Chapter 98: Clearing The Red Tape (Perspective: Alicia)
"And there you have it, I'm sorry, Tartarus, but I am going to deal with FELIA." Father declares to the holographic image of the Thanatos family head.
"WHAT!? Alexander, I know how you must feel seeing your son-in-law being treated like that, and for it to be broadcast to the whole Underworld no less. I also owe Yuichi Shiro a great debt, but we can't let our personal feelings cloud our judgement!" Tartarus-sama yelled back, "We will require your family's power to help apprehend Moonlight, I cannot allow you to go off on your own crusade!" As someone who stands in a position of power, I know that Tartarus-sama's judgement is correct, but living beings are not the same as machines.
I take a deep breath and step forward.
"Tartarus-sama, it's easy for you to say the Underworld takes priority, but you can only sing that song because Yuichi is just a single irrelevant person to you. Sure, you may respect him, and the Underworld now sees him as a hero. But ultimately he is a stranger to you." I glare at Tartarus-sama, I know he doesn't mean any wrong, I know his way of thinking is for the sake of the Underworld. But right now, he is standing in the way of us rescuing Yuichi, and I don't care if my words are critical or cruel, I won't stand for it. Therefore, I shall put things into perspective in a way he can understand.
"Alicia, that's enough, let me handl..." Father begins.
"Father, be quiet." I cut him off with a glare, Father is taken aback and stands down. I return my gaze to Tartarus-sama. "If all your actions are truly for the Underworld's welfare then why..." I take another deep breath and steel my resolve. "Why were Cocytus and Disturb not dealt with before their coup!?"
Tartarus-sama opened his eyes wide at my question, both Father and Lilicia stared at me dumbfounded. The usual me would never think to take this tone with the head of the most prestigious family in the Underworld. But that meek attitude would only hinder me. People don't get their way by acting passive and this is one battle I cannot afford to lose.
"You knew perfectly well the kind of people those two were, and yet you let them be. Even when Lilicia was kidnapped the first time around, you still covered up the incident. You could argue that you were trying to protect the Thanatos family as a whole, but you let their actions go with a slap on the wrist. Tell me Tartarus-sama, how did any of these actions benefit the Underworld? You put your feelings before logic that time, and now you have the gull to tell us to abandon Yuichi for the sake of the Underworld? Before you start getting on your high horse, why don't you practice what you preach!?" Tears begin to flow out of my eyes as I release all my emotions. "Just how much must the Thanatos trample over our feelings before your satisfied!?"
Everything is silent for a few moments as everyone digests my words. Tartarus-sama sits quietly with his eyes closed, I can tell my words cut him deep. But I don't have the leeway to take his feelings into consideration, in order to argue my case, I need to use any ammunition I've got.
"You're correct, Alicia," Tartarus-sama opens his eyes. "Because I let my emotions get the better of me that time, I put the Underworld in great peril. But that's precisely why we cannot make the same mistake again, this time the Underworld must take priority. No matter the cost, we have to deal with Moonlight." Tartarus-sama narrows his eyes before saying. "I am sure Yuichi Shiro would also want this."
Yuichi would want this? At Tartarus-sama's words I lose all power in my legs and fall to my knees. Yuichi would want us to prioritise the Underworld? The very person we wish to save, wouldn't want us to put him ahead of the Underworld?
"As his fiancee shouldn't you answer his resolve and dedicate yourself to protecting the Underworld? Or would you let his sacrifice be in vain?"
I cannot think of anything to counter that. Yuichi would definitely want me to save the Underworld, but even so. I just cannot accept the idea of sacrificing him for the greater good. Yuichi, what should I do?
Yuichi's smiling face appears in my mind. Should I give up on the boy I love for the sake of the Underworld?
"Alicia..." Yuichi's sweet voice echoes in my head and my body trembles. I can't do it!
