O GALILEO LET ME GO
End of this part. Just need some feedback on this.
Mischa was the next to go down, almost in front of Roland's eyes as the smoke crawled in and out of view.
second, the russian was calling out for Erich. Then as if sucked by some monstrous worm beneath, the russian suddenly dropped from view screaming--before just as suddenly stopping in silence. Roland did not see the person as a whole, but there was a small female figure that flit from wisp to wisp of smoke.
A familiar whizz rang past his ear, landing painfully in the arm of another man behind him. Three more singing blades cut the smoke and air, and that man was silenced.
It's HER! Cousseran leaped behind and cowered underneath a table as he heard the sudden rain of blades cutting through cloth and limb. How the girl could find her targets in this smoke--designed to fool even IS sensors and infrared goggles--escaped Cousseran's terrified mind. Even with that, there was a sound more frightening than the gunfire and screams of fully-armed men going down in pain. How many knives does that witch have?
Every now and then was a girlish giggle of sheer joy.
She's not human, he surmised. There was only one thing he'd ever seen in life that moved with the same sultry grace, snapping at them with lightning speed and efficiency at the very hint of weakness.
Like a venomous snake.
Get a hold of yourself! Cousseran screamed inside, but was frozen under the safety of the table. More screams and gunfire, but each one was growing less and less, replaced with the eerie silence and disappearing smoke. It's just one woman! How dangerous could she possibly be?
But his knees would not move, his legs frozen in fear.
A clatter of a submachine gun falling was the last element of sound heard before deathly silence enveloped the building. The smoke was still thick, but now degrading as a result of the action before. Still, Cousseran did not move.
Not until almost an hour passed, smoke completely gone, did the frenchman finally garner the courage to peek out from under his hiding place. Putting his handgun out first, Cousseran slowly emerged from the table. The pistol, a high-powered magnum semiautomatic, was chosen by him for its looks rather than usage. He'd never fired it, and now dreaded the need to.
All around him were scattered bloodied and bruised bodies, breathing but semi-conscious if not unconscious. From the look of them, most were either beaten into it or succumbed to the injuries slowly bleeding their life out. Many of them had knives of all shapes and sizes stuck into them--Roland saw both of Mischa's legs impaled to the ground by old-styled pike bayonets, which earned his revulsion.
Why didn't she just kill them? Cousseran realised that with half that much effort, his team would have been eliminated sooner, more cleanly. Leaving the troops alive, and going through a lot of trouble to beat them into stupidity or mangle them with knives was impractical.
He shuddered, realizing that their attackers were probably ejoying themselves. All twenty-four of his best men, taken out within an hour.
Roland spun his gun to fire at a shadow standing next to him.
A thick, diamond-shaped blade wedged itself into the pistol's slide mechanism, jamming it. Roland panicked that moment, allowing his attacker ample time to act first.
He screamed like a child as he felt his legs give way from the force of a sweeping kick. Then Roland Cousseran, Operations Manager of Dunois Amraments and Security, landed painfully on his rump. Even after landing, the man did not stop screaming until he saw himself reflected in the blade of a rather large knife.
"Shut up, Cousseran. I haven't broken anything yet."
He stopped, then regained enough presence of mind to focus on his attacker, the teenaged girl he'd heard about from Bubba. For a moment, he wondered what was going on--the girl's voice was being autotranslated but she was not wearing an IS.
She was not the woman Roland had encountered a few days before.
"Who are you?" Cousseran attempted to exert his authority, but blubbered, backing away clumsily on hands and knees in a sitting position as the girl approached him. In her hands were a series of clawlike blades. Calling up what little courage he had: "You can't arrest me! I'm a foreign national!"
"Arrest?" <Ren> let out the most bone-chilling laugh Cousseran had heard in his lifetime. "Do I look like the police to you?"
Another empty threat: "I have diplomatic immunity!"
"Do I look like I care?" The knives in her hand escaped from sight.
Roland grew frantic. "You can't do this to me! Do you know who you're dealing with? DO YOU--"
A whizzing sound and thunk of a large bowie knife between his legs made Roland yelp and frantically crawl as far away from the blade as possible.
