Chapter 14

"I'm not satisfied with this conclusion." Darcsen muttered.

"Huh?" Leiter raised an eyebrow.

The two of them were at a small cafe by the corner of the street in Querbay. The rain pattered on the roads and sidewalks as it drenched the streets. The trees planted several feet apart from one another bent slightly following the wind.

The cafe was dim, the wooden floors and walls giving it a cosy atmosphere. The cafe was quite packed, several others sat on the large comfy chairs by the tables, fiddling with their laptops or touch pads and others sat on the stools by the counter.

Darcsen glanced out the glass wall beside the table he and Leiter sat at. "Salforis the Dreadknight. As far as I've experienced, he was a cool-headed commander. Smart as tack, that man. He put me in pretty bad situations multiple times. But when I saw him go on about being a messiah... I just know something is very wrong."

"I'm bothered by it as well." Leiter twirled her braid around three times. "I highly doubt St. Gladios would request help from a madman. Something must have happened."

"God happened." Darcsen adjusted his glasses.

"What?" Leiter flinched at his statement.

"Simple." Darcsen closed his eyes as he tried to find a way to explain. "Salforis met what he thought was God. 'God' told him that he is a messiah and that he has to destroy Heinsrich. Salforis complied. He turned insane upon trying to follow 'God's' orders."

"Sounds credible... But what, or who, is this 'God'?" Leiter questioned.

"That's what I want to know." Darcsen bit his lip. "And the fact that he had AI-controlled AMSs... That really just bugs me."

"You also wanted to find out something about St. Gladios, what was it?" Leiter asked.

"A simple rumour." Darcsen shrugged.

"As simple as it is, I want to know what it is." Leiter rebutted.

Darcsen grumbled. "Fine. There's been some speculation going on about them, mainly their war funds. Simply put, they have tons of battleships and AMSs at their beck and call, enough to put an entire continent to shame. I just want to know where that cash comes from."

"I'm not sure myself..." Leiter smiled wryly. "Isn't it from the rebels and the resistance? What remained of the resistance went to St. Gladios, including me. It was made up of the world's alliance against the Zzzyx Empire, I'm sure they had a lot of cash."

"But they lost anyway." Darcsen countered, making Leiter frown. "Putting all their effort and money in one final battle, they lost, courtesy of my amazing tactical skills. After burning that much dough, you can't expect to sell its ashes."

Leiter groaned with irritation. "Your ego is the reason I chose to rent an apartment instead of staying in your mansion."

Darcsen shrugged at her comment.

A waitress walked to their table and placed a tray with two white mugs almost full of coffee on it. "Your coffee, one Cappuccino and one Americano."

"Thank you." Darcsen smiled at her, causing her to blush slightly as she walked back to the counter.

Leiter was irked at what she saw. She tried to wash the sight away by sipping her coffee.

Darcsen held his mug close to his face and whiffed his coffee with his eyes closed. His glasses steamed up from the heat. He took a small sip and then put the mug down. "Dark. Bitter. Just like how these past few days were."

Leiter put her mug back on the wooden table. "It's almost evening. Holly and Nana frequent that place around this time."

"It's raining." Darcsen stated.

"I doubt that the rain would stop them from going." Leiter sighed.

"Should we go?" Darcsen asked her.

"After this." Leiter replied.

Darcsen and Leiter walked into a graveyard pass its silver gates the both of them holding their own black umbrella as Leiter didn't want to stand too close to Darcsen. The iron fences were as tall as two men and had sharp edges at the top. There were gravestones as far as the eye can see. As soon as they passed the fifteenth row of graves, they saw two girls sharing an umbrella in mourning gowns heading for the gate. They were quickly recognized as Holly and Nana.

"Oh, you came here too?" Holly tried to manage a smile when she stopped and talked to the two adults.

"Yes." Darcsen nodded at her.

"I've already left flowers, so it's fine if you didn't bring any." Holly stated.

"Thanks." Darcsen smiled at her.

