"Amun, have I got some good news for you!"
Khelm slid a door open to a room that was reminiscent to a prison cell. There was only one small window to the dark room with no lights at all. Lying on top of a cold and hard slab of steel of a bed was Amun, his face pale from a mix of anger, boredom and pain.
"What is it?" Amun growled at him, an intention of committing a homicide burning in his soul. "If it's you, nothing's ever good."
"Right, it's great." Khelm shook his wine glass a bit. "You've just been assigned to a mission. This time though, it's not to destroy a base or a training facility or anything like that, no ho ho...!" He threw a folder he held with his empty hand at the green-haired cyborg. "It's your kind of mission isn't it?"
Amun used all his might to grab the folder and open it to take the papers kept inside it, his strength utterly depleted thanks to the lack of energy being supplied to his body. "Operation: White Hollow?" He then read the papers and as he did, a smile started to emerge on his pale complexion.
"Doesn't that make you happy?" Khelm took a sip of his drink.
Amun threw the papers down, a creepy smile of killing intent plastered on his face. "They've finally allowed me to lead my kind of mission! Though to be honest, I'd rather have a go at it alone. And I don't want to use nuclear weapons, kills the fun out of things."
"Luck's by your side." Khelm raised his wine glass toward him. "We haven't even finished signing the paperwork to authorize the usage of nuclear weaponry but the extra men stay. They're still nuggets and we want them to have some field experience."
"Suit yourself...!" Amun sang eerily. "It's not my fault if an 'accident' happens and they die on their first day."
"Doesn't actually matter." Khelm shrugged. "I don't actually count them as assets. Do what you want as long as you finish the mission."
Chapter 18: "I can't rely on him anymore."
The morning sun was up. Darcsen and Midas were asleep on the couches in the Tres Bien lobby. They felt incredibly uncomfortable because the couches were too small for the tall men. The wooden table between them only had Darcsen's fedora and spectacles placed on it.
The elevator doors opened up as Sirius stepped out, wrapping his turquoise hair in a bandana. "Hey, Leiter, look at that."
Leiter stepped out after him, her hands wrapping her silky purple into a braid. "What the? Why are they sleeping here?" The doors automatically closed behind her.
Sirius smiled at them. "What do you think they'd do if there was only one couch?"
"Like how our room only had one bed?" Leiter asked with a straight tone as she approached them.
"Y-Yeah..." Sirius suddenly looked pale. "Please don't remind me."
"I don't want to think about it either..." Leiter said with a brood as she bent over and picked up Darcsen's fedora. "I wonder if this hat is what makes him such a jerk..."
The elevator doors beside the one Sirius and Leiter used slid open to reveal Holly, Liz and Nana. They stepped out together; all of them ready to start the new day.
Liz was the first to notice the two men sleeping on the couches. She pointed at them. "Why are they sleeping here?" She then glanced at Leiter and flinched with surprise. "And what are you doing with his hat?!"
Holly leered at her. "Why do I feel like you're more worried about the hat?"
Leiter stared at the hat before an idea she felt was ingenious popped into her head. "Hey, hey guys!" She put the fedora on and then grabbed Darcsen's spectacles and wore them. She then did her best impression of him as she spoke. "I'm super classy and so much more intelligent when compared to you numbskulls! Call me Captain Darcsen!"
Sirius took the hat away from her and put it on over his bandana. "You're doing it wrong!" He then adjusted it the same way Darcsen does. "I only do the prettiest of all women, and none of you are in an acceptable threshold. Why? Because I'm Captain Darcsen!"
"Let me try!" Liz ran to Leiter and stole the spectacles off her face and put them on in such a way that her eyes were obscured by the reflection of light on the glass. "I say that St. Gladios is being lead by a zombie leader of the Zzzyx Empire! I'm always right because I'm the goddamn Captain Darcsen!"
Nana was chuckling. "That really sounds like him!"
"I don't want to get involved in this..." Holly could only sigh at her fellow crewmates. "(Even I'm mature enough not to fool around like this...)"
Darcsen suddenly sat up as he woke up. "What the hell are you people doing?!" He then reached out to the wooden table to his right and started to tap his hand on it as if he was looking for something.
The three who toyed with his hat and spectacles and imitated him could only stare at him awkwardly.
"She started it!" Both Sirius and Liz pointed at Leiter at the exact same moment.
Holly could only frown at them.
"Where are my glasses?" Darcsen kept tapping on the table. "I can't see without them!"
"We have found Captain Darcsen's true weakness!" Liz adjusted the exact same spectacles Darcsen was talking about against her nose. "Now we will forever reign supreme!"
"No one here is a morning person..." Holly grumbled.
Darcsen stood up and walked to Leiter with an arm stretched out the same way a blind man would. He put his hand on her face and started squeezing. "These aren't my glasses..." His hand then went a little lower until...
Leiter slapped him away from her. "You can see without em'!" Her face was a little red, though it is up to debate whether it was embarrassment or anger. "You've got a million years to go before you can outsmart me!"
