Chapter 4: Life of a Soldier

Remi felt rather blurred. Just waking up, the fast movements in front of him were ignored by his brain, who was trying to jog itself up into optimal condition. He felt all tingly, as if all of his muscle fell asleep. Only when the man spoke, did his brain caught up.

He stayed still and watched the man carefully, whose attention rest solely on Enshrine. He reached slowly to grasp the wooden container filled with heavy coins.

The man smirked down at her. "Well, I'll get a big bounty for you," he said.

Remi threw the wooden container at the man, its content spilling everywhere. The man jumped back in surprise, giving enough time for Enshrine to spin around grabbed her sword. She slammed her foot into the head of the man she pinned on the ground, knocking him out. She leveled her sword at the bounty hunter.

He was dressed in a black suit, dress shirt and dress pants. A silver handgun nestled comfortably on each of his hand, one engraved with a dragon, the other a tiger. He got style, Remi thought before mentally slapping himself for complementing the enemy.

Enshrine charged him, swinging her sword for a slice. The man moved in close and ducked, rolling below the blade, before pointing both gun up, and fired. Both bullets missed her.

A sound similar to a camera auto-focusing brought Remi's attention to the window, where he saw a large robot floating in mid-air, aiming the barrels attached to its hands at him. He closed his eyes, his mind cowering as he heard the gunshots.

As second after second past by without any pain, he began to have doubts. I'm not dead yet? Or, I died already and this is the afterlife? Afterlife? Oh damn. God's going to kill me for being an atheist. Can I be painfully peppered by bullets instead? Please? No?

He slowly looked up expecting to see either a very bright figure or a red figure with horns. Instead what he saw were rows after rows of books. What the? He looked around and noticed that he was sitting on the floor, at the end of an aisle framed by two bookshelves. In front of him, a book lay. Outside, the sun was setting, throwing a beautiful orange ray of light over the city, creating long dark shadows, but the book doesn't seem to be touched by the light. It had no shadow, but it was devoid of the orange that highlighted everything else.

The sound of paper against paper drew his attention to the only other person in the room, a girl with black hair. Flip. Flip. That's not god. It will not be god. I'm not dead yet. He calmed himself down, stood up and approached the girl.

"Uh…hi," he said, smiling.

The girl continued on reading. Flip. Flip. Her silver eyes continued to scan line after line of text. Her face wasn't serious. It wasn't relaxed either. It was just there. Like a mask. The girl reached the end of a chapter and closed the book gently. Her head moved so she could look at him.

She stood up and pushed the book she was reading onto his chest. Confused, he took it. "For me?"

The girl looked at him for a moment and silently nodded. "It is a good book," she said quietly.

"I'm Remi Angkhos. You are?"

"Hika."

"Is this afterlife?"

"No." Good.

"How long have you been here?"

"A long time."

"Is that so?"

She continued to look at him, but stayed silent. He scratched his head awkwardly. She nodded and walked away. What? She turned into an aisle, disappearing from his sight. Remi continued looking at the last spot where he could see her face, his mouth slightly open. He glanced down at the book, then realized something important.

He ran after her. "Wait! How do you get out of here?" Damn! She's going to mysteriously disappear isn't she? To his surprise she was simply sitting on another table, reading a different book. That's slightly anti-climatic… wait, I shouldn't complain.

He walked up to her. "Can you get me out of here?" he asked her. She nodded. Before he could say anything further, bullets pierced his body. He screamed in surprise and pain. I change my mind. I'll face god. His brain burned with the pain.

In the edge of his vision, he could see the robot taking another aim. A sudden something forced its way through the robot's head, its speed creating a shockwave that obliterated the whole upper part of the robot.

The man that Enshrine's been fighting with clicked his tongue, and pulled a pin from his belt. Smoke ejected from his belt, covering the room in seconds. When it cleared up, he was gone.

Enshrine looked out the window. "Jinx! Where are you now?" she said, opening up her comm-link.