The two groups passed by each other and went their separate ways. Darcsen noticed how Nana was tugging on Holly's arm with tears rolling down her cheeks. A frown of anxiety was engraved on his face as he eyed every gravestone.

"Holly's trying to be strong." Leiter broke their solemnity. "But I know that she's crying inside."

"I know." Darcsen muttered. "I never talked to him much, but I do know that he really meant a lot to them. No, he meant a lot to all of you."

They started to walk pass a certain row. Leiter rubbed her shoulder with her empty hand. "He was optimistic about everything, he came off nosy so many times too. But to me, I think those are his strong points."

Their squishy footsteps on the wet grass stopped when they finally reached a certain grave with a colourful bouquet of flowers placed onto it. On the gravestone, a name the both of them knew was engraved onto it. Thurston Wenstein.

"He risked his life to protect those dear to him." Darcsen stared emptily at the gravestone. "He even saved Heinsrich in the process. The boy... The man died a hero, and I'll salute him for it." Darcsen saluted at the grave.

"I really hope that you cherished the short time we had together." Leiter smiled. "I know that I did."

"Welcome home, mistresses." Juniper bowed as Holly and Nana returned.

"Thank you." Holly replied.

They took off their muddy shoes and placed them into a shoe cabinet by the entrance of Darcsen's mansion. They then wore a different pair of shoes as they went into the mansion. They walked down the hall decorated with various paintings until they reached a stairs which was carpeted red. They climbed up it till the third floor and then entered a room with a white door.

The room was somewhat dark. The rain made the day cloudy but the green curtains blocked almost all trace of light. The floral wallpaper was still visible and the two beds that were arranged nearby one another were done neatly.

Holly slid open the closet doors that were on the wall, revealing a large quantity of clothing that filled only about half the space in the closet. She grabbed a green shirt and shorts and tossed it onto the bed closest to the door. She then grabbed a white cotton dress and handed it to Nana. They changed into their respective clothes without a word. Holly then hung their mourning gowns in the closet.

Nana threw herself onto the bed furthest from the door. Her arm covered her teary eyes. Holly lied down on the other bed and covered herself in her blanket. Though night hadn't arrived, it was cool and breezy, enough to make them dozy.

Holly rolled to her side, facing the door. Tears rolled down her eyes as she thought to herself. "(Mom... Dad... Skool... Thurston... I have a curse, don't I? Anyone I gain an attachment to soon dies... Should I cut my ties off to the rest of the world? So that no one dies anymore?)"

Holly felt petite arms wrapped around her waist. She glanced over her shoulder and saw that Nana lied down beside her and held onto her.

"Thurston's not coming back anymore, is he?" Nana mumbled.

Holly placed her hands on Nana's. With an exasperated breath, she muttered, "He's not."

The FSS had returned to Heaven. Mark sat on the railings of a lounge as he spoke with Dr. Mario. Zint stood against the railings with a bored expression, staring at the ceiling. Madeline sat down on one of the couches as she stared blankly into an empty space.

The lounge was spacious and bright thanks to the large windows it had on one side. There were potted plants aligned along with the railings with a coffee table and three couches placed in front of a flat-screen TV.

"Heh. You want to give my Ace Custom an upgrade?" Mark raised an eyebrow.

Dr. Mario nodded. "It's pretty beaten up right now. Why not give it extra features while we repair it?"

"Give it drills on its knees and rocket punch or no deal." Mark smirked.

"That's... Impractical." Dr. Mario stated.

"I'll make it practical. Just do it." Mark replied.

Zint raised his hand. "Can you give the Throne an overhaul as well? The giant boosters are nice but if they get shot once, it's over."

"I'll see what I can do." Dr. Mario twirled his moustache. "I was even thinking of giving the Cherubim a stronger blade. Is that fine with you, Madeline?"

Madeline didn't respond at all.

"She says yes." Mark answered for her. "Say, how long did you have the upgrade idea in mind?"

