|Act VI: To Undo The Past|
Octobris 3rd, 1227, 9:00 A.M.
"Was the girl the only victim?"
Pulse stood at the mouth of an alleyway looking out at a busy Margate District marketplace, talking on his comm-scroll. The Margate coastline was only a few city blocks away.
"Okay. Do we have the boys who did it?... Scinter's looking for them? Good.... Yeah, I saw the investigation scene myself. The Guard and paparazzi are swarming the orphanage like a wave of wasp's. Let's hope they don't go snooping around in the holds of Grunn's ship. If they discover that hatch.... Right.... Sure, sure, I'll meet the Indigo's and see if they could use an extra hand in the nightclub tonight. If not, I'll meet you at the base and give any new recruits a few pointers. Talk to ya later."
Pulse closed the comm-scroll as he turned to the street. Sighing, he summoned his Power and walked into the crowd of citizens.
As he walked along, mulling on future events, something caught his eye. A brightly-colored, microraptor dreamkeeper was waving its feathery arms in another alleyway down the street. Pulse quickly realized it was waving at him and who it was.
'Is that Karo?!' Pulse thought in shock. 'What's he doing here? He was supposed to be in Calypsa on an assignment.'
Pulse quickly walked to Karo's position. Just before he could reach him, the Troika agent turned and ran into the alley.
"Karo, wait! Get back here!"
Pulse went into a full run, racing into the alley and pursuing the agent through the backstreets.
"Karo! Stop! What's this about?"
Pulse figured out that Karo was leading him to the beaches. Eventually, they ran out across a road and began running through the sand towards a nearby harbor.
"I'm warnin' ya, Karo! Don't make me shoot your legs to stop you!"
As they approached the harbor, a warehouse came into view. Karo reached the warehouse and ran in. Pulse followed close behind.
He entered the building and Karo was nowhere to be found.
"Come out *right now*, Karo!" Pulse ordered. "I don't know what your problem is, but you've got alot of explaining to do!"
Pulse stopped as he heard something land behind him.
He spun around to find an elderly-looking canine dreamkeeper kneeling before him. The dreamkeeper rose, revealing his tired, dark eyes. He wore a faded, white tunic with a hood, black pants and boots and was covered in unique weapons. A City Guard springer pistol, a crossbow, a double-edged sword, and he wore a pair of gauntlets that each sported a thin, metal blade in each one.
Pulse could not believe what he was seeing. 'Who the hell is this old man? He looks to be over eighty! How can he be carrying all those weapons?"
Pulse brandished his tomahawk, predicting an attack.
The old man smiled as he said in a hoarse voice, "There's no need for that, Aizer Pulse."
Pulse lowered his weapon. "Stupid question, but how do you know my name?"
The old man continued to smile. "Oh, I've known about you for a long time. A fine warrior you've grown to be. Your mother would be proud."
"What?" Pulse gasped. "Who are you?"
"Caydian Strauvich. I am an old friend and ally of your mother and an acquaintance... of your father."
"Bullshit!" Pulse bellowed. "You don't know my father! Even I don't know who he was. What's this about?"
"If you would just remain calm, I'd be happy to explain," Caydian said peacefully. "If you would just follow me, we can discuss this in a more serene location."
Pulse holstered his weapon to his belt. "Okay. But, first, what did you do with the other guy?"
"Ah, you mean the Troika fellow?"
Before Pulse's eyes, Caydian summoned his halo, a bright orange. The old man's body began glowing in a particle light display as it morphed. Within moments, Karo now stood in Caydian's place.
"Have no fear," Caydian said in Karo's voice. "The young man is still in Calypsa doing his duty. All I needed was slight physical contact in order to take on his form. A most efficient Power, especially in my line of work."
As quickly as he transformed, the old man returned to his original body. "Now, then, shall we be off?"
Pulse nodded, keeping his gaze locked on Caydian.
* * * * *
Not far away on the edge of the beach, Pulse and Caydian sat down on a bench overlooking the beach and ocean.
"Now, then, where to begin? Aw, I might as well search your brain. Have you ever heard of... the Order of Vega?"
Pulse gave him a wide-eyed look. "Never heard of it."
Caydian chuckle. "You've never read your mothers' mind, have you?"
"No. Out of all the people I've snuck into, I gave my mother her privacy. Though, I'm starting to suspect that I may have been better off reading her thoughts, right?"
Caydian laid back against the bench. "Not necessarily. I'll start off with the history lesson. The Order of Vega was formed many thousands of years ago. Dating back into the ancient times. It was during the prior months of our first war with the Nightmares that we began to suspect their existence. Soon, other dreamkeepers began committing heinous crimes with the explanation that their acts were for a higher purpose. As time passed, an individual known as Vega formed a cult of vigilantes and assassins to hunt down these criminals and stop their crimes. It was through our acts of justice and espionage that we began learning more of our true enemies through our targets conversations and dying words. Eventually, we combined all our gathered information and as soon as we managed to warn as many people as we could, the Nightmares came.