"Tch." Darcsen rubbed at his cheek which was slapped. "Take off my glasses Liz."
"Eh?" Liz poked at the bridge of the frame. "You can see me wearing them? I thought you were short sighted or something."
Darcsen walked up to Liz and snatched the spectacles away from her. "They don't actually have any power. I really just wear them to feel smart." He put them on and pushed against the bridge. "I can feel my IQ rising tenfold...!"
"So you wear glasses for the looks...?" Sirius raised an eyebrow. "I really don't understand you."
Darcsen snatched his hat away from Sirius. "I couldn't care less how smart I look, they just help me think clearly. It worked out in my favour all the time."
"So they're metaphorical thought aids?" Holly asked.
"Maybe." Darcsen shrugged.
"Zzz..." Midas literally slept through their conversation.
The Savior. The third-strongest battleship the Zwertzegaine has to offer. It can hold up to 43 AMSs and can house about 120 soldiers. It has enough firepower to provide support to an entire base alone. Unfortunately, the battleship isn't going into battle and hasn't been used for such a purpose in years.
The bridge was quite large and was quarter-filled with operators who constantly checked the status of the ship and outside of it too. Near the entrance was the captain's seat which was behind all the operator posts.
"What exactly is our role in all this?" Zero asked, leaning against the door of the bridge. Beside him stood Cipher who was still silent like a rock.
The captain who was seating in front of them failed to give him a response, instead leaving them to stare at the back of the chair that was being sat on.
"I demand answers." Zero stated with a gruffer tone.
The captain spun the chair around. It turned out that she was a woman and if the nametag on her chest was any indication, her name was Viola. She had short, neat indigo hair and violet eyes. She was clinging to the captain's beret in her head as if her life depended on it. She looked extremely nervous.
"I-I don't know!" Viola shouted back at him. "The big guys just told me to go to the western base and to take you two along with me!" She started to shiver. "I'm sorry for not knowing! I'm a horrible captain for not knowing!"
The operators continued doing their work, not bothered in the slightest by their captain's nervous breakdown.
"Uh... Did I say something wrong?" Zero approached her with an arm stretched out.
"Don't bother." A nearby male operator calmly said. "She's always like that. Viola has every trait a good captain should have except self-confidence."
Viola grumbled at the operator. "It's... It's kinda like that...?" She turned to face the two masked individuals. "But I'm soooo sorry for not knowing why they want you here! Please put up with me!"
"Your lack of confidence is already too much to put up with." Zero muttered.
"We're approaching the Urvoug Base in about ten minutes." Another operator stated.
"Urvoug Base?" Zero repeated. "Is there something we have to do there?"
"N-No!" Viola shook her head at him. "We're being assigned to transport several soldiers to a certain place. I don't know what you have to do with it but we'll see! I hope. I think. Maybe. I don't know!"
"How irritating..." Zero groaned.
"I'm sorry for being irritating!" Viola tensed up.
"Not you!" Zero shouted at her. "This whole business. I just got the order last night and I have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing other than 'board the Savior'. I hate not knowing anything."
"Wow, you sure are a heavy sleeper."
The crew of the Ragriz finally got out of the hotel. Midas was the doziest of the lot and still looked very tired. They were walking together as a group along the snowy sidewalks.
"Shut it Leiter." He said to her.
"But really, what were you two doing sleeping at the lobby?" She asked him and Darcsen.
"The credit card I had on hand couldn't be scanned for some reason, so we couldn't pay for a room." Darcsen groaned. "I managed to talk them into letting us sleep in the lobby. With some help of course."
"He pointed his gun at them." Midas quickly said.
"You make it sound so barbaric!" Darcsen leered at him. "I call it an 'intelligent negotiation'."
"Ugh, if that's intelligent, it's no wonder the world's at war." Sirius muttered to himself.
"So are we going back to the Ragriz?" Liz asked as she stretched her arms out. "I mean, I want to stay near it as long as I can..." A drool leaked down her lips.
"Many women fawn over good-looking men, she fawns over a frickin' airship." Darcsen coldly remarked.
"It's no wonder her father wants to see her married." Midas quietly added.
"I'm with Liz." Holly jumped into the conversation. "I don't want to stay in this city for too long. It just doesn't feel safe."
"You have a gun." Darcsen looked back at her.
"I want to avoid firing it as much as I can in neutral territory." Holly solemnly nodded.
Leiter let out a sigh. "So no one wants to do any Christmas shopping? Not even you, Nana?" She glanced at the young girl. "Darcsen's paying!"
He growled at her. "You just love using my money, don't you?"
"I don't want to buy anything." Nana shook her head with a smile, holding Teddy close to herself. "Even I don't feel safe for some reason, I think it's better if we get back to the Ragriz."
"The child has spoken." Sirius grinned. "And you know that children's intuitions are always right!" He silently added two words. "On TV."
Nana giggled as she tugged on her scarf.
