"Who in the Depths are you?!" demanded Arsha.
"A shadow," replied the armored figure through their voice-modulator. They then fired two more spikes that generated an energy shield. "Stay out of the way while I complete my contract." As Arsha and her group fired on the shield, the figure marched towards the fight between Bashoon and Rooshee. Neither combatant realized the newcomer's presence until the figure grabbed the back of Rooshee's head and flung her into a tree. Rooshee shook her head to clear the dizziness until the figure forced her to her knees.
"Citizen, do NOT interfere in Realmfleet affairs!" snapped Bashoon.
"When your methods are ineffective, Squirt," countered the figure, "I do nothing else but interfere."
"…Squirt?" asked Bashoon.
"You know what it means."
"No one in my life ever called me Squirt except…except for…Yamta?!"
"Bingo." The figure then removed their helmet to reveal their face. It was a human woman with frizzy blonde hair, blue eyes, pale skin, and lipstick looking like dried blood.
"Teladashios Rooshee," interrupted the woman, Yamta, as she cuffed Rooshee's arms behind her back and grabbed her head. "Arrested for authorizing unlawful experimentation on sentient beings. Wanted for breaking free from Realmfleet Max." She then drew one of her spikes and held it to her throat. "Tell me, Ex-Admiral, how many Chimeras died before they got a chance to experience life?"
"…800,097 when I was in charge, last time I checked," snarled Rooshee.
"Eight hundred thousand and ninety-seven Chimeras," repeated Yamta. "The blood of eight hundred thousand and ninety-seven Chimeras is on your hands. You let eight hundred thousand and ninety-seven Chimeras die before they could see the outside world." She then leveled her gaze at Bashoon. "Sounds too dangerous to be left alive to me."
"Yamta, let her go!" insisted Bashoon. "This is a Realmfleet matter!"
"The law states," snarled Yamta, "that anyone with a kill-count of 100 or over outside of a wartime situation is to be executed immediately! Why isn't she dead?!"
"We have to give people a chance to redeem themselves!"
"You'd rather fight the people you're supposed to protect rather than the real problem!"
"Ms. Yamta!" called Arsha after the barrier was taken down. Bashoon and Yamta turned to her. "Realmfleet is NOT a death squad!"
"Realmfleet Academy flunked me after each of my three attempts!" replied Yamta. "You guys didn't give this Largandra girl any REAL education! The Crimson Diamonds did!" She then pressed a button on the spike, and it extended into Rooshee's neck almost instantaneously, killing her. Yamta released the body and let it fall to the ground. "One less killer. My contract is complete."
"DAMMIT, YAMTA!" shouted Arsha. "That's a line we do NOT cross!" Yamta then drove her fist into Arsha's solar plexus, knocking the wind out of her.
"Stay on your side, then, Royana! I'll stand with Dr. Borg!" Arsha then gritted her teeth and fought through her pain. She summoned her armor again and decked Yamta in her face. As Yamta fell, Arsha stood over her. "…Go ahead!" challenged Yamta. "I'm a Crimson Diamond Alum. I've got 101 completed contracts. Actually, 102, now that Rooshee's dead."
"…You need help," declared Arsha. "I can get you…" She was then tripped up as Yamta swung her leg into Arsha's.
"You Royanas really ARE moral cowards!" she hissed. "We're at war with those animals! Animals like Rooshee and Ganshar! You think that because you and your mommy and daddy don't kill, you guys are better than them?! You let them fester with thoughts of revenge!"
"That's enough," called Dr. Borg's voice as a small Realmgate opened. Everyone pointed their wands at her, but she cast a magic shield around her and Yamta.
"What about the others?" asked Yamta as everyone fired on the shield.
"Not today," replied Dr. Borg. "We must go."
"…You're right, the contract is complete." As Dr. Borg continued casting the shield, Yamta followed her into the small Realmgate. The Realmgate closed and Arsha snarled as she dismissed her armor.
"Just…perfect!" she hissed.
I'm sorry to say that the incident made the papers. With people reading the articles concerning Yamta's appearance, it caused quite a stir. Some insisted that Realmfleet should have done more while others argued that they couldn't risk a spread of gel-pox across the Realms, so what could they safely do? A fair question, but a lot of people were still frustrated with Realmfleet, thinking that they were struggling to keep the Final War from happening. When she visited Midiriki's house to catch up with her parents, Arsha got some more information about Yamta. Her being from Largandra was true, as was her being a former Crimson Diamond. The Crimson Diamonds are a league of assassins that are raised since birth to learn how to kill quickly, quietly, and without fuss. They're generally employed by unscrupulous lords or the Splitter branches to remove other people. They're generally considered a rival to Realmfleet Academy in that they produce some of the best teachers. Most Royals tend to have their children sent to the Crimson Diamonds to learn how to avoid being killed by an assassin. This is generally disliked by the Crimson Diamonds, but they cannot say much since they most likely taught the parents too and would, in all probability, use their own tricks against them. Because of this, the Crimson Diamonds don't accept any contracts with Royals as the potential victim. Yamta had gained notoriety within the Crimson Diamonds after successfully killing the former Headmaster, putting her on the new Headmistress' list of trouble students. Arsha and Elgrad were special cases in learning from both Realmfleet Academy and the Crimson Diamonds. Verifying Yamta's claims was child's play for them. "I just can't believe it," sighed Arsha to her parents as they had tea.