"Events of the conflict are vague, even among our own records. At least, the records that used to exist. But, as you can tell, the dreamkeepers survived. The Order of Vega lived through the conflict, but it has suffered many hardships after, one of which being multiple attempts at tyrannical takeover from corrupt leaders. Records were burned or lost during these incidents. Order was eventually restored, of course. The Order never lost sight of its original purpose. Centuries passed and the senseless loss of life began anew. We knew the Dark Dreamkeepers had resumed their traitorous support for the Nightmares. We sprang into action and began eliminating them, one-by-one. Preparing for the second war was not as easy, however, as the first. Much time had passed since the first war and many believed the Nightmares to be myth. Only a select few believed in us; isolated villages and nomadic tribes that had managed to preserve the memory of the first conflict through time.
"Still, it was nearly a slaughter for the dreamkeeper people. Millions upon millions were lost. That much is clear. What we don't know is how exactly we managed to stop them with such small numbers. That crucial moment in history has evaded us for centuries. This conflict was not long before the end of what is known as the Silent Centuries.
"Now, here we are. The official recording of time had commenced in a new light. The events of those conflicts and our enemies, the hardships and the triumphs, lost to the will of time and society. Nobody even knows about the Order, at this point, save for the Nightmares. Events after the Silent Centuries were boorish, to say the least. Members began bickering about how to address the lack of knowledge regarding the Nightmares. Many claimed that they should continue to hunt down any suspicious characters committing unforgiveable crimes. Many Dark Dreamkeepers had gone silent, though. We began assassinating anybody committing any type of crime, fearing that they were the next seed of Nightmare growth. Common sense and judgement began to elude many members. Before we knew it, our troops could not handle the stress of knowing who was truly the enemy amongst our own people. Dismemberment commenced. The Order of Vega was slowly dying.
"Approximately sixty years ago, there were a few of us left. Your mother, Blithia Pulse, was elected as the first female leader of our Order, leading the last fifty members. She was a fine leader, using her supreme tactics of deception to flush out the true Dark's. We believed to have been gaining ground, but even then we were still losing numbers to dismemberment. Even more so to death. In a final, daring move to root out one of the more sinister Dark's, the identity of which eluded us to this day, your mother attended a fallguard tournament. I'm sure you are well aware of this."
Caydian glanced at Pulse, who sat staring at the sand with his jaw gaped. He nodded weakly.
"Very well. As you know, your mother perished among with many innocent lives, failing her mission. Even worse is the fact that we failed to identify the individual. Blithia's death struck us hard. We couldn't handle the loss of another member, our leader and our sister. The last of us went our separate ways, vowing to continue our work however we could; the Order of Vega had fallen."
Pulse clamped his hands around his head, processing all of what he had been told.
"My mother... was a leader... of an ancient assassin's cult? I don't believe this! And, my father?"
"Ah, yes. Your father. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you about your father. Your mother ordered me specifically not to share such knowledge with you."
Pulse was disappointed, but looked more confused than anything else. "Please, tell me. Did my mother leave anything behind? Anything that I need to know?"
Caydian glanced at Pulse and with a frown, he said, "In time, you will know where to go. Stepping stones will get you there."
Pulse's face went blank in shock as Caydian rose. "This is the first and last time we will meet. I must go and rest now. I fear my time is coming. Farewell, Aizer Pulse, and good luck."
With that, the old man walked away.
* * * * *
Octobris 3rd, 1227, 2:45 P.M.
For hours, Pulse sat on the bench, tossing and turning every piece of information that was fed to him by Caydian Strauvich.
The one piece that he analyzed most was Caydian's answer. 'Stepping stones will get you there.'
'Stepping stones, stepping stones, stepping stones. I swear to Nethers and all that's holy, I've heard that somewhere! Wait!'
Pulse sat up. 'Of course! My mother told me a bedtime story one time, when I was a toddler!'
Jumping up, Pulse walked quickly into the city.
'I'm going to find out what you're hiding from me, mother. I'm just glad you're pointing me in the right direction.'
Octobris 3rd, 1227, 3:00 P.M.
*Three o'clock past morning.*
Igrath cringed at the voice assistant of his watch.
"Where is he? It's bad enough Pulse never showed up at the club. Now, Scinter's taking too long to find those boys."
Igrath stood at a sun-soaked window in his Kojiki safehouse while Grunn sat on a sofa nearby.
His ears perked up at the sound of approach. "Ah, that must be him now!"
Suddenly, Pulse bursted through the front doors.
"Pulse?! What are you-?!"
"NOT NOW!" Pulse shouted as he ran for the basement.
Grunn looked after him. "Whut stick got up his ass?"
Marching down the stairs, Pulse kicked open a bookcase that split in two. Behind it was a telepad. Pulse set the coordinates and prepared it for automated launch.