I bow my head to the ground as tears flow down my eyes. "Please...I know it is selfish of me...But please, I am begging you, let us save Yuichi. I...I..don't want to lose him." I throw away all my pride and lower my head further to the ground. I have no ground to stand on, no cards left to play. The only thing I can do is beg for Tartarus-sama's mercy. Father kneels down beside me and wraps his arm around my trembling shoulders. "Please..." I repeat with my hoarse voice.
"I am sorry Ali..." Tartarus-sama begins.
"What you said just a moment ago..." I turn around to Lilicia's cold voice that stopped Tartarus-sama's words. "Even if you are the head of the Thanatos family, I will not let that comment slide." Lilicia walked and stood in front of me, her small figure glared menacingly at Tartarus-sama. "How dare you speak your words through Yuichi-san like that. You know nothing about him, and yet you try to sway our feelings by using the very boy we love as a tool for your propaganda!"
"Well then let me ask you, Lilicia, would that man not want that?" Tartarus-sama ask.
"Tartarus-sama, you seem to be missing the point I am making. It's not a question of whether he would want it or not. I despise the idea of using the boy we love against us!" Lilicia folds her arms and narrows her eyes. "Fine, I shall cede the point that Yuichi-san would probably martyr himself. But so what? Yuichi-san is Yuichi-san, and we are us. Even if he wants it doesn't mean we have to go along with it. I always put my own feelings first and foremost, and I want to save him!" Lilicia stands straight and declares. "Even if Yuichi-san himself would choose to sacrifice himself, I will still save him. Even if it makes him angry at me afterwards, I will never forsake my own feelings! We will save him no matter what, and I won't let you, or anyone stop us! And here is the final point, why should we need your permission in the first place?" I open my eyes wide at Lilicia's defiance. "This is a Pandemonium family matter. Our family are not your vassals. It has nothing to do with you. Thus We shall do as we please."
Tartarus-sama narrows his eyes. "Lilicia, right now I am the acting leader of the Underworld under Hades-sama's orders. Do you understand the gravity of your words just now? Due to your current emotional state I will let it go this tim..."
"There is no need for that," Lilicia quickly counters. "I have much stronger loyalty to my own feelings than to either the Underworld or Hades-sama, let alone his proxy." I cannot believe the words I am hearing from my little sister. I have never seen her act so aggressively. Seeing her determination strength returns to my legs and I stand back up. I now know exactly what I must do, a way to stop Tartarus-sama from blocking my path to Yuichi.
"Hold it Lilicia," I wipe the tears from my eyes with my arm. "If you keep this up it will have immense repercussions to the Pandemonium family."
"Who cares about something like that!? Yuichi-san is much more important!" Lilicia shouts back.
"I know," I place a hand on Lilicia's shoulder. But as both your older sister, and Yuichi's fiancee, I cannot allow you to take this plunge.
I walk to Lilicia's side and bow my head to Tartarus-sama. "I apologise on my sister's behalf, she is still young so sometimes her emotions can get the better of her."
"It's okay, as I said, I know how much of a burden this is on the both of you." Tartarus-sama nods his head and his expression relaxes.
But this is my moment of truth. I have finally found the answer that will allow me to save Yuichi without having a negative impact on the Pandemonium name.
"Tartarus-sama, because you are Hades-sama's delegate, the Pandemonium family and any reaper in the Underworld are supposed to listen to your orders right now, correct?" I clarify.
"Yes, Hades-sama is currently powering the barrier, and is unable to lead himself at this time. He ordered me to take command of the Underworld in his absence." Tartarus-sama answers.
"I see," I smile to myself before declaring in a powerful voice, "As of this moment, I hereby sever my ties with the Pandemonium family and the Underworld. Due to the Hades Barrier being activated I am not able to leave the Underworld immediately, but once the crisis is over, I shall wash my hands of all Underworld affairs and spend the rest of my life in the living world."
"ONEE-SAMA!" Father and Lilicia shout in synch. Yes the only way for me to save Yuichi and protect my family, is for me to sever my ties to the Pandemonium name.