A patch of air shimmered slightly, before revealing a second robot. Around ten feet tall, it hovered near the window. The armor was a dark grey color, adorned with white markings. It held a big rifle, which at the moment, was pointed at the ground. An amused voice answered her. "You called, Enshrine?"

Enshrine opened her mouth, thought about it for a few seconds, then closed it again. "You were lying, weren't you? You've been here since I arrived," she said, her voice hot with anger.

Jinx laughed. "Possibly, possibly. That's not too important. At least you're safe."

"Well get your ass in here and help this guy up," she screamed.

Ah, good, she remembered. Remi passed out.


Back in her room inside the Broken Fang, she let herself collapsed onto her bed. "How are Cole and the others," Enshrine asked.

"Mmm, we have a message from them. They had escaped and is going to join us at our next destination," Jinx said.

"Did he say anything else?"

"He wished that I would burn in hell."

"What did you say to him this time?"

Jinx sighed dramatically. "Because, I told him Lady Shia loves me more than him."

Enshrine looked at her most trusted subordinates. One that she owes life debts to, still unpaid as of then. She sighed, wishing that the strange man control himself better. "Why do you have to toy with one of our best?" she said coldly. "How is she anyway?"

He shrugged. "Recovering," he said, "by the way, your knight –"

"He's not my knight!" she said, though her face betrayed her worry.

" – Is very lucky. All the bullets missed his vitals, but I think he'll be out for awhile."

The door to the room slid open. A girl walked inside and bowed to Enshrine, as if nothing had happened in the past forty-eight hours. No matter how many times Enshrine looked at her, she could not shake the odd feeling of how dead those silver eyes were. However, that was a stupid reason to drop out a girl who did not cause trouble and was an amazing navigator. Enshrine could only be glad to have her on board.

"All route check," the girl said softly.

Jinx stood up from his seat. "Well then, if you would excuse me, we need to fly away as soon as possible. Medaua will have forces here in a couple of hours. I have set the next destination to Genro 4. Any complaints?"

"That's a CIP," she said slowly, "So we're lying low for a bit?"

"And repairs. If you hadn't noticed, three of our turrets are down. Combat radar is fried. Bay A has a bloody huge hole in it," by the last sentence Jinx's voice grew close to hysteria. Then he smiled calmly. "But of course your safety comes first."

The screen on the wall showed Enshrine the diagram with each area of the ship that he spoke of highlighted. "Well, you're lucky enough" she said, "A modified pocket-transport gunship against a battleship?"

"And we scratched them too," Jinx said brightly.

"How much?"

"A turret."

Enshine whistled. Even though many of the main turrets were offline due to herself and Cole's team, it was an impressive feat to destroy a turret half your size while dodging the secondary turret's fire.

"See? I told you the rail cannon is useful!"

The temperature of the room suddenly dropped. Jinx let out a nervous laugh before shutting up. He looked at the silver eyed girl, who was blankly looking at him.

"You mean the rail cannon that I specifically said you're not allowed to buy?" Enshrine said, venom dripping from every syllable.

Jinx quickly stood up and marched to the door. "Well, I need to pilot the ship. So if you could excuse me," he said, though he left without waiting for a reply. The silver eyed girl bowed before leaving the room. The door closed behind her.

Enshrine sighed and sank into her bed. "It was originally his ship," she said to herself, "But then again, I provide funding. Still, taking advantage of my long time away from the ship to purchase a bloody expensive rail cannon."

She looked up at the familiar splotched blue ceiling. "Medaua will be pissed at us for a bit, so they'll probably black list us. So I guess the IS would be a good place to go," she thought out loud.

After a minute thinking about systems' politics, she shook her head, clearing excess thought from her head. She should rest. She tapped a button on the desk, and music started playing from the speakers around the room, the gentle music lulling her to sleep.


What do you see,

He asked her,

A world of darkness

Burning with the light

She answered

Next time on Core Series: Song of the Ancients:

A Time to Unwind