Chapter 11: The Price Of Blood Diamonds On the Road to Perdition.
As much as things were taking a dire turn all over the Glaridge Electro Ball stadium, even as more people became aware of it, no one dared disturb the meeting between two of the most powerful leaders on the planet.
Despite the clear tension between Dimitri and Andross now that the leader of the Rakthia Empire saw the real Andross was being far less passive then how Gargan had been acting, the two were able to agree on some things.
After both men saw how much ground the other ruler was going to tolerate giving up, General Trevelyan glanced at the list he was taking before he cleared his throat." Your excellently, before you agree, I just want to know if between agreeing for Barny Mega Stores to cease attempting to buy what is clearly Rakthia land, a redistribution of all known funds from Alec Steel equally among the Aurino Kingdom and the Rakthia Empire, an agreement over where military craft on both sides are permitted over the lands of Dranova, and a pledge to officially give Rakthia authority over all air space in Iorlia, is there anything else you want to ask from King Andross?"
The Czar saw how tense his general was, and stroked his beard before he eyed how composed Andross was, and let out another thin smirk." Net General…King Andross is already being mighty generous, I would hate to be seen as greedy da? Besides, having Andross concede that its natural for Rakthia to have Iorlia under its protection is good enough. The people will see that the Aurino Kingdom knew its claim to have the right to oversee the birthplace of Mavos was yet another sham that fell apart."
"Don't thank me just yet Dimitri." Andross quipped out as he leaned back." If you think you can get the Iorlia Ayatollah to treat you with more respect and suddenly have more control over the tribal nomads, be my guest."
"Oh, I'm sure they will be more agreeable, because we won't have arguments over things so trivial as trying to insist predators and prey have equal value."
"Still think such things are so simple after all this time Dimitri? Well, we may never agree on everything but, as long as we can compromise to agree on the path forward, I'm satisfied."
"Da Andross. Despite our differences, long as we can agree on fair exchange, we can agree on best way to drive out terrorists and smash them. Who knows, maybe we can fumigate these terrorist maggots before they rot your nation apart?"
"I'm glad you're no longer feeling lax about the matter Dimitri. However, if the Aurino Kingdom could survive the old wars with your previous Czar's, we will survive the onslaught of desperate terrorists no matter what they resort to."
"Heh, that sounds valid in theory, but that all depends on how strong your nation is. Oh sure, firepower wise your nation is as strong as it's ever been. Yet...its spirit has eroded, chipped away from your nation's moral decadents. Da, you have your Magna Centurions. Yet even so, so many of your people will just roll over the moment the fight becomes difficult."
"Still feeling strongly about that eh Dimitri? Tsc, it's true that the success the Aurino Kingdom have had have had some become, lax in a great many things, but even if many elements in a society can turn stagnant, humans can still live vigorously amid a general stagnation, be fruitful admit sterility, be creative amid reputation, and build good and fully human lives that can turn things around.
People can move out of stagnation if they are guided correctly by someone or a group of people who see things clearly."
"And you think that leader is you with your mutant eye eh Andross? Your good Andross, but if you think you're the next Mavlos you let your gift blind you."
"Oh, I hardly think my eye makes me a god, yet it does help me give clarity. I just think preserving a nation's prosperity is a vital task of statesmanship and have strong incentive to keep things afloat, and find the solutions to the problems that my people face so that they may yet go down the golden path to a better tomorrow.
That's why, despite our difference, I hope we can find ways to avoid being in the way of each other's roads Dimitri."
The ruler of the Rakthia Empire saw the conviction in his fellow ruler's eyes was absolute before he shrugged." Well, I do prefer things running smoothly. That's why, while I'm glad we could find solution to problems, to keep things running smoothly at home, unless there is nothing else to bring up, I should depart."
"But of course. Thank you for being cooperative Dimitri, may are next talk be as, productive."
"Of course Andross."
The two leaders shook hands before giving respectful salutes to the others in the room. Andross saw the Czar, Argo, and General Trevelyan quickly leave before Nathan took a deep breath." Well, that could have gotten worst."
Andross chuckled before he patted his brother on the back." Oh, as always Dimitri has a good poker face, but play his ego and he purrs more like a kitten then a bear as long as it's not too important to him.
After all, when the nation is all about one man, everyone else in the land most of the time is at the mercy of that man's whims.
What we gave up can be regained with the right moves, but for now what matters is having the pieces in the place they need to be to stop the Iblis Corps."
Orion made sure the room was secure as everyone heard the Czar boom out," Boris lost WHAT!?"
As the, shouting went on for a good while Richard's brother made sure no one was out side before he cleared his throat." So father, after this do you think the Czar is an ally of the Iblis Corps? He was not being very forthcoming, and it took many concessions before his stance softened on Dranova."
"If you mean do I think Dimitri and Ares are partners in crime son, no I don't. Even the Czar would not have let so many men be killed for a stunt, it makes him look weak. I do think that Dimitri just sees the Iblis Corps as a problem that's bigger for us then him at the moment and is trying to take advantage of it for as long as he can.
That bear of a man is so afraid of looking weak even if the Iblis Corps was setting his palace ablaze this very moment, he would refuse to admit it. Still, at least he has enough sense to not come off as a petty child so he gave us something, even if it's hardly the ideal outcome."
"That's putting it nicely brother." Nathan muttered as he glanced out the window." I suppose it was wishful thinking to think Dimitri would have given us the location of the Iblis Corps HQ or the last Dragon Helix Emerald but, he is not giving us much to work with. Well, let's hope the others managed to dig out something helpful or we might find ourselves with very limited options."
Orion checked his codec before he narrowed his eyes." It would seem among other things the others have found trouble uncle. Father, Raphael has just reported in.
Voltaire managed to win the bet , and aside from winning a generation amount of cash from the likes of the Diamond Don, he was also able to win the rights to mine Kaisonite from Boris Schillinger over the lands of Wrynis."
"Is that so? So that's what caused Dimitri's outburst eh? That blowhard always does make everything a pain in the ass. Still, having a few more energy reserves won't help us in the short term."
"True, but it seems that Wrynis is also where some comrades that helped Richard and the others fight the Iblis Corps might be located, and they just might know the Dragon Helix Emerald's location."
"Really now?" Andross retorted with legit amazement." Richard has made some very interesting friends since I last observed him. Well, I'll have to thank Voltaire personally for such a productive venture."
"That might be a problem, for Raphael told me Voltaire can't be found. He told Richard agent Starling requested assistance, and now neither of them can be found."
Nathan grit his teeth before he looked at where the Czar left." Did the Rakthia Empire take losing this badly?"
Orion shrugged as he looked around." Raphael swears there does not seem to be any increase in Rakthia military activity."
Andross paused before he closed his eyes." I would not rule anything out, but it's highly unlikely this is the Czar's doing. He would not have known about this till just moments ago, and he hates his men acting without his permission in all but the most extreme cases. It, could be some of the other gamblers that Voltaire beat, or just a drunken thug who thought he could get a quick score. Either way, I want this resolved fast."
"It seems Richard is officially saying he's having indigestion back in the suite, but is looking for Voltaire."
"Heh, your brother's gotten quite resourceful the last year eh Orion? I would like to see Voltaire's last known location as well to see if I can help."
Nathan saw how casual his brother was before he cleared his throat." Andross, are you sure? Not that I fear any common thug can kill you but, you must admit the sight of you looking around in the corners of the stadium can give people the wrong idea."
"Well then I will just have to promptly correct them Nathan, it will be an easy way to quickly see if the Rakthia forces are part of the problem or the solution.
Besides, as simple as a gesture as it may be, I want to make it clear that no one can just harm citizens of the Aurino Kingdom right under the gaze of their King. It seems thanks to that imposter that criminals take the Aurino King lightly, and its time I correct their arrogance."
Andross quickly gave commands to Orion, Raphael and the others to get on top of the problems, but little did he know just how dire the situation really was.
But at the moment, Voltaire found his situation so dire that he had no delusions that one false move could mean he would die in a flash.
While he had to leave the last time Richard and Kill-Zone fought to keep up the ruse to Roxanne, his friend told him about the fight but the ginger spellcaster was having a hard time recalling everything as he kept hearing rapid shots being fired.
Still, Richard's childhood friend was showing the contract killer he was no easy mark as he managed to evade enough of Kill-Zone's blasts to hear his enemy recharge his gun.
As he heard a snicker, Voltaire chuckled himself." Still think this is an easy job Kill-Zone? Your clearly no fraud, but all it takes is one good shot to bring a legendary career to a crashing halt."
"How much you want to bet on that?"
Voltaire focused at the source of the voice and ran around the pillar to the right. As he did he saw a flash of light and paused before going around to the left. While he expected to see his target, to his shock there were five Kill-Zones, all pointing their guns his way causing him to snicker." I know cats are supposed to have nine lives but this is rather ridiculous."
"Thought you were so slick when you walked right into the Kill-Zone. Seems like you had some luck kid, but how's good your gambling when you play Rakthia Roulette?"
Voltaire saw that it seemed impossible to tell which was the real Kill-Zone and which was the hologram clone before he shrugged." Oh well, this is not one of my more preferred games. That's why, when I play it I leave my own style to it."
Richard's friend saw all the mirror armored gunmen having their guns shimmer before he aimed his bow at the leftmost Kill-Zone, and suddenly fired at the ground beneath him.