"Oh whatever." Darcsen shrugged. "I for one, have ran out of things to do here. So I'm with all of you on getting back to the Ragriz. And maybe catch some much needed sleep on a proper bed."
"It's a pleasure to meet you, the name's Khelm Llibrough, rank Brigadier General."
The dark-skinned man raised his hand to offer a handshake to the captain of the Savior, Viola. She was shaking as she raised her latex-gloved hand toward his. The operators' were watching them with smirks on their faces.
"C-C-Captain V-Viola R-Rein... S-Sir!" The captain was embarrassing herself in front of her own crew as she shook Khelm's hand in a powerful yet odd manner.
"She's acting like a teenage girl speaking to her crush." Zero added quietly as he stood beside Cipher.
"I see." Khelm somewhat ignored her strong grip as he took his empty hand back. "Anyway, thank you for accepting the mission at such short notice. It was sudden to us too."
"I-It's fine! ... S-Sir!" Viola's shoulders were still tense. "F-For the sake of peace and harmony, we, t-the crew of the Savior shall always be prepared to-" She bit her tongue. "Ow!"
"Diligence does seem to be your crew's speciality." Khelm smiled as he looked at the operators who immediately turned away. "None of the airships at my base would even accept a simple transportation mission. Yours, which was all the way at Heaven was kind enough to drop by."
"That's giving us way too much credit!" Viola flailed her arms about. "I-I mean, we were the only ones who were free so yeah!"
"You still have my thanks." Khelm raised his wine glass. "Also, do be cautious of a white AMS we've put in your hangar. Don't communicate with it or get near it. Quite a hazard it is, you see."
"Understood! ... S-Sir." Viola straightened her posture with a salute.
"And what are our roles in this?" Zero suddenly asked. "What do Cipher and I have to do with this? We aren't even related to the Savior."
"Ah, that." Khelm turned to him. "It's really not much, they just wanted you to have some field experience. Like a lot of people given the assignment actually."
"So we're only here to watch?" Zero asked with a disappointed tone.
"That's pretty much it." Khelm took a sip of his drink. "Watching isn't exactly a chore."
"That's not what bugs me." Zero turned away from him. "I don't like being forced to leave at short notice just to 'watch'."
"You'll see, you'll see." Khelm stepped away from him as he walked to the exit. "I shall take my leave. I do hope to see all of you again sometime in the future." He opened the door and stepped through. "Farewell."
As the door closed, Viola breathed out heavily. "Finally! That was so tense!" She then sat down on the captain's seat. "Did I do okay?"
"No." All the operators answered almost simultaneously.
The young captain brooded. "I'm sorry..."
Zero leaned against the shut door. "(I don't know why but my gut just doesn't trust that Khelm guy. It felt like he's keeping something away from us.)"
Viola fiddled with the touch pad on her armrests. "The destination is Wanduras. As soon as the Brigadier General is out of the Savior, we will prepare for takeoff."
The Stealth Field was shut off with a push of a button. Liz had run up to the airship and slammed her body against it, arms spread wide. It was her way of hugging her creation.
Midas pulled down the ladder to the entry. "Liz, quit hugging the wall and get in."
"Wait!" Liz rubbed her cheeks against said wall. "Just a little more time... A little bit more...!"
"Never get in the way of Liz and her machines." Sirius shrugged as he approached the ladder. "Is there a term for having a sexual interest toward machines?"
"I don't think so." Leiter could only stare at the mechanic.
"Oh whatever." Darcsen was the first to start climbing up the ladder. "People should be allowed to be interested in what they want."
"But some interests cross certain boundaries, don't you think?" Holly said as Darcsen was climbing up the ladder. "We should have-" She quieted down as she heard something. "Do you guys hear that?"
It was faint, but they knew it was close by. The loud whirring sound of an airship.
"What's going on?" Midas looked toward the direction the whirring came from, which unfortunately, was toward the city. "Is it an attack?"
"I can see an airship." Darcsen was still hanging on the ladder, desperately trying to see what was happening. "We'll have to check what's up once we get in the bridge."
Nana was quiet the whole time. But even though she had nothing to say to the adults, she understood what they were talking about. The explosions only seemed to get louder. "(How funny, I used to hide behind Thurston when I heard a loud sound. But now... It's not even fazing me.)"
The bridge of the Ragriz. The screens on the large windows up front showed various images of what looked like battle formations that constantly diverged. Everyone was looking up at it, trying to grasp the current situation except for Holly, who was relaying said information.
"Zwertzegaine units are advancing toward the city." Holly said with a calm tone. "The signals and readings show that there's only one battleship."
"Any St. Gladios units?" Midas asked back.
"None whatsoever." Holly shook her head. "There isn't even a single unit intercepting the approaching enemy."
Sirius sat on his post and put his hands on the controls. "Should we hit the hay now? If they find us, it'll be quite a pickle."