"I'm surprised Yamta's gotten a contract with Dr. Borg," muttered Hanako. "Her empire would upend the Crimson Diamonds."
"The Headmistress told me and Arsha about Yamta's history there," replied Elgrad. "She's not exactly one with scruples. The headmistress told me, in confidence, that Yamta would be the only one impetuous enough to accept a contract to kill a Royal."
"Dr. Borg must need someone like Yamta in her ranks," guessed Hanako.
"She'd probably start a new assassin school," muttered Arsha as she rubbed her temples.
"…Arsha, are you okay?" asked Elgrad.
"I've been getting spun up as of late," sighed Arsha. "What with Oyed coming back in our lifetime and Dr. Borg acting like she's going to start the Final War. With all that went on in Kurontar and here…my dreams are NOT restful."
"Isn't Falnii a Dream-Weaver?" asked Hanako. "She'd love to help, I'm sure."
"I've never really had her use her abilities on me," mumbled Arsha. "I don't want to be dependent on her."
"Have your other fiancés tried?" quizzed Elgrad.
"Even Falnii's been trying to get me to try," answered Arsha.
"Then take her advice," urged Elgrad.
"…I'll think about it," muttered Arsha as she stood up and left the room. Hanako and Elgrad both had the same thoughts on their mind.
"Poor girl," sighed Elgrad.
"This wasn't how her tour was supposed to go," mumbled Hanako.
"I know part of the idea is to test how one handles adversity, but there's only so much one can handle."
"Our girl's very independently minded, almost to a fault."
"She got it from me."
"I'd say she got that from me."
"…We both compounded the issue."
"I can agree with that."
Arsha sat alone in the guest room, puzzling out her feelings. On the one hand, she didn't want to be dependent on Falnii's abilities. But, on the other, Falnii was trained since birth to be a Dream-Weaver. She would know how to help without letting someone be reliant on her. She continued thinking about her predicament until someone spoke. "Yamta was right to a point," remarked the person. Arsha gasped and whirled around to see Laywam at the door. "800,097 on Rooshee's hands? She should have been executed."
"We don't inflict harm unless all other options have been exhausted," countered Arsha. "It's what separates us from Dr. Borg and her followers."
"Oh, please! Is this really the time for some sanctimonious nonsense?! You don't see rapists and murderers every day, do you?! Well, I do! Do you happen to know how many people they've each wronged?! I do! Do you know how many joined Dr. Borg after Remsu made the first successful breakout of Realmfleet Max?! I do!"
"Okay, Laywam, I think you need to chill out…"
"Chilling out's the last thing we need! Chilling out is what allowed Dr. Borg to return! She's spoken to Oyed, you think she's not going to start the Final War in our lifetime?! We're squandering our resources in trying to appease her when we need to be scouring the Realms and hitting her hard! Precisely where it hurts!"
"That's only going to provoke retaliation and lead to incalculable losses! I won't risk the Realms like that!"
"You seem fine risking your crew! Just ask Eltan! Sheendii! Drelta! Blenter! Entran! They're still Revenants!" Arsha's face flared into a snarl before she buried her anger again. "You know your problem, Arsha? For all your insistence that you can handle the crown when your parents step down, you're soft! You never took up arms when you had the chance! Numerous chances!"
"The only reason we're talking is because Aldarval's personally checking on each kingdom's military readiness should the Final War start."
"…Impossible! She can't be doing that!"
"The attempted peace talks with the Realm Trinity Empire are a front. We need Oyed to believe we're less ready than we are." Laywam was floored by this revelation. "I took a risk even telling you. I was sworn to secrecy. That's why I must insist that this conversation never leaves this room. Understand?"
"…You can count on me, Arsha. …I'm…I'm sorry for calling you soft."
"Apology accepted. You simply didn't have all the facts." Laywam bowed her head, then left the room, leaving Arsha to talk to herself. "…That was stupid, Royana! Laywam may slip and this could reach Dr. Borg's ears! …Mom and Dad are right, I need Falnii to help me."