The arrow went right through the pavement, and exploded underneath it. Voltaire heard surprised grunts as he suddenly hurled above his attackers, only for Kill-Zone to grunt out," Nice try kid, but you can't slip out of a real ace's path with amateur stunts like that! You got some moves but your still just someone use to making a flashy scene and being bailed out by your daddy or demon buddy or something else.
You're not someone who's in sync with the music of battle. You got to feel the sound vibrating in your body! Too bad for you, once you start feeling the jazz beats of my tune kid, your already gonna be one step away from death!"
Voltaire saw his enemy was not kidding as one of the beams bounced off where Voltaire was, bounced off again from one of the pillars, and was heading right for him. Richard's ally grit his teeth as he looked below and grasped his bow's handle tightly." Maybe I can't escape, but at the very least I'll make it a trade off!"
Voltaire swerved to the right, and as the energy beam sliced through a part of the middle section of his left leg he saw the leftmost Kill-Zone come for him before he narrowed his eyes." Even with a mask, even a pro has a tell! Zio-Bolt!"
The red haired marksmen unleashed his enhanced lighting style projectile just as Kill-Zone raised his gun. Voltaire hear a curse, but even while the masked man tried to reverse course, the Zio-Bolt was too big to evade completely.
Voltaire landed on the ground with a thud, but still managed a grin as he saw the bounty hunter go flying by as the illusions fizzled and dissipated into particles of light." Looks like you got a bit to hungry for the prize chap. Well, taking down the mob's top mercenary is going to make this one wild, huh?"
To his shock Kill-Zone's armor started to glow before he stabilized, and the sparks all went to his chest before he snickered." That sure of yourself eh Joachim? Like hell my gear's going to short out to a jolt like that! Let's see if it shorts you out though."
Voltaire saw Kill-Zone's gun glow red before he winced." Oh right, there was the bit about the reflecting energy attacks…was kind of betting the lighting would short out the systems for that."
"Though I was to lazy to invest in a fully functional Carbuncle Diffusion drive? As if. Alright then, armature hour is over. Your playboy tricks can't cut it across a true ace!"
Voltaire saw Kill-Zone unleash a massive red energy blast, and quickly fired an arrow to the right to blast himself out of its path. Kill-Zone observed Voltaire panting before he snickered." Your bag of tricks won't bail you out of this kid. Still, if you don't make a scene at least your death will be swift."
"But I'm all about making a scene. Besides, the whole thing about being a young upstart, is that when your bag of tricks is not getting the job done you invent some new ones! I still have a few cards left. Geo-Arrow!"
Voltaire slammed the ground, before the ground around him rippled, and an arrow made of solid gravel burst at Kill-Zone like it was fired from a catapult. Kill-Zone paused for a moment, before blasting the projectile as it got inches from his face.
The mercenary casually blew the smoke off his rifle before he aimed at Voltaire once more." Nice try, but even if you launch a solid projectile that can't be reflected, won't do much good if it can't get through!"
"Then I'll just have to throw enough at the mirror till something sticks. Tri-Geo Arrow!"
Voltaire dashed out of the way of another few blasts from his opponent before unleashing a triple volley of gravel composed arrows.
While he threw more arrows then Kill-Zone had guns, the contract killer snickered as he shot down one arrow and evaded the others before his shoulder cannon charged up energy once more." Your clearly a crafty guy if you keep making the tabloids with your stunts, but you're not a real pro. Know where you stand you, GUH!"
Kill-Zone prepared to fire right through Voltaire's head, but just as he positioned his rifle he suddenly felt something grasp him in place so violently he was nearly hurled off his glider.
The masked man cursed as he tried moving his arm, only to feel something holding it in place." The hell? No way I would have missed spotting wires falling from the ceiling! Wait, unless, no, that was not the spell he threw at all!"
"Not the spell you saw." Voltaire retorted dryly as he readjusted his collar." But I did have these smaller muddy webs be formed in the shadow of the larger arrows to keep you nice and tidy. Glad you did dodge that volley, getting caught in the webs they left behind makes it mighty easy to go ahead and do this!"
Voltaire quickly cast another Geo-Arrow, and had the tip morph into the shape of a boxing glove before he fired it at Kill-Zone's head before he could react.
He heard a groan, and a cracking noise before he winced, and saw Kill-Zone's head recoil back, as part of his mask shattered. The member of the Joachim family took a deep breath before he swept some sweat off his brow and walked up." Just be glad I'm not as blood thirsty as your employer's chap, though it's not so much I'm a saint and more that I have a detective friend I would love to interrogate you with. After all today's a day I want to have more answers then,"
To his shock Kill-Zone was not hit as hard as he thought as the contract killer suddenly blasted the arrow off him and fell back from the wires. As he did Voltaire saw the face behind the mask, and was shocked to see it was a face he knew, Kelsey Travolta.
The electro ball player looked a lot less friendly and relaxed then he did when he was in the Electro Ball match.
Voltaire blinked a bit before he cleared his throat." Wait…seriously? Is in the end this is all just some sort of j, GUH!"
In an instant Kill-Zone fired through Voltaire's right shoulder with his rifle. As the man with the title of Jade Hawk coughed up blood Travolta snickered as he cracked his neck." I don't know, feel like a joke to you punk? You're not really one to be shocked since you were playing the playboy by day and being Requiem's vigilante by night. Only thing is, I pulled the double act way better then you Joachim."
"Wait…the rumors of Kill-Zone lasted even longer than your Electro Ball career…unless your one of many."
"As if I'd let anyone share my style. Nah, the killer is the real face, being the Electro Ball star is just a nice act to confuse any cops or would be hero's. After all, aside from a few control freaks you can only buy so many houses before that surplus money is just sitting around.
But then I got the idea of buying reputation and, its mostly working out, aside from a few glitch's like punks not knowing when to get out of the damn way."
"So, you knew money was not enough and thus decided to get even more money to feel importance and buy respect and all that was missing? How sad, your even more shallow then I assumed."
"Like your one to talk kid? I don't by the story the King gave, you sure as hell were not Requiem's hostage. The way the Don sees it you been buddy buddy with the freak since he showed up in Los Midas.
What, you felt bad your rich cause your pops screwed so many people over and wanted to feel like you were a good soul by trying to be a hero? At least I'm honest with what I am Joachim."
Voltaire winced as he got to his feet." I know that, my acts seem trivial compared to those who risked everything to save people, to make a better world. But, I did not just want to be a person known for being part of the system that just makes the fat cats fatter, but make a real difference, and make people safer from scum like you.
It's been a gamble alright, but I'm not throwing my chips in yet no matter how many wish otherwise."
Voltaire looked like he was going to shoot Travolta, till he suddenly shot behind him with a arrow to reel himself away quickly. The contract killer snickered again as he rotated his gun." Oh yah, blowing up a national park and tons of other places sure as hell made the world better eh kid? More you push, the harder the natural order push's back.
Your boys and the Iblis Corps can try and pound the world in to how you want it to be all you like, I'm just going to sit back and make sure I can still get paid as all you revolutionaries crash and burn.
And, if you think you can run away from what you got coming from, think again. Let's see how you like my gel you cheeky smartass. Start dancing raven!"
The man also acting as the ace Electro Ball player for the Lighting Hawks had his shoulder cannons fire dozen of glowing rubber balls that bounced all across the room.
As they bounced around like pinballs Kelsey grasped his hands, before each of the balls had green gel explode out with enough substance to bind a hoverbike.
The assassin heard a moan from the right and swerved up to see Voltaire glued to the wall. The man with the moniker of Kill-Zone saw his red-haired target looking tense before he smirked." Just be glad I did not use the one with acid in it Joachim, I need your pretty boy face intact to confirm the kill. Despite what you think, I'm a man of modest means kid.
I don't expect to change the world, just profit off it. And now like all the dreamers who thought they could change the world only to fall, you're just going to fall alone and die in the gutter with all the trash while I laugh all the way to the bank."
Voltaire felt his arms were too stiff to move before he winced." I suppose, it is foolish even for a pro gambler to bet on having the skills to reform the world. Of course, I was not trying to do it alone."
"Yah well look at what trying the whole teamwork thing amount to eh Joachim? Looks like if any of your former Raven buddies are left they can't help you,"
Travolta heard something from above and looked up only to see dust and a few ceiling fragments fall down. He saw a mouse scurry by above and snickered before he aimed at Voltaire again, just before a hand blazing with energy burst through the wall next to him and punched him in the chest before he could react.
Kill-Zone did not even have time to react before the fist glowed with awesome power, and unleashed a small explosion that caused the bounty hunter to be smashed all the way to the opposite wall.
The source of that hand revealed itself to be Richard, who broke through the wall.
The man in sliver armor heard Kill-Zone yell out in pain before he walked through and cracked his knuckle." Not fun being sucker punched eh scum? Voltaire…are you ok?"
Voltaire quickly realized his friend was merged with Greymont again before he snickered." Oh, I been better but, so far nothing a good potion and my best cleaners can solve. Still, if you did not show up I was about to need a lot more. Heh, you do have a knack for the dramatic timing but I'm not complaining."
