"These are your AMSs eh?"

Mark stood in front of Zero and Cipher as he looked up at two AMSs in the hangar that was held by clutches. The one on his right was black with tints of red and looked the most humane, having armour that was thin yet looked very bulky. It notably didn't have a single weapon. On his left was a pure white AMS which looked very light and agile and it wielded two rifles.

"Not bad, actually." Mark stroked his chin. "What're they called?"

"WG-01-Ashura is that black one and WG-02-Ares is the white one which belongs to me." Zero stated.

"Huh." Mark put his hands on his waists as he kept staring at the AMSs. "I wonder how good their specs are. I bet it's pretty high, right Maddie?"

It was just then that Zero realized that Madeline was standing right behind him. "How long were you there?"

Madeline just stared blankly at him.

"Where is the Major General anyway?" Zero asked Mark as he turned around.

"Ahaha, I pissed him off!" Mark laughed. "He doesn't want to be near me for the meantime, too mad I guess. I'll just have to find another personal butt monkey."

"Has your relationship always been this rocky?" Zero asked again.

"Yeah." Mark shrugged. "I pull pranks on him every chance I get. Oh and there's that thing that happened at Solomon... He's furious at me, I'm sure of that. Don't know why he doesn't show it or just quit. Such a weird fella."

"What thing at Solomon?" Zero's voice started to sound aggravated. "What happened there...?"

"Oh, I nuked it." Mark said with an eerily calm tone. "Problem?"

"W-Why did you nuke it?!" Zero who had a gentle tone actually sounded furious. "There were people there! Thousands of them! Wasn't Solomon aligned with the Zwertzegaine Army? There shouldn't be any reason to do that!"

Mark tapped at the glass of his helmet. "Well, there was something going on about a coup d'├ętat over there and several nuclear weaponry were hidden there. So nuke em' before they nuke us I guess? Really, I don't know nor care. I was told to do so and I'm just doing m-"

"Even if it were an order, that doesn't excuse you!" Zero shouted at him, rage filling the cloaked figure.

"Shut up and listen!" Mark grabbed him by the collar and raised him up. "You have freedom. You can say no when you want and do what you think is right. I don't have that luxury. No's not answer and the best I've got to play with are loopholes."

Zero didn't respond, but it was clear that he was struggling.

"These hands are those of a murderer." Mark tightened his grip on Zero's collar. "My crying days are long gone. Nothing would ever be the same the day I stopped caring, I knew that. That's why I enjoy the simple pleasures life gives me. Got that? If I wanted to, I'd kill you right now. You're just another number on my unending kill cou-"

Mark paused as he felt something strange touching his arm which was pressed against Zero's cloak. He then let go and allowed Zero to drop on the floor.

"Well, I'd be lying if I said I saw that coming." Mark was very surprised. "But really, if you're gonna get your panties in a knot and start pissing about all over me, don't think I wouldn't shut you up forever."

He then grabbed Madeline by the arm and left the hangar, leaving the two strangely dressed individuals alone.

Zero slowly stood up and looked at Cipher. Though his face was obscured, he was clearly frustrated. "We're not so different really. We don't have a choice either."

Chapter 17

The night sky had already come. Holly glanced outside the windows and saw a bright city which completely illuminated the darkness about.

"We're finally here." Holly stated. "Wanduras."

The city was still alive even though it was dark out. A landmark that could be seen high in the sky were a pair of twin towers that were extremely identical. Snow fell on the city and the stars were completely obscured by the gray clouds.

"Pretty, isn't it?" Darcsen asked Nana who had her face pressed against the windows, staring at the pretty lights. "But, like a woman, no matter how pretty she is, she could be quite monstrous underneath."

Holly, Liz, and Leiter shot a death glare at him, not that he seemed to mind.

Midas let out a sigh. "With those kinds of remarks, it's no wonder you're not married."

"Bachelor life is where it's at!" Darcsen raised his hands into the air.

Midas decided to ignore him and looked at Sirius instead. "Make sure to land it at a secluded area. We can't have anyone finding the Ragriz."

"I know, I know." Sirius nodded.

A figure stepped out of white AMS and walked onto a platform in a Zwertzegaine base hangar. He looked back at the AMS with a grin. It was blackened with dirt and there were signs of blood staining its legs.

