Chapter Thirty-One: To Kill Innocence

Luce, Adelle, Shou, Arnold, and Miu were sitting around a single table, discussing their predicament. The little gnome golem, Marble, was rolling around their legs in figures of eights. Luce was only half listening to Arnold's recount of the situation, but she got the gist of it. She had yet to take out Josh's letter yet, instead inspecting the seal with her own stamp. The pins on the seal were for more than just confirmation of legitimacy. It could be used to hide short 6 letters coded messages. With their stamp acting as a cypher and a little brain power, one could easily decode the information.

"Anything?" Adelle asked.

"Almost done," Luce replied.

She wrote down the last letter of the message and the full code was clear.


Arnold asked, "What does that even mean?"

After double-checking the code to make sure it was correct, Luce let out a long sigh. "Adelle for Exodus. Along with what you told us, it means they need Adelle to activate Exodus." She tore opened the envelope and devoured the letter with her eyes, reading aloud the message relayed from Josh. No longer able to keep her mind occupied, Luce only began to worry. "It's a trap. If Adelle goes to save Josh, Lachesis will use her to activate Exodus."

Shou said, "But we can't stop the E.M.P without Adelle either."

Miu asked the fatal question, "So what are we going to do?"

Everyone quietly sat, mulling the problem over. Adelle needed to be in two places at once, to either help Shou with his break-in to retrieve Reggie's bio-cell and destroy the G.A.S.P, or to rescue Josh and disable to E.M.P. For a long, time Luce tried to figure out a plan to execute both, but nothing came to mind. It seemed she had to choose, and only one path would lead to the rescue of her father, but at the risk of capture or even death to Adelle. In the end, she weighed everything and the choice became obvious.

She stood up. "Come on, Adelle. We're going."

The elf did not stand. Instead, she gave her a questioning glance.

"Woah, woah, woah!" Shou waved manically. "And where are you going?"

"We're going to save Josh."

Of course she was. For her, who had lost enough of her family, the few left was everything to her. She could not see anything short of a bullet through her head that was going to stop her.

Miu added quickly, "I get that that's the most optimal choice, saving Josh and disabling the E.M.P. But we need to consider about the G.A.S.P as well."

"You need to consider it," Luce noted. "Not me. I'm just saving Josh. The E.M.P, the G.A.S.P, none of that is my problem. I came here to save my sister, and now my father. Nothing more, nothing less. Adelle and I are going to rescue Josh and get Miura across the Helm, end of story."

Arnold shot to his feet. "Hang on! That's not part of our deal! And if you haven't noticed, Shou's a cyborg. If that E.M.P goes off, he might die!"

"Well, the situation has obviously changed then! But my goal hasn't!" Luce snapped back, unsure where her sudden burst of anger came from. "I told you the first time we met. We're not here to play heroes. So unless your threat comes with killing us, we are leaving. Come on, Adelle!"

She turned and walked away from the table towards their bunk to retrieve their belongings. Maybe she would steal the elecycle if they were not going to go after them. Even otherwise, Luce was more than willing to walk to Citi or Citidale if it came to it. But just then though, something wasn't right. She expected more noise, more reactions from the people behind her. She turned around and found Adelle still sat at her seat, her stare still quizzical, and everyone else looking at the elf.

Adelle finally spoke. "We're not going."

She was stunned. Then, rage. "Of course we are," Luce angrily answered. "You work for me, remember?"

"No. I follow you. There's a difference. And I only followed you because apparently, you're supposed to be a good influence on me. Now, we're going to be heroes here and you know it."

She turned around to face Adelle. "You're the last person that should tell me to save people. That has never been your thing!"

"No, it hasn't," Adelle admitted. "But it has been yours. You've spent your every waking moment trying to prevent violence. You're not like me, Luce. You're not a killer. Even if you go ahead and turn a blind eye away from genocide, it will haunt you forever. You'll never sleep again for the rest of your life!"

"And why do you care?"

"Because it's you, you idiot."