Dr. Mario scratched his head. "Several months. Now that your AMSs are in bad shape, I thought I'd pitch the idea. I already made the blueprints, but you can add some more to it if you want."

"Hmph, I'll be adding a whole lot to your crappy designs... Tomorrow." Mark sneered. "So try to get that knee drill in. This guy I fought had those and boy did he drill hard."

"I'm telling you, it's impractical." Dr. Mario shook his head as he headed for the exit of the lounge.

Mark shouted at him as he left. "Just put it in!" He sighed as Dr. Mario left without a reply.

Zint looked at him with a disappointed face. "Do you always have to be so picky?"

"It's not picky, it's a tactical advantage." Mark responded.

"It's a tactical disadvantage..." Zint muttered as he looked away.

The door was slid open again. Mark scowled when he saw who opened it, Zint covered his mouth as he was about to throw up.

"There you are Maki!" Cornelia had the brightest grin, contrast to the blood that covered her from head to toe. She rushed up to Mark and glomped him.

"Stop getting blood on me...!" Mark groaned.

Zint made a bee's line for the door and left the room so he could use the toilet.

"I'm just glad to see you Maki..." Cornelia pouted as she let go. "These two guys started to call me 'babe' and asked me to come to their room. They offered me money but I refused. Then they used force and tried to get me to follow them against my will."

"Aaaaaaand, Strawberry Shortcake saves the day!" Mark guessed quickly. "Am I right?"

"Yes!" Cornelia smiled at him through her blood. "I stabbed them over and over and over... It was funny! They were screaming like little girls, they acted so tough before that."

"If you weren't such an asset to the Zwertzegaine Army, no boob puns intended, we'd have you executed by now...!" Mark said to her playfully.

"I know!" Cornelia played along. "But you love too much to let them, right?"

"Nope!" Mark replied boldly. "I'd rather you die right now, you psycho!"

"I love you too!" Cornelia pecked him on the cheek.

Mark wiped his cheek repeatedly with an angry groan. "Just quick being a pain in my ass, will ya?"

"No way!" Cornelia shook her head. "I love doing this to you."

Mark rolled his eyes in response.

The door slid open yet again. Mark had expected it to be Zint, back from his throwing up fit. But his gut instinct told him Zint wouldn't dare come back. His red eyes took sight of a rather tall green haired man, the only part of him being organic being his head. The rest of his body was dyed a metallic grey, fairly human-like in shape with the muscles being rather prominent. He had a psychotic smile that would strike fear in anyone's hearts.

"Arthur." Mark sighed. "Or should I call you Mateu? Uther sounds gay. Nalme is dumb. Why would your parents give you four names?"

"Ask them." Arthur replied. "But they're six feet under, good luck with that. Hmhm."

"Whatever." Mark flailed his hand with tedium. "Just what are you doing here? It's bad enough having the Psychoboobs with me. You being here just makes it worse."

"I just wanted to greet my dear general nicely after being given a fix." Arthur explained as he neared Mark. "I've never talked to you face to face before. I did hear you did something to my AMS before it deployed to Sanctuary, so I wanted to give you a piece of my mind."

Athur grabbed Mark by the shoulder and used his other hand to pull on his right wrist. Though Mark struggled with a scream of pain, he couldn't fight Athur's machine body and eventually, his arm was ripped off his body in a large spray of blood. Mark screamed and covered the wound with his other hand as he writhed in pain. Arthur waved the disembodied arm with maniacal laughter.

"Maki!" Cornelia stood still and looked at Mark with worry in her eyes. "Are you hurt?"

"Wow!" Mark replied with an irritated sarcastic smile. "I just got my arm ripped off! It totally doesn't hurt! That scream just now was a scream of joy! Get your head out of your ass woman!"

"Consider this your debt for my losing to an ordinary pilot." Arthur swung the arm in front of Mark to mock him. "Had you stayed back, nothing of this sort could have happened."

Madeline stared blankly at the three, her soulless expression not fading one bit, even as several drops of blood dropped on her cheek.