"Ahahahahahaha!" The green-haired man laughed as he looked at it. "That was so entertaining! I can't believe how badly those goddamn brats cried when I-"

Just right then, a jolt of electricity flowed through his metallic body and left him to fall flat on the platform.

A dark-skinned, brown-haired man stepped up to the platform. He wore a long red cotton coat with matching trousers and also wore a cravat around his neck. He grew a short goatee on his chin. On his hand was a single wine glass which contained some crystal clear liquid.

"It doesn't really matter what you do." He stated as he stared at Amun who was struggling to even move. "As long as you get the job done. But seeing that brutal slaughter just now... I don't think we want you to be moving around freely."

"Dammit, don't shut down my CB like that!" Amun shouted at the man. "I'll really kill you!"

"Why do you think we shut down your CB?" The man sipped on his drink. "My subordinates are valuable, and having them killed would make me rather irritated. So I'd rather inflict pain on someone I was forced to take into my base. That person being you."

"Goddammit!" Amun was using all his might to just move one finger, but his body refused to move at all. "Release me already!"

The man grumbled at Amun. "Fine." He then drew a remote out of his pocket and pushed one of the buttons on it. "I'm leaving energy distribution at level 1 for now, you'd be about as strong as my grandfather."

Amun used the railings on the platform to help himself up. He was trembling; the psychopath couldn't even support his own weight. "Your grandfather must be really weak."

"My grandfather is dead." The man stated as he stirred the liquid in his wine glass by shaking it. "I wonder why they didn't just cart you off to hell..."

"It's because that place doesn't suit me at all, Khelm." Amun had his hands gripping the railings. "They wouldn't let me stay there because I'd mess up the place."

"As if you can do anything to the devils that live there." Khelm attempted to tick Amun off as much as he could while the cyborg was still pretty much helpless. "They'll just trap you in an eternity of suffering. That's pretty much a hobby for them."

"It's your hobby too, isn't it?" Amun leered at him.

Khelm sipped his drink again, finishing it. "Maybe. Probably. Possibly."

"Hey." Zint slid a door open to a very messy room.

Just then, Mario sat up from beneath a mountain of paper and files. His eyes were baggy, as if he hadn't had a night of sleep. "It's-a me! Mario!" He seemed deranged for some reason.

Zint glanced at a file he held in his left palm. "I was going through the designs of the Ophanim-"

"Throne." Mario interrupted him. "It's called the Throne eeeeeever since you inherited it."

"Right." Zint had a rather irked look. "So anyway, I wanted to ask you about... Well... This."

He showed Mario a page from the file which had the blueprints of the Throne laid out. His finger pointed at a pair of strange looking 'wings' with sharp edges.

"Oh." Mario stroked his thick moustache. "I didn't redesign the Throne actually. I had to hand that job to my assistant."

"Precia?" Zint raised an eyebrow. "Do you know anything about the Throne at least?"

"Nope!" Mario shouted. "Now if you don't mind me, I'll be taking a much needed nap!" He lay back down and buried himself beneath piles and piles of notes and files.

"What a pain..." Zint sighed as he left the messy room. "But then again, this could very well be my chance... Use the Throne as an excuse to get close to her..." He then cautiously looked around the bright hallway just in case Mark was eavesdropping or at least appeared out of nowhere like usual. "General Jackass isn't here so I know this can't fail!"

The Ragriz was already landed and its crew sans Holly and Nana were waiting right outside the now transparent airship. The Ragriz was left in a spacious area inside a pine forest which looked white from all the snow that had fallen on it.

"A pine forest?" Darcsen raised an eyebrow as he looked at the area were the Ragriz was landed. "Well, I doubt anyone would find the Ragriz, unless they're looking for Christmas trees. Still, it's pretty bad considering that huge track of snow."

His finger pointed at a strange track of snow left over the snow. The Ragriz's Stealth Field was activated, making it and whatever was stored in it transparent to the outside world. It still existed however, and the snow that was landing on it was slowly making out its shape.

"If we leave it there for too long, it'd get spotted." Midas grumbled.

"Nah, I just need to be here for one night, and then we're off." Darcsen smacked the soldier on the back, but no reaction was given back to him.

Leiter's face brightened as she heard that. "Ah, so we're going to rent a hotel room? Great! It's all on you, Darcsen!"

"I have to pay?" Darcsen scowled. "Come on, don't all of you have cash in the banks?"

"If we withdrew our money, St. Gladios would be able to track us down." Sirius stated with a sigh as he leaned against a tall pine tree.