What could Luce say to that? The elf had never shown much consideration for many people. But those close to her she had defended with her life. Was she trying to say that Luce was important to Adelle? Enough to put her life on the life try to stop two country's mad genocidal plans to save what? Her soul?

Adelle stood up, hands on the table and head down, looking at all the information gathered. "What would a hero do?" she muttered.

Immediately, Shou answered, "Save everyone."

She nodded. "Save everyone. Right." The elf took a deep breath. "Since I'm the only one that can disable the emp machine, I'll go to Ampyre. I'll need a Guide."

Arnold agreed. "Okay. You have me."

Miu noted, "But we still need you to break into the Trashsite."

"No," Adelle pointed out. "It's just a lot harder, but I'm not needed."

"She's right," Shou agreed. "Our plan was to just walk into the place with her. But now, we'll just go back to sneaking in."

Miu added, "Since we can't teleport now, we'll need a way to get through their doors. Luce, any ideas?"

She snapped out of her stunned silence. She had given an outburst yet they brought her back in without hesitation. They were an odd bunch, but it reminded her of some odd people she used to work with. She looked to Adelle, whose face of question was replaced with a small smile and Luce let out a defeated but happy puff.

"It'll be easiest with some level of security clearance," she finally contributed, walking back to the table. "We could try to hack into their network and reinstate our clearances."

"It's an intranet," Miu explained. "We'll have to get inside the physical location to be able to do anything in the datascape. And honestly, none of us can hack, and we might not find a hacker willing to work on something so dangerous."

Luce thought for a moment. The Titan War was stretching to its inevitable breaking points. Mechs and golems were no longer at the forefront to the battle. Superweapons were. But perhaps the Titans still had a role to play. Remembering Arnold's story about how the three of them found out that Reggie was sentient, she brought up the tale to them.

"Yeah," Shou replied. "What about it?"

"Reggie inputted Miu's credential on its own, right? Does that mean Reggie has security clearance?"

Miu explained, "No. It's just recognition on the software level. The system recognises the soft..." She trailed off. "If... if the system only recognises software, then Reggie could potentially hack into the network."

"Is that possible?"

"I think so," Miu noted. "I mean, it's not like the base code changed. Even if they updated it, Reggie can just be patched to match. If we can get it into one of the intra-connected facilities, it can probably change our clearances."

"Great," Shou remarked sarcastically. "Now we just need to sneak a small walking building into a high-security facility without being seen. Piece of cake."

An idea struck Luce. She bent down to the ground and picked up Marble the gnome, placing in on the table. The tiny golem spun around, its beady eye looking at them, slightly confused but excited.

"Marble's a spy gnome. It's meant to move quietly through small gaps. If we could load Reggie's A.I onto a wireless chip, we could have Marble move in close enough to do the deed." She leaned into Marble and sweetly said, "You'll help us, won't you?"

The gnome spun happily around in its spot. They were smarter creatures than their sized let on and Luce wondered just how much intelligence was in these creatures.

Shou noted, "Reggie's not going to like that, being away from its body. There's going to be a consciousness break for it. It's a little... unethical."

Adelle speeched, "Do a little wrong for a big right." She looked understandingly at Shou.

With a sigh, he finally agreed. "I'll talk to it. It's not like we got many choices right now."

Miu said, "Then I'll start work on the chip. Luce, you'll have to stay to train Marble. No one else here knows golems as much as you do."

She agreed. "We all have our jobs. Let's get this done as soon as we can and call it a day, shall we?"

They all stood to their feet in unison. Without another word, the group split off to their tasks.

Luce lagged behind. "Adelle," she called out, and the green-haired woman turned. Luce could feel her cheeks flushed as the next words came to her. "Thanks."

Adelle nodded nonchalantly. "Of course."

Author's Note: Hi everyone. Thank you for reading Tearha: Titan War, which will continue to release a new chapter every week on Friday until its completion. If you like what you've read so far, and would like to support my writing, you can buy one of my books at my website. Or you could check out my Patreon to help out for the long run. Of course, just sharing, commenting, and reviewing helps a bunch as well!

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