A long time ago in a galaxy far,
Unrest spreads! Although Starkiller Base has been demolished,
the sinister FIRST ORDER continues to reign supreme
with their efforts in hunting for the last surviving Jedi as well as his
new apprentice refusing to cease.
With their hope quickly dwindling, the RESISTANCE struggles
to find its footing and continue the fight while the behemoth
continues to carve a path of destruction throughout the stars.
One key part is missing however.
Far beyond the reaches of even the Unknown Regions,
against the orders of the Supreme Leader, an apprentice
searches for a presence that could result in dignity
being restored to the DARK SIDE...
(The Milky Way Galaxy)
Space, such a quiet and peaceful place. With its shimmering dots known as stars shining bright against dark emptiness alongside several different worlds, almost any person could find immediate solace and peace in just staring out and letting your mind run wild with its imagination. However, like all good things, there must always be a counter, for every person who looks to the galaxy for solace, there is always one who thinks of it as a reminder of what they could have. A reminder that if one has enough power, they could go across the land, taking each system over one by one, building an army so powerful and so vast that there would be no one to challenge or abuse you.
This was the mindset of a certain masked man whose massive fleet came ripping through the peaceful void, only to stop right when they were just a little ways away from a blue and green world and throughout almost the entire length of the trip, that man, the villainous Kylo Ren, stared out into the emptiness, letting his mind wander over these very thoughts. On occasion, he would turn to respond to passing staff members or just anyone that walked by at that moment but for the most part, he just stared out into the void and kept quiet.
It had been a few months now since his very first and what he thought to be a minor failure and that was when he lost FN-2187, a single trooper which he thought would be killed with ease but little did he know at the time, that one moment would then lead to him gaining the map to Luke and even further down the line, the destruction of the First Order's glorious weapon that was made in tribute to his late grandfather's own.
Remembering that day filled Ren up with a fury like no other, a fury that he'd usually use up slashing various pieces of equipment or troopers but in the case of this time, he felt it was far more personal. Not only did that girl best him but he felt she also destroyed his dignity, left him broken and embarrassed to the point where he couldn't even find the strength to stand and had to have various troopers help him hobble back to his ship.
During this small little moment of reminiscing, the Dark Lord raised his hand up to his originally clean face and began to trace a single finger from the bottom of his scar up to his newly yellowed eyes, showcasing just how much more immersed he was in the Dark Side. But to him, it was nothing and when he looked at his faint reflection on the bridge of the Star Destroyer, he saw not a master like his grandfather before him, rather he saw a weak, frail fool who was far too powerful for his own good. To him, the failure was completely the fault of him and him alone since had he not let his guard down or become so reckless, he would've actually won but instead, he made the exact SAME mistake as his grandfather did and let his confidence become his undoing. With his gaze still locked on the vastness of space, Kylo slowly moved his hand away from his face and proceeded to flatten it against the glass as he let out a simple whisper.
"When I find you again desert girl," He began with a low sinister voice that was trailing dangerously close towards being a growl. "may the Force have mercy for I will not. Not only did you make a mockery of me and the First Order but you've completely removed all dignity from the Dark Side, dignity that we were working so hard to restore. So let it be known that when I find you, I will not just slice you into pieces, I will crush your internals, break every bone, destroy everything and everyone you once loved until you're nothing but a lonely husk who now knows the true might of the Dark Side."
"Don't linger on her." A voice sounded off from out of the blue right as Ren felt a sudden warmth encompass his right shoulder. When he turned, he saw the face of the one commander he always dreaded to hear from but respected nevertheless, General Hux. "After all, it is you who initially decided to go on this little fetch quest of yours against the orders of Supreme Leader Snoke who may I remind you stated that if anything happens this time, he's..."
"Not going to show me anymore mercy." Ren finished with a solemn voice with minor hints of anger before letting out a small sigh. "I know, but you can't deny the fact that my master let me take this mission because he also felt the presence in the Force as much as I did." In response, Hux just let out a sigh of his own.
"Regardless, it has been ten days since you felt the presence and it took another five to get where we are," Hux began. "and do I even need to mention the fact that we pulled thousands upon thousands of worthy troopers out here who should be fighting the battle against that blasted Republic and instead, we're risking it all over a hunch which will most likely turn out not to be true." Usually if this was any other officer, the worst they could expect from Kylo was a beam of hot condensed energy rammed deep into their stomach before leaving their lifeless bodies to be dumped out the airlock by a group of loyal sanitation officers but Hux he knew was one not to try it with. To him, no matter what the situation may be, he knew that if Snoke gave him someone he trusted that he better damn well keep them safe and unlike the others, Hux proved that he was the best from the very moment he was brought on board.
Despite being fresh off his training and thus he lacked the patience of many older officers on board, Hux displayed a great deal of ferocity, unwavering loyalty and a great deal of tact unlike most of those that he had seen before. Unlike many troopers, Hux actually was able to understand the Force far more thanks to his discussions with both Ren and Snoke and as far as his leadership skills were concerned, they were what led to many a victory. Knowing this full well, the Dark Lord instead just signaled for his general to walk with him back to his chambers and continued their conversation as they went along.
"Why is it that you continue to defy me general?" He questioned. "With your feelings being this strong, one would think you would've abandoned ship by now."
"So that way you can run the First Order into the ground?" Hux asked with a scoff. "Spare me the arrogance, I was given strict orders by Supreme Leader to accompany you on any and all missions."
"Only because you are providing the funding and our troops." replied Kylo.
"It's because of my training in dealing with those who have temper tantrums that I have to always keep an eye on you."
"And why is that?"
"Have you forgotten the several times you've nearly killed those who had important information leading us to our goals?"
"Those times are insignificant and in the distant past, I don't dwell on th-"
"And yet you still dwell on her." Kylo immediately came to a halt, his now shaking hands just barely grasping his mask. Realizing he struck a nerve, Hux just remained silent, knowing what Ren would do next and sure enough, in the next few moments when Ren finally spoke again, his voice had once again become that of a low growl with maybe some slight cracks in between sentences.
"She humiliated me." Kylo said as he raised the mask to his face.
"And yet despite how strongly you feel about it," Hux began. "you are not going to resolve the very issue that fuels your anger and are instead worrying about a ridiculous hunch! A hunch that if it turns up nothing will most likely get us all killed! What if the Resistance has a copy of this information?! By this point, we are nothing but sitting ducks out here while our troopers are being WIPED off the face of the galaxy! And soon, they will come for us... and let me tell you Kylo Ren, regardless of my position... I absolutely REFUSE to sit here while you run this fleet into the gr-"
"Commander Ren!" One silver, feminine caped trooper called out, cutting off Hux in almost an instant.
"What is it Captain?" Kylo asked right as he locked his helmet shut.
"We've found a small landing zone but it's nearby a small village, what are your orders on that?" Immediately, Hux turned towards his superior, knowing full well that he still was reeling from their previous chat and so he felt he had a clear idea on what his order would be. Dead silence was present in the room with both sets of eyes still staring at the Dark Lord with curiosity about his answer still present in their minds. After a few seconds, Ren slowly looked over towards his prized possession, the charred, damaged helmet of his grandfather and after a few seconds of staring and an eternity of silence, he finally made his decision.
"Sir?" Phasma asked with concern. In response, Ren calmly turned his head towards her and uttered a simple order.
"They could be of use to us." He began as he raised his hood and proceeded to walk towards the direction of the hanger bay. "Come with me, if they have an elder they might be able to provide us with intel on the girls' location and if they don't, you know what to do." With a simple nod, Phasma was just about to make her way down the direction Ren was heading when Hux stopped her by quickly jerking his arm out in front.
"Keep a close eye on him." ordered Hux. "He's not exactly the most emotionally stable after what happe-"
"Don't fret General." Phasma commented. "I'm still reeling as well, at least this will provide us some relief." With that, Phasma continued down her merry way right after shoving Hux's arm out of the way, leaving him to watch as the metal doors quickly shut. A few seconds later and with a sigh, the young general slowly turned towards the burnt helmet in the room and let his mind wander.
"I honestly wonder what you would've done had you survived." Hux thought to himself. He remained in the room for a few more seconds, taking in the reality what they were about to embark on and then turned to make his way back to his station to prepare for the attack.
Darkness shrouded the snowy landscape and unlike the vastness of space, it wasn't exactly the most peaceful of times, despite what the serene setting would have you believe and no one knew this better than the one old man sitting peacefully in his home, looking at various photos of an average brown-haired male youth along with his two friends, one male and one female. Letting out a small sigh followed up by a brief cough, the elderly man began to lightly rub the photo with his thumb as he began to speak in a low whisper.
"If only I could see how much you've grown." The elder said to himself with a calm caring voice. "Hopefully you've kept out of trouble Tatsumi and I hope that you will come back very soon with your friends." Stopping for a moment to relight a small candle, he let out another coughing fit right as he set it down on a nearby counter. "It's hard to believe that it has been only a few months since you left on your journey since admittedly, it feels like it has been far longer than that. It has been so long in fact that so many villagers are actually wondering if you're even alive..." Soon, a low hum was sounding off in the elder's ears but due to it being so faint, he didn't care and instead continued to sit there and eye the small photo.
"...and as much as I hate to admit it, I'm starting to have my doubts as well so all I'm hoping is that you do come back safely and very soon as I fear that it won't be long before some dreaded Danger Beast comes to rip us apart." Suddenly, a few seconds later, that humming noise became a loud screech that caused his eyes to shoot open, his hands to lose their grip on the photo and finally, the candle completely went out. A few seconds later as he stood up, the elder watched as one citizen ran into his room with clear fear in his eyes.
"Elder! There are multiple flying objects in the sky and they're heading towards us!" He shouted.
"Flying objects? What exactly are you talking about? I have no time to hear about nonsense."
"Sir this is urgent!" Despite his sheer disbelief at what he was hearing, the unknown screeching was still filling him to the brink with fear and yet he didn't know why. After a few seconds, the elder immediately began to follow the villager out and was immediately greeted by bright red lights along with a few box shaped ships beginning to land. Soon after, what looked to be a docking door flew open and out came several what appeared to be soldiers but unlike any he had ever seen with their sleek white and black armor and what appeared to be guns of some kind.
"By god..." He muttered to himself as he watched multiple villagers beginning to back away in fear as the soldiers began to point their weapons towards them while shouting out several commands.
"GET BACK! NOW! NOW!" Despite them only being orders, the elder could still feel the rage and hatred emanating from their voices, as if they were being held on a leash and were ready to shoot at any moment's notice. Finally after a few more seconds, the large ship with red lights landed and soon after, two troopers quickly shifted their attention towards him.
"You there!" One of them called out before signaling to a second trooper to come along.
"Are you the elder?" They said with a gruff male voice. Not willing to be bullied by a couple of strangers, the old man gave the troopers an evil look.
"Excuse me?" Unfortunately, that was the wrong answer since the second trooper leaned in closed and grabbed him by the arm before proceeding to roughly yank it until he was so close to the helmet that he could practically smell the breath of the man under it.
"Let's try that again. Are you the elder?!" With his strength unfading, the old man still kept his serious expression.
"I am but I refuse to be bullied by strangers I don't kn-"
"SHUT UP!" The trooper shouted right as he jerked his knee upward into the elder's stomach, causing him to immediately fall to the ground face first right as a loud gasp was heard from the rest of the villagers. Being left to groan and moan in pain, the elder felt as he was roughly hoisted upwards by the troopers who proceeded to drag him across the ground towards the large winged ship that was about to land.
"For your sake," The soldier who kneed him began. "I hope you don't anger the commander, villager scum, now get up!" Soon after, the soldiers forced the man up to his feet and slowly loosened their grip on his arms before immediately moving to point their guns directly towards the back of his skull. At that point, the elder didn't exactly know what he was in for until the hanger door on the sleek black ship dropped open, revealing even more troopers including one who had shining metallic armor along with a black and red cape but the one he had his sights set on the most was the man draped in a dark cloak with a simple looking metal mask that just barely concealed the massive evil aura that surrounded him and it was at that point that the man finally got the message of just how severe this was and so he silenced himself and simply watched as the cloaked figure slowly made his way towards him.
"Who are you?" The elder questioned, trying his best to keep calm.
"My apologies for the... rough introduction," The man began with his rough, robotic tone. "I am Kylo Ren, leader of the First Order and that's the only bit of information you'll get out of me for now but if you can cooperate with us and give out what we need then I can assure you that we will leave your village in peace." At that point, the old man didn't know what to say. Not only was the "apology" lacking sympathy and compassion but he essentially demanded that they give him what he needed while threatening him with death if he couldn't which filled him up with such a boiling rage to see his people treated with such hostility. Despite this, the old man held his tongue and simply looked his assailant in the eyes.
"Alright then, I'll play along with this. What is it that you seek and where have you come from?" He asked.
"That second half is insignificant." Ren began with a voice cold as ice. "All you need to know is that we've traveled far and wide to locate two individuals, both are female who I believe to have some form of connection to my family." As Kylo was speaking, the elder couldn't help but look around a bit at the faces of all his fellow villagers which were filled with such fright and despair as the troopers continued to have their weapons centered on them. A few seconds later, he felt as one trooper to his left quickly jerked his head back towards Ren right as he muttered a small threat towards him.
"Have you seen them?" Almost immediately, the elder tightened his lips together, indicating that he wasn't going to speak.
"It's an honest question." Kylo said, seemingly unfazed by his actions. "For your sake, I suggest you change your decision." Despite this, the elder still said nothing. After a few seconds of waiting, Ren gave a quick gesture towards the troopers and almost immediately, they proceeded to back away.
"Perhaps you aren't aware of the stakes at hand." Kylo began with a voice low and sinister. Suddenly, the cloaked figure jerked his arm out towards the elder and almost immediately, the man felt as his old body was sent flying through the air and straight through the snow, his bones cracking as they hit the hard rock beneath it all.
"ELDER!" One villager cried out right as they began to run towards him, only to be then kicked down to the ground by a nearby trooper.
"Stay still scum!" At that point, the man could only watch with fear as the cloaked assailant began to make his way towards the battered old man whose face was now bruised and stained with blood and when he tried to speak, his voice was hindered by coughs.
"Wh-what did you... do to me?" Uttering no answer, Ren just continued to walk towards the man and as he did, he began to loosen up what appeared to be a black metal tube from his belt.
"I'm only going to ask this one final time." Kylo said with his voice still just as sinister as before. "Where are the girls?" Again, the elder said nothing and so in just a few seconds, the man felt as he lost all control in his body much like how he did when he was pushed back with this time being much greater in feeling. It was almost as if his whole entire body was trying to fight against an invisible force that no matter how hard he tried to escape, the grip around him just kept tightening and tightening. Staring him down, Kylo Ren then pressed down a small button on the tube and immediately afterward, three vibrant red beams of energy shot forward and the moment they did, he did a small spin with the weapon before having the blade just far enough away from his throat to where he could feel the heat.
"My patience is dwindling, where are they?!" Ren demanded.
"I know nothing of these girls you speak of, just leave us alone!" The elder pleaded before then being flung upward until he was suspended in the air, with Ren's laser sword still pointed towards him.
"I see how it is." Kylo said, his voice a bit calmer. "You want to protect them, you're afraid of what will happen once I find the two of them aren't you?"
"What?!" The elder asked, baffled. "I've told you the truth, there never were anyone like them in this village, the only person who matched your description was Sayo who went off with two other people moments a-"
"Two others?" Ren questioned, remembering how he had sensed at least one extra presence before he flew off. "Tell me about them and I promise no harm will come to you." At that moment, the elder began to slowly open his mouth as if he was ready to speak... only for his face to then shift back into the serious expression moments before.
"Tatsumi and Ieyasu were their names but let this be known," He began. "their names are all you'll be getting out of me because may heaven have mercy on your soul since by now, I'm sure Tatsumi has gotten far stronger with how many beasts he has killed along with the training he received in the Imperial Army, your troops will be no match for him."
"Is that so?" Kylo began, his gaze still being locked on the elder. What felt like an eternity passed as silence filled the air, leaving no noises with the exception of the low hums emanating from the ships and their engines. After a little while longer, Kylo slowly looked around at the villagers until his gaze set on Phasma who he immediately gave a small gesture to which she followed by then proceeding to load her blaster with many troopers doing the same. Afterward, he turned back towards the old man where he then uttered a simple phrase.
"Thank you for your time." Then, in a moment that seemed to play in slow motion, the old man suddenly lurched forward towards Ren's lightsaber, causing the blade to run straight through his throat, killing him instantly much to the horror of all the villagers, who screamed out in fear. Taking a moment to look at the fearful faces, Kylo slowly turned his attention back towards the elder whose eyes had now shut tight, signifying that he entered the eternal sleep. A few seconds later, the Dark Lord then retracted his saber and let the limp corpse fall onto the snowy ground. After a few more seconds had passed, Ren took a moment to examine his surroundings and took in all the terrified and saddened expressions of all the people who watched him and after a few more seconds, he began to make his way back to his ship with his saber being shut off moments before he made it to the hangar. Then, he slowly turned around, set his hands behind his back and looked towards Phasma.
"Whenever you're ready Captain." Giving a quick nod, Phasma looked towards her men.
"All troops, steady your aim and prepare to fire on my command!" She demanded. Almost as quickly as the soldiers loaded up, the villagers began tensing up as they knew exactly what was coming up next. To most soldiers, this would be the hardest thing to witness but to Kylo Ren and his troops, they were watching this moment with clear delight on the faces behind those masks as they were ready to rid the galaxy of what they perceived to be the pathetic scum that lived in it.
"Ready..." The low whir of the blasters sounded off as several troopers straightened up their posture and looked down their sights.
"Aim..." Several little children buried their tear-drenched faces into their parents thighs in order to shield themselves from viewing their inevitable fate. After a few more seconds of silence had passed, Phasma straightened up her own posture and pointed her weapon towards the villagers.
"Fire!" At that moment, all hell broke loose. Several red blaster bolts came launching from the guns at breakneck speeds with every shot hitting its mark all while kicking up a large amount of smoke. Ren looked on at this with absolute delight and a hint of doubt since he knew some would try to hide. A few seconds later however, that doubt was put to rest once the smoke cleared and he saw the smoking, bloodied corpses of every villager lying down on the ground in one massive pile. Feeling his rage had been satisfied, Kylo turned towards one of his fellow soldiers and gave his orders.
"Go and tell Hux to keep his forces in range in case we need them." Kylo began as he proceeded to walk into his ship with Phasma by his side.
"Yes sir but there's just one question I have," Kylo halted himself and slowly turned towards the trooper. "what are you going to be doing from now on?"
"Looking for this Tatsumi and the Imperial Capital, if what that old fool said was helpful, it will hopefully lead me to the two girls I'm looking for." Feeling satisfied with his answer, the trooper headed back to his transport without any further questions, stopping only to give a small hand-signal and soon after, two Flametroopers came pouring out of the ship and immediately began setting the area aflame, making this the last beautiful sight that Kylo saw before his ship took off. As soon as the deep forests became miniature from the view they were at, Phasma turned towards her commanding officer.
"Sir, before we fired upon the villagers, I spotted a wom-"
"I saw her too." Ren began, his attention not at all leaving the cockpit. "I left her alone because I wanted her to get the message."
"Sounds like a big risk to me, what was your message?"
"I wanted her to see that the First Order was not one to be trifled with." Back near the village, as it was described, a blonde woman was just barely peeking her head out from behind one of the far off trees, her face showing a great deal of fear and anger as the last transport made its way upward into the sky.
"Just who the hell are they?" She thought to herself. "They don't look like the Empire but... they certainly aren't friendly. This is bad, I better warn Najenda and the others because if they're heading where I think they're heading, we're not surviving this one." Stopping only to take one final glance at the destroyed village, the woman then began to make haste back in the opposite direction with the hope that she could at the very least warn her friends about this new threat before it's too late.
And that was the first chapter of this little story which was originally published on January 2 in 2016 after I saw The Force Awakens about 4 times and was watching Akame ga Kill's English dub as it aired on Toonami. The idea came about when I started thinking about the two series and wound up making connections between the two. Admittedly the connections were stretches at best and in a lot of cases were stuff like character archetypes, small bits of plot skeleton and really that's about it but I still noticed it. In particular I noticed a lot of similarities between how the story of Tatsumi plays out and the Skywalkers. There's also the fact that it was a story about a small rebellion battling an empire (Which is also referred to as just the Empire) that was once thought to be a force for good, there are villains like Esdeath and Budo who have hints of the franchise's villains and also there's just how both series basically take many cues from classic adventure and action stories and plays with them in ways to make them unique and so I felt like they'd be good to mash together... but I didn't want to do a standard mash-up.
Usually, the way the average crossover is set-up is that they focus more on the fanservice and just how cool the idea of putting two series together is and while I certainly had my ideas for fanservice and thought the idea was cool? I shot for more. I wanted to do a story that put both series together but did so in a way that at least attempted to feel as natural as possible. Now originally, the plan was to use the OT characters... but the plan I put the kibosh on once I realized that the kind of story I wanted to tell required someone less experienced, someone who's more emotional. Thus I settled on the ST which I was loving because of TFA and I also thought that since at that time this new era only had only the one film that it'd give me room to experiment and basically create my own Episode VIII... that just so happened to be a crossover.
And with this first chapter, I had to right away show that I was serious about making a good crossover and with it being Star Wars? I decided that having opening crawl text would be the best first step since it's not something you see too often and when paired up with the intro that sets up the tone right off the bat through action? It would instantly let people know it's Star Wars but that it's also somewhat different thanks to being mashed up with AGK thus every bit of the violence that occurs while on Earth has a more visceral and brutal quality to it. It also helped to show that this Kylo had changed since TFA in that he's more dangerous while still possessing issues with his emotions and some hints of conflict which worked really well since AGK's empire was shown to be pretty unhinged much like how I feel the First Order would be under the command of a maniac like Kylo Ren which worked a lot better versus if it was set up with OT characters since Vader and his forces were pretty calm and collected by comparison and carried out tasks swiftly and with diligence.
And by making it Tatsumi's village that was attacked? It helps to show that this story would be pretty grim and it allows for some good potential emotional scenes later on down the line with Tatsumi. Also since it's deliberately referencing TFA? It helps to sell that the ST is what I'm using. With that said? I hope you all have enjoyed this chapter.
(Night Raid Base)
Despite the success of the previous mission, things were definitely not as pleasant as they were for the assassin group known as Night Raid who were currently huddled around a table in their meeting room, desperately trying to figure out what their next plan of action would be after two unfortunate tragedies hit them which resulted in the loss of two of their best members and no one was taking this as hard as the brown-haired boy who had his head slightly propped up by his hand as his gaze was locked on the very noticeable empty areas with one in particular being most notable as it was the spot of the one he called "bro", the lovably flamboyant Bulat.
Every time he stared at that spot, it used to serve as a wonderful reminder of the friendship and camaraderie he shared with some of his greatest friends but now, it only reminded him of what he felt to be his greatest failure and he would continue to think this no matter how many times people tried to comfort him. In his eyes, he was the one who should've manned up and tried to deflect those blows from Liver but he couldn't and as a result, he just had to stand and watch as his friend suffered through a slow painful death with there being nothing he could do to stop it.
