FANDOM


Arc 1 of End War Online: Shattered Boundaries.



Chapter 1

November 15th, 2045

I push open the doors to the tavern, and immediately all eyes fall on me. I pay them no mind as I make my way to the bar. I wasn’t a regular around here. I was out of place among these types… I was sharper, younger, and lean while a lot of the patrons of the bar were big, burly, and mean. I knew I aroused suspicion just by my presence alone. Still, I had a job to do. I take a stool at the bar and nod for the bartender. He was expecting me. I tap on the table in a secret signal, and he knows. He pours a drink for me and hands the cup to me, carefully slipping a card into my hand along with the cup. I take a sip of the drink and take a peek at the card.

Violet Blitz

I finish it up and pay for my drink before carefully slipping into the back of the bar, making sure nobody noticed. There was a door, there. Taps on the door in the secret signal resulted in a shutter on the door being opened.

“Violet Blitz.” I say.

The man behind the door doesn’t say a thing as the shutter closes and the door slides open. I step inside silently as the door is shut behind me.

“Glad you could make it.” My contractor said from a seat across the room, seated in between his two personal bodyguards. “I trust you didn’t run into too much trouble?”

“Had a few close calls with the guy who’s after you.” I say. “But I slipped by. They have no idea where I am now.”

“Very good.” The man says. “I trust you have what I’m looking for?”

I take a small case out of my jacket pocket and open it up. Inside was a shining golden ring, inscribed with many strange markings.

“Ahah…” My contractor said, reaching his hand out to take it.

I abruptly shut the case, almost crushing his fingers.

“First thing’s first.” I say, holding out my own hand.

“Hm… of course.” The man said. “Your payment.”

He hands me a very generous sum of money in return for my services, and I place the cash in my pouch. Before I give him the ring, however…

Out of nowhere, the entire wall exploded and was blown through. I was the only one in the room to stay calm as everyone else ducked to cover.

My other contractor had arrived, just in time, joined by a few other mercenaries as backup.

“Hah…” The man said. “Nice work, Haseo. Now we can take care of this bastard once and for all.”

“Ngh! Yamato!” My first contractor shouted. “You led him right to us! I thought you said you weren’t followed!”

“You did a good job, Yamato.” The second man said. “You held up your end of the bargain, and for that…”

He tosses me a large money pouch and I stash it with the first.

“What the hell are you talking about, you filth?!” The first man said. “Yamato’s working for me!”

“That was just a trick, you fool.” He said. “And he’ll prove it. Yamato, kill him and I’ll give you double what you just got!”

“No! Kill him, Yamato!”

“Shoot him!”

“Shoot him!”

I wear a malicious smile as I draw my handguns. Freedom and Justice, twin M1911 customs. I target the first contractor’s two bodyguards and gun them down, before aiming at the other contractor’s own group and firing, taking out his guards as well.

“What?!” Both men say in unison.

I fire a bullet into both their knees at once, grounding them both, before I nonchalantly walk over and drag the second contractor into the building and throwing him towards the first. I point both my guns at them.

“Yamato!” The first contractor snarled. “What is the meaning of this?!”

“Vincent and Braun…” I say “You two have some pretty high bounties on your heads, you know that? The Rangers are gonna love having you two as company.”

“What?!” The second contractor, Braun, said. “You were with the Rangers?!”

And sure enough, the leader of the Gale Rangers herself stepped into the building, with a strike team following to surround the two men, rifles drawn and sights lined.

“You two were tough to find.” Sarah Graham said, tossing me the biggest sum of cash for the bounty on both their heads. “Good work, Haseo.”

“You… you set us up!” Vincent shouted. “You bastard!”

“Nothing personal, fellas!” I say, waving them off as they’re carried into an APC. “Just business.”

“Well, I must say, I didn’t think you could pull something like this off.” Sarah told me. “You definitely live up to Maverick’s reputation.”

“Well, money’s the best kind of motivator.” I say.

“I’d say. Got a cash reward from both then got the bounties.”

“And let’s not forget this.” I hold up the little box containing the ring. “This ring unlocks the armory in Fort Maria down in Brisdon.”

“You mean that bunker that people have been trying to get into for months?”

“That’s the one.” I smile.

“Well, then, look at you.” Sarah says. “Well, we got what we needed here. Vincent and Braun are gonna pay big time for the crimes they’ve committed. Have fun with your little gun raid, Haseo.”

And with that, she walked back to the APC she rode in on and hopped in, as they drove off with their bounty.

Of course I took off before the bar owner could yell at me.

My mission was complete, and it was time for me to head back to Maverick HQ to report back to The Boss.

---

“Nice work, Yamato!” Dimitri Jager said, laughing in between a sip of his drink. “Chert, I do not even know what we’re going to do with all these weapons!”

“I gotta admit, Yamato, you’ve definitely outdone yourself this time.” Lucy Kaldwin commented.

“I’ll say.” Octavia Victoria chimed in. “Taking down two of the biggest crime lords this side of the continent, conning cash off both, taking the bounty for them, AND raiding the Fort Maria bunker! That’s a productive day, I think.”

“Attention!” The leader of our group shouted when he entered the room.

That’s exactly what we did. We stood up single file shoulder to shoulder in accordance with our rank. This is something we did because Chris Walker was a US Marine Captain. He was on temporary leave from an injury he got in battle.

He made roll call, down the list.

“Vixen Cunningham!”

Vixen Cunningham was second in command of Maverick. She was a fiercely loyal to Walker and is assigned as his partner for a lot of missions. Of course, she was loyal to everyone on the team but him especially. She was an expert when it came to technology, and her gear was centered around high-tech equipment, like laser weaponry. Most of the gear she used she designed and built herself.

“Dimitri Jager!”

Dimitri Jager was the stereotypical Russian of our group and ranked third on the team. He was the sniper, able to hit a target dead between the eyes from more than a few miles away… without a scope. His eyes were sharper than all of ours combined, even when he was drunk on his favorite vodka. Some would argue he’s an even better shot when he’s drunk…

“Octavia Victoria!”

Octavia Victoria, an all around well balanced operative. She’s trained extensively with multiple weapons and specialized with everything from submachine guns to sniper rifles. She’s actually a childhood friend of mine, the daughter of one of my father’s best friends. No idea how they met, but we met when my father visited France to see her mother. I was… I think 3 at the time.

“Yamato Haseo!”

Yamato Haseo. That’s me. I was a sort of odd one out of the group, in the fact that a lot of the time I blatantly undermine orders and go off to do things my own way, which led to me never being assigned with a team and taking on missions on my own. And wouldn’t you know it actually works way better that way. Just look at what I accomplished today.

“Lucy Kaldwin!”

Lucy Kaldwin, trained extensively in all forms of combat by her father, who was a member of the British SAS. She had the instincts of a natural born killer, but her mostly gentle personality was on the contrary.

“Michael Blenheim!”

Blenheim was an all around jack-of-all-trades type. He has an ability to do well in every area, and can adapt to nearly any situation, giving him a huge mission capability. He was just behind me in the rebellious side.

“Abigail Loveturn!”

Abigail Loveturn was the field medic. She specialized in medical practices and was damn good at it, too, though she could be just as quickly put a bullet through your skull as she would save your life depending on which side of her you were on. Don’t piss her off, is what I’m saying.

“I have some good news!” Walker said once roll call was finished. “Due to recent successful contracts for the Rangers, we’ve been able to secure a new base of operations.”

“A new base?” Blenheim asks. “What’s wrong with this one?”

“Oh, fine, stay here, then.” Walker says. “I just thought new tech, increased defenses, more operating capability… a lounge couch… thought you’d like all of that.”

“We have a new base now?” Lucy asked.

“That’s right.” Walker confirmed.

“How much did it cost us?” I ask, only focused on the money, as usual, being the greedy bastard I am.

“Not a single coin.” Walker smiled. “The Rangers gave it to us, no charge. It’s one of their unused bases in Halfen, seeing as they don’t use it much they decided to give it over to us as a reward for the contracts we’ve completed for them.”

“Hah!” Jager laughed. “I would’ve settled for their best vodka, personally!”

“We’re packing up and moving all our assets to Halfen.” Walker said. “We’re gonna have a lot more toys to play with once we get there.”

---

“WOAH!” Abigail shouted upon stepping through the door into the main room of our new HQ from the main lobby.

I let out a low whistle, looking around.

“Damn…” I say.

Damn indeed. This place was huge compared to our old place. In the center of the main room was a briefing table, a circular holographic display and a wall mounted projection screen that could lay out missions in much more detail than we could before. I walk up to the holographic display, which showed a 3d model of our entire world, certain locations highlighted. We’d have to reprogram the place to suit our needs from the Rangers, of course, but with Vixen it would take about a day to get the entire place up and running to our standards, maybe less.

“Oh, my God!” Dimitri said, running over to a large machine on the other side of the room. “IT’S A DISTILLERY! Oh, wait, it’s just a teleporter…”

“We got a teleporter here?!” Vixen squealed, immediately rushing over to it, inspecting it top to bottom. “AH! This place has the highest tech available! It’s so amazing!”

Her eyes were practically sparkling as she quickly covered the entire room, identifying every tiny piece of technology there. This was just the ground floor, too. There were a few stories to this place as well as an underground armory we could stash all our guns and gear. The top floors had enough rooms for all of us, instead of having to share a few rooms in our last place.

“This place is pretty cool.” Blenheim commented, sitting down on the circular couch that lined the holographic display.

“I’m gonna go up and check the rooms.” I say, heading over to the stairs, climbing up a few flights to the top floor, which had the common rooms. Eight of them, perfect for the eight of us. I go to a random room that I claim as mine with me having entered it first, and look around. It was a pretty spacious room with a nice skyline view out the window.

“Neat.” I say. I’d have to redecorate a bit, of course, but I can just go out and buy whatever I needed with the money I got from that job, which I think is slightly more money than there is in the world.

I head back downstairs to where everyone else was.

“First door to the right upstairs is mine.” I state, to nobody’s objection. “Gotta log out, too.” I add. “It’s about dinner time and mom doesn’t want me to miss it again…”

“Yeah, alright.” Walker said. “We’ll get the place set up in the meantime. See you tomorrow.”

I open up the menus and hit logout, and my consciousness is brought back to reality.

---

I open my eyes to find myself staring up at the ceiling. I sigh and turn off the RiftGear headset on my head and take it off, setting it on my nightstand as I hop out of bed.

“Oh, good timing.” I hear my older sister Claire say as she stepped into the room. She was 14 years senior to me as well as being adopted by my parents a long time ago, before I was born. “Dinner’s just about ready.”

“Yeah, alright.” I say, sitting up in my bed.

Although Claire lived on her own, she often came here for dinner, just to be with the family, even though she had her own. She’s been with me for all my life, so I really didn’t mind. Mom and dad liked having her over too.

I hop out of bed and head down the hall and into the kitchen, where mom was cooking, while dad was probably in the dojo training by himself as he always was.

“Yamato?” Mom said. “Can you go fetch your father? Dinner’s almost done.”

“Yeah, sure.” I say, jogging down the halls and into the dojo where I find my father training as usual with his trademark katana. “Oi, dad.”

“Hm?” He looks over, sheathing the katana. “Dinner’s almost done?”

“Yeah, mom wants you to come in.” I say.

“Alright, then.” Dad goes over and places the katana on its normal stand on one side of the room as I walk out and back into the kitchen, where mom was setting bowls of ramen on the table. I don’t know how she did it but she always cooked the best ramen. Made me wonder where she got it from.

I sat down at the table while Claire did the same. Soon after dad joined us, leaning back in his chair and kicking his feet up onto the table casually. Mom came in and tapped at his knee with a spoon, causing his leg to jerk upwards and send him falling backwards right onto the floor.

“Feet off the table.” Mom says.

“Yeah, yeah…” Dad groans as he rolls back onto his feet, setting the chair back up and sitting down properly this time.

As dinner was served, dad quickly got to digging in before the rest of us while mom giggled lightly at his voraciousness.