In a flash of light, he appeared in Outpost Fenris. Stepping out of the telepad station, he raced through the recently-repaired base to reach the command center. Many soldiers greeted their former commander, but Pulse didn't bother to respond.
He reached the command center and entered the main office, where a Corporal class soldier sat at the desk.
"Ah, Pulse. Long time no see. What can I do for you, sir?"
"I need to speak with Rivers and I need to speak with him *now*! But, first, I need a notebook and a writing utensil!"
The Corporal looked surprised at Pulse's urgency. He slid the notebook and a pen to Pulse as he said, "Uh, s-sure. He's over at the indoor weapons range. We're testing out a new arsenal of infantry weapons we just developed."
Without another word, Pulse bolted out of the exit.
He entered the shooting range and could see a long line of AER soldiers test firing guns that Pulse had never seen before. Scald and Jerry were among the shooters.
Rivers stood behind the shooters along with other high-ranking officers. Pulse marched up to them.
"Pulse?" Rivers called out. "What are you doing here?"
"Rivers, I... am on a mission from Nethers right now. An old man from some ancient organization of assassins just told me a shit ton of stuff I'm still trying to understand and on top of that he said something that's been eating away at my brain for hours now. So, I'd really appreciate it if you'd give me your full cooperation right now."
Rivers went wide-eyed at the explanation, then composed himself. "Very well, Pulse. What do you need?"
Pulse slapped the notebook on a nearby table and began sketching out the sword and gauntlets he saw on Caydian Strauvich.
When he was done, Pulse said, "I assume we have a team of blacksmiths somewhere in our ranks. Have them fashion the items I wrote out. I'll pay them for the work. The measurements and materials are listed. With Power use, the items should be done within a day or so. I'll check back to look at the progress."
Pulse turned to leave, but Rivers stopped him. "Wait just a minute! Could you just stay and let me give you a run-down of the new weapons that we personally developed? Maybe while we watch them in practice you can better explain whatever 'mission from Nethers' you're going through."
Pulse sighed, realizing his eagerness to solve Caydian's riddle was exhausting him. "Sure, Rivers, sure. I could use a break."
Rivers nodded with a smile as Pulse stood by him, looking at the shooting range.
"A team of Antarean weapons designers had fled their country, fearing they would be killed if we ever attempted to kidnap them." Vidar explained. "They decided to share their designs with us and, within months, we made the weapons and had just begun testing them."
Pulse looked out at the assembled line of soldiers, each using a different weapon.
Three soldiers on the far left of the range were shooting pistol-like weapons: a revolver and two handguns.
"The soldiers on the far left are using the AERW-1 Hexalon, the AERW-2 Squadmate and the AERW-3 Booster. The Hexalon is a revolver like the Stingray and the Squadmate acts in the same way as the Daredevil. But the Booster is a machine pistol, which acts like a compact sub-machine spear."
Pulse nodded, taking the sidearms into consideration.
Standing to the right of the handgun users was a soldier testing a bulky rifle with a drum magazine that shot off pellet rounds like the Mist.
"That one is using the AERW-4 Splash. Much like the Mist, it shoots off pellet spears, but the sturdier design of this weapon should make it more stable to use."
Further down the line were soldiers using two different compact spears.
"Those soldiers are firing the AERW-5 Suppression and the AERW-6 Espio. They are both special, in the sense that the Suppression is for field use while the Espio will be used by our scouts and infiltrators."
Next to the compact spears were the rifle users.
"Now, on to the backbone of our infantry arsenal. The AERW-7 Liberty and the AERW-8 Salvation. The Liberty comes in various camouflage schemes and has a unique grenade launcher system that should prove useful. The Salvation is closely based off the Shriek, so there's no major differences there, besides the length of the weapon and the sight system."
Nest to the riflemen stood a soldier firing a much smaller rifle.
"That man there is using the AERW-9 Representative. A cross between compact spears and the standard spear rifles. A carbine, if you will. The Salvation is, in a way, a carbine as well, but it's being classified as a rifle for its resemblance to the Shriek."
Near the end of the range stood a large soldier with an equally large rifle.
"Ah, yes. The AERW-10 Flatline is to us as the springer rifle is to the City Guard. Very powerful and with enough punch to go through three troopers, including their shield and armor with little resistance."
Next to the Flatline was a soldier using a sniper rifle weapon.
"That one there has the AERW-11 Safeguard. Replacing the Echo, its bulky design makes it more controllable with the recoil."
The last two soldiers were using machine gun weapons.
"Our final two weapons are for the heavy lifters of the army. The AERW-12 Defender and the AERW-13 Offender. We considered not to develop these weapons due to the effectiveness of the Razor and the Demon, but we also believed the Razor and Demon were much too over-powered. We want to give the Guard some sort of chance against us, don't we? So, the Defender and Offender should be good alternatives. Their names suit their purpose: the Defenders will be used for suppression and defense while the Offender will be used for attacking and advancing on enemy positions."
