Ted S.-Thanks for reviewing! Don't forget that you can submit reviews while you're logged in to fp. Sparta's Porcelain is totally amazing, btw. I'll see you when I get back from IL.

Chapter Twenty-One

Zerich reclined in his private room atop the Elgrid Corporate Towers in Kinta City. He had turned the television on, but was much too distracted to watch it. The only thing that had been on his mind over the past day was his own safety. He had locked himself up in this room immediately after his conversation with Kagura the previous day, and had left only to get something to eat or use the bathroom. The faces of Scarath, Datsuba, Eddrol, Kagura, and Ghost all flickered around in his mind ominously, and Zerich's dreams had been intruded upon by visions of each of these killers setting their sights on him.

A knocking at the door nearly doubled his heart rate, and Zerich called out hastily. "Who is it?"

"Datsuba. I want to talk to you, Zerich."

Zerich's heart nearly jumped up through his esophagus as he heard Datsuba's voice. "C-come…in…"

The handle slowly turned, and the pale general stepped through the doorway, into the room. In the dim light, his luminescent skin seemed to glow even more, and his silhouette now resembled that of a phantom's. His grey eyes seemed to shimmer in the darkness as well. Zerich, who was already afraid of the man, shivered in fear as Datsuba's ghastly appearance sent chills up the president's spine.

"What do you want?"

Datsuba looked out the window solemnly, and spoke slowly. "You scheduled this appointment a week ago, Zerich. Don't you remember?"

"Oh, that's right. I had forgotten…sorry about that." Zerich's voice trembled as he spoke. It was obvious that he was anxious of something. Datsuba picked up on it immediately.

"Are you afraid of something?"

"No, of course not!" Again, it was clear that Zerich was lying.

"I see." Datsuba answered. "Scarath told you that I tried to kill Eddrol. Do you believe him? Do you think that I am here to kill you as well?"

Zerich's eyes widened. It was utterly alarming how stable and emotionlessly Datsuba spoke. "No, that's not it. I just forgot about this meeting. I don't think any of you would kill me."

"Well then, you're entirely wrong." Zerich gulped slightly, and Datsuba continued. "Scarath was there at the hospital, but he was trying to kill Eddrol. If I weren't there, he would have died. Scarath wouldn't have ended his killing with him, either. He tried to shoot me, too. If he had killed the two of us, do you really think he would have stopped there?"

"You're just trying to turn me against Scarath. I know he wouldn't kill any of you."

Datsuba narrowed his eyebrows. "I don't understand why you're so reluctant to believe me over Scarath, but I suppose it doesn't matter." Immediately, his tone shifted to a much louder, more businesslike manner. "What had you planned our meeting for?"

Zerich sighed deeply. Well, Datsuba hadn't tried to kill him yet. That was good. "I wanted to discuss an idea I had."


"The Rumsford-Charison Sey conflict has been going on long enough. Calibur has been getting in the way of our progress. But, I have a plan. You remember Ghost, my informant, right?"


"He's developed some kind of weaponry that can shut down electricity for a massive radius. He even says that he'll allow us to use it for that war. I want him to sneak into that city and set off the weapon, shutting down their military. From there, you can sweep in and take over the city with our own forces."

"It's a solid plan." Datsuba looked at Zerich with a blank expression. "What I don't understand, is why you're so willing to believe everything Ghost says. You haven't ever met the man in person, have you? He was the one who attacked and nearly killed one of your lab workers in Detsuka."

"Everything he's said has come true so far; there isn't any reason not to believe him."

"Everything? He coerced you into kidnapping your own daughter. Nothing came out of that, except that now you have no idea where she is."

"That's of little importance to me right now. I have bigger things to worry about than her. And I'm sure Ghost had a reason for that, anyway."

"You're too trusting of him."

"You just don't trust anyone, Datsuba." Now it was easy to tell that Zerich had gotten over his fear. Anger seeped out from his harsh voice.

"Because trust leads to expectations. And no one lives up to expectations. You know that all too well, don't you?"

"What are you trying to say?"

"It's obvious that you don't really trust me or Scarath. I find it strange that you would give all of your assurance to someone you've never met."

"It doesn't matter, at least I know that he isn't plotting to kill me." Of course, as Zerich spoke, he knew he was lying. He didn't have a clue about Ghost's real intentions. It was just easier to follow someone that he thought couldn't hurt him.

"He could be using you to accomplish whatever he needs done. So far, you've been acting on everything he says. And he knows that he can control you."

"But he's not controlling me!" Zerich yelled.

Datsuba looked at the ground before speaking slower, and calmer than before. "There isn't any point in arguing with you; how about we discuss this attack that you've planned out? When do you want this carried out?"