“Geez, dad, you can breathe, you know.” I say.

“Huh?” He says, slurping up the ramen.

“Nevermind…” I say, taking my first bite.

“So, Yamato.” Mom said, sitting down with us. “How’s that game of yours going?”

“Yeah.” Claire added. “Ever since you got it you’ve barely ever left your room.”

“Oh, it’s awesome!” I say. “The world in it is incredible!”

“So we’ve heard.” Claire noted. “About a hundred times by now.”

“Aren’t you part of some mercenary group or something?” Dad asks.

“Maverick, yeah.” I respond. “There’s eight of us.”

“You just go around doing mercenary work, then?” Claire asks.

“Pretty much.” I say. “Pays well.”

“Sounds fun.” Dad says, already finishing up his first bowl of ramen.

It was fun. In fact, the world of End War Online was unlike anything before it. It surpassed its predecessors in every way, and I knew it would only get better and better.

Chapter 2

November 22nd, 2045

It took around a week to get our new base completely fitted to our specifications. Now the place looked a lot like our old place, only cleaner and way bigger. We even got our own vehicles to boot. Got three R-10 Runners, two RD-898 Razorback APCs, and two UH-441-A Condor VTOLs as well, which I thought was fucking awesome. The Runners and the APCs were enough, but friggin VTOLs too. Now we could get anywhere in the world fast and easily, which will bring our mission range sky high, pun only semi-intentional. Couldn’t get a tank, unfortunately.

Agh, just imagine. A M-94. OH! Maybe a H/A-555. God, that’d be sweet. Can’t imagine why we’d need one, but it’d be nice to have.

I fly downstairs and to the main meeting room, where the gang was all hanging out on the couch. I jump the back of the couch and land sitting on the cushions.

“Glad you could make it.” Walker said from his personal chair.

“Thought about not coming at first but eh, might as well.” I say.

“Good thing you did then.” Walker stated. “I got something for you and Michael.”

“You’re pairing me up with him again?” Blenheim complained. “I could probably get it done by myself and with less hassle.”

“Like that one time in New Rinnen?” I retort.

“You said you forgot about that!” He shouted.

“I lied. You really think I’d forget about something like that?”

“Alright, settle down, you two.” Walker silenced us. “This is a hostage rescue.”

“Why sign me up for that, boss?” I ask. “I’m not too good with handling hostages.”

“Michael is.” Walker explained. “But he’ll need your help getting to her.”

“Must be held by some really tough guys.” Blenheim noted.

“The hired goons of the MTA aren’t light on numbers or firepower.” Walker said.

“The MTA?” I ask. “What the hell are they doing with a hostage?”

“Details weren’t disclosed to us.” Walker said. “Our only job is to get in, get the girl, then get out, blowing through anyone who gets in your way.”

“The MTA has some of the highest tech, Walker.” Blenheim said. “I mean, they’re one of the biggest military tech companies out there.”

“Maybe I can get my hands on a good laser rifle.” I wonder, cherishing the thought. “They probably have tech we don’t even know about!”

“Which will make them that much more unpredictable until we have a grasp at the kind of hardware they’re packing.” Walker said. “But still, job’s a job. And we’re getting paid quite a bit for it.”

“How much?” I ask.

“100 grand.”

“Girl must be important.”

“Important to someone, that’s for sure.” Walker said. “You should probably get going before something happens to her. We can get you airlifted to the area but you’ll have to get to the compound on foot. We don’t want to spook them.”

“Alright.” I say.

“Shouldn’t be a problem.” Blenheim states.

“Come on, boys.” Lucy says. “I’m driving.”

We both get up and follow her to the elevator that would take us up to the roof where the aircraft were.

“You ever flown a VTOL before?” I ask.

“Of course I have!” She says. “I wouldn’t be flying it otherwise.”

“Great.” Blenheim says. “Just make sure you set us on the ground instead of crashing us into it.”

“Keep that up and I’ll just kick you out.”

“Hah-hah.”

---

Blenheim and I took the first ride in the VTOL. It was a short enough trip. Took about an hour’s flight. Soon enough, though, we arrived at the drop zone. The place the MTA had here was isolated in a mountain region. Seemed like a strange place for a weapons manufacturer, but taking hostages was a strange thing for a weapons manufacturer to do, so I guess I couldn’t say anything. It was night time by the time we got there.

“Alright, boys!” Lucy shouted from the front as I slid open the side door. “This is your stop!”

“You’ll be picking us up too, right?” Blenheim asked.

“I’ll think about it!” Lucy responded. “Get going!”

I jump out and grab onto the ring in front of me, as my weight pulls down an extending rope that lowers me down quickly but safely as long as I didn’t let go too early, letting me land on both my feet without injury. Blenheim follower shortly after.

“Alright, I’m going to set her down around the mountains.” Lucy said through our earpieces. “Radio me when you’re ready for extraction.”

“You got it, sweetheart.” I say, waving Lucy off as she took off and flew away for the cover of the mountains. “Alright. So what’s the plan? We blow everything up?”

“I think stealth is the better approach here.” He said.

“Boring.” I note. “Besides, I don’t have any silent weapons other than my sword.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll be sneaking past most of them.” Blenheim says, fastening a silencer onto the barrel of his assault rifle. “But I’ll take care of any that give us trouble.”

“Oh, you don’t even need me, then.” I say. “Might as well pack it in, get me a pizza or something.”

“I doubt it’ll be that easy.”

“Never is.”

“Come on.”

“Still getting that pizza…”

Blenheim leads the way as I follow. We stick to the main path towards the compound at first but then hit a side ditch that led along the main road for cover once we got close. We managed to crawl our way through the trenches and stopped at a storm drain.

“Hey, I just realized.” I say. “These guys probably have some killer security. IR, movement, sound. Gonna be impossible to get in.”

“You’re just realizing this now?”

“I don’t think things through!” I exclaim quietly. “You know that!”

“Doesn’t matter, I already thought of it. We can cut the power from the outside, disable all their security.”

“You really think one of the leaders of high-tech military hardware will have a fatal flaw like that in one of their compounds?”

“This is an older compound.” Blenheim said. “Plus it’s isolated. They’d never suspect anyone to even come here to exploit that weakness. They probably think that it doesn’t even exist to anyone else.”

“They’re going to be looking around for us once we cut the power.” I say.

“I know.” Blenheim responds. “Come on, we can circle around and get to the fence.”

We do just that, circling around in the trenches until we get close enough to the fence to jump out and run up to it. Climbing it wasn’t an option. This fence was made of bladewire. You even touch it you’ll cut your fingers off. Stuff was almost indestructible too.

Almost.

“I got this.” I say, bringing out my sword and cutting a neat square through the fence and kicking it in.

“Alright.” Blenheim says as he crouched past me, rifle trained ahead as I followed him through the shadows towards the main power box outside. The place wasn’t that heavily guarded on the outside save for the main gate, so we didn’t have much trouble getting there, even if it was out in the open.

“Alright…” Blenheim says once we get to the box. “Let me rewire this.”

“Rewi- just shoot it!” I say.

“That wouldn’t work.” He says. “They have backup generators, I need to bypass the emergency system to-”

I bring out my blade and slice the entire box clean in two, cutting the power and not starting up the backup power.

“There. Bypassed.” I say.

“You got lucky.” Blenheim says as we look out to the guards at the main gate, who noticed the power going out and began looking around.

“We don’t have a lot of time.” I say.

“I know.” Blenheim replies. “Let’s get in and find this girl and get out as quick as possible.”

“We can take a few laser rifles, right?” I ask.

“Is now really the time?”

“It is literally the best time.”

“Fine. If you get the chance you can take a laser rifle. Whatever.”

“Awesome.”

We sneak around the building to a small window that was just big enough for us to get through. We slip inside undetected and look around, finding ourselves in a hallway.

“So now to find out where the girl is…” Blenheim says.

“Hey, let’s ask.” I say as a guard rounds the corner. I grab him by the collar of his shirt and slam him into the wall, covering his mouth and bringing out my blade, holding it to his neck. “Make a single sound out of line and I’ll gut you like a trout. Got it?”

The guy nods with a terrified look on his face.

“Where’s the girl?” I ask, raising my hand from his mouth.

“She… she’s in the back of the compound…” The guy says. “There’s a smaller building out there…”

“You wouldn’t be lying to me would you?” I ask, pushing the blade up to him a bit.

“No, no, no, no!” The guard pleads. “Please…”

“Alrighty, then.” I say, slamming his head into the wall to knock him out, before picking him up and dumping his unconscious ass out the window.

“Well there you go.” Blenheim says. “We need to get to the back of the compound.”

“That we do.” I say.

We carefully sneak around the halls heading towards what we thought was the back, being careful to navigate around the occasional guard or guard with a flashlight looking around for us. Eventually we do make it to the back door and I carefully and quietly open the door to get a look outside. There were only three guards in the back courtyard, and I could see the building where they were keeping our quarry.

“That building right there.” I say quietly. “Three guards.”

“Alright… let’s sneak around.” Blenheim whispered.

“Just shoot them!”

“We can’t hide the bodies anywhere.”

“Dude, any guys that could find them have to go through an entire fucking military compound just to get here, we got like half an hour.”

“Oh, fine then.”

Blenheim takes aim at the first guy when the others weren’t looking and puts a silent shot straight through his head. He moves up within range of the next and pops him, before silencing the last before he could be alerted.

“Clear.” He says after he finished.

“Would’ve preferred sticking some C4 onto their backs and blowing them up, but that works too I guess.” I say, walking past him towards the next building while Blenheim followed.

“Alright.” I say. “How many do you think are inside?”

Blenheim carefully opens the door and peeks inside.

“Nobody.” He calls, opening the door completely and entering the building while I followed.

The hallway we were in went all the way down to the back through the center of the building. There were two intersecting hallways throughout, and there were multiple rooms in these hallways.

“Which room?” Blenheim asked as we walked down the hall.

“Well let’s just search all of them.” I suggest.

We’re stopped when we hear gun clicks behind us. We both turn around and see pretty much the whole base right behind us, rifles aimed at us. We stare back at them for a few seconds before looking at each other.

“Thirty minutes?” Blenheim said.

“Ehh…” I shrug. “Give or take?”

We both bolt down the hallway to the far side as the lasers fly towards us.

“CRAP, CRAP, CRAP, CRAP!” I shout all the way, coming to a sliding stop and ending up falling onto my face, but quickly rolling into cover and bringing my guns out.

There must’ve been like 20 of them, all with high tech weaponry and equipment shooting down the hallway at us. Blenheim and I were blind firing around the corner at the oncoming assault, unable to actually move out of cover to take proper aim.

“WELL! This escalated quickly!” I say cheerily as I keep shooting both my guns around the corner.

“So much for subterfuge!” Blenheim said, firing his rifle downrange. We were managing to take down a few at a time, but we weren’t doing much to dampen their numbers. I look over and barely catch an enemy flanking us down the other hallway and I take the shot first, nailing him straight in the head as another follows behind him.

“They’re flanking us!” I shout, running towards the nearest door and kicking it open, taking cover in the room while Blenheim quickly followed.

“Shit, Yamato!” Blenheim says, pulling my attention away from the firefight.

I look down and see the girl we were after. She was on the ground, motionless.

“Agh, shit…” I say, running over to her and putting two fingers on her neck, checking for vitals. Fortunately, there was a pulse.

“Alright… she’s alive, but hurt.” I say as I turn my attention to the guards that were beginning to storm the room. We took cover behind a few metal tables in the room that diffused the lasers, but probably wouldn’t do much against actual bullets. Good thing they didn’t have any. We dragged the girl into cover as we fired towards the door as the enemy poured in.

“Any plans?” I ask Blenheim.

“I’m working on it!” He says.

“Oh, I can tell!”

“Bite me!”

“Where?” I continue to shoot over the cover, ducking back under before I get my head shot off.

“Lucy!” Blenheim calls in his radio. “We need you here, now!”

“What’s that gunfire I’m hearing?” She asks. “What did you do?”