From Mark's wound, red electricity started to flow towards the arm and the blood that sprayed on the floor, wall and windows. It pulled all of the blood back into the wound. Arthur tried to hold onto the arm, but the red electricity was strong enough to make him lose his grip on it. The red electricity slowly pulled the arm back into the position on Mark's arm before finally sealing it shut in a single spark. Arthur was dumbfounded when he saw this, though Madeline and Cornelia didn't seem surprised at all.

Mark covered his face with his now reconnected right hand, a space between his middle and ring finger that showed his left eye. "I didn't screw with your AMS, you're just a weak pilot, that's all there is to it."

Arthur's shocked expression reverted back to his psychotic smirk. "What are you implying here?"

Mark took his hand off his face and clenched it into a fist, cracking it three times. "Who the hell do you think I am? I'm Mark Ayeris. Soldiers, ally or enemy, don't even dare utter my given title. The Demon King Who Reigns In Chaos. Take a wild guess how I got that title."

Arthur's eyes narrowed as he opened his mouth to answer.

Without a moment's notice, Mark smashed his fist into Arthur's face, fast enough that even his metallic cyborg body couldn't keep up. The punch tossed him down to the floor, knocking him out cold.

"Hehe, I remember that happened when I stabbed you and Madeline last time." Cornelia giggled.

"Heh, a punch to the face is my answer to every murder attempt one tries on me." Mark muttered as he kept his hands in his pocket and walked over Arthur as he made his way to the door.

He looked back at the unconscious Arthur with blood dripping down his face. "I don't think you'll remember much of this, you'll probably dismiss it as a dream. So just I could rub some salt on that temporary wound, I don't have any reason to screw with small fry like you. You may have racked a kill count, but you're way out of my league. So don't even try to come near me, Arthur."

He slid the door open. Madeline instinctively followed him.

"Oh right." Mark stopped for a moment. "You like everyone calling you Amun the Deathbringer, don't you?"

Zint walked out of the men's toilet with relief. He looked left and right at the long corridor he was at. There were only four doors there, two for the toilets, and two for each end of the exits. There wasn't any natural lighting, the entire place was as white as ivory, the ceiling aligned with circular lights.

He walked to his left. Though he entered from the right, he didn't have any intention of meeting with Cornelia so he headed the opposite direction which would lead to his room. He walked towards it with a steady pace.

From the other side, the door burst open as a woman with curly medium length light-green hair rushed forward holding onto a large pile of folders. It stacked so high that she couldn't even see what was in front of her. Zint turned around the moment he heard the door slam open but the moment he saw the stack of folders, the girl crashed directly into him.

He opened his eyes and found that the girl was now on top of him. Her brown eyes hid behind round glasses. As soon as she realised the position she was in, she crawled back with a flustered face.

"I-I'm sorry!" She apologized as she looked around her. The files she stacked were scattered all over the floor. She rabidly scrambled to pick up all the files and pile them up.

Zint sighed with a smile. He helped here stack the files, all while staring at her. She wore a lab coat over a turtleneck sweater, so he figured that she was a researcher. After a few moments, the files were finally stacked. The pile was half his height.

"You sure you can carry that?" He asked as he pointed at it.

"Y-Yes!" The researcher crouched as she slipped her fingers underneath the pile and lifted it up with a blue face.

"Are you sure-"

"I can handle it!" She walked pass by him.

The second she walked by, Zint took a look at the nametag that was right above the breast pocket of her lab coat. He was sure it read 'Precia'. He stared at her as she walked into the doors across the hallway. He really wanted to help her, but he didn't want to deny her of her right of being left alone.

Zint shrugged. "She reminds me so much of Monica... If she had a friend as loud as Shane, I'll feel like I'm back at home."

"Oh?" Mark opened the door which Precia entered, his face covered in blood. "Falling in love my wingman? It's bad luck to fall in love in the battlefield."

Zint looked back at Mark and then turned back forward as he saw the blood. "Please don't come near me when you're like that..."