Thinking back to it, all that came to that boy's mind was just how much the grief and pain overwhelmed him, to the point where on that day, he cried far more than any person at his age should. He cried for so long that it got to the point where his tear-ducts felt shriveled and crusty. Even though Bulat went out peacefully and even though he got his revenge on at least one of the Three Beasts, there was just nothing that he could do to patch that empty feeling in his heart and from the looks of it, everyone else has been feeling the exact same way since despite the intention of the whole gathering, every member has been dead silent with the exception of the occasional suggestion and low murmurs but even then, there were just some members who just didn't even talk, thus making this out to be one of the slowest, most depressing meetings of all time.
After a few more minutes of staring out of what felt like hours on end, the boy finally shifted his gaze away from the seat and towards his gloves where he saw the faint, dark red stain of dried blood still present on the fingertips and knuckles from when he knocked that one blonde kid straight into the wall of the ship him and Bulat were on. It was this little piece, this tiny portion of shriveled up bodily fluid had now begun a new life as the only form of relief he could get since through a small glance, he knew that he had made sure his friend didn't die in vain.
"Tatsumi? Tatsumi!" Stunned, the boy quickly jerked his head upward to see the source of the voice, the pink-haired sniper Mine, staring at him with crossed arms. "This is no time to be dozing off, especially when we have major issues to discuss." Realizing that he had been out for well-over three minutes now, the assassin immediately began to tighten his fist and mentally curse himself for getting this basic feature.
"Sorry Mine," He began. "I just have a lot on my mind at the moment."
"What is there to be thinking about?" The pinkette asked. "We did tell you after all that either one of us could die at any time." Every time this was mentioned, Tatsumi always had to hold back the urge to scream and yell at his teammates since in his eyes, he didn't see death as just something he could move on from, especially after he had to see his best friends in the horrible state they were in. What was the major kicker this time? The fact that Mine was saying it, the sniper who already had gone through a great deal of grief after she witnessed her own best friend being murdered and yet here she was, already scolding him for even daring to show emotion. Granted, this was something that Akame made him aware of during that one moment she broke down, that all assassins functioning under Night Raid should not and could not continue to dwell on the past in any way since apparently, it was a massive weakness for them on the battlefield but regardless, the boy still couldn't find much merit in the whole thing. But considering the amount of people that were counting on them to finish off the Empire, he did realize that there would have to come a point where he moved on and continued with the fight. It still didn't hurt any less though.
"I know." Tatsumi replied, there being zero attempt to hide the sadness in his voice.
"Honestly, you should be more focused on the mission at hand, we can't just sit around and mope for the rest of our lives." At that moment, Tatsumi just let out another sigh and remained silent but not out of sadness but rather, it was because he could feel the rage beginning to boil in his heart. No matter how many times they said this, no matter how many times the point was explained to him... he just hated that statement. ZERO time was left for him to grieve for Sheele, the same went for Bulat and yet they had the gall to say that he should essentially just forget about them. At that moment, the boy was tempted to reach out across the table, grip the sniper by the shoulders and proceed to shake and scream at her face about how heartless she was but due to his better judgment, he kept quiet and instead just gave his partner an attentive nod before turning towards the rest of the conversation.
"So, does anyone have a single idea on what to do?" Tatsumi asked, breaking the silence and trying to take his mind off of it.
"Negative," The green-haired Lubbock began. "so far we've had a few passing thoughts but nothing really solid. With the Jaegers hunting for us combined with both the new Danger Beasts roaming around and our lack of teammates, there is just so much to consider and yet so little time."
"Well, what have you been considering?" The boy questioned, his head perking up slightly. In response, the eyepatch wearing Najenda just took a puff of her cigarette before proceeding to speak.
"Originally our first thought was to possibly try and ransack the Capital while the Jaegers were occupied with a mission... but knowing Esdeath, she probably would be a few steps ahead. Then we thought that maybe we should just stay back and regroup with the Revolutionary Army but their forces are already stretched so thin." Hearing this, Tatsumi couldn't help but feel his heart sink a bit at the thought that for a group as direct, controlled and on top as Night Raid, they had absolutely no idea what to do. A few seconds later, as if she had read his mind, Najenda immediately continued on all while taking another puff of her cigarette.
"I'm sorry Tatsumi, we just have nothing to go off of right now." In response, the boy's face changed into that of a small scowl.
"So is that it?" He began, his tone presenting a slight hint of rage.
"Relax Tatsumi," Mine began as she set one calming hand on his shoulder. "we're doing the best we can, fighting a war takes hard work you know."
"Tatsumi," Immediately the two turned towards the redhead Chelsea, who was sitting at the edge of the table with toothpick in hand slightly prodding at her gums. "the only reason you're being this way is due to the deaths of your teammates and I understand that but right now, we need you as calm and cool as can be."
"Or in other words, just shut up about it and pretend my friends were complete failures?" Tatsumi responded with a cold voice, causing dead silence to fill the room with the exception of Najenda.
"No." He began right as he jerked his hand up. "I'm sorry commander but I have not forgotten about them, I'm still reeling and hurting."
"We feel the same way," Mine responded, her hand still lightly rubbing Tatsumi's lower back. "it's why we're continuing the fight, we'll find time to mourn lat-"
"WRONG!" Tatsumi shouted. "You're only saying that because it makes you look human! You won't bother to grieve about any of your friends! Why is that?! Is it that the killing has just finally destroyed your human side?!" Standing up, Chelsea gave the boy a harsh glare.
"We're only concerned for you, we don't want to lose anym-"
"BULLSHIT!" He growled. "You don't care about that! You said it yourself, 'any of us could die at anytime.', meaning that I shouldn't get attached well I'm sorry that I'm an actual HUMAN with real emotions and is not afraid to put them out on display! Unlike you Chelsea, who just looks back on them like they're trash!"
"Take a seat, Tatsumi." Najenda said with a stern tone, her hand pointing towards the empty seat. Ignoring her, the boy just slammed his arm down on the table.
"Or how about you Mine, you show emotion one moment and then you want to just focus on the mission?! Tell me, do you think Sheele would've wanted that?!" At that point, Tatsumi froze once he saw Mine's face shift into that of pure shock which finally allowed him to snap out of it and take in what he just said.
"Take a seat Tatsumi." Najenda commanded to which the boy just gave a solemn nod and sat down with Mine staring at him with eyes filled with a mixture of sadness and anger. From the other corner of the room, one of the members, the beautiful crimson-eyed Akame, was watching the Tatsumi with eyes full of concern. It was clear that despite his training, he still hadn't gained complete control over his emotions and was clearly harboring some form of resentment towards the team. Most likely it was ever since Bulat gave him that punch back when Sheele died. In that moment, never before had Akame seen someone so rage-filled and so depressed all at the same time. Hell, even when he was comforting her, she could tell that something was off about his heart, it was clear of course that he loved his teammates and was just feeling a natural emotion the first time but with Bulat's death, now the feeling was back and was much more prominent. One moment, she remembered being woken from her slumber by the sound of flesh being ripped apart and when she went out to look, she saw Tatsumi with pure rage in his eyes, aggressively hacking away at a Danger Beast and not only that but she felt his aura and it definitely wasn't that of a heroic soul but rather, one of a possible murderer.
With that in mind, the assassin let out a sigh as she continued to watch the boy, being able to relate to his troubles since she herself wasn't exactly the most pleasant as of late. For some reason, she has been feeling on edge for the past few hours now, feeling a similar type of chill to the one she had when the executioner Zanku gave her that vision of Kurome and yet this feeling was far more... unsettling, dark and mysterious, it was as if a long missing piece of her past suddenly decided to reveal itself and considering the last clear memory she had before she was sold to the army was of a calm but gruff male voice speaking to her, she knew that there were definitely still some parts to uncover.
"Don't worry, you'll be alright. Just remember to always strike first before the enemy ever has a chance to." This was the one line she could remember and if her guess was correct, it was of her father but since then, the memory has been very fuzzy. Hell, the Capital didn't even bother to give her a full name and always used just her first and when combined with her complete lack of knowledge regarding her parents, this was always something she wanted to look into and judging by this dark feeling in the pit of her stomach, she realized that she might not have wanted to. Finally, after a few more seconds of silence had passed, it was broken by the sound of a door flying open, revealing an out of breath but nevertheless very frightened Leone.
"Something went wrong at one of the villages!" She began. "They were all slaughtered!" His face still lowered, Najenda took that moment to answer the call.
"We need more detail than that." She began right as she lit another cigarette. "Which village did the Empire hit?"
"It wasn't the Empire ma'am..." Leone responded with a low voice. "and as for the village they hit, they... they..." Despite the horrible feeling that was slowly raising, the boy immediately stood up and looked towards the scout, hoping that his fears weren't going to be confirmed.
"Where did they hit? W-what happened?" Tatsumi asked, his voice slightly shaking. Taking a moment to take in a deep breath, Tatsumi watched as a single rage-filled tear dropped from her face right as she finished up.
"they hit... your village Tatsumi."
(First Order Cruiser)
Gazing out onto this new planet through the cockpit, the Dark Lord Kylo Ren was overall finding it very fascinating how despite the distance they were from this galaxy, the similarities between it and the various planets he traveled to was quite alarming. From the looks of it both in person and in map form, it practically had everything that previous planets had from the arid deserts of Jakku and Tatooine to the forests of Endor, it was all very strange to see... as well as a painful reminder when he saw the snow which served only to add more fuel to the flaming anger in his heart.
Even though it had been months upon months since then, Ren still could not fathom how one defected trooper just set the events in motion that crippled his army to an insane degree and how he possibly aided in the revival of the Jedi Order, an order that his grandfather had worked SO hard to keep a distant memory and yet here they were now, making a comeback possibly as if not MORE grand than the First Order and he just knew that once that desert girl got Luke back into the fray, everything would just come crashing down in a burning heap which would bring Snoke back to square one.
Taking a moment, the Dark Lord looked down at his fist and began to recall what that old man had said to him a little while earlier.
"I'm sure Tatsumi has gotten far stronger with how many beasts he has killed along with the training he received in the Imperial Army, your troops will be no match for him." At that point, Ren couldn't help but honestly smirk at that thought. The boy was possibly going to prove to be a match for him sure but it was just that confidence that baffled him. Just the sheer amount of ignorance that was being shown to a group like his that has taken several planets in its time as the Galactic Empire and yet, he believed just one boy was going to bring that down? Granted, FN-2187 did something similar by crippling the group but even he knew that it was going to take MORE than just a weapon going down for the First Order to truthfully go away and yet this old fool believed that this "Tatsumi" was going to actually beat them in one fell swoop?
"Oh I'm sure he will." Ren mentally responded. "Though if this boy is possibly connected to the dark energy I'm sensing, he'll probably be of more use to us than this empire." A few seconds later, he was shaken from his thoughts from the sound of the pilot's voice.
"Sir, there's a palace nearby, should we stay the course or touch down here?" The moment that order was given out, Kylo then began to feel something massive in the Force, something that was very... large in power, as if the people inside the building were actually practicing something similar to him. Realizing he could possibly do something with this, Ren turned towards the trooper and lightly set his hand on the seat.
"Land, I feel this palace may be of some worth to us."
"Yes sir." The pilot responded with a salute which gave Kylo his cue to begin walking towards the deployment hatch with Phasma following him just a few seconds after he gave her a small hand-signal.
"Why are we stopping?" The captain questioned.
"I sensed something, it's somewhat faint but from what I can tell, some of the occupants inside may have some form of Force-sensitivity."
"I doubt it," Phasma began. "you said it yourself a little while before we attacked the village that the only presence you felt were the two girls."
"True but that was before we came across this place. All of them are weak but with proper training, they may prove to be worthwhile."
"In what way exactly?" Right as the ship began to lower, Ren turned towards the captain and despite the two of them wearing masks, Phasma somehow was able to tell that Ren most likely had a stern, serious look under that mask when he said this.
"I was just thinking that the First Order needed some more muscle. Once they're trained and brought aboard the Finalizer, you are to load them on transports which will be shipped back to the Supreme Leader got it?" Phasma nodded in agreement. At that moment, the doors dropped down, revealing two soldiers with spears outstretched, running towards the ship which gave Kylo a small little flashback to how he and his troops ransacked that loathsome Hutt's palace and had to contend with a few remaining Gamorreans who just so happened to be defending the place at the time.
"Halt!" The soldiers demanded right as the Dark Lord walked out, stopping only to signal to Phasma to not raise her weapon. "That's as far as you'll go without Bolic's permission."
"Is that so?" Kylo began as he crossed his arms. "I take it Bolic is your commanding officer?" The soldiers nodded.
"Exactly, and he isn't seeing anyone today so please for your sake, I'd recommend leaving." One soldier said with a stern voice. At that moment, Kylo Ren looked directly into the man's eyes and lowered his hands just enough to where his fingers were just lightly grazing his weapon.
"I believe you should watch your tone, you do not know what harm the Dark Side will bring to you so I recommend you to just let us pass." In response, the guards just paused for a moment before proceeding to continue on with a voice that had a slight mocking demeanor to it.
"We understand but sorry, there is no 'Dark Side'." As the guard was speaking, Kylo was lightly gripping his saber hilt, anxious for his next move. "Look pal, I'd recommend if you'd just le-" Suddenly, Ren pulled the saber from his hip, ignited it and slashed upward, the red blade cutting through the man's stomach, chest and neck all in one simple, brutal motion. His senses kicking in, the partner immediately rushed towards Ren only to then be launched backward as a shot came crashing into his head. Looking around to see if there was anymore, Ren calmly turned the weapon off and began to walk forward with Phasma and her troops following suit soon after she blew out her smoking blaster.
"That went well." Ren said as he walked through the doors.
"No offense sir but that was a little reckless." Phasma responded as she began to look around the room which was covered in various reds and oranges.
"Only if they were Jedi would I not have been so direct in my approach, however, they were nothing but foolish humans." Soon after a few more minutes had passed, the two had made it into what appeared to be a throne room of some kind that was anything but populated with it being so quiet that one possibly would've heard crickets. In the seat far in front of Ren sat what appeared to be a fairly young man with a brown beard, looking smug as ever with his grin, presumably due to the position of power he carried... however, that wasn't what initially caught his attention. No, what instead did were the sheer amount of scantily clad women that were present on his lap and around the seat with their gazes being that of pure stupid lust, a sight that disgusted Phasma and interested the Dark Lord.
"Reminds me of the old prostitution ring the Hutts used to run. No matter, as long as they prove themselves to be of use, I'll be just fine." He thought to himself as he stared at the display in front.
"Well, well..." The man began. "I see a stranger, albeit uninvited, has taken interest in what I do. Speaking of which, how did you get in here? I was sure the guards would've taken care of you."
"Your guards were not exactly the most... prepared to deal with someone like me." Ren responded, giving the man the hint about how easily they fell which actually seemed to interest him with the way he just scratched his chin afterward.
"I see, so what brings you here stranger? Do you have a name?" In response, the Dark Lord nodded.
"My apologies for forgetting the formalities... Bolic I believe, I am Kylo Ren, one of the heads of the First Order, an organization that has been operating far beyond the reaches of your planet's galaxy."
"Oh I see, you're... spacemen? Now isn't that an odd thought?" The man said with a light, mocking chuckle, clearly not intimidated by Ren's low sinister tone. Ignoring it, the Dark Lord just continued.
"We've been currently locked in a vicious civil war with a group of rebels and recently, I believe to have sensed the presence of two girls who I believe to be strong in the Force and related to my bloodline."
"And you want my help to track them?" Bolic asked to which Ren nodded.
"Actually, it's a bit more complex than that, we just need access to all of your strongest warriors and if you can provide that, I can assure you that no harm will come your way."
"I see," Bolic began with a chuckle as he proceeded to lean in slightly. "and what if I refuse?" In response, Kylo's voice lowered until it was that of a sinister growl.
"I don't think you'd want to find out."
"What's that? Did someone just threaten me?"
"Think of it as more of a friendly warning." In response, the man just started cracking up with Ren and Phasma just patiently watching as he laughed for a whole minute before soon regaining his composure enough to give a small hand-signal which caused four figures to start emerging from the shadows.
"Now this is rich. Not only do I get news from spacemen that they have taken out my guards but now, you fools want to threaten me?"
"You don't know the power of our forces so I'd recommend for you to hold your tongue." Phasma called out with the sound of the feminine voice clearly appealing to Bolic.
"I see you have brought me a nice shining present spaceman, maybe when I finish wiping your corpse off the floor I can... unwrap it later." The tension rose once the group of four then started lowering their cloaks, revealing the faces of a large bearded male, a tan blonde female, a black haired female and a tall man with white hair. Saying nothing, Ren looked around at his surroundings and examined his opponents for a good few minutes. Afterwords, he then began to calmly turn towards Phasma who gave him a nod that signaled to him that she was ready. After a little while, Ren then turned towards Bolic who gave his final word.
"So what are you going to do now spaceman?" The Dark Lord just stared up at him, his expression behind the mask still keeping that same stern serious look until a few seconds later where he just gave a small smirk.
"This." Ren said with just a hint of cockiness. Suddenly, a few seconds later, the man thrust his arm forward and in just a few seconds, the group of four was thrown back into a nearby wall, the force of which caused the backing to crack under pressure. Angered and shocked by this, Bolic was just about to try and sit up and run when he suddenly felt as his windpipe shut tightly and his body slowly levitating into the air with the only person he had to gaze at being the disturbingly calm Dark Lord. Almost immediately, the group of four who were thrown back let out a collective gasp at the sight.
"Impossible," The big bearded man thought. "even if it was an Imperial Arms, there have been no known records of one that had quite the abilities like this. Just who is this one?" What felt several straight hours had passed with Bolic still being held up in the air, trying desperately to keep what little oxygen he had left but to no avail. He couldn't tell exactly what it was but somehow, despite him not laying a single finger on his throat, the Dark Lord's grip was almost as tight as what he imagined being crushed under Esdeath's foot to be and maybe even more.
"Look at you," He began. "such bravado was being spouted a moment ago and yet like everyone else who has had to face this hold, it has degenerated into hacking fits, showcasing just how unmatched you truthfully are." Immediately, Bolic's reflexes told him to let out a remark of his own but instead, he ended up spitting out a bit of blood in the short split-second he opened his mouth which caused him to then keep it shut. After a little while longer, Ren looked towards Phasma who despite the helmet, he could tell she was eyeing the man with such an intense fury that not even his own anger could compare to. Taking note of this reaction, Ren slowly turned his gaze back to the man suspended in the air and in just a few seconds, he let out one final chilling word.
"Begone." At that moment, Bolic's eyes immediately widened right as the grip tightened and in just a few seconds, his neck went out with one sickening "CRACK!", inciting a loud gasp from every follower he had. A few seconds later, Ren simply loosened his grip and let the body drop and the moment it did, two Stormtroopers came rushing out and grabbed the corpse each by one arm before proceeding to drag it off, a sight that snapped the group out of their shock and sent them into a mad fury.
"That's enough!" The bearded man called out right before he began to charge towards the Dark Lord who just continued to stand there, his posture still showing him as being calm and collected. In a move that matched the pose, Ren simply pointed towards the man and before the bearded one could realize it, a trooper with what appeared to be a cracked chest and what looked to be some cybernetic work underneath came rushing out with a stun baton in hand and in a few seconds, what started as a growl of fury soon became a groan of pain when he felt that weapon go straight in-between his legs, a motion so brutal that it sent him to his knees. Afterward, the rest of the group was ready to fight back when the girl stopped them, the look on her face clearly telling them that this was a fight they couldn't win. Soon after, the trooper turned towards Ren.
"Requesting permission to set an example sir." He said, his voice dripping with loyalty and hatred.
"You may proceed." responded Kylo who saw the great potential in this one act alone. At that point, the man had regained his strength and was ready to fight but when he went to stand, it felt as though his entire body was being pushed back by some unexplained force, almost in a fashion that reminded him of his training. Of course, he didn't have time to ponder over this when the first stun baton hit came crashing into his face, sending blood and teeth across the floor in a matter of seconds. Then this brutal strike was followed up by a quick knee to the stomach and despite his hard muscles, that was where the trooper used his armor to his advantage and with the hardened material of whatever that was on the knee-pad, he could feel his insides being shaken a small amount. Then, the trooper gave him a brutal strike to the arm and the force was so heavy and hard there that he heard the bone cave with a loud "CRACK!".
And it was at that point that the man finally screamed. Despite this single trooper being tiny and average in build compared to him, the way his maneuvers were conducted very much implied that he has most likely handled guys like him in the past but considering how brutal the beating was, there was no way that he was going to be focusing on that as the pain was still so severe. With the Force still flowing through him, Kylo then took his chance and began to walk towards the bearded face and at that moment, the man's head was jerked upward so that his gaze could be locked with Kylo's. The Dark Lord just stared at him, complete silence with not even a small sound to be heard aside from the bashing of the baton into his skin along with the low hum of what he assumed to be energy. Finally, after what felt like an hour but was in reality just a minute, Ren spoke with a cool tone that sent shivers down his spine.
"Your men are now working under the First Order," He began. "and you already betrayed us with your little stunt. However, I will give you one more chance for redemption. If you bow to us, you'll be given top treatment by my troopers and I will continue your training further. If you refuse us..." As he was continuing on, Ren had been slowly drawing his saber from his hip and had it in his hand soon before he finished up but once he did, he immediately ignited the red blade right when it was just inches away from the bearded man's head, the sheer heat of the energy causing him to sweat.
"The only punishment is death. I hope you'll choose wisely." At that moment, the bearded man looked up at Ren who just kept his gaze locked on him as a female voice sounded off.
"FN-2199, return to your post, you did well enough." After giving a quick salute, the trooper went to walking back as he was told, leaving Ren out there with saber still firmly in his grasp. The bearded man then slowly began to shift his gaze between Ren and his own group, his face showing clear conflict in the way his brow wrinkled and tensed up. Of course, he was wanting to support Bolic and knew that if he wasn't being held down, he could've and WOULD'VE tried to rip the man apart by now. But with how both his commander was just murdered with the blink of an eye and how he was brought to his knees by such a well-planned strike, he just didn't know how to respond and just continued to juggle his options. After a little bit more thought though, he remembered what he was taught in training which allowed him to give his final answer.
"I would rather die by my own hand than to be controlled by y-" Before he could even finish his sentence, Ren had already jerked the saber to the side, the blade going through the neck muscle, tissue and bone like it was butter. At that moment, Ren continued to hold him down, presumably so that the man's face of pure anguish, the still frame of his final moments of life could really sink in for everyone which it did since he saw that even the whores who were up with Bolic moments earlier had began backing away out of fear with their faces looking twisted with agony as if they had felt the man's pain themselves. After a little while longer, Ren began to make his way to the throne, letting his grasp on the body loosen completely where it then flopped forward with the severed head just simply rolling off onto the ground, a sight that caused some to faint, some to immediately hold their hands up to their mouths in a desperate attempt to hold back the urge to hurl and finally, some just stood there staring and quaking with fear at the sight of just how merciless the Dark Lord was. After a few moments had passed, the lord sat down in his mighty new throne and looked out among his followers who had immediately straightened up their postures as did the women with the only ones who didn't being the other three teammates of the one he executed. Not wanting them to think of even daring to fight, the Dark Lord knew exactly at that moment what he would say and turned back towards his followers right as he stood up.