Pulse nodded, enjoying the presentation. "Not bad, Rivers. The Republic continues to thrive without me and that I am proud of. Looks like there are no new explosive weapons or vehicles."
"That's correct. The designers are not experienced in explosive weaponry or war machines. We'll continue to use our Bashers and Novas as well as our present line of vehicles. Our aircraft will also remain armed with Razors and Demons until further notice. However, I can tell you that we are working on a revolutionary new aircraft. Something that will define 'air superiority' for generations to come."
"Sounds interesting. When will that be done?"
"I'm not sure," Vidar replied. "It will be some time before we even have a clear estimate of the project's completion. I'll try and keep you apprised of the project's progress whenever I can."
"Good! That sounds like something I'd want to keep tabs on. Thanks for the presentation, Rivers, but now I have to get going. I've still got something important I need to look into. Reserve a Hexalon and an Espio for me."
"Will do, Pulse. Good luck!"
Pulse nodded as he walked quickly to the range's exit.
Making his way to the telepad station, he set the coordinates for a safehouse in the Talocan District in Anduruna.
Setting the telepad to automated launch, he blinked as the pad warped him away from Haven and to the basement of a high-class house in the Talocan suburbs.
Walking up the steps into the interior of the luxurious residence, he made his way to the front door and left the house.
After considering the possibility of walking all the way to the Talocan-Sabbaton security gate, Pulse decided to take the public telepad to the Sabbaton telepad station.
Knowing it would still be a long trip, Pulse summoned his Power and began running. Because of his efficient cardiovascular circulation, he has proven himself to be able to run for great distances without fatigue.
After an hour of running, Pulse reached the district telepad. Taking in deep breaths, he calmed himself as he swiftly moved through the gathering crowd on the telepad.
'I really hope it's still there,' Pulse thought. 'If it's what I think it is, then I may not get any further if it isn't there.'
Pulse watched as he and the other occupants were warped to the Sabbaton Towers telepad station in the blink of an eye. Walking quickly off the pad, Pulse raced into the towers and made his way for the elevators.
* * * * *
On Floor 875, a short, pudgy old penguin dreamkeeper waddled to the door of his suite. He opened the door and a young canine in a business suit and fedora greeted him with a smile.
"Hello, Mr. Bobson! I'm Agent North with the Sabbaton Security Force. Due to your home being the former residence of a family member of a well-known criminal and terrorist, you are required each month to allow me to give your home a full regulatory inspection. A team of safety troops will be here shortly to oversee my inspection. May I please come in?"
"Ah, yes! Of course! I was wondering when you would arrive. I'm more than happy to allow you into my home. Please, come in."
Agent North nodded, continuing to smile. What the old dreamkeeper didn't know was that the agent was not who he said he was.
'I love doing this!' Pulse thought, using the secondary abilities of his Power to make himself appear as a well-dressed government agent in Bobson's mind. 'I should do this to Igrath more often! The look on his face when "Scinter" slaps him on the ass! Heh...'
"Is there anything in this suite that was left behind after the death of the previous owner?"
Bobson nodded. "Indeed! Mrs. Pulse must've arranged for her personal office to remain untouched! She has quite a collection of books in there! I haven't bothered to read any of them, though! You government men always go there first during these inspections and I fear just touching a book would have me prosecuted!"
Pulse [North] laughed. "I'm sorry you feel that way and I don't blame you! I might as well keep to the habit and begin my inspection there!"
Pulse walked through the suite, reaching the office of his mother, Blithia Pulse. Opening the door, he walked in and closed it, locking it behind him.
Dismissing his Power, he took in the surroundings. Tan walls and ceiling with a blood red carpet, a polished flowood desk covered in papers, a bust of a fox dreamkeeper sitting on a pedestal behind the desk, and a ten-shelf bookcase filled with books and scrolls of many kinds to the right of the desk. On the wall opposite the bookcase was a painting of a Sacrarian priest that Pulse was not familiar with.
Pulse recognized the stone bust instantly. "That's Mocking Cloak! The famous hero from the Reign of the Kings era! Why would she have a bust of him in here? Oh, yeah, that's right! That children's book!"
He rushed over to the bookcase and began scanning each shelf. Within moments, he found the book.
It was simply titled "Mocking Cloak". Pulse already knew what it was about. His mother read it to him once and his unique memory skills allowed him to remember every word.
It was about the story of a famous archer and thief who stole money and treasures from a corrupt Andurunan prince named James, to help the communities of Anduruna that were being taxed into poverty. Near the end of the story, Mocking Cloak was carrying many bags of gold while running from a small group of knights. Prince James had grown so enraged of Mocking Cloak's very existence that he himself led the pursuit on a manekale, risking his own safety just to see Mocking Cloak be disembowled.