"Let's talk abut Charlotte Dunois, shall we?"
"What?" Roland gasped.
Squealing, Cousseran backed away from it, a punjabi dagger of unknown make. Had he not been terrified out of his mind, he would have marvelled at how this girl acquired it.
"Why did you and your family put her up to this?" <Ren> toyed with another weapon, a filipino butterfly knife. "Wasn't it enough for you to turn her into your personal no-wages IS test pilot?"
Sputtering, Roland tried defiance. "I deny whatever you claim!"
"Let's try this again, shall we?" <Ren> flicked a wrist and the knfie was gone. She then pulled out the WP grenade she'd acquired earlier. Roland read the letters WP on the canister and froze.
The WP or White phosphorus grenade was an incendiary weapon, producing a thick cloud of hot smoke that clouded infrared sensors and caused serious burns. The hot phosphorus smoke would also eat up breathable oxygen in a flash as well as irritate lungs--even though the IS exoskeleton was fully protected against most environmental hazards, the pilot still needed to breathe. The Dunois security men only had a couple of them as a last resort, to be used only when all else failed in their escape attempt.
In the cramped quarters of the old factory it would not only cover the area in minutes faster than the normal smoke grenades they'd carried, but instantly set clothing and ammunition on fire. White phosphorus burns were not pretty--even when doused with water something set aflame woudl still burn. And WP tended to stick to human skin and clothing while burning.
"Wh-what are you going to do with that?"
The cold, chilling giggle made him regret asking as she pulled the pin on the grenade. Calmly, still holding the safety on the weapon she set it down on the floor.
"AAAAAAAARRGH!" Cousseran dove for the weapon the second <Ren> released her grip on it. Both hands desperately closed around it, just in time. Had he been a second too late, the lever would have come off, igniting the potentialy lethal weapon.
THUNK. The butterfly knife buried itself about a finger-length away from his hand. In shock, he pulled away from the blade, still maintaining a death grip on the grenade. He backed into a wall, with no other way out.
THUNK. Another knife pinned his his left arm to the wall, but Roland kep his grip on the weapon. It barely missed flesh, instead puncturing his watch. The action essentially wedged the WP grenade in place.
"Why did you send Charlotte Dunois to this place?"
Cousseran could have just let go of the grenade. The WP would have ignited, taking him, the troops and the entire building along with this monster of a girl he was trapped with. Thing was, Roland did not want to die.
"Some members of the family--"
"Stop pretending, Messr. Cousseran." Despite her youthful looks, She was a regal monster, commanding with voice as she drew another knife from her jacket. The angular blade of a kukri knife looked hungry for blood as it twirled in her hands. "Dunois the company and Dunois the family are one and the same. You sent that girl here. Why?"
"We needed information on Orimura Ichika, that's all!" Roland gasped, feeling too trapped to keep to the official story. "Charlotte was supposed to masquerade as a boy and steal his data! That's all there is to it!"
"That's not the reason I was looking for."
"What do you mean? WHAT DO YOU MEAN?" Roland was now hanging on to sanity by a thin thread, the bent-edged kukri knife looking wicked as it stopped short of his left ankle.
"Charlotte is the illegitimate daughter of the head of Dunois Industries. That man, who is also the patriarch of the Dunois family, has no sons and no other children, is that correct?"
Cousseran did not understand the question.
"Sending her after Orimura was just a side benefit. Dunois Industries has plenty of other IS test pilots, and any one of them would have volunteered for this operation." <Ren> stood tall, a dark goddess preceeding over the judgement of the fallen. "You chose Charlotte because she would be the least missed by the family. The real reason she was sent away was because the rest of the family did not want her to inherit the company."
"You knew..." Roland felt the earth sink underneath. The revelation had truth in it, even though heofficially denied such a story. Indeed, that was why he was trying so hard to retrieve Charlotte--to ensure she would just return to France and disappear.
