification was confirmed as it flashed through the floating HUD screen. He then spoke. "Activate guest protocols for Stella R. Iaret." There was a moment of processing before an answer was given. "Confirmed. Welcome back Uno Summus and Guest Stella R. Iaret." The bolted doors started unlocking itself in a series of gears and then, it was finally opened as he entered with the girl he was owing a certain degree of debt. Once inside, the doors closed behind them initiating the secure protocols and the lights were turned on as it revealed the room which was rather spacious and homely. It was a studio-type room.

Approaching the couch, he placed her down. He lowered himself to level with her as his eyes of orange inspected the wound she received from the Government Shooter. "It's almost closing up." That was odd in many ways, but she was not normal after all. "So shielding, flying, and now healing. Is there anything you can't do?" He noted with his rather casual tone of faint sarcasm. Taking a deep breath, he stood once more and pointed towards the kitchen area. "If you want to eat, there's food in the fridge. I'll leave you alone for now." He stepped away and proceeded towards his designated bedroom. But then stopped midway when he remembered, "Just shout when you need something." He stated while looking over his shoulder, then left her alone for now.

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When, he was now alone. He took off his trench coat and looked at his own damaged self. The shooter obviously shot both of them. He was hit at the lower left lumbar area. By the looks of it, the bullet was still inside and moving was actually painful. However, he ignored it and thankfully the earlier situation they were in provided a good distraction. Now, he was being reminded again with the dizziness and all. He sat at the edge of his bed and would need to treat himself. So, it was no wonder that there was a blood trail in the path he took if one would be observant enough even if it was scarce. This was mainly because of his coat which soaked much of the blood he spilled. Anyway, he shook his head and reached for his med-kit at the nearby table and muttered. "This job sucks..."


This mission will be accomplished no matter what.

Crux did not waste time returning to the Central Authority. It was the main headquarters of the Government. There was something different about him. He exuded a sternness which he had not done earlier. His eyes of ice blue glazed with a degree of intention. He understands that there are certain information that will be withheld in preference of confidentiality. It was fine with him as long as it would not interrupt with his mission parameters. The abilities of Stella R. Iaret were beyond human comprehension. It is true that he had been informed that he might be met with strong retaliation. However, he had categorized it as a human danger not inhumane. Seeing that the girl is able to match against Darcia, he would need full disclosure about the target subject.

The building layout is complex, however, he had already memorized it. So, there was no problem in getting lost. In any case, he has a specific destination in mind. He made his way towards the Military Section and entered the elevator in which the passengers were only him and Darcia. "Supreme General's Office." A feminine voice echoed answered. "Confirmed." As the elevator lifted them to their preferred location, he leaned on the reinforced glass and closed his eyes in thought. He recalled the interactions he had with Stella Iaret and Uno. There were noted traits in his observation which was starting to make sense. Regardless, he would need certification about his conclusions. As for the connection, he could not determined anything except the bizarre twist that Uno was simply a consequence. The employer Remullio Jackson was privy with a data he was not. Purpose? He was not to question it just to understand, so he could plan more better, he could see their next move.

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"Supreme General's Office." He opened his eyes and straightened himself as he entered the corridor. The secretary did not stop them as she was already been informed. As for him, he simply gave a nod of acknowledgement to the woman and proceeded on. The doors to the office opened and before them was the one responsible for the whole operation of the Military, the Sword and Shield of the Government, Caine Abernatty. Upon his entrance, he immediately gave a proper salute. Caine's eyes drifted to him and then to Darcia. "At ease." He stated as he glanced at the documents in his hands. "Are you angry Crux?" The question was swiftly answered as Crux relaxed moderately in his stance, "No. I am incapable of that. Sir. I am merely here to be properly briefed. Sir." Caine put down the documents and stood from his seat. "It was not needed since I believed it would be done without any foreseeable retaliation."

There was silence from Crux who was unperturbed by his superior's implication. "However, we also did not expect a leak about this." Caine stated with a relative sigh as he took something from his drawer which would be revealed to be a brown envelope. "There had been no changes in your orders." He stated with a decisive tone before handing the said envelope to Crux as he left his table and now stood in front of them. "You will be visiting Dr. Dietrich Engels. He has been informed of your visitation." He then looked at Darcia who would be well-familiar with that name. "He has been told to tell what you need to know about the EDEN project." He returned to his desk and took a seat. "Failure is not an option."

Those blue eyes looked at the envelope now in his hand. "Understood." Crux answered shortly and saluted once more. This meeting was over for now. "We shall take our leave, Sir." Caine nodded and simply raised his hand and gestured for them to go. Giving another salute, Crux left the room and headed to the Research and Science Division. "Record everything, Darcia." He stated as they were now in the complex of where the Brain and Power of the Government are found. Soon enough, they were in office of its leader, Dr. Dietrich Engels.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Stella Iaret Character Portrait: Darcia Character Portrait: Crux Character Portrait: Uno Summus

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#, as written by Ion



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“The one thing I want to be able to do more than anything else is make it so today never happened. But that’s something beyond the likes of me to accomplish. Is that ironic?”



From the outside, the house—she assumed it must be a safehouse or something, didn’t look like much—really the only notable thing about it was that from this angle it didn’t seem to have a door. This was proven false as Stella was carried Violet—she still didn’t know his real name, and he hadn’t seemed bothered by her previous use of the false one, so she wasn’t going to bother changing it unless it seemed needful—around an oddly-structured wall. She supposed it was somewhat clever in its design, but she could barely be bothered to notice in this state, let alone appreciate it.

She did notice the way the security system seemed a step short of shooting something at her before she was authorized. Uno Summus? That must be Violet’s name—though it was really a pretty odd name. Then again, who named people Stella anymore, either? She was fairly certain the name had fallen out of use a hundred and fifty years ago, at least. Like Mildred, or Ethel or something. Of course, her middle name was even worse, so Stella it was. Actually, maybe her staunch refusal to use it was why it wasn’t in any official records anymore.

Brushing away the irrelevant thoughts, Stella entered the house, still toted along by Vi—Uno, she reminded herself—as though her weight were negligible. She supposed it kind of was, but she certainly wasn’t a sack of feathers that was to be sure. She was actually a little relieved when she was et down on the couch, and submitted willingly enough to a checkup, though she knew it would only add more evidence to the growing pile proving her strangeness. “I’d give all of it away to be normal,” she replied frankly, shaking her head. And it was true—if she were just some ordinary person, there would be no reason for the government to want her dead. She wasn’t sure why they wanted her dead now, even, but she could only assume it had something to do with her parents.

She sighed heavily when her host left the room, giving herself a few minutes to rest before pushing herself to her feet, toeing her way out of her shoes and setting them neatly in the doorway before she turned towards the kitchen. There was indeed food in the fridge, and she stood in front of the open door for a while, contemplating. In the end, she rummaged around until she found everything she needed for omelettes and rice, enough for both herself and another person. She tended to eat a fair deal more than the average woman, something she’d always attributed to an extraordinary metabolism. Considering how ravenous she was right now, it was probably connected, like everything else, to her genetic mutation.

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She didn’t cook many things, but what she did, she cooked well. Her family had never been wealthy enough to afford even the most basic domestic android, so she’d learned to make due for herself at an early age. She supposed she should be grateful for that now. When the omelets were flipped and done, and the rice sticky and soft, she loaded two plates with the stuff, then paused for a moment. Really, what was she doing, making dinner for him? That was something you did for friends, or at least friendly acquaintances, not people who threatened to kill you and then almost got you killed by someone else. Still… she supposed she was a little bit grateful that he’d at least helped her out of that one, in the end.