"They could be searching for us for all we know." A sweat rolled down Leiter's cheek. "Our AMSs wouldn't have enough firepower to take down an airship. Maybe we could use the Ragriz's cannons-"
"No way." Liz interrupted her. "The Particle Cannons are too dangerous to be fired nearby a populated city. We have to just make a run for it."
"I absolutely agree with that." Darcsen pointed at her dramatically as he took a seat. "The best battles are the ones that are avoided."
Sirius cracked his knuckles. "Then it's settled, I'll try to escape under their noses."
"Captain, what are your orders?"
Viola flinched as those words were spoken. They could see the snowy city on the screens laid out all over the bridge. She fiddled with the touch pad again.
"Oh... Uh... Ah..." She was trying to form the words in her mouth. "Give the launch confirmation to all pilots onboard. After that, we'll maintain our current altitude until the soldiers are done with their tasks."
"What exactly is their 'tasks'?" Zero asked her.
"I... I don't know." Viola turned around to him. "It doesn't say."
"Tch." Zero sounded irritated.
"Ahem." One of the operators coughed into her microphone on her headset. "We have entered the mission area, all soldiers are clear for launching."
"Ahahahahahahahahaha!" Maniacal laughter was the response they got. "About freaking time! I've been waiting too damn long for this! Gawain, launching!"
"What was that?!" Viola was freaked out by the sudden reply.
"One of the units that we were tasked to transport." Another operator replied. "The leader of the operation actually."
"Really?" Viola bit her lip. "Why wasn't I told about this?"
"They'd let someone as nutty as that lead an operation?" Zero tilted his head. "I've got a bad feeling about this... Don't you, Cipher?"
The silent masked individual failed to respond.
Zero breathed out heavily at his partner's perpetual silence. "Would it kill you to at least say something? You always seem to fade into the background."
"The first unit has launched successfully." An operator stated as a white AMS, the Gawain, flew out the ship as seen on one of the screen.
Soon afterwards, twenty-five more AMSs were launched out of the ship. They followed the Gawain in an arranged formation, swooping down toward the city.
Amun was grinning madly. His cybernetic hands were clinging to the controls of his AMS. On his screens was the city, Wanduras. He was getting closer to it. And the closer he got, the more excited he felt.
"Do we really have to do this?" A soldier asked him as he opened a communication port. "I mean, what did the people there do to deserve this? And why do we actually need to down the city? There's no coup d'état or anything. We don't have to do this. We shouldn't have to."
"It doesn't matter to me at all." Amun simply ignored his pleas. "The higher ups want it down, so we take it down. There's no use pondering the why's and how's. Just do it." He closed the communication port.
The cyborg licked his upper lip. "(Just imagine...! All the screams and anguish of all those people! Just thinking about it makes my hair stand!)" He grinned sadistically. "(I swear that I will do unto the world what they have done to me! All while enjoying every single moment of it!)"
The Gawain raised its left arm and aimed its grenade launcher mounted to its wrist at the city.
"The first shot has been fired!" Amun shouted as he pulled the trigger on his lever and launched a grenade at a building.
The Ragriz was already hovering over the forest. Sirius tried to maintain a low altitude so that they wouldn't get spotted later when they make their escape. Several checks of the Ragriz's condition were being made by Holly beforehand, just in case there was a malfunction that would hinder them during their escape.
BOOM! A faint but notable sound of an explosion.
"What was that?" Midas asked Holly whose eyes were glued to her screen. "An explosion? Did they find us?"
Holly typed rapidly on her keyboard. "No. The AMS signals aren't even approaching us. They're... They're heading toward the city!"
"That's bad." Darcsen narrowed his eyes toward her. "Wanduras has always been the butt of jokes for having the worst defence system, an almost non-existent one. So for AMSs to move toward that city..."
Another explosion rang out. Faint, but notable.
"Another one..." Sirius looked out the large windows. "Are they seriously attacking it? I mean, nothing much actually happens over there. There's no reason to destroy it."
"No reason to keep it around either." Darcsen added.
"So... 'Captain'." Leiter said in a sarcastic tone. "What do you think we should do right now?"
"Run." Darcsen shrugged.
"And what about the civilians?" Midas asked him. "You're just going to leave them to be killed?"
"Hey, I'd love to help, but we're in no position to do so." Darcsen looked at Holly. "Did you get a reading on the airship that's approaching?"
"Ah... No." Holly quickly typed on the keyboard and relayed the readings she found on the large window-screen. "Hold on, I'm trying to get a match from our data-" She paused, her mouth gapping. "That's... The Savior."
Leiter gasped at the name."Why'd they even bring THAT here?"
"Further strengthening my point." Darcsen's smirk didn't fade. "This ship's way too small to face that behemoth. It'd just swat us like a fly." He pushed his glasses. "We're outnumbered and outgunned. We best just keep it safe and lay low.
"I agree..." Liz muttered somewhat reluctantly. "If they manage to get a tracking device on us, then our lives will be so much harder."