"Yeah." Liz nodded. "I had to open a new account to store all that money I got from the black market. But that cash... That's for my personal use."

"Hey, don't be selfish!" Darcsen barked at her. "You can't just hog all that money for yourself!"

"'Personal use' as in AMS engineering." Midas glanced at the spectacled man.

"Oh, right." Darcsen rolled his eyes. "I should have known. This mysterious-aged lady is married to her job."

Sirius coughed and snarked in a very quiet voice. "Which is no wonder why her father wants her to marry a person..."

"Did you say something?" Liz glanced at him.

"Nope." Sirius shrugged as a response.

"Did we keep you waiting?" Holly asked as she climbed down the ladder situated on the Ragriz's exit with Nana following behind. "It was cold out here so I had to lend Nana one of my old coats, I didn't want her to freeze up. It was hard to rummage through all the old junk we had."

Nana climbed down the ladder after her, with Teddy cradled in one arm. "I'm so sorry for wasting your time." She was wearing a red cotton coat that was a little too big for her as the sleeves went past her wrists.

"It's no big deal." Darcsen patted the twin-bun-haired girl on the shoulder. "We weren't on a race against time or anything."

"Okay." Nana smiled at him.

"Well, let's get going." Sirius pointed at the direction behind him as he closed the Ragriz's exit with a simple push on a button of a remote he kept in his pocket.

Holly held Nana's hand and the two walked ahead of the others through the snowy forest, with Leiter following close behind. Darcsen walked quite a distance away from them, with the other three walking nearby him.

"So, what do you guys want to know?" Darcsen adjusted his black fedora with a smug grin. "I'm quite a loner and walking in a group just isn't my style. If you want to talk about something, spill it."

"How's Holly and Nana been these past few months?" Sirius was quick to ask.

"No love for Leiter?" Darcsen chuckled.

"I know that she's been doing fine." Sirius stated. "I've been working with Leiter for quite some time, she used to be rather stern and commanding but now she's really upbeat. Either way, she's tough as nails and I know I don't have to worry about her at all. I'm concerned about those two however."

"Can't imagine a stern Leiter, only an angry one." Darcsen closed his eyes for several moments. "Anyway, those two have been getting along really well. I remember hearing Nana call Thurston 'big bro' a lot. She calls Holly by her name but it's pretty obvious she looks up to her like a big sis."

"And how's she been with Leiter?" Sirius asked. "Or much importantly, how has she been with you?"

"Nana's a good girl." Darcsen smiled. "If I ever have a daughter, I want one like her. Leiter's playing the role of a 'cool aunt' with her, I guess their relationship are going pretty fine. But honestly, I think she's still not over Thurston's passing."

Liz stretched her arms. "We actually dropped by Thurston's grave before we headed to your mansion actually. There was a bouquet of flowers on it. Do they visit his grave every day?"

"Yes." Darcsen nodded. "Around the mornings or evenings. I don't think it's healthy to do so every day actually. They're still clinging to him, even when he's long gone..."

"Well, he meant a lot to them." Midas sighed. "It's only natural they do that. But I don't think they're clinging to him. I think it's more like they're thanking him for all he's done for them and for us."

"Oh well." Darcsen shrugged. "Till this very day, I still do wonder, what was that pillar of light Thurston summoned? Holly said it was a massive concentration of Baldona Particles, but it still fazes me on how it happened."

"The Baldona Particles could've come from the remnants of the blast from the Memento Mori." Liz speculated. "As for how he managed to focus all that into a pillar... That's a mystery to me. I sure as hell know I didn't put anything like that in the Azrael!"

"It's no use thinking about it." Midas shook his head. "There's not a shred of information that answer that question." He then stared into a distance, lost in thought

"You know, I always feel like you're hiding something from all of us." Darcsen leered at the eye-patched man.

"Don't you think all of us are hiding something from one another?" Midas asked back.

"We all have secrets we want to keep." Darcsen shrugged.


A door creaked open to a dark room. Behind that door was Zero, creeping behind the traditional wooden door. He stuck his helmeted head over the door like a shy teenage girl stalking her crush.

"Come in, Zero." Deus slammed a stack of papers against the desk he sat behind to neatly align them. "Is something wrong?"

"Not really, I just wanted to ask about something." Zero stepped into the room and closed the door shut. "Can I remove this helmet? It's quite stuffy."