"Sorry for cutting it close. Greymont picked up your sent around here, but we were thrown off when the trail suddenly ended, till it was clear the room was changed. Just needed to find a spot that was not to crowded, and presto. I take it, one way or another Roxanne and her group are not here?"
"I would hope not." Voltaire uttered grimly as he eyed his enemy carefully." I'm rather sure this reaper for hire used tech to throw me off pretending to call me, so I have no real idea where they are."
Richard casually sliced through the gel binding Voltaire with his Aura Edge enhanced blade before he shrugged." Well, perhaps we can get some answers out of this thug when we are done with him. Now, we have a lot more ways to get answers to say the least so even a guy as, wait, is Kill-Zone, Kelsey Travolta?"
Voltaire quickly chugged a healing potion to mend his injury as he nodded." It would seem the star Electro Ball player just likes to have a hobby for the PR while he racks up his kill count."
"Well, time his spree crash's to a halt. Kill-Zone, you're going to pay thinking you could get away with targeting my friend like that."
Kill-Zone grasped his chest before he chuckled bitterly." Well, making an enemy of an Aurino prince is high up there on the big-time enemy list. Tsc, you really think changing your armor a bit and changing the color will prevent people from putting two and two together prince Richard? I don't know what game the royals are playing, but if I can get this done fast enough it will just mean an even bigger bonus for me."
"This is far from a game Travolta!"
Richard uttered solemnly as he pointed his blade at the contract killer." No matter what you think I am or was, I'm not who I use to be. Even so I'm not someone who lets injustice go on. You tripped me up with your variety before bounty hunter, but no matter which way your shots come from you're not going to get away!"
"Please, I hardly showed you all my tricks before brat. Now that I'm not being paid by weak willed cops, I don't have to hold back! No matter what spells you have, your about to see who the true pro is!"
Kill-Zone had his rifle glow, before he fired a barrage of blue blasts at the two friends. Both members of the Crimson Dragoon unit manage to evade them, but as Voltaire saw his friend evade one blue beam, he saw the beam ripple, before he saw the beam coming out from the wall to Richard's right.
He quickly fired an arrow to send the beam off course, and as Richard looked at his friend with shock Voltaire grit his teeth." These new beams seem to bounce through surfaces!"
Richard saw the ground glow, and dashed back to avoid a blue energy beam blasting into his face before he realized beams were coming at him from all directions and growled out," Damn it, nearly caged in at this point. Like he was not already a drag to pin down before."
Voltaire saw the rate that Kill-Zone was firing, and how much he paused with each of his guns before firing again before he narrowed his eyes." Don't fret, it's a hassle but I think I can break through his barrage! Just keep the pressure on him as much as you can so I can get one good shot!"
Richard saw his childhood buddy had eyes of resolve before he nodded." Just make it quick, can't keep this up forever."
Kill-Zone saw Richard moving around evading and deflecting energy beams nonstop before he narrowed his eyes." That's right, keep dancing till you drop ravens, cause the gig's up. In the end you're just a bunch of rich punks who thought they could play hero! Well, dying's one hell of a wake-up call, welcome to how the world really works boys!"
Voltaire cringed before he dived through one laser barrage, eyed his target carefully, rolled to the right to avoid another hit, then aimed, and fired a basic Volt Arrow spell while also jumping up at the same time.
The lighting charged arrow bounced off the ground, then rebounded off one of the lasers Kill-Zone fired, to hit Kill-Zone's shoulder cannon before it could fire again. The blast destroyed the cannon, causing Kill-Zone's barrage to cease.
As the mercenary cursed Voltaire saw the raw anger in the sports player before he let out a cocky grin." Travolta, your right that most of are band were too young or naïve to have seen how the world fully was.
But, we clearly seen what has not worked, what has to change. Even if it's a long-shot that I can do anything but make tabloids, I'm young, scrappy and hungry, and I'm not throwin' away my shot!"
Kill-Zone saw Richard nod before he snickered darkly." Well, you have the will Joachim, can't deny that. But will is not enough. Even luck is not enough if you don't have the instincts to act when lady luck turns to you. In the end, a true ace is,"
Before he could finish a light fizzled out from one of the blasts. The instant it did Kill-Zone had all the energy his gun still had charged be released into an overloaded blast. As his energy beam came out, Voltaire already sent out a arrow.
The arrow was blasted out of the way as it collided with the rifle just as it was fired out. But as Kill-Zone snickered, the arrow bounced off the pillar, bounced again off the ceiling light, and then hit his rifle, causing the energy beam to go off course.
Travolta saw his beam going for the ground before his eye twitched and he formed a bitter smile." Guess that's game."
The light exploded right in front of him, causing the entire chunk of the room to explode. The light blinded Richard and Voltaire, and when it faded they saw nothing but rubble.
Both men had their weapons ready, but saw the rubble was not moving at all before Voltaire took a deep breath." The moment I say we won this a laser's going to come at me eh? Just, get ready to move old chap."
Richard eyed the rubble carefully before he shrugged." I mean, we seen are enemies come back from worst but, aside from his armor Kill-Zone was just a normal guy right?"
"True, but thought he was just a cocky Electro Ball ace till a short while ago so he's full of surprises."
"Well, we can try and dig him out but not sure the time frame here. Did he say anything about what happened to Roxanne's group?"
"No, but if they have not reported to you then I doubt the situation is rosy. He was sounding like it would be no problem to escape after killing you, meaning he had an escape plan. I don't think he was just betting on instincts, and it also implies this is more than him just getting a request."
"Well, we can't ask him, but if he's not going to give answers, we will have to go to are team's professional problem solver. Claire, can you read me? Any word on what happened to Roxanne?"
After a few moments, the former Rycroft inmate answered." I been trying to help her take down some two-faced cop killer. Her, Dan, and her coworkers are trying to get some answers out of some Rakthia tool. The room's being jammed but lots of these pricks are doing all they can to keep anyone from listening in."
"Well, I hope they don't hit a dead end but, should be something they can handle. Still, there are ways to get answers even if no one is talking. Anyone move their vehicles in any erratic manner? Should be easy to see who left the city and who stuck around."
For a few moments Richard wondered if the question he asked was a bad one before he heard her gasp." You know…Donald Strickland was seen leaving earlier than the rest, but his shuttle never left the dome! Sounds like one way or another he did not want eyes on him!"
Voltaire looked at the rubble before he widened his eyes." Kill-Zone sounded like he was going to use my corpse to reverse the funds I won. Seems like he was going to directly take it to whoever hired it, and seems rather clear the Diamond Don put out the contract."
Richard widened his eyes before he looked around." Greymont, can you pick up where Kill-Zone's scent came from? Anything around hear linked to a part of the room where he entered? There's a slim chance we can get the Diamond Don at the other end!"
After a few moments his Techno Organic friend pipped back with," I am picking up the same smell from his fancy gels to the right of the room boss!"
Richard saw where Greymont's nose was focusing on, and saw it led to a supply closet. He dashed to it and kicked the door open, revealing a few broken brooms. At least, it seemed that way at a first glance, but Richard felt a small breeze coming from the room. He gave Voltaire a gesture to wait as he threw caution in and slashed into the wall.
His hunch proved correct as there was open space. Richard kicked the door down to see stairways leading down before he grasped his fist tightly." So, the mob or the Rakthian had an escape tunnel for executions built into the stadium? They are going to regret building a road that's the proof of their guilt."
Voltaire looked around before he shrugged." This point there really might be a union boss buried under the concert. Must say this seems sloppy for the Diamond Don, but maybe that's just what he wants us to think."
"Maybe, but Orion said his lock-down was bleeding his resources dry making him really need the cash. We seen how desperation can erode a person's mental state, and maybe now Strickland 's hand is so limited he is putting himself at risk just to win.
Well, his gamble is going to cost him everything, I'll see to that. He will likely find out one way or another this is not going as he hoped, but if I use the Acceleration spell, I should be fast enough to reach the Don."
Voltaire looked around before he nodded." Honestly, contacting Nathan and filling him and your father in might be more productive of me on my end since I can't match your speed. Just don't let your guard down just in case the Czar is involved. After all, Troy got the device that brainwashed Greymont from the Don after all."
"Don't worry, not about to let my guard down." Richard grimly replied." But hey, if worst comes to worst dad can outright declare a lock-down right? Always good to have options. Alright, time to move."
Voltaire nodded before heading out. Richard made sure he was able to run out safely before he took a deep breath, and dashed down the hallway as fast as he could. As he saw one underground hallway after another he made sure he was as alert as he could be." Donald Strickland, I'm not going to get careless but if I can get a shot at ending your criminal career tonight, I'm taking it! Even if Ares is the bigger threat, your about to find that being the lesser evil does not mean you can just do as you like! No matter how professional you go about it, your answering for your crimes!"
Richard braced himself to be ready for anything, but little did he realize things were unfolding in an even more horrible direction for some of his comrades, because Roxanne, Dan, Joey, and Franco were confronting something far worst then a simple crook.
At the moment Roxanne was seeing the raw insanity in Jekyll's eyes, and saw Dan looked more hurt then when Troy betrayed him because of being stabbed by what appeared to be his mother.
Franco saw how Jekyll's unexpected helper was now like a lifeless doll before he grasped his gun tightly." This for real? Jeremy seemed like such a joker that he was always one step away from being fired and now he's some super serial killer that can raise the freaking dead?"