Eventually, Mocking Cloak came to a bridge that crossed a river, leading to Kojiki. The bridge was poorly maintained, rotting from age. Mocking Cloak knew he would fall through the bridge if he attempted to cross it, especially with his increased weight. That's when he noticed a line of stepping stones going across the river to the right of the bridge. Knowing that time was short, he instantly chose the stepping stones. He hopped across each one, struggling to maintain balance while holding onto each bag of gold. As he reached the other side of the river with exhaustion, he looked back to see James and his knights quickly advancing on the bridge.
Prince James crossed first, his knights following close behind. As they reached the center of the bridge, it gave way, dragging James and his knights into the river as it collapsed. They drifted down the river until they were lost from sight. Mocking Cloak gleefully continued down the path with a steady, confident walk.
As he reached a village within the Kojiki District, he entered a church and handed several bags of gold to a Sacrarian priest.
"Oh, thank you, Mocking Cloak! Thank you! You saved our village! But, how did you get away from that evil Prince James?"
As Mocking Cloak was turning to leave, he looked back at the priest with a smile and said, "Let's just say that jumping over stones is much better than crossing a bridge! If you wish to get to a place, no matter how difficult or dangerous it may be, stepping stones will get you there!"
With that, Mocking Cloak left the church with the rest of his gold.
In the very end of the story, Prince James was found, barely alive, by a fisherman on the Theophanies coastline. His knights were never found. James brother and the true ruler of Anduruna, King Richmond, returned from an expedition in the Dune Sea and punished James with a life of hard labor for his crimes. Mocking Cloak was hailed as a hero for his brave efforts in exposing Prince James and helping the oppressed.
Pulse closed the book, taking in what he already knew. He opened the book again and flipped back to the scene with Mocking Cloak and the priest.
'He turned his head to look at the priest!' Pulse thought. 'If I recall, Mother had put a lot of volume into her voice when she described that scene!'
He then looked up at the bust. 'Maybe it has something to do with him! It must! Wait a minute....'
Pulse placed the book on the desk and walked over to the bust. The head appeared to be severed at the neck. Then, Pulse looked at the painting.
'Uh, huuuuh!' Pulse thought slyly. 'Very clever, Mother!'
Pulse grabbed the muzzle of Mocking Cloak and turned his head to the left, facing the wall that held the painting of the priest. Almost instantly, the wall behind the pedestal popped out at one end. Pulse jumped back into the desk, then relaxed.
'This is it! A secret entrance! There must be...'
Pulse walked up to the wall and pushed the end that had popped inward. He was careful not to cause the wall to spin so it wouldn't hit the desk and cause damage. He squeezed past the wall, then pushed it closed.
Suddenly, torches began to light themselves in a small room made of stones, like a castle. Swords, shields and tapestry lined the walls. Dead ahead at the other end of the room was an ornately-carved box on a simple table. The shields and tapestry were blood red with a noticeable light green "V" covering them.
Pulse's mouth dropped at the sight of the room. "Spirits above! How the hell did you get away with *this*, Mom?"
Slowly, Pulse proceeded to the box. He grabbed the lid and flipped it open. Books, scrolls and several letters were inside, as well as two leather gauntlets similar to the one's worn by Caydian, only his were made of metal.
"I found it!" Pulse said aloud. "I found what you wanted me to find, Mother! Now, it's time to see what's so important about this stuff!"
Pulse decided to put on the gauntlets. Strapping them on, he began flexing his fingers. Suddenly, a blade shot out from each gauntlet.
"HELLO!" Pulse shouted in a panic. He balled his fists. As he did so, the blades went back in.
"Okay, that was surprising! So, these really *are* weapons, just as I thought! I've just never seen weapons like these before! Blades hidden within a pair of gauntlets? How adaptable!"
Then, a knock resounded from beyond the secret entrance. Pulse quickly summoned his Power while grabbing the entire box. Carrying it out, he pushed his way past the wall. Placing the box on the desk, he pushed the wall back into place, then turned the busts' head back into its proper position. Several dense noises came from within the walls as the secret entrance was resealed.
The knocks came again. "Mr. North! Are you okay in there?"
"Fine, Mr. Bobson! Just fine! I'll be out in a few moments!"
Pulse grabbed his mother's box, then proceeded to the door. He walked out quickly, where Bobson was waiting.
"Ah, there you are! It was quiet in there for some time! I take it everything is in order, as usual?"
"Yep, nothing out of the ordinary in there!" Pulse said in North's voice. "I'll be right back! I need to hit the men's room before I continue my inspection! I'll just be a few minutes!"
"There's no need for that! You can use my-!"
Before he could finish, Pulse hurried out the door of the suite, carrying his mother's precious safekeepings.
Excited, Pulse thought, 'I've never been this thrilled to read something new in a long time! I just wish it was under different circumstances! I guess Mother had her reasons to hide all of this! It must be important if she did! It's time to find out just what exactly is in this box!'