So she padded in stocking feet over to the closed door she’d seen him go through, and knocked on it, a bit tentatively for someone of her demeanor. “Hey Violet—I mean, Uno. I accidentally made too much food, so there’s some there if you want it.” Technically a lie, but it wasn’t like she wanted to get caught out doing something nice. Stella wasn’t nice. She was sarcastic, and blunt, and probably far too mouthy for her own good. And it was much better for everyone involved if she stayed that way. Returning to the kitchen, she picked up her plate and searched through drawers until she found the silverware, plonking herself down at the counter, against which a few stools rested. With a sort of deliberate haste that stopped short of being outright rude, she started to eat. It wasn’t bad at all—but at the moment, she could hardly taste anything.




“What would you say, if I told you the world itself was dying?”




Darcia remained silent during the exchange between Crux and the Supreme General. It was certainly true that she knew very well who Dr. Engels was—but she knew next to nothing of his project. At the command to record everything, the android inclined her head obediently. “Affirmative. Engaging three-hundred and-sixty degree data capture.”

The office belonging to Dr. Engels was a fair distance from that owned by General Abernatty, on a different vertex of the triangular shape of the building, actually. The northward vertex was occupied by the Prime Minister’s office, of course, and Engels and the Science Division were in the east, which was where they headed now. Once they got there, Darcia took over, knocking briskly on the door, which then identified her and Crux with retinal scans before sliding briskly open with a mechanical, if still slightly feminine “Welcome to the Science Division, office of Engels, Dietrich.”

The man himself was at first faced away from them, but turned his chair to face the pair once they had both entered. For a moment, he gave Crux a measuring look—he was quite familiar with Darcia, but he had never met the Ghost in person before. The work of a scientist and the work of an assassin only very rarely overlapped, he supposed. In the end, he turned away from the younger man and made a terse waving gesture. Immediately, the glass panel set into one wall of the office lit up, displaying a large amount of data from several files. He stood to the left of it, gesturing for the other two to come close enough to see it properly as well, and stand beside him.

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“I see little point in wasting breath on introductions,” he admitted, though not rudely. Clearly, he was a man who preferred to forgo the niceties in favor of doing things as efficiently as possible. “I know who you are, you know who I am, and we both know why you are here. You are to be informed of the need-to-know information on the EDEN project.” He waved a hand, and one of the files expanded, spilling several charts and statistical reports over the massive screen.

“To fully understand it, you have to understand the original purpose of the Network itself. It wasn’t a security system, not at first. It was meant only to collect, collate, and parse data into statistical models. Unknown to most, it extends even beyond the domes, out in the Exterior. It collects data on everything—demographics, resource consumption, births, deaths, the rate of illness in every sector, money changing hands, how many times your grandmother sneezed on the second-to-last Thursday of her life—everything. From the Exterior, it takes atmospheric readings, soil samples, plant chemical balances, meteorological and climate data, water composition… all through a complex system of sensors and probes, mobile and stationary.” It had, in fact, been designed and implemented by a massive team of scientists, about thirty years ago, but the algorithm for data interpretation was something Dietrich’s own mother had done.

“All of this data, when sorted properly and examined holistically, gives us massive predictive power—the closest thing to precognition human beings will ever know… and what it predicts is inevitable. On the current trajectory of human growth and planetary decay, the biomass will become unsustainable.” Another chart appeared, and Darcia studied it, knowing what it meant even though she had never seen it before.

“The Earth is dying.” Her tone was infused with a note of melancholy, and indeed, her eyes seemed to soften. Dietrich nodded.

“Yes. It will not die tomorrow, nor even in ten, twenty, fifty years from now. We may last as long as a hundred—assuming our models have projected change the right way. It may be less; things only get worse as technology allows for the proliferation of human life. But it is not human life alone that is the problem, else I’m sure you could guess at the solution.” His eyes found Crux, and he raised a brow slightly. That situation would call for a mass culling of human life, and they all knew that the government would not hesitate to order that if it were necessary. Perhaps, they all even would have agreed with the need to see it done. “In time, the ecosystem will begin to collapse, and the planet, almost like a living thing, will begin a cataclysm. A renewal, but at the cost of everything that is. Floods, famine, storms the like of which we have never seen—nothing on earth will stand a chance. Gaia and Tartarus will swallow all their children, if you prefer a particularly poignant metaphor.” His smile was sardonic, almost a grimace if anything.

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“As the problem was discovered by our best science, it was hoped that the solution would be as well.” A sideways gesture moved away all of the charts, replacing them instead with a range of images and dossiers splashed across the screen. Most had large red x’s through the images. “Twenty years ago, Project EDEN was devised. A chance, it was thought, to allow humanity to survive beyond the advent of that cataclysm, and perhaps even flourish in its wake, like a return to the primordial garden of myth.” He studied the portraits for a moment. “The Earthen Defense and Enhancement Network. EDEN. In order to survive what would come, and safeguard as many of the world’s population and resources as possible, humanity needed—needs—to become better, faster, stronger, more intelligent… and more in tune with the forces of the natural world. The man and women you see before you were the Seeds, the initial specimens necessary to jumpstart the stagnated evolution of mankind. To make us better. Each was a person of extraordinary merit of some kind, a volunteer for genetic alteration of their stem cells, so that, with time, their entire genome would mutate, and they would pass this mutation on to their offspring. The Seeds would yield Flowers, and in that hundred years’ time, many of us would be strong enough to survive what would come.”

Dietrich magnified two of the photos, one of a lovely woman with dark purple hair and a warm smile, and another of a man, fair-haired but with eyes the color of a ruby, ringed in gold. “Iaret, Sebastian and Fiori, Ravenna. Sebastian was considered to be the most promising of all the seeds—for the alterations to his genetics caused in him the ability to manipulate the force of gravity to his will, to impose his consciousness upon he external world. Ravenna was likewise good news—because her ability was defensive. She could generate raw force, and use it to create translucent shields. I expect you noticed both of these properties in their daughter, Stella. That was unexpected—it had always been theorized that abilities would align in the manner of dominant and recessive alleles, but perhaps this combination allowed for both.” Dietrich actually shrugged. “If I had the Rose to study, I would be able to answer, but your task is not to take her alive, now is it?” His eyes flickered to Darcia.

“There was… another portion to the EDEN project, added only in its latest iteration, but about that, you have no need to know. I would tell you, but orders are orders, and I do tend to follow them. If you have queries, I will answer within the allowed parameters, but I have tried to be sufficiently thorough.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Stella Iaret Character Portrait: Darcia Character Portrait: Crux Character Portrait: Uno Summus

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As long as I'm not getting paid... It's over...

It would be much easier if he just went to a doctor. The bullet burrowed a bit deeper than necessary. This should be expected as he moved unrestricted and even carried the girl without much of a consequence to himself. He had already injected himself with anesthetic to dull the pain before he began the process of taking out the foreign object in his body. This venture of his proved to be successful as he gazed at the perpetrator of his wound. It was not a standard issued caliber of the military. This was highly advanced with a slick finishing deemed untraceable. He would be examining it later.