Roxanne saw how shaken her teammates looked before she saw Jekyll's amusement and took a deep breath." It's because we played his game and only saw what we wanted to see that Jekyll had the drop on us and everyone else guys, don't let him get into your head.
If he could truly raise the dead he would not need to scurry around like this. No, this is not raising the dead, Dan's mother only appeared after Jekyll cast that spell so it's more about an illusion. If we know what the enemy is, he can't spread the terror!"
Jekyll cackled with amusement as he casually swerved his scythe around." Oh that's our Roxy, always trying to act like a professional and rationalize any confusion to stand firm.
Ortega and the others did make do the whole spiel about how fear can be overcome through experience. "Fear that comes from reason" is kind. It can be conquered through force of will or through experience.
But that's just another case of blowhards acting like they know what they are talking about to sound tough! After all, those who felt true fear know such things are nothing but a farce! For in the end, true fear is without reason. It is not an emotion, but an instinct.
Humans talk a big game but we dirty sticking apes just can't escape from our instincts, because I'm sure you proud pigs of the law know that true fear leaves a deeper impact than any other.
After all, it's a testament that most people's greatest nightmares are those that they lost in a traumatic tragic act. The trauma is so great that with the right tool, it can be poured out of there very soul and consume them!"
Roxanne saw the zeal in Jekyll's eyes before she narrowed her own." So, like I thought, your able to vie some obscure dark spell manifest people's most traumatic memories into weapons. Jekyll…maybe this is all some sick game to you but your about to find out how wrong you are!
No matter how deeply entrenched you are in the darkness, no matter how cruel you are, you can't slip away from your fate forever you bastard! A cruel monster like you is nothing but a virus to the world, one I'm going to freeze out for good! Artic Surge!"
The red-haired detective fired her most preferred ice spell, but Jekyll saw the spell coming at her and merely widened his eyes." Dear, your about to learn the coldness of true terror surpasses even the coldness of space! Terror Void!"
Jekyll's scythe glowed purple, before he swiftly swung it like a bat. As Roxanne's spell collided with the scythe, ice blasted out, only for purple miasma to in turn surge out of Jekyll's weapon.
The three former members of the Los Midas police force were shocked to see the purple miasma cause all of the ice to shatter instantly as the new wave of purple miasma seemed to suck the energy out of everything near it. The miasma grew like a balloon before it popped, releasing dozens of shadowy energy scythes in all directions.
Jekyll saw Roxanne's dismay as she got cut across her leg, and licked his lips as if he was hungry, and casually twirled his scythe again." You think my cruelty makes me a virus, a blight upon humanity detective? Is this what you thought you have been, virus hunting? Here I thought you had a grasp on human psychology Roxy, but you are so pitifully clueless. For in the end, cruelty is a gift man has bestowed to itself.
Our animal ancestors gave us emotions, but as savage as beasts can maul its prey apart, only the race of man have learned the art of pure, relentless cruelty, because only they gain any pleasure out of prolonging there prey's suffering. Seriously now how do you think you can properly defend the innocent sheep if you don't even understand their nature? All your pretentious declarations of justice erode away in the face of man's true nature."
"I'm not about to see the words of a serial killer as enlightenment Jekyll. And when those who refuse to see reason won't back down, all you can do is beat or blast some sense into them!"
"Oh, been taking lessons from the thug in resolving conflicts eh Roxy? Well you seem eager to dance to the tune of bloodshed, but yet your body movements indicate you realize the futility of such a gesture? Don't be afraid to kick this dance off, it will get fun after a while!"
With a wild cackle nearly like a hyena Jekyll suddenly sprung up to strike at his targets. Roxanne managed to parry the strike with her Tonfa, but despite how scrawny Jekyll looked, his momentum was harsh enough to nearly throw Roxanne off balance.
Despite welding the heavier weapon, Jekyll struck flawlessly, forcing his target to move at full speed to not get hit. While Joey and Franco tried to attack Jekyll as well, the traitor easily evaded tackles and deflected blasted bolts while still attacking their teammate.
Franco cursed Jekyll for laughing like this was all a joke, and tried throwing the nearby table at him, only for Jekyll to casually slash the table in half mid swing.
As Franco ducked from the sudden rubble, the serial killer widened his eyes and suddenly burst at the taller detective. Roxanne cried out in dismay and quickly cast the Spatial Surge spell to try and rob Jekyll of the gravity he needed to cut into her friend.
Yet as Jekyll saw the gravity-based magic and laughed as he cast the Terror Void spell yet again to shatter the spell." Think you can just keep throwing something at the wall till something sticks Roxy? Someone's clearly cracking under pressure. Don't be that way, desperation gives you such a dismal flavor. The faster you accept fate, the less painful it will be for."
Jekyll was cut off as Joey tried to shoot him again. He easily deflected the energy projectile, but just as he focused on him, Roxanne caught him off guard by diving under his Terror Void using the Acceleration magic spell, and then unleashing her Spatial Burst magic right at his chest.
Jekyll's smile eroded as he saw the left tonfa slam into the right, before the spell hit him and he let out a full primal snarl as the psychopath felt a ripple in his chest, then vomited out blood.
Roxanne saw the man who killed her father stagger back and keep vomiting blood before she grasped her weapons tightly." That's what I was about to tell you Mortikai! As much as I hate you, if you give up all you know you will live long enough to stand trail, that much I can promise you. Though, no deal on being in one piece!"
Roxanne went to shoot her opponent's knees to try and cripple Jekyll, but to her shock despite his injuries he rebounded quickly enough to deflect the shots with his scythe.
Jekyll coughed bitterly as he leaned up and swept the blood off his mouth before he let out such a dark smirk that the long-time serial killer in front of him could not help but shiver." Even now you're putting business before pleasure my dear? How very professional, daddy dearest would be very proud, if he was not so cross you took forever to find his killer! Though I am rather good at my job!"
Roxanne took a deep breath as he readied herself." You think you can rile me up so easily? I'm not taking your bait, for the sake of my dad and everyone else you killed, I'm not letting you get away! It's what, it's what he would have wanted."
"Feel happy blaming little old me? You know your pops would have been whacked regardless of if I took the offer or not right? Only instead of a genius he would have been killed by some punk wanting a bonus so you should feel honored you had the privilege of being part of a masterpiece! But if you don't trust me much, why don't we ask him? Nightmare Testament!"
Jekyll unleashed another wave of purple gas, and while Roxanne tried to blast it away, she saw the gas reform, till she heard a moan. Despite being years since she heard that voice, hearing it caused her to freeze.
She saw a man in a brown trench coat and a fedora stagger out. Despite his detached look Roxanne could not help but utter," D,dad?"
"R…Roxanne." The ghastly man uttered as he staggered out of the gas." Why, why did you fail me?"
As Roxanne winced Joey girt his teeth." Don't play his game! Listen you two faced rat even if Roxanne's old man was one of the most respected cops to every decent cop in Los Midas, just throwing off some puppet with his face is not going to bail you out of this!"
"Oh, gee jolly I know full well trauma is not a size that fits all. But no worries, I brought someone for everyone!"
Jekyll snapped his fingers like he was a game show host before two more figures staggered out of the gas, a Jiodisan woman with raven black hair in a ponytail, and a man with curly hair.
Joey saw the woman before he paused." No…Lyn?"
"Sonny?" Franco blurted out as he stepped back. Lyn's head twitched before she looked furious." Joey…why did you not avenge me? You, you promised!"
"Franco…you should have had my back!"
As both of the two new arrivals suddenly tackled the men in front of them Jekyll laughed." Dead fathers, dead teammates, dead girlfriends shoved into fridges by thugs, I got them all in stock!
That's what's lovely about stubborn cops in fertile grounds, they make such splendid canvas's! Well, there is always just the drop out thugs who want to feel like tough guys, but they are no fun."
As Jekyll laughed again Roxanne was about to strike before her father let out a distorted growl." Roxanne…you promised you would make the city better, but you failed! You just let the mob, and the terrorists treat it like there playground, till the city was locked down like a failed third world nation! My baby, my baby's a failure!"
Roxanne winced before she looked down." I, I know I let you down dad. I, I tried my best to be an honest cop in a place where the corrupt made the rules. I, saved some lives, but I know I could have done more if I did not look away.
I, I thought I could make things right, but sometimes I think I was just too afraid to do what needed to be done. I, I can't turn back time, I can only not make the same mistakes. And that's why, no matter what, Jekyll Mortikai you're not getting away! Elemental Disaster Surge!"
The red-haired woman had four elemental orbs appear around her just as her father lunged at her. She blazed right through her father, and then knocked over Lyn as well. She charged for Jekyll, only for his scythe to suddenly extend, and grapple Franco off the ground to pull him in between her and Jekyll.
The serial killer saw Roxanne pause in fear, before her enemy laughed madly, and thrust his scythe forward to hit Roxanne in her right shoulder. Only the tip penetrated her, but it still was enough to make her yell in pain.
As she did, Jekyll let out his most sadistic laugh yet." No matter what eh? I guess you're not that serious if you let a little old thing like your comrades lives stand in the way of getting what you want. That's your problem dear, you lack the commit to see things through and that's why you could not secure things from promotions, revenge, and just about everything else worth a damn. You tried to have it all, and now you will have nothing."
"No…not…about to let it end like, AHH!"