Leiter sighed. "I don't think even I can take down a ship that big."
Sirius smiled wryly. "Then I'll fly us outta here."
"That's just selfish!" A high-pitched voice screamed at them. Everyone turned around to look just to see a furious Nana, tears rolling down her cheeks. "What makes this town different from the others? Thurston tried so hard to save Heinsrich, but now all of you aren't even going to try to defend Wanduras? Just because the enemies have an advantage?"
"It's more complicated than that, Nana." Leiter tried to reassure the young girl. "The situation's changed. We can't just charge in and fight this time."
"So we'll just let all the people who live in that city die." Nana glared at the woman coldly. "Just like that...?"
The sound of explosions was getting louder and louder.
Midas leaned against the railings. "She has a point. The city still has a massive population, and no means of defence to speak of. Running away is more or less just allowing them to die."
"And if we decide to defend that city, we'd probably die with the city." Darcsen glared at his one eye. "Save as many lives as you can, even if it's only a handful."
Nana was incredibly tense. She was frustrated at Darcsen. "Thurston gave his life to save a city! Why can't you?"
Darcsen merely looked over to her with cold eyes. "Because I'm not someone who'd throw away his life so easily."
The golden eyed girl gritted her teeth. Her shoulders were shaking. Before anyone could comfort her, she ran out the bridge in tears.
Holly looked at Darcsen angrily. "That was just horrible of you. You didn't have to say that to her face, did you?"
"What can I say?" He embraced the hateful looks he was getting. "I am a scoundrel."
"I'll go talk to her." Leiter was ready to make a move.
"Wait, no." Darcsen stopped her. "Just give her some space. She'll need it."
"Eh? Why are they wrecking the city?"
Viola asked as she stared at the screens, watching as the soldiers she helped transport to the city were destroying it. She fiddled on the touch pad and read the message intently.
"It doesn't say anything about this..." The spineless captain uttered.
"You took a mission without knowing the full details?" Zero was upset with her. "Can't you at least do something about the situation? Tell them to stop or something, you're the captain!"
"But the mission they're carrying out was given by the Supreme General himself..." Viola pouted as she looked at him. "I can't do anything about it."
"You're too useless!" Zero shouted at her angrily.
"I'm sorry!" Viola held her head as she cried.
Zero ignored her. "Deus... This is the 'experience' you want to give us...? I thought you were the only one we could trust..." He turned to Cipher. "But I guess there's only one person I can trust with all my heart."
Cipher had his arms crossed. He didn't say anything, but the scowl on his face made it obvious he was angry as well.
"It's just you and me." Zero said in a quiet tone so only Cipher could hear. "It's always just been you and me."
Nana was in the room she and Holly shared, staring at the one mirror hung on the wall, her face still teary. She could feel the Ragriz flying away from the city. On her hand, gripped very tightly was the one plush toy she was given on her birthday.
"If Thurston was here, he'd chew all of them out for running away..." Nana kept staring at her reflection. "He'd just march down to that city and protect it. Yeah... That's something he'd totally do. I know it. That's why I've always looked up to him."
She let in a raspy breath as her knees were trembling.
"But... He's gone. He's dead. He couldn't do anything about the situation even if he wanted to."
Her legs gave in to her weight and she fell to the floor.
"Ever since I could remember, I've never stood up for myself. Not once. It was always him. He always stood up for me. And I always relied on him. I told him I want to stand up on my two feet but... I really can't. Not without him."
She wiped her tears off her face with her left palm.
"I lied that time. In the end... All I ever could do was believe in him as he did everything. But now... Now...! He's not coming back. No matter how much I believe."
Her golden eyes glared at the plush toy in her hand. Teddy.
"I can't rely on him anymore."
She grabbed the bear's 'head' with her other hand and pulled it apart until it was ripped into two pieces, spilling the cotton inside it on the floor messily.
"I'm not a little girl anymore. I can't afford to be. Not in this world."
She stood up and glared at her reflection coldly. She reached her hands to the buns on her head and untied them, letting her silver hair to fall on her shoulders.
"Thurston's not going to protect those people. Everyone here isn't about to do anything about it. The only person who would do anything right now... Is me."
With a determined look, she ran out of the room and then ran down the hallway. As she made it to the hangar, she slid its door open and stepped inside.
Standing in front of her in clutches was a white AMS with blue trimmings. Its shoulders were sleek yet box-like as if it was keeping something and it had one Zanber placed vertically on each side. On its right hand was a large blade, a Gram Zanber, and on its left, eight beam sniper rifles packed together into a single cannon that was pointed opposite the hand.
Also of note were its wings which resembled a sort of shield with a sleek edge, a sort of binder. There were boosters underneath it as wells as some Hybrid-Bits, Bits which were Blade-Bits and Gun-Bits combined.
Nana gulped as she walked to the platform next to it and pushed a button to lift herself up to its chest level. She then pushed a button on near its chest and opened its cockpit.
"There's no turning back now..." Nana muttered as she leaped in.