Mark wrapped his arm around Zint's neck, causing Zint to look nauseous. "That girl just now was Precia, Dr. Mario's assistant. Quite a nerd, really. But you're into nerds, aren't you?"

Zint brushed Mark's arm off and then ran into the bathroom.

"What a loser..." Mark grinned sadistically as he glanced at the toilet door. "I wonder why he hates blood so much? It'll be a pain in the ass to have to handle that phobia in war..."

The day was dark and cold. In a hangar which was lit dimly, a young white haired scientist who sported a pair of glasses that seemed to shine in such a way it obscured his eyes stood in front of two individuals, one male with bandages on his face and the other a woman with pink hair.

"So you're the new recruits, I see?"

"We're not recruits." Monica replied. "We've been assigned to test pilot your experimental AMS."

"That's right." Shane rubbed the bandages that covered about half his face. "We've been soldiers for quite some time."

The scientist moved closer to Shane, all while staring sharply at his bandages. "That's very interesting..."

Shane backed away as the scientist neared him. The scientist was emanating a strong homoerotic vibe that just creeped him out. "P-Please don't get so close."

"I just wanted to take a closer look..." The scientist kept nearing him. His eyes were suddenly fixated on Monica. "That's a female right? I actually have trouble telling the difference between male and female."

"Very... Calming." Monica crept back.

"Omnor, do not proceed any further!" A woman shouted from the shadows. She had an incredibly strict tone.

"S-Sorry, Lucy-"

"What did I say about using nicknames such as that?" The mauve haired woman stepped forward.

"Sergeant Lucrecsia, sir! Uh... Ma'am!" Omnor straightened his back. He faced showed the deepest fear toward Lucrescia.

"Omnor is the head researcher around here, he's a little nutty." Lucrescia walked up to Shane and Monica. "General Gil has told me about you two. Shane Fragarach and Monica N. Raventail, am I correct?"

"Yes." Shane nodded. "Sergeant Lucrecsia Galvaneer, is it?"

"Correct." Lucrescia glanced at the bandages that covered half his face. "I had heard about what happened to you, and I give you my sincerest condolences."

He shrugged. "No need, scars are badass." He then stared at her rather pretty face with excitement. "I've heard plenty stories about you. You're quite a badass, according to the higher ups. They gave you the title 'Demon Of Ragriz', too. But that one was shared with a-"

"Enough." Lucrescia quickly spoke up boldly to silence him. "Starting today, the two of you will be guinea pigs for the Twin Pilot System we're trying to develop through this AMS, the Excarus." She signalled behind her, causing the lights of the hangar to shine.

Standing at the very end of the hallway was a dull grey AMS. It was no bigger than an ordinary one too. Its head had a v-antenna which was right on the helmet-like armor. The shoulderpads were quite pointy and the waist armour sported a single rifle right behind. What caught their attention most were the 4 ring-like things on its back which was held by together in an x-formation.

"Whoa." Monica was quite awed.

Shane on the other hand, was in an entirely different world. His jaw was dropped and his eye was practically bulging. His breathing became heavier as it went before he finally leapt in joy. "This is so cool!"

"Six sets of pilots have died testing this." Lucrescia boldly stated, killing Shane's joy.

"So we really are just lab rats on the death row?" Monica turned to Lucescia, a look of panic etched on her face.

"Yepadoodle!" Omnor sang as he danced toward them with his lab coat fluttering about. "I've brought this baby to about six bases and each time, two pilots died and I had to move to the next! So here I am!"

"H-How did they die...?" Monica was trembling as she spoke.

"Ah, they died testing it out." Omnor tap-danced on the cement ground. "The drones killed them. You see, we're very serious about making the Excarus work and we think that a human's full potential can be accessed by putting death in front of them. So the drones really are going to try and kill you."

"How subtle..." Shane rolled his eye.

"I have a feeling General Gil really wanted us dead..." Monica muttered.