“We fucked it all up is what we did!” I shout. “Get the hell over here!”

“On my way. Ten minutes.”

“Ten min- agh, fucking hell…” I say, holstering my guns and bringing out my blade, rushing the wall and cutting straight through it into the next room over. “Blenheim, come on!”

He quickly picked up the girl and carried her on his shoulder, rushing through the hole in the wall I made as I bring out my custom revolver, a powerhouse of a handgun that’d punch straight through their armor. I open up the door into the next hallway and run away from the guards who just rounded the corner as we got to the end of the hall. We leave the building and I fire a few shots for good measure, nailing four with three shots down the hall as I close the door.

“Lucy! Where the hell are you?!” I yell into my mic.

Just then, Lucy’s VTOL appears in the sky, flying in and hovering over the courtyard as the enemy force began to file out of the building, only to be met by twin gatling gun fire that tore through their high-tech armor easily. Once the enemy numbers thinned out a bit, Lucy set the aircraft down as I jumped on board. Blenheim followed, handing the girl to me and jumping in. I set the girl down onto one of the seats and move to the side of the open door, grabbing the minigun there and moving it along its floor rails to the door. I take aim and fire downwards at the enemy forces still firing at us, providing enough cover for Lucy to take off and get out of range shortly after. I pull the minigun back into place and shut the side door, falling onto my back, breathing heavy.

“Fuck…” I pant. “Why the hell did they want this girl so badly?”

“No idea…” Blenheim said. “But we got the job done, that’s what counts.”

“So.” Lucy started. “Have fun?”

“Oh, yeah. Being shot at and barely avoiding death is a fucking blast.” Blenheim says sarcastically.

“Yeah, you should try it sometime.” I add.

“Thanks, but I think I’ll pass on that one for now.” She responds. “Let’s get you two back home.”

We stay silent for a few more seconds before a though occurs to me.

“You don’t think MTA is going to be pissed at us, do you?”

“Probably.” Blenheim answered. “But it’s not like they can do anything about it. If they try to do anything it’ll be revealed to the public. It won’t be just us it’ll be us and the Rangers if they try.”

“Hah… sucks to be them.” I laugh. “But I’m still wondering what’s so important about this girl…”

“Why?” Lucy asks. “You never think about anything outside the mission.”

“Yeah… you’re right.” I say. “What am I thinking?”

The rest of the ride was smooth sailing all the way back to base… but for some reason I was still wondering what was so damn important about this one girl that they’d have a small army protecting her like that, not to mention our client was willing to pay a full 100 grand for her… seemed a bit odd to me. Usually I don’t think about things like that, but my instincts were telling me something was off… I guess I’d have to ask her once she woke up.

Chapter 3

We touch down on the roof of our base and I immediately jump out, stretching myself out and yawning. I was met by Abigail. “So, how’d it go?” She asked.

“Couldn’t get a laser rifle…” I say, my head drooped low in feigned depression. “Oh, and we got the girl too, but I REALLY wanted a laser rifle!”

“Is she hurt?” She asked.

“Looks like it.” Blenheim said, carrying her out. “But she’s stable at least.”

“Alright, that’s good.” She said. “I’ll get her patched up.”

“Alrighty, then.” I say, stretching myself out. “Well, I got school tomorrow, so I should log out. It’s late.”

“Right.” Blenheim said. “See you tomorrow, then.”

I nod and log out.

---

I come back to myself and open my eyes, staring up at the ceiling. I sit up and look around my dark room. I look to the clock on my nightstand.

1:32 am

I sigh softly and take off my RiftGear, putting it on the nightstand and shuffling out of bed to use the bathroom before jumping back into bed, taking off my shirt and throwing it across the room before curling up under the covers to get to sleep.

The strangest dream came to me.

---

When I open my eyes, I find myself in a dark room… well, maybe it wasn’t a room. I couldn’t see any walls, or a ceiling… it was just… black. I couldn’t see a thing except for a circle of the black floor underneath me, but that didn’t extend very far. I cautiously take a few steps forward, watching my feet as the circle followed me. I took my steps slowly, looking around, still trying to get my bearings.

“What is this place…?” I wonder aloud, making sure to walk straight ahead, constantly looking around to make sure I didn’t miss anything visible.

I continue walking for about a minute or two, before an echoing voice reached me through the darkness.

“Do you seek the truth?” It asked.

My head throbs a bit and I gasp lightly at the sudden pain, but it quickly fades. When I look ahead, I see a white light off in the distance. I look around again, and confirm that the light was indeed the only thing that could be seen. I walk forward, continuing towards the enchanting light. As I got nearer, I began to hear more voices. I couldn’t make out what they were saying… there were too many to distinguish one from the other. They were soft at first, but as I progressed, they slowly built up in volume. I could make out my name being called by voices I didn’t recognize.

“What will you find?” The same voice asked.

Another sharp pain lurched through my head, more intense than the last. It made me clutch my head and close my eyes tightly, clenching my teeth and gasping sharply. I shake it off and continue towards the light as the voices around me became louder and louder. My head hurt more and more as I kept going. I was barely fighting off falling to the ground in agony when I was just a few steps away from it. I closed in, reaching out to the light desperately, hoping that the voices would stop if I did.

I couldn’t get to it… the light disappeared, but the voices stopped anyway. I fall to the ground, breathing heavy, as the darkness surrounds me again.

“Not yet…” The voice says again as I pass into unconsciousness.

---

“Yamato!” I hear my mother calling. “Hurry up! You’ll be late for school!”

I open my eyes slowly. My vision was blurry, but it soon sharpens as I blink away the sleepiness. I sit up in my bed, finding that it was now morning. I put a hand up to my head, looking back on the dream in vivid detail.

“What the hell was that?” I ask myself.

I shake it off and hop out of bed, looking to the clock. I had about 45 minutes until school started. Enough to get a quick shower and breakfast before heading out. I did just that, hopping out of bed and taking a shower, before rushing back to my room and getting dressed in my school uniform, running back into the dining room for a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast, before picking up my book bag and heading out.

“See ya, mom!” I call as I leave the house.

My school was within walking distance of my house. There was a light fog out today, which gave the air a somber mood to it… it made my mind wander back to the dream when I walked. I tried to decipher the meaning behind it… I remembered it so clearly… it wasn’t a normal dream.

It didn’t take long for me to arrive at the main gates of my school while so lost in thought, and when I do arrive I come out of my trance, deciding to think on it later during lunch.

---

I’m lying down on the roof of the school, staring up at the bright blue sky. It was lunchtime now, so I had my mind fixed back to the dream. Normally I don’t take anything seriously, but this dream of mind was just bothering me to no end. No matter what I did I couldn’t find out what it meant… “Do you seek the truth?”… What the hell did that mean? I take a deep sigh and close my eyes.

I spent all of lunch just lying down on my back thinking about that damn dream. Before I knew it, it was time to get back to classes.

“Shit…” I mutter, getting back up onto my feet when the bell rang, walking back to the rooftop door and going back inside.

---

I slide down the stairs of home base, finding Abigail in the main room.

“Is the girl awake yet?” I ask.

“Yeah.” She said. “She’s upstairs.”

“Alright.” I leave Abigail and head upstairs to the infirmary there.

I walk through the door to find myself alone with the girl. She was sitting on the bed reading something, which she quickly put away when I entered.

“What was that?” I ask.

“Nothing.” She replied quickly.

“Keeping secrets?”

“It’s none of your business. I shouldn’t even be here.”

“Well seeing as you are, you might as well tell me why you were there.”

She stares out the window, not answering me.

“Does it have something to do with that paper you were looking at?” I ask.

“Who even gave you the contract to come find me?” The girl asks.

“Who knows?” I say. “I figured he’d be here to pick you up or something, but no, he just gave us the money and went off.”

“Whoever he was, he wasn’t any friend of mine.” She says.

We stay in silence for a few seconds.

“You got a name?” I ask.

She gives me a look which I return with my usual look of indifference before she answers.

“Rena.” She says.

“Alright, Rena.” I say. “I’d really like to know why those guys were keeping you there.”

“I told you it’s none of your business.” She reaffirmed.

“Fine.” I say. “What are you, then? Mercenary?”

“Freelancer.”

“I see.” I lean up against the wall and cross my arms. “Usually freelancers don’t attract as much attention as you did. Whatever secret you’re keeping it must be big.”

“Quit trying to get it out of me.” She says.

“Also it seems that if you got caught like that it means that you can’t handle it on your own.”

“I can take care of myself.”

“Clearly.”

She stared back down into her lap, refusing to look at me.

“You know I couldn’t care less about whatever secret you have.” I say. “It’s none of my business unless you’re paying me to help. As far as I’m concerned you can just get up and walk out if you want.”

“Maybe I will!”

“What’s stopping you?”

“Nothing’s stopping me!”

“Then go.”

She doesn’t. I keep myself leaned against the wall, looking at her.

“I guess I don’t have a choice…” She said. “I don’t have anyone else to turn to.”

“Desperado.” I say.

“I don’t trust them.”

“And you trust us?”

“Slightly more so.” She said. “If I must, I’ll explain myself. You know of the Nephilim, right?”

“There are two, aren’t there?” I ask. “One for Heaven and one for Hell.”

“Yes.” She said. “But those are the only ones that are actually known. I think there may be a third…”

“A third?” I ask. “Oh, that rumor…”

“It’s not just a rumor!” She defends. “There’s some truth behind it!”

“Lady, listen. You’re not going to get very far chasing after something that doesn’t exist.”

“If it didn’t exist you think the MTA would’ve captured me for information on it like that?”

“The MTA are a bunch of self-righteous pricks.” I say. “They’ll pick up anything they could turn a profit on.”

She brings out the paper she had before.

“This proves it.” She says.

I walk over and take the paper from her, looking it over.

“Player roster?” I ask. “Where’d you get this? How’d you get this?”

“I have ways.” She said. “Look, this shows the amount of players of each race in the game.”

I look over the list:

Player Figures – June 15, 2045

Human – 137,093

Angel – 141,424

Demon – 152,104

Hybrid – 11,405

Nephilim – 3

“This was from months ago.” I say. “Not exactly up to date.”

“These are direct figures from Chronotek.” She said.

“It’s still out of date.” I say.

“It doesn’t make a difference!” She said. “If there were three Nephilim a few months ago, then that number could only go up!”

“Maybe they messed up the figures.” I say. “There isn’t much evidence. If there was a third Nephilim we would’ve known by now. The other two seemed to have made their presence perfectly clear.”

“Maybe he’s hiding somewhere.” She says.

“Don’t the other two have the ability to detect one another?” I ask.

“Well… yes, but…”

“Then they would’ve sniffed out the other by now.”

“I don’t know!” Rena shouts. “I still think I’m right.”

“Thinking you’re right isn’t good enough.” I say. “Maverick goes off facts. We don’t waste our time on false leads.”

“I still need help with finding out more information.” She says. “If you’re willing, I can compensate your services, even if I’m proven wrong.”

“So, you want us to help you track down a third Nephilim which probably doesn’t even exist?”

“Yes.”

“Why do you want to find a third Nephilim anyway?” I question. “What exactly would you be gaining from this?”

“I thought Maverick didn’t ask questions.” She said.

“I’m not asking as Maverick.” I say. “I’m asking as myself. Why are you trying to track down this Nephilim.”

“My reasons are my own.”

We stay silent for a bit, until I speak up.

“How much would we be getting?” I ask.

“100k for each week of searching.” She said.

“How the hell can you afford something like that?” I ask.

“You’re not the only one who knows how to make money, you know.” She said.

“Fair enough…” I admit. “I’ll talk it over with the boss. I’ll be back.”

I leave the room, shutting the door behind me and heading to the main room, where I find Walker, as well as Vixen, Abigail, and Jager.

“What’d she say?” Walker asked upon noticing me. “I wasn’t able to get a word out of her.”

“She’s searching for a third Nephilim.” I say bluntly.

The room was silent for a few seconds.

“Care to repeat that?” Jager said.

“She thinks there’s a third Nephilim somewhere out there.” I told them. “For whatever reason she wants to find him. Or her.”