"... No." Deus shook his head. "I will only allow you to take it off when you're alone or maybe just in front of Cipher. You are not to remove it in front of anyone else, myself included."

"Understood." Zero tensed up and straightened his back.

"So what was it you wanted to talk about?" Deus asked him as he clasped his hands together in front of his face in such a manner that it obscured his mouth.

"Uhm, I request for Cipher and I to be reassigned to another location." Zero stated.

"And why is that?" Deus raised an eyebrow.

Zero was hesitant to answer his question but managed to spit it out. "Mark." He took a deep breath. "To be frank, he's irritating me. I think I might lose my mind if I have to keep working with him."

"We all do." Deus had a wry smile on his face. "But you will soon get used to it. Trust me on this, I have known Mark for much longer than you can imagine. He is unpredictable, I will give him that, but he can be reliable when he needs to be."

Zero groaned. "But he gets on my nerves."

"That is a hobby of his." Deus chuckled. "I too, have had so many times I wish I could just dispose of him and get on with my life, but he proves to be resourceful countless times." He closed his eyes. "Is that all?"

"... Yes." Zero nodded.

"Then you best be on your way." Deus smiled at him. "I apologize, but I am not going to reassign you or Cipher."

"I..." Zero sighed. "I understand. Thank you, sir."

The crew of the Ragriz were walking through the streets of Wanduras in a single group. The streets were bustling with various people walking around, the loud sounds of chattering echoing about.

"Wow...!" Nana was wide-eyed as she looked up at the lights in the city. It was an explosion of colours dancing together with the falling snow, something she had not yet seen before. In her arm, she cradled her teddy bear which resembled a fish. "It's so pretty...!" She was walking without even looking forward.

The young girl accidentally bumped into a man wearing a coat and a hat. The man wore a pair of sunglasses which obscured his eyes, but even so, Nana could feel a glare coming from him. She could only freeze up.

"Sorry!" Holly apologized to the man as she pulled Nana away from him.

"Y-Yeah...!" Nana was rather nervous.

"Watch where you walk Nana." Holly held her hand as the two walked ahead of the others. "It would be bad for you if we got separated."

"I-I'm sorry." Nana quickly apologized to the operator. "It's just that I've never seen anything like this before... " She tugged at the red coat Holly had lent her. "It's just amazing!"

Midas was staring at a distance. "I don't like the snow..."

"Let's head to the park tomorrow afternoon and have a rematch snowball fight!" Leiter patted Nana on the back. "Leiteria wants vengeance!"

"Goodness..." Midas was not amused one bit. "I don't even want to know..."

"Hey, let Leiter play with the kid." Darcsen smirked as he adjusted his glasses. "After all, she's not a real woman yet, both mentally and physically."

Liz grumbled. "Sometimes I wonder if you really want her to kill you."

The group passed by a junction. Eerily enough, there wasn't a single soul there at all.

"Well, this is where we split." Darcsen shrugged as he pointed to their left. "Midas and I are going that way and you guys go the other way, find a hotel called 'Tres Bien', it's around the end of the street, pretty hard to miss." He took out his wallet and pulled out a credit card from it. He then stared at the five people he was about to split with, a deep thought running through his head.

"Are you just going to keep staring at us?" Sirius scowled at him. "Well, it's not like I mind..."

"I don't know who's more trustworthy to hold onto my credit card." Darcsen sighed. He stepped forward and handed it to Nana. "There you go, keep it safe."

"Huh?" Nana stared at the card she was handed. "What's this for?"

Holly took the card out of Nana's hand with a death glare shot at Darcsen. "I know we're not the most trustworthy people in this world, but we're not about to go on a shopping spree. We'll keep it safe."

"Okay." Darcsen kept his black leather wallet in his pocket. "Let's go Midas."

"Yeah." Midas nodded as he and Darcsen split away from the others.

Nana stared at the two men who left and then looked back at Holly as she started to walk. "What does that card do?"

"Oh, it's like a... Piggy bank. Something like that." Holly kept the card in her pocket. "You've never seen one?"

Nana shook her head.

"It's okay." Holly smiled as she adjusted the beanie that belonged to her late brother. "I know you haven't seen much of this world."

Precia sat down in front of a coffee table, a theory book opened up right in front of the green-haired assistant. Her room was incredibly neat, contrast to her mentor's, and it had a very homely feel to it as well.