"I'm sorry, but this is the only way. Lilicia, I leave the Pandemonium family's future in your hands. So please leave saving Yuichi to me." I smile bitterly to my Father and little sister before turning back to Tartarus-sama. "With this, you have no authority to stop any independent action I may take."
"Alicia..." Tartarus-sama stares at me in shock, "Very well Alicia Pandemonium, no, just Alicia, as of this moment you are..."
"Please hold it right there, Tartarus-san." A dignified voice calls from behind us, we turn around to its owner.
Two people stride with confident footsteps towards us. One is a man in his early forties with mid length silver hair and a short beard of the same colour. He is dressed in a clean pure white suit with the Pandemonium family emblem embroidered on the sleeves. The other is a girl who is a year younger than me, she too has silver hair but it is tied into a single long braid that cascades all the way down her back. Her blue eyes emit both confidence, and a sooth calming warmth.
"Cyrus-niisama and Gladys, what are you two doing here?" Father calls to the duo. Yes, the man is my father's older brother, my uncle, and the girl is his daughter, my cousin.
Uncle Cyrus has always had a frail constitution, that's why he willingly stepped down as the heir to the Pandemonium family and let my father succeed. Therefore unlike the Thanatos brothers bitter feud, Father and Uncle get along extremely well.
"Why else? To help my dear younger brother and my cute nieces for once." Uncle Cyrus places his warm hands on both Lilicia and my heads. "I respect the lengths you are willing to go for the man you love and to protect our family name, but don't get too hasty Alicia. Just as you want to protect the Pandemonium family, so too does the Pandemonium family want to protect you."
"It's exactly as Father says Alicia. We can easily clean any dirt from the Pandemonium name with a damp cloth. The Pandemonium family aren't so pathetic that we would discard one of our own to save face. That said, I never thought I would see the day that Alicia would try to throw it all away for a single boy. Guess this goes to show that Yuichi Shiro is a man of character." Gladys smiles whilst shrugging her shoulders, "However..."
SLAP! - I feel a strong stinging pain as Gladys' hand strikes my cheek.
"That's for thinking that you can throw away your family in the heat of the moment." Gladys stares at me in anger.
"I'm sorry, Gladys." I bow my head.
"Do you think I'm the only one you should be apologising to?" She asks back.
"I'm really sorry everybody, I spoke without thinking. I really don't want to cut ties with any of you. I'm truly sorry for acting so selfishly!"
Everyone looks at me with relief on their faces.
"Much better," Gladys wraps her arms around me and hugs me tightly. "I'm sorry too, Alicia and Lilicia. For not being here when I should have been. I didn't hear about the attempted Thanatos coup until it was over." Gladys loosens her embrace and stares deep into my eyes. "But this time I am, we shall carry your obligations to the Underworld, so you do what needs to be done."
"Gladys..." I can feel tears start to gather in my eyes for a completely different reason.
"What does she mean Cyrus?" Tartarus-sama asks.
"Exactly as it sounds Tartarus-san, please allow my younger brother and my nieces to rescue Yuichi Shiro-kun. In exchange Gladys and I shall take on their duties to the Underworld." Uncle Cyrus declares with dignity.
"But Uncle Cyrus, please think about your health." Lilicia says in worry.
"I will be fine, Lilicia," Uncle Cyrus pats her head lovingly, "Thanks to a friend of Gladys' treatment, my condition has greatly improved." Uncle Cyrus returns his eyes to Tartarus-sama, "I'm sure you didn't take Gladys or my presence into consideration when calculating that Alex and his daughters were required to apprehend Moonlight. In exchange for letting my brother and his daughters take care of their own personal affairs, I shall return to the front lines. Also Tartarus-san, you should know that even if you order Alex and my nieces to go against their hearts, you will not get the desired results. Do you think they could fight at their best knowing that they have abandoned someone they care about?"
"It won't be just the two of us either," Gladys supplements, "Hayato Kiriya also said he would lend me his powers. The three of us will more than make up for Uncle Alexander, Alicia, and Lilicia's absence."