Now that the bullet was out, he had started with mending his flesh to allow proper healing. Another difficult thing to do, but he does not trust Doctors and rather do it himself. Plus, he seemed to heal fast enough which leaves no scar. Once, it was sutured and cleaned. He placed an ointment on it which promotes regeneration and then wrapped it up with bandages. When he was satisfied how it looked, he stood from his position which warranted a jolt of slight pain to his body. It would appear the anesthetic was starting to wear off. How troublesome... When was the last time, he got hurt like this? He couldn't even remember since it was such a long time ago. Taking a deep breath, he took hold of the bullet he got from the basin.

"You'll help me know more about your owner." He stated as the image of the shooter flashed through his mind. It was a man without doubt and probably slightly taller than him. The guy was not bad on the eyes as well. More than that, his senses assessed that the man as dangerous instantly which would be a first. He was firm on that than the android chick who clearly supersedes human boundaries. It was probably because that man was like walking corpse, there was no intent at all. Could that guy be an android too? In any case, that girl, Stella has her hands full. As his thoughts drifted towards his mark-turned-guest, a knock was heard.

“Hey Violet—I mean, Uno. I accidentally made too much food, so there’s some there if you want it.”

His eyes drifted to his door, but he didn't answer. He did notice that she gave him an alias. Unconsciously, he run his fingers through his hair. It probably pertained to his hair color. Well, he did like color. Every thing in this world was a little to bland for his tastes. Anyway, he didn't mind the labels but she altered it by calling him by his known name. She probably heard it from his AI system. He considered that fact fair as he does know her name through a paid request. Thinking about it, he got himself into something deep and the worse of that, he didn't get paid. Yes, that was the worst thing. It could not even compare to the time he was being killed, yup, it doesn't at all.

Then, he heard a rumble from his stomach. He was hungry as he released a sigh. Before he thinks profoundly about certain matters, he would need to get his much needed energy first. So, he exited his room with just his pants on revealing his upper body and bandaged torso. He went towards the kitchen and then leaned on the post of the open entryway with his arms crossed over his chest. His eyes gazed at her as if assessing her for something. "So, what did you make sweetheart?" He said with his ever usual cocky attitude accompanied by his signature playful smile. It did appear that they were playing house and he did have talent to point out the most ridiculous notion.

He then walked towards him and looked at the food she was eating. "Omelette and rice, huh..." He nodded in appraisal while looking at the other plate prepared. "Itadakimasu." He noted airily as he sat just opposite of hers and took the first bite.

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"Not bad." He noted as he began to eat his share. It had been a while since he had tasted food made by another or even dine with someone else. He usually eats by himself. Just like that, silence reigned between them. It was only broken when he spoke again taking a break from his meal. "You can sleep here for tonight." He stated and he continued on. "At first sign of daylight, I'll take you back home and that's that." This was the clear-cut view of the situation between them.

They were strangers with no allegiance to each other. They were only brought together by circumstances. He was doing a job. She was the target. Now, it was cancelled. So, she was worthless to him. She was here because he wanted to pay his debt to her. Other than that, there were no other reasons. Plus, he would not stick his neck for her especially now that he knows that he was going to butt heads with the Government. He was already wanted and now got too much heat for his liking. But, it was a different story if money was involved. In any case, she will be on her own tomorrow. She will not be his responsibility anymore.


Once you know, you have to act.

All the things presented in front of him were grandiose in idea and ambition. However, time and the fickle changes of humanity were the most inevitable opponent of this endeavor. Regardless, he had committed the important details to his memory. From that as Darcia has stated, Earth is dying. Unlike it which displayed a sense of melancholy, he did not. It is true that he could still feel the most basic emotions, but they were fleeting and not for him to grasp. Thus, it was simply an information entered into his thoughts. That is all. In response to that impending doom, the EDEN project was initialized. And, this is where the target, Stella R. Iaret was linked to.

The target's parents were both genetically altered humans. He also knew well their current status. They were incapacitated because it had been his mission to do so. It seems he would have to devise a strategy which will acclimate to two conditions, gravity and barrier. He only stopped his trail of thought when Dr. Engels stated his desire of capturing the Rose alive. However, it was against the given directive. Still, he could not help but inform the Head Scientist. "I apologize for that, Dr. Engels." He gave an curt apologetic bow. Yes, he is able to express a bit of empathy and a means of comfort. Though, it was of the most simplistic effort. "Once the target is executed. The cadaver will be turned over to the Science Division as ordered."

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His attention was once more perked only briefly by another section of the EDEN Project being sealed away. However, he would not push any further on that subject. This was enough for now. On a different account, he does have a question. "Is there a possibility of another Flower?" He was not certain if this information is under restriction or not. Nevertheless, the answer would give him a certain outlook.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Stella Iaret Character Portrait: Darcia Character Portrait: Crux Character Portrait: Uno Summus

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#, as written by Ion



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“Yeah, well… I suppose you’ve done enough.”



Stella flicked her eyes up from her plate long enough to acknowledge his presence. Though she instinctively balked at the nickname—she hated it when people used terms of so-called endearment with her—she let it slide, mostly because she noted his bandages, and that seemed somewhat more important. She didn’t really know if she wanted to know how he’d been hurt, though, so for a while, she just returned her gaze to what she was doing, dutifully ignoring the slight twinge of awkwardness that was eating dinner with a shirtless (attractive, if one went in for that sort of thing) stranger. There were far too many other factors at work here for her to really think twice about any of it. Nothing was going to be normal until the next day, when she went home.

Actually, it was probably true that nothing would be normal then, either. Her eyes slid sideways, and she paused in eating to purse her lips contemplatively. “I won’t… if they find me anyway, I won’t tell them where this is. Or your name.” Though considering the strength of the network, they probably had that part already. It was more likely than anything that they’d just kill her before they bothered asking questions about him, but just in case… well, some part of her wanted him to know that.

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It was obvious to her that she couldn’t just stay at her home once she went back there. It would be better for her to grab as much of her stuff as possible, leave her birds with the neighbors, and hide… somewhere. She’d never had to do anything illegal before, but she knew some people who had. Stella had grown up with the poorest people in the City, after all, and sometimes, those people turned to crime to get what they needed. She had no money to pay them or anyone else to hide her, but she hoped that maybe they’d be willing to help her out at the very least to get back at the government they all professed to hate. If nothing else, she’d disguise herself as well as she could and find an empty building to squat in for a while.

None of it sounded appealing in the least, but she had no desire to die. She just wished she would have had Ash to keep her company, but she would have to go it alone. At least she wouldn’t have to worry about feeding anyone but herself. It wasn’t much of a plan, but it was the closest thing she could get right now, and so she stood slowly, gathering up all the dishes she’d used and washing them, shooting Violet—she was apparently stuck in the habit of calling him that, at least in her own head—a glance over her shoulder. “Wake me up when you want to leave, then.” She was a danger to his safety, really, and it only made perfect sense that he should want to get rid of her as soon as possible.

So saying, she took the couch in the living room, apparently perfectly content with that. There was a blanket nearby, which she threw over herself, and true to form, Stella was dead to the world in minutes.




“It is, after all, the purpose of Seeds to grow.”




Dietrich half-smiled, the expression surprisingly kind, sighing slightly as he contemplated the question. “Other flowers? Not like her, I should think. Only two of the original eight Seeds were female. One died, along with three of the male subjects, after the initial gene mutation proved to be too much. Ravenna never had any other children, as I’m sure you are aware. So… not with each other. Though… there was a short period during which about three of the other Seeds were out in the population, and it is theoretically possible that one or more of them may have produced children before they too were… dealt with. None of them ever had any legitimate children on record, and data indicates that a Seed would be most likely to spread only its own properties, overriding the weaker human genetics with its code, so such children would resemble their fathers in ability.” Of course, genetics was not always mathematically exact. Random mutations did occur.

