Yumi blinked in confusion returning to reality. The sting on her cheek went almost completely unnoticed as Yumi tried to re-establish her situation. She looked down her arm to see Chiharu tightly holding her wrist out of the way of Photine. The energy in her hand wavered, but spun around waiting. Yumi's eyes shrank in horror when she realized what she had almost done. Responding to her diminished desire, the energy evaporated.

Chiharu released Yumi allowing her to back away a couple steps. 'I lost control of myself…to those delusions…what's wrong with me? I almost…' She glanced over at Chiharu, who stood between them now. A strange innocence burned into Yumi's face. It mixed awkwardly with the horror and disbelief. Yumi suddenly transitioned to surprise realizing Chiharu was safe and stood before her. "Chiharu! You're alright!" She began to move towards the young girl wanting to touch her and confirm reality. "We didn't know what happened to you."

"That can wait," snapped Chiharu. Her features narrowed to a point. It brought Yumi to a sudden halt. "Your foolish recklessness nearly got everyone in the area killed, including your brother! What were you thinking?!"

The scolding turned Yumi's voice meek. She only managed a stutter. It was all so much of a blur to her. She just wanted the delusions to end. Yumi did not fully understand what went through her. A strange feeling overcame her losing control. It made her retreat into her mind. 'What did I do? I-I…my brother…' Her body ran colder than the winter they walked through in Antarctica.

Chapter 161 – Lost Comrades

Numerous small fires still hung barely lit around the charred crater. A smoke cloud loosely covered the area. The battle between Fumiko and Stamatia ended a while ago, but their passion left the area in raging turmoil. Heat still dissipated from surface. It made the air thick and chunky. A single breath taken in was enough to make one choke.

No one entered the area. The fates of both women waited on endless spires of time. But waiting for them finally came to an end. The long held silence broke with the crumbling of roasted wood planks. Out of the smoke, a dirty and charred arm broke free. A second hand lifted up to pull themselves out of the pile. The blast from their attacks sent them flying away and buried under debris. She barely held on through it all with only a sliver of consciousness. Her stubbornness saved her.

Stamatia coughed and brushed aside the strains of hair in her face. Her military uniform appeared back on her. It shined an oddly bright shade of white as though it remained pure. A long fatigued expression drew across her face. She stood, but it did not look like it was enough. She appeared defeated by something.

A wrinkle swept over her brow. It made her body shake. Stamatia lifted her hand up clinching it into a fist. "Damn it…I'm right…" Her eyes widened suddenly as her legs lost their strength. Stamatia collapsed to the ground a moment later. She struggled to claw back up, but her hands found nothing. Even her stubbornness gave her no strength. She was completely empty. "…damn it…" Stamatia passed out.

Out of the shadows, stepped a tall man still mostly obscured by the night. The moon gave enough light on him to reveal his white uniform. He knelt down next to Stamatia checking on her condition. "That baggage of yours is going to get you killed one day." His head lift to scan the area. Standing within the battle zone rather than outside gave a different feel. "You were a bad match, but in the chaos the Captain didn't have a lot of options."

He stood up and started walking away from Stamatia. The view he had of the fight from beyond the danger gave him a better idea of the aftermath than those in the Command Tent. He strode over to the opposite side of the crater. 'The scale…hard to believe if I hadn't seen it myself…' Witnessing the destruction caused by two fire wielders reminded him how dangerous it was when two non-humans clashed. He had not seen such damage since the rebellion and only in reports. He imagined it looked very similar.

"She fell around here somewhere…" he noted aloud. His eyes scanned the area, but saw nothing that stood out to him. A ripple expanded from his feet. It turned the entire area into a flat plain black surface of little characteristic. However, he did not need anything special. It gave him exactly what he wanted. He found the body of Fumiko no longer covered by the debris she buried herself in when she fell.

Before moving closer, he examined her from a distance. The flame arm returned to the normal state. Apart from the missing arm, she looked an average girl caught in the wrong place. He knew not to trust appearance, but it still unsettled him seeing someone nearly a third his age involved in such things. 'I wonder if this is how the rebellion started… incidents like this…' A complicated thought entered his mind. He preferred to keep his distance from such thoughts.