I have heard of Hayato Kiriya before. Gladys has been staying in the living world for a while now. She had gone there on a mission to foil the plan of a certain Anomaly that was planning on turning every person in the world into Human Anomalies. Hayato Kiriya is a Birth Anomaly she met during the mission and who assisted her in stopping the man's plans.
Tartarus-sama is silent for a few moments before he opens his mouth. "Very well, I shall rescind my order that Alexander, Alicia, and Lilicia, must assist with Moonlight. Instead I am ordering the three of you to rescue the hero of the Underworld, Yuichi Shiro, from FELIA's grasp."
"""Understood!""" The three of us respond.
"One final thing Tartarus-san..." Uncle Cyrus begins.
"Yes, I know, Alicia's declaration of severance never happened." Tartarus-sama finally smiles, like a large burden had been lifted from his shoulders. His demeanour has finally returned to the kind man that we all know. "Make sure you definitely save him, Alicia, Lilicia."
After finally convincing Tartarus-sama to let us deal with FELIA, Lilicia, Kuro-san, Mother, Father, Uncle Cyrus, Gladys and I are sat around a long table.
"Kuro-kun, I want you to take command of our main forces, we shall require a mid size Tri-Capsule unit, and Annette will also need some to keep the public order of our territory. But other than that I am leaving them in your command. You are to co-operate with the Thanatos and Cerberus families in locating and apprehending Moonlight Kaleido. Is this okay with you, Cyrus-niisama?" Father asks.
"That's fine, I don't have any experience in commanding forces, so I shall leave that to Kuro-san." Uncle Cyrus nods his head.
"Alicia and Lilicia you two shall come with me, our job is to extract Yuichi and destroy FELIA, the former taking priority."
"Yes, Father." I nod my head.
"We'll definitely save Yuichi-san." Lilicia supplements.
"So I am house sitting again, I guess that is a wife's duty though." Mother smiles wryly.
Kuro-san remains seated in silence with a solemn expression on his face.
"Do you disagree with this arrangement, Kuro-kun?" Father asks.
"No, Master. Although I would prefer if you allow me to accompany you." Kuro-san replies. "I too am worried about Yuichi-sama. Also if anything should happen to any of you..." Kuro-san closes his eyes with a pained expression. Although Kuro-san has an imposing appearance, he is a very kind man. Having known him for all our lives, despite being a vassal of our family, Lilicia and I have always thought of him as family.
"I understand your objection, Kuro-kun. However, we are short on manpower. It took everything we had for Tartarus to allow just the three of us to go. I doubt he will allow us to divert any more personnel from hunting down Moonlight. Therefore, I shall be making use of that person as well, Tartarus doesn't even know about them after all."
Kuro-san opens his eyes wide for a second before a smile returns to his face. "I see. If they are helping that puts me more at ease." Kuro-san goes down onto one knee, "Your order has been received Master, without fail we shall capture Moonlight Kaleido!"
"I look forward to hearing the good news." Father nods.
"Haa!" Kuro-san replies before getting back to his feet, he gives a quick bow before leaving the room.
"We should get going as well, Gladys." Uncle Cyrus says whilst getting to his feet.
"Yes, Father. I'll see you later Alicia, Lilicia, make sure to introduce your boy to me." Gladys waves with a teasing smile on her face. I can feel my face burning up at her words. However before Gladys leaves the room...
"That goes for you as well, Gladys." Father calls to her.
"Eh?" She tilts her head in confusion.
"I heard you've gotten awfully close to this Hayato-kun." Father's eyes sparkle, "I need to make sure he is a fitting match for you."
"Hey Alex, that's my duty as her father, don't steel my role!" Uncle Cyrus objects.
"Too late, I called it first. It is my humble duty to ensure my kin's happiness. I won't give this task to anyone, not even you, Nii-sama." Father declares whilst folding his arms and nodding to himself.