The young girl positioned herself onto the seat in the cockpit. She closed it by pushing a button, leaving her in hollow darkness. She then pushed another button and booted the AMS up.
"HG-07-Gibril..." Nana muttered as her surroundings outside was shown in the cockpit. She pressed several other buttons and the launch hatch in front of her opened up.
Back at the bridge...
"That's strange." Holly's eyes were fixated on her computer. "The launch hatch was opened. Please don't tell me..." She typed down on her keyboard.
"What's wrong Holly?" Leiter turned to her.
Holly pushed a key and relayed an image to the large screens. A box popped up with Nana's image in it, her hands on the controls of the AMS.
"Not again!" Liz's jaw dropped.
"Nana!" Leiter shouted. "What are you doing? Get outta there!"
"No!" Nana shouted back. "I can't just leave that city to be attacked! If none of you will protect it, then I will!"
"It's suicide!" Holly yelled at her. "One AMS wouldn't be able to take down all those AMSs and that battleship!"
"It doesn't matter if I die...!" Nana brooded. "I won't be able to live with myself if I don't do anything... That's why I'll fight! I don't want to be useless and I don't want to do nothing when I can!"
Midas smiled rather faintly.
"If all of you won't do anything, it's fine by me..." Nana closed her eyes. "But I'm not doing the same!" She shut off the communication port.
"Nana! Nana!" Holly was shouting at the top of her lungs. "Please...! I don't want to lose anyone anymore...!" A tear rolled down her cheek.
"I'm going after her." Leiter turned around to the exit.
"Wait." Darcsen spoke up. "Leave her be."
"What?!" Leiter faced the well-dressed man. "What the hell?!"
"What happened to the 'I want a daughter like her' crap yesterday?!" Sirius glared at him coldly. "You're okay with her dying all of a sudden?!"
"She's not going to die." Darcsen shrugged.
"You planned for this, didn't you?" Holly glared at him coldly. "You wanted her to start piloting again without making it obvious. That's why you gave such snide comments."
"Maybe." Darcsen smirked at her. "Why don't you check her AMSC?"
"I'm not waiting for this crap...!" Leiter tapped her foot against the ground impatiently. "I'm heading out!"
Leiter turned around the moment she heard the gunshot. Darcsen had fired a single round into the ceiling, a warning shot. The gun in his hand let out a faint smoke.
"Don't move." Darcsen ordered.
"What the hell is wrong with you...?" Leiter gritted her teeth furiously. "Midas, talk some sense to your old pal."
"He's right." Midas closed his eye calmly.
"Am I having some crazy dream?" Leiter grumbled. "Neither of you should be this nutty!"
Holly gasped. "Her AMSC is... It's... It's fluctuating!"
She relayed a three digit number to the screen. It kept on alternating between the 500 and 600 at a random pace.
Liz's eyes widened. "... That shouldn't be possible! AMSC's calculate the average value of a pilot's absorption rate! To keep on fluctuating like this... I don't know what's going on!"
"See what I mean?" Darcsen smirked at Leiter. "Nana's no ordinary little girl."
Nana took a deep breath, having finished her verbal brawl against the grown-ups. Her hands were wrapped to the control levers as her eyes watched the screens. The catapult was ready and the Gibril's systems have stabilized.
Nana grinned as she pushed the lever forward. "Gibril... Launcing!"
The eyes of the Gibril shone green as it straightened its stature. The catapult clutching its feet pushed the machine forward and out of the airship with a loud screech. The AMS stopped just seconds after getting out and turned around, flying below the Ragriz.
Nana flipped a switch.
The Gibril's legs faced forward as the tilted inwards and combined, forming something reminiscent to a nose of a plane. Its hands locked into its waist as its arms folded toward its torso. Its head then slid into the torso as the wings flipped up and slid out a smaller pair of plane wings. The top section of its shoulders slid open to reveal a set of boosters as the Zanbers tilted horizontally to form a set of wings.
"A plane form...?" Nana turned left and right after the transformation.
She closed her eyes as she stepped on the pedal. The AMS boosted forward at supersonic speeds. The young girl was pushed back by the G-forces of the sudden high speed, clutching the controls as if her life depended on it.
As the AMS flew by the forest, the snow covering the trees blew off as the trees tilted forward. The AMS was boosting so fast that it was creating sonic booms.
Nana's eyes caught notice of the city in flames. There were people beneath, running in terror from the AMSs, buildings falling left and right. She noticed a certain AMS shooting down toward the civilians.
"Why would you do something like that...?" Nana scowled as she asked quietly.
The nose of the Gibril erected a long beam sabre that was three-quarters the size of the AMS. Nana controlled the Gibril to fly down towards said AMS.
Before the pilot could even notice her presence, she swooped down and stabbed the AMS on the chest with the beams sabre. The legs split apart and cleaved the AMS in two as the Gibril flew straight through, quickly transforming into its humanoid form.