“What makes her think there’s a third?” Vixen asked.

“She had some sort of player list on her.” I explained. “Showed numbers for every race. On Nephilim there were 3, not just 2. It was from June, though, so I’m not sure how much we can trust it.”

“Player list?” Walker said. “How’d she get that?”

“Don’t know. But according to her it’s from Chronotek itself.”

“How would anyone be able to get that kind of info…” Vixen wondered aloud.

“And she wants our help in finding this third Nephilim, I take it?” Walker asks.

“Yeah.” I say. “She says she can pay us 100k weekly, even if she does turn out to be wrong.”

“100k weekly!” Jager cheered. “We’re practically tripping on great jobs every two steps!”

“100k weekly does sound good…” Walker said. “I’m just worried we’d be wasting our time.”

“If we’re getting this kind of cash out of it, I don’t think it’s wasted time at all.” I say.

“Good point.” Walker noted. “Alright, I think that’s fine. Are you going to be the one taking the mission?”

“Might as well.” I say, starting to head back upstairs. “This’ll probably tide over in a month or so. I don’t think there’s any way there’s a third.”

I head back upstairs and go back to the infirmary, opening the door.

“Alright, I’ll take the job.” I say.

“You?” She whined. “Couldn’t I get someone a bit more professional?”

“Professionalism isn’t everything, you know.” I say. “Sometimes being unprofessional gets things done.”

“And sometimes it gets you shot.”

I recall multiple times I had been shot.

“That’s… not true…”

“Well you can’t be completely hopeless, seeing as you’re still alive at least.”

“Is that a complement?” I ask.

“I hope not.” She says, getting up off the bed and heading for the door. “Come on, I’ll take you to where I last left my investigation.”

“Where’s that?” I ask.

“Nair.”

“Nair?”

“Yes.”

“Um…”

“Is there a problem?”

“Ah…” I sheepishly scratch my cheek. “Well, the thing is… I’m not really liked in Nair.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah… um, I’d probably be shot at if I went anywhere near that place.”

“Why’s that?” She asked. “What did you do?”

“Nnnnnothing…” I say, looking around.

She gives me a look.

“Okay, okay! I may have… um… made enemies with… the locals there…”

“Why?”

“Well… um… you remember, about… 3 months ago… when that one guy completely raided the vaults the Mercenaries Guild have there?”

“Yes?” She pauses. “Wait… oh, God, don’t tell me…”

“I am… so awesome…” I smile.

“Oh my God…” She put her face into her palm.

“You can’t tell me that wasn’t fucking awesome!”

“Well we still need to go there, so if you start eating bullets, I don’t know you!”

“Hi, my name’s Yamato, now you know me!”

“Fuck you.”

“Ah, this is gonna be fun!”

We head out to the garages where we keep our personal vehicles and I walk over to my bike. A customized Akira SS-90, super fast and powerful, meant to handle all kinds of terrain. I jump on and pat on the back seat.

“Alright, let’s go.” I say.

“What?!” Rena shouts. “I’m not riding backseat with you!”

“Aw, you shy?” I tease her. “Don’t worry, I’ll be gentle.”

“God… don’t you have like… a spare bike or something?”

“This garage is only for our personal vehicles.” I explain. “Either you ride backseat or try to steal the keys for someone else’s ride.”

She hangs her head low and sighs in annoyance, hopping on the back of my bike.

“You should hold onto me.” I say.

“Fuck you.” She retorts.

“Alright, then.” I smirk. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you!”

I ram the engine as fast as it’ll go, screeching the tires into the ground before lurching forward at such high acceleration Rena almost flew off the backseat. She quickly grabbed a hold of me and held on tight as I sped out of Halfen, hitting the highway towards Nair. I mentally prepared myself for getting shot at the whole ride there.

Chapter 4

With the speed I was going it didn’t take long for us to approach Nair along the highway. Nair was a small town you’d never really notice. It was the main HQ of the Mercenaries Guild, which was the largest contract military group in the world, with ties all around the world. It was a nice place to hang around from time to time… or at least it used to be. Still on the highway, I look over in the direction of Nair and notice smoke rising from the tree line.

“Someone start a fire?” I ask Rena.

“I don’t know…” She replies. “Come on, let’s get there.”

I increase my speed and gun it towards the city, arriving in short order.

There wasn’t much left of the place when we got there…

The entire place had been burned to the ground. Bodies were littered everywhere and all the buildings were in smoking ruins.

“Fucking hell…” I say, walking down the main road. “What the hell happened here?”

“I don’t know…” Rena said. “It wasn’t like this just a few days ago…”

I step off the bike and walk over to the ruins of what was once the town bar and step through the charred doorframe, looking around.

“Damn…” I say, recalling memories of the place.

I look carefully at the wood around the place and notice that in some places it was still burning in embers. This happened recently. Just today in fact. Some fires weren’t even out completely yet.

“So what did you have to do here, Rena?” I asked.

“I was going to get some intel that a friend of mine in the Mercenaries Guild said he’d pick up…” She responded.

“You don’t suppose someone else was looking for that intel as well, do you?” I suggest.

“I don’t know…” Rena thinks on this. “I don’t know who else knows about the third Nephilim, and I can’t see how anyone else would know that information on that could be found here. I was the only person he talked to about it. Nobody else could’ve known.”

“Well someone must have…” I said. “People don’t just burn their city to the ground before killing themselves… or maybe they do, I don’t fucking know.”

She scoffs the comment off and looks around the remains of the bar.

“I was supposed to meet him in here… oh…” She walks over to a body on the floor in what used to be the back room. “God dammit…”

“Found him?” I ask.

“Yes… dammit, now what? We came all this way for nothing.”

“I’m gonna keep looking around.” I say. “Maybe we can find someone who’s still alive… in fact… if I remember correctly…” I hop over to a particular spot in the back of the bar and move some debris out of the way, exposing a metal hatch that was previously hidden within a cabinet. “Here we go.”

“What’s that?” Rena asked.

“Hatch down to the bunker.” I say. “This place used to be a military base that was abandoned some time ago, you see. The Mercenaries Guild uses the bunker as their main base of operations. If anyone’s alive they’ll be down there.”

“How do you know this?” Rena asks.

“Used to run with them.” I say, getting to work opening the hatch, requiring a specific set of turns to open. “How I got my start at a mercenary actually, before I joined up with Maverick.”

“Why’d you leave?”

“Eh, long story. Not really important.” I unlock the hatch and push it open, revealing a latter that led downwards, and I quickly hop down, sliding down the ladder and coming down to a hard stop at the bottom. Rena followed after as I flipped a light switch to light up the place, only to find out that there wasn’t any power.

“Agh, shit… generators must be dead.”

“Great, so we don’t have any light?”

“Seems so. Strange how the generators to an underground military base would stop even when the surface was destroyed. They should still work.”

“Well they’re not.” Rena complained.

“Eh, your eyes will adjust.” I say, letting my eyes do the same until I could see enough to navigate. “Come on, let’s see if we can start up the generators.”

“You know the way?”

“I used to live here.” I tell her. “So yes.”

“Just don’t go too far ahead. I can barely see…”

“Aw, you scared of the dark?”

“You know what? You can fuck right off.”

“Well you don’t have to worry, it isn’t far.”

I start walking, but suddenly trip over something, falling onto the floor.

“Agh, shit!” I curse, looking down. “Agh, damn… looks like whoever did this got in here too.”

“Another body?”

“Yep…” I get up and dust myself off. “Come on, let’s just get the power back on.”

I lead Rena down a few flights of stairs down to the lower levels and finally to generator access. I enter the generator room, looking at the huge power generator in the center of the room, completely inactive.

“Alright… well it doesn’t look broken.” I say. “I can probably get it up and running again.”

I head over to the control console and boot it up. Thankfully the backup batteries in the console still functioned, so the electrical panel lit up as normal. I try to start up the activation sequence but an error popped up saying there wasn’t enough power to begin that sequence. Always trouble when there wasn’t enough power to start the power.

“Alright…” I say. “I can fix this.”

I give a command to divert power from the backup generators to the main generator, then to have it cycle the power throughout all the substations within the bunker to get the power running. It accepted this command and after a few minutes of working, it got power back to the main generator then began cycling the power. A few minutes after that I only needed to press a button to activate the generator, then we finally had light.

“GAH!” I cry out, covering my eyes as the lights slammed on. “Blinded by the light!”

“Ah! Dammit!” Rena does the same.

We both let our eyes adjust to the new light before looking around, seeing a few bodies on the floor.

“Oh, lovely.” I say.

“More bodies down here…” Rena says. “Damn… how many people died here?”

“Hang on a sec…” I say, going over to one of the bodies. “This guy doesn’t look right…”

“Huh?” Rena joins me at the body in question and inspects it with me.

“Look at this guy.” I say.

“Yeah… you’re right…”

The guy was dressed in full spec ops tactical gear, top of the line stuff. That wasn’t anything that a member of the Mercenaries Guild would have access to. The weapon he had was a new model of assault rifle that only certain military contractors had access to as well.

“Yeah, somebody definitely took this place down.” I say.

“But who?” Rena asks, looking at the body some more. “Hey, look at his shoulder.”

I look there and see a patch embroidered onto the shoulder pad. The symbol on it was something I didn’t recognize.

“Alright, so they’re some shady group, then.” I say. “Looks like they have access to all the best gear and weapons on the market which means they must be some sort of private military contractor.”

“You think they’re looking for the same thing we are?” Rena questioned.

“Could be…” I say. “Whoever they were they are, they’re not some freelance group. They were trained for this sort of thing.” I pull up a menu on my Universal Information Processor, which was basically like a super high-tech smartphone that could to basically anything and was integrated onto your person, and took a picture of the patch for future reference, just in case these guys came up again. I had a feeling they would, and they wouldn’t be dead next time.

“Alright, let’s see if there’s anyone else here who we can find.” Rena said. “Is there some sort of safe room around here?”

“Yeah.” I say. “Come on.”

I lead Rena through the now properly lit hallways, past more bodies strewn about. At first it looked like most of them were members of the Mercenaries Guild, but not long after we started noticing more and more of those spec ops guys. As we made our way to the safe room, more and more of their corpses were strewn on the floor, until finally we make it to the main door, where there were just piles of them.

“Damn…” I say. “Looks like they held them off here.”

“Looks like they tried to cut through the door.” Rena said upon noticing scorch marks on the door.

“Yeah, good fucking luck.” I said. “This door is solid. It’d take a nuke to cut through it.”

I walk to the door pad, which itself was concealed behind the wall, but I knew where to look. I push a tiny and hard to find button on the wall and the door controls flip up. I type in the code for the door, but just as I type in the code and the door opens, we’re immediately met by a wall of men armed to the teeth with guns trained at the door. They opened fire immediately after and Rena and I dive for either side of the door for cover.

“Gah, shit!” I say, putting a hand to my head, feeling blood dripping down the side of my head from a bullet that grazed it.

The people inside stopped firing, but not before leaving hundreds of bullet holes in the wall in front of the door.

“Come on out!” I hear a familiar voice from inside say. “We’ve got you outnumbered!”

“Wait a second…” I mutter. “Shaw! Is that you?”

“Yamato?” I hear Shaw’s voice say. “Bastard… come out with your hands up, right now! Both of you!”

“What do we do?” Rena asked, guns out and ready for action.

I resign to holstering my guns.

“Just go along with it.” I say. “We won’t win in a fight against that many.”

I step out from the corner with my hands up, and immediately all guns were trained on me. Rena sighs but does the same, holstering her guns and coming out from cover with her hands up.

Shaw was the first to come up to me. He wore a smile as he promptly punched me square in the face, causing me to back up and put a hand to my face.

“Agh! You dick!” I wipe blood from my mouth as two people grab me and put my hands behind my back, binding my hands as they stripped me of all my weapons. My twin handguns, revolver, single-shot pistol, sawn-off shotgun, and my sword. After that I was pushed down onto my knees. I look over and see that Rena was receiving the same treatment, save for the face punch and all.