"Let that be an example," He began coolly. "an example of what exactly happens to insubordination, an example of what happens when just one of you steps the slightest bit out of line! Let this be an example of exactly why you will not dare to challenge me if you value your life! Your commander may have built the foundation upon which you stand but that does not make him strong. The only reason I feel he did that was so he could bask in the glory for as long as his lies rang true for everyone present in this room since without them, he was a shallow, pitiful fool who was completely inept in everything he did! Instead of molding soldiers, he molded playthings, he traded strength for sexual conduct, instead of choosing to use that seed to form the blueprints for successors, he WASTED it on cheap thrills exactly like the weak-minded fool he was! It is for this reason why I came here since with the assistance of the First Order for as long as they stand upon this Earth, we will remove ALL who oppose peace to the galaxy and will send a reminder, a reminder that this will be the very last day disorder is allowed on any planet, on ANY star system! Through our assistance and guidance, the galaxy will kneel before us like the rightful masters we are! There is no such thing as failure, only DEATH! So if you support the cause, yell this from the highest mountain, scream it out in the middle of a street, let everyone in this cesspool know that we are the First Order! And that we will not rest until all disorder is wiped from the entire galaxy! Those who support the cause now raise your hands to our dictation or fall to my blade!" Soon after giving that speech, the Dark Lord immediately began to let out a few quick breaths since unlike Hux, he never quite had the voice for giving a rousing speech like he did. Though much to his surprise, it definitely worked as everyone, including the trio who initially refused his rule raised their fist in the exact same manner as Phasma and his troopers did which signified that he finally had done what he had came here for. Seeing as how everyone was now waiting for what he would say next, Kylo simply took a few moments to bask in the glory before proceeding to sit down, ready to give his next commands.
"No..." Was all Tatsumi could let out once his gaze set upon the burning heap that was his village. Taking a moment to look back towards his comrades, he watched as the sorrowful Leone just gave him a quick hand-signal for him to go on which after a moment of hesitating and shaking, he did so. Every step he took through the burnt wreckage he felt was slowly killing any happiness or hope he had inside of him. His family home, blackened piles of broken wood and stone. His friends, fresh corpses with some still continuing to bleed long after the whole sequence had ended and finally, he came across the major kicker.
The elder, the one who gave him that charm and saw him off on his journey, was now nothing but a lifeless corpse, his face still showcasing his last moments before death in a frightening freeze-frame along with the burning hole in his throat which had a mixture of both fresh and dried blood still present. Feeling his emotions take over, the boy slowly dropped to his knees and began to lean in to touch the elder, only to shudder when he saw the body convulse right as a bit of fresh blood came launching from the wound onto his hand which caused his eyes to widen with fear and sadness.
"W-who d-d-did you say this was?" Tatsumi asked with a shaking voice as his arms continued to wrap around the corpse. After taking a deep, deep breath, Leone and Akame came walking up with the former being the one to speak.
"The visuals were a bit fuzzy but are you sure you want to kn-"
"JUST TELL ME PLEASE!" Tatsumi screamed, his face now full of tears and anguish, a sight that admittedly nearly brought the hardened warrior to tears herself. After taking another deep breath and giving it some thought, the scout finally gave him the piece of information.
"It was a group clad in white," She began with a low serious tone. "they called themselves the First Order."
"Who were they led by?" Tatsumi questioned. "Was it Esdeath? Honest? Anyone we know?" To all three, the blonde simply shook her head.
"They were not affiliated with the Empire in the slightest, they seemed to specifically operate under someone named Kylo Ren." Stopping her searching, the black-haired assassin suddenly froze in place with her mind quickly being flooded with several memories and faces she never recognized along with several voices that clearly belonged to a larger sentence beforehand.
"can't let him get to them..."
"-on't say that..."
Voices like this continued on for several more seconds before they suddenly stopped, leaving her mind completely blank. When she looked around, she saw she wasn't at the wreckage anymore but rather, a dark empty room with little-to-no detail or color with dead silence being evident throughout. After what felt like an hour or so, she was shocked by the sound of a familiar voice.
"Akame?" Recognizing that commanding tone as being that of Najenda, Akame immediately began to look for the source.
"Najenda?" She called out, only to get no response. Immediately, the assassin began to run down the dark room towards what she thought was the source of the voice for what felt like several hours, during which more voices started springing up with some of their phrases being complete but for the most part, it was the same.
"I will not allow you to send her away!"
"...for her own good."
"...Dark Side can't reach..."
Feeling like she was falling more and more into insanity, Akame just kept running in the same direction in the hopes that this would end. Finally, her vision was greeted by what appeared to be her commanding officer, looking rather blurry in the distance.
"Najenda!" She called out with relief right as she began to pick up the pace. As the face's detail began to show more and more, the assassin found herself being rather uneasy about just how... fearful Najenda looked. In fact, it looked as though she had seen a childhood fear that she never had gotten over and the voice matched this since when she started calling out again, it was a clear warning.
"TURN BACK! TURN BACK!" Confused, Akame just continued to run towards her commander. What could she possibly want her to run away from that has struck fear even into someone like her? Seeing her comrade still continuing on, the commander's voice began to become more hoarse and frightened.
"TURN AWAY AKAME! IT'S NOT SAFE!" Still refusing, the assassin continued on despite the growing pit in her stomach.
"TURN AROUND!" At that moment, Akame quickly began to rub her eyes when she thought she saw a cloaked shadow.
"TURN NOW!" A few seconds later, the assassin watched as the shadow soon became that of a man unlike anything she had ever seen with his sleek but scarred helmet and hooded appearance that gave him a presence like no other.
"Najenda behind you!" She called out.
"HE WA-" Before she could get the words out, Akame watched as the figure roughly gripped her commander by the shoulder right as a burning red, unstable looking blade came suddenly springing through her chest which caused her to let out a single continuous frightening scream. A scream that immediately caught the attention of Tatsumi and Leone who watched as their comrade continued to yell out with fright before proceeding to quickly lose consciousness which began her descent towards the ground. Their instincts kicking in, the two rushed to grab the assassin and thankfully managed to catch her just before her body made contact with the snow.
"What the hell got into her?!" Tatsumi called out, his voice still strained from crying.
"I don't know!" Leone frantically responded. "She was fine a moment ago!" Trying to think of a solution, Tatsumi looked around at his surroundings which gave him a thought and one that was not very uncommon.
"This place must be getting to her, we have to move back as soon as we can!" Nodding in approval, the two of them each began to lift Akame from one side with Tatsumi being the only one slightly struggling. Once they got the girl suspended in the air, the two then proceeded to carry her body back towards the base for inspection. As they continued on, Tatsumi took a moment to take one last look at his family home, finally coming to the realization that his old life is gone. After letting out a single tear, the boy then turned towards the front of him right as the burning fury in his heart which gave birth to one final thought.
"Kylo Ren, you're a dead man..."
And with that? The second chapter is now finished and in this one, there was a lot I did so like with the first chapter? I'm basically going to go through a bit of my process for this almost like a sort of director's commentary. So with that said? Here we go.
I knew with the second chapter I wanted to start off with the AGK characters for two reasons. The first is because in this crossover I wanted to have a decently fast pace and when considering that I am someone who doesn't do deadlines? I wanted every chapter to at least make the audience feel like something important was happening and also? I wanted to take the opportunity to fix an issue I personally had with the anime when it came to Tatsumi and his characterization. To put it simply? Tatsumi is the most boring part of AGK. When compared to the wide variety of unique and solid characters around him? He really just comes off as a boring doormat whose purpose seems to be built around showing us the world and that's basically it and where it really shows is how he interacts with his teammates and when considering the stuff that happens to him? I personally couldn't help but raise an eyebrow in response to some of his actions, especially when it comes to his reactions to character deaths and more specifically? The reactions to the deaths of Sheele and Bulat.
For example, after Sheele dies and Mine comes back to bring the bad news? Tatsumi is furious which is to be expected and he starts talking about how he was going to take revenge for Sheele. In response? Bulat punches Tatsumi in the face and screams at him about how he knew full well what the risks were when he was brought into Night Raid and that they told him that any member could die at any time... except the thing is, he was somewhat forced to join and that was after he found the dead bodies of his two friends from the village and also he's still just a teenager and yet the punch happens and afterwards? He just kind of accepts this fact until Bulat dies and then during a meeting after I believe another death, Tatsumi eventually speaks out against Najenda, asking basically if she only saw the members as a means to an end to which Leone tells him basically to back off and he does and sort of instantly understands the issue.
That was always a bother because to me? Tatsumi I felt should've had more of a reaction and maybe even a bit of a rebellious streak because the thing is? You can't just expect some teen to be able to suppress their emotions overnight and when considering how he sees that the Empire is pretty well organized and that teammates are decently respectful to one another despite the terrible acts they commit? It really boggled my mind why he didn't have at least a little bit of doubt in his mind so in this chapter? I felt it was appropriate to make Tatsumi more argumentative in a way that hopefully doesn't make him completely unlikable.
Moving on, afterwards we have the stuff with Kylo and Bolic and mainly this was done to narrow down the cast and also get some more characters for supporting roles with the focus being on the more minor villains because at the time my exposure to AGK was mostly relegated to the anime and HOO BOY did I have my problems with how the Four Rakshasa Demons were basically rushed into the story because they were present in the manga... only to be unceremoniously killed off in the episode they were introduced in. Also included a cameo by FN-2199 because the "TR-8R" meme was big at the time and I had recently read Before the Awakening so I felt it'd be fun to include him.
Finally there's the bit at the end which is mainly there to tease potential future events and also it's because I really liked that hallucination from TFA and thus felt it'd be cool to have characters go through some of their own. With all that said? Hope you all enjoyed the chapter.
It was a nice wonderful morning outside. Birds were chirping their happy little songs, the grass was a bright healthy green with the colors of various flowers perfectly complimenting them, the blue skies were almost a marvel with how calm and serene they were with the slow moving clouds that were beautifully hovering over the landscape and finally, there were the small little creatures such as butterflies and bees that hovered around the various tulips and roses among other various different flower types, while happily collecting pollen with every landing they made. Peaceful sights like this were a rarity among the capital and often times, civilians paid no mind to it since they were still left utterly horrified at the sight of the rotting corpses that were hanging from the walls. With that in mind, beautiful sights like this were often cherished by many of those who couldn't help but crack a small smile, even during the darkest of times.
However, a certain ice queen wasn't exactly feeling the love and was instead staring out her window with a face full of sadness and want.
"Tatsumi..." Esdeath began with a low voice. "why did you have to leave us?" It had been quite awhile now since she had last been with the boy on that small island and even longer since he initially joined up with the Jaegers. For someone as impossibly beautiful and psychotic as Esdeath with her voluptuous figure, lust for power and disregard for human life, someone as innocent and caring as Tatsumi was the last person anyone expected her to want. To any sensible person in fact, one would naturally expect maybe a stronger, more ruthless sort of dictator to be the target of her affection and yet somehow, it was Tatsumi who stole her heart regardless of if he liked it or not.
Giving it a little thought, Esdeath could recall that day as vividly as if it was yesterday. She held a tournament in order to look for new members for her little group of killers to challenge Night Raid and she remembered seeing him come on stage right then and there with a face full of determination, a long coat and green eyes that demanded attention while also being extremely innocent. Of course, given his small size, he wasn't exactly the most respected by his opponent who was almost double the size he was but for some reason, that didn't phase him in the slightest. When he went into battle, Esdeath was just completely floored by how fearless and confident he was and how through his skill and tenacity, he was able to defeat the brute with such ease and speed unlike anyone she had ever seen before and from that day forward, she knew that he was the one with everyone around her asking the exact same questions.
Why did she like him? Would there ever be another one who would catch her eye? What would happen to Tatsumi if he turned out to be a traitor? All of this and more were constantly being thrown at her since day one and despite being usually so controlled and confident, she never actually had an answer for any of this and instead just continued her pining for the boy. However, like all good things in life, it came to a screeching halt when she lost him and needless to say, that did a number on her heart, to the point where not even good torture sessions were enough to make her feel better. Nothing from a broken jaw or boot licking was ever good enough to heal the sheer amount of inner pain she felt for her loss of the boy.
After a few more seconds of staring outside, the general slowly looked down into her right open palm where in it, she held the exact collar she used to drag the boy back to the capital.
"I've murdered millions of people and tortured countless more. I've killed dragons, seen several sights that one could only dream of unseeing and most importantly, I've ignored several males who have made advances on me." She thought to herself as her grip slowly tightened around the small item, her expression remaining the same level of blueness that it always had.
"And yet in spite of all that, it was you who I was drawn to. It was you who broke down my walls. It was you who got my heart racing. It was you who got me so unbelievably tongue-tied that I couldn't even get the words out at first when I reunited with you. Now here I am again, alone and without you. Every time I catch you, I could feel the various murders that I've done slip away into the ether with feelings of passion and want acting as the replacements. You may believe in this whole cause with the Revolutionary Army but if you could just stay with me for once, I can show you love far beyond anything you could've ever dreamed of." At that point, Esdeath could've probably stayed there thinking about the boy for several days on end but as fate would have it, there was always work to be done and there would always be someone to nag you about it which came in the form of the young black-haired boy who opened the door moments later.
"General, I hope I'm not disturbing you but there i-"
"What is it Wave?" Esdeath asked coolly. After taking a moment to clear his throat and take a deep breath in response to the sudden change of demeanor, the boy continued on.
"Prime Minister Honest wants us," He began. "he said that one of the Empire's contacts, Bolic has gone quiet."
"Probably is just busy toying with his whores." The general muttered to herself at slightly too loud a volume.
"What was that m-GRK!" Before he knew it, the ice queen had already closed the space between them and wrapped her deceptively strong hands around his throat and with her colossal strength, she hoisted the young man into the air and was staring right into him with a gaze that lacked all forms of humanity.
"Nothing you should be concerned with." The general responded in a rather cold tone. "Gather the others and meet me at the entrance. Do not make me wait, got it?" Desperately trying to keep what little air there was in his lungs and his neck from snapping, the young boy could do nothing but give a small nod to the general. Thankfully, it was taken as being good enough since she then loosened her grip around his neck a few seconds later and let him drop to the floor. Without a second thought and while he was still hacking up a storm on the ground, the ice queen began to make her way down the hall with a slow but powerful walk that called for all attention to be put on her.
Rubbing his injured neck, the boy slowly got back up onto his feet, all the while staring at the commander as she made her way down that hallway but not with the look of respect like she commanded but rather, it was the look of pure shock and disbelief. When he first signed up for the capital, he, like all young guys, just saw it as a moneymaking opportunity, a chance to raise money for his village so that they may hopefully live a more prosperous, successful life and at first, it really did seem like this was the right decision.
By this point, he felt that he should've walked away the moment he saw Bols and his creepy mask and appearance since despite him turning out to be a kind, honest gentlemen, that should've been his first clue that things weren't right. Sure he had earned money and he has proven himself to be a competent fighter before like when he fought against that one armored Night Raid member... but that wasn't nearly enough to make up for the horrific atrocities that were committed by them.
He watched as innocent human beings, young, old, men and women, were being beaten and tortured for the most minor of crimes. Hell, even expressing a little concern about the methods taken seemed to at least get you a death glare which probably meant that you were on some watch-list right next to people who were TRUTHFULLY despicable if they don't just kill you right on the spot.
In fact, if there was one thing that Wave did learn from being a part of the organization, it was truthfully only one thing. Never speak out against a terrible organization... unless you have a death-wish. Though really, that wasn't the worst part about the Empire in his eyes. To him, the very worst part was just one thing, one simple element that has both disturbed and confused him.
It was the fact that almost all members, with a few exceptions, seemed to be very decent people who were unfortunately suckered in to believing this nonsense.
As he began to make his way down the halls, Wave could not stop thinking about just how normal these people truthfully were when compared to the horrific organization they were a part of. Bols was a family man who needed redemption and purpose and was unfortunately pulled into believing that all he ever would be was a killer. Seryu was a woman who genuinely believed that this was how a hero acted and that this was "true justice"... and then there was the final member, the one he never got, the one who carried so much baggage with her and was so sweet yet still so cold... and she was one that he rushed to the aid of when he heard what sounded like screaming coming from her room.
"Kurome!" With that one yell, the swordsman burst into a rapid frenzy down the hallway, his face showing clear concern all while his mind began to rotate through several different options. Once he made it to her room, the boy wasted no time and gave it a quick but rough bash with his shoulders and was immediately greeted by the sight of the swordswoman sitting straight up in bed, letting out a series of heavy breaths with an expression that made it look as though she had seen a ghost. At that moment, the swordsman just wanted to say something, anything that could make her feel better but with just that frightened look alone, he could tell that something had shaken her to the core which seemed even more apparent when he heard her low mumbles.
"I won't let you take me masked man... I won't." A few seconds later, Kurome halted herself and looked up at her comrade. Realizing that he witnessed that, the two just shared a moment of awkward silence together for a few seconds before she just stood up and pushed the boy out of the way before he could say anything.
"What just happened?" Wave asked himself, his head cocked to one side. "Usually Kurome is very cheery, almost disturbingly so and yet here, it's almost like she was tortured. How can a mere dream just do that?" A few seconds later, Wave then remembered how Honest brought up the whole thing about Bolic to him along with how fairly recently, there just seemed to be this looming sense of darkness, like a long dormant and unknown enemy was finally ready to enact some form of vengeance on them all and it did have him wondering if everyone else noticed it too.
"But now is not the time." He thought to himself right as he began to make his way down the hall. "I better hurry it up, I don't necessarily want Esdeath to have my head for this."
(Imperial Throne Room)
When Wave made his way into that grand room, he was definitely hoping that everyone had been a little late so that his absence was way less noticeable. Unfortunately, luck was definitely not in his favor since the moment he opened the door, he was greeted by a death glare from Esdeath and awkward stares by the rest.
"What did I just tell you?" asked Esdeath in a low sinister voice. At that point, Wave thought that was it, that he should just pray by that point that his death would be quick and painless because it was clear that the general was not going to have it. Thankfully, the boy did have good luck grace his being when the old but powerful prime minister made his way into the room and sat down in his seat. Though something was off about him, his usual unnerving grin was now gone and replaced with that of a concerned look.
"Good to see you all here." He began with a tone that, while definitely a bit more concerned, still seemed more frighteningly jovial. "Now I've already informed Wave about the issue but considering you're the top of the chain, I think it's best I break the news to you personally." Stopping for a moment, the old man took a long and hard breath before he continued on though from what everyone can tell, the news was definitely hard for him to express.
"A little while earlier, we've lost contact with Bolic which is not uncommon considering his... hobbies but it has now been a few hours and considering he never leaves that spot of his, we're now comfortable enough to assume that someone or something has... silenced him." A loud collective gasp was let out by every member, all except for a certain general. At that point, Esdeath knew she should've been surprised yet somehow, she knew this would happen to him some day. Bolic was not at all what she would call an honorable man. In fact, the term "mindless disgusting pig" better suited the sack of flesh more than anything. Granted, she knew of how valuable he was to the Empire and that the info he has spared has lead to many victories in the past. But she always felt that over time, the man just became nothing but a mindless little pervert who only seemed to provide an update when he wasn't sleeping around with his whores which was almost every day. Despite these opinions however, Esdeath just kept them to herself and listened on as Honest took in another breath.
"Not only that but several villages have been disappearing from the face of the planet and as far as we know, these have nothing to do with Night Raid, the Empire or any other known faction."
"What are the numbers?" The orange-haired Seryu asked as she continued to pet her weapon/friend Koro.
"We haven't been able to get an exact estimate but so far, we have made the smart guess that it's in the tens and it might be approaching the hundreds soon with a few eyewitness accounts stating that they saw a masked man with legions of pure white soldiers and supposedly 'screeching demons'." While the previous story about Bolic certainly didn't appeal to her that much, the amount of villages being wiped clean had the exact opposite effect on the general who immediately brought one hand to her chin.
"Masked man? Well this is interesting, could he possibly be connected to the dark energies?" She thought to herself, all while her subordinates continued to speak.
"What's the rate of these attacks?" The masked Bols asked.
"Again, no exact numbers can be provided but so far from what info we have, the speeds range from about a minute or two to a matter of seconds."
"That's impossible!" Wave called out. "No force we know is that strong or skilled."
"And that's why we're so concerned," Honest began. "we have honestly no idea who this group is or what exactly it is they desire but from what we can tell, it's definitely something important."
"What do you think it could be?" The swordsman asked. "Are there any guesses?" Honest brought a hand to his chin and began to ponder.
"It could be the usual. Riches, Imperial Arms, mayhem and et cetera. The point is that all we know is that they're not exactly friendly to either side since from what we can gather, members of both the Revolutionary Army AND the Empire have been caught in the crossfire."
"D-Do we have any idea o-o-on what this masked man l-looks like?" Kurome questioned, her voice shaking.
"So far no." Honest said, causing Kurome to let out a sigh of relief. "However, we did get at least two names, one that we assume belongs to the masked man. They apparently go by Kylo Ren." Wave watched in silence as Kurome just froze, her eyes slowly widening with fear, like the name had reopened old wounds. "And the second we're guessing is the name of the group, the First Order." Before the swordswoman could have a breakdown, the orange-haired Seryu immediately stood up and slammed her metal hand down onto the desk.
"We will track down and bring this Kylo Ren to justice!" She called out with enthusiasm. "No one will harm innocents and get away with it!" With that last word, her dog Koro stood up and gave a salute along with an approving bark. Shocked at the action, Honest simply shook his head.
"That's actually not what I want you to do." began Honest, right as his face shifted into the usual sadistic smile. "I would actually prefer if you'd try and get him to join our side."
"Are you CRAZY?!" Wave called out, clearly shocked by the development. "He murdered our men, why should we trust them?!" His smile not fading one bit, the prime minister just continued.
"Now don't misunderstand me, I'm just as upset about the lost troopers as you are." He began, his voice sounding fairly unhinged. "But those fools are merely pathetic fodder in comparison to someone as strong as this Kylo is. In fact, if one were to think back to our history, there have been several members who have joined our fight who have initially opposed it. The one that especially comes to mind is General Liver. But as far as this one is concerned, they're not exactly targeting us specifically, meaning it's entirely possible that, like a pet who has gone astray, they are simply scared of this new world and need to be guided in the proper direction... and what better people to do that than the Empire?" Expecting to see smiling faces of agreement, the prime minister was rather disappointed to see that the expressions were instead that of shock and concern, especially when it came to Kurome. However, he simply just kept his smile and continued on since he knew that despite them disagreeing, he knew that it all wouldn't matter to them since they would still follow Esdeath's orders and from what he could tell, the general was definitely taking an interest and that all that was left was a little bit of deal sweetening.
"Think about this," He began. "if we had someone like this who can take out villages at such a fast rate, the Empire would be unstoppable. Absolutely NO ONE would be able to oppose us, preferring to cower in fear in their spare time and do their work when we're around. Call me crazy but I even believe that this person might just be the one we need to take down the Revolutionary Army once and for all!" Seeing Esdeath's eyes light up, Honest's smile seemed to grow even wider as he began to stand up from his seat, now all that was left was the kicker and she would be sold completely. "Who knows, if they listen to orders well, they might be able to find that one boy you're so interested in." A few seconds later, the general's face formed into that of a stern soldier right as she proceeded to salute him.