“And of course, there have been attempts to replicate the results in a lesser fashion since the original experiment; including the development of surgical procedures and a serum. Mixed results, but all of those things are tightly-regulated by the government, and there are no thefts that have been reported, to my knowledge. On the off-chance you do run into some other Flower, the most likely ability parameters will encompass increased physical capacity, quick self-healing, and possibly one form of elemental kinesis—they were, after all, designed to have some control over the destabilizing world.” He wasn’t the Prime Minister of course—he did not know everything he might care to.

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“As for the other half of the project… you need not worry that any of those specimens are out in the general population. Of that much, I can assure you.” There was, after all, only one of those Flowers, and he wasn’t permitted to talk about it.

“Dr. Engels.” Darcia’s tone wasn’t precisely inflected as a question, but he had the strong sense that she was almost seeking permission to ask something, so he turned his focus to her and raised an eyebrow.

“Yes, Darcia?” He did not look quite as fondly upon the android as his brother had, but he would not deny some attachment to her anyway. Enough that he internally at least referenced her as a she rather than an it. By all reasonable philosophical criteria of what it took to be a person, Darcia was one. That she was only partially organic and had not been born of a womb or a test tube hardly made the difference, after all.

“Why does Mr. King wish to kill Stella Iaret?” Dietrich supposed it was a perfectly reasonable question. She was the closest thing the world currently had to a maximally-evolved human being. Logically, the government should be most interested in replicating her, with the addition of genetic diversity. The easiest way to do that would be to have her physically produce children, but he could grow them, had he her living (or perhaps very recently-dead, but that was a stretch) body. To simply kill her made little sense from such a perspective. The question was asked with complete innocence—she was clearly not making an accusation or questioning the validity of her mandate, only the reasoning behind it. So he answered.

“Why does anyone destroy a rose, Darcia? The most obvious answer is because they fear the thorns. Whether that is true, well… even I do not know the Prime Minister’s mind.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Stella Iaret Character Portrait: Darcia Character Portrait: Crux Character Portrait: Uno Summus

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And then the cat caught your tongue...

Those orange eyes held a glint of interest and intrigue. He was hardly concerned about her revealing this place. It was because he had made measures for her not to know the exact location and would do so again tomorrow. As for his name, it was inconsequential. Two words crafted out of context and circumstances did not hold much threat to him. She could tell them and it would not amount to anything. Because as far as he is concerned, there is not much data on him even on the Network. But, he does appreciate her words. It resulted into a small smile unlike the ones he had presented her before. Yet, it vanished as quick as the winds.

He simply continued to eat his meal as silence reigned once more. It was only slightly disturbed by the cluttering sounds of the plates being taken care of. Then she stated to wake her up when they're about to leave. She is indeed strong and remarkably stubborn. There were no words of disagreement or the plead to aid her. Just like that, she was out of the kitchen. As for him, he released a rather heavy sigh and covered his face with a hand. "That girl won't survive..." He muttered under his breath. Those two Government operatives they encountered were not those conventional types. He could tell they were at a very much high-caliber. With those thoughts in his head, he finished his meal and cleaned it up afterwards.

Entering the living area, he noticed that his guest had already fallen asleep. Well, he judged that from her even breathing pattern which is often related to slumber. He scratched the back of his head and sighed once more before making his way towards the work room. This area consisted titanium alloyed doors which is protected by an isolated security protocol. As he stood in front of the door, a full biometric was done once more and a full HUD panel of numbers appeared before him. He inputted the code and the doors were opened as he entered. Inside, he situated himself in swivel chair and the lights had finally came on. Floating holographic screens surrounded him as it presented various information and data as his eyes narrowed slightly in serious anticipation.

"Time to know who am I dealing with exactly..."


In the end, the order is the only thing that matters.

"I see." Crux noted and summarized the details he had collected. There is a possibility of another Flower, although the likelihood was low. He could not take that out of the variable especially with the specifications of his Superior's prerogative which reflected a necessity of cleaning up. There could be an inkling of interconnected plights. Iaret and Uno will lean to the idea of hiding, but then they could capitalize on such emotions to have allies. His thoughts were interrupted with Darcia's inquiry about the reasoning behind the Prime Minister's decision.

To him, such things do not matter. Nor is he even curious about it. All the questions he has are all connected to his given directive nothing more. Hearing Dr. Engels' reply, he could not fail to see the logic of that. However, this was indeed the Prime Minister they were discussing about. A radical person without equal as he is often depicted. No one can be certain that point itself is correct. "Well, we would not take any more of your time." Crux stated as he believed that there was nothing else left to discuss or information that was allowed to be accessed by them. "We will now take our leave. Thank you, Dr. Engels." He gave a full bow which showed respect. After doing so, he made his way to vacate the office.

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Once he was in the hallways, he glanced towards Darcia who should be following him. "I will be retiring to my domicile for the night." He declared as he would require an interlude of rest and to have time to fully conclude a strategy to entangle the two targets. It is unlikely for his counterpart to be in need of it. Androids had a different manner of restoration. His eyes were now facing forward. "You are free until then." He did not stop in his walk nor did he lower his pace. "Let us meet at Donovan Square, 0700 hours tomorrow." Soon enough, he was out of the building and in front of his vehicle. It was only then he finally ceased his walk and completely turned to face Darcia.

"There is also another thing I would ask of you." He opened the door of his hovercraft and gestured for the wolfhound he had taken to come out. "Take care of it." Honestly, he is not keen on keeping animals much more taking care of one. "Do implant a tracker on it." Once, the canine was in Darcia's possession, he opted to enter his vehicle. But not before he took one last look at the Android which will be his partner during the duration of this mission. "You did good tonight." He said as he took hold of the hand she had injured earlier which still had his handkerchief as a makeshift bandage. "Take care of yourself more. Good night, Darcia." With that said, he finally entered his craft and took his leave.

"Meow..."

It was a rather peculiar alarm clock to say the least. The blanket which covered Stella was slowly being pulled away from her body. Of course, this was not done out of malice or the gesture of mischief. This was done out of innocent playfulness. Soon enough, the blanket had completely fallen to the floor. Underneath it, something was squirming with a size resembling that of a basket ball. as it continued to make a noise which could only be related to that of a certain animal.

In a certain room, Uno released a yawn and even stretched his arms. He wound was not hurting as it did so earlier. In any case, he did a comprehensive search. His research yield little results which meant that whoever those two are were on very high-clearances. He would need a bit more juice to access such files undetected. Regardless, he did have subtle linkages which could be said about the shooter. He was starting to believe that man is the one known as the Ghost. It was a myth to people like him about such an existence. A person who leaves death and disappears like a mirage. No one has ever proven the Ghost's existence and even witnesses were silence ultimately. Then, there was the android chick. No other data, but there seems to be a name linked to it, Solomon Engels.

"So many questions..." Anyway, one thing was for certain. They were difficult people to deal with. Standing from his chair, he looked at the digital clock on his HUD screen. It was already morning. "There goes the night." He left the room and went towards the living area. There he found a nice little surprise as he went towards the couch where Stella is. He then pulled the blanket away, revealing what was squirming underneath it. Then, he had a warm smile on his face which was completely unguarded. "There you are, Rosie. Good morning." He stated as he picked the little furball known as a cat.