"The two of you aren't going to die." Lucrescia calmly uttered. "You're now my subordinates. I will not allow any of you to die, that's my strict order. The first six sets were incapable of surviving because I wasn't the one who guided them. But I will personally guide you two."

"Well, if someone with so much respect from my past leaders would help us, I guess we don't have to worry..." Monica mumbled as she looked toward the floor.

"Hey, I'm here too!" Shane gave her a good smack on the back, making her shriek in shock. "You can believe in the me who believes in you!"

Monica giggled at his words.

"I see you have spunk." Lucrescia smiled. "That's good. This should be easier for me, my own wingmen don't have much drive with them." She put her right hand forward. "Welcome to Laplice Island. It will be a pleasure to work with the both of you."

Shane and Monica shook her hand at the same time. "The pleasure is all ours!"

Lucrescia took her hand back with a puzzled look. "That was rather strange..." She glanced back and saw Omnor moonwalking. "Not as strange as that."

At small town around the western side of the world, Wurgeist, the three remaining members of the Ragriz, Liz, Sirius and Midas stood in around a wooden table as they analysed a certain blueprint that was sprawled on the table, an old, wrinkled man in a jumper joining them.

Wurgeist was a town which was accommodated by dedicated engineers and mechanics. Though they don't get funds from anyone, they build and fix whatever they want with their own cash. It's located at a barren wasteland, though windy, the temperatures are high most of the time. The town had facilities at every corner the eye could see; the residential area put somewhere else because of the noise made.

The four people were at a really large hangar that actually dwarfed the Ragriz in terms of size. They were in a small room in the hangar which was quite cold when compared to the busy hangar.

"So, you want to replace the stealth field generator of the Ragriz with this updated version which consumes less energy and isn't as radioactive?" The old man used his index finger to guide himself through the blueprints. "But where did you get these blueprints? The technology in here is advanced and I doubt you ever have time to research such a thing."

"A friend of mine drew it from memory." Liz answered.

"Then he must be quite an intelligent individual." The old man smiled brightly. "Marry him."

"Ew, no way dad!" Liz shook her head with irk. "He's not the kind of person you'd want for a step-son."

The old man sniffed with a sad look. "I just want to live long enough to see my daughter get married. She goes off to live independently for eight years and finally comes back with a homosexual and a sexually ambiguous pirate..."

"Sexually ambiguous pirate...?" Midas' eye widened as he realized that was directed at him.

"Dad, please focus on the task at hand." Liz pointed at the blueprint. "As you can see here, the materials for this stealth field generator is much more expensive than anything so-"

"A particle stabilizer?!" Liz's dad shrieked in horror. "I won't be able to eat for ten years if I buy that!"

"That's why you use my money." Liz replied. "I actually have enough cash to buy it, all you have to do is order it and I'll pay."

"How did you even get enough money to afford it?" Liz's dad narrowed his eyes at her.

"I'm a hard-worker; obviously I'll get paid with lots of cash." She sneered.

"I just wish that you put as much as effort into finding a mate..." Liz's dad frowned.

Liz tried to get back on topic. "So, do you think you could build something like this and install it in the Ragriz over there?" She pointed at the Ragriz that was beyond the window in the room that could let them see into the hangar.

"I'll go and see myself." Liz's dad walked to the wooden door and opened it, letting various loud sounds in. He closed it shut as he walked out, causing the small room to be silent again.

Liz threw herself on the couch beside the door. "Geez... He's so embarrassing!"

"You mean Reese?" Midas glanced out the window at Liz's dad. "He's much like you, obsessed with work and machines."

"No, that's not it!" Liz smacked her head with her palm. "Every time we're in the same room with a guy, he likes to bring up the topic of marriage all the time."

Midas rolled his eye as he really didn't care of such a trivial matter. He started to read the blueprints on the table.

"Relax, at least he isn't overprotective." Sirius smiled as he chuckled. "I had an uncle who wouldn't allow his daughter to have any male contact, even with her cousins."