"We will leave at once." Esdeath said right before proceeding to turn towards the exit. "When you're all ready, meet up with me outside." His smile still present, the prime minister simply began to make his way out the door, leaving the Jaegers to ponder over the decision.
"There is absolutely no way I'm standing by this." Wave began, shocked and irritated. "We have no clue who this one is and if they actually are even supporters of the Empire, there's just too little to go off of."
"As much as I hate to admit it, I agree." said Bols. "This Kylo Ren character just sounds way too much like a loose cannon, while we could use more members to make up for the lack of Stylish, someone like this sounds like the exact kind of person we DON'T need."
"Who cares about that?" Seryu asked, her voice full of disagreement. "Maybe this Kylo person just needs to be led on the path of justice. Maybe th-"
"Maybe they already have made up their mind about us." Wave interjected. "Come on guys, use your heads. We're practically signing our death certificates if we go with this. Don't you want to live?"
"I want to go out protecting my comrades. Does that count as living?" Seryu responded, causing Wave to facepalm.
"What I mean is that we should really give this a good long thought." Wave said. "We shouldn't be trying to urge someone this dangerous to join our side, we should be trying to take them down, we should b-"
"All we should be doing is just getting to our posts." Kurome spouted out right as she stood up, her voice showing no emotion. Before anyone could say anything, the assassin had already left the room, leaving the four clearly dumbfounded.
"How long has she been like that?" asked Bols, to which Wave just sighed.
"Since she got up this morning, I heard her scream and ended up rushing to her room and when I found her, she was hyperventilating like someone had legitimately attacked her."
"I see." Bols began. "So that's where the scream came from, what do you think has gotten into her?"
"I don't know." Wave said with a shrug. "But she was mumbling to herself about a masked man and if you've noticed, this talk of Kylo Ren has got her freaking out."
"Wave, you don't think she knows this person do you?" Wave just shook his head.
"It's so far the best I've got." Realizing that the blonde, Run hadn't talked throughout the entire meeting, Wave took his chance to involve him in the conversation.
"I know you were a school teacher back then and probably have seen similar cases, do you have any idea on what has gotten into her?" Expecting to hear no reply, the swordsman was shocked to see that the man slowly lowered his hand from his chin.
"Actually, I do have one theory." He began. "The most likely case is that Kurome is suffering from a form of post traumatic stress that was possibly inflicted from an encounter with a similar masked man from way earlier in her life." Wave's eyes then widened.
"You mean to tell me that..."
"I don't mean to cut you off but yes, this does mean that most likely this Kylo Ren has actually introduced himself to her at one point or another and if we're all to go by this dark energy along with the fact that there are no known records about a man like him, it's safe to assume that there is the possibility that he might be trying to call to her through some form of energy."
"C-Can people do that?" Wave asked to which Run nodded.
"It's entirely possible. I'm no scientist but I did hear Stylish talking about how he believes that there is a way to strengthen yourself to the point where you're better than an Imperial Arms just by using the body's natural energy reserves and considering how we've sensed Esdeath's aura, it's safe to assume that this dark presence could actually be the aura of Kylo Ren." At that point, Wave had to use every ounce of his strength to keep from shaking with fear. He could already tell just by looking at Esdeath that she was extremely powerful but to have someone who he could just feel the aura of from several miles away as if the person was standing right there with them, it had him deathly terrified. Before he could freak out though, he was interrupted by the sound of a creaking door which caused him to look up and see that the Jaegers were already moving out.
"Come along Wave, I understand the concerns you have but trust me, I think you would prefer to die quickly in a fight rather than being tortured by Esdeath." With that all said and done, the blonde made his way out the door, leaving Wave alone with his thoughts and it was for the first time in ages that at that point, he just didn't know what to do with himself. Should he honestly go out and try to attempt the impossible or should he just stay behind and face the punishment? He continued to have a back and forth talk with himself for what felt like several hours with his opinion seeming to change every few seconds. Finally, with a loud sigh of defeat, the boy stood up, activated his armor and made his way out the door, ready to face the challenge up ahead.
"Another one down... oh great." The elder said with a sigh right as he read the message. It seemed as though ever since last night happened, everyone has been shaking with fear about how in the span of a few minutes, several villages have been wiped out without a trace with not a single idea about who the culprit was though deep in his heart, he had a very good idea about who he thought it was. With a small groan, he just ripped up the paper and sprinkled the small bits onto the ground.
"Why hasn't anyone done anything about the Empire yet?" He thought to himself. "Or better yet, why is everyone still treating the Empire like it's some huge new threat? They've been around for awhile now and so far, these claims have just gotten old." Taking a moment to let out a sigh, the elder began to look around at his entire village, the state of which filled him with quite a fury. Despite swearing their allegiance to the Revolutionary Army and their promises for a bigger, brighter future, the war still had not been won with what seemed like ZERO progress being made on either side. They were still incredibly poor, food was still hard to come by and disease was now starting to seep its way in with not a single sign of anything brighter heading their way.
"I've sworn my allegiance and so far they've given us nothing." He said with a grumble. "No matter, it's what we're used to after all. The gods seem to despise everything about us so we're just the local punching bag." His thoughts still present, the elder then began to make his way back to his home, stopping every few steps to rub his aching back that never did heal quite right after the harvest from months earlier.
"At the very least, we've been living in peace and the gods have kept the shrieks of evil out of our land. That's one thing I guess." Then, in a moment that seemed to be a direct rebuttal to that thought, he froze right when he heard what he assumed to be faint scream from the distance that seemed to be growing louder and louder with every passing moment.
"What the hell?" With that one phrase, it seemed to trigger something in everyone's heads since almost immediately, every civilian started making a run for it right as what sounded like quick squawks of energy sounded off which he managed to catch in his peripheral vision. Finally letting his curiosity get the better of him, the man slowly cocked his head towards his side... only to have his vision filled by a flash of green light that sent him careening straight into a small wooden building behind him. As his eyes began to grow heavy and as his life continued to fade, the last thing he saw was a group of white clad soldiers, armed with odd weapons and led by a man with silver hair, proceeding to open fire on the innocents and various buildings around them and some who even began ripping small babies away from their parents' arms and carrying them back to their transports with the kids screaming and crying the whole way through.
"Be sure to leave some for me boys! I have a thing for desperation!" called Suzuka with a sadistic grin right as she stabbed her long nails into someone's back. Without any hesitation, the platoon of troopers began unloading all of their firepower into anyone they saw, their squeaky clean white helmets soon being stained with blood and debris right as the bodies started dropping like flies.
Despite the odds being clearly stacked against them, one civilian decided that they had enough of this abuse and came leaping from the top of his home with staff in hand, right as he let out a mighty war-cry. Unfortunately, one trooper managed to predict this and immediately used their shield to deflect the boy's strike with ease and followed that up with a deadly backhand that sent his frail body back onto the cold hard ground. As the boy continued to writhe in pain, the trooper wasted no time and proceeded to walk towards him with stun baton in hand. Looking up at who was about to be his cause of death, the boy still kept his bravery and spat on the trooper's armor.
Not amused, the Stormtrooper simply lifted his leg up and brought it down onto the boy's leg, the sheer force of the armor immediately shattering the bone. Keeping him firmly in place underneath his foot, the trooper raised his baton up into the air and with a mighty grunt, he brought it down onto the boy's head which splattered against the wall like a water balloon.
"URRAAAGHHH!" Two soldiers roared as they began to rush towards their target, a familiar chrome soldier, with swords in hand. Her confidence unwavering, Phasma simply held her peace and waited for the two to raise their weapons into the air and once they did, she simply rolled out of the way of the incoming strike and with stun baton firmly in her grasp, she immediately swept it under their feet, knocking them down and causing the swords to fall from their hands. Without skipping the metaphorical beat, Phasma then immediately drew her weapon and opened fire into the pair's heads, killing them instantly. Seeing her work was done, Phasma was just about to leave when she heard another growl and sure enough when she turned, she saw another revolutionary soldier heading her way. Ready to fight, Phasma simply had her finger on the trigger and was ready to pull it when she watched as Mez suddenly came leaping from out of nowhere with her feet crashing straight into the soldier's face. The sheer force of which caused his neck to give with a loud "CRACK!". A few seconds later, Mez simply leaped off of the sack of flesh, letting gravity do its job in bringing it to the ground and despite how she could've handled herself, Phasma had to admit that she never had seen anything quite like it.
"Impressive." Phasma said as she holstered her weapon. "You have my thanks."
"Like it was totally not a big deal." Mez said right as she gave a thumbs up with Phasma not being so silent about her disapproval when she then roughly gripped her by the neck.
"When you speak with a member of the First Order, you will show some respect worm." The captain said coldly. "Unless you want to end up target practice for my firing squad, you will discontinue your usage of those words, do I make myself clear?" In response, the blonde did nothing but nod with her face showing a large amount of fear. After letting go and once she was a considerable distance away, she mumbled to herself this little comment.
"Bitch." Whether it be from her not hearing it or just her paying no mind, Phasma went to bring out her communicator and sure enough, Kylo Ren appeared in small blue hologram form, his figure still resting rather comfortably against the throne.
"Sir, this area is secure but there still has been no further intel about the location of the girls or this Tatsumi." Phasma reported. Immediately, Ren let out a frustrated sigh.
"They're definitely hiding from us but no matter, we'll find them eventually." He began before proceeding to change the subject. "How was the opposition, were you and Mez strong enough to handle it?" In response, Phasma just nodded.
"Yes sir, she's still not exactly the most respectful of our cause but she has proven to be useful."
"That's all I need to hear." said Ren. "Just as long as she doesn't try anything she's fine, just know that if she does, you have my full permission to put her out of her misery."
"Understood sir." Phasma said with a salute. "And just so you know, by now I think FN-2199 and the flight squadrons have completed their raids."
"Excellent," Ren began. "that's good enough for now. Report back to base at once."
"Yes sir." Phasma responded with a nod right as she shut off her holo-communicator.
"Mez," She began right as she turned back. "we're heading back now, come along." With that said, Phasma began to move back towards her transport while Mez reluctantly followed but not before letting out another simple comment.
"Sure thing Captain Stick-Up-Your-Ass."
(Path to Peace Palace AKA First Order HQ)
"The mission has been a complete success so far." Kylo Ren began towards the small holoprojection of Hux. "This planet is becoming well aware of the First Order and are now learning to fear them."
"Excellent." Hux began, making no attempt to hide his enthusiasm only to change into a more serious tone. "But what about the girls?" Ren just let out another sigh.
"So far there is still no sign of them but we have been making progress, they can't hide from us forever."
"Indeed they can't," Hux said with a nod. "well at the very least this mission isn't turning out to be a complete waste."
"What do you mean general?" Ren questioned with head cocked to the side.
"At the very least we are expanding to new territories. Soon we may have a brand new branch of troops to call upon and possibly a permanent new source of income if we're lucky, overall this mission is going better than anticipated, even if it is against the orders of the Supreme Leader."
"Speaking of which, have you been able to make contact with my master?" Hux just shook his head.
"As much as I would love to, it seems as though we've gone too far since long-range communications have been bloody impossible with the voices often coming out as just mere crackles. Though one thing is for certain, he definitely doesn't approve of this mission."
"Oh really?" Kylo asked sarcastically to which Hux just kept his serious look.
"Remember Ren, you were the one who demanded that we follow you on this asinine hunch after all." Hux began with a stern voice. "Remember that it was you who demanded that we pull hundreds of fine young and strong men and women from their posts just so that they may join you on this ridiculous quest for your so-called 'sisters'."
"Their presence was felt in the Force." Ren responded. "Remember that Snoke sensed it as we-"
"Supreme Leader sensed a SINGLE presence and even then, it was very faint and he said that this could all be your mind acting up."
"If Supreme Leader sensed the presence th-"
"So what if he did?!" Hux growled. "He said it himself that a user of the Force can easily be fooled if they let their failure get the better of them."
"So you'd deny the Supreme Leader all because you don't believe in the Force?"
"Where are you getting this? I believe in LOGIC! Logic that you clearly are lacking in Ren. You're letting your personal issues override the words of Supreme Leader. We're out in an unknown bloody galaxy all because you had a small hunch that so far has proven to be completely false."
"I find your lack of faith in this mission very disturbing general, perhaps we may need to replace you."
"How dare you suggest that!" Hux said through grit teeth. "I will not have some... obsessive cloaked brat question my skills as a commander like that! You know the only reason Snoke chose me was because..."
"He wanted to show me that generals like you did nothing but slow me and my grandfather down?" Hux immediately went on to let out a sarcastic laugh.
"Such talent in the act of comedy." He began. "He chose me because he saw that you were a loose cannon and that from what you've showcase with your temper, you need someone to pull back the leash every once in a while to remind you who's in charge! Because without Snoke's or my guidance, the Empire would've never been able to pick itself off the ground like it has now!"
"Such a fascinating conversation, I think we're done here." Realizing what he was about to do, Hux just stared at him with eyes full of irritation.
"Don't you dare touch th-"
"Goodbye." said Ren right as he shut off the communicator and proceeded to set it to the side, letting out a sigh of relief at the peace and quiet that he finally earned. After a little bit, Kylo then began to lean forward in the throne and set his head on top of his clasped hands.
"This is proving to be more difficult than I thought." Ren said mentally. "I thought going from village to village would eventually lead them out but somehow, they still haven't shown up. Surely there has to be someone around here who has somewhat of an idea on who I'm looking for." At that moment, Kylo stopped himself right as he felt the presence once again, the feeling this time being far stronger than ever.
"Well, at least the killings have made it easier to lock onto the signature." Ren thought to himself before suddenly having his eyes light up with an idea as he remembered what Snoke taught him.
"Using the Force, one can beckon to another if they concentrate hard enough and possibly with enough practice, they can be lured to the Dark Side." Snoke's voice played back in his head, as calm and raspy as ever. Deciding that there was no better time than now, the Dark Lord sat back in his seat, took in a nice long breath and shut his eyes, his focus now being set on calling towards the girl.
"Young one, don't be afraid." He said to himself. "I know you sense it as well, just let it in, let the hate flow through you. Know that at last... we'll be reunited."
(Night Raid HQ)
In her room, Akame was laying flat on her back, still in a deep sleep from when she passed out a day earlier. With Tatsumi and Leone on a small supply run, the assassin was left to herself and thankfully, she was resting far more peacefully when compared to the huge scare she gave her comrades earlier. Unfortunately as her luck would have it, peace would not last for long as she would've hoped since she soon started to toss and turn.
Although it was faint, the assassin could hear a low, sinister voice that was so strange and yet so familiar all at the same time. While she couldn't make it out, the voice incited a few images to flash through her mind. Including that of a scruffy looking man among other images that were vaguely familiar to her. Soon, she found herself beginning to aggressively shake in the bed as the voice seemed to become louder and louder before finally, it suddenly halted which allowed her to let out a sigh of relief. However, that relief was very short-lived since soon after, she heard a familiar sound of a blade igniting which caused her to slowly begin backing up. A few minutes later, she found herself bumping into something rough and leathery in nature. Feeling the low breaths down her back, Akame slowly turned to look over her shoulder when she felt two arms roughly grab her torso before proceeding to spin her around until she was facing what appeared to be a horribly scarred old man who let out with a voice that was a low growl.
"Just let it in!" And at that point, before anything more could happen. The assassin jolted awake and sat up, being left as nothing but a sweating, panting mess.
So this chapter sets up mainly two things. The first is the role of the Jaegers and the Empire in all this and right away? I kind of felt like it'd be more interesting to have Esdeath and Honest show a degree of interest in the First Order in how they could maybe bargain with them so that their ranks could be bolstered. The reason for this is that I wanted a degree of intelligence by the villains because let's be honest, if you saw forces who could annihilate you with absurdly advanced equipment on the level of giant SPACESHIPS start attacking you? Attacking them seems like suicide but also it shows how much they don't understand the First Order and their motives which could potentially bite them in the future.
Speaking of the First Order, in this chapter they're shown to be particularly brutal and evil. Originally when this was uploaded to Fanfiction.net? I got a few reviews bringing up to me how the First Order seemed incredibly unhinged and lacking in some good strategies... even though I thought I made it pretty obvious why this was the case and because of this? I'm preemptively explaining this. If the Empire were space Nazis? Then the First Order are space Neo-Nazis. Hell, Abrams even mentioned he was inspired by the theory of Nazis fleeing to other countries following WWII and what would happen if they ended up building a force big enough to try and retake what they lost. In this case? The First Order are radical, militant and extremely VENGEFUL and the one who helps to stoke that rage is Kylo Ren who was put in charge of the First Order despite the fact that he's not a great commander.
One of the elements of TFA I really liked was that it took great care in showing us that Kylo Ren was not his grandfather and in a nice bit of subversion? He was actually shown to be very conflicted and emotional. He's a villain in development whereas Vader was basically a villain who had already been fully converted, we were past the conflicted stage and thus I wanted to keep to that here and show that while Kylo has certainly gotten better over time in terms of skill and intimidation? He's still no Vader and his psyche is still messed up and what happens when you have someone like that in a leading position? Problems are bound to occur.
Aside from that? These assaults are really to show just how dangerous the First Order is while also being a great opportunity to show more of the brutal quality the violence has. Also it provided me a great opportunity to have Hux and Kylo bicker. That's all for now, hope you enjoy the chapter!
(The Finalizer Bridge)
A long time ago, back when the Empire initially tried to make a comeback, Hux could remember how he signed and swore an oath with his commanding officers, an oath that he would have to follow until either his retirement or death at the hands of his commanding officer, one that despite being initially groaned at by all his companions, he was determined to follow it for all eternity. During that time, he had heard several stories of the one commander that several troopers had to serve under, one who many could instantly recognize just by his chilling breaths and dark armor that gave him a presence like no other.
The one who was known as a master of the Dark Side. The one they called Darth Vader.
Over the years, he had heard several stories, both positive and negative about the fabled Sith Lord. From what he could gather from putting the stories together along with Snoke's explanations, Lord Vader was extremely difficult to work with and very arrogant which was in many ways, strikingly similar to how Kylo Ren managed his job. However, if there was one thing he could easily remember through those stories, it was how unlike Ren who most often resorted to temper tantrums and let personal issues get in the way of his judgment. Vader held a large amount of respect for the majority of his troopers and was a tactical genius which was most likely due in no small part to his massive role in the Clone Wars. Unlike Ren, his control over emotion was far greater, allowing him to make excellent battle strategies and even compromises if he actually saw a point in them and while he did pursue personal matters on more than one occasion, he never came in unprepared even for meetings.
And at that point, the general wished he had a will as strong as Vader's since discussing with officials wasn't exactly something he wanted to do. In fact, the very thing he actually desired was to take the fleet out of this galaxy and rejoin the war with the Resistance but as his luck would have it, he knew that Ren would have his head for that and most likely, even his loyalty to Snoke would not be able to stop him. It was this particular subject that the meeting was centered around but there was one issue. Throughout all his years of working on the First Order, it had become quite clear that no matter who it was he talked to, whether it be old experienced commanders or fresh young recruits, the civilized age of the Empire had long since disappeared into the ether with many being less willing to accept discussions and ambiguity and were obsessed with clear-cut answers, regardless of how absurd they were with this table being no exception.
In front of the general there were four admirals on each side with four of them in particular being holograms, obviously due to some of them having business on other Star Destroyers, meaning they couldn't make a personal appearance. Though that wasn't what Hux was most focused on as these admirals were people he knew very, VERY well from past meetings and were ones he dreaded to hear from since the entire meeting would almost ALWAYS get derailed and would go from halfway civilized pleasantries to ridiculously unkind and immature hatred. From left to right there was the gruff, loyal but impatient Logam, the far too enthusiastic but nevertheless loyal Jagel, the passionate but slightly obsessive Jalose, the powerful but slightly old-fashioned and bitter Gozil, the young but demanding Pellaeon, the older but occasionally naive Bendu, the old, artistically talented McQuarrie and finally, the very fresh, young but still very polite Lohot. In the center of it all was the map to the very star system they were on, the mysterious what they now dubbed the "Whills quadrant" which was both partially inspired by how they were drawn to the location apparently by the will of the Force and by how the visuals bared a slight resemblance to what the fabled "Journal of the Whills" described. As they continued to stare at the map in front of them, Hux decided that now was the time to kick off this little chat.
"Gentlemen," Hux began with his head propped up against his hand, his voice showing clear formality with a slight hint of conflict. "my sincere apologies go out to those who had important matters to deal with but since this matter is of utmost importan-"
"Let's just get this over with." interjected the younger Logam. "This better be good Hux, Ren's already wasting our time enough as is, we don't need you wasting o-"
"Don't cut off the commander," said Gozil. "I'd rather hear what he has to say before we write this off."
"Or what?" Logam asked with a scoff. "Will you come down and fight me old man?"
"That's not what I me-"
"Because the idea of outdated relics such as you fighting off someone like me is a most humorous thought."
"Don't forget Logam that it was through the Empire and the Emperor's leadership that we achie-"
"Nothing." Logam interjected again. "Your Emperor merely lead to thousands of lost credits and a regime of pure ineptitude!"
"Ineptitude?! HAH! Back in the old days we were led by someone who actually knew how to manage a group, here we're about as dysfunctional as those savages down on that blue planet's surf-"
"GENTLEMEN!" Hux growled right as he slammed his fist on the table before proceeding to dial it down to a much calmer tone. "Let's keep this civil and on topic." After taking a few moments to glare at each other, the two nodded.
"Very well." said Gozil as he crossed his arms. "So what's the topic at hand?"
"Well..." Hux began after taking a deep breath. "first let's start with the good news." Stopping for a moment, the general looked down towards the bright red button in front of him and pressed down and the moment he did, the galaxy hologram began to shake and whir with energy as it zoomed in towards one of the planets with small bits of red appearing all over, highlighting various points that Hux pointed out with his finger.
"According to Ren himself, the inhabitants of this planet have proven to be most incompetent, even more so than the villagers we faced on Jakku with technology and weapons that are far more primitive in nature so thanks to that, we've been able to spread our influence to these designated areas by destroying their villages and raiding their homes for possible candidates to breed into soldiers, meaning that once we leave here, we could possibly have another catalog of reinforcements to call upon."
"How fast did we achieve this result sir?" Lohot asked, his voice showcasing a severe amount of politeness as he pointed towards the hologram.
"In the span of just one day and a few minutes." Hux responded.
"Wow, they must be quite the pathetic species!" Jagel commented with a chuckle, inciting a glare from Gozil.
"Don't get your hopes up, remember that it was due to little furry beasts that we were once taken out before, don't let underestimation be our downfall." said Gozil rather coldly, causing Jagel to remain silent and slightly murmur to himself. Ignoring the both of them, Pellaeon kept his attention on Hux.
"So you mentioned the good news," He began with a voice full of curiosity. "is there anything on the opposite side of the spectrum?"
"Aside from Ren being a blasted idiot." blurted Logam.
"Hold your tongue Admiral." responded Pellaeon gruffly. "You don't want reports of this going back to the Supreme Leader would you?"
"Oh please," Gozil scoffed. "as much as I disagree with this idiot, even I have to agree that Ren is a tool, we were way better off with Lord Vader."