Yep, not only is Father a doting protective father, he is also a doting protective uncle.
"Urm..." Gladys scratches the side of her head awkwardly. "I don't mind introducing you to him, but we're not like that yet..." Gladys turns her head and whispers, "and there are too many cock blocking rivals..." Gladys sighs as her shoulders slump and her eyes start watering, "Jeez, I wish he would get a clue."
"Erm, sorry Gladys, it looks like I stepped on a landmine. Regardless, know that you have my full support. If he is a boy you approve of, I'm sure he's a catch equal to Yuichi. Let me know if there is ever anything I can help you with." Father smiles.
"Yes, thank you Uncle." Gladys bows her head before leaving the room with Uncle Cyrus.
"Circumstances aside, I'm glad that Gladys is doing well. Even though we have both been staying in the living world, I haven't had the time to see her." I smile to myself. We have both been getting caught up in incident after incident, thus we have been unable to meet each other.
"Yeah, I wonder what kind of guy this Hayato-san is. I have never seen her act like that before." Lilicia chimes in.
"She seems to be happy, so I'm sure he is a good man." Mother adds.
"I'm sure he is. But if he makes my sweet niece cry I swear I'll hunt him down." Father declares with a smile. I can only pray that he is joking. Hayato Kiriya, you've just drawn the attention on the world's most protective uncle, my condolences.
"Father, who is the person you were referring to when you were talking to Kuro-san?" Just hearing his words had put Kuro-san's mind at ease. I cannot think of anyone that it could be.
"Oh right, you do not know yet, the truth is..." Father begins.
"Lord Pandemonium!" A reaper barges into the meeting room. "We are under attack! FELIA has launched another assault in all three territories!"
"I see," Father narrows his eyes, "They are trying to deliver a finishing blow."
"What do you mean, Father?" Lilicia asks.
"FELIA are looking towards the future. If they just escaped into the living world, then once the Underworld recovers, reapers would be sent to hunt them down. That's why rather than just escaping from the Underworld, they are trying to deal it a crippling blow." I explain in Father's stead.
"But there is something else that is concerning about the assailants." The messenger continues. "Many reports have come in that they all have the power to manifest silver."
"SILVER MANIFESTATION!" I shout at the report, "How can numerous people use Yuichi's power!?"
"I...I do not know..." The messenger bows his head in apology. I take a deep breath and raise a pacifying hand, its not the messenger's fault, my emotions got the better of me just now.
"Those terrorists..." Father narrows his eyes, "I don't know how they managed to do it, but this must be part of the reason they took Yuichi in the first place. Just how much are they intending on dragging us through the dirt. As if taking my son-in-law was not bad enough, to use his power as a tool for terrorism." Father's expression is darker than I have ever seen it. "Truly unforgivable..."
Mother places a hand on Father's shoulder. "Don't let them get to you, Alexander." Father looks up at Mother's smoothing smile and regains his calm.
"Annette, I leave our territory in your capable hands."
"Leave it to me. I shall give those naughty terrorists a spanking they won't forget." Mother answers.
"Alicia, Lilicia, you two are with me. It's time to take the fight straight to the terrorists. We shall show them what happens when they make us their enemies."
Lilicia and I nod.
It's finally time, hang in there Yuichi, we're coming for you.
Well let me briefly explain as I may or may not have the time to write Birth Anomaly, the side story that Gladys is one of the heroines in. Gladys Pandemonium is Alicia's cousin, a year younger than Alicia and a year older than Lilicia. As was stated in the chapter she is residing in the living world, but she came back to help with the Underworld's crisis. She along with Hayato Kiriya (whom was mentioned but did not appear) were essentially created to give one of the Losschild's an opponent, when I finally reach their arc. If I find the free time I will write Birth Anomaly, as the side story also explains a bit about Wolfy's origins.
Anyway, hope you enjoy the chapter. As you will be able to tell from the weak arguments that were made, I'm no good when it comes to debates or politics.