"Well, that's sad..." Liz looked up at him. "Maybe he wanted her for himself?"

Sirius cringed as he looked at her with disgust.

"That came out wrong." Liz sulked.

"Darcsen drew this from memory..." Midas raised the blueprint. "He has photographic memory, so it's not surprising but I highly doubt that he understands what these things say." His eye took note of the blueprints that were below the one he currently held. "Those are... AMS designs?"

"Ah, that." Liz stood up and walked to the table. "I plan to make new AMSs for you and Leiter."

Midas put the blueprint he held underneath the blueprint on the desk. There were three different designs on it. He read the names they were given out loud. "HG-07-Gibril, HG-08-Izravil and HG-09-Mariq..."

"The Izravil's for you and the Mariq's for Leiter." Liz stated. "I plan to give make the Izravil ground-based."

Midas narrowed his eye and saw that according to the blueprints, it would have 10 sniper rifles, two on each hand, four on the shoulders, two on its waist, and two on its knees. On its back, it would have 6 sniper-bits, S-Bits which were like G-Bits except larger and stronger with a further range. This gave it a combined firepower of 16 beam sniper rifles.

"That looks like overkill..." Sirius stared at it over Midas' shoulder.

"But wouldn't it be too bulky to even move, what with the large layers of armour and weaponry?" Midas looked at Liz.

"No problem." Liz smiled cockily. "I'll attach high-power skates on its feet, they don't consume as much energy as the boosters but they're twice as strong. You can still fly with the Izravil, it'll be pretty slow though. I removed the Overboost, but I think the skates can make up for it."

"Interesting..." Midas rested his hand on his jaw. He stared at the blueprints with interest until he noticed the Gibril's designed weaponry which shocked and awed him. "Missiles, beam sabres, twin Zanbers, eight sniper rifles mounted together into one, a Gram Zanber, energy-shields and Hybrid Bits? A plane-mode along with all that? Wouldn't all that require a really high AMSC to even move?"

"Ah... The Gibril." Liz stared blankly at it with a faint smile. "That one's a mixture of the Azrael, Mikail, Naqir and Hafasa. The pilot's... Well... I was planning to have Thurston pilot it but..."

"So it's scrapped." Midas closed his eye with a scowl.

"No, I still plan on making it." Liz replied. "It's always a good idea to have a spare AMS to use."

"Even after all these are built, we'll still have money to spend on meals and such, right?" Sirius questioned.

"Yeah, they gave us a whole load of cash for the salvaged parts of the Memento Mori back at that black market." Liz chuckled. "I don't have to worry about budgets when it comes to designing AMSs anymore, it feels great! I can create and create and still have money to eat lavishly!"

Midas looked away and muttered to himself quietly. "And you still wonder why your father wants to see you get married despite knowing full well of your obsession with machines..."

A young girl with tangerine hair done into two braids that hung down her shoulders sat by the edge of tall cliff and stared up into the blue sky. She pressed her beret onto her head with her left hand as the wind blew towards her.

"Annie, shouldn't you be working right now?" Her emerald-haired peer called out to her from behind, surprising her.

"It's Sunday, I close shop on Sundays." Annie didn't shift her gaze from the sky. "You should know that, Daphne."

"Are you still waiting for him?" Daphne covered her mouth as she tried to stop herself from sneezing. She wore only a thin tank top and shorts so the wind was colder to her than Annie who wore a hoodie over her cotton white shirt.

"Yes, I know he doesn't want to come back but I'll wait for him." Annie smiled wryly. "I couldn't stop the villagers that day, I didn't even try. Then he left. I didn't even get to say my goodbyes to him."

Daphne sat beside Annie on the cliff, though realizing the danger in that. "He even took Nana with him... He never liked the island, I always heard him complain that he wanted to see what's beyond the horizon. You should be happy for him, he finally accomplished his goals."

Annie wrapped her arms around her knees with a sad look. "I know I should. But I have this feeling in me that something terrible has happened to him..."