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Stella Iaret Character Portrait: Darcia Character Portrait: Crux Character Portrait: Uno Summus

0.00 INK

#, as written by Ion



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“This morning is the start of the rest of my life. I have no illusions about its length. But if I’m going to die, I’m going to do it as myself.”



The morning sunlight was only just beginning to filter through the curtains on the nearest window when Stella’s rest was disturbed by the steady removal of her blanket. Sitting up blearily, she tracked the motion just as the rest of the thing fell away, and it didn’t take a genius to guess what must be under the covers. She smiled sleepily, pandiculating towards the ceiling and covering a yawn. Her thoughts were pleasant and blurry until she properly registered her surroundings, and then everything that had happened in the last day and night came crashing back down on her even as Violet exited from some other room and pulled the blanket off the cat, a large ginger-colored one.

Stella sighed and ran a hand through her hair, which she realized was extremely messy at the moment, flyaways sticking out in every direction. It didn’t especially bother her, but she couldn’t know for sure when the next time she’d actually be able to use a shower was, so she decided to take advantage. Maybe it was imposing a little, but she figured if she was going to die, the least she could do was make less of a mess for whomever was going to deal with her body afterwards.

“I’ll be back in a few minutes,” she murmured, heading towards the open door that she assumed was the washroom. She was correct, it turned out, and grabbed a spare towel from the linen closet before shutting the door behind her. She’d slept in her contact lenses, completely forgetting bout them for once, so when she took them out now, she discarded them. There was little point in hiding anymore when she’d been so easily found, after all. With the false brown gone, her irises were a bright crimson with a thin golden ring around the center of them. She blinked at herself in the mirror for a moment, then shrugged and stepped into the water.

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From the fact that it was black for the first few minutes, she knew that the dye in her hair was washing out as well, leaving it a dark aubergine color instead. With the same reasoning that had defeated her continued use of the lenses, she decided she didn’t really care. She washed it with soap until it was clean, lacking another option and not wanting to touch and of Violet’s stuff in case he was weird about that. If she took a few minutes longer than strictly necessary because she was crying, well… she put it down to the fact that knowledge of your own impending death would probably shake anyone. Maybe she could escape it, but chances were not good, and even if she did, she’d never be able to go back to her old life. So in some sense, she was dying, even now. Her aunt and uncle, the only people in the world left who actually cared about her, would think her dead, and that was for the best. If it wasn’t something to cry about, though… then nothing was.

It didn’t last long, though—she had other things to do. For want of anything else, she changed back into the clothes of the day before, though not before she had a go at washing the bloodstains out in the sink. It only sort of worked, and she was just wasting time now. She emerged from the bathroom using the towel to soak up water from the ends of her hair, then folded it neatly and set it aside. “Well… if you want, we can go now.”




“It was told once, that time is a fickle mistress.”




Darcia watched the vehicle containing Crux leave with no discernible expression, before glancing down at the large dog on the lead she was holding. The creature waved its tail once at her, like a banner in the wind, and the corners of her lips turned upwards a little. “This one will take care of you,” she told him softly, reaching to set her hand on his head. Truthfully, given the size of the dog, as well as her own small stature, it was especially easy to walk that way, with her hand sunk into the fur of his ruff. Even a taller person should be able to manage it.

He as a white color, with just the faintest touch of grey, and looked a bit like a ghost under the illumination of nighttime, she supposed. Or at least, what she imagined a ghost would look like, if such things were real. Being a completely organic creature, he doubtless needed to eat, and so she walked them both through the facility until she came upon the kitchens. At this time of night, nobody was inside, and so when the biometrics let her through the door, she headed unimpeded for the refrigerator, which she knew from experience would occasionally contain leftover or unclaimed items.

Sorting through these, she picked out several kinds of meat product, then submitted a requisition order for dog food specifically. For now, though, the leavings of others would have to do. The dog certainly didn’t seem to complain.

The rest of her night was split between tending the gardens and cleaning the lab space, during which she also recharged beneath the solar lamp, something her new canine companion seemed to enjoy as well. She usually just did this during the day with natural sunlight, but seeing as the mission had begun after dark and would be commencing again shortly after sunrise, she felt it prudent not to leave such things to chance. She did have alternative energy systems, but none were quite as cleanly-efficient as solar power.

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Thus it was that, at precisely 6:58 a.m., Darcia was in the appointed meeting spot, in possession of new equipment, a replacement suit, and fully powered. She had also entered all the data from their last mission attempt into the classified areas of the network, and updated all the files on Stella Iaret, Uno (surname, she had discovered, Summus), Lancelet Morgan, and Remullio Jackson. It was unwise to leave anything to chance. Her flesh and blood had repaired, and the cloth used to tie around her palm had been washed and sanitized, now residing in the pocket of her coat.

She preferred to leave nothing to chance if she could avoid it, after all.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Stella Iaret Character Portrait: Darcia Character Portrait: Crux Character Portrait: Uno Summus

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Shall we go then?

Rosie purred delicately in his hands as he continued to stroke its fur. Yes, it was the only animal that Uno shows an ounce of unadulterated affection towards to or rather to any living creature. He smiled at it and finally glanced at the occupant of his couch. Oh yeah, he did have her over and all. Well, she looks like a mess which should be expected if anything they went through last night was considered as. She excused herself and seemed rather familiar with the amenities of his place as she entered the bathroom. Well, it did excuse him with giving a tour.

As for him, he went to the kitchen and gave Rosie a bowl of milk. "Drink it up." The feline gingerly lapped its milk which made his face lit up with gentle adoration. Once, he was satisfied he also grabbed a bottle of pineapple juice and drank it up. This was a rather normal routine for him except for having a guest over, so to speak. He would be dropping her off and wash his hands clean from this ordeal. In reality, it would be impossible. After all, the Government was thorough in their clean-ups. That much he knew. It is why talks of rebellions or voicing out one's opinion are nothing more but a foolish action. "Meow..."

Diverting his attention, Uno looked down at his feet where Rosie was gazing at him with those big eyes. He glanced towards the bowl and saw the milk was all but empty. "Do you want some more?" Rosie shook its head and instead went towards the door. He wondered what the feline wanted and followed it. "What is it girl?" He queried as Rosie soon jumped on the couch and rubbed its face on the pillow. He shook his head and released a sigh. "You like her don't you?" He noted as he looked at the direction of the washroom. "No can do pal." He stated and patted Rosie's head before he made his own preparations too.

Rosie watched her owner returned to his room. If she could sigh, she would do so. Her keeper may have created a name in his type of world. However in her eyes, her master was flailing in the dark much like a child. She laid on that couch for sometime before she jumped towards the near coffee table and pressed a button on a remote which activated the television which appeared out of thin air. Technically, it was simply a huge HUD screen. It was currently on the news. "A fire engulfed the St. Angela Merici Orphanage last night at 11:45 PM. Sources say there were no survivors, and---"

The television was instantly turned off. Rosie looked above her and saw that her Master's despondent look. Uno threw the remote towards the couch and slumped himself on it as well. His eyes glazed over by something akin of anger but quickly disappeared as Stella was finally done. She suggested that they could go now if he was fine with it. He stood from his position without looking at her. "Let's go." That was his simple answer as he gestured for her to follow him.