Zerich brought his voice back down to a normal level and stared at Datsuba warily. "January Twenty-Ninth. That will give us a week to organize our troops. As I'm sure you know, Rumsford's army has been fighting against Calibur for two years. Both armies are weary, and if we fortify Rumsford's forces with our own, we should be able to take down Calibur, and finally take over the continent."

"Calibur uses their Wayburds freely. That gives them any easy advantage over us. Last I heard, Calibur had about seven thousand Wayburd users in their ranks, and all of them know how to use it well. Three thousand other highly qualified soldiers."

"We can overwhelm them with sheer numbers. Just address one hundred thousand soldiers to the conflict, and all let them use their Wayburds, too."

"Then our army will backfire on itself and we'll lose. None of our soldiers know how to actually use it well. You've heard of the Ikukane-Yoshimura tragedy, I'm sure."

"What are you talking about? I know Wayburds can backfire. That's common knowledge." Zerich glared at Datsuba. "I just don't think losing a couple thousand soldiers is really that much of a problem, that's all. You'll be in the fray, too, so I'm not worried."


Zerich walked over to a phone, dialed a number, and hit the speakerphone button. Seconds later, a drowsy voice sounded through the line.

"Crap, Zizi. I'm sleeping. What the hell do you want now?"

"Datsuba and I have discussed the attack we want you to use the EMP for."

"That's great, Zizi. Really amazing. This would be totally enthralling if I were a different person. Goodbye."



"We have to tell you the details, too."

"And this couldn't wait until morning? Whatever…go on."

Datsuba spoke up. "We will need to cooperate in order to mount the attack successfully."

"Hooray for teamwork." Ghost's annoyed tone held a touch of sarcasm. "What else?"

"You will have to arrive in the underground city where Calibur's forces are located, and find them before we can move out. We want the attack on January Twenty-Ninth, so you need to get there by the Twenty-Seventh."

"Sure. Whatever. You guys arrange the boat or plane trip or whatever, and I'm there."

Datsuba looked at Zerich harshly for a moment, and then spoke again. "I also want to meet you in person."

"Okay, but I'm not going anywhere. I live in a graveyard on the outskirts of Detsuka. Think it's called Zoshigaya. If you want to come say 'hi' sometime, feel free. Now can I go back to bed?"


Ghost hung up, and the two leaders sat in silence for a moment.

"Why do you need to see him in person?"

Datsuba sighed. "I don't trust him like you do. Even just then, he seemed unstable. I will judge whether we carry the attack out after I meet him in person."

Zerich frowned. "What do you mean? We are going to attack Calibur. You don't have the power to change that."

"What if Ghost isn't as reliable as you think? He could end up getting your whole attacking army killed."

Zerich laughed, and began to speak louder. "So? That's just a small portion of my soldiers. And, I could find someone to replace you," he added, with a sneer. "I think you're beginning to forget just who nation this is, Datsuba."

"I'm trying to think of a method that will allow us the greatest success with least chance of failure. Our manpower is valuable."

"Everyone in my army is expendable. I can always draft civilians if I need to."

"Civilians don't have the experience soldiers and leaders do."

"So then I draft more civilians to make up for it."

"You'll end up crippling Elgrid's working force, then. Your actions are much too reckless, Zerich."

Stopping dead in his tracks, Zerich glowered at Datsuba. "Remind me, then. Who was it who took initiative once Ikukane had fallen? Who was it who established an entire nation from a bunch of disjointed cities in one year? Who remained calm when all of our superiors had been murdered by those resistance factions? What did YOU do when YOUR wife died at the hands of those rebels? Nothing at all. I am your superior, Datsuba. You will follow what I say." Zerich's voice was now booming. As he finished, he gritted his teeth.

Unswayed by rage, Datsuba stood up, and spoke in a calm, composed tone. "You must feel like a very accomplished man, then. I will meet up with Ghost on my own time."

"Then do it yourself. Now get out! I have things to attend to."

"Okay." Datsuba walked over to the door, and opened it gently. "Do you wonder why there are so many who wish to murder you?"

"I said get out."

"If I had wanted to, I could have killed you the moment I walked into this room." Datsuba's passive voice echoed from beyond the doorway as he left.


Leaning against the doorway on the other side of Zerich's room, Datsuba clenched his fists. The moment Zerich had mentioned his wife's death, his throat had dried up, and tears had welled up in his eyes. Datsuba stood, leaning against the door for a few minutes, contemplating whether or not Zerich was worth killing. Datsuba decided against it. If he had a reason to explode, this wasn't it. It could be his biological mother being taken off for experimentation when he was six. Or, his alcoholic father. Or maybe his own terrifying experimentation years later, after his Dad had died of liver failure. He had a right to explode after his wife had been killed by resistance faction members. That same right was present when his fifteen year old son committed suicide days later. But not now. Datsuba sighed, and walked down the empty hallway.