“Been a while, hasn’t it, Yamato?” Shaw asked, looking down at me.

“Yeah, it has…” I say. “And honestly, a punch to the face is the perfect way to say ‘long time no see’ if you ask me.”

“Still a smartass, I see.” Shaw said. “So tell me. What brings you back here?”

“We came for information.” Rena intervened. “I had a contact here that had the info I needed.”

“Information on what, exactly?” Shaw questioned.

“I don’t think that’s any of your business.” I say, earning myself a cold glare.

“Could it be something about a third Nephilim?” He asked.

“Well shit, how’d you guess?” I asked.

“What these ass holes came in here looking for too.” He said. “Shot up the entire town and burned it to the ground looking for the same info.”

“Lovely…” I mutter.

“As for you, Yamato.” Shaw walked up to me and forced my chin up to look at him. “You’re going to get it for what you did to us.”

“Oh boy, can’t wait.” I say sarcastically.

“All we were here for was information on the Third Nephilim.” Rena spoke up. “There’s no need for this.”

“Maybe not for you.” Shaw said to her before turning back to me. “But this son of a bitch is getting what he deserves.”

Shaw pulled me up by my bindings behind me, forcing me onto my feet.

“What about the girl, boss?” I hear someone say.

“She can go.” Shaw responded. “She’s not hurting anyone.”

I look over to see Rena being released from her bindings while I was forcefully pushed forward at gunpoint down the hall. I knew where he was taking me. We had a section of this facility to lock people up.

---

I was kicked in the back and pushed forward into the cell, falling onto my face as the gate slid closed and locked behind me. I roll over and sit up on the floor, looking to Shaw behind the bars as he smiled arrogantly at me. He looked over to a guy to his right, who held my sword. He took the thing from his hands and unsheathed the blade, looking over it thoroughly. He turned his attention back to me.

“We’ll be back for you later.” He said as he and a few of his pals left for the time being.

“Agh, dammit…” I say.

“What’re you in here for?” I hear a voice say.

I look over and see a cellmate with me. He was chained up to a wall and looked like he had been here for a while.

“Um… no special reason.” I say. “Who are you?”

My cellmate whipped his hair from his face. I notice his hair was jet black with a few locks of white on the left side. He looked me over with his gray eyes.

“Jack Callahan.” He said with a smile. “What about you?”

“Yamato Haseo.” I answer.

“Haseo…” Callahan repeats my surname.

“What?”

“Agh, nothing…” He says. “Just thought I’ve heard that name before is all.”

“Can’t imagine how…” I look around. “So what’re you in here for.”

“You didn’t tell me why you were in here.” Callahan said with a friendly grin.

“Well…” I say. “Let’s just say I may have done something to piss these guys off in the past.”

“That so?” Callahan said. “Care to be a bit more specific?”

“I abandoned my team and made off with a lot of money for myself.” I specify.

“Hah!” Callahan laughs. “You’re a better mercenary than these guys, then!”

“In some ways…” I say. “But I didn’t do it just for the money. Before the mission leadership began to take a dive. Shaw began to do some things that… well, I didn’t like some of the habits he picked up. I felt it was time for me to leave, so in the middle of a big mission I snagged what I could get and high tailed it out.”

“What happened to your team?” Callahan asked.

“Well a lot of them got either arrested or gunned down by the Rangers when they showed up. By that time I was already gone.”

“Well why are you back here?”

“Another mission.” I say. “I work for Maverick now. Had a contract that brought me back.”

“That the reason why the Mercenaries Guild is dying off?” Callahan guessed.

“Eh… well it was dying off even before that… I just sped things up a little, I guess.” I smile. “So, what’re you here for?”

“Eh…” He shrugs. “Well… I was just doing my own thing…”

“What’s your own thing?” I ask.

“Well… you see, my thing is basically going around and mopping up people who are up to no good. Got some tips that the Mercenaries Guild was starting to take up some unusual habits as of late… thought I’d swing by and put them all down.”

“What happened?”

“Bit off a bit more than I could chew…”

“I see…”

“Yep, locked me up pretty good.” Callahan laughed. “Got some special treatment on account of me being half Angel.”

“You’re a Hybrid?” I ask.

“Yeah. Lucky me, right?” Callahan says. “I’ve been here for a few days… wouldn’t mind getting out about now.”

“Well… my hands are a bit tied at the moment.” I say.

“Hah.” Jack chuckles. “So we’re stuck here?”

“Not necessarily.” I say. “These guys will want to beat the living shit out of me so they’ll be coming back to open up the cell. That’s when I’ll get out.”

“You won’t be able to use any weapons.” Callahan noted.

I point over to my weapons, which were lying on a table, with my sword still unsheathed and propped up on a chair.

“Dumbasses…” Callahan muttered as we heard a door opening down the hall.

“Showtime.” I smile at him as I see Shaw and four others walk in and open the cell.

Shaw brought me to my feet and punched me in the face again, putting me onto the ground. He balled up a fist and punched his palm.

“I’ve been waiting for this.” He said.

I take my chance as he throws another punch. This time I dodge it and place a hard knee to the gut, which has him doubling over. Before his friends could grab me, I roll through them and run out of the cell, quickly kicking the legs of the chair that held up my sword, resulting in the blade being flipped up into the air and being activated, high frequency electric currents resonating through the blade, making it vibrate with such speed that when it came down behind me, the tip of the blade passed seamlessly through my bindings before sticking itself into the floor. I quickly reach behind me and grab the handle just as one of Shaw’s lackeys lunges towards me.

Allow me to attempt to articulate the feeling of having a blade…

It’s hard to explain…

It just feels natural… like there’s something in me that was bred to wield a blade. It’s like I inherited some natural affinity for a sword. My sword felt like an extension of myself, and the blade passing through the air and through the enemy in front of me felt as natural as breathing. It was a pure and focused instinct… and I loved it.

The first dropped easily as my blade passed through his torso. In a single step, I bound towards the next two, making three quick slices that pass effortlessly through both, before jumping forward and cutting down the last. Shaw managed to draw his pistol, but it didn’t matter. I cut two bullets from the air and launch myself towards him, grabbing his gun and maneuvering myself under his arm before jumping upwards, slamming my shoulder into his elbow, bending his arm backwards and breaking it.

Shaw yelled out in pain as I give him a hard kick to the face, knocking him unconscious.

I twirl my blade in my hands a few times before cutting Callahan’s restraints.

“Shit, man…” He said, rubbing his wrists. “How the hell can you move like that?”

“Just comes naturally.” I explain. “I don’t know why, but when there’s a blade in my hands… everything just becomes so… so clear…”

Callahan walked past me and picked up two scythes that were lying in a corner.

“Two scythes?” I ask. “That’s it?”

“All I need.” He says as I retrieve my guns and holster them all.

I look over to Callahan as he puts his two scythes together, and instantly the thing becomes one larger scythe. He spins it around a bit before separating them and spinning them in both hands.

“Ahh… feels good.” He says.

“Nice toys you got there.” I mention.

“Thanks. Yours aren’t so bad either.”

“Let’s get out of here, shall we?” I suggest.

“Sounds good to me.” Callahan smiled, readying his twin scythes as I effortlessly cut through the metal door of the holding cells and bust out. It didn’t take long for alarms to begin blaring as I led the way down the hallways towards the exit. We round the first corner and see a few guys up ahead. They take aim at us when they hear us coming, but Callahan is quick to react by throwing both his scythes forward and cutting through two as I lunge forward an impale the third, kicking him off my blade.

“Exit’s up this way.” I say, as we continue running down the halls. We didn’t meet up with any more resistance on the way there, and soon enough, we were at the ladder that led up to the hatch out of here. I climb up first and Callahan is quick to follow as I open the hatch and climb out of the hole back into the ruins of the bar.

“Agh…” I stretch myself out. “I don’t like being underground.”

“Especially when you’re in a jail cell, right?” Callahan comments, strapping his twin scythes to his sides.

“Yeah, especially when I’m in a jail cell.” I say. “We should probably get going.”

“Right.” Jack agreed as I jogged over to my bike, which was thankfully still there and not damaged in any way. Rena was nowhere to be seen, so I assumed that she found her own way out of town. I’d have to hunt her down later.

I hop on my bike and invite Callahan to sit backseat. He jumps on and I gun it, screeching out of town.

“Where we headed?” Callahan asks.

“Maverick HQ.” I respond. “Need to report back. Maybe Rena will be there.”

“Rena?”

“Who I came in here with.”

“Ah… right, that reminds me. Why did you come back here in the first place?”

“Didn’t I already tell you?” I ask.

“Well you said it was a job, but what’s the job?”

“We’re trying to hunt down a Third Nephilim.” I explain.

“A third?” Callahan says. “There’s a third?”

“I don’t think so.” I say. “But the pay’s too good to pass up. Even if we find proof that there isn’t a third I’m getting paid either way.”

“I see.” Callahan looks backwards down the road behind us. “Uh-oh…”

“Uh-oh?” I say. “Uh-oh what?”

“Ah, nothing special…” He says just as a bullet flies past my ear.

“Fucking hell!” I shout as I swerve to the left to avoid more bullets coming from behind. “Yeah, nothing special!”

“Eh, I’ll take care of it.” Callahan said, standing up on the back seat and readying his twin scythes. “Don’t wait up for me.”

“Don’t… huh?”

Just as soon as I finish saying that, Callahan jumps from the back of my bike, digging both his scythes into the ground to slow himself and allow our pursuers to catch up a bit before he launched himself towards one of the bikes, forming a single scythe to cut him down as he grabbed onto the handlebars and takes the former rider’s place. Callahan rode the bike with his scythe scraping the ground, ready for a strike as he closes in on the next one. His target noticed him closing in and fired a few shots, two of which hit him, but it didn’t seem like it did much. Callahan made a hard turn and used the momentum to launch his scythe outwards and cleave the guy through.

The biker behind him had the smarts to blow out the back tire of his bike before shooting the fuel tank, causing the bike to explode. I would’ve stopped had I not seen Callahan up above the explosion, a trail of white energy behind him, before he dived down towards the last enemy, twin scythes cutting him through before he dug his scythes into the ground again and kicked himself back up and onto the bike, pulling up beside me.

“Well, shit.” I say.

“Yeah, being a Hybrid has its perks.” Callahan smiles.

“You aren’t lying.” I smile back.

Callahan follows me down the highway as I head back to Halfen. I was hoping that Rena had already found her way back and was waiting for me to return.

It was more likely that she just left me to find someone else for her contract.

Hope for the best, expect the worst, I guess.

Chapter 5

Much to my surprise, when we got back to HQ, Rena was nowhere to be seen. I guess my previous assumption that she’d wait for me here was subverted. “Hm… she’s not here, it would seem.” I say.

“Hey, there he is.” I hear Blenheim say as I see him slide down the stairs.

“Good to see you again, Yamato.” Walker said as he stepped down the stairs after Blenheim. “Who’s this you brought with you?”

It seemed that Walker and Blenheim were the only ones here. Everyone else must be out doing something else.

“Hey. What’s up?” Callahan flicks his fingers as greetings. “You got some cigarettes on you?”

Walker takes out a pack of cigarettes and lights one up, giving it to Callahan.

He puts the thing in his mouth and takes a deep breath of it, breathing smoke out afterwards. He looks at the cigarette between his fingers.

“Shitty brand…” He says, before putting it back in his mouth.

“This is Jack Callahan.” I introduce him for everyone. “He’s um… he was locked up with me. He’s an Angel hybrid.”

“An Angel hybrid, huh?” Blenheim said. “What’s an Angel hybrid doing around here?”

“Nothing much.” Callahan says, flicking ash from his cigarette. “Just a wanderer, really.”

“That so?” Walker said.

“Well, Rena was here.” Blenheim said. “And then she left.”

“She say anything?” I ask.

“Only that she’d be back tomorrow… and that you were locked up.” He told me. “So what exactly happened?”