She could not help but cry out as Jekyll twisted his blade, forcing her to drop her weapons. As she did Jekyll casually threw Franco into Joey before walking closer to his prey." Oh, but this is how this will all end Roxanne. I can all but taste the fear building in you, the fear that you prepared yourself for this very moment, only to fail! Oh it's one thing killing some random gutter rat, it's another watching someone spend so many years preparing for one special moment and seeing the realization it was only for naught!
And it's all because you clung on to the things you insisted were important even if all they did was chain you down! friendship, what a sticking thing, though it is amusing seeing people realize how worthless it is, right before the light leaves their eyes forever.
Yes, while posing as your stock boy, an AXI agent, and so many other mask's I see how smug so many of my targets looked, right before the moment of truth dawned on them.
It's quite enjoyable, seeing how they act as they realize they're about to die. I had to slash apart quite a few eyesores who were butting in where they did not belong or otherwise proving their existences were a waste of time. Want me to tell you between Ortega and all the others which ones were cowards as they died?
Heh, this is why it's so much more enjoyable being personal with my work! Boors like Kill-Zone are all about business because for all their skill they only enjoy the reward, not the job itself! If you gave up your stubborn values you just might have gotten farther in life if you swallowed your pride and played the game to win!"
"You sick bastard." Roxanne spat out defiantly." No matter what, I'm not going to beg for mercy and start calling you "Mister J", I rather die than go on living as your broken sidekick! No matter what you can take from people, just like my dad, you're not going to take my pride in who I am!"
Jekyll saw Roxanne struggling to push the scythe out before his eyes widened." You seriously don't comprehend how good I am at what I do Ma Belle Pêche! But despite your defiance and your years of combating fear, its seeping in, I can feel it!
You been pushing back the fear for so long but the damn is about to burst, and your entire world is going to collapse as your powerlessness sets in! You could never beat me, I am beyond what a silly girl like you could ever overcome!"
Jekyll laughed loudly as the purple mist swirled around him enough to become a miniature twister. Joey saw Roxanne looking scared before he tried to stand up." C'mon on Roxy, this is just another blowhard with a few more tricks! After everything we got through, can't let this son of a, GAHH!"
Both him and Franco were blown into the walls alongside the still unconscious Dan and Olba's corpse, before the mist flooded the entire room. Before Roxanne could even call out her friends names she felt the mist slam into her.
She felt like she was being slammed all over the room. The mist had consumed the room so utterly she could not see anything. For a moment she wondered if Jekyll had ripped out her eyes till she saw a green light flicker on.
Roxanne coughed up blood and felt a chill before she stood up, and was mortified to see that the assault had somehow left her naked. She did not see anyone else before she grasped her arm." Did, Jekyll somehow slam me so hard I'm in another room? Where, huh?"
The detective saw a wall in front of her, and staggered forward as she saw some writing, and realized it was her name, with her time of death written on it.
She heard some whimpering and swerved around to see if it was the others, only to be shocked to see it looked like herself, hunkering in the corner, crying like she had lost her mind.
She then saw another clone of herself eating a crimson raven in the other corner, and another clone of herself laughing hysterically as she was stabbing a man with a knife, a man who was already to sliced apart for her to identify.
Roxanne saw all the clone's glance at her before they all said," Join us…you belong here."
"Screw you, you're not me! No matter how real it feels I know who I am and know what's fake!"
"Are you sure? You're sure I'm tricking you, or is it your mind being honest?"
Jekyll suddenly descended from the light, now sprouting demonic wings with his skin being pale as a corpse. His nails morphed into scythe like claws, and as he licked them, he smirked." Your very despair empowers me Roxy, you're the feast I knew you would be!
That's why I'm going to savior every moment of your terror still I squeeze out every last drop! Those Jinn Cadre in the Iblis Corps thought they were becoming demons, but they only changed their body, they don't have the souls of a demon like me! Its adorable you thought you ever had a chance but gee golly, it's time to face the music!"
Roxanne steps back as she frantically looked around, only to see her clones laugh her from the corners of the darkness before she grasped her fist tightly." No, my job's to take down killers like you!"
Roxanne stepped back, only to see the ground crumble away. She saw Jekyll descend before he spat out a dismissive," Ah, ma belle pêche…there's no need to tremble like that. Else you'll make me feel like a péché myself…so just accept what you are already! You so badly wanted to see police as agents of justice, refusing to see how they are just the strong's cogs of repression for the weak!
You really tried to see yourself as the tough gal that puts bad guys like me in your place eh? To bad your just a fool who could not face how you could only get anything done if it was in the script of those with real power! Frailty, thy name is woman, and such tears… what beauty they hold…these tears of sorrow… unquestionably they are the most precious topping to be the cherry on top of my canvas masterpiece!
So, it's time to count down how long it will take to complete it! Maybe it will take longer then some, but you will submit by the end one way, or another! Because no matter what element you conjure, no element can overcome terror personified!"
Jekyll licked his lips before diving at Roxanne. The member of the Crimson Dragoon unit felt her legs shake, before she steeled herself and charged at Jekyll, and tried to grasp the blade before it could be rammed through her. She was pushed to the edge, and saws her hands bleed but used all of her will power.
She looked at her demonic attacker and spat in his face." Your wrong Jekyll…terror is not the most powerful thing there is!"
"Oh please, you're not going to really make your last word as a whole body be that love is the true ultimate power? And I thought Requiem was the romantic? You saw how worthless love and hope was for your father!
All the pretty ideals humanity puts up to feel better about themselves fall away the moment things become too fearful for the façade to last! Terror consumes all!"
Jekyll was pushing back enough for Roxanne to see blood creep out of her chest, and in desperation she dove off the edge. As she fell, Jekyll dived at her.
For a moment she felt fear, but then she remembered the time her father encouraged her, then her mother, then Joey, Franco, and even Voltaire, Claire, Richard and the others before her eyes widened with realization." No, as powerful as fear is, all of humanity's history has been grasped by courage! Sure, fear's factored into all kinds of things, but courage has shaped so much of life! Jekyll, if your fear personified, then I'll just be courage personified! Valor…Surge!"
Roxanne focused, and swerved around to evade Jekyll's dive strike, and had greenish white energy form into her fist, before she slammed it into Jekyll's gut. This caused the serial killer to widen his eyes, in horror before he yelled in outrage." No…this, this flavor is revolting! Damn it Roxanne, this joke's not funny! You can only put on this farce for so, GUH!"
Roxanne suddenly had her other fist form with the same green energy before she punched right into Jekyll's jaw." Shut the hell up already! I'm not your damn meal and despite what you think my life's not just to cap off your demented murder spree! I'm only human, I'm not arrogant enough to think I'm beyond fear, but I'm a professional that won't let fear get in the way of doing my damn job! In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight! So Jekyll, you better damn beware my power as I shut your sick games down and bring you in!"
Jekyll screamed in pain as the energy surged into him before he narrowed his eyes." Oh you really are making me work for it eh Roxy? No matter how hard you try, no matter how much it burns, you will break before me! No…matter…how…RAHHH!"
Jekyll's defiance at last eroded as Roxanne's spell blasted him back. Roxanne saw a light blind her before she was knocked over. When the light faded, she gasped as she realized she seemed to be back in the stadium. She saw there was a giant hole in the ceiling, but could not see anyone else before she tensed up." Guys, where are you? Oh god, did he really."
"C'mon Roxanne you're a detective don't jump to conclusions." Joey uttered as he staggered over the hole above. Roxanne looked relived as she looked around, and was thankful to see her nudity was just another part of whatever illusion Jekyll had under her. She staggered to her feet as she looked around." So, we were just in the room the entire time?"
"Seems more like two rooms girl." Franco muttered as he walked over." Just as we were able to get back on our feet we saw Jekyll smashed you through the god damn floor. Good thing people want to beat traffic eh?"
"So…then…we made it."
"Dame…better say that after you make sure we are not dying from poison."
Roxanne heard a moan and saw Dan at last woke up after the potion Joey gave him. The former leader of the Hammer Wolves cracked his neck before he looked down." Where the hell is that prick? I'm going to smack him till he never laughs again and sees me as his worst nightmare."
Roxanne looked around and saw a hole in the room. She ran forward and saw it lead to the garbage shoot, and that it was sizzling. She looked around before she grasped her fist." Damn it, I blasted him right into the garbage? No, he can't have gotten away after all this."
"You seriously let him get away after all that?" Dan snarled out." What he take a hostage or something?"
"No, not that. You saw how real his illusions were right? He was just getting started. Nearly thought he took me to hell, he even changed into a demon."
"Somehow that does not surprise me. What, you got lucky enough to poke him in the eye or something?"
"No…I just realized there were ways to work around his magic. He used his magic to feed off of everyone's fear, but he did not realize it could also be used to turn are other emotions into power, till I blasted him with it. I don't think he ever had anyone live long enough to subvert his magic, but he picked the wrong person to deem as prey."
"Heh, just wish I could see the look of his face. Still, you guys made sure I could see anything after he sucker stabbed me so, thanks."
"C'mon man you bailed me out of getting sucker stabbed so it's all good." Franco uttered as he chuckled. Dan nodded before he face bumped the cop and looked down." So…glad we got out of the ride down the nightmare on Elm Street but, what now? This even over or are we just at the half-time?"