With that, Pulse proceeded for the elevators.
Octobris 3rd, 1227, 9:30 P.M.
Pulse returned to Igrath's hideout in the Kojiki District. As giddy as he was to read his mother's information, his excitement died down after what he had been told.
The previous night, the young girl who was brutally murdered at Grunn's Orphanage was supposedly killed by a Nightmare, not the two boys being blamed by authorities.
A couple of hours ago, Lilith Calah and her half-sister, Namah Calah, were attacked and nearly killed by Tinsel Nanaja with her Power. Namah was able to use her own Power to ward Tinsel off momentarily before exhausting herself within moments. Both sisters managed to escape while Tinsel was distracted by falling debris. Lilith and Namah both suffered multiple burns as a result of Tinsel's Power, though Lilith took the most punishment. The whole point of Tinsel's murder attempt was because Namah overheard her and a Dark, Ravat, speaking about having someone else named Wisp be killed.
All four of the young dreamkeepers were now sleeping in a guest room. Pulse, Igrath, Scinter and Grunn sat around a table in Igrath's living room.
"So, when do we mark Tinsel as an official Dark?" Pulse asked. "First she frames me by Nabonidus' order, now she tried to do in Calah's kids! Not to mention that she's planning to have someone else murdered for who knows what reason!"
"I'll contact Nainso and have him update the database!" Igrath replied. "Nightmares, Tinsel, Ravat,... we've got a pretty big mess starting to pile up here!"
"And, these kids seem to be in the middle of it somehow!" Scinter added.
"So, whut do we do witz 'em?" Grunn asked.
"I'll leave that up to you, gentlemen!" Pulse said, standing from his seat. "I'll be right back!"
Pulse walked down into the basement, then returned to the living room, carrying his mother's box.
"And, what's that you've got there, Pulse?" Scinter asked.
"This is apparently something that my mother left behind specifically for me! In a secret room hidden behind a wall in her office! Now, that I've found what she wanted me to retrieve, I can explain what I've been doing for most of the day!"
Pulse then recollected of his meeting with Caydian Strauvich and the old man's explanation of the Order of Vega and his mother's leadership of the Order. He then gave Pulse a quote that he traced back to a children's book in his mother's office. After realizing the purpose of the quote, Pulse then discovered the secret room and the mysterious contents of the box.
Pulse revealed the gauntlets he now wore. "I'm not sure what the books and letters in this box are about! I haven't read them yet, but I intend to when I get back to base! My mother was more than an activist and business entrepreneur! If I had to make a guess, the contents of this box is probably information on the Order's culture, methods, ideologies, et cetera!"
"That's... quite a bit to take in!" Igrath muttered, rubbing his chin. "An order of assassins seeking justice on Dark's for thousands of years! Guess we can't say we were the first group to take a stand against traitors!"
Pulse nodded. "A coincidence, when you think about it! The Troika seeking out Dark's to eliminate them, among other tasks, just like the Vegan's! I need to see just what exactly is in this box before I do anything else! I'm starting to get a weird vibe about all of this! I'll return when I'm done looking it all over!"
His friends nodding, Pulse rose and grabbed the box, carrying it back to the basement.
Setting the telepad to warp him to the Troika's main base in Starfall, Pulse vanished as the telepad automatically sent him there.
* * * * *
In his own private room in a secluded part of the base, Pulse sat in a dark room illuminated only by a gloworb hanging over a desk.
Opening the box, he placed all of its contents on the desk before him. Now, he contemplated on which he should read first. His eyes stared intensely at the letters.
"I think I'll start on those," Pulse said aloud. "If these are letters, they may be meant for me or someone I could track down for more information."
Pulse looked at the first envelope. Written on it was the phrase, "To Aizer Pulse".
Pulse gulped as he opened the envelope and pulled the letter out.
Slowly, in his own words, he began reading.
I hope this letter sees you well. If you are reading it, then I am afraid I live no longer. Caydian Strauvich has met you and given you my message. You followed the message back home and discovered my secret treasury. You are now reading this letter and are now in possession of my prized gauntlets and several books and scrolls. These books and scrolls are very important. They detail everything you need to know about the Order of Vega. I am not sure how difficult it will be for you to consume such knowledge. I am unsure of the profession or personal life you will have when you read this letter.
In case you can't ascertain, I am attempting to train you in the arts of the Vegan Order from my tombstone. I am putting the weight of an assassin on your shoulders. I understand this may not be a path you wish to take, but you must realize that I am not the only one of our family to become a Guardian, which is what the people had christened us as. You see, Master Vega, our founder, is your earliest ancestor. Our family has been blessed by the Spirits themselves with an abnormal gift: manifesting our Power just moments after birth. You are not the only dreamkeeper to experience this. Entire generations of our family have mastered their Powers during childhood. Master Vega, Father Dord, King Dayraider, Mocking Cloak, Captain Jaegar, Senator Taris, and many others of our heritage.