“Well, as it turns out someone else is looking for the third Nephilim just the same as we are.” I explain as I take a seat on a chair. “They completely leveled Nair and almost everyone in it. The surviving members of the guild went down into the bunker and holed up there. That’s when we showed up.”

“And they took you in.” Walker finished for me.

“And let Rena go for whatever reason.” I say. “I expected Shaw to take her with me but I guess he was so excited to get back at me he didn’t really care much about her.”

“So how’d that go?” Blenheim asked.

“Shaw’s still as stupid as he used to be, so it wasn’t too hard busting out with Callahan here.” I say. “We fought our way out and headed back here.”

“Anything on the Nephilim?” Walker asks.

“Nothing.” I say. “Honestly I don’t even think it exists. Pay’s good, but I still don’t like wasting my time with superstition.”

“Who were the guys who leveled Nair?” Blenheim questioned.

“Well… they looked like some sort of PMC… they had some serious gear on them, guns and equipment way beyond the public sector. Whoever they were they were trained for that kind of thing.”

“A PMC…” Walker put a hand to his chin. “Sounds like this is deeper than just superstition.”

“You don’t think another Nephilim actually exists, do you, Walker?” I ask.

“I don’t know anything yet.” He replies. “But I doubt a PMC like that would waste their time like that simply based on rumors.”

“They must know more about this than we do.” Callahan contributed. “Maybe we should start investigating them.”

“Since when were you part of the team?” Blenheim asked.

“Just making a suggestion.” Callahan replied nonchalantly, finishing off his cigarette and putting it out. “Anyway, I should probably head out now.”

“Aw, you just got here.” I say jokingly.

“Eh, don’t worry.” He told me. “We’ll probably see each other again. I do have a habit of showing up places I shouldn’t be.”

“No shit.” I smirk. “Alright, take it easy.”

Callahan leaves on that note, and I slump down on my chair and sigh.

“I’m already starting to hate this job.” I say.

“Well, I think it might be a good idea to look into this PMC you mentioned.” Walker said. “They could be dangerous… a shadow faction like that running around could cause a lot of trouble.”

“Well, have fun with that.” I say. “It’s almost dinner time so I should probably log out.”

“Yeah, alright.” Blenheim said. “See you later, then.”

I open up my menus and hit the logout button, bringing me back to the real world.

---

I open my eyes as my consciousness is returned to me. I sit up and take off my RiftGear headset, putting it on my nightstand. I had a bit of a headache, but I shook my head and ignored it.

“Oh, just in time.” I hear mom say.

I look over and see her peeking through my door.

“Dinner’s done.” She says. “Now if only your father was this easy to get to the table…”

“What’s he doing?” I ask her as I stand up from my bed.

“Oh, he’s still in his dojo with a few of his students.” She says. “He’s still training them even though they should’ve gone home hours ago…”

“Yeah, he does tend to take it seriously… I’ll see if I can get him out.”

I walk out of my room and head through the house towards the dojo. When I enter, I can see my father, spectating two of his students as they spar with each other with bokken.

“Namatame.” Dad calls out. “You’re anticipating his attacks too much. It’s making your reactions more predictable. And Shinozaki, you’re being too aggressive. It leaves you open and wastes energy.”

“Hey, dad.” I say. “Mom wants you in for dinner.”

“Oh, Yamato.” Dad looks over to me. “Maybe you can help me, actually.”

“Dinner time.” I repeat.

“Just help me out with this.” He says. “Namatame and Shinozaki here don’t quite understand what they’re doing.”

“You think I do?” I ask.

“Well you are my son.”

“You know I’m not really into this sort of thing, right?” I tell him.

“Humor me.” He insists.

I let out a sigh.

“Alright, whatever.” I say, walking over and grabbing a bokken off the wall. “Let’s do this.”

“Um…” Namatame speaks up. “Which one of us is fighting?”

“Both of you.” I say. “Come on.”

“Both of us at once?” Shinozaki asks. “You serious?”

“Yes.” I say. “Hurry it up, I’m hungry.”

“Come on, you can’t be serious…”

I cut Namatame off as I rush in and smack him in the stomach with my bokken without warning. He couldn’t see it coming and he’s immediately grounded. Shinozaki attempts to bring his own bokken down on me, but just as dad had said, his attacks were too aggressive, and made him predictable. I sidestep the blow and kick him in the shin, forcing him onto one knee before I smack him in the back with the wooden sword, putting him into the ground.

“There.” I say. “Can we eat now, dad?”

“Erm…” He scratches his head. “That probably wasn’t the best way to go about it… how about you spar with me this time?”

“Can’t we just eat?” I ask. “I’m really hungry.”

“Just once.” Dad says. “Then we’ll eat.”

“Augh… fine…” I ready my bokken as he does the same with his. He takes on a one handed stance with his weapon forward and diagonal, while I hold my weapon with two hands. We stand apart from each other for a few seconds before I decide to move in. I make a swipe at him, but with one hand he easily parried my strike, redirecting my blade around in such a way that it slid right out of my hands. Before I could even react to that, he had his bokken held at my neck. This all happened in less than 3 seconds. I don’t know how he does it.

“You see how I did that?” Dad asks his students. “I didn’t anticipate his attack. I reacted only when I needed to. I let my weapon do the work so I don’t need to use as much energy.”

“Oh… okay… I think I get it…” Shinozaki says.

“Yeah, that makes sense.” Namatame added.

“Alright, well I guess that’ll do it for today.” Dad said, collecting the practice weapons and putting them away. “You can go home now.”

Shinozaki and Namatame bow to their sensei as he does the same, before they turn to leave.

“Okay…” Dad says. “Dinner time.”

“Yeah, dinner time.” I say.

“Yeah, yeah, alright.” Dad says as he’s suddenly hit by a small coughing fit. “Ack…”

“You alright, there?” I ask.

“Yeah, fine.” He says, clearing his throat. “C’mon, let’s eat.”

---

“Ngh!” I wake up with a start, sitting up in my bed, finding my breathing heavy and sweat running down my body.

I had that same dream again… the same as before. Same black void, same damn voices… that same light. I shook myself out of it and jumped out of bed, heading for the shower. I kept thinking about the dream throughout the morning as I got ready for school, getting dressed in my uniform and eating breakfast before heading out. School wasn’t that far a walk from where I lived, so I didn’t need a bike or anything.

The dream was on my mind throughout the walk there as well. I couldn’t get the damn thing out of my head. Some part of me kept thinking it was something important, that it had some deeper meaning to it… the other more logical part of me kept telling me it was just a damn dream. But it was the same exact dream… and it seemed so real… I didn’t know what to make of it.

I finally snap out of my thoughts when I notice a girl ahead of me. It took me a second, but I realized that it was a girl I recognized. Dark blue hair and shining amber eyes… the kind that could kill a guy.

“Rena!” I jog up to her as she looks back in surprise.

“Yamato?” She said.

“Didn’t know we went to the same school.” I say, noticing her uniform was the standard for my high school.

“I… didn’t either…” She said, looking away from me. Seemed like she didn’t like me being around any more in real life than she did in the game.

“What was up with you ditching me yesterday?” I ask. “Could’ve used the help getting out of that cell, you know.”

“I knew you could handle it on your own.” She said, still refusing to look at me. “Besides, it’s not like they’d just let me back in to get you out.”

“Still could’ve used the thought at least…” I say.

“Don’t bother me.” Rena said harshly as she picked up her pace to get ahead of me.

I stopped and watched her go on ahead.

“Dammit…” I scratch the back of my head. “Pain in the ass…”

---

Once again, I’m lying on my back, staring up at the sky from the roof of the school. I brought a boxed lunch, but I hadn’t taken a bite of it yet. I was too lost in thought to get hungry at the moment. I kept going over the dream in my head, over and over again… I remembered everything in such vivid detail… it was almost like it had actually happed. I found it strange… I thought it uncommon for people to remember dreams this clearly, maybe even impossible. Why this dream? What’d it all mean? Does it mean anything at all, or am I just crazy?

I take a deep sigh and close my eyes, letting the soft breeze sweep over me.

“Hey, what’ve we got here?” I hear a voice say. I open one eye and look over to the side to see three of the less civilized members of our little school community picking on a girl. They had her cornered against a wall.

“What do you guys want?” She said, a little frightened.

“Yuka, isn’t it?” The middle guy said. “You know, you look pretty nice… why don’t we go somewhere after school?”

“I… no… I’m sorry.” She said, refusing to look at any of the three.

“No?” He said. “Aw, come on! I’ll show you a really good time!”

“She said no.” I hear another girl’s voice say.

I look over and see Rena intervene, drawing the three guys away from the girl up against the wall, allowing her to jump away from them.

“Tch… and who the hell are you?” The guy asked her aggressively.

“Leave her alone.” Rena told the three. “She’s obviously not interested.”

“Oh yeah? I bet she’s just shy. You know I hear the shy ones are always the best ones. Especially in the bedroom.”

That seemed to have ticked her off, because right after he finished that sentence, Rena walked up and smacked him right in the face. Hard. Hard enough to put him back a few steps.

“Ngh… you bitch!” The guy lurched at her faster than she could react and nailed a punch right in her face, putting her onto the ground.

That was when I got real pissed.

I shot up to my feet, almost slipping with how quickly I accelerated towards the guy. I jump up and spin in the air, and the guy looks back to me just in time to receive a hard kick to the face, breaking his nose and dislodging a few teeth, sending him onto the ground. The other two guys backed up a few steps as I held the guy’s head against the ground with the heel of my shoe.

“Apologize.” I tell him.

“Ngh… fuck you!” He said, prompting me to put more pressure onto his head.

“Sorry, couldn’t hear you under my shoe.” I say. “Speak up.”

It was then that the other two decided to try to save their friend, charging me at once. I kick myself off the leader’s face and rush inwards, dodging two punches and planting my hand on the ground, sweeping my leg under the first and sending him back first into the ground before lunging forward and punching the second straight in the face, giving him a bloody nose. The second tries to swing a few punches, but they were slow and uncoordinated, nothing more than wild flailing. I grab one of his punches easily, landing a hard kick into his stomach, knocking the wind out of him and causing him to double over, allowing me to raise my heel skyward and bring it down onto the back of his head, slamming his face into the ground, knocking him out cold.

That was when the first guy got up and tried to have another go at me. Rena stepped in and managed to nail a good kick to his stomach before kicking upwards and nailing his face with her foot, sending him rocketing back into the ground.

“Whoo…” I sigh, going back to the leader and stomping on his head one more time. “Apologize.”

“S-Sorry…” He says weakly, and I step off him when he does.

“Hitting a lady like that… fucking uncivilized…” I mutter to myself.

“Dammit…” Rena curses, rubbing her cheek.

“You alright?” I ask, walking up to her.

“I’m fine…” She said. “Not bleeding or anything… more than I can say for these guys.”

I look down at the three chumps we wrecked. They were squirming and moaning on the ground in pain.

“No kidding…” I say, scratching the back of my head. “Probably going to be sent to the principal’s office again… dammit.”

“Again?” She asks. “How many times have you gotten in trouble here?”

“Enough to be expelled.” I say. “Don’t know how I’m still here.”

“Um…” I see Yuka approach us. “Um… thanks… for that.”

“Yeah, no problem.” I say.

I head back over to here I had been previously lying and pick up the boxed lunch I had off the ground, sitting down on a ledge and opening it up, separating the chopsticks and digging into the chicken and rice.

“Well… I should get going.” Rena said. “I have some things I need to do.”

“Mm-hm.” I say, munching on my meal as she and Yuka leave the roof, leaving me alone.

I find my thoughts once again wandering back to that dream. It still confused the hell out of me, and it was annoying how I couldn’t figure anything out.

I eventually manage to shake it off as lunch was just about over, and I finished my meal. I wrap the box back up and walk over to the chump leader, who was still face first on the ground, tossing the box at him and watching it thump off his head before heading back inside.

---

Sure enough I got called to the principal’s office shortly before the school day ended.