"Then just think of the funny experiences you've had with him!" Daphne smacked her on the back.

Annie closed her eye and smiled faintly. "I remember last summer when I tried on this bikini and showed it to him... His face was priceless! Hahaha!" She couldn't hold back her laughter which echoed.

"There you go." Daphne smiled at her. "Stress isn't good for a woman. It's not healthy."

Annie was barely listening. "I always wondered why he'd always sit here and stare at the sky. I think I understand a little now. It feels soothing... Like I'm in a whole different world. Daphne, don't you want to see what's beyond that horizon?"

"No, I'm fine just staying put." Daphne shook her head with a smile.

"I think I'm not..." Annie narrowed her eyes. "I just want to know. It doesn't matter if it's ugly or beautiful. I just need to know."

Deus sipped a cup of tea as he sat down at his lounging room with comfort. His golden eyes took note of everything in the well-decorated room. The atmosphere was light but to him, it was tense. So many things were going wrong, and he didn't like it one bit.

"Deus!" He heard the sound of a grown man calling his name. "Respond!"

He closed his eyes. The moment he did so, the world turned dark as he floated in an endless void. This was in fact, his mind. The only thing that appeared to accompany him were three rectangles that flashed brightly and showed three faces.

One was a man that looked around his thirties who sported a short neat hairdo.

The other was another man. He donned a pair of sunglasses but his hair was messed up as if he was in an explosion.

The last was a woman with cunning fox eyes and wavy hair.

All three of them had something in common. They each had golden eyes and silver hair.

"It was a shame that Salforis failed to destroy Heinsrich..." The sunglasses donning man muttered. "Humans are really worthless, they can't even carry out such a simple task, even after we loan them AI-tech. We should just do it ourselves."

The woman grumbled with irritation. "Adell, doing so would compromise our position. It was easy with Solomon, we had a political reason to do that. But for Heinsrich, politics won't save us. We have to bait someone to do it for us, like with Salforis, only make sure they succeed."

"Eva, using these humans is too hard." Adell groaned. "AI's the job better, and they talk much less. We can just use AIs and say there was a malfunction in the system."

Eva poked at her cheek as she looked away. "That could work, but..."

"I want to abandon our plans for Heinsrich for the meantime." Deus suddenly spoke up, shocking Adell and Eva.

"Why?" Adell asked with a frustrated tone.

"There are some... Monkeys in the middle of these plans." Deus stated. "I didn't see them coming, but they managed to save Heinsrich twice. And there's more. One of them is an Evoliur, I'm sure you two have realized that."

"So that pillar of light that almost killed me back at Sramvis Desert..." Adell bit his lip as he recalled. "That was an Evoliur, wasn't it?"

"Definitely." Deus nodded at him. "Thurston Wenstein was his name; he ended up in St. Gladios custody somehow. I did manage to capture him, but Mark let him go just to anger me."

"That idiot's a loose cannon." Eva gritted her teeth as she thought of him. "We should just let him die already. He's just waiting for us to do so."

"I still have plans for him, and he's proving hard to break." Deus rolled his eyes. "With Arthur... Amun, it took simple cybernetics. With Cornelia, it was just a simple tour and conversation to drive her off the edge. But with Mark... I've tried several times, his mind's just tough. Either that, or he is already broken."

"He's broke, I can tell just by looking at him." Adell chuckled.

"So, what's the plan Deus?" Eva asked.

"I do not know." Deus shook his head. "I have to know more about these abnormalities that have jumped into the middle of everything, so just give me some time to find out. Is that fine, Truth?"

The old man finally spoke. "Do as you please, Deus. But remember, everything we do, we do for our kind."

"I know that." Deus closed his eyes, ending the conversation and sending him back to reality to where he was relaxing as he sipped his tea.

"Sir!" A researcher barged in to the room with a happy look. "We finally did it! We finally created a successful one!"

Deus smiled at him. "Excellent work, I shall look into it to see how successful you are."