"It made sense. Though her birth was illegitimate, she is potentially a direct heir to the company's CEO. And although Dunois is a corporation and not a monarchy, it follows that family would be chosen." The eyes narrowed, and Roland thought for a moment they were glowing with evil intent. "No wonder she was so hated by you and the rest of the Dunois clan."
With that, she had a most cruel, knowing, and bitter smile.
"No wonder even her father refused to see her."
"Who would have love for a bastard child?!" Roland's grip on the WP grenade was itghter than ever, knuckles white with the grip as he began to rage. "It's all that stupid woman's fault. She agreed to have that child aborted. That girl should have just died at birth!"
"Oh?" <Ren> focused her snakelike eyes on Cousseran. "Tell me, then. What should have happened?"
"Charlotte Dunois should never have been born!" Coussseran exploded, not caring anymore who listened to him. "That the bastard child even exists is a shame to the family! She is our ruin! Why? What is that girl to you? Why do you protect her?! Why do you even care?"
"Care? CARE for Charlotte Dunois?!"
<Ren> laughed at the suggestion. In rippling, fearsome cackles.
Roland could not believe it, but the fear in him grew even greater than before. IT was a maddened, horrifying laugh, one that a young girl should not physically be able to make. The girl laughed that unearthly, fiendish laugh for almost three minutes before she finally composed herself, a new, dreadful fire in her eyes.
"What makes you think I even LIKE Charlotte Dunois, Messr Cousseran?"
THUNK. a small penknife stabbed Roland's collar.
Oh lord! He now began to regret his words, as the girl started to approach him, knives in her hands.
"When you think of it logically, I should hate her."
THUNK. A needle file pinned the other half of his watch, fixing the hand to the wall.
"Of those girls surrounding Ichika Orimura, Charlotte is the one who cherishes him the most, did you know?"
THUNK. Three letter openers pinned his other pants leg.
"That feminine sweetness. That childlike honesty. That motherly kindness. It honestly makes me sick to see a girl that angelically perfect."
THUNK. Tiny cross-shaped knives fixed the other arm to the wall.
"But knowing what your family did to her makes my blood boil. That you hate her so much just for being born. That you blame her for your mistakes."
THUNK. Between his right index and ring finger.
"What's wrong with being raised a normal girl? Why do we have to be tools for our families to use? Why do we have to be your scapegoats?"
THUNK. Just grazing his neck.
"Stop. I give up! I surrender!" Cousseran begged frantically. Where does she hide all those damned knives?!
THUNK. A flat blade cut his belt at the waist, barely exposing skin.
"Is it because we're expendable? Because even in this society, men still use women and throw them away?" <Ren> sneered. "Because we're both just useless bastard children to our clans?"
THUNK. Half an inch near the same cut across his ear that a previous knife had made.
"That's why I can't bring myself to hate Charlotte Dunois. Even if by all rights I should." <Ren>'s eves came into focus. Cold, reptilian. Indeed like a snake, mesmerizing its prey. "I know how it feels to be made into a tool."
THUNK. Just an inch between his legs.
Cousseran had just wet his pants a third time when he noticed how close the hateful serpent-like eyes were staring into his.
"You should thank Ichika Orimura, you know? If not for him," the grin of a devil was on her face. As if by magic, a wicked-looking barber's razor appeared with a flick of <Ren>'s hand. "Charlotte could have turned out a monster like me."
Roland was trying to scream, but couldn't manage anything louder than a gurgle as eyes flew between the girl's stare and their reflection in the blade's edge.
"And I don't like having competition," <Ren> giggled.
Only then Cousseran did scream loudly, when <Ren> started her work with the razor.
"Why do I have to clean up after your mess?!"
Haruko was overwhelmed with all the paperwork requesting documentation of the incident. The apartment was cluttered with the forms, statements, and declarations, and she nearly threw a fit trying to sort them all out.
"You injured a couple dozen private security personnel. HIGHLY TRAINED AND EXPERIENCED security personnel. What do you have to say about that?"
A bored <Ren> kept staring out the window, chin on one arm.