The dreamkeepers of our family are the only ones who share this gift. We have tried searching for others with this gift while building our Order, but there was no other younglings who shared it. We believe that we were meant to build this Order to fight the Darks. If not to build an Order, then to begin our battle with the enemy at a much younger age. We consider the latter to be much more feasible.
Aizer, this is my final farewell to you as well as my final wish; do what you must to defeat our enemies. The choice is up to you to become a Guardian, but you cannot turn away from what our family was and what it has stood for. I implore you, take the reins of our legacy and continue it on for generations to come.
I am preparing to assassinate a Dark Dreamkeeper at a fallguard tournament, but we do not know who he is or where he will be. This killing has not been thought out and we have no potential leads to the target. Time is growing short for the Order now. I write this letter with the suspicion that my mission will end with my death. That is why I ask you, my son, to take my place. Not as a leader, but as a protector. Go, my son, and may the Spirits guide you to victory.
- With A Mother's Love,
Pulse laid the letter down, staring at the wall above his desk. Thoughts flew through his mind at a breath-taking speed.
'So, this is what it's come to, eh? My destiny... all this time... was to become a Guardian! A member of the Order of Vega; assassins and killers dedicated to defending life and freedom from those who promote death and enslavement!'
Pulse then thought of his entire life as a whole. 'So, that's why... that's why I've done what I've done! The history and political books I read as a child, my intolerance of Power banning, my imprisonment, my forming of two groups of resistance fighters, my will to become a leader and an assassin of either of those groups! It's all intertwined with the history of my family! I was meant... to carry on their legacy! My life was planned out from the very start!'
Pulse shook his head, contemplating the decisions he now had to make. Then, he noticed one other letter he had yet to open.
His mind still reeling with the revelations he had read, Pulse grabbed the envelope and read what was on the front of it. "A.P."
Pulse could only assume it meant Aizer Pulse. Opening the envelope, he pulled out the letter within and began reading.
"11th of Januaris, 1203
I'm writing this letter to you, Aizer. If you're reading it, then I'm already dead. I'm sure your mother said the same thing in her own farewell letter, though in a more easier-to-swallow manner. I'm writing this from my tent in the Dune Sea. We just finished dishing out more "justice" on the so-called "bandits" earlier today. What a bunch of malarkey. This isn't war. It's genocide. The bandits have tried their best to muster some sort of an army to defend themselves, but they're completely uncoordinated. They just start running over the hills with their Powers blazing and trying to hit whoever they can. But, our weapons have made it oh-so-easy to pick them off. Sure, we've taken heavy casualties, but more so for the bandits.
You're probably wondering who this is behind the pen. If you haven't guessed yet, it's your father. Now, I know what you're thinking and you can stop thinking it. I can explain. When I met your mother, I thought she was just an aspiring business woman who was looking to make it into politics someday. Not until you were several months from birth that I discovered her true profession. After that, I did everything I could to stay as far away from the both of you as I could. Not because I wanted nothing to do with the Order of Vega, but for your own safety. Truth be told, I am a City Guard shock trooper. Had my superiors somehow learned about your mother's affiliation through me, it would have jeopardized the Order, which had been operating in secret for centuries since the people began treating us Power users like devils. I refused to let that happen, so I officially filed for divorce and cut all contact with your mother. At that point, you had been born. Don't get the wrong idea. I loved your mother and she loved me. Whenever I'd be walking the streets on patrol, I would see her watching me from the rooftops. I could see the loving smile from wherever I spotted her. And, I would return it. It was a distant love, but it had the same feeling as any other love. The hours I spent in tears when I found out she was killed.
Of course, I knew it was a Dark who had murdered her and all those other people. Not some deranged person who didn't know what the hell they were doing. But, Nethers forbid you should try and tell the politicians otherwise. I couldn't have tried to if I wanted to, anyway. I wasn't in any position of power in the Guard to do so. I tried to ask Captain Vorchevsky to plead my case, but he brushed me off completely. Vorchevsky... that brings me to the most crucial part of this letter.
The reason why I'm dead after writing this? Vorchevsky is having me executed on charges of treason very shortly. All through our engagements with the bandits, I had refused to use my Power by his orders. My Power is that of a medium, the ability to speak with the dead. He wanted me to use my Power to communicate with my fallen comrades and learn of the enemies positions so we could out-maneuver them. Eventually, I would break down and obey, but most of the time, I refused to do it. Because of my importance, he has resisted the urge to put a bullet through my head. Why disobey him, you ask? Well, simply put, Power use was illegal back home. I wasn't going to make myself a hypocrite by using my Power, then putting down those who do the same. Plus, I felt that the bandits were innocent and were defending themselves, not counter-striking us.