Soon enough, the two humans were out... Rosie once more turned on the television by jumping to the couch and pressing the button on the remote. "Two dead bodies of a couple were found in their homes. Investigation is underway to confirm the source of death. It has been noted by medical issues..." The scenery being present upon the screen was the house of the couple with a name plate at the gates which read. Iaret.


Everything is a given with a point of a gun.

Another day has began once more. The busy bustle of the people were more like a repetitive pattern dictated by the Government. Their occupation, their desires, their allegiance, their beliefs, they were all being carefully manufactured by a sets of illusions designed to hide the truth. Alas, it was no concern of Crux who only cared about his set of mission parameters. In relation of that, he had been briefed earlier by other agents of the action they had took as preordained. It seemed that another set of orders were given. This strengthened his belief that his Superiors' desired complete containment and eradication.

"Good morning, Darcia." He greeted it at exactly 7:00 AM. His eyes of blue assessed her status. Darcia appears to be fully prepped. That is good. They are currently at Donovan Square where many people were up and about. It was a known landmark at the middle of the illustrious Business District of the Dome. They were at plain sight, but that was not a fact to be worried about. "We will be meeting Luna Allegro." He stated he walked ahead of Darcia. It should be running a search about the identity of the person he had spoken of. Luna Allegro is currently a CEO of Zephyr Motors, a leading manufacturer of hovercrafts and the likes. She even does have military contracts with Government. Their destination was just a few meters in front of them. The main headquarters of the said company.There was no resistance or interference in entering the building. It also did not take long for them to be welcomed into Luna Allegro's office. After all, he had already asked for an appointment which was granted.

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"Good morning, Mr. Neeson." This was the initial greeting of Luna who stood from her chair and approached both of them. She was an attractive woman with long silver hair and light blue eyes. Her eyes went towards Darcia. "Good morning to you too, Miss." She directed her attention to Crux once more. "I apologize, I didn't know you had a lovely companion. So what may I help you with?" He shook his head and had a polite smile on his face. "Good morning, Ms. Allegro." He held her hand and placed a courteous kiss on top of it. This gesture made Luna lightly blush.

"Thank you for seeing me on such a short notice." He released Luna's hand and then introduced his so-called companion. "This is Darcia, my partner in this endeavor which I would like to propose to you." Luna nodded in understanding as she had been notified by her assistant that a Mr. Gillian Neeson (an alias Crux used) of Cross Industries would be seeing her. "Oh, pleased to meet you Ms. Darcia." Luna noted with a smile as she returned her attention to the man before her. "Then, what is this endeavor exactly?" Crux's eyes held a flash of serious intent. "Uno Summus." Luna's eyes widened in surprise upon hearing the name.

He glanced at Darcia. "Darcia, please secure this area." After stating that, he approached Luna who was slowly backing away from him. "Who are you people?"He reached out his hand to grab her arm. In that moment, he pulled her towards him and whispered. "What do you wish? Your enemy or your friend?" If one would look really deeply, a formidable connection could be seen between Uno and Luna Allegro hidden in the shifting shadows. And yes, Crux will exploit it to its rotten core to get what he wants.

Somewhere Else...

Uno had finally arrived where Stella Iaret should be living. It was written in the details given to him when he had accepted the job. As usual, his hoverbike was used with her being his passenger. However, this time she was situated at his back. "Here you are." He declared as he waited for her to get off and return the helmet he let her used. Once, she did. He took one final look at her. So, she had covered her natural appearance. Her brown eyes were rather an enticing shade of red with golden rings. She also now reverted her hair color to something with a bit more flair. "You look better this way." He noted with his trademark smile.

He revved up his bike as he prepared to leave her. "Good luck, Stella." As if on cue, a passerby noticed them. However, it was out of purest intentions. "Stella is that you?" It was an elderly female who probably lives around this area as it assessed Stella's appearance first. Uno did not take anything wrong with that. "I'm so sorry about your parents dear... They were on the news." So, it has began the purge. It was to be expected this is the Government after all. It will stop at nothing. Taking a deep breath, he would probably be regretting this along the way. But, this has become too personal for his liking.

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"I'm going to fight." He stated ignoring the audience they had with them. His orange eyes simply focused on Stella as he reached out his hand to her. Everything was spiraling out of control. She must feel incredibly frustrated and confused at the same time. He felt that degree of emotion at one moment in his life. "Are you going to come?" There was no use in hiding. The Government had certainly made that point clear. So, he will face them even if he is the underdog and whether with her or not.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Stella Iaret Character Portrait: Darcia Character Portrait: Crux Character Portrait: Uno Summus

0.00 INK

#, as written by Ion



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“Collateral damage is to be minimized. But even this is acceptable if it becomes necessary for the success of the mission.”



The Business district represented the public face of the City, in many ways. Though of course there was inevitably come competition with the Pleasure District for the truth of the matter. Darcia had learned this of humanity, at least—seldom was a human being what he or she first appeared to be. Many of them were not honest, but even those that generally were had personas to maintain, faces to wear that helped them achieve their ends. By contrast, she could be considered strikingly simple. Though she possessed the capacity to lie, she had never used it, for it never made sense to her to do so. What reason could she have for hiding the truth?

But it was nevertheless so that when dealing with humans, she had learned not to take everything they did at face value. Though she was greeted courteously by this Ms. Allegro, therefore, she did not assume that the visit would end in a friendly manner. She returned the words with a slight bow, and her violet eyes flickered to just a moment to Crux. He seemed to be acting courteously as well, but his words, ambiguous as they might have been to anyone else, made perfect sense to her—this situation had become one with a great potential for hostility.

Darcia headed for the office door, driving the deadbolt through it with a decisive click. A rather mundane locking mechanism, but effective enough when the most interference one had to worry about was from humans. She was also sure to interface with the room’s electronics, shutting down all means of possibly communicating with the outside world. Ms. Allegro was trapped. What she would do with this situation, however, was truly up to her. Resistance was always a choice. It was just not, Darcia supposed, very often the logical one.




“I...”




The ride back to her flat was rather uneventful compared to the one of the previous night, and if that luck could hold, she might be able to set her affairs in order before everything turned upside down again. She slid calmly off the bike when it came to a stop, pulling off the loaned helmet carefully. She was about halfway to handing it back to Violet, and intent on ignoring his entirely-unneeded commentary about her appearance (though she supposed such things were rather unsurprising, from him), when they were approached by one of her neighbors, Mrs. Cartwright.

Perhaps it was fortunate she’d managed to hand the helmet back by that point, because if she hadn’t it would have slipped from her numb fingers. Her entire body felt cold, like something had sapped the life right out of her. And really, it had. There were exactly two human beings left on this entire forsaken planet that Stella Iaret had ever loved, and now they were dead.

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To everyone else, they were her parents, but Stella knew for a fact that they were her aunt and uncle. Her biological parents had disappeared long ago, leaving her father’s brother and his wife to raise their only child. Poor though they had been, they had given her everything she ever needed, and all the love she had been unable to find in herself or anywhere else. She’d moved out as soon as she’d discovered her mutations, for fear of exactly this—that someone would connect the dots, and hurt them.

“It hurts…” she murmured softly, though whether she was speaking to Mrs. Cartwright, Violet, herself, or nobody at all was something not even she knew. Her expression was frozen in one of open pain and no small degree of shock—somehow, this event had managed to drive home what she had accepted cerebrally but not really down in the core of herself. Someone, for some reason she could not begin to fathom, wanted her to die. Why would anyone want that? She wasn’t important—she was just some stupid girl that woke up one day with powers she’d never desired and hardly ever bothered to use. She didn’t even count as a blip on the Network’s radar, or she shouldn’t. All she wanted out of life was to be left alone with her pets and her books and her surrogate parents—that was it. She wasn’t a threat to the government!