"Finally something we agree o-wait, what did you just call m-"
"Moving on." Hux interjected with a slightly raised voice. "While the mission has been a success as far as expanding the First Order's influence is concerned, we still have not found the two girls and to make matters worse, we know LITTLE about them aside from basic appearance details by Ren which to be honest, sound so bloody common that they could be describing any damned person. Goes to show how stupidly arrogant Ren is honestly."
"You see Pellaeon? Even the general agrees with me." said Logam with a cocky smirk.
"Just because I do doesn't mean I necessarily want to hear about your stupidity admiral." Hux responded with a serious tone which didn't seem to phase the scarred man at all.
"I'm just reiterating the truth," He responded with a shrug. "this whole operation has been, in my honest opinion, a complete and utter waste of our time and further proof that Kylo is nothing but a weak-minded whiner who will continue to make stupid decisions all based on that outdated fossil he calls the Force. We're exactly in the same spot that Lord Vader put us in."
"Excuse me?" questioned Gozil with a slight hint of anger.
"Oh don't tell me you actually believed in that nonsense." began Logam with his cocky smirk now developed into a grin. "Vader was only slightly more competent and by that I mean the only difference was that he knew how to run a military but he never seemed to put that into good use when the Death Star was destroyed."
"Remember Logam that you joined right toward the tail end of the war." Gozil began with pointer finger outstretched. "You've never actually seen Lord Vader in person."
"Mostly because I never wanted to stare at an overrated buckethead like him."
"Spare me the idiocy, if you ever were at the mercy of him with hand pointed towards you while your windpipe was being gripped shut, you would be singing a completely different tune."
"No offense to either of you fine gents but am I the only one that truthfully sees the benefits of this operation?" Pellaeon began. "I mean you can speak ill of Ren all you want and look, even I wasn't very keen on the idea of this operation but after giving it some thought, I find that this is nothing but true brilliance in motion. Think about it, we poured SO much into Starkiller Base and look what happened. We are now like cripples, slowly and awkwardly hobbling through the battlefield as if we were shot in both kneecaps with only our drive for victory moving us forward and you know what? The exact same happened with us and the Death Star. I think I speak for the three other people in this room when I say that Kylo Ren has not signed the First Order's death certificate but rather, he is giving us a chance to actually hone our skills and takeover a world that is ripe with possible supporters and resources which would serve as excellent reinforcement in our army and despite the search for the girls being difficult... well... look at how difficult the search for Skywalker has been! Unlike the search for that Jedi, we haven't had to move to another planet yet which means one could assume that Ren actually does feel the presence in the Force and that unlike Skywalker, it was the very sight of the map which we have in view that caused him to have a vision and in my experience so far from the few times I met with Snoke, the Force does not lie."
"What are you exactly getting at here young one?" Gozil asked, both his face and voice showing a slight bit of curiosity.
"Surely you aren't ACTUALLY calling the temperamental brat a genius." said Logam with a disrespectful scoff.
"My dear comrades, I'm just merely insinuating that with all this talk about Kylo Ren being foolish by suggesting this plan, I feel that many fail to see the benefits in this bold new direction."
"You really consider pure stupidity to be a benefit?" Logam mockingly asked. Giving him nothing but a small glare, Pellaeon just continued right as he took off his black cap for a moment to run his hand through his slick black hair.
"I'm not saying this operation is being perfectly conducted, the idea to take most of our forces out here for a hunch still is by all means... questionable but that isn't the point. What I'm trying to get at is that this mission is still ONLY in its early stages and as far as we can tell, it has provided more successes for us than failures and I'm certain it will continue to provide as we continue on. I mean just look at the planet!" Right at that moment, Pellaeon pressed his open palm down on a small holopad, the mechanism making a small beeping noise right as the hologram of Earth began to enlarge before changing into a series of several windows that listed off various pieces of foreign wildlife and materials that were completely new to the officers present.
"With this intel, we've already deduced that the world is far more diverse and unique than any other system we have explored before. It has the arid sands of Jakku and Tatooine, the lush forests of Endor, massive sprawling cities like Coruscant, all those years of wasting away on simple supply runs can now possibly be reduced to just a matter of a few days here! Even if Kylo fails to find the girls and this whole mission turns out to be a bust, we still have an excellent location for resource harvesting that if used correctly, can at long last restore the dignity we have craved for ages! Do you get what I'm saying?" For the first time in a long while, Hux's eyes began to widen and his mind began to brainstorm through several ideas and outcomes. Being born into the Empire when it was on its last legs, the general had unfortunately become very numb to all the ridiculous suggestions that were thrown out by the so-called "professionals" who were extremely difficult to take seriously since most of their "plans" sounded less like actual strategies and more like a spoiled brat's personal fantasy after a sibling snatches something valuable from them and it was this alone which gave him his hatred for meetings with anyone other than Snoke, Phasma or hell, even Ren.
Which was why he was extremely shocked when Pellaeon, possibly one of the youngest admirals in the room, actually came up with a valid, planned and extremely educated reason as to why they should actually start looking towards the positives of the mission instead of the negatives. Granted his own personal gripes about this were still present and he was still Llargely against the idea of remaining here but at the very least, the aspiring cadet's words were getting his mental motors running and if this was still the Empire in its prime, he was certain most of the officials at that time would agree. However, it was Logam's sudden bout of mocking laughter that served as his daily reminder that those days were nothing but a distant memory.
"Would you look at that?" Logam said in-between chuckles. "This buffoon is seriously siding with the masked idiot! Oh how the First Order has fallen." After a few more minutes of laughter, Gozil had finally had it up to there with his comrade's attitude and immediately slammed his fist down hard onto his communication device, causing the transmission to crackle and fizzle for a few seconds right as he began.
"Listen here you pampered brat!" Gozil began with an growl. "I don't care who you answer to but if you were on my ship, I would've tossed your immature ass onto a pod and launched you towards the nearest star for this nonsense!"
"My old friend, it appears you're losing it a bit." Logam began with his mocking chuckle and smile still present. "After all, you are cursing when there is clearly children present."
"Funny," Gozil said with a hint of sarcasm. "I never thought you to be the honorable prudish type."
"What can I say? Unlike those outdated fossils such as yourself, I'm still actually someone who is for change."
"Like what? Letting idiots like you run the First Order into the ground?" Logam simply kept his smirk.
"Clever comeback but no, I was thinking more changes that are far more... drastic. Like ridding this military of any follower of the so-called 'Force' because with the way I see it my friends, people like Ren have caused nothing but trouble for our troupe. They always intervene on private affairs, they constantly waste millions of credits on ridiculous hunches and when questioned about any one of their methods, that poor fool most times falls to them, thus costing us even MORE in promising troopers and with Ren in particular, now broken equipment is something we have to take into account. Which is why it's a pity that you had to go and admit your loyalty to that brat Pellaeon and you were shaping up to be such a good recruit as well and as for you Gozil... well, do I even need to bring up Vader's failures again?" While Gozil just gave him a glare, the young recruit just rolled his eyes.
"So typical people like you are," Pellaeon said with a scoff. "if nothing goes your way, the first order of business is to get rid of everything without working out a way around the issue and if no one agrees with you, you believe that it's a sign of weakness. No wonder the First Order is going under."
"Careful boy," The admiral said rather irritably. "you don't want to know what happens to fools like you on my sh-"
"Oh quit your blabbering!" Gozil interjected. "If you actually had the stones to do that to your troops, you would be no better than the so-called 'zealots' you have a problem with."
"I will NOT be held to the same level of brats such as Ren you old fossil!"
"Look at that, you're now bursting into a tantrum." Gozil said with a smirk. "Careful admiral or you just might pop a blood vessel."
"DO YOU REALLY WANT TO TEST ME OLD MAN?!"
"Well I am now aren't I? I'm pressing your buttons and you're just letting me do so."
"If it was possible, I would open fire on you in an instant!"
"It's behavior like this that make me unfortunately ashamed to be on this team." McQuarrie said with a hint of disappointment in his voice.
"Did I ask for your opinion painter? No? Then shut your trap!" Immediately, Pellaeon stood up with his face becoming red with fury.
"I refuse to stand by and listen to my comrade being pelted with insults by an immature little brat in a suit!" The young recruit growled.
"Hush your tone!"
"Make him hush." Gozil taunted. "Go on Logam, if you're really so high and mighty, why don't you just open fire on this ship and put this whole thing to rest?"
"It's because I actually care about the well-bei-"
"Wrong, it's because you are nothing but a coward. You are nothing but a sad, stupid little coward who won't pull that trigger because you know that the moment you do, Ren will notice and will slice you to bits. It's not that you actually hate these individuals but rather... you're afraid of what they could and would do to you if you ever dared to speak out like this against them. I know for a fact that if Ren were here, you would've kept your lips tightly sealed, stood up straight, and wouldn't have dared to start anything with him because you are nothing but a young fool."
"I find your lack of faith in me quite disturbing old man." He said with a low growl. Gozil just looked him dead in the eyes with a mocking expression.
"Faith? In you? I never had any to begin with and why would I? My faith is only reserved for those who are actually strong-willed and intelligent, both of which are qualities I've never seen you have." A deathly silence filled the room with Logam just staring on with pure fury in his eyes that, as far as Hux could tell, showcased the signs of just how much he wished he could murder the man in front of him. Gozil on the other hand, kept his cool and instead kept his mocking expression though it now had a hint of curiosity. After a few more minutes, Logam was finally opening his mouth.
"Why you lit-"
"Enough!" Hux interjected with a large amount of bluntness. "If you can't act like actual grown adults, I will personally see to it that you are ejected from the First Order and are left with NOTHING to go back to. Understand?!" Immediately, the admirals gave Hux a quick salute since despite the bitter battle of "old vs. new", they knew better than to anger Hux.
"My apologies general." Gozil began. "It won't happen again."
"Same here," Logam said. "so moving on, what are your orders?" Relieved that they finally got to the point, Hux let out a nice relaxed breath.
"Glad we could finally move on." He began. "Now as you all may know, I was constantly rallying for us to just change course and just continue our battle against the Republic. As expected, Ren is completely refusing those requests and instead continuously insists that we stay here. However, I believe that I have finally come up with a solution that will hopefully soften the blow of any possible failure by a significant amount." With that said, the general looked towards his side of the console and pressed his own holopad which caused the hologram of the Earth to zoom out. Once it was to the place and angle he needed it, Hux pointed towards the direction away from the planet as he continued on.
"Gozil, Logam, Jagel, Jalose, since the troopers are mainly on this ship, I'm assigning you four with the important task of taking your two Destroyers and heading back to our galaxy, I will of course remain here to pick up and keep an eye on Ren in case anything happens." Immediately, the four nodded in agreement though it was clear through one voice that one person wasn't necessarily the most comfortable with it.
"Forgive me for asking sir but wouldn't that be signing your death certificate?" Hux turned towards the source of the voice and saw the young Bendu who was looking as sheepish as he did way back when he first joined. "It's only a concern I have because you and I know..."
"That Ren has a tendency to kill staff for defying him, I know." Hux said with a sigh. "But you do forget that I was specifically assigned this job by Supreme Leader Snoke who may I remind you is his master. If the fool were to try and lay even a single finger on me, Snoke would find out and he would easily be reprimanded for his actions, possibly with a fate worse than death and knowing him, he would most definitely not want to upset his master." Feeling just a slight bit dumb, Bendu slowly began to lower himself back down onto his chair, remaining quiet through the rest of the meeting. Turning his attention back towards the group, Hux set his hands behind his back and stood up straight.
"Gentlemen, the meeting is adjourned." As soon as he finished, the four gave their salutes before immediately proceeding to shut off their holocommunicators, the blue images fizzling and crackling for a few moments before disappearing completely. Feeling slightly relieved that the ordeal was done, the general turned towards his own staffers.
"The rest of you, get back to your positions and be sure to keep working on the comm-channels. I want Snoke to hear every detail about our mission."
"We won't let you down general." Pellaeon said with a confident smile and salute right before he proceeded to walk off.
"I hope so admiral." Hux mentally began as he proceeded to turn towards the window with eyes that were full of conflict. "I hope so." As the massive warships began to ever so slowly turn around, the general couldn't help but think back to both what Pellaeon said regarding the possibilities of this mission and what could possibly go down if things went so horribly wrong.
"I sure hope what my friend said is true Kylo Ren." Hux mentally began. "For both your sake and mine since I feel that Snoke won't exactly let this slide."
Several lightyears away...
Like all desert planets, Jakku was by no means looked upon with respect. With the total feeling of desolation it possessed, the relentless hot sun that just beat against your temples like it was a drum and the lack of interesting locales, one would consider that the planet was just... plain and uninteresting. However, like another certain desert planet, it wasn't necessarily the looks that had everyone looking at it with disgust and it certainly had nothing to do with crime which when compared to that other desert planet, was fairly tame which was due in no small part to a certain constable who currently had a fat alien pinned up against a wall as several scavengers continued to go about their day.
"You can't do this to me!" The armor wearing alien called out with a growl as the masked constable tightened the cuffs around his tubby little wrists. "You're arresting a legitimate business man! You'r-OW!"
"Zip the lips Plutt." Zuvio spat right as he shook his fist of the pain of punching hard metal. "You're nothing but a lying little sneak trying to replace the Hutt clan." In response, the alien was completely dumbfounded.
"What?!" Plutt asked in disbelief. "How dare you compare me to the Hutts?! I'll have you know Zuvio that my men will not stand f-OW!"
"Spare me the trouble, I've been trying to nail you for many years now and I would've had you too if it weren't for the First Order causing all that mess." His options running thin, Plutt decided to try something he used to pull with the constable's men whenever he was caught and was just praying it would work.
"You know, maybe I'm being a little too hasty here. Perhaps some nice portions would d-OW! WOULD YOU STOP T-AGGH!"
"Nice try, but bribes don't work on this grizzled Kyuzo." The constable said with a low grumble right as he jerked Plutt away from the wall. A few seconds later, he turned on his communicator with his grip still being set on Plutt.
"This is Zuvio reporting in, I have Unkar Plutt under arrest for constant bouts of theft, bribery and for illegally smuggling weapons, requesting support immediately..." Zuvio's voice trailed off the moment his ears picked up on something familiar, something... howling like a rampaging demon. Seeing as how his grip was loosening, Unkar took his chance and tried to get away, only to look up in the air at the flaming ship that was rapidly hurdling towards the planet's surface.
"What is th-OOF!" Plutt felt as his entire body came crashing to the ground from the force of the constable's rough shove with his body fat thankfully softening most of the blow. A few seconds later, Zuvio immediately dived to the side in a move that frightened the trader a little bit. That small jump soon sprouted into full-blown fright once he saw a familiar metal shape, the dreaded TIE Fighter, collide with his shop, causing the whole thing to fall to pieces with the fighter quickly dragging across the sand before finally going up in flames the moment it hit a nearby pod-racer, a sight that soon replaced his fear with a bout of anger as he then began to shake angrily on the ground in a desperate attempt to get himself up.
"HEY! THAT'S MINE!" Ignoring him, Zuvio slowly began to straighten himself out before proceeding to pull out a small pair of binoculars. Looking up into the sky, it took a little bit of finesse to get the device working properly but once it was, he just felt his mouth drop open with pure shock at the sight of two faint blurry shapes, locked in what looked to be a massive battle over the planet.
"All TIE squadrons, line your ships up behind me!" A pilot with red streaks on his helmet shouted over the comm-link. Not wanting to anger him, the three troopers wasted no time and lined their ships behind the leading TIE with their sights now being set on the enemy ships right in front.
"Remember, failure is not an option! If you see a weak spot, don't waste time and give it all you've got!"
"Roger. I read you loud and cl-AGGH!" Right at that moment, the transmission became nothing but static.
"Cadet?! Cadet, can you read m-AAAAGGGHH!" Before the commander could let anything more out, his vision was filled with red as several beams came crashing into the hull, causing the dreaded fighter to immediately go up in smoke with the pilot's helpless corpse now floating in the endless abyss of space. Obviously fearful of their two comrades' sudden death, the other two immediately began spreading out, a sight that served as a wonderful little view for the pilot behind the black and orange ship that lined itself right behind one of them.
"This is where the fun begins." The man said before pressing down on his controls, watching as several red hot beams of pure energy came flying from the cannons and straight into the connecting point of the frantic fighter's wing, causing the connection to immediately sever which in turn caused the ship to go spinning out of control before finding a nice spot on the Star Destroyer bridge where it became nothing but a fireball of metal shards and glass. Smirking, the pilot wasted no time and turned his attention towards the other ship which was currently tailing one that was like his own with the exception being that the colors were a familiar grey and red. Wasting no time, he flipped a few switches and hightailed it towards the TIE with guns blazing. With the Resistance pilot below, the man was trying desperately to shake the TIE off him with every maneuver seeming to fail. After a few more attempts, he felt as the ship immediately shook, causing him to jerk in his seat for a moment before realizing that he had lost his droid. Feeling as hopeless as ever, the pilot was ready to accept his fate into the great beyond when suddenly, he heard a loud shrill screech along with an explosion. Turning towards his cockpit, he watched as the TIE that was tailing him was nothing more but a heaping pile of scrap heading towards the planet below and how a few seconds later, the relieving sight of a black and orange ship came pulling up with the man behind the cockpit giving him a thumbs up.
"Thanks for the save Poe, though that was cutting it a little too close." The pilot said with a sigh of relief right after he returned the thumbs up.
"Sorry about that, I was a little held up by a few relentless squadrons, you know how these guys can get."
"Boy do I ever." The pilot said with a chuckle. "Speaking of which, when do you think they're going to let up?"
"No idea." Poe replied. "But if I have to guess, it certainly won't be anytime soon, we'll have to fight our way through."
"Don't we always do that?"
"Hey, it's what we enjoy isn't it?"
"Can't argue with that."
"Glad to hear." Poe began with a smirk. "Alright Senfan, keep fighting the good fight, I'm going to contact the admiral." The pilot said before shifting into a more serious persona right after he tweaked around with his com-link.
"Admiral, this is Poe Dameron, come in..."
On the ship...
Back on the old, slightly dingy Mon Calamari starcruiser, several staff members were frantically rushing throughout the room, their faces being a combination of stern, straight-faced bravery to looks of concern and fear. At the head of it all in his command chair, wearing several varying shades of brown and with his fish-like head, the admiral was looking out at the battlefield with a face full of determination and a slight hint of worry.
"Not to worry you but remember! If we fail this battle, we possibly are putting the whole galaxy at stake so whatever you do, keep fighting!"
"Admiral can you read me? This is Poe Dameron of Rapier Squadron coming in." A voice sounded off from his control panel. Immediately, the Mon Calamari pressed down on a small yellow button before proceeding.
"I read you loud and clear Poe. Can you give us a status report?"
"We've taken out most of the TIE squadrons so far but their forces just keep coming faster than we can shoot them down and to make matters worse, we still haven't heard from our sabotage teams inside the Destroyer." Taking a moment to take in a deep breath, Ackbar simply set his face against his palm and shook it for a little before continuing.
"Unfortunately it has also been the same on our end." Ackbar began with a sigh. "It's clear that ever since your little escapade on Jakku, the First Order is trying their damnedest to keep us out."
"No kidding, it's like they took Jakku as a personal insult."
"More like they're still reeling from Starkiller's destruction."
"Really? Why would they still be pissed about that?"
"Let's just say that the Empire never forgets about its failures."
"That's good enough for me." Poe said, his tone taking on something a bit more lighthearted. "How's the chat going up there?" Taking a moment, the Mon Calamari looked to his right where he saw Leia with her scouts and C-3P0 discussing and right there, he could tell from the general's expression that things were NOT going well.
"Not good, from the looks of things they still haven't quite figured out what happened with that map."
"That's a shame, any guesses?"
"So far the only one we have is that the First Order might've intercepted it though we're still unclear about the details."
"What exactly was in that map anyway?" The admiral let out a sigh.
"Well I-ACK!" Ackbar's grip on his chair immediately tightened right before he could fall, his quick action just barely stopping him right as his face was staring straight down at the ground below.
"Admiral? Come in admiral!" Poe's frantic voice called out. A few minutes later, Ackbar straightened himself out in his chair, his hand rubbing a small bruise on his other wrist.
"Don't worry Poe, I'm fine." Immediately, the admiral turned towards the staff. "Damage report, now!"
"The turbolasers were just unleashed on our hull!" The Mon Calamari staffer began. "A few more blasts and we'll be done for!"
"Like hell we will!" Ackbar yelled right as he turned his attention back towards the communications device. "Poe, new orders! Target those turbolasers and life support systems! The last we heard of our sabotage crew was when they disabled the shield so you should be in the clear!"
"Roger, Dameron out." Soon after the communications went silent, the Mon Calamari just sat back in his chair and began to stroke his chin, all while longingly staring out at the GIGANTIC Star Destroyer in front of him.
"May the Force give us strength." Thought Ackbar. Back on the lower levels as mentioned before, a clearly distressed General Leia along with a few scouts and C-3P0 were locked in a heated discussion with one another.
"We've checked every bit of the wreckage there was, the map isn't there." The first male scout said.
"And to make matters worse," The female began. "we still have no clue about where most of the Order's fleet is." Letting out a frustrated sigh, the former princess couldn't help but rub her face, the stress clearly getting to her with every wrinkle she massaged.
"They couldn't have possibly gone far," The golden protocol droid began. "what would they possibly want with a useless map anyway?"
"Most likely the word got around that there was another copy of the map to Skywalker and considering their leader's possible mental instability, it looks as though they didn't care how impossible that sounds." One of the scouts began. "Remember, it's clear they want revenge for Starkiller Base."
"Of course I know that, I just find it odd that they would willingly attack a retrieval ship which didn't have what they needed and a few moments later, they just so happen to disappear for a few days."
"It's odd to us too, we wish we could bring more info to you but all we can do is speculate." Seeing no better option, Threepio just nodded in defeat and decided that this would be best.
"Well then in that case, let's speculate. Starting off, let's try to pinpoint who is possibly missing." In response, the two scouts nodded and began to ponder with their hands lightly grasping their chins the whole way through.
"Hmm... well... obviously Snoke wouldn't be involved... but it seems as though most of the MAIN fleet is gone and usually that's in command of Hux."
"AND Kylo Ren."
"Of course," The scout said with an agreeing nod. "and yet, they're nowhere to be seen."
"Which is most strange though I think with Kylo, a simple explanation would be that he simply is still training with Snoke."
"Sad to say but that's impossible, several troopers reported seeing him on the battlefield during a skirmish on Florrum a few days before the fleet went AWOL."
"Well... that just complicates things." said Threepio with a hint of concern. "Now that just begs the question, if Kylo Ren did go off with the fleet, what possibly could've influenced him?" The thought soon popped into the former princess's mind which caused her to start pondering over it. Rubbing her chin, Leia began to think back to every reported Kylo sighting since Starkiller's destruction along with how she used to feel his presence in the Force and how on the day the retrieval ship went down, she could feel his presence slowly becoming fainter and fainter with every passing moment.