Nana glanced at her radar and noticed how there were twenty-five more units attacking. "I'll stop all of you..."
She flew the Gibril over the buildings and spotted three AMSs shooting down at the escaping civilians.. She aimed the Gibril's hands at them and fired bullets from the wrists at them, grabbing their attention. One of the AMS turned to her with a beam sabre and charged forward to her.
Just as it swung down, Nana blocked the strike with her own beam sabre which came out of the Gibril's foot. Creating another beam sabre with the other foot, she cut the AMS' legs off. Parrying the blade away, she sliced the unit in two with another swoop.
"Damn you!" An enemy piloted growled as he pointed his beam rifle at the Gibril.
The Gibril put its wings forward and released a green energy shield. Just as the two AMSs fired at it, the shields blocked every single shot, leaving the Gibril unharmed.
Nana breathed in. She pressed her foot against the pedal. The boosters on the Gibril's back burned blue and charged forward to the AMSs. Without a stop, she rammed into one of them with the shield and then drew the Zanbers on it shoulders.
Disarming the shields, she boosted forward with added thrust from the boosters underneath the wings. With a fast spin, she cut both AMSs arms off.
"Not yet!" She screamed as she hit the brakes and turned around again.
She charged forward and stabbed the AMSs with the Zanbers. The AMSs just stopped moving, having stopped its systems and then exploded.
"Amun!" A pilot opened a communication port to the cyborg.
"What?!" Amun shouted as he was still cackling like a hyena. The Gawain was shooting grenades at each and every building that stood.
"An enemy AMS attacked! We just lost four of our units!" He replied.
A grin appeared on Amun's face. "Okay... All men, attack that AMS! Leave the city sweeping to me!"
The pilot let out a disgruntled breath. "Roger."
The enemy signals on Nana's radar started to fly toward one point. Herself.
"They're coming after me now, aren't they?" Nana asked rhetorically. "That's good, I can draw them out of the city like that."
She flew the Gibril up toward the sky. And just as she hoped, twenty-one AMSs flew up, chasing her down. They blasted all they've got at her in hopes of taking her down.
Nana saw missile signatures on her radar. Lots of them. "They really want me dead..."
She turned around to face the incoming salvo of missiles. Putting the Gibril's arms forward, she fired its wrist vulcans and shot them down, spreading the arms out and shooting down many more. The multiple explosions created more explosions that engulfed the city's sky in smoke.
Nana's locks surrounded several AMSs within that thick smoke. As soon as all ten of the locks turned red, Nana pulled a trigger.
The front section of the Gibril's shoulders opened up to reveal missile containments. They shot out thirty missiles at the AMSs. Before they could even dodge the volley, all ten of the AMSs were hit with the missiles, causing them to slowly explode as they plummeted back down toward the city.
Eleven more AMSs flew up through the smoke, blasting beams at Nana. The young girl scowled as she released eight Hybrid-Bits from the wings of the Gibril.
The Bits flew at a high speed as they constantly fired beams at the enemies. Just as they dodged the blasts, the Bits flew in and stabbed through their cockpits, blasting more beams into them until they exploded. If they weren't shot down, they were torn apart. The Bits was a beastly menace.
In several moments, only one final AMS remained, skilfully dodging every shot and swoop the Bits threw at him. It drew out a stun lance and flew up toward the Gibril, ready for a joust. Its boosters were flaring up toward the AMS, ready to strike down his opponent.
Nana merely boosted aside and dodged the attack. The cannon on the Gibril's left arm flipped forward as it aimed it toward the AMS. With a pull of a trigger, Nana fired a single beam from one of the barrels into the enemy, which caused it to explode and plummet to the ground.
Holly couldn't hold back her shock. Twenty-five enemy AMSs just disappeared on her radar in barely three minutes.
"So?" Darcsen smirked, his gun still in his hand. "What do you think?"
"... The Savior isn't even approaching her to attack." Holly suddenly continued. "I'm guessing that it's not armed at the moment."
"Or maybe it's not part of the mission?" Midas speculated. "Whatever the case, it's leaving her be."
"It's better that way." Darcsen shrugged.
Holly continued analysing whatever she could find. "There's only one AMS left but... These readings..." Holly gasped. "SP-13-Gawain... The only known pilot for it is... Amun the Deathbringer." She gritted her teeth. "That's the guy who killed my parents and Skool!"
Leiter's pupils dilated. "Wait, I saw that battle." She punched the wall. "You mean that bastard's still on the loose? And that Skool died for nothing?!"
"Whatever the case, he's dangerous!" Holly tried to open a communication port to Nana, only to find that it was blocked. "We can't let Nana face him alone!"
"Yes we can." Darcsen sneered. "Trust me on this, Nana is leagues above him."
Leiter leered at him. "If she dies out there, I swear I will shoot you in the head."
"You have my permission." Darcsen grinned at her.
"Huh." Amun was rather shocked. "All twenty-five, eliminated just like that. Interesting."