Now, the war is nearly over after only a few short months. It won't be long now before we engage the last of their forces. I feel that at any point from now 'til the very end, I'll be dragged to a firing squad with several others accused of treason. But, I overheard from some of Vorchevsky's private guard that he intends to kill me with his own bare hands. I can't tell if this is truly out of spite or just to prove an example to the other troopers who will be watching. I couldn't shake the feeling that it's something more, that he wants to kill me just for the hell of it. I've seen him when he gets up close and personal with the enemy. He's as sadistic of a fighter as they come, maybe even more. But, I thought he enjoyed the pain and suffering he delivered to those people. I eventually discovered that he is actually a Dark and is a practiced sadist. He has contacted the government and told them both facts and lies about the conflict, knowing that they would make preparations to conceal all information about the conflict. I've also heard plans that he intends to go "M.I.A." when the war is over and create his own private army. A large regiment of our forces will be going with him. How did I found out about all of this? Well, it goes to show you that there *are* ghosts. They trundle aimlessly through our staging camp and all around Vorchevsky's tent. Through the spirit's own ears, I've heard all of what Vorchevsky intends and has already done. Now, I'm doing my own part for the Order, whether it lives on or not.
When traitors are executed, all of their equipment is stripped except for the lesser essentials, such as water flasks. I'm going to empty my flask tomorrow and stuff a map I copied of another map into it. Traitors are usually just left where they are killed. The sandstorms take care of the digging. My body should still be where I will be killed, along with several others who I'm sure will join me. The map in question is directions and coordinates of a base of operations that Vorchevsky intends to have built right here in the Dune Sea. It will be extremely low profile, taking on the form of an abandoned, adobe village. But, don't let that fool you. The village will be a fully functional military base. They'll be swapping our current weapons and tech with that of weapons from a country called Antares. I'm not sure what this country is about, so your guess is as good as mine. But, it's clearly in cahoots with Vorchevsky.
The coordinates of my body's location will be written on the back of this letter. Son, I know your mother has left you with everything you need to begin your mission. This may not be what you want, but as you've probably realized, we never get what we want. Especially for the good guys.
Stop Isis Vorchevsky. Find your mother's killer and eliminate him. Put an end to as many Dark's as possible and prepare whoever you can for the Nightmares arrival. Make us proud, Aizer. We're counting on you.
Maj. Sydon Pulse"
Pulse put the letter down, not sure of what to think about.
'I guess I've got no choice.'
He reached over and grabbed a book, cracking it open.
* * * * *
Octobris 4th, 1227, 2:00 A.M.
Pulse sighed heavily, the books and scrolls now sprawled across his desk. He had spent hours reading about the Order of Vega. He learned of the members and the origin of their name Guardian, their free-running and training exercises, their fighting styles and mastery of all weapons through time, their samaritan acts for the poor and oppressed, their struggles and personal conscience conflicts, their scattered history.
Pulse consumed it all and had eventually made his decision.
'I'll do it! I'm becoming a Guardian! For the both of you, Mom and Dad! For everyone!'
He then noticed a strange outline through his mother's letter in the light of the gloworb. He grabbed the letter and flipped it over. It was directions to an abandoned house in Margate.
'What have we here? Still leading me to other stuff, eh Mother?'
Memorizing the directions, Pulse stood up and walked out of the room.
* * * * *
Octobris 4th, 1227, 4:00 A.M.
In the command center of the Troika's main base, Nainso Ziska looked over the data file of Tinsel Nanaja as a Troika member typed the edits into the data file.
"That looks good enough!" Nainso said. "Now, to fix those physical files!"
He turned to leave, then saw the familiar face of Pulse enter the room, but in an all new attire.
A blood red, sleeveless tunic complete with a hood that stretched down into a pair of sash's, black fatigues and brown boots. Three thin plates of armor encircled the rib cage while armor plates covered the shoulders and the shoulder regions of the back. Four thin plates of armor covered the leather gauntlets and the shin region of the legs. Two leather belts consisting of pouches were worn around his waist. An old-fashioned officers' sword was clipped to the left side of one belt while his tomahawk was clipped to the right side.
"Mr. Ziska," Pulse called out.
Pulse held his hands to his sides. The hidden blades of his gauntlets shot out in unison.
"Let's get to work."
Act Theme: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhzjuUBWNj8
|Got through the first third and looks pretty good so far. I need to point out though as an editor you use exclamation marks way to much in places where a period would suffice, Unless your older character is intentionally yelling every sentence or very super serious in the way he's saying it.|
|you have been busy today.|
|Finished it, Looks grand. Hope you write some more soon. :)|
Thanks for the advice and I'm glad you're enjoying it. ^^ The exclamation mark problem has already been brought up by one other reader in the recent past. I don't really know what I was doing at the time that I needed to put that mark after almost everything that was said by a character. I plan to fix that, maybe tonight.
Act VII will be coming later on. :)
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