Roxanne looked down the garbage chute and saw it was full of blood before she winced." I don't know. This, was meant for trash to be thrown down, though I guess enough mobsters used these rooms to throw away hits. Still, this goes all the way to the basement.
Even so…Jekyll's proven he's not really normal. I'm this close to at last avenging my father, but I'm not about to jeopardize everything for vengeance. At the very least, we managed to get out of this in one piece."
Dan sniffed something before he saw Olba's corpse and cleared his throat." Well, don't call it game yet girl, this dude was on Rakthia's team right? Even if he was not a big player something tells me the Czar might overreact a bit if he thinks we offed one of his guys."
Roxanne winced as she looked around." Fair point Dan. We better contact his majesty and Richard to, get things straight before things get out of hand."
Dan snickered as he cracked his neck." The dude may be trying to relax after going through hell, but to bad life waits for no man and all so hope he can get his head in the game before it's over."
As the group tried to figure out the best way to move on from the situation without making things worst, but little did Dan know that his friend was far from taking it easy at the moment.
Richard had charged through one underground hallway to another in the hopes he was not too late. Just as he was starting to wonder if he was going in circles, Greymont rippled within him." Hey boss, I'm picking up someone in the other room! Don't know who it is but, hey it's something right?"
The third prince moved so fast he nearly crashed right into a wall before he looked at the door and paused." Something, that could decide everything Greymont. Even if it is just a random janitor, his or her reactions could tip the Don off."
"Well, maybe but what else can we do but move really, really fast Richard?"
"Well, I have an idea that could last long enough to get the job done. Greymont, you remember how Kill-Zone's armor looked? Think you can morph my armor to look like it? "
"I guess…but that won't cover your voice so they will know!"
"Its fine, we just need to get them to lower their guard."
"Oh ok, got it! Alright its morphing time!"
Richard felt a few ripples across his body, and trusted his techno organic pal to get the job right. After a few seconds to calm himself he opened the door and walked through.
At last the masked man entered a wider chamber only lit by hellish red lights. It only took a glance to see he was in the stadium's generator room. Richard kept his head down and wondered if he spent more time thinking and less time running before he heard a chuckle before from above someone spat out," Getting sloppy there Kill-Zone thought this would be a breeze for yah!"
Richard saw Mr.V walk up with an agitated look before he shrugged and let out a low," There were a few complications…so I better get what was promised."
Mr.V raised an eyebrow before he chuckled." C'mon fella, Mister Strickland always delvers to reliable workers like yourself. So just give me that mook's money and when the Don transfers it you will get your cut. Don't worry about any extra heat, with this money we will all be able to take it easy. That punk Joachim 's last lesson was thinking he could outsmart the Don! So come on lets go!"
"Of course." Richard uttered as he staggered forward. As he got closer to the mobster he cracked his fist." I have your prize, right here!"
Richard burst forward to try and punch the man in the fedora. But while Mr.V looked shocked, just before the fist could reach him the older man turned into a large puff of smoke.
As the third prince widened his eyes he heard a snicker from behind." That was close. Still, I know Kill-Zone is not that stupid so we got an interloper here eh?"
Richard saw his target casually crossing his arms before he cracked his neck." I do have your reward scum, but instead of the plunder you seek, it's your requiem!"
Mr.V saw the sliver armor transform back to what Richard was wearing before he snickered." Seriously still playing games after everything your highness? The Don's hunch was right, you just can't give up the game eh kid?"
"I could say the same for you and your boss. You're going to get one chance to not go down with the ship Mr.V. If your part of the solution instead of the problem, we will keep you safe from whatever retribution might be unleashed."
Mr.V tipped his hat before he narrowed his eyes." All this time looking from the ground and still think mobsters only work because they have a gun to their head? Mister Strickland gave me everything, and if it means I go down so he does not get screwed…well that's the breaks."
Richard saw Mr.V take out a pair of black batons before he took out Auro Solis." Guess there is honor among thieves after all. Still, I promise you it won't matter, you won't stop me!"
Mr.V snickered before charging. Richard prepared to parry the strike, only to see his enemy suddenly vanish in a puff of smoke. Just as he wondered what happened he felt an extremely painful jolt of electricity flow into his neck.
It was only thanks to Greymont 's protecting he was able to stay conscious. He glanced behind him to see Mr.V was behind him, with the edge of his staff having a taser at its edge.
The leader of the Crimson Dragoon unit gave a deathly glare, only for the mobster to snicker." Got it all wrong your "highness", you can't stop me, because you seriously can't even touch me!"
Richard winced and quickly cast metal morph to have a spike jet out of his right shoulder, only for Mr.V to once more vanish in a puff of smoke.
The masked man dashed behind the wall, and saw his enemy casually reappear on one of the generator's wires before he grasped his fist tightly." Well…this explains how you were able to get to us without us noticing you back then. Can't deny your talent, it said that only some of the top Jiodisan assassins mastered such flexible body morphing magic.
Still, you can't just run forever, and if nothing else if you keep it up I'll just blow you into a jar and that can be your prison cell!"
"Nice try but I can turn it off if I'm going to get screwed over! Even if you try and rage quit again and bring down the house, you're not tagging me!"
"I promise you, I won't need to get so drastic for the likes of you!"
Richard charged at Mr.V again, and again and again the fedora wearing man vanished right as Richard struck, and zap him again with his staff. Richard just grunted with annoyance, before he gathered energy in his free hand. He slashed at Mr.V again, only when his target once more vanished in a puff of smoke, the former vigilante jumped up and unleashed his Flare Burst spell.
Mr.V reappeared just as the blasts were going to hit him, before he linked his batons together and twirled his new staff around.
As he did it glowed, and the mobster widened his eyes." Thought you could make me combust or something? Here, you can have it back!"
Richard saw his enemy release the absorbed energy from his staff as a larger red energy sphere and quickly slashed it to the ground. As he did Mr.V reappeared above him and jabbed him in the face with the taser part of his staff.
As the son of King Andross fell to his knees his attacker spat on the ground." Thanks to that dragon pall of yours your one stubborn SOB. But I had to zap out beasts before and with one good zap you're out for the count. Just be lucky we don't have time for games!"
Richard grunted and tried to slash at him again only for Mr.V to vanish, and appear in front of him again. The smooth criminal snickered at Richard's defiance as he twirled his staff around. He saw the prince mutter something before he raised an eyebrow." What's that? Wanted to, GUAH!"
Before he could react the wall behind him suddenly morphed into a giant metal hand in an open palm state, the result of Richard's metal morph spell. As Mr.V was slammed forward, Richard promptly punched him in the mouth before he could even react.
The man merged with a dragon saw teeth and blood fly as his opponent landed on the ground with a thud. Richard saw the man moan before he shrugged." Your right, I don't have time for games, so after observing your pattern enough I took a risk to see if you could react when you did not see the attack coming, and it seems this gamble paid off."
Richard quickly cast Metal Morph again to have the ground morph to cover Mr.V's legs, arms, and mouth just in case he was playing possum, and looked at the man's pockets before he took a deep breath." Well, misdirection got us into this mess, only fair we repay the favor eh?"
He checked the now unconscious man's pockets and found his personal computer, found the number for the Diamond Don and sent a "coming back" message before taking off.
He ran out of the generator room and after a few more hallways, found himself in a small elevator. Right outside the elevator, was the Diamond Don.
The kingpin of crime was casually smoking a cigar when Richard arrived, and as the former leader of the Crimson Tengu Ravens landed hard on the ground, the older man just closed his eyes and threw his cigar into the trash." So, you even got through Kill-Zone eh? You're nearly the demon you pretend to be, your highness."
Richard paused at the Don's casual revelation before he cleared his throat." I give you credit Strickland, you do seem to have quite the information network."
"You credit me and insult me in the same breath. I did not need a rat to figure things out, I can see why King Andross would give a cover story, but anyone who interacted with you knew it was a joke saying Requiem was someone else.
Still, I do admit, I figured when you were able to go back home you would drop the hero act, but you really are obsessed with your comic book justice if you're going all this way to be a pain in my ass."
Richard sighed before he pointed his blade at his target." Oh, it's not too hard to be motivated when you're trying to kill my friend."
"That…was nothing personal. It's strictly business, business you should have kept your nose out of."
"Here I thought you were smart, yet you thought I was going to do nothing? You know with all that was going on with the Iblis Corps I was too busy to think about you much, but thanks for reminding me you betrayed are agreement and teamed up with the Iblis Corps and the local cops to try and kill every last one of my comrades!"
"Again…that was nothing personal, just business. After the stunt you pulled in Nilock, it was toxic to have anything to do with the Crimson Tengu Ravens. I'm a man of my word, but honor does not pay the bills, and I do what I must to meet the bottom line."
"Even defecting to the Rakthia Empire?"
"Tsc, I always was proud to be an Aurino citizen, but if my nation was not proud of me despite all I did, then why not go where I was welcomed? I'm a realist before being a dreamer or a patriot, cause those live longer.
Though, I'll give you that your brother is even more of a stubborn mook then yourself. Piff…he knew full well I had nothing to do with Ortega's pathetic ideas of rebellion, but he clamped down on everything related to me because he loathed who I was. And yet his lockdown was hurting the city as a whole then I ever did. Who helped Los Midas more…Bolton Steiner, or myself?