"He was always so locked on Luke and... Han." Stopping for a moment to relax, the general took in a deep breath and shut her eyes tight. Despite how long it had been, she still could not shake the feeling of anguish she felt in her heart when her husband left her all alone and despite not being there to see it with her own eyes, she could still remember visualizing and feeling as the pulsing hot red blade was rammed straight through the chest, almost as if she was there right along with the action. It almost seemed as though it was only yesterday when she started to go into denial about the whole experience, she just could not, WOULD not believe that her husband, the brave, brash Han Solo, would just fall like that and she was the indirect cause of it... which just hurt far more. Had she known that Kyl-no... Ben, had gone that far into the Dark Side, she would've kept Han as FAR from him as humanly possibly but as it was now, he was just... gone and unlike Luke, there was no way of possibly bringing him back.
Letting a single tear drop from her face, the general then proceeded to shake herself free of this sadness and instead continued to focus on the topic at hand.
"From what I can recall, that retrieval ship carried a map to Earth." She thought to herself. "We were planning on bringing back two children that Han sent away as one of his 'brilliant' ideas of keeping Ren's influence away. But why would Ren just disappear if the ship was o-" Right at that moment, the thought just hit her like a ton of bricks and soon after, the Force was rapidly picking up as flashes of familiar faces flooded her system along with broken up pieces of sentences that clearly were a part of her past.
"The only way..."
"...want them here..."
All of this and more came rushing to her system at speeds she couldn't possibly comprehend and it went on for what FELT like several minutes. After a little while had passed, she felt like screaming her heart out when she felt the bite of cold metal touching her shoulder.
"General? GENERAL?!" Shaking herself free, Leia immediately turned towards the protocol droid with eyes that seemed ready to burst into tears. Seeing her shaken expression, Threepio couldn't help but feel a little estranged since being a droid, it meant that he couldn't understand every emotion but he certainly did try.
"Um, General Organa, are you... doing alrig-"
"We have to get down to Jakku now." She said with a degree of urgency in her voice.
"I beg your pardon?" Threepio asked, taken aback by Leia's change in demeanor.
"We have to grab the map as soon as we can!"
"I... don't think I quite get what you're talking abo-"
"Threepio..." Leia began with a sigh right as she lightly gripped her droid by the shoulders, taking only a little bit of time to not snag her finger on the sharp metal ridges that lined them. With how intensely she was staring into the droid's optics, one could easily mistake this for the general having finally gone insane with wanting to romance metal but taking a closer look, everyone could tell that this was a far more serious matter.
"Princess, you're scaring me a bit, what is it that you're worried about?" Taking in a deep breath, Leia held it for a few moments with her gaze not leaving Threepio's one bit. After a few seconds, she finally let it out right as she released the small piece of info.
"Threepio..." Leia began with a low tone. "Ren's after my daughters."
Several lightyears away...
When she first listened to the description of this so-called "First Order", Esdeath quickly assumed rather foolishly that they would actually be a very, VERY easy find due to the "otherworldly" appearance that many villagers she discussed with claimed them to have along with the so-called "screeching demons" that they had control over. With that in mind, the ice queen went off with the estimation of when they would meet up with the organization being roughly 15 minutes in length. Fast forward several hours later where after what felt like a month's worth of searching, there was no sign of the group anywhere, making it the last time the ice queen would ever dare to trust civilians to give her important information. However, she at least did find one important clue... and it was one that shocked her both in how obvious it was and how terrible the act was.
"The Order... did all this?" Wave asked as he continued to look around at what remained of what was once a peaceful village. Gone were the innocent little wood structures and cheerful civilians and in its place were burning shards and corpses that were still cooking to the bone from the hot fires that continued to burn. "Bols, does this bring back anything?"
"Unfortunately, it does." The big guy commented, referring to his time as a merciless killer. With this one sight alone, the brutish looking man was actually giving his own killings a reevaluation and unfortunately, he found that NONE of them held a candle to the sheer level of destruction that was present here. "They didn't just destroy this place, they DEMOLISHED it." Feeling his confidence rapidly dropping, the young swordsman's mind just kept thinking back to what would eventually happen when they met this Kylo Ren. What would he do? What would he say? Would he honestly take their offer? If where they were was to be believed, the answer to that question was nothing but a big fat "NO!". Most likely, as Wave guessed, when he met Ren, the confrontation could only end badly and despite how horrific the thought was, he just couldn't take his mind off of it. On the other side of him, Kurome was having it much worse with that wide-eyed look she had from before now being present once more.
"There's that look again." Wave thought to himself. "Granted I'm probably frightened just as much as she is but she legit looks like she's about to burst into tears at any given time. If one man can cause this then I just have to ask, what the hell did he do to her if anything?" Walking around for a few more seconds, the orange-haired Seryu heard Koro whimper a small bit right before he buried his face into her chest.
"What is it buddy?" She asked, concerned but when she looked ahead of her, her face went pale with shock at the sight. Several corpses of people both young and old, were piled on top of each other, each with faces of pure anguish though that wasn't what caught her attention. What actually did was the fact the pile was set aflame, like this Kylo person decided to use them as firewood and so at that point, she could only look on with horror as the flesh slowly peeled from their faces, revealing charred blackened bone. Much like how she was reacting right now, the blonde Run also couldn't help but stare.
"And all this was done in the span of a few minutes." Run thought to himself. "Either this First Order has the most advanced tech we've seen or they're just THAT good." Stopping for a moment, the man turned towards Wave and Kurome, taking in the distressed look on their faces as concern began to fill his mind. "Whatever the case may be, I know that if Kurome is having a hard time now then when we meet this Kylo, I predict she will have a massive panic attack." Despite the horrific visual presented to her, Esdeath just saw it as no different from when she would lead attacks on villages. In fact, some would say the sight quite... fascinated her. Stopping in front of the elder's home, or what was left of it, the ice queen dropped down to one knee once she reached the old man's bloodied corpse which had a hole in the chest SO massive that she nearly mistook it as being caused by one of the Three Beasts she used to lead around.
"Impressive." Esdeath thought to herself. "While I'm disappointed with how we still haven't found this First Order, at the very least we have confirmation that they're indeed just as powerful as initial reports suggested." Stopping for a moment, the ice queen took two fingers and began to outstretch them towards the hole in the chest which had a combination of both fresh and dried blood. For the next few seconds, she began to feel the insides of the corpse, all while continuing her internal monologue.
"Amazing," She began right as she pulled her hand free and examined the fresh red fluid. "it was almost like he was burned through rather than cut. Whoever this Kylo Ren is, they're clearly experienced at what they do. It's almost like they're mirroring..." The ice warrior stopped right as she felt a familiar sensation beginning to creep in, one that she knew all too well, a feeling that would continuously haunt her every day and night ever since the day of the tournament... for whatever reason, Kylo Ren's ways of "dealing" with the populace were almost identical to her own... and it seemed as though because of that, it was bringing about her feelings for Tatsumi. Feeling the heat on her cheeks beginning to seep in, the ice queen stopped for a moment and just continued to stare down at the corpse.
"Could he... could there possibly be... an-another?" She thought to herself. Had she been the only one, she most certainly would've stayed there for minutes, hours, hell, maybe even DAYS on end thinking about this if it weren't for a certain big guy shaking her shoulder a slight bit.
"Forgive me ma'am." Bols began. "But I regret to inform you that we've checked every part there is and we couldn't find a single piece of evidence to go off of." Despite this being something she should be frustrated with, Esdeath actually found herself being rather... indifferent to the thought. After a few minutes of gazing into nothingness, the ice queen just shook her head free of thought.
"Alright then," Esdeath began as she stood up. "there's nothing more to examine here, let's move out!" With a quick nod, every Jaeger immediately followed after the ice queen once she started down her path away from the village remains. All except for two who hesitated but after a few seconds, the girl decided it was time.
"You heard her," She began with her usual cold tone. "let's go." Right as she took her first step, Wave immediately gripped her by the wrist, a move that both shocked and frustrated her.
"What are you doing? We have to go." In response, Wave shook his head.
"Not until you tell me what's going on." Despite feeling her eyes slightly widening, Kurome still managed to keep her cold tone and continued to try and tug her arm away, only to find that Wave's grip was as tight and hard as steel.
"I can't do that, there's something going on with you."
"Didn't you hear me?" Kurome began, slightly raising her voice. "I said let go!"
"I just want to help you Kurome."
"There's nothing to help me with!"
"Yes there is." Wave responded, his voice slightly raising. "I can tell in your voice that something is wrong!"
"Leave me alone! Focus on the mission!"
"Kurome, if you can just..."
"Esdeath will kill us if we do this!"
"No, there is nothing to worry about so just leave me be!"
"THEN WHAT WAS ALL THAT CRAP ABOUT THE MASKED MAN ABOUT?!" The swordswoman immediately froze in place, the memories quickly flooding her mind. With just this one sight, the boy could easily tell that this was affecting her way more than what she was letting on and despite his conscience telling him not to, he just continued to poke and prod.
"Ever since this whole thing about Kylo Ren started, you've been very out of it lately." He began, taking notice of how Kurome shuddered at the name being mentioned. "Every time the name is spoken, you shudder. Throughout the whole meeting, your voice was shaking and now, you're just acting cold clearly to hide something." Silence filled the air for a few moments when Wave heard a few sniffles coming from Kurome and when she spoke, he took notice of just how much more shaky it was than normal.
"T-T-There i-i... There i-..." Stopping her, Wave gently set another hand on her shoulder before proceeding to turn her around so that the two were gazing into each others eyes.
"I can tell there's something wrong." Wave said with a low somber but caring voice. "I only want to help you, you just have to let me in." At that moment, the final words triggered something inside Kurome's head. For a few seconds, the final phrase repeated as normal with little difference. However, as time went on, the voice became lower, more raspy and the phrase changed into something a bit more of what she considered to be... sinister.
"Let it in." After a little while longer, Kurome just froze in place once more with her eyes wide open with fear. Concerned for her, Wave immediately changed his tone.
"Kurome?" He began, only to receive no answer. "Kurome are you doing okay?" Again no answer, the only visible sight being a slight quiver in her lip. After a few more minutes, Wave decided to try one more time.
"Kuro-" Before he could even react, the swordswoman immediately wrapped her arms around him and buried her face deep into his shirt right as she began to cry.
"That man," Kurome began, her voice slightly muffled. "Wave he's not just a mere man, he's someone I know. I met him before and I can't remember when. All I know was that he kept telling me these... these strange things about the Force and that if I don't follow the Dark Side, he'll... he'll... he'll kill my family! I-I-I don't know what to do Wave! I know it's most likely a dream but everything about this feels... it just feels too real!" At that point, Wave's heart sank faster than the Titanic. For all the time he had spent with Kurome, the words "strong", "caring" and "determined" came to mind but never, NEVER in all of his life would he ever have imagined that she would actually BREAK like this and so easily. Of course, one can never jump to conclusions but with how strongly she reacted to this and how fast his mind was brainstorming, he came across some thoughts he wished he never would've for he knew that they would haunt him for another couple of weeks after all this was over.
At that point, Wave had to use every ounce of his strength and willpower to resist pulling away from Kurome to try and find Ren for himself. At that moment, he didn't care if he possibly wasn't strong enough, he just wanted to see Ren die despite having never known him. But despite this, he knew where the issue lay and so without much hesitation, he looked down towards the swordswoman and wrapped his arms around her in a nice loving embrace.
"Kurome." He began, his voice low and understanding. "I just... I don't even know what to say, whatever it was you went through, I'm... I'm sorry you had to go through that." Feeling the warmth of both his voice and hug overtaking her, Kurome immediately halted herself right as the boy tightened his hug.
"But I would just like to let you know that you are the strongest, sweetest girl I know and that regardless of what may happen to you, whether it be through real life or a dream, you will always be that girl both in my heart and in real life. But if it does make you feel any better, I will promise you this, I will NEVER let Kylo Ren harm you one bit you hear me? Dare I say I will even go as far as to possibly disobey Esdeath to make sure that will never happen to you." Overall, the swordswoman... didn't know what to think honestly. The only person that used to be this close to her in her life was her sister Akame before the falling out and yet despite having not known each other as long, Wave was already treating her as if he had known her for years and years with the feeling just being so strange but nevertheless so heartwarming. After a couple more minutes, Kurome pulled away from Wave's chest ever so slightly and looked into his eyes, her face still stained with tears.
"D-D-Do you really mean that?" She asked to which the swordsman simply nodded and gave her a small smile.
"I do and I'll continue to believe that until the day that I die which I hope is when I'm protecting you." Despite the pain she still felt in her heart, it was the boy's words that helped to heal those wounds. After a little while longer, Kurome could feel herself becoming weak in the knees though her heart was still warm as ever. As if he sensed it, the boy wasted no time and brought her in once more for a hug that was far tighter and way more loving than the first time. After a few more seconds, Kurome returned this by tightening her grip around the boy right as her eyes shut and her lips formed into a smile.
"Thank you Wave." She said with a light friendly voice.
"It's the least I can do for someone like you." Wave responded, his hand lightly caressing her head. Unbeknownst to them, high above in the trees, a lavender haired tanned man was watching with a frightening psychotic gleam in his eye. Ready to strike, the man was just about to jump down when the thought of Kylo Ren popped into his mind. After about a minute or two, the man realized that Kylo just might be more fun and that maybe, he should just check up on how his "pets" were doing. With that in mind, the man leaped away, leaving the two friends exactly where they were, still locked in their loving embrace.
This one was very interesting to do because this was one of the first roadblocks I hit since I felt I was doing pretty good at this point but then I wasn't sure what to do for this next chapter and so I was thinking to myself and pondering about what I could do and then it hit me that this would probably be a good time to first off show that the First Order is not in the best place and that there are many conflicting opinions but I also wanted to actually cut to the regular Star Wars galaxy since of course the Resistance wouldn't just be sitting on their hands while Kylo is off doing who knows what and that gave me a great opportunity to create a contrast between the action that's present on Earth and what goes on in the regular Star Wars world because the action here is not very visceral whatsoever and that's because I was sticking more to standard Star Wars whereas the action that takes place on the AGK world is more raw and visceral.
This also shows off what I tend to do a lot for my stories which is to create basically OC minor characters and extras. They're not incredibly important to the story and I don't really think very many of them will be getting consistent appearances but basically, it's a way of filling out the ranks with characters whose names could wind up being easter eggs by the way and you can do all this without worrying about the possibility of making the fan-character a Mary Sue. Other than that? I wanted to set up some stuff with Wave and Kurome and that's basically it really for this little commentary so I hope you liked the chapter.
(Night Raid HQ)
In any military organization or combat situation, one was always told to expect the unexpected, don't always be so excessively sure of yourself unless victory is absolutely evident and you must always be three steps ahead of the enemy. These were words that Najenda and by extension, ALL of the Revolutionary Army followed for years and years from its very inception and of course, they had to since comparing the Revolutionary Army to the Empire was like comparing a stick to a bat, despite how both can hit something and cause damage, one just hits that much harder and is way more effective.
For many years now, it was thanks to the way of thinking they had set in place that they were able to achieve several victories, even in the face of insurmountable odds and when Tatsumi was brought into the fray, none of this ever changed, in fact, it was with the boy's tenacity and massive desire to protect the world that had got Night Raid so far and a few days earlier, it seemed as though everything was gonna go exactly the way they planned without a hitch.
However, this little charm of good luck was starting to seem like a bad omen over the course of several weeks which is what brought her to that small little meeting room which was only shared by the one she found herself trusting the most, Lubbock, who had a massive amount of concern for the commander's unsure and uneasy features and took this issue as seriously as he could which was evident in the tone of his voice.
"What was it you wanted to discuss?" Lubbock began. "Or better yet, why is it that only I can hear about this?" While taking a moment to seemingly to ponder it over, the silver-haired commander began to take a puff of her cigarette which he knew usually meant that she was either stressed out of her mind or relaxed, the latter of which he could already tell was not true in the slightest. Taking a few seconds to let the tobacco fill her lungs, she finally spoke with her tone being deathly serious.
"I'm sorry if this seems way too secretive for you Lubba." She began. "But I simply couldn't risk having another argument break out and I think that should give away who the subject is." At that point, the green-haired man let out a sigh. Tatsumi snapping the way he did the day before was one of the first times in a long, LONG while that Najenda had to deal with someone talking back to her in the way that he did. Of course, this was not uncommon for most guerrilla groups like them since one was always bound to disagree and usually, from what the man could remember, the worst that would happen with Najenda was that she would give them a look and everything would be all fine and dandy after that.
If only things were that easy. From the moment Tatsumi snapped to the moment he sat down, the amount of anger, hatred and sorrow that was radiating off of the boy was off the charts, FAR higher than what he expected and even after having a WHOLE day to cool down, the aura has not changed a bit. In fact, one would say that it had gotten worse and for someone like him who has occasionally been in close proximity to people as cold-hearted as Esdeath, he knows something is wrong when he thinks that person was just a bit calmer than what Tatsumi was.
"I know," Lubba began. "but with all due respect commander, shouldn't we be holding this in a more... private location? I mean, Tatsumi's room is just a few steps away from us." Najenda immediately gave him an approving nod right before taking another puff of her cigarette.
"I understand the concern but honestly, I just need to let it all out of my system Lubba." said Najenda right as she let out a chuckle of disbelief. Just to hear herself, Najenda, the stoic commander of Night Raid, pretty much admit that a member's attitude had her frustrated was something almost unheard of for her... however, it wasn't going to go unheard from anyone else other than Lubba as evidenced by the door down the halls that was cracked open ever so slightly.
"Alright then," Lubba began. "it's a huge risk but if you honestly want to let it out then by all means go for it." After mouthing a small "Thank you." to him, the commander straightened herself up in her chair right as she began to crush her finished cigarette with her prosthetic arm. Without anymore hesitation and as she was sprinkling the remains of her item into a small tray, she continued.
"Let's just cut to the chase, I have a feeling that Tatsumi is becoming more of a detriment to us then he is a help." She said bluntly. Immediately, the former imperial soldier's eyes widened.
"What?" He blurted out.
"You didn't mishear me Lubbock, Tatsumi to me is going to be a massive pain that unless he changes, we will have to 'deal' with him." Najenda responded, her voice showing a hint of frustration.
"But still, he's done so much for us, he has been a massive help, are you just going to deny tha-"
"Don't misunderstand me," Najenda interjected. "I'm not denying his usefulness. In fact, I believe him to be one of the MOST promising members that I have ever had the pleasure of taking in. He's skilled, loyal and he has this heart and charisma that aside from you, I've never seen in anyone else." Almost immediately, her small smile quickly faded right as she lit up another cigarette. "However, the boy is just far too emotional to keep on."
"But weren't we all like that at first?" Lubbock suggested. "Well of course Bulat, Akame, Susanoo and Chelsea were different stories but other than those guys, weren't me, Leone, Mine and Sheele still like that when we first dropped in?" The commander just gave him a nod, her expression unchanging.
"That is true," She began. "but after a little while of being here, you were able to control those emotions and direct them into something that was positive for all of us which is what makes Night Raid the way that it is today. However, as far as that boy is concerned, it has been several days now and he still hasn't gained that control."
"So?" Lubbock began with a shrug. "Tatsumi is still fairly fresh, give him a few more days and he might surprise you." At that moment, the man could tell that answer was not something she wanted to hear once he saw the massive green prosthetic fist beginning to tighten.
"We HAVE been giving him time." She said with a hint of frustration. "He has had several days to cope with the losses, he has had several days to get his emotions in check and hell, he even spent time with the Empire and got to witness firsthand why he must remain vigilant and yet despite all that, he STILL is the same that he was when Sheele died." Despite Najenda clearly being quite possibly at her worst at the moment, the warrior still kept his cool and continued on.
"Both of those deaths were hard on us," Lubbock began. "those two were some of the finest that we have ever worked with and in that span of time, Tatsumi had already proven himself to be an amazing fighter and despite how he is now, we still have him to thank for providing us with intel on the inner workings of the Jaegers and for destroying the Three Bea-"
"Not only that but he continuously defies orders and has showcased himself to be a complete WRECK as far as emotions are concerned!" screamed Najenda.
"And you think I haven't noticed?" Lubbock asked, his voice slightly raised. "I was there, I know how bad it's getting. During a recent sparring session, I could tell both in his eyes and his movements that he was letting his rage control him. As a matter of fact..." Stopping for a moment, the man quickly laid his right arm out on the table and rolled up his sleeves, revealing several portions of discoloration all throughout the flesh.
"I actually FELT it." He said. "He was practically aiming to kill me with that wooden sword."
"Then you should understand why I'm suggesting this." replied the commander. "Defend him all you want Lubbock but my thoughts will not be swayed, Tatsumi is a loose ca-"
"That's what you would like to think!" Lubbock cut off right as he roughly rolled his sleeve back down. "But with all due respect commander, Tatsumi is still the BEST chance we've got against the Capital! He knows so much about the Empire now that sending him off now would be a death sentence to us all."
"Who said anything about sending him off?" Najenda asked with a cocked eyebrow. Confused, Lubbock began to take a few moments to mentally debate this when suddenly, the realization came crashing down like bricks.
"You wouldn't..." Lubbock began, shaking his head in disbelief.
"You know that we would've done the same for you." Najenda said right as she took another puff. "After all, this was an issue you were made aware of."
"Please Najenda, all I'm asking is that you please give Tatsumi a little more time, the boy has been through a lot." Lubbock pleaded, his voice showing a massive amount of concern. Realizing that it was starting to get a little heated, Najenda took a moment to re-situate herself before proceeding to gently set her one caring fleshy hand down onto Lubbock's own.
"I know he's a good friend of yours Lubbock." Najenda began, her voice much softer than before. "I could tell from the first sparring session that the two of you connected so easily and trust me when I say that this isn't an easy call for me to make nor is it one that I want to go through."
"Then why suggest it at all?" Lubbock asked. Without raising her hand, the commander took a moment to give this a good long and hard thought, her brow scrunching ever so slightly as her prosthetic lightly gripped her chin. After a few more minutes of this, she let out a sigh and continued.
"The situation simply doesn't support any other option." She said rather simply.
"I don't think I follow." Lubbock responded, slightly confused. After letting out another sigh, the commander then set her prosthetic down by her side.
"What I mean is that if this was any other time and everything was still going the way I wanted it to, I might've been able to make a suggestion." Najenda began. Stopping for a moment, she took in a deep breath and held it for a few seconds and during that time, she took a moment to set her prosthetic down onto Lubba's hand and proceeded to gently rub it right as she continued. "But think about it Lubba, things haven't been going our way, have they?" The man did nothing but solemnly nod his head in agreement with Najenda continuing only a few seconds after he finished.
"Sheele is gone, Bulat is gone, the Danger Beasts have been making a complete mess of the army. We've had to move from one HQ to the next after the last one was invaded and now, we have a brand new threat on our hands in the form of this First Order and that so-called Kylo Ren and if they are exactly as Leone described, we need EVERYONE to have their heads in the right places when the inevitable clash occurs." At that point, Lubbock was just about to open his mouth when Najenda just looked him dead in the eyes where he saw that every bit of anger and frustration that she felt was now replaced by regret, with her voice perfectly matching it.
"Lubba..." She began with a low, slightly somber tone. "please, make no assumptions, I wish Tatsumi could stay, he is still one of the absolute best members we have ever seen and he has grown so much... but there are only so many chances I can give, only so many times that I can trust him. But he's just too vengeful and if this happened any sooner, BEFORE he was taken by Esdeath, I feel that he would've..."