He reached down to pick up Fumiko. "She just needs to be captured. It's a little lacking in honor taking advantage of someone else's work, but we're all just following orders." When he came in reach of Fumiko, a fist flew out at him. His hand stopped it, but not without being pushed back some. It made his eyes narrow becoming serious. "That's some strength you got for your condition."

Fumiko panted heavily as she finally had a real moment to breathe. 'I'm glad I hid… I got him nice and close…' She shut down her outward fatigue and focused on the sneak attack. Her magic felt small, but still available. Fumiko had not experience the feeling of missing her magic. It almost felt like half of herself was gone. She knew it would eventually come back. She just needed to keep going.

It took longer than she thought to get her magic to move for her. The usual feeling she had when it flowed did not occur. She felt blocked. 'Come on! I still have enough! Don't stop now! Just a little more!' Fumiko's eyes thinned out as she forced her focus, but nothing came to her. Something felt wrong.

Regaining his position, he gripped Fumiko's extended arm and started to pull her over his shoulder. "If you're wondering, I've negated your power. Watching your fight with Stamatia I saw something was off about you. Seems my guess was correct. I don't know what this means you are, but you're as normal as everyone else now."

Cosmas glared down at the two bodies of Seiji and Nerine. He removed the swords from them. Blood continued to pour out around them. "Tch…damn bastard… how'd I miss his heart?" Cosmas materialized a weapon in his hand. "That's some force of will to stay alive…but not a lot of good it is going to do you with a blade through your heart." He moved the sword to hold over his back. "I won't be missing this time."

The sword slid down into Seiji's back. A new source of blood poured out as the metal came closer. "Almost—" A slab of wood suddenly erupted from the ground and knocked Cosmas' hand away. The impact sent the sword into the air trailing blood before it disappeared.

Cosmas nursed his bruised hand as he glanced over at the cause. "I thought I dealt with the Captain's back up…" The one running towards him was not the same MP user he knocked out earlier. However, it did not take him long to figure out who it was. "The fight must have drained me if he was able to materialized next to me…" He stood up and turned away before turning invisible. 'Can't have myself discovered…though I'll need to find a time to silence these two… I hate loose ends…'

Arriving late and slightly short of breath, Miltiades surfaced from the dark of night. He personally released himself from the infirmary after everything that happened. Knowing that they attacked their camp made him want to do something. He was not about to let them go around hurting everyone. Unfortunately, he realized that he was late. "What happened here? Who was the one that fought him?"

Burdened with only questions, he searched the area quickly trying to find anyone. The one he stopped disappeared and left nothing behind. "Why were they trying to kill him? We were only given capture orders. The orders haven't changed while I was out?"

A shallow weak cough dripped more blood to the ground. It drew Miltiades back and impressed on him the critical nature of both of them. "I have to fix them up. We'll have answers back at camp." Ripples expanded out from his feet. Particles of light floated up off the ground starting to cling to Nerine and Seiji. "I've got to hurry, or all I'm healing are a couple of corpses. A dead prisoner will be even more trouble…"

In the Command Tent, the situation calmed immensely. While the chaos in the camp was unplanned for, it still produced results. Early reports gave signs that the fighting was ending and the radar backed it up. They would soon have more captives and half of the group subdued. Everyone felt the battle turning to their side. They had a victory, finally.

No one spoke a word about it to Simonides.

Simonides remained still after he got in the last reports. The troubling news he gained from the last fight left his entire body tense. He could not believe his instincts failed him. Outside of the timing, everything went as he hoped. Yet they acted counter to his information. It did not sit well with him. 'He's dead. It was my orders.'

Amidst the turmoil in his mind, he looked around at the other reports and the radar. The ugly image it present of his camp. He paid a terrible price for his trap. 'So many died tonight…my miscalculations…' Even with the bad timing, he never imagined how much damage they would cause. He thought his preparations were enough, but caught off guard in the worst possible time. 'I shouldn't have relaxed the guard…what did I miss? What don't I know about them?'

The peace times Atlantis faced rarely saw any causality. Only mistakes caused them. His mistake caused it. A clean record burned to ash in a single night. He continued to question himself. Simonides remained silent as he glanced at his soldiers. They watched him and the scene waiting. Most understood well enough, he saw it in their eyes. However, the longer he held his words the stronger the tension returned. The ease faded away as though never existing.