You royals think removing me will make Los Midas better? Just wait and see what a hell hole it will be the second your lockdown ends and I'm not there to rein in the beasts. But as they say, you break it you buy it. I could have made Los Midas into something beautiful, something truly great, but it would have been great for the real world, not the utopia fantasy out of touch clowns who keep their heads in the clouds just won't let go of."
Richard saw a clear bitterness in the Don's eyes before he grasped his fist tightly." I seen you enough to know you cared about Los Midas in your own way, or at least you think you did, but the ends don't always justify the means Donald Strickland! You always said you were the best choice because you understood the city better than anyone, but even if you understood the city as it is now, it does not always have to be this way!
We can move on to a better future, but only when those who try and prevent people form evolving are taken out! People can move to a better tomorrow if someone is guiding them down the better path instead of trying to prevent them from ever changing!"
"Bah, seen by now that the road to perdition is paved with naïve dreams that only work out in a fantasy? You still think one man in a silly little costume can make a difference after how badly you screwed things up in Nilock? You botched the whole inspiring thing so badly your pops had to throw his weight around and declare you and Requiem were two different mooks just so you the mass's did not demand your head.
You're just a naïve twit who got lucky a few times but otherwise has just made things worst. So, get out of my way before you botch things so badly even your royal daddy can't bail you out."
Richard took a deep breath before he got into a fighting stance." I know, I been naïve about so many things. How much damage that causes haunts me every day. But, I have a chance to make things right and I'm not going to be too afraid to make use of that, those who died believing in me deserve that much.
I'm not going to look the other way, and you have no one left to throw away as shield's Donald Strickland!"
The older man saw Richard was serious before he cracked his neck." You forget no one in Los Midas wanted to be in the same room as me when I'm angry? It was not because of my boys, it was because of my own strength."
"I don't doubt your power, but I, we blazed through bigger criminals then you."
"Maybe, but I wager you had more wiggle room then this space here. Sure, you can try and have your pet go all out, if you don't give a damn that it would cause the entire stadium to collapse. C'mon Richard Zilos, show the world just how single minded you really are."
Richard saw how narrow the chamber really was before he grimaced." I guess you were not to reckless with this plan. Even so, you underestimate just what I can do!"
"Then have your shot at it boy and get this over with, because in the end, time is money."
Richard saw how casual the Don was before he took a deep breath." Maybe, but your all out of time! Metal-Morph!"
Not wanting to give the Don a chance to flee or pull off something, the prince slammed his fist into the ground and had the ground around his target shoot up wires that instantly wrapped around the agent of the underworld. The moment Richard saw his target's limbs were bound he grasped his fist tightly.
As he charged the Don saw the man in front of him, and smirked." Nice try, but I'm in no mood for games! Raging Diamond Storm!"
Just as Richard jumped into the air to try and knock out his target, suddenly his enemy's ring glowed, before two diamond shaped spikes protruded out of the Don's shoulders in an instant, and slammed into Richard's gut.
If not for Greymont protecting him his lungs would have been impaled in an instant, but the blow still slammed him hard enough into the wall behind him to crack it. As Richard cried out in pain more diamond spikes busted out of the Don's body to easily shred his current bindings to ribbons.
As Richard felt so much pressure pinning him down he was having trouble breathing he saw all of Strickland's flesh and bone had, to all appearances, been replaced by crystal; even his hair was now just diamond-tipped edges.
Richard saw the man in front of him march up before he chuckled bitterly." So, you do have some diamond related magic after all, Dan owns Voltaire some money."
He tried to look at his opponent in the eye, but saw the Don's eyes were gone —there were glowing sockets where they had sat. The Don saw Richard's defiance, and as he spoke again, his voice sounded like it was coming through stone to enter the room".
You're not the only one who has a sturdy shield your "highness." But unlike you I did not just stumble upon my power, I had to master it to survive each day in the diamond mines. I worked to get every bit of my power, and no twit is going to take it away from me.
The truth is, even that bomb that Rakowski tried to whack me would not break through my diamond skin. And you don't have the space to pull off anything bigger than that in here."
"Even if that's not a bluff…that just means I'll have to be…creative. Your strength is no illusion Diamond Don, but it won't be enough for me to back down!"
Richard slammed the wall, and caused a metal pillar to erupt out of the spikes in front of him to knock the Don off balance. The leader of the Crimson Dragoon unit saw the Don stagger and quickly jumped off the wall and had his sword be charged with the Aura Edge spell.
As he slashed, the Don swung for him, and have a spike come out of his right palm and parry Auro Solis. To Richard's shock the diamond blade shimmered with light, and was strong enough to withstand blocking the empowered blade. The crime boss saw Richard's shock and had spikes form on the knuckles of his other hand before he punched Richard in the throat before he could react.
Greymont defended him enough to prevent his throat from being punctured but he still choked from the impact." You underestimate me for the last time boy, capeesh? Your dragon may let you avoid being gutted, but let's see how much you can be rattled before you fall Richard Zilos!"
The Diamond Don showcased the extent of his skill as he unleashed a brutally precise combo that landed blows on Richard's head and lunges, making Richard's vison cloudier with each second.
The third prince recovered enough to cast metal morph with his free hand form a hook to catch the Don's fist, and then try and stab his target direction in the mouth.
The Kingpin of crime in Los Midas snickered at the attempt and quickly had a small diamond spike jet out of his left knuckle to hit Richard's hand right in his hand's pressure point, hurting him enough to force him to drop his sword.
With another snicker the Don headbutt Richard with enough force to slam him to the ground. A dazed Richard saw his enemy have the spikes extend on his back even more before he jumped up and prepared to come down hard on him as if he was a spiked wall.
Yet Richard rebounded quicker than his opponent expected to hurl himself up and slam the Don in the gut. As soon as the Don hit the wall, Richard tried to case Metal-Morph again only for the Don to narrow his eyes." Think you're the only one who can pull a stunt like that off? Raigou Diamond Reppuuken!"
Strickland slammed into the ground hard, causing the ground around him to ripple, before to Richard's dread, the area he cast his spell under was overridden by the Don's magic, and diamond spikes burst out of the wall. Richard avoided being rammed, but found out the hard way he was just being distracted, as diamonds rained down from the ceiling pinning him to the ground.
As the former vigilante yelled out in pain the Don cracked his neck." I'm been playing this game before you were even born kid. You may have had an edge with your secret power, but it does not measure up to my hand. After all, diamonds are forever, but your eyes sure as hell are not!"
Richard saw his enemy charging for him and quickly had his right-hand morph into a gun so he could unleash the Flare Burst spell. The Don easily deflected the blasts but it delayed him enough and rattled the diamond spikes enough for Richard to break lose. He kept firing to keep the Don on the defensive as he spat out," Maybe, but even diamonds can be broken with enough force."
"Maybe, but you don't have the room to fire a blast big enough to get the job done without making the cost to high so either way, you got nothing but bluffs!"
Richard saw more diamond spikes erupt out from the ground and jumped up. As he did he saw the Don charge at him again, but shocked him by jumping up and landing on the Don's blade, before jumping up again.
Richard backflipped into the wall, and hunched over before narrowing his eyes." Just because you don't see the possibility it does not mean it does not exist! I'll carve a new path Strickland! Erupting Flare Burst!"
The crime boss saw the man above's sword and had his hand spike shoot out to intercept him. However Richard swerved around and grasped the spike, and the Don's head with his energy infused fist.
The blow smashed Donald Strickland into the wall, and as he saw his diamond covered skin glow from the heat Richard narrowed his eyes to try and grasp his fist tighter." You may have thought you were so talented that you were above justice but your about to find out how wrong you are!
You may have thought you were saving Los Midas with your" Tough love", but the reality is you failed your city because your ego morphed every sin to an act of "tough love". What gains you may have given the city were not worth the harm your " blood diamonds" caused to so many people!
Now it's time the cries for justice break through the walls you thought were unbreakable Donald Strickland! No matter how skilled you are, I will defeat you!"
The Don saw a small crack in some of his diamond skin because of the friction before he grit his teeth." You are something else punk, you really do become something close to a demon when your prodded enough. Still, you're not the only one who sees other ways to win the game!"
"I'm not letting you, AH!"
Just as Richard tried to figure out what was going on he suddenly felt like he was being yanked by massive hand. He was pulled so fast he did not even have time to resist, and as he landed on the wall with a thud he saw the wall had split open.
Richard saw Mr.V was above him, and while his jaw was broken, he showed he was clearly able to still stand since he was using magic to draw Richard to his Batons.
Richard glared at the interloper, but before he could even yell an even more powerful amount of voltage then he felt when hit him surged into him.
Mr.V saw his target yell and chuckled bitterly." You think I'm some sap that goes down that easily you pain in the ass!? You may be full of surprises your highness…but even you are not going to bust out of the gravitational field I'm putting out when it goes past 2,000 Gs while zapping yah at the same time. Sorry for the delay boss, took longer to stop being dizzy then I thought."
"Its fine Vico...we have just enough time to make it. Well, your not the only one who can pull off timely reversals kid.
Just be grateful I don't have time to nab your dragon in time to teach you a lesson. No matter how much the Czar would pay for it, not worth the shipping pay right now."
"Damn…you…Strickland! Its…not…over yet!"