My dad was called in again. Not like it mattered. The school hated my parents. No matter what I got in trouble for in school I never got in trouble for it back at home. It’s not like I start fights or anything, I just somehow end up being the one who finishes them, and also the only one who gets in trouble for them.

I walk into the principal’s office to see my dad, leaning back on his chair.

“Have a seat, Yamato.” The principal told me, and I take the seat next to my father, not worried about anything.

“Mr. Haseo.” He addresses my father. “This is the seventh time this year your son has been here. And you can recall how many times he’s been called here last year.”

“Yeah? And?” Dad says nonchalantly.

“Don’t you think you should be disciplining your son more?” The principal asks.

“Don’t you think you should stop telling me how to raise my kid?” He responds.

“Yamato is out of control!” The principal gets angry now, no doubt due to my parents always letting me off and the fact that I haven’t been expelled yet. “You’ve done nothing to reprimand him on all of these accounts! As his father you’ve done nothing to discipline him when he’s needed it! He keeps getting into fights over and over again. This time he knocked out three of his classmates!”

“Two, actually.” I say. “Rena took the third.”

“Do you even know what the circumstances for this were?” My father asks calmly.

“The circumstances don’t matter!”

“Yamato, what happened?” Dad asked me.

“They were pestering this one girl then Rena came in to try to stop them but one of them punched her so I decked them.”

“Yeah, I think that’s justified.” Dad says. “Why aren’t those three students getting reprimanded for bothering that girl and hitting Rena?”

“That’s beside the point!” The principal said.

“Nah.” Dad says, getting up from his chair. “My son had every right to intervene to stop them from causing any further harm to anyone else. C’mon, Yamato, let’s go home.”

We both left the principal’s office. I could tell that the principal was fuming behind me. He knew my father was right, and he knew he couldn’t do anything about it. This happened pretty much every time. It was pretty sweet.

---

Before we headed home, we decided to stop by the local shrine. Aunt Sakura tended to the small temple there, and mom and dad would visit her oftentimes. Sure enough, she was there, sweeping the ground and making sure it was spotless.

“Sakura.” Dad calls.

“Ah, Ishi!” She smiles. “I’m just about done with cleaning up here.”

“You sure?” Dad asks. “You’ve spent nights here you know.”

“Yeah, I know…” Sakura says. “At least I have a bed here.”

“You shouldn’t need to have a bed here!” Dad responds. “Honestly, sometimes you take your work here a bit too seriously.”

“I just like to keep this place neat and tidy is all.” She says. “And how are you, Yamato?”

“Fine.” I say. “Got out of school early.”

“Did you get into another fight?” She asked.

“Maybe.”

She only laughed.

“You’re more like your father than you know.” She smiled warmly.

“Hey, come on.” Dad smiles and scratches the back of his head. “I wasn’t THAT bad!”

“Like hell you weren’t!” Sakura retorts. “But I guess that’s not really important now.”

Sakura gets done with cleaning and puts her broom away, deciding to walk home with us. Dad and Sakura talked about things while I just walked along, until Sakura split up from us to head to her home as we headed towards ours.

“We’re home.” Dad called to mom when we entered the door.

“Welcome home, you two.” She called back from the other room. “I take it the principal still doesn’t like either of you?”

“Nope.” Dad says, sitting down on his chair in the main room as mom comes in. “That’s never gonna change.”

Mom walks up to dad and kisses him on the lips.

“You do have a way with people.” She jokes.

“Must be my lovable and charismatic personality.” Dad says.

“Must be.” Mom smiles and sits down on the couch. “So how was your day, Yamato?”

“Same as always.” I respond, heading to my room.

“Going to that game already?” Dad asks.

“Got stuff I need to do.” I respond. “Not like I play it 24/7 anyway.”

“Nah, just around 12/7.”

“Pfft.”

I head into my room and start up the game, putting on the headset and lying down on my bed, closing my eyes as the game starts.

---

“Hey, guys.” I say as I head downstairs at HQ.

Lucy, Octavia, and Blenheim were the only ones here at the moment, just lounging around for the time being.

“Oh, hey, Yamato.” Blenheim said. “You ready for our match?”

“Oh, right… it’s Friday, huh?” I say. “Yeah, I guess I’m ready to kick your ass.”

“Oh, sure, whatever you say.” Blenheim smirked as he jumped off the couch and walked with me to the back room, which acted as our training room, where we had a boxing ring set up. Every last Friday of every month, Blenheim and I would have sparring matches in the ring, both to keep our combat skills sharp and for fun. We were rivals in pretty much everything, constantly trying to one-up each other. We would constantly try to get stronger and stronger just to beat one another.

I take my jacket off and hang it off one of the corners of the ring, while Blenheim does the same with his, before we both jump into the ring.

“Alright.” I say. “Ready to get your ass kicked?”

“Can’t say that about last time.” Blenheim smiled.

“That was last time. This is this time.”

“Heh, whatever you say.”

We take our stances, Blenheim taking a defensive stance while I take a mixed stance, placing my left leg forward and my hands open and front.

We circle around each other a bit, staring each other down, waiting for one of us to make a move. With each circle we move in closer, until Blenheim decides to make a move, making a fast and hard forward punch. I push the punch out of my way and smack him in the face, causing him to rear back, before attempting a straight kick which I dodge, allowing me to sweep my leg under his, tripping him and putting him on his back.

“Hah.” I smirk, bouncing twice on my feet.

“Gah… damn…” He jumps back onto his feet.

“That was sloppy.” I note.

“We just started.” He said.

“You could still just give up.” I say. “You know you aren’t winning this one.”

“A bit overconfident, are we?”

“It’s not overconfidence if it’s true.”

“Yeah, well we’ll see.”

I make the next move, striking forward with a punch which Blenheim grabs, allowing him to put a palm right into my face, sending me back a bit.

“Wagh…” I stumble back on one foot, before catching my balance and shaking my head, taking my stance again.

I go in and make a few quick strikes, being evaded my Blenheim, before spinning and letting loose a fast and hard side kick. He catches the kick unexpectedly, holding onto my leg, but before he could do anything I jump up with my other leg and twist around, putting another kick up and nailing his face, causing him to stagger back and land on the ground as I did. I jump back up onto my feet and smirk as he slowly stands back up.

“Heh, you’re a bastard, you know that?” He says.

“Takes one to know one.” I respond.

“You’d know better than anyone.” Blenheim retorts.

“Damn right, I would.” I rush inwards again, throwing a few fast and hard punches before backstepping as Blenheim counters with a hard punch of his own, before stepping forward and going for an uppercut. I grab his fist and manage to stop it before it connected with my chin. I push it out of the way, landing a quick jab kick at his side, putting him off balance and allowing me to spin back and bring in a harder kick. Blenheim takes the kick full force into his shoulder, toughing it out and stopping it there, grabbing my raised leg and forcing it upwards hard, throwing be onto my back.

“Shit…” I curse under my breath as Blenheim attempts to stomp into my chest. I put my hands up and grab his foot, stopping it before it hit me and pushing back, putting him off balance a bit and allowing myself enough time to slide back and plant my feet onto the ground, rushing into him fast and hard, throwing all my weight into a single punch that nails him right in the gut, knocking the wind out of him. I wasn’t done there, though. With a balled fist in his stomach, I push forward and slam him into a corner, shaking the entire ring. Blenheim slides down on the ring, trying to regain his strength, but I press the attack, putting my hands up on the ropes and jumping upwards, pivoting on the ropes and coming back down with a hard, momentum-fueled kick, nailing him once again in the stomach, and forcing some blood from his mouth. I end by falling back slightly and kicking off him with my other foot, flipping back and landing on one hand before flipping back onto my feet.

Blenheim coughs a few times, but manages to pull himself back up onto his feet.

“God damn…” He mutters, wiping blood from his mouth. “You don’t know how to hold back, do you?”

“You’re just figuring that out now?” I say. “C’mon, I know you aren’t done.”

“Heh… no way.” He says. “I’m gonna get you now.”

“Then get me.”

Blenheim rushes in fast, way faster than he should be able to after the punishment he just took. I manage to ward off a few punches and a hard forward kick before attempting to go in with a fast punch. Blenheim sidesteps it and grabs my arm, wheeling me around and using my own momentum against me, twisting me around and slamming me into the ground. Just as I hadn’t, he doesn’t let up either, and he slams his boot into the back of my head as I rebound off the floor, slamming me face first into the ground with such force it almost broke my nose.

“AGH!” I shout, unable to get back up. “Damn… it…” I try to get back up, but I feel Blenheim’s heel on my back, and he slams down again, putting a lot of weight right into my spine, causing a lot of pain with it.

He lets up, only to grab my hair and raise me up to my knees, letting go only to slam a hard kick into my stomach, making me hack up some blood and sending me sailing across the floor on my back.

“Oh, fuck me…” I mutter as I stagger up onto my hands and knees, only to receive yet another hard kick to the stomach that sends me into a corner.

Blenheim tries to land a punch on me there, but I barely manage to dodge it, his fist slamming into the corner of the ring and causing him a good bit of pain, enough for me to slam both my feet into his chest to knock him off me.

I stagger back onto my feet and shake my head, bouncing on my feet a bit to try to shake off the pain. Blenheim gets back on his feet as well, trying to do the same.

“Can you still go?” I ask.

“Oh, yeah…” He says a little tiredly. “How about… how about you?”

“Yeah, yeah…” I say, tipping a bit to the side but regaining my balance before I fall. “Totally fine…”

“Not seeing stars?” He laughs.

“Not stars.” I say. “Seeing a bunch of other shit, though…”

“Well come on.” My opponent readies himself again. “We aren’t done quite yet…”

“Gah…” I groan. “Yeah… alright.”

We manage to steady ourselves and regain our focus, and before long we were at it again. Blenheim comes in with a fast and hard punch which I dodge, trying to counter with a kick to his side but missing as he ducks under it, kicking my foot from under me and forcing me to fall forward straight into an uppercut to the face, sending me backwards and onto the ground again.

“Ow…” I feel my nose to make sure it wasn’t broken. It wasn’t, though it was bleeding a bit. I stagger back onto my feet just as Blenheim comes in to kick me. I barely dodge it and manage to kick him in the back as he sailed past me, making him fall face first into the ground as I back up.

“I’m surprised our faces aren’t imprinted into the floor by now.” I laugh.

“Fucking… yeah… I know, right?” I let Blenheim get back on his feet. “Though yours would probably show up more than mine.”

“Hey, I still look good.” I smile with a shrug. “More than can be said about you at this point.”

“Hey… hey, Yamato.” He flips me the bird. “Go fuck yourself.”

“Ah, you know you love me.” I chuckle.

Blenheim dashes forward, sending two solid kicks my way, but I manage to avoid both, before punching in hard and hitting him square in the jaw. I try to go for another punch, but he manages to grab the second one and wrap his arm around mine, locking me there. He goes for two punches to the face, both of which I dodge by leaning my head to either side, and I manage to catch a third. Arms locked, I wrestle with him from side to side, trying to throw him off as he did the same with me. He unexpectedly leans his head back, however, and before I can see it coming, he slams his head right into mine, making me see stars and pushing me back.

“FUCK! WHO HEADBUTTS?!” I shout, before receiving a hard punch to the gut which doubles me over, then taking a solid knee to the face while I was on my knees, sending me twisting and falling onto my face.

Blenheim was panting, and he wipes some sweat from his brow.

“You done yet?” He asks. “Please, for fuck’s sake be done…”

“Eh…” I moan. “Not sure… lemme… lemme check.”

I weakly flail my arms up once, letting them smack back down to the ground, before repeating that once more, finding myself unable to get back up.

“Yeap…” I say. “Yeah I think I’m done…”

“Oh, thank Christ…” Blenheim leans back into a corner and slides down to sitting.

We stay like this for a bit, before Blenheim speaks up.

“You… you alright over there?” He asks weakly.

“Oh, yeah…” I say, just as faintly. “I… I’m just gonna stay here for… around 4 more hours or so…”

“Heh…” Blenheim sighs, standing up and rolling me over onto my back.