"Wasn't I the same?" cut off Lubbock right as he proceeded to lean in closer, all the while his hand was returning the gentle rubs to Najenda's prosthetic. "Najenda... remember how I reacted when I first found out that Esdeath shattered your arm?" The commander's eyes widened, she could remember that so vividly that it was almost as if it had happened yesterday. She could still recall how before he changed their records to them being "K.I.A", his first plan was to honestly storm into the Capital and as he put it, he would inflict a level of pain that was so horrific on Esdeath that she would be begging for him to let her die. Of course, she eventually was able to convince him to not but she still could recall how his attitude had gone from being carefree and charismatic to vengeful and murderous, not unlike a certain recruit of theirs. Despite this however, Najenda tried to stick to her guns but Lubbock, knowing what she was going to say, already beat her to it.
"I know it was ages ago and that times have changed since then but still, things were nevertheless just as dangerous as they are now. Granted it was a slightly smaller issue but keep in mind, when we first broke from the Empire, just about the entire Capital was looking for us. So much so that had I not changed the records, we NEVER would've been able to approach the Capital again without being hogtied and made into a bleeding example for all to see. Commander, Najenda... all I'm asking is that we wait until after the battle with the Jaegers to make any sort of judgment on Tatsumi and if he's not acting right then... well, guess whose fault it would be for their death." What began to occur within Najenda following the conversation was something that she never would've expected in all her years as a trained soldier. Her heart? Racing like crazy. Her eyes? Constantly dilating and twitching every few seconds. Despite how severe the situation was, she found herself actually being left speechless by someone, one of her own soldiers to be exact and one that she knew she underestimated for the longest of times. The silence that filled the room was almost unbearable, the two being left to just gaze into each others eyes with Najenda's being full of uncertainty and conflict while Lubbock's were filled with worry and a slight hint of hope. Their grips slightly tightening around their hands after what felt like hours on end, Najenda was trying her hardest to get the words out but it was to no avail.
"Lubbock, I... I..." Gazing into her face, the man waited patiently for that answer, his only movements being the occasional taps on his chin. Despite the severity of it all, he could've kept this going for several more minutes if it meant he could continue gazing into his leader's beautiful eye. Waiting for what felt like an eternity, Najenda knew that if what she said wasn't what he had hoped for, he would never let her hear the end of it all and already, she could feel several beads of sweat dropping down her face with her struggle becoming all the more apparent. Finally, after a few more minutes, she was just about to speak when the sound of a door being thrown open threw both her and Lubbock off, causing them to jerk their heads to the side right as they came to the exact same realization. Without any hesitation, the two rushed towards the hallways with Lubbock practically sliding his way in and right then and there, they caught the glimpse of a familiar thin silhouette running away with weapon in hand.
"Shit," Najenda muttered to herself.
"That can't be good," Lubbock began. "Danger Beasts are usually out and about at this time of night." Right then and there, the man began to crouch into position, his Imperial Arms ready to go off. "This should stop him just fi-" Immediately, the man was stopped by the commander setting her arm down onto his shoulder, her face being deadly serious.
"It's too dangerous," She said with her usual stern demeanor. "I've seen what that weapon can do, I don't think Tatsumi would've lasted against it. We need someone else to grab him."
"Why won't you go?" Lubbock asked.
"While I am fully capable, I can't risk Night Raid losing its leader to a random Danger Beast or the First Order, we need someone who has already bared witness... to... them." The two immediately locked gazes with each other, the both of them knowing exactly who to call upon. After a few more seconds of staring and with understanding nods, the two rushed off in the opposite direction and towards the room of a familiar blonde scout.
"Um, may I like ask what we're doing here?" Mez asked in her usual typical teenage girl voice. As usual, she received no answer which granted she was used to since it was almost identical to what Phasma did but at the very least he wasn't as uptight or as annoying as Phasma was but regardless, this one Stormtrooper who only answered to either the designation of FN-2199 or the alias of "Nines" was still incredibly irritating, especially with how the only thing he has done so far is tell her to stay focused on the mission.
"Hello, I'm like talking to you." Mez said, her voice having a slight hint of annoyance and frustration to it. Once again, there was no answer. Not willing to accept defeat, Mez just continued to stare at the trooper in the vain hope that he would eventually respond. Despite how annoying the whole situation was though, Nines overall just did not care in the slightest. Granted he found the girl to be quite bothersome and wished that eventually she would just shut up and continue focusing on the mission but then again, it did remind him a bit of a certain trooper he used to work with back in the days of when he was just a lowly recruit. However, he didn't get exactly the most time to reminisce for the following few seconds, he felt himself nearly tripping up right as his upper torso jerked forward, the sight of which caused the girl let out a small chuckle with Nines on the other hand, being less than pleased and despite the helmet blocking his face, Mez could already tell that he was giving her the sharpest of glares as she quickly pulled her hand away from his back.
"Just seeing if you're listening." She cut off with a smirk and after letting out a small chuckle. "Now that I have your attention, can you please remind me exactly what we're doing here?" Seeing that this might be his only way of shutting her up, the trooper caved.
"We're making a small perimeter check," He began. "we've been getting reports of activity within the woods by a few search parties and if the blood and cracked armor was of any indication, we have to make sure that the area is safe enough to expand into and so far, everything seems to be in the all-clear." Immediately, the girl set her hands down by her hips.
"That's like, only half of what I want to hear, what I mean is why exactly are we the only two out here?" She questioned. After a small bout of grumbling, Nines just continued onward.
"Apparently Phasma can't seem to deal with you and since I am one of the most strict with my squadrons, maybe she felt I was the better fit." Soon after, Mez just scoffed.
"Oh please," She began. "that blinged-out bitch just doesn't know how to let loose." Immediately, Nines shot the warrior the absolute harshest of glares and despite wearing a helmet that blocked his face, she still could feel the intensity.
"Talk about my commanding officer like that again, I'll splatter your brains against one of these trees."
"Pfft, you wish." responded Mez as she set her arms behind her head. "Your commanding officers wouldn't allow that news to come back now would they?"
"Actually, my history would beg to differ." Nines replied, catching the girl's interest.
"Really? They just let you kill random troopers if they're having fun?" The trooper shook his head.
"What you consider 'having fun' is what people like me and Phasma consider laziness and purposeful defying of orders and as we were taught, anyone who continues this excessively will be shot dead without hesitation." Despite how frightening the idea sounded, Mez just let out a mocking chuckle.
"Sounds like you have a pretty shitty work ethic." She commented, causing FN-2199 to shift his gaze towards her once more.
"Sounds like you've never been disciplined."
"Yeah right," She said with a scoff. "you would be singing a completely different tune if you saw me in battle or my training, we were given a LOT of discipline."
"Is that so? Well then, I take it back," He began. "you just don't have ENOUGH discipline."
"It doesn't matter, I can still kick ass." Feeling slightly bored and very annoyed, the trooper slowly unsheathed his stun baton and began to lightly twirl the inactivate weapon around all while he continued his chat.
"In my book, it doesn't matter how good you are in a fight, if you don't respect your commanding officer and continuously bite their hand which has fed you many times before, you're just trash like the rest of them." Right then and there, the girl's face flared up with anger.
"Excuse me?" She began.
"You heard me right, if you spent more time practicing on respecting your commanding officer, maybe you wouldn't be such a useless heel to me."
"Useless?! Listen here bucket-head, I can easily send your ass flying into one of these trees so you better show ME some resp-AGGH!"
"That's your first lesson, always know when to shut up." With that said, Nines began to calmly dust off his baton with his movement not stopping, leaving Mez just a few feet behind him with hands rubbing her injured stomach. A few moments later, she finally straightened herself out.
"You're a dick you know th-" Right before she could finish, Nines immediately threw up his hand which she recognized as the signal for her to silence herself. A few moments later, the trooper used another gesture that signaled for her to get low which she surprisingly obeyed without any issue. With the two in position, Nines lead them slowly but steadily through the forest with the only sounds that were heard being both the cracking of branches and leaves, the pair's low breaths and the slight clinking of armor as the binoculars were wriggled free from Nines's belt. Of course, deep down inside Mez wanted to get back at the trooper but she knew damn well that it both wasn't the time and that this could potentially lead to their deaths so she kept quiet. As a nice bonus on the other hand, she was able to actually gain a full appreciation for how beautiful the forest was at this time of night. The way the trees cast a shadow under the light of the moon, the way the leaves were lit up with a slight hint of blue and overall, just the starry night sky alone was enough to get her gazing out with amazement. Sometimes though, she would get a bit too caught up in that to the point where Nines had to roughly tug her along which he did probably about three or four times. Finally, after what seemed like hours of walking, the two stopped and in their gaze was a small wooden cabin, one that looked very, VERY close to one of the many homes Nines saw back on Jakku with the only difference being quite obvious.
"What do you see?" Mez asked as Nines continued to stare through his binoculars and sure enough, he finally got a decent view of them. There were three "living" beings though really, they looked as if someone had draped giant grey bags over walking piles of muscle and called it a day. Despite that, in all his years of being a part of the First Order, not once had that trooper ever seen anything quite like it and when he noticed how some had on small pieces of armor and a little bit of hair, it made him think back to the infamous urban legend about how the Empire commissioned a bio-weapon that ended up being unleashed on an entire Star Destroyer crew and how that ship had been left floating as a derelict ever since with many saying the creatures looked as if they were bags of flesh which these monsters fit the description of so perfectly. However, that was not what he was focusing on completely since what he mainly had his eyes on was a human corpse, a male to be exact, that was currently having its intestines devoured down on the hard ground and while that was already quite the disturbing sight, it was definitely not enough to phase the trooper who had seen far worse on several missions and simulations.
Yet that was once again a part that he didn't pay much attention to since in just a few moments, a loud scream sounded off, causing him to immediately shift his gaze towards the cabin and right there he saw an innocent woman clearing out her lungs with her screeches of terror which usually he wouldn't pay attention to but what caught his eye was the very obvious protrusion in her midsection and right then and there, he knew exactly what the reason for that was.
"Heh, poor bastards." Mez commented right as she stood up and began to turn the other direction. "Better them than us am I right?" Giving no response, the trooper began to slowly look down towards his stun baton and began to recall a message that Hux and Phasma had repeated to him many times before.
"Any young one you can keep alive, regardless of if they're in the womb or not, is better than to waste a possible future soldier." At that moment, the trooper began to slowly look back towards the cabin and right then and there, the face under the helmet lit up with determination which he wasn't shaken from for one bit, despite the questioning hand on his shoulder.
"Don't tell me you're actually thinking of going down there," Mez began. "leave them, it's not worth it." Still silent as ever, Nines took one step forward, all while brushing the girl's hand away.
"Are you out of your fucking mind?!" She called. "There is no way you're surviving this!" Immediately, the monsters stopped and began to turn towards the trooper with heads cocked to the side out of curiosity. Silence filled the air as the two different beings continued to stare at one another, almost like it was a stand-off with Mez just standing close behind, gawking at the scene for she felt that there was only one way that this could end and even with all that had transpired with Sten beforehand, even this was too horrific to think about. As if her stare had finally gotten through, Nines slowly turned his head towards Mez and signaled for her to stand with him to which she responded with a small shake of her head. Frustrated, the trooper made a few small gestures to her which mainly involved the blaster holstered on his hip. Realizing what that meant, she stood there for a few more seconds before finally moving to stand right alongside the loyal soldier.
"I hate you." She whispered though he ignored it. The gazes were intense and unflinching, the only movement being the beasts seemingly licking their lips at the meal that was presented before them. Despite this, the trooper's composure was not lost for even one second, rather he seemed... excited at the prospect of fighting these beasts.
"This reminds me of that raid we performed on Jabba's abandoned palace and the Gamorreans we fought there." The man thought as drew his baton, the weapon whirring to life the moment he flicked it outward. Slowly, the trooper began to make his way down when he caught Mez trying to slowly back away. With a quick jerk of his arm, Nines pulled the girl towards him and gave her a deathly glare.
"Do that again and I'll put you six feet under, got that?" He growled. The girl simply nodded as the two continued to make their way towards the beasts. Meanwhile, it was throughout the whole ordeal that the pregnant woman was continuously backing her way against the wall out of pure, uncontrolled fear, to the point where she swore that she might just lose all control of her bladder right then and there. After a little bit of uncontrolled shaking, she felt as the counter started to hobble and wobble for a few moments, causing the single glass jar that was present to do the same and as her luck would have it, the small object teetered just a bit too far towards the edge and fell, shattering into a million shards the moment it hit the ground which unfortunately caught the attention of the two very hungry monsters.
"Now." Nines uttered right before he proceeded to run straight towards the beast with Mez only noticing just a few seconds too late.
"Now wait a second, what was the pl-" In just under a split-second, the girl IMMEDIATELY rolled out of the way of the two Danger Beasts that came her way. Realizing this was no time to talk, Mez just straightened herself out and got into the fight. Back in the home, the pregnant woman just watched with pure fright in her eyes as the armor-clad stranger hung on to the monster's shoulders with the latter trying their hardest to shake him free, causing his body to slam against several walls in the process. Despite the slight shock of pain, the trooper was still feeling incredibly energized and determined to bring the beast down and so his grip was not letting up. After a little while longer, Nines felt he had just about enough of this rodeo and reached down for his hip, where he drew his blaster rifle and once he had it situated, he fired straight into the monster's eyes, causing it to howl in pain.
"I have you now." Nines thought to himself as he lowered from the monster's back. Wasting no time once his feet were back on the ground, the trooper gave his baton a mighty swing and sent the electrified piece crashing straight into the beast's face, the force of which caused several teeth and drops of blood to scatter out. Without hesitation, he followed up on this blow with a mighty swing at the knees, causing the monster to drop down in pain as the bones shattered into millions of pieces. Taking his chance, Nines immediately reached for what looked to be a small handle on his back and drew out a small cylinder, a cylinder that had frightened many Resistance soldiers, citizens and pirates alike and with that small tool, he twisted the top and shoved it straight down the monster's gaping maw before proceeding to send the worthless body flying with his weapon, sending it on a collision course with Mez who was currently fighting off the other two monsters.
"Oh shit." She muttered once she heard the beeping and with that, she immediately and without warning, dropkicked the two others into their "friend" before proceeding to take off running for a nearby tree. With just his arm slightly raised the keep himself from being blinded, the trooper watched with glee as the ferocious beasts went from being alive and kicking to several bloody meat chunks from the explosion that went off from underneath them with the blood that was sent from it being splattered all over Mez, covering every inch of her tanned flesh and clothes in red which certainly did NOT brighten her day.
"You asshole!" She called out angrily right as she proceeded to storm towards him. "You could've given me a warning first!"
"You'll live." Nines replied dryly, turning towards the cowering woman in the back as he proceeded to sheathe his weapons and judging by the gaping mouth, the wide-open eyes and the shaking pointing finger that she knew.
"With the First Order?" Nines finished. The woman just continued to stare at him.
"Y-Y-You're not goi-going to..." Immediately, the trooper dropped down to one knee and looked her straight in the eye.
"If you are willing to cooperate, no harm will come to you." He began. "Just do as I say and everything will be just fine." The woman then began to frantically dart her eyes across the room, searching for anything she possibly could use to fight back but it was to no avail. A few moments later, she felt her finger run across something smooth and cold, a feeling that couldn't have come to her at ANY better time, now all she needed to do was just keep him talking.
"Y-Yes," Began the woman, her fingers slowly easing the knife towards her. "W-What is i-i-it that you ask of me?" In his gut, the trooper could very much tell that something wasn't right here, a feeling that he admit, has been present for the longest of times now ever since FN-2187 defected from the First Order all those days ago so in case it was his paranoia acting up, he decided to just keep going.
"First off, we're looking for two girls who have been known to patrol the area, have you seen them?" The woman just shook her head which incited a small curse from Nines just a few moments later.
"Well then..." He began. "I guess I'll move onto the next which i-" His instincts kicking in, the trooper immediately thrust his arm out and grabbed the woman's wrist just as the knife was inches from his helmet, his gaze not leaving her face throughout the whole experience. If she wasn't terrified before, she certainly was now since despite how average the soldier looked, his grip was as solid as ever with how her hand was not even shaking an inch from the pressure. Saying nothing, the woman just looked on in fear as the trooper leaned towards her, close enough to where she could feel the heat of his face radiating off of him.
"Let's try that again, shall we?" He said in a low sinister voice. "You don't want me to leave you out here for dead do you?" The woman began to slowly shake her head from side-to-side which Nines took as her agreeing to stay put and so, he began again.
"Now initially I was going to ask but now, after that little stunt you pulled, I'm demanding. Once your infant is born, you are to give it to the First Order, if you refuse, just know that only death will come your way."
"You wouldn't dare!" The woman called, her eyes widening. Slowly and without any hesitation, the trooper drew his blaster from his hip and had the barrel lightly pressing against her chest.
"I'm daring." The trooper said with a dark sense of humor. "Now are you going to comply or am I going to have to put you down?" At that point, the woman felt that she would've had better luck with the monsters since for the first time in all her life, she was forced into a situation where neither option was beneficial to her. If she agreed to it, she would be forced to stand by and watch as her child, another human being that she herself gave life to would only live to serve an evil band of dictators and would be molded into someone far more monstrous than she possibly could've imagined but if she declined, both her and the child would die and there would be nothing she could do to stop it. She pondered over her decisions carefully, making sure that whatever she went with would not leave her filled with regret with the trooper waiting patiently. Finally, after a good couple of minutes, she looked up at the trooper and took a deep breath but instead of a willing face, Nines saw a woman filled with anger.
"I would rather be tossed off a cliff in a burning bag while squirrels and other tiny creatures gnaw away at my flesh than have a monster like you, turn my child into nothing but a kill-" The woman was cut off a few seconds later, the sound of her voice not fading out but rather, it abruptly paused like she had just fallen asleep mid-sentence. With his grip still on her arm, the trooper watched and felt as her pulse slipped away into nothingness and after about a minute, he released his hold on her, watching as the knife dropped to the ground right at the same time as her body slumped against the back-wall.
"So be it." He said as he began to raise back up onto his feet. Taking just a few more seconds to look at the corpse, he then turned towards the exit and proceeded to walk out with Mez following close behind, her face showing pure shock and awe at what he did as one thought filled her mind.
"If this is how the First Order treats every person who defies their rule..." At that moment, Mez looked down towards her open palm, taking a brief few seconds to take in the fact that her comrades are no longer having to serve under Bolic and how instead, they're nothing but slaves to tyrants like the one she saw before her. After a few more minutes, she looked up towards the trooper and completed her thought.
"Then I'm going to be in huge trouble later on." With that said, the two moved on into the night, all while a lavender haired man, the same man who watched over Kurome and Wave, was silently cursing to himself.
This chapter was a very interesting one back when I first released it and that's mostly because of two elements. The first is how I wanted to kind of delve into something that I don't think AGK really did much with and that was explore how when Tatsumi first joined up with Night Raid? The implication basically was they'd kill him if he were to refuse to join and since Tatsumi was going to be opposing or at least arguing with Night Raid more? I felt like it made a lot of sense to dive into conversations like this, especially since it helps to sell that Night Raid despite being a group that is ultimately heroic in its goals is still a group of assassins and not like let's say, a superhero team so their morals are still ultimately pretty grey and since AGK tried in the anime to delve into grey morality? It made a lot of sense to have this story deal with themes of that as well. Plus this story was centered around a villain protagonist so we were going to be dealing with this anyway.
And speaking of the villains, this chapter is the next appearance of Nines AKA FN-2199 AKA TR-8R AKA that one character who became a meme after TFA. He originally appeared in a chapter earlier as the Stormtrooper who kicked the ever-living hell out of one member of the Four Rakshasa Demons and originally that was going to be it. Things changed however once I started thinking about this chapter and this is a case where an idea had was spur of the moment and I decided that I should consider developing some minor members of the First Order and show off more of their brutality while also getting them acquainted with some of Akame ga Kill's minor characters and thus came this scene.
"Who said anything about sending him off?" That one sentence, that one blasted sentence was constantly playing through Tatsumi's mind without a hitch, almost as if it was a CD on repeat and with every passing second and every replay, he found himself hating it more and more as he continued to run through the several trees and bushes.
"How could they?" His mind began. "Am I really that horrible to them? Even after all I did they're going to toss me out like that?!" After every twenty steps or so, the boy would quickly jerk his head to the side to see how far he was from the base with every tiny piece he saw of it, no matter how blurred or how tiny it was in the distance, serving only as a means of pushing him to keep going further. His legs were sore and tense, he could feel his muscles pulsating from beneath his skin, begging and pleading for him to give it a rest but he stubbornly refused all of it.
"I thought things would be different." He mentally thought. "I thought this would honestly be my chance to avenge my friends and do something good for the world and what did I get? A bunch of murderers who didn't have what it took to be hu-" Tatsumi at long last halted his run, his body nearly collapsing to the ground right as he came to that complete stop. Right then and there, his brain then began to scour over a few pieces that directly contradicted his current thought, pieces that revolved around two certain individuals, one with pink hair and another with black and right then and there, he let out a frustrated sigh right as the image of Mine's tearful face after having retrieved Sheele's weapon came to mind as well as one of him being pushed against a wall by Akame right as a sorrowful voice began to play itself back.
"No matter how many times I see my friends fall, I will NEVER get used to this! But these emotions you see here would affect the next mission and the one after that. That's why I act so calm about it all!" At that moment, Tatsumi couldn't help but look down at the ground and let out a long sigh that was full of both frustration and regret right as one other voice came rushing through his head.
"You don't care about that! You said it yourself, 'any of us could die at anytime.', meaning that I shouldn't get attached well I'm sorry that I'm an actual HUMAN with real emotions and is not afraid to put them out on display! Unlike you Chelsea, who just looks back on them like they're trash! Or how about you Mine, you show emotion one moment and then you want to just focus on the mission?! Tell me, do you think Sheele would've wanted that?!" Even if several years had passed, deep down Tatsumi knew that this memory would always be there, reminding him, haunting him and no matter how many times he would try to forget it, it would always find a way to come back. By far out of all the times he had gotten angry, this one was easily the worst with the most likely cause of that being the reactions he caught around the room.
Even if he couldn't see it, he still could feel tears beginning to build up whenever he thought of Mine's shocked expression, a tell-tale sign of just how much he had hurt her, Najenda's cold glare, Lubbock's wide eyes with his hand covering his mouth and finally, there was Akame, breaking the trend of her usual cold blank stares with a look that was full of concern and from his experience, if her expression ever changed just like that, he automatically knew that something was up and in this case, that something was him and he had to admit, just that thought alone and the pain it inflicted was the worst he had ever felt. Even worse than being sliced with a sword.
Standing there with this in mind, Tatsumi's left hand slowly began to tighten its grip around his sword and his teeth began to grit right as he slowly closed his eyes, finally setting free a single tear that came trickling down his face. He remained like that for a good couple of minutes before finally proceeding to look up into the sky and straight into the moon, the ominous white orb acting as his only real form of comfort.