Richard grit out with raw rage as he saw Mr.V slam his batons to the wall to keep Richard bound. He used all of his will power to move his head, but in a second his entire body slammed back into the magnet. The Don saw both Richard and Greymont could hardly move a finger before his diamond armor faded.
He then swept off some dust and took out another cigar before he swerved around." Maybe not, but it is for now. You have grown into a half decent fighter after hanging around those small-time gangsters for a while kid.
Still, the game's not always won by how hard you hit. Life's not fair, so you can only be strong and crafty enough to make sure you get what you want. Maybe, if you live long enough you will see what it means. Though, if you and Ares want to kill each other be my guest. I'm done being in your war."
Mr.V snickered as he walked past the Don." Seriously kid, you cultists think your so slick but you can kill yourselves while we sit back and laugh till we can pick up the pieces!"
Vico prepared to press the button, but before he could a sword suddenly burst foreword, and sliced right into the mobster's heart.
The sword pulled back so swiftly that it ripped Vico's heart out as it went back into the elevator, and Mr.V just had enough strength to glance at his boss before he spat out blood." B...boss...I, I, GUH!"
As Vico fell down Richard saw as the doors open Donald Strickland looked more shocked then he ever saw him, shocked to hear him gasp and drop his cigar, and the reason for that was that in the elevator, was Andross.
Richard's father saw the Don's shocked face before he let out a casual pleasant smile." Sorry who's laughing again thug? Ah, I only got a bit of that conversation but I believe there was something about life not always being fair? That would seem to apply quite strongly to you right now Donnie."
The head of crime in Los Midas saw Vico was already dead, and stepped back a bit before he cleared his throat." Y, your majesty?"
"Ah so you do still see me as your king eh Donnie? That's good, here I thought you had defected to the Rakthia Empire. After all, you sure hid like you were planning to defect, if not for my Divine Eye we would not have found your secret hatch. Maybe that's seen as "cheating" but again, life's not always fair. A pity Donnie, I remember you seemed like a bright lad when we first met.
Sure, maybe you were a little to fool of yourself but you really did not seem like the type that would think they could get away with something as outrageous as treason. But it's quite the outrageous life we live in yes? Still, I feel like in this instance, it would be best if I express how outraged I feel at this stunt personally."
Strickland could not help but break out into a cold sweat as he saw Andross casually walk out of the elevator, slowly going for Deus Edge's hilt before he grit his teeth." Wait, , King Andross this is all a big misunderstanding you see?"
Andross raised an eyebrow as he looked past the Don." Is that so? Because it looks like you have my son and his morphing pal bound to some contraption belonging to your now deceased cohort.
Saying your King's a fool is quite a serious offense Donnie, just how lucky do you really think you are? Because I think your due for a rather blunt reality check."
The Don saw how steady Andross was and was motionless for a moment before his eye twitched.
His left hand twitched, and he was about to raise the arm till he heard a voice whisper," I'd think very carefully about your next move Donnie, because if it looks like your trying to attack me that will be your final move, because I don't want to see you ever raise a hand against me or my family again."
Strickland glanced behind him, and saw in the blink of an eye Andross was behind him. He noticed that the King's sword was already drawn, and then widened his eyes as he saw an arm was now in Andross's other hand, his arm.
The Diamond Don glanced down and saw his arm was severed by Deus Edge before he even realized it, till the nerves in his body fully realized what happened.
As Strickland yelled in pain and fell to his knees Andross just sighed." Your diamond-based body modification magic is indeed impressive Donnie, alas its not to helpful if you don't have time for the spell to activate yes?
True, maybe the time needed for it to activate is enough against most of your foes, but as you see now, I'm not most men. You were under the impression I was weakened from my long illness, and that cost you dearly. Now that I severed your WAND with your limb I hope any delusions about beating me are now rather utterly broken."
Using Aura Edge, the blade slashed through the Don's arm with such heat that the wound was seared shut, but he still yelled in pain as he slowly looked up." Your majesty, I plead mercy, don't kill me!"
Andross allowed a small smirk as he threw the severed arm to the ground." Not fun being on the other end eh Donnie? Well, I'm in a rather cross mood for how today's going but I still have some room for mercy. But, that entirely depends on this goes."
In a flash Andross grasped the Diamond Don by his throat and slammed him into the wall, easily holding him up with one hand.
As the man in front of him choked out blood Andross narrowed his eyes." No more games. As people in your line of work like to say it, I'm going to give you an offer you can't refuse, capiche?"
"So…this is the point where you use me as a scapegoat for all the problems your boys like Steiner caused? You really think someone else can do what I did better? You think you wack me and crime will just go away?"
"Oh I'm far from naïve Donnie, I strive for the best but know that the Aurino Kingdom is far from a utopia. Even so, I refuse to let it descend into a Kakistrocrazy, and will punish those who try and push it down that path.
I know people will still commit crimes with how man's heart is now, and that only people with precise skills can manage such people.
Donnie, I let you live for so long because you did seem like the best person for the job. But while I can accept that some criminals will persist in my realm, I will not stand for traitors. Its one thing to have to do sinful things for the sake of greater order, but don't ever take sides with anyone against the family that is my nation understand?
So, if you want to avoid the worst possible outcome, you need to tell me anything that the Czar is up to that I'm not aware of. You were wise to back away from getting tangled with the Iblis Corps, but you were reckless in trying to reach out to Rakthia just to break even. So now, are the terms clear?"
The Don saw Andross's golden eye and coughed more." And if I squeal, you can ensure I'll live another day?"
"You have my word you will be sent to one of the prisons that I know the Czar can't touch. Who knows…maybe you will become the Kingpin of the inmates? Or you can try and be the kingpin of hell. your call. Still, if I find out your lying, I'll have to declare anyone working for you as a traitor as well. I'm not so heartless that I think anyone who steals a loaf of bread deserves to rot in jail for most of there life, but I have let treason slide as it is with things like Nilock yes?"
The Don felt Andross's grip getting tighter before he put up his remaining hand." Alright, alright! Spare my men, I promise they are not Rakthia agents ok? I'll be a rat if it means they will be spared.
I know, I know the Czar's lying about Dranova. He is directly having his boys work with the Iblis Corps, I have a few contacts that showed me the Diablo Sables were directly commanding the Cratosika Sables.
The Czar does not trust the Iblis Corps anymore then I do, but unlike myself, he is content to let them cause you as much harm as possible before he has to clean his hands of them."
"And yet you still decided to go to him?"
"If nothing else…the Czar has very good bunkers."
"Tsc, and yet none of them will be able to keep out Xorgoth if Ares succeeds in reviving him in Dranova. So then…I take it you really don't know where the last Dragon Helix Emerald is?"
"If I had it you really think I would be here?"
Andross widened his Kaisonite enhanced eye before he smirked." Fair point…I can see you're not withholding anything. Of course you could just be a very well-rehearsed liar, I dealt with many of them as of late. Still, you seem to be upholding your end of the offer so, I will keep my word."
The Don smirked as he cleared his throat." Thank you, your majesty, I assure you I, GUH!"
In a flash Andross smacked the Don with the hilt of his sword to knock him out. As the crime boss moaned Andross took a deep breath." Oh don't thank me yet " Donnie",
I'll make sure you stay alive but you might be in for a rude awakening when you have a reunion in the same prison as so many of your former partners. It would seem my son is not the only one who is blind to things. Oh right, speaking of that, you ok son?"
Richard still could barely move, but watched in awe at how swiftly Andross shut down the Diamond Don before he cleared his throat." Dad…sorry you had to step in."
"Oh, don't be ashamed Richard, seems like you had the edge till he resorted to trickery. A warrior must always be alert to his surroundings true, but I'm well aware even those of us with the best eyes can't see everything."
In a flash Andross dashed forward and slashed Mr.V's Batons in half, seemly indifferent to the gravity field around them. As Richard fell to his knees his father chuckled and put his sword away." And so we need teammates to watch our backs. It was a bit of a close call but it seems we came out of this operation successfully."
Richard cleared his throat before Greymont slid off him and reformed himself. The third prince had his mask open up before he looked at his father in shock." So, everyone's ok? Kill-Zone did not have anyone working with him did he?"
"Well, it seems your friends Dan and Roxanne found some trouble when some serial killer Jekyll Mortikai ambushed them. We, are still trying to figure out if he was working with Kill-Zone and "Donnie" here or just struck on his own, but we can figure that out later.
For now, we seem to have gotten what we are after, an idea on where the last Dragon Helix Emerald is. Voltaire tells me you encountered some rather ominous comrades in your adventures, and that they might have some answers."
Richard paused before he pet Greymont on the head." Turok and Branco…we hardly know anything about them other then that they know some rather powerful magic. They, were the ones that severed me and Greymont from the Dragon Helix Emeralds power when we went berserk at Nilock.
They, clearly know things even Ares does not, and did not want him having the emeralds either. If anyone has the answers, its them."
"Well then…now that this matter is settled, its time to see if we will find answers in Wrynis, or damnation."
Greymont widened his eyes as he looked at the two men." Hey wait boss, if those guys really are at Wrynis…does that mean they might know what I am?"
Richard smirked before he leaned down." Might be the best shot we have had in a long while Greymont. So c'mon, let's see if we finally can stop being in the dark eh?"