His radar caught site of an AMS that was high above the sky.
"I guess that means I'll have to make an effort to kill!" A sadistic smirk emerged on his face.
The Gawain flew up to the sky, closing in on the Gibril with a Zanber in hand.
"An enemy...!" Nana noticed the signal closing in on her.
"C'mon c'mon c'mon!" Amun aimed the grenade launcher of the Gawain toward the Gibril. One grenade was fired which exploded seconds before touching the AMS, causing a large impact through the explosion.
"Guh!" Nana felt the brunt of the explosion, still trying to hold onto her controls.
"I got you now...!" Amun flew straight at the Gibril and swung his Zanber down on it. But just before he cut through, the strike was stopped.
The Gibril caught the Zanber with both hands.
"I won't go down so easily!" Nana shouted as she threw the Gawain back.
After that, she grabbed the Gram Zanber placed on the Gibril's right arm and held it with both hands. The large sword was just as big as the Gibril itself and dwarfed the Gawain's Zanber.
"Compensating for something tiny?" Amun snickered as he flew in again and got stuck in a blade lock with the Gibril.
"Tch...!" Though the Gram Zanber was bigger, Nana was struggling to keep her footing in their lock. A communication port was opened up to her.
Amun was shocked to say the least when he saw her face. "You're... A little girl? And here I thought you were compensation for something tiny, you don't even have one!" He then grinned. "But it's not a problem. I'll be delighted to hear you squeal as I cut you down."
Nana wasn't amused to say the least. "Why are you destroying the city...?"
"Because I can!" Amun laughed. "There's no real reason for it! I do it because I like it! A man should be able to do what he likes!"
"But that's just wrong!" Nana shouted back. "People will die!"
"And that's what I like about it!" Amun's grin grew wider. "The pain, the fear, the anguish... Instilling the fear of death in people is what I love to do most! A child like you would never understand!"
"No sane person would ever understand!" Nana growled angrily. She pushed her lever forward at full strength. The Gibril threw the Gawain back away from it. She locked on to the Gawain, ready to fire missiles at it. "I don't know how many lives you've taken... But your fun ends here! I won't allow you to take anymore lives!"
She pulled the trigger and fired a volley of missiles at the Gawain which flew away from her to take evasive action. Just after that, the Gibril transformed into its plane mode and soared forward, faster than the missiles themselves. It passed right by the Gawain.
As she got far enough, Nana fired another volley of missiles at Amun while flipping a switch to transform the Gibril back into its humanoid form. She then hit the brakes, making the AMS stop in midair, suspended upside down. Its eight-barrelled sniper cannon was pointed at the Gawain ready fire.
Time seemed to slow down for Nana. Each heartbeat was stronger as it went. The missiles were closing in on the Gawain, but she knew he'd dodge and how. Her golden eyes glimmered as the perfect moment came and she fired a single beam from one of the barrels.
The beam completely missed the Gawain. But that was her plan.
It hit one of the missiles and bounced off into another missile, ricocheted back toward the Gawain and shot its right hand holding the Zanber off as it hit another missile. The beam bounced from missile to missile and shot the Gawain over and over, filling it with scalding holes. As the thirteenth hit shot the Gawain's head off, all the missiles hit it and turned the white AMS into burnt black one.
Amun screamed in pain as he felt the force of all the explosions.
"Not yet...!" Nana shouted as the Gibril boosted toward the Gawain. "I'm not done yet!"
"Damn bitch!" Amun yelled angrily as he fired all the grenades he could at the Gibril.
But the explosions that blocked its way did not faze Nana. She plotted a path through all the grenades and explosions until she was close enough to the Gawain. She pointed the Gram Zanber forward as she charged forth to Amun.
"I'm not going to lose again!" Amun shouted as the Gawain covered its chest with its arm to block the next strike.
"GOOOO!" Nana screamed at the top of her lungs.
The Gram Zanber pierced through the Gawain's hand and stabbed straight into its cockpit. But even then, Nana still didn't feel satisfied. She pulled the Gram Zanber up and held it with its right hand as she pointed the eight-barrel sniper cannon directly at the AMSs chest in point-blank range.
Amun only laughed maniacally at the situation. "Do your worst!"
"BECOME THE LIGHT!" Nana yelled as she pulled the trigger.
All eight barrels shone brightly with a purple hue. In the next second, they blasted the Gawain with a huge and powerful beam that stretched outwards toward the sky, reducing the burnt AMS to nothingness.
"Ahahahahaha!" Amun was still laughing till the end. "I'll remember your face! And I swear that I will kill you!"
The image of him on Nana's screen turned to static. She noticed the battleship looming ahead was flying away from her.
"It's not attacking..." Nana mumbled. "It's better if I left it alone." She leaned back with a relieved sigh. "How many people are like that man in this world...?"
She glanced down at the burning city. "I always thought the world would be an exciting place to see but... Things like this happen for no reason. This world isn't as pretty as Thurston made it out to be... It's just hell."