She heard a knock on her door.

She closed the book and put it down. "Oh, coming!" She then stood up and walked over to the door. "Hold on just a moment!" She twisted the doorknob which unlocked the door and pulled it back. She then peered over the door to see a certain beady-eyed man.

Zint was incredibly tense as he held a file in his hand. "Hey uh-"

The door was immediately slammed in his face.

"It's about the Throne!" Zint quickly stated. "I mean, you were the one who designed it right? And I'm the pilot so I need to get to know the machine better!"

A brief silence followed his statement. The door suddenly creaked open with the spectacled girl peering over. "Come in."

"(YESZZZZZ!)" Zint was cheering loudly in his mind. "(This is the first time I ever got in a girl's room... It's more like an apartment room but close enough... Don't. Freak. Out.)"

"P-Please take a seat." Precia was clearly struggling to even speak. "I-I'll serve you some t-tea."

"Oh, you don't really have to!" Zint tried to smile at the frightened lady as he sat down in front of the coffee table. "I'm just here to talk a little and then I'm off! Haha..."

"O-Okay..." Precia took a seat across him, cautious to maintain a distance of one meter from him. "S-So...! What was it you wanted to talk about? The Throne is it?" Precia was notably incapable of even looking at him at all.

"Yeah..." Zint slid a page from the file to her, the one that contained a certain blueprint. "VX-03-Throne Nirvana. You designed it yourself right? So... What are those wing things? They look so much smaller than the old boosters."

"O-Oh that!" Precia glanced at the page she was handed. "Uh, well, the old boosters were so large that it was vulnerable to attacks so I made this new version of it in the form of a Bit..."

"A Bit...?" Zint raised an eyebrow. "Wait what? You mean you removed the boosters for an attack drone?"

"No and y-yes..." Precia looked up at him and looked away almost immediately with a red face. "It's like a... Like a surfboard. The 'wings' would combine into one and become a sort of platform for the Throne... A-And it could be wielded as a Zanber too..."

"Huh, that's kinda cool." Zint was impressed. "It's no wonder Mario put you in charge of the redesigning."

"Oh... But it wasn't his decision..." Precia bit her lip. "The General had forced him into appointing me in charge of the task..."

"(General? Mark? Why would he do something like that? Wait...)" Zint smiled for a moment. "(Heh, you can really be nice sometimes. I don't know if you mean to be or not...)" His heart started to pound.

Precia was shaking. "I'm sorry if I-"

Her apology was cut short by Zint slamming the table and standing up, confidence in his being. "Precia! I want to go out on a date with you! It doesn't matter when! Later evening, tomorrow, next weekend, next week, next month, next year!"

Precia was blushing incredibly hard as she stared at the confident Zint."W-What? I'm sorry, but I can't! I... I..."

"I know about your androphobia!" Zint leaned closer to her. "And it's okay to be scared! I have haemophobia! You know what? I'll even put on make-up and a dress if it'll help you talk to me!" Zint quieted down for a moment. "(Oh dear God... What have I just said?)"

"Pfft...!" Precia started to break down into laughter. "Hahahahahahaha! Are you serious?"

"(No backing down from this...)" Zint pumped his fist. "Yes! I'm totally serious!" A voice groaned in his head. "(Dammit, is Shane possessing me?)"

"... Okay." Precia was somewhat reluctant to speak. "If you'd go that far, saying no would be horrible of me... So... Tomorrow evening at The Square."

"It's a promise!" Zint grabbed the page and kept it in the file before exiting the room.

Precia watched as the door closed. "(Just what in the world does he see in a girl like me?)"

Zint slammed his back against the closed door with an irked look. "(Just what in the world have I done?)"

"So, how can we help you today?"

Darcsen and Midas sat on a pristine couch placed in front of the only door of the room. Said room didn't even have a single window, and the walls seemed rather thick, almost as if to prevent any sound from getting out. In front of them was a man seated on an office chair behind a desk.

"It's rather strange for ex-soldiers of all people to take interest in our organization." The man had a really sharp nose. His hair was bronze with streaks of purple and he had a notable amount of jewellery on his fingers and neck, all of which were quite possibly made of pure gold.

"Hm, I was coming up with pseudonyms but you already recognized us huh?" Darcsen rested his jaw in his palm.