…At least not until just now.

The shock was replaced by anger, a tide of it stronger than she would have thought herself truly capable. Stella’s jaw tightened; the anger, she felt, was a much more productive emotion than the shock, and for now, it would be her shield against the pain. Anger, she could do. Her eyes narrowed, and she glared up at Uno—though the rage in that gaze was not directed at him at all. Pursing her lips together, she took his hand, her grip firm and without hesitation.

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“Just tell me what I need to do.”

For the longest time, she’d known she was a monster, deep down.

Now everyone else was going to know it, too.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Stella Iaret Character Portrait: Darcia Character Portrait: Crux Character Portrait: Uno Summus

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Humans are fragile, they break.

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"Thank you for you cooperation." One would think that Crux by response is being sarcastic. However, he was not and meant what he had stated without any underlying intention. He fixed a cuff of his coat leaving the rest of his attire in an orderly state. His hair without a strand out of place. His eyes of blue did not carry any animosity. His lips set in its usual firm line. His face is completely calm as if the deed he had done was something akin to drinking coffee in the morning. "A reminder Ms. Allegro, do not deviate from your word." He then motioned for Darcia that isolation was no longer needed.

It had taken a while for him to have the desired response. His method would be categorized at best as heinous and unorthodox. However, it is indeed an effective tactic with a great percentage of accomplishment. To him, the end will always justify the means. And as far as he is concerned, his goal here is done. "Until next time." He made his exit but not before throwing a used tissue which he had cleaned his hands with in the trash bin. As for Luna, she was a disheveled mess upon the floor she laid. Her hair in complete chaos. Her clothes in a disarray. Her breathing in an erratic manner. Her face tainted by the deed done to her. Once she heard the closing of her doors, she covered her face and began to sob pathetically. She was disoriented and disillusioned. There was no other choice for her. "I'm so sorry... so sorry..."

On the other hand, the cause of her grief was now out of the building. It was like nothing of that sort ever happened. He was not even bothered by the fact that Darcia had witnessed such a sexually torturous scene. To the eyes of others, he will be labeled as monster. He would not deny that because he had never once acknowledged himself as nothing less than that. "Darcia construct a plan of infiltration to the Den." He had obtained the location of the elusive congregation of the crime kingpins, the rebels to the Government in a sense. It would be the most logical location where Uno and the Flower would go. Those two will act by emotion and it makes them predictable in their movement. They will seek retribution and he does count on that.


That's simple, we learn.

Anger filled her eyes as she looked at him. Uno knew it was not directed at him. It was towards those who have destroy a piece of her soul. In truth, he could clearly identify with that feeling completely. He held the hand which took his. From this point on, they will become accomplices. How long it will last? He does not know. But right now, it was the first step for both of them in a path which they have yet to know. "Okay." He responded with a firm nod before looking at the elderly female who looked at them with curiosity. "It seems that we're going to finally elope." He stated with his usual playful tone and a matching wink.

The elderly female blushed at the revelation and excused herself. She didn't want to interrupt after all. When he was certain they were alone, he looked at Stella again. "Get your things. We can't stay long." They can't be out in the open for a long interval of time. He could not afford for the Network to pinpoint them. When Stella is done, he took them back to his place. Since, they were going to be together in a personal vendetta. He might at least let her have a bit more free reign in the facilities his house could offer. It was then he provided her a room where she could stay. It was a vacant space which had planned to be an adjacent space to his workroom. But now, it's hers. "Get yourself settle and then meet me at the living area."

He then left her alone as he headed to the couch and allowed himself to sink in its softness. Leaning his head backwards, he gazed at the ceiling. There was little information about the ones after them. All he had for now are theories. But more important than that, he needed to know why they are after his former target turned accomplice so begrudgingly that they want her dead. If he was the government, he would have preferred alive. She is after all something more than human. It meant one thing. They're afraid, but why? He let his thoughts circle inside his head. when he sensed that, she had finally joined him. "We need to know why they want you dead."

Taking a deep breath, he scratched the back of his head. "My dead employer didn't give me too much information why he wants you." If he had known this was going to happen, he would siphon more from the guy. Well, what is done is done. So now, he has to deal with it."We're going to the Den."


The past should remain buried in the sands of time.

A scheduled visit to a newly constructed government facility to Dome 167. It was the current itinerary of the Prime Minister King. He would be inspecting it as this would be new sight of the Military Manufacturing Factory. He placed down the piece of paper which contained his schedule for the day. It was then he looked at the bleak scenario through the windows beside him. He was currently travelling through the only means of transport between Domes, the Train. It was highly expensive, but of course, it is a different matter when it comes to him. He leaned on his chair and remembered the current progress of the issue about the Flower. It was still unresolved which frustrates him.

Teleus then took out something from his coat's inner pocket. It was a photo. There seemed to be five people within the picture. Their faces blurred by the glare of the light. However, it did not matter as he know well who are the people in the photograph as memories of the past flashed through his head.

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That was then wracking pain flooded his body. He dropped the photo onto the floor. His breath ragged and sweat formed at corner of his face. "Not yet... I will end it first." As he muttered that, a sound of something fell. But more noticeable, the photo began to burn.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Stella Iaret Character Portrait: Darcia Character Portrait: Crux Character Portrait: Uno Summus

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“It does not understand. What is this feeling?”



Darcia kept her eyes firmly fixed out the window while Crux interrogated the target. However much she might desire it, however, she could not mute the keen ability of her ears to pick up sound. An innocent she might have been, in the way that those without knowledge of good or evil are innocent, but she was not stupid. She knew what happened behind her, and she knew also that it was done for the sake of the mission, for the sake of fulfilling the orders that were handed down to them by the Central Authority. She knew that this justified much worse than that was taking place behind her. What, after all, was one person’s happiness or dignity stacked up against the well-being of the whole? Their orders were given for that good, and so in fulfilling them, they must sometimes do things that ordinary people would believe were evil.

Darcia didn’t know anything about good or evil, really. She just knew that she was to fulfill her obligations, to the best of her considerable ability. This would have been much easier if she had been incapable of feeling, incapable of sympathy or pity.

But she was not.

For some reason she could not understand, her creator had imbued her with the capacity to feel all of the emotions that humans felt, and even though they were unfamiliar to her, and superfluous, incapable of overruling her obedience protocols, they were still present. And so even though this was necessary, she did not feel nothing about it. Instead, she felt… sad. Guilty. Slightly ill, if she had to put a word to the tightening in her chest. Almost unnoticed by the android, something moist and saline crept down the delicate lines of her cheek, and fell silently to the floor beneath her.

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Raising her hand to her face, Darcia touched the pads of her fingers to the trail it had left, then curled them down towards her palm and dropped the hand back to her side. With the sleeve of her coat, she dabbed away the rest, leaving no evidence of what had occurred. It wasn’t very long in total until the information was extracted and the two agents were ready to go, and she unlocked the room obediently, not even looking at the disheveled woman on the floor. It would change nothing, just like these intrusive emotions changed nothing. Her prerogative was still obedience, and only that. Whomever had her overrides could get her to do anything they wanted her to, and for her, there were no choices. That was all.

