Finally! After an unplanned Holiday hiatus, the story continues! Hope it was worth your wait…
-A Short While Later-
-“…And in conclusion, of all three worlds, I feel that Ar Ciel is the one that deserves our attention the most. Not only does its shattered state keep its landmasses isolated from each other, but its sound-based magitechnology is quite unique in the multiverse… to say nothing of the Reyvateils. I think you’ll realize how an all-female race whose minds can be cybernetically reprogrammed would be a great temptation for interdimensional slavers.”
-“Indeed” Weiila nodded, as Wilfredo finished his report. “Very well” she then added, “I’ll have some of our volunteer agents keep an eye on it. Anything else to add?”
-“No, that’s it.”
-“Good. Thanks again, Wil. I’ll contact you if anything comes up.”
Wilfredo nodded, got up his chair, and walked out of Weiila’s office. He felt satisfied that he’d done his part to help keep the multiverse a safer place, for now.
-OK, now what? he thought, as he stood in the hall. He had no immediate concerns. Maybe he should head to the cafeteria and have brunch while he planned what to do next…
-“Wil!” a male voice suddenly called behind him.
He turned around, and saw a young man standing not far away from him. He had slick hair combed to the side, and a beaming smile. He was wearing a white suit of light armor, with two swords strapped to his sides. At first, though, Wil didn’t recognize him.
The young man approached him with a friendly demeanor. “When did you get back? I heard you were gone on a special mission or something.”
Wilfredo cocked a hairy eyebrow as recognition dawned on him. “…Omegaflare?” he asked cautiously.
-“Yeah, it’s me!” he responded happily. “But it’s just Omega now. Easier to pronounce, you’ know.”
Wilfredo let out a hearty laugh. “Why, kid, it IS you! Man, I hadn’t seen you in a long time. You’ve changed, boy.”
-“Heey, I’m not a boy anymore, I’ve grown up” the young warrior responded playfully.
-“You’ve also bulked up. Been training hard?”
-“You bet! I’ve been doing some world exploring of my own. Fighting a lot of monsters helps build some muscles! Hey, are you doing anything now?”
-“Not particularly” the older adventurer said.
-“Good! Then let’s go over to the cafeteria, so I can tell you all about my adventures.”
-“Sure, I was heading there anyway. Let’s go!” Wilfredo said smiling, and gave Omega a friendly pat on the back as they walked towards the cafeteria.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the RPGC Headquarters:
-“…And over here is the Arena” Kairi explained, as she continued to show Leareth around the place, arms still firmly locked around his.
-“Arena?” the youngster asked.
-“Oh, that’s just what we call it. It’s really a combat room, where we train by fighting each other. NOT to the death, of course” she giggled.
-“Oh, look!” the white-haired girl said, “Looks like somebody is actually training now! Let’s go have a look!”
The two of them walked towards a large window that peered into a small room, where two figures could be seen trading blows. One was a dark-haired man with wings, wearing a white and black suit with silvery armlets and shin guards, who was flying above his opponent. The other was a tall man, covered from head to toe in a white, futuristic-looking armor, who also had feathery wings, though he was just standing on the ground at the moment, dodging and blocking his flying opponent’s blows.
-“Cool! Heaven’s Soldier and Manus Dei are sparring! They are some of our best warriors. This should be great to see!” Kairi said excitedly.
Leareth, however, had a shocked expression on his face, not so much for what he saw as for what he could feel coming from the winged warriors. However, he returned his expression to normal before his companion could notice.
-“Heaven’s Soldier is the one with the two katanas strapped on his back. He never uses them, don’t ask me why. Makes you wonder why he bothers carrying them” Kairi continued explaining. “The other one is Manus. I’ve never seen his face. He is somebody important from, uum, well I’m not sure, but he’s greatly respected by everybody, so he must be a prince or something.”
Right then, the two warriors suddenly stopped fighting, and bowed to each other respectfully.
-“Oh, looks like they are done. Hey, maybe we should go talk to them-”
-“Err, Kairi, this is cool and everything, but I’m- really hungry, all of a sudden. Does this place have a cafeteria or something?” Leareth suddenly asked.
-“Oh, sure!” she replied. “Sorry, I’ve been so excited about being the one who gets to explain things around here for once, that I guess I forgot it was time for lunch” she said in a somewhat embarrassed tone.
-"No, it’s OK” Leareth reassured her. “Let’s just go eat something now. My treat.”
-“OK!” Kairi said merrily, as the two of them walked away from the Arena, not noticing how Leareth kept looking over his shoulder towards it…
A WAREHOUSE SOMEWHERE IN BROOKLYN, NEW YORK CITY:
KABLAMM!! The sounds of gunfire suddenly shattered the silence of the night, coming from inside the warehouse. A window suddenly exploded into a thousand fragments, as a figure leaped out of it and onto the snow-covered roof of a nearby building. The figure, a tall man with dark hair and shades, wearing a black longcoat and carrying a pistol on each hand, rolled back to his feet and turned back to look at where he had come from.
BLAM BLAM BLAM!! More gunshots came out of the shattered window, whizzing by frightfully close to the dark man, who quickly turned around and ran away, jumping from rooftop to rooftop while spying back to see if he was being pursued. Luckily this area of the city had alleys small enough for him to jump across, though even for him it was a strain. The one thing he couldn’t find, however, were stairs, or some other way to get to street level. At least, the abundance of pipes, chimneys, antennas and other objects served as a cover from the gunfire.