"Darcsen Myers, The Grand Chessmaster and Vaughn Hawkeye, The Sharpshooter." The man grinned, revealing a gold tooth alongside his pearly white teeth. "It's my occupation to know things after all. But the two of you have made quite a reputation so it isn't really a pickle."

Midas rolled his eye. "Vaughn is dead. Don't address me by that name."

"Oh, is this guilt after that incident at Glacies?" The information broker placed his fingers around his chin, allowing the sleeve of his tuxedo to slide down to reveal a silver watch. "It was after that incident that you quit Zwertzegaine and we lost track of you, what have you been doing?"

Midas shot a terrifying cold glare at the man.

"I guess he's not fond of sharing personal bio." Darcsen smiled. "Then again, we wouldn't know if you'd sell out to either powers."

The information broker smirked. "I won't say anything if you pay a high enough sum. A juicy info would also be quite a steal."

"Unfortunately, we're very stingy people." Darcsen smirked back at him, as if he wanted to have a smirking contest. "We'll pay up with cash."

"I'll be the judge of how much your info costs of course." The golden-haired man rested his elbow on the desk.

"Fair enough." Darcsen pushed onto his hat. "I want some info pertaining to St. Gladios' funding."

"That's a very strange thing to ask for." The man looked surprised. "Why so?"

"For starters, I've noticed how they just appeared out of nowhere seven years ago." The ocher-haired captain stared into the information broker's eyes. "Immediately after making their presence known, they already have an army and several bases as well as a ton of AMSs. Quite suspicious, don't you think?"

"Hm, we did find that odd." The man bit his lip.

"Furthermore, they already had ex-resistance members and rebel forces at their beck and call." Darcsen was quite happy that he managed to wipe the smug look off the man's face. "This was most probably before the declaration of war, which I find rather strange."

"So you think there's a darker side to these 'freedom fighters'?" The information broker actually seemed intrigued.

"There's a shadow to everything." Midas calmly stated.

"But we don't have much info about those things you're looking for." The man sighed. "We did have proxies planted into the St. Gladios Army, but their clearance couldn't get high enough to actually get any juicy bits. We could give you documents pertaining what we've found so far, but the clearance level is only at Level 4 out of a predicted 7."

Darcsen smiled. "I'll take it."

Nana, Holly and Liz shared a single hotel room. Though it sounded like it would be fancy with a name like 'Tres Bien', it was actually quite run down. The architectural design seemed fancy enough but it was crumbling. The walls of their bedroom were cracked and it felt like it could fall apart at any moment.

"And that's why men shouldn't recommend hotels..." Liz was trying to keep herself comfortable on her creaking bed.

"I think it's the best out of the worst." Holly was lying down on the second bed, the middle one. "It must've known better days."

"It feels like there're rocks inside the mattress..." Nana was groaning.

"It's just one night, get some rest." Holly smiled at the silver-haired girl.

"I wonder if Leiter and Sirius are up to anything... Interesting." Liz was chuckling.

"You know he's not interested in women." Holly glanced at the mechanic. "And even if Sirius tries to pull anything, Leiter would kick his butt!"

"True, she's quite skilled in hand-to-hand combat." Liz muttered.

"Hey, Holly." Nana suddenly spoke up as she pointed at the beanie Holly wore which she placed on a nearby drawer. "Is that comfortable?"

"Not at all." Holly giggled. "In fact, I think I look stupid when I wear it."

"It's more for the memories than the looks and comfort." Liz raised her right hand and pointed at a silver ring with no gems or any decoration. "This was my late mother's engagement ring. I wear it as a keepsake, just to remind myself that she's there for me."

"Same goes for me..." Holly had a rather melancholic tone of voice. "I know that he's... They're all there for me."

Nana glanced at the plush bear beside her pillow. "A keepsake...?" She then took it and hugged it. "I guess so..." Her voice softened to that of a whisper. "Thurston..." She took a deep breath. "(But is it really a good thing to cling to someone who really isn't there anymore?)"

The two men walked down the cold and dark street, a weak blizzard blowing through the town of Wanduras. At this time, it was noisy out, but it was mostly mindless gibberish from various drunkards enjoying their happy hours.

"I don't understand why you'd pay for information you can find on the database of the Ragriz." Midas quickly pointed out as they walked.

"I already checked it all out." Darcsen stated. "Most of you aboard the Ragriz joined St. Gladios almost a year or two after it was made public, so I'm sure all of you did so because of their propagandas and manifestos. And probably because they pay well."