“Owww…” I groan. “You suck…”

“C’mon.” He offers me a hand and I take it, letting him pull me back up on my feet, but I end up falling back onto my back anyway.

This is about how every match of ours ends. Both of us completely beaten out of our wits and possibly with a few fractured limbs, and a few times completely broken ones. This is why we allowed ourselves a month in between to recover from our last fight. That, and if we held these matches any more frequently we wouldn’t even be able to operate in Maverick.

“You know what we need?” I say. “Some nice… training gear. Cuz this… bare fists and shit stuff isn’t working out…”

“We’re masochists, Yamato.” Blenheim says. “We enjoy the pain. We feed off it.”

“Fuck that…” I roll a bit on the ground. “Pain hurts… a lot…”

“Yeah, no shit…” He laughs. “We should probably get some gear for the next time… I’m getting tired of getting the complete shit beaten out of me too.”

“Think we could’ve figured that out sooner than the 4 months we’ve been doing this for?” I ask.

“Nah…” Blenheim made a single waving motion with his arm, stepping out of the ring as I rolled my way across the floor, going under the ropes and falling onto the eve harder ground under the ring.

“Grr…” I growl as I try to get my legs to cooperate with me. Eventually that gets sorted out and we both decide to head to Abigail to fix us up again.

---

“Dammit, you two!” Abigail chides us as she patches up our wounds. “Do you have to play so hard?”

“Of course.” Blenheim says.

“Pretty much.” I say simultaneously.

“Seriously, you two. You need to quit this.” Abigail wrapped some bandages around my arm. “Or at least get some pads or something.”

“Yeah, we were thinking about doing that.” I say.

“You shouldn’t have started doing this without it in the first place!” She scolded.

“I’m pretty sure we were born to destroy each other.” I note.

“Yeah, fuck all that reproduction and shit.” Blenheim chuckled lightly.

“Well… that should do you.” Abigail said, finishing up on me. “Now quit coming in here every damn month! These medical supplies cost money you know!”

“Not like we’re ever in any shortage of that stuff.” I say.

“I’m gonna kill both of you…” Abigail sighs and pinches the bridge of her nose.

“Naw, you love us too much!” Blenheim teases.

“Get the hell outta here!” She throws a clipboard at us both as we run out of the room.

We dash through the hall and round the corner, hugging the wall there, just laughing our asses off.

Yeah, Blenheim and I were pretty close. Ever since I joined Maverick we’ve been partners, friends, and rivals. We always had fun, even if it was through beating the living shit out of each other.

Chapter 6

November 25th, 2045

It was early morning and I was walking to school. It was snowing a bit, so I had my winter coat on; a heavy black jacket with a white fur lined collar, over my usual school outfit. I never liked the cold. In fact I’ve always hated it. I always found it appalling how some people loved the cold. I couldn’t understand why the hell anyone would like cold weather.

Despite that, I loved the snow.

The sky was white, as was the ground, and tiny white specks fell gently onto the ground. My steps were imprinted into the snow underneath my feet as I walked slowly alone to school. Moments like these gave me time to reflect on past events, as well as to think about what could happen in the future. But while I usually just let my mind wander aimlessly during times like these, it was instead fixated on the dream I kept having. It was frustrating how no matter how much I dwelled on it I couldn’t figure it out. No matter how many times I had the dream it didn’t make any more sense than the first time I had it.

The only thing I knew for sure was that it was something important… but to that end I didn’t know.

“Yamato.” I hear a voice call from behind me, snapping me out of my thoughts.

I’m surprised when I see Rena tailing me, running lightly to walk alongside me.

“Strange.” I say. “Usually you make it a point to avoid me.”

“Shut up.” She said. “It’s just that… I never properly thanked you the other day.”

“What do you have to thank me for?”

“When those guys were pestering Yuka.” She explained. “When that guy hit me you stepped in.”

I stop and look to her.

“So… thank you.” She said, not looking at me.

I give her a thoughtful look before turning back forward and continuing towards school.

“Don’t mention it.” I say.

“I also hadn’t realized how skilled a fighter you were.” She added. “Sure in game you’re okay, but I didn’t think you’d be that way in the real world as well.”

“I’ve been trained by my father since I was 6.” I say. “Honestly, it’s kind of a drag…”

“But you’ve learned some neat tricks.” She noted.

“Yeah, but it’s all about discipline.” I say. “Dad tells me how the style requires ‘absolute focus’ and whatever. Just never could get behind that.”

“What style is it?”

“No clue.”

“How do you not know?”

“Dad says it’s something called the ‘Kyosho Style Traditional Martial Art’. Whatever that is…”

“A family technique?” She asks.

“Yeah.” I confirm. “Though it didn’t come from my family judging by the name.”

“Hm…”

“Anyway, you looked like you had some skill of your own.” I note.

“Oh… yeah, I’m… self-taught.”

“Pretty good for self-taught.”

“It’s enough.”

“I noticed.”

Our conversation carries us to the school gates faster than we knew, and we part ways to get to our classes from there.

I had class 3B while Rena has class 2A.

---

Class was going as usual. The teacher was giving his usual boring lectures while I stared out the frosty window, watching the snowflakes pass gently outside the glass. I got to thinking about the dream again. I tried to shake it off, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to make anything of it, but it just kept coming back. I tried to distract myself by thinking of other things, but that didn’t work either. I was worried I’d have to think of something arousing as a fucking drastic measure when suddenly a sharp pain hit my head, making me inhale sharply and put a hand up to my head.

“Ngh…” I groan. “The hell?”

Another sharp pain hits me, and my head lowers as my eyes shut tight and I grit my teeth, trying not to make a scene. I could hear a voice in my head. A voice I didn’t recognize. Its voice was clear enough for me to hear but what it was saying was unintelligible. My ears started ringing, and I was just about ready to cry out in pain when the teacher caught my attention.

“Something the matter, Haseo?” He asked.

I snapped out of it and looked to him. The entire class had their eyes on me. The pain in my head subsided and I felt no after effects, like it had never happened at all.

I shake my head.

“No…” I say. “I’m fine…”

The teacher gave me a look but went back to his lecture.

What the hell was that? What did I just hear? God, it hurt like hell. I press on my temple to rub off any pain left over and continue staring out the window.

Just what the hell was going on?

---

I got home a bit later than usual. I tend to have a slower pace in cold weather, and on top of that I still couldn’t get that dream out of my head.

I enter my house silently, hanging up my coat and kicking off my shoes as I slowly head to my room. Seemed dad noticed the mood I was in and stopped me before I got there.

“Something on your mind?” He asked.

I look over to him on his usual seat.

“Um… no. I’m fine.”

“Except you aren’t are you?” He says.

“Dammit…” I mutter.

Somehow dad always knew what kind of mood I was in the instant he looked at me. He was that way with everyone, and so was mom. Couldn’t figure how they always knew other than pure psychic ability, but that was assuming this wasn’t the real world.

“C’mon.” Dad says, getting off his seat and heading towards the dojo. He stops and gestures for me to follow. “C’mon, let’s go.”

“Agh…” I moan as I follow.

We get to the dojo and dad turned on the lights. He walked over to the weapon rack on the wall and grabbed two weapons.

“Head’s up.” He says, tossing me one of them. I catch it in both hands and look down at it.

It was a real katana, I realized, not the bokken I was accustomed to.

“A real katana?” I ask.

Dad stood across the room from me, holding his sword in his left hand.

“Alright, let’s go.” He says nonchalantly.

“Are you serious right now?” I ask. “We can’t do this with real blades!”

“Says who?”

“Says me!”

“Well why not?”

“The fuck are you thinking?!”

“Just come at me already.” He says. “Dinner’s almost ready.”

I look down at the blade in my hands, then draw it from its scabbard. The blade was black with a shining chrome edge. It had a black handle weaved in white cloth, with a chrome pommel and crossguard. It was heavier than the bokken I was used to… in fact it seemed heavier than a katana should be… like there was something weighing on the blade itself…

“Let’s go.” Dad says, waiting for me. “I’m hungry.”

I let the scabbard drop to the ground and hold the blade with both hands, taking a stance. I had no idea what he was thinking… I didn’t want to hurt him. I hesitated for a bit, but decided to give him what he wanted. I rushed in, curving the blade downwards before slashing up quickly.

I missed.

Dad was behind me before I even knew it, and I spun around to slash at him, but he backs up swiftly, dodging that as well.

I look to my blade. Something about it didn’t seem right… it felt… unnaturally cold and heavy… I didn’t like it.

But still, dad was waiting for me, so I rushed in again. I swiped at him multiple times, and he dodged each one. Albeit, I wasn’t really trying. I was making it easy for him to dodge. He knew that, and he took the opportunity to draw his blade and make a small cut on my cheek. I back up and put a hand to the spot, feeling blood drip from the wound.

“I won’t be afraid to hurt you, Yamato.” Dad said.

“What the hell is wrong with you?!” I shout at him.

“Fight like you mean it.” He said. “I’m not going to go easy on you.”

He meant it… he really meant it. He was going to hurt me… I was scared… he was never like this. What changed? Was he really willing to hurt me like that? I was his son… he couldn’t…

Suddenly, he was right in front of me, hand on his blade, ready to strike out. I barely reacted in time to brace my sword in front of myself to block it, but it still sent me back and sliding into the ground.

I lay down there, staring up at the ceiling. That was meant to kill me. If I hadn’t reacted it my head would be rolling on the floor. This was crazy… my own father was trying to kill me… I slowly stagger onto my feet, readying my blade. He stared me down, eyes cold and emotionless as I moved in. I brought my blade down onto him, and he braced his own above himself to block the blow. I follow up by kicking inside his guard, nailing him in the stomach and knocking him off balance. He staggers back a bit, but recovers shortly after.

“Why did you hesitate?” He asked. “You could’ve had me there…”

I could have… I knew that. He was open and I could’ve used that… but he was still my father. I couldn’t hurt him…

Suddenly, he was in front of me, blade drawn and pointed at me. He thrust forward, and I step to the side, pushing the blade away from me. He wasn’t done, though. He curved the blade back and sent it my way, forcing me to duck under it. I retaliate by slashing upwards with a strike that he easily defends against. I step forward and launch another attack which he blocks, locking blades with me. He spins his blade around, taking mine with it, and managed to throw my sword outwards, leaving me wide open. He takes a step forward, and slices into me, cleaving me clean in two.

I saw that before it happened. We still had our blades locked together. I suddenly knew what I needed to do. Same as I saw, he spun his blade around, and threw mine off, but this time, I use the momentum to spin around and step to the side, simultaneously dodging his swing and putting me into a perfect position to attack from behind. I don’t hesitate this time. I bring my blade down on him, fast and hard, meaning to strike him down as he meant to strike me down. He still sees even that coming. He braces the scabbard of his sword behind him to block my blade, before swinging his sword out to hit me. I see the blade coming and react fast enough to rebound it off my own, sending sparks as the swords clashed. I moved in on him, swinging fast and hard, forcing him to back off and gain some distance.

I look down at my sword. It felt lighter than when I first held it… in fact, it felt almost weightless. I could feel an energy flowing through it, almost like it was guiding my movements…

“Now you’re starting to see.” Dad snaps me out of it and grabs my attention. “The blade you hold in your hands… what is its name?”

“I… how am I supposed to know?”

“Ask it.”

“Ask it?”

Ask… the blade? What the hell did he mean by that? It wasn’t alive. It was just a weapon. You couldn’t ask a weapon what its name was…

But even so, the name came to me. It came to me so naturally… like I had always known this sword… like I had used it before. I felt a connection to it… t felt strange, but... like it was something I already knew how to do. It was a bit scary, and I find myself dropping the sword, gasping a bit from the foreign, but somehow familiar feeling. My father stepped up to me, picking up the blade and taking the scabbard off the ground, sheathing the blade.

“Come on.” He smiled warmly. “Dinner should be ready by now.”

Dad seemed to be back to his normal self… but I don’t know… I got the feeling that what I saw WAS his normal self… and it scared me.

It made me wonder who my father really was.

Ad blocker interference detected!


Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.