After running for several minutes, the dark man dared to stop to catch his breath, hiding behind a brick chimney. Cautiously he looked back, guns at the ready. He did not see any sign of pursuit, but he knew his foe, and he knew he would not give up so easily.
-Damn, how can he be alive? he thought. I killed him. I KNOW I killed him. I even checked his corpse myself, blast it! he mentally cursed. Unless…
Suddenly, the sound of steps caught his attention. He peered out again. A figure was walking on the same roof, not too far away.
It was a large- no, huge- man, with almost inhuman features, all dressed in gray, with scraggly blonde hair and small eyes, also carrying two guns.
-“Gleeenton!” the man screamed. “I know you here! Show up, coward!!” he said, in a thick foreign accent.
It was him, all right: The Russian, an internationally known assassin. Or he was, until he made the mistake of accepting a hit on PC Glenton, the world’s greatest thief- and occasional hitman himself.
-“It is I, Glenton!” the man laughed. “I come back from Hell, to finish you off! Come out and plaaay!”
Glenton had no intention of ‘playing’ if he could avoid it, especially with such a dangerous opponent. He looked around- and saw that the nearest alley was far too wide for him to jump across. His luck had run out.
-“Russian!” the thief shouted. “Whatever they are paying you, I can-”
-“This is NOT about Money!” the raging man shouted back in the direction Glenton’s voice had come from. “This is about- REEEVENNNGE!!!” And then started shooting again. BLABLABLABLABLABLABLAMM!!!
The bullets tore through the chimney –and everything around it- like they were made of cardboard.
Several seconds later, The Russian stopped firing, and looked at the result of his handiwork. The brick chimney was in shambles, and the roof was covered with debris.
But there was no corpse.
-“Huh?” The assassin was momentarily stunned. He looked around, but saw no sign of his hated foe. But there was no room for him to flee, unless he had jumped down to the street, which was certain death.
Before he could approach the edge of the building to check, something fell on the snow near his feet. He quickly readied his guns again, but it wasn’t Glenton. It was a small, round, smoking object-
-“NO!!” The Russian shouted. “NOT AGAI-”
The shockwaves from the explosion almost knocked Glenton from the edge of the roof that he’d been hanging on by his fingers, but he managed to hold on. He waited a few seconds, and then pulled himself up enough to peek at the still-smoking roof.
There was a huge smoking hole on the roof, and all around it, the bloody, torn remnants of a human body.
Glenton pulled himself all the way up, and surveyed the destruction. THIS time, The Russian was dead. He HAD to be. Normally he didn’t carry such heavy explosives with him, but luckily his next “job” required their use.
The sounds of sirens snapped him back to reality. Of course all of this racket had to attract attention. He needed to find a way down, quickly-
-“Excellent work” a male voice said from behind him.
-WHAT? Glenton thought in shock, as he instinctively turned around and pulled his pistols out. There, standing not far from him, was a short man, wearing a tuxedo, with long black hair tied back into a tail, black eyes, a black beard, and a sinister smile.
-“Don’t worry. The Police won’t find us. Yet.” The man said, completely matter-of-factly.
-“Who the hell are you” Glenton asked, guns aimed squarely at the stranger’s face, “And how did you get so close to me without my noticing?”
-“That’s a secret” the man said, smiling even more, apparently unafraid of the weapons pointed his way. “You may call me… Mr. Scratch. And I’m here to offer you a deal.”
Glenton found himself blinking. The whole thing was surreal. He was standing in a bombed-out roof, with a stranger who popped up out of nowhere offering him a deal? For a moment, he wondered if he was suffering from a concussion from the blast.
-“I work for- a very important man” Scratch continued. “He’s interested in hiring your services-”
-“Tell me how you got here” Glenton insisted, weaving one of the guns on Scratch’s face.
-“Magic, of course” Scratch happily replied.
-Of course Glenton cursed internally. It just HAD to be magic.
He then turned around, and started walking away.
-“Wait!” Scratch called after him. “I know about your- problem with magic. I can fix that for you, if you want.”
Glenton stopped. He thought about it for a moment. Magic users had always been the bane of his existence. He was even more susceptible to it than average people, a fact he kept as much of a secret as he could. That this man knew about it only made him more amazing. Perhaps he could actually help him?
And yet, there was something about him- nothing physical, as far as he could tell, but- something in glenton’s being was telling him to avoid this strange man.
-“Forget it” he said, and continued walking away.
He didn’t get very far, thought, before Scratch said, “We can bring her back, you know.”
This time Glenton literally froze on his tracks. He couldn’t be talking about-
Scratch said, triumphantly. “I am talking about- Mia”
Glenton turned around, slowly. Even with his shades on, his fury was apparent. “Don’t… you… DARE speak her name!”
But Scratch was unfazed. “We can bring her back. Just like we did The Russian.”
The realization hit Glenton hard. “You- it was you??”
-“Yes. Nothing personal, of course. He had a deal with us, you see. It was just business. His vendetta against you was not our fault.”
Glenton continued to stare at Scratch.
-“The point is” Scratch continued, “That we CAN bring the dead back to life, no matter how they died. And all we require of you in exchange is a small favor…”
----TO BE CONTINUED—
-Ar Ciel is the setting of the AR TONELICO rpgs
-The Russian is a character from the PUNISHER comic books.