"That's not the point and you know it!!!" Kokuto felt like smashing her head against the computer terminal, but stopped short when she realized how much it would take out of her salary. "You didn't have to go all-out on those people!"
"They shot first."
Why do I have SO much trouble believing that? "That's no excuse!"
"I could have easily killed them if I wanted to."
Are you actually implying that killing two dozen foreign nationals on Japanese soil would make this situation BETTER? Haruko was no longer a livid purple. She was practically going through all colors of the spectrum. She tried to say something, but all that came out of her mouth was a pained "Nggggghhh."
"You're stressing because you drink too much coffee."
I'm stressing because I have to ensure you're not committing mass murder!!! "Do you realize you've caused a member of the Dunois family irrepairable damage!"
"Really?" <Ren> smirked her devilish smirk. "I didn't even scratch Roland Cousseran this time."
"YOU SHAVED HIS HEAD BALD, MADE HIM SIT ON A LIVE GRENADE, AND NOW HE'S A QUIVERING WRECK!" Haruko felt like screaming. Roland Cousseran was indeed uninjured except for his soiled pants and lacking both sanity and hair. Headquarters, the Foreign Ministry, and the Regional Police wanted a really good explanation for that.
"It's not as bad as you make it sound. I basically stopped them from invading IS Academy before they tried." <Ren> stretched her arms. "Everything else is just the minor details."
I don't know what part of airlifting 25 injured man from here back to europe is minor! "This is going to look very bad."
"For Dunois Industries, not us. But theyll deal with it. Even though they're under pressure to develop a 3rd-gen machine, too many people rely on the Rafale Revive series IS. Dunois Industry won't fall just yet."
"At risk of hearing something that will freak me out," Haruko then dared to ask: "Was there anything or anyone you DIDN'T try to stick your knives into?"
"You're right. I should have turned that loud ugly american into a pincushion."
"[b]ARRGH![/a]" Haruko punded her fists on the computer. Taking a breath, she reached for her newest can of Blue Mounain blend.
"Isn't that your seventh can of coffee oday?"
"Shut up! I need it to keep from going crazy with you!" A pop of the can, and Haruko took the drink in long, persistent gulps.
"Seriously, it's coffee, not beer." <Ren> then flopped on the bed, not caring of what else her partner might or might not say.
~sigh~ In silence, Haruko just stared at <Ren> lying there, and the red tattoo on the girl's arm.
In the late 20th century there were stories of a clan of shinobi that wore that mark. Stories that were whispered but never quite proven, about ninja and the mythology surrounding them. Silent as a shadow, yet furious as a storm. Kokuto has heard of them, of these so-called ninja who wore crimson-red marks. Even the Johohonbu had stories of them, one of which was that their greatest pupils was a man with the eyes of a snake. The stories were no more than tall tales and urban legends persisting in this modern age of the IS.
But still, the stories persist.
There was no proof of the clan existing, only hearsay and rumor. Tall tales of heroism or infamy to tell to children at night. The great ninja clans disappeared long ago, before the age of technology. No one truly knew what happened to them, though many made claims they were ninja--often disproven as fakes and overconfident showmen. But if the clans still existed, where are they now?
Even now, she wondered if one of the stories she'd heard at the Johohonbu was true. That <Ren> was the illegitimate daughter of the clan's long-lost leader. Truth, lie, or just another tall tale?
Ironically? Those confusng, inconsistent myths were exactly what the ninja wanted people to believe.
"About Charlotte Dunois."
"--Hm?" Haruko was surprised by <Ren>'s sudden change of topic.
"You asked why I have nothing bad to say about her."
"So?" Can of coffee in hand, Haruko half-slid across the room on her chair, fully intent on hearing what her partner had to say next. "So? SO?"
<Ren> had a moment deep in thought before she answered.
"I don't like her."
Haruko almost dropped her coffee. "EH?!"
"I don't like her," <Ren> repeated with finality. "But I don't hate her, either. That's all."
Always so blunt!
"It's for the best," came an oddly pensive tone from <Ren>, barely audible. She looked outward once more, as if picturing something else in her mind.
"Can Ichika fall in love with a monster?"