Midas shook his head. "I'm not interested in their false promises and money."

"I know." Darcsen smirked at his statement. "You've got a different reason for joining. That incident at your hometown..."

"I won't be afraid to put a bullet through your skull if you insist on bringing that up, even as a joke." Midas growled at him. "It's not something I'll take lightly."

"Relax, I'd never kid about something like that." Darcsen grinned at him, this time with some honesty in it. "But revenge isn't a very good goal to pursue in life."

"I know." Midas stated. "It'll only lead down a path of pain and misery. Unfortunately, that's all I have left."

Darcsen sighed. "I won't stop you..."

"Hey you!" A deep voice shouted from behind them. "You in the tux!"

"No one here has manners." Darcsen turned around only to see a knife pointed at his face. "Oh. How scary."

"Hand me all the money you have!" The man holding the knife looked very washed up and reeked of alcohol.

"That's why dressing fancy is a bad thing." Midas calmly stated.

"I'm serious here!" The man's eyes were bloodshot, his torn and tattered clothes seemed like they could fall off anytime. "If you don't fork over the money, I'll-"

"You'll what...?"

Pressed against the knife nut's forehead was a handgun. Darcsen's index finger was wrapped around the trigger and a single tug of a finger was enough to take a life away.

"I wonder what's faster, your arm or my finger?" Darcsen was intentionally mocking the man. "Too poor to afford a gun? You have till zero to get out of my sight. Five-"

The almost-mugger ran away, tail between his legs.

"I knew that'd happen, that's why I didn't step in." Midas turned around and walked away.

"And I knew that you'd know that that would happen." Darcsen followed the eye-patched man. "Honestly, Wanduras is beginning to crumble. Used to be a great town, perfect for some 'company'. Now there's nothing but trannies..."

"And here I thought you'd be interested in anything with a hole between their legs..." Midas rolled his eye.

"And here I thought you weren't the joking type." Darcsen grumbled. "Ah, but the poverty rate here's so high, it's no wonder the town slowly turning into a ghost town."

Midas glanced to his left at an alley in which several individuals surrounded a single trash can fire."I wonder how many people have already got stricken by it? It's most probably those information brokers. I bet they're blackmailing the entire city."

"Well, it's none of our business." Darcsen shrugged.

"Deus! Urgent news! Open up your Mind Sync!"

Deus spitted out the tea he was sipping as the voice rang in his head out of nowhere. He then put the teacup down and closed his eyes. As he looked, he was floating in an endless limbo, only three screens in front of him with three different people's images on them.

"What is it Adell?" Eva's voice was grouchy. "I was just enjoying a drink! What's so urgent?"

"Well, we're all here now!" Adell took off his sunglasses to reveal his golden eyes. "That's great!"

"You seem rather happy." The oldest among them, Truth, glanced at Adell.

"I found another Evoliur, this one was pure chance cause she just kinda bumped into me." Adell grinned as he combed his hair back. "She looked really young, probably hasn't went through puberty yet. Kinda adorable actually, she had these real cute buns on her head..."

"No one cares about how she looks." Eva scowled. "Where was she? Is it somewhere we'll have to fake an attack or somewhere we can just go to personally? Did she have anyone else with her?"

"Unfortunately, she did have some guardians." Adell grumbled. "She was being pulled around by some human wearing a stupid-looking beanie."

"It doesn't seem like it would be easy to take her easily that way." Truth looked away from the others. "You didn't answer Eva's question, where was she?"

"Wanduras." Adell smiled happily. "Does the Zwertzegaine Army have any believable reason to down it just like they had with Solomon?"

Deus answered him. "There are some infamous information brokers there, so we can use that as an excuse. Wanduras has been dropping drastically economically so I highly doubt it would matter if we destroyed it."

"The easy way, love it." Adell was ecstatic to hear that. "Searching an entire city and then convincing people to come with us is so hard nowadays..."

"Since you love it so much, you'll just have to scoop up her body yourself." Eva shot a glare at Adell.

"Ah, I always have to dig through the rubble!" Adell started to complain. "Why can't any of you do it for once?"

"For starters, you're already at Wanduras so it'll be convenient." Truth said with a calm voice.

Adell let out a loud groan.

Deus ended the conversation by closing the Mind Sync on his end and then leaned back on his chair, staring up at the ceiling with a scowl.

"I didn't think they'd find her that fast..."