“Understood,” she replied, taking the data gained from the interrogation and bringing up the building schematics. Security was likely to be high, given the personnel involved in the maintenance of such a location—each crime boss would likely have his or her own set of bodyguards. This was nothing that could not be handled, but if they wanted to get in and take care of the targets without allowing a chance for escape, they would need to do so quietly. It was admittedly not her specialty, especially not when working with someone else, as her cloaking mechanism was only personal.

Still, there were a few ways it could be managed with a minimum of collateral damage, and it was one of these that she proposed as they made their way to the location. Well, actually, she proposed several equally-plausible solutions, with varying levels of stealth or disguise or athletics required, and simply nodded to the one that Crux selected. She was, after all, nothing if not obedient.




“Auntie, Uncle… wherever you are, don’t watch me do this. It’s for you, but you would never have wanted it.”




While she found the elopement excuse improbable at best, it seemed to convince Mrs. Cartwright, and it would definitely give her an excuse to be away for an indeterminate period of time, so she went with it, flashing a brilliant smile that she didn’t really feel and inducing a blush in herself. Just because she didn’t like lying didn’t mean she was bad at it—Stella had been acting for most of her life, after all. “It’s all very sudden… but I think after everything that’s happened…” the smile fell from her face and was replaced by melancholia that she did not have to fake. Her neighbor looked at once contrite and sympathetic. “Mrs. Cartwright, if I could impose on you to look after the boys while I’m gone?”

She was referring to her birds, actually, but her neighbor knew what she meant, and agreed before shuffling off into her own house. Stella sighed, nodding at Uno’s words and disappearing inside her house for no more than ten minutes. When she returned, she had a duffel bag and a backpack full of things, and she knew it would be the sum total of the rest of her life. Still… she was okay with that, now. Pursing her lips together, she looked up at the sky for a moment, the clouds overhead clearly visible through the dome. Closing her eyes for just a brief moment, she murmured something inaudible, then shook her head and hopped on the back of Uno’s hoverbike.

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“Let’s go.”

Back at the house, she arranged her things quickly and neatly in the spare room, smiling softly to herself when the ginger cat that had woken her this morning joined her for a spell. She probably shouldn’t keep him waiting, but she did spare a few moments to rub the cat behind its ears and scratch under its chin with her fingers before she left it atop her soft blanket and headed back out into the central living area.

She supposed it would be a good idea, to know why the government wanted to kill her, but she’d always assumed it was just because of what she could do. She was some kind of freak, and like a rabid dog, needed to be put down, by their reckoning. She couldn’t even exactly blame them for it—at least not until they’d involved innocent people. Now, she was definitely blaming them, and she wasn’t going to give up her life without everything she had being put into the fight. Freak or not, monster or not, she was determined to live as long as she could. “The Den?” she echoed, tilting her head to the side in speculation. “Never heard of it.” She assumed it was some kind of criminal thing, and while once that may have given her pause, it was no more risky than doing nothing, and she did like to feel productive, so… it would do for now.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Stella Iaret Character Portrait: Darcia Character Portrait: Crux Character Portrait: Uno Summus

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I'll start the tour then.

"It's the black market." Uno noted. It's normal for someone like her to be unaware of it. She was considered a normal citizen before this mess. After all, that place thrives, in the darkness, the forbidden, the hidden, the secrets. "There must be some people there who would know what's up, especially those government war-freaks." He took out his mini-HUD panel and began to scroll through some of his messages. "The current information I have and I'm not sure entirely reliable are about those two people who were after you and probably me too." He added while he was busy tinkering with old associates within a secured link.

"The shooter's MO suggests a connection with the mythical Ghost." He took a moment to assess if Stella was following him. She would need to be brought up to speed about the specifics of their current situation. "There had been a lot of unaccredited assassinations, disappearances but the common thread, the Government." He returned his attention back to the screen once more. "They need someone to clean that's their guy. He is the best as far as I've read and heard. He is some kind of a boogeyman for us so-called black dealers." He then tilted his head side to side as some of his bones made a crackling sound.

"Then, there is that android chick." Clearly, Uno founds himself unmatched for that one. "Information about her is sealed shut. Although, I did get a name often linking to some android advancement. Solomon Engels. But apparently, that guy is officially MIA." He released a small sigh as he was rather disappointed with the current data he has with him to make any clear announcements or conclusions. There were more questions than answers really. "All I could say we don't know jack-shit. But, they are relentless and determined. Because, those silver-spooned bastards sent their best."

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A beep was heard from his HUD panel. There is a notification probably, the one he is waiting for. He looked it up. Since, he is somewhat a prominent dealer in the underground world. He is privy to certain privileges as knowing the Den's location. "Anyways, our best step is to go to the Den. But since it's illegal, they have to keep it all hush-hush. They often relocate." He stopped scrolling down as his eyes narrowed. Then, he released a deep sigh. "Have you ever been outside this Dome?" He asked as he raised his eyes to look at Stella. It seemed they would have to take the Train. This will be a very long and expensive ride as much as he can tell. "Our destination, Dome 167."


And we shall go even if it's to the depths...

The infiltration tactic had already been decided. Now, he would need for transportation to be arranged. After all, the location of the Den is at the Dome 167. Ever since the decline of Earth's natural habitat, humans had constructed artificial living quarters where life could be viable. As such, various domes were established as a means for a safe haven. They are currently in the Vie. The primary Dome where the Government's seat of power resides. It would also be by far the most advanced and harnessed crafted habitat among others. But as everything had an underlying facet, it also covers the darkest of secrets. In any case, it was not a concern of his.

"Darcia contact HQ. We need to get on a train." Crux stated as he continued in his pace. His calm visage never betrayed the actions he had committed to accomplish his goals. Any human would find something sad and pathetic in the dastardly deeds he had gone through with in the many years of his service. Fortunately if one would say it as so, he is incapable of developing such seethed emotions. Then, a ball rolled in front of his sight. An odd thing. Such toys had been replaced with digitize imaging and games. He did not pick it and instead located its source which was a male child roughly around 7 to 8 years. The boy was playing on the other side of the street.

"My ball!" Children truly have no sense of fear unless they experience it at firsthand. They are sinfully innocent in his personal opinion. The boy rushed to cross the streets in which an incoming traffic is underway, specifically a hovercraft much he like his own. All of it done because of a ball. A collision was imminent. A screeching halt. A crash ensued. A scream was heard. It was female in origin, the mother.

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Then, there was a scent of blood. He did not mind it as he looked at the frightened boy in his arms. It would appear that there no physical injuries to be seen. Still, it would be better for the child to get medical attention. He released the boy in which the mother immediately came forward. "Thank you... Thank you so much, sir!" The woman frantically thanked him as she held her child as if it was the most precious thing. "Do take him to the hospital and be careful next time." That was all he said as he looked back to the streets. The hovercraft swerved in an effort to avoid the boy but hit a nearby pole. Other following vehicles had caused a minor pile-up. As for him, the blood came from him. His left hand was bruised and bloodied. It was because he had used it as a source of his momentum when he rushed to get the child out of the way. Then again, he had used it as a means of a brake.

Regardless, he stood there completely undisturbed even if the blood from his hand continued to fall. Although, he did something that was not ordered to him. He just moved and that is a notion he had decided to think about later. His eyes then looked for Darcia and when he finally found it, he spoke. "Darcia informed the local crisis unit and when is our train?"

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