As Captain, he knew he had to face mistakes and even the worst of mistakes eventually. He knew it, but it did not make it any easier. Simonides stiffened his body and faced the men. "Bring the prisoners to the detention tents. Make sure to have MPs are always on watch! Keep their powers sealed at all times! They won't be escaping!" His hand rested on the radar. The scan of the camp left a sour taste in his mouth. "Gather all able body men! This camp needs our help!"

The Commander nodded in agreement to him. He turned around barking orders to the individual officers. It only took a few seconds for the tent to almost be empty. Abeiron walked over to Simonides. "These things happen, sir. We are victorious."

Simonides slowly shook his head. A point of the radar made his eyes shrink and features narrow. "Not yet…we still haven't received a recent report from this area. I know Photine appeared against orders, but we still don't know the outcome or who this third person is." He was not sure if he should believe it, but his gut was nagging him stronger than it before. Something felt wrong. "Abeiron send another MP."


"I won't see another mistake tonight."

The weight on Yumi kept her from moving. It scared her. She could see herself moving slowly to kill the woman. Yumi did not think she would go so far. However, the image of the boy came back to her. She remembered him, but only vague notions. One thing she knew for sure was that he was dead. His body was nearby her. 'When…did I while I was in delusions? I did it…there wasn't anyone else…' She could not remember how it happened.

Every time she tried to recall it, her mind went blank. It made her head ache trying to think about it. She knew she had to know, but something stopped her. Why could she not know? What stopped her? She had so many questions. Yet she had one answer that was larger than the questions. He was dead. She did not even know their name. She knew nothing about him.

Yumi sat down next to him. Her hand stretched out towards him, but stopped. She could not touch him. 'What right do I have…' She never thought their rescue would have such things happen. It was not even a consideration. They only wanted Yori, not to hurt anyone. 'She'd say they were just following orders…but still…'

Another crack shattered the silence. Chiharu stood in front of Yumi, her hand finished moving. "There's no time for pity and guilt. We're still in enemy territory and your brother isn't safe yet." She grabbed Yumi's arm, as she was still stunned. "Get moving! If you freeze over something like this you'll be the next to die!"

It took a few moments for Yumi to process everything. But with Chiharu yelling at her, she felt her body moving on its own. She stood up to face her. "Someone died! Because of me! Do you even understand what that means?! Life isn't something that is so worthless it can be tossed away without a second thought!" Yumi felt her chest pounding and her breathing hastening. "I'm not like you!"

Chiharu's features narrowed. Her body shook a little as she lost some of her control. She slapped Yumi again. A couple different emotions fought to come to the surface with her struggling to keep them in check. "Don't think you know anything about me," she delivered with a tone so heavy it masked out the venomous undertones.

Yumi staggered a step back. She always knew Chiharu had another side to her. But she did not expect it to be so cold or dark. It felt like she stepped on a landmine. She wanted to say anything, but the piercing eyes kept her silent.

Shifting looks, Chiharu ended her stance and turned away. She felt Yumi starting to move again. In the end, moving forward was all that mattered. They could not stop moving. 'Something's off…' The air suddenly changed with a heavy mood. Chiharu froze and spun around trying to determine what her senses warned her. However, it was too late.

A light flashed quickly through the air before a wet noise rang out. Chiharu turned her head towards Yumi. Her eyes widened in surprise at the sight. She bolted over to reach Yumi even though it was already too late. Nothing could be done.

Still confused, Yumi stumbled a little from the force that slammed into her. Everything felt slow to her sight. She saw Chiharu running towards her with an unusual expression. It made her wonder what happened. Something hit her, but it happened so fast she did not felt anything. "…what…" Yumi tilted her head down to see what hit her.

A large sword pierced her body and hand, which tried to protect her. The blade ran through her heart. "…oh…" she whispered, upon the discovery. It did not felt real to her. Her eyes looked up and saw Photine behind Chiharu with her hand extended. It was all happening too fast. Her mind started to go blank and an awkward pain reached up into her chest clinching down tightly on her. Yumi lost the strength in her legs, beginning to fall backwards. "It's over?"

To be continued…