"Mayb-maybe they're right about me," He mentally began. "I've said that I would switch gears and fight, I know that sobbing isn't going to bring my friends back... but now, what good will that do? I lost my village, my friends, I've lost everything. What good is someone like me if I got nothing to fight for?" Before he could ponder over that thought any longer, the sound of a cracking tree branch in the distance snapped him out of it and he immediately shifted his gaze towards the trees and almost immediately, he began to hear faint voices.
"What the hell?" He quietly said to himself. "There are others out and about? Don't they know this is dangerous?" With that, the boy began to quietly ponder to himself on this very subject, his hand lightly rubbing his chin. After a few minutes, it felt as though it was nothing to worry about when suddenly, his face tensed up right as one thought filled his mind, the thought of soldiers in white stomping down his village, murdering everyone in their path. Wasting no time, Tatsumi with sword in hand began to rush towards the noise, the thought of revenge filling his heart and mind.
It had been a little while since FN-2199 "saved" that one woman and far longer since Sten's demise at the hands of Kylo Ren. Overall, if Mez wasn't concerned about her safety with the First Order, she was most DEFINITELY convinced now as even with all the people she had murdered in the past with her colleagues, nothing could compare to the sheer unflinching brutality that the First Order possessed... and much to her possible fright or delight, she was absolutely loving it. The two of them had been walking in silence for a good couple of minutes and finally, it was Mez who broke it.
"I still can't believe you did that." She said. "I thought kidnapping children was like your thi-"
"Kidnapping those who can be indoctrinated is what the First Order seeks." Nines interjected. "That woman was just going to be a traitor." At that moment, Mez set her hands on her hips and looked towards the trooper with a smirk.
"From what I've heard from Phasma, you've had a history with traitors, is that correct?"
"That information is on a 'need to know' basis." Nines responded. "You want to learn it? EARN my trust."
"Really, you can't even spare a little bit?" The trooper just shook his head. Immediately, the girl set her hand on her chin and began to stroke it before finally setting upon one option that wasn't exactly... elegant but it would do.
"Would you be willing to spare it if..." Nines quickly shot her a glare right as her hand touched his chest.
"Are you seriously suggesting that I would lower myself to sexual contact just so you can learn about my history? That's just disgusting." Feeling her face flare up with both embarrassment and anger, Mez shot him a glare of her own.
"DISGUSTING!? Why you little, you bett-OW!"
"Watch yourself? That better applies to you than it does me." Nines said right as he sheathed his baton, leaving Mez to once again rub her stomach in pain, finally realizing that this was a fool's errand. After a little bit of silence, she changed the subject.
"Do any of you troopers have a name?" She asked, causing Nines to look at her with a cocked head. "If you do have one I mean." The trooper just kept his gaze locked on her and despite not being able to view his eyes, she could feel her frustration piling up. "Oh come on! Don't tell me that's classified t-"
"It isn't," He interjected. "my trooper designation is FN-2199 though some have gotten accustomed to calling me 'Nines'."
"Really, Nines? You mean like, the number?" Mez asked, trying her hardest not to bust out laughing. "Are there any other names that are less embarrassing than that?" In response, the trooper just shook his head.
"There was only one other nickname I obtained from my comrades and one that I'm... not at all proud of." With just that one sentence, Mez's imagination immediately went to scouring through EVERY possible option with every thought she found being more hilarious than the last.
"What was that name?" She began. "Powderman? Robocop?"
"TR-8R." Nines spat out, his voice showing clear distaste. Crossing her arms in disappointment, Mez cocked her head to the side.
"Wait, come again?"
"You heard me." He began. "TR-8R was a nickname MOST recruits gave me."
"Really? You're upset that someone gave you a nickname that's pronounced as..."
"Traitor?" He cut off. "Actually yes, yes I am upset with that."
"Why would you be?" She asked. "What makes TR-8R so bad but Nines, a name just as goofy, good?"
"It's not necessarily the name that gets to me, it's the reasoning behind it." He began. "Whenever I go into training regiments with other troopers, I try to make it clear to them that they should always and I mean ALWAYS remain loyal to the First Order and that they will live and die with it."
"And what brought about the nickname?" Mez asked. At that moment, Nines took in a long and hard breath, reveling in the fresh air before proceeding.
"A lot of the younger, more immature recruits say that apparently, with how devoted my life is to the First Order, my trooper ID should be changed to TR-8R because I clearly am just going to betray them all in a few days time."
"So basically, kind of like how some soldiers try to act casual when in reality, they are only giving away their position?" Nines cocked an eyebrow, his interest clearly peaked as he turned toward her.
"Your team had a history with people like that?" Smirking, Mez backed up a little.
"I thought you said info like that is on a 'need to know' basis?" She asked smugly.
"That applies only to my line of work." Mez immediately shook her head.
"Well I'm not telling you until you tell me."
"Then I guess you'll have to remain silent. It's not info I need to know anyway." Nines said right as he shifted his gaze back towards the front, leaving Mez with arms behind her head and her smug grin.
"He'll come back around." She thought. "It'll be any minute now." And so she waited, and waited, and waited... and waited. She waited for a grand total of what she assumed to be several hours but in reality, it was just a few minutes and Nines was still not willing to give up his info. Feeling defeated, she let out a frustrated sigh.
"Alright, alright, you got me." She began. "Back when I was still training with my buddies, we used to see several young guys coming and going and let me tell you, if you and Phasma have a problem with how I act then you would've wanted to BUTCHER these little shits for they were just the worst, especially when they saw me, they came up with all kinds of nicknames and most of them weren't even creative."
"Like what?" Nines asked, his head cocked to the side. Playfully, the tan woman brought one hand up to her chin and another up to at least chest level and with her fingers, she began to count off all the various phrases.
"Let's see... they called me 'Beach Gal', 'Tan Babe', 'Bikini Mistress', 'Teenage Terror', 'Big Tits'..." Nines's head jerked slightly.
"Wait, what was that last one?"
"Big Tits?" She said questioningly. "You're a guy who has murdered countless amounts of people, one who has raided HUNDREDS of villages and has probably heard every insult and nickname in the book and yet 'Big Tits' is the one that surprises you?" Nines just gave her a nod.
"Um, yes," He began. "yes it does surprise me." Realizing she had the trooper actually flustered a slight bit, she couldn't help but let out a loud laugh, one that was SO unbelievably ear-grating that the trooper was surprised she didn't attract every bit of wildlife to the area.
"HA! HA! HA! HA! Don't tell me you're honestly THAT foreign to jokes like that! HA! HA!" In the back of his mind, Nines knew of more than one trooper that used to act like this... and he couldn't ever remember if there was one who lived. In the First Order, all recruits were required to follow by the exact same set of strict guidelines, which were all set in place after a belief began to catch steam. The belief went that the Empire had some of the poorest training outposts available back in the old days of when they first started to remove clones from their ranks which in turn, became one of the causes for their defeat back on Endor and later, Jakku. Despite it being nothing but a theory, with the sad state of affairs that was the Empire's upper management at the time, a complete overhaul of training regiments was deemed LONG overdue and one of the new rules that was implemented was one that Nines had memorized word for word.
"Regardless of how useful they could be, repeated offenses of disrespect and disorder shall and will be met with severe repercussions which especially includes torture and/or death." His mind played back, the words of Phasma and Hux echoing through his head like an old recorder. At that point, it seemed painfully obvious what his brain and gut were trying to tell him. Mez was, for lack of a better term, a vapid, bothersome, worthless bimbo that would be better off being chucked in a garbage chute with the rest of the load rather than being a member of the First Order. He knew it, Phasma knew it and hell, he wouldn't doubt that Hux and Kylo would probably agree with it. Yet, there was just something about her that just interested him too much and this was in spite of all the times he commanded her to silence herself or when he hit her with the baton and surprisingly enough, it seemed that she knew it as well.
"Hey Nines, can I ask you something?" She inquired, the final few chuckles from her fit finally fading.
"Most likely it's something I won't care about but whatever, go for it." He responded. The girl began to fidget in place for a few moments, almost as if she was actually unsure of whether or not she should speak. After a few seconds though, she finally got it out.
"I know you dislike me, possibly it has even evolved to the point of hatred but I just have to ask. Why is it that you still have me aro-" The trooper immediately threw up a hand gesture, signaling for her to shut her trap which she certainly was not happy with, evidenced by the way she set her hands on her hips.
"The Danger Beasts are done dude." She began. "What is it that you're so worried about?"
"It's simple..." A slightly high chilling voice said, way too clear to be Nines due to the lack of radio feedback or crackling. Feeling a little uneasy, Mez began to slowly back up, the only sounds being both the rustling of trees and the sound of a blaster and baton charging up. After a few minutes, the blonde was positively frightened, the voice sounded... familiar to her but she couldn't exactly pinpoint who it was or what location it was from. Her heart was beating against her chest at an increasingly faster pace every couple of seconds, the same went for the beads of sweat trickling down her face. After a few more minutes, it seemed that all sound drained from the world which both frightened and confused Mez even more... only for her to come to the startling realization once a pair of masculine hands wrapped around her throat right as the reply finished up.
"He's worrying about me!" With reflexes that would make a certain green and red bounty hunter proud, Nines did a complete 360 turn and unloaded a quick warning shot that went right into the man's hand, causing him to grasp it in pain which left the blonde with just enough time to escape.
"Well aren't you quite the shot." The man commented rather mockingly, all while rubbing the small burn mark. "Can't you learn how to take a joke?"
"You're the one who unloaded those beasts, aren't you?" Nines questioned, the man seeming to show a small hint of surprise as he nodded.
"Bravo! You found that out fast, I take it you've dealt with people like me before?"
"Several" Nines responded, his weapon still centered on the man. "and you are?"
"Oh how rude of me!" The man began, his hand lightly patting his chin before he proceeded to bow. "My name is Syura, son of the wonderfully demented prime minister Honest!" The way he could be so full of himself and so mocking was almost enough to make the trooper vomit though it was his next move that ESPECIALLY made that idea appealing when he started to eye Mez. "And my, my, you brought me a gift stranger? Oh you really shouldn't have, the hoes I pick off the street do good enough. Though she is cute I will give you that, maybe Champ would like to have a little... playtime with her." In a move full of rage, Mez immediately stomped her foot down in disgust.
"That nasty ass clown will do NO such thing to m-" Before the trooper knew it, the man disappeared right before his very eyes and it wasn't just a matter of he blinked or looked away for too long, Syura literally just disappeared in almost an instant ONLY to reappear a few moments later just a bit too close for comfort with his hands on the blonde's breasts.
"Careful now sweetie," He began with a sinister voice. "you don't want to see how I get when I'm m-ACK!" In a move that filled Mez with a sense of joy and relief, she watched as Nines delivered some five-fingered justice straight to Syura's face, causing a small bit of blood to splatter against the ground. Before he could get react, the trooper immediately followed up this strike with a brutal swing to the stomach from his baton, the force of which caused his ribs to make a subtle "CRACK!" that became music to the trooper's ears.
"And you don't want to see me when I'm angry." Nines replied coldly, the only response from the man being a sick twisted grin.
"Quite a lucky shot I would say," He began as he proceeded to wipe the blood from his mouth. "But it's not enough to bring me down."
"Doesn't matter." Nines responded right as he dropped his blaster. "After all, I've dealt with fools like you before."
"Oh really?" He began. "Well I'm sure I must offer some variety, after all this is the first and last time you'll ever get to face a man who can bend time and space at will."
"Fancy tricks and theatrics will never replace skill." Nines said with a scoff. "It doesn't matter how many times they say they have something unique about them, they all fall just the same."
"Oh my," Syura began with a chuckle. "we've got quite the badass over here. Tell me my friend, has that overconfidence ever got you into REAL trouble?"
"Funny, I was thinking of asking you the same question." Banter like this continued on for what seemed like an eternity and throughout the whole experience, all three parties failed to notice a certain pair of green eyes staring straight at them, eyes that were filled with burning fury, eyes that were filled with remorse, eyes that when one looked into them, they could clearly see the burning soul of revenge. Gripping their sword tightly, the figure continued to glare at them.
"It's him," Tatsumi thought to himself. "it's exactly as Leone described, these are the ones that killed my family and from the looks of it. I don't recognize the other two but my heart pounds just as much at the sight of them as it does the trooper." His fist tightening to the point where if it weren't for his gloves, his nails would be digging into his flesh, the boy then looked down towards his sword, contemplating on whether or not activating his weapon would be necessary. However, he had no time for that since a few seconds later, his gaze locked with the tan man's whose smirk just radiated evil.
"Are you sure you want to start this party now?" Syura began. "Because it looks like we have another guest." Almost immediately but without taking his guard down, the trooper shifted his gaze behind him and sure enough, he saw the pair of green eyes peeking out ever so discretely from behind the trees. Realizing there was nowhere to go, the boy let out just one simple grunt.
"Oh shit." Soon after he let it out, Syura's smirk grew into a full blown grin as he began to cup his hands over his mouth.
"Come on out boy! There's nothing to be afraid of!" He shouted, the sarcasm being oh so obvious towards the end. After a quick signaling for Mez to keep watch on Syura, Nines began to slowly make his way towards the boy.
"State your business," He began. "if you have any that is because if not, move along, this is not the time to be out and about."
"That voice." Tatsumi thought to himself. "It's exactly as Leone described back home. I..." At that moment, the boy, for lack of a better term, just... lost everything. Feeling his rage get the better of him, he stood up straight and began to walk towards the trooper with several dried leaves being crushed with every step he took.
"My name is Tatsumi," The boy began with the best booming bout of anger he could manage. "you destroyed my village, killed my family and ruined the life I once knew and loved." Nines watched as this young, almost teenage looking warrior proceeded to spread his legs and lower his sword to the side, clearly ready to rip him apart.
"Prepare to die." Despite the threat, the trooper couldn't help but repeat the name many times in his head along with the order he received by Kylo before he went off on this mission.
"If you ever come across this Tatsumi, take him alive, I feel he may prove to be most useful to us." The dark voice reminded him, its tone having a slightly ethereal sounding to it, almost as if it was coming to him directly from the Force itself. Taking a moment to look around him, he couldn't help but feel this sense of excitement beginning to trickle in just at the sheer thought of what he was doing. One of their goals was finally on the road to being achieved with Tatsumi's presence but not only that, he just so happened to walk right into a possible link who may know of the girls they're looking for. Staring into Tatsumi's hate-filled eyes he couldn't help but let his lips develop into a small smirk.
"I think you'll find boy that actually, I won't be dying tonight and instead..." Right then and there, the trooper jerked his foot to the back right as he flicked his baton to the side. "you'll be our guest." Right then and there, Nines spun his baton around in a move very similar to his duel back on Takodana to the point where the weapon stopped at exactly the same spot towards his abdomen. Feeling insulted, Tatsumi's face began to light up with so much more ferocity with his glare becoming noticeably sharper and his teeth beginning to grit all the while Nines remained perfectly calm all throughout which surprised Mez who had her head turned to watch. Smirking at this display, Syura wasted no time and got into his own fighting stance right as he let out a small chuckle.
"Well, I guess now that the two boys are occupied," He began, causing Mez's gaze to snap towards him. "it just leaves us. So what do you say my sweet, shall we embark on this dance?" Despite the clear creepy aura he possessed, Mez began to think back to her previous commander Bolic and recalled how the two of them acted alike to the point of it being rather horrifying. Shaking this thought free, Mez just looked Syura, who had one arm outstretched almost as if he was handing out an invitation, straight in the eyes and gave him a harsh glare followed up by an agreeing nod.
"If it means that I won't have to look at your ugly face anymore then by all means I'm ready." In response, the man's demeanor changed in a record time with his face going from sadistic grin to burning hatred while his hands balled up into tight fists.
"Ugly?" He growled. "Why you little BITCH!" Right then and there, the two charged at each other with fists held up and ready to strike. Seeing their chance, Tatsumi and Nines soon followed suit with their weapons drawn back before they proceeded to collide with one epic "CLANG!" sounding off right as the two met before devolving into a series of parries, blocks and swings that also wasn't unlike the battle of Takodana since it wasn't just the motions that were similar but the motives as well.
Unlike the honorable Jedi of the past, Tatsumi was aiming purely to kill.
For the first time in all her life, in all the years she had spent eating, breathing and killing, in all the years she had spent committing various atrocities, Esdeath had found herself in a position that she had never thought she would be in from the very moment she joined with the Empire and it was these village searches she had to thank for that.
She was completely and utterly bored and sick of seeing carnage. Of course, that wasn't to say she didn't enjoy it still. Far from it in fact. From the five or so that the Jaegers and her have investigated so far, the ways that the First Order completely decimated everything was nothing short of eye-candy in that there was never exactly one corpse with the exact same injuries or homes that were completely raided and empty, seeing the sights and hearing the sounds of smoldering rubble and the gurgles of fresh blood that happened to still be flowing in some of the bodies was almost like an early Christmas for her. However, it was the fact that this destruction was leading to NOWHERE that made her sick of seeing everything. All the time she spent in those villages, she prayed and begged to the gods up above to just give her something, ANYTHING that would actually be useful. A survivor or two she could interrogate, a leftover weapon or corpse from at least one First Order trooper so she knew what to look for, all she wanted was just a single sign but as her luck would have it, nothing was making itself available and by the time they reached this one, she just about had it.
"I swear if at least one piece doesn't present itself soon, I am going to GUT Honest for wasting my time." She angrily thought right as she pushed another corpse to the side. However, it wasn't just the lack of evidence that became a recurring theme and this one had nothing to do with the carnage around them but rather it was her own team and most notably, Kurome and Wave who currently had his arm wrapped around the former, much to her frustration.
"Wave, relax I'm fine." Kurome said, her voice still slightly shaky from moments ago. Silently refusing it with a shake of his head, Wave continued to remain as close to Kurome as he possibly could as he continued to look around at the carnage with every corpse he skimmed over beginning to freak him out more and more.
"This looks like it was hit by every disaster imaginable." He thought to himself. "If they wanted to make a first impression well they've certainly made a damn interesting one." Taking a breather from his examination duties, the boy took a moment to glance at his friend and took note of how while she clearly was doing better, the look in her eyes made it clear that the feelings from before were still there otherwise.
"Whatever the hell that man did to you, I promise it will never happen again." Deciding he needed to take his mind off it all, the swordsman turned towards a familiar masked comrade.
"Hey Bols, what are you making of this?" Wave questioned, his voice showing slight signs of fright. However, the brute just remained silent, even after a few minutes had passed which convinced the boy to try again.
"Bols, what are you making of this?" He asked at a slightly louder volume, again no answer was heard.
"Bols?!" He yelled after another few minutes. Again, there was no answer with the man just continuing to examine his territory.
"I see now..." He began mentally. "all those times I've killed, all those times I've pillaged, murdered and set people aflame, they all PALE in comparison to what happened here." Shutting his eyes for a brief moment, he began to think back to what Wave said about him, about how he didn't care that he was a merciless killer beforehand, about how he felt that even someone like him could actually redeem themselves. With that thought, the man couldn't help but give a small smirk.
"You know, I may not have understood you back then but honestly, I have to admit, I think I'm starting to get it." He continued to linger on this one thought for a few more moments when suddenly, he heard what sounded like a battle-cry in the distance, one that even Esdeath seemed to hear and even recognize since she immediately stopped and jerked her head towards the side.
"Tatsumi?" She questioned out loud. Her "response" only being what sounded like an insult but it was too far away and faint to even make it out. Despite that however, she could feel her mind beginning to race through several different options and outcomes... all of them sounding particularly satisfying to her. With this thought not able to be shaken, the ice queen turned towards her crew with a raised hand, signaling for them to stop.
"Keep searching the area," She began. "there's something I need to deal with." Everyone immediately nodded in agreement, all except for Wave who stared at her with a face full of concern.
"With all due respect ma'am," He began. "wouldn't it be wiser to stay with us? We need someone like you to assist against the First Ord-"
"Are you questioning my authority?" Esdeath cut off coldly, her glare cutting deep into the boy's soul which caused him to quickly shake his head.
"N-N-No ma'am, wh-why would you think that? I'm just aski-"
"You will do as I say," She responded before proceeding to begin her walk a few seconds later. "that is, unless you'd rather be personally executed by me." With there being no way out of it, the boy just swallowed his fear and gave the commander quite possibly the shakiest salute that she had ever seen in her entire life or at least, one shaky enough to where if it weren't for the fact that it was Wave, she possibly would've killed the person right there for making such an embarrassment of themselves. Regardless, she continued onward and once her long blue hair completely disappeared into the woods, leaving Wave to his thoughts.
"Some day, I feel that woman is going to be the death of me." He mentally began. "I mean, we're practically free targets now for the First Order, we're easy pickings and considering we're wandering through their 'work', something tells me they might show up any time now." A few minutes later, the group heard a loud commanding voice.
"HALT!" The group immediately froze and when they looked around, their eyes lit up with a slight bit of fear at what they found with Kurome looking especially terrified. Several troopers, clad in white with the occasional detail highlighted in black along with the only odd man out being one with a reddish shoulder pauldron, were spreading out all around them. In response to all this, Bols turned towards the frightened boy and spoke with a voice that was full of concern.
"I've got a bad feeling about this." In response, Wave couldn't help but nod. A few seconds later, the trooper with the pauldron walked up to the masked man, stopping only to signal for the troopers to keep their weapons raised at all times.
"Are you the leader of this group?" The trooper questioned with a voice that as Wave noted, seemed strangely both polite and hate-filled. Knowing that fighting wasn't worth it right now, Bols gave a polite nod.
"Not quite officer," He began. "our actual commander left for some important personal business, I'm sure she'll be back if you take the moment to w-"
"Who's this commanding officer?" The trooper interjected to which Bols simply kept his calm tone and continued.
"Esdeath, she's our General, I'm Bols and the rest you see here are all my group, as you can see there is nothing to see and certainly there is no need to raise any hell. Moving on though, who are you and who do you work for?" The trooper visibly tensed up, like he felt insulted to which Bols once again, remained as calm as he could.
"I mean, it only seems fair. After all, they are basic pleasantries and to me, a peaceful resolve will always be better than a violent one." Eyeing him out of concern for another couple of moments, the trooper visibly relaxed and complied.
"Stormtrooper Officer FN-6776 of the First Order." The trooper began. "And I must ask, what are you doing here? This is a restricted area." In response, the man gave him an apologetic look or at least, the best he could manage with the mask covering his expression.
"My sincerest apologies," He began. "you see, your organization has been causing quite the storm back at the Capital with your actions reaching the Empire a-"
"Hold on," The trooper began with a raised hand, "Did you say 'Empire'?" Bols nodded.
"Yes, now anyways, we've been hearing about how these armored troopers of yours have been tearing apart several villages in the area, villages that support us and we honestly came out to investigate and I'm sure if you can clear this up, we'll be on our way. Again, I'm terribly sorry for the trouble we've caused you." Right then and there, the trooper caught something in his peripheral vision, something that seemed extremely... interesting and vital. Ignoring all of Bols's words, only giving him small nods to keep him unsuspecting, FN-6776 began to make his way towards the sight he saw, the black haired boy and girl with the latter visibly tensing up with every step he took. Feeling just a bit more protective, Wave's grip around his friend began to tighten right then and there, especially when the trooper was just inches away from the pair.
"What are your names?" The trooper questioned. Kurome said absolutely nothing with Wave just shooting him a glare.
"None of your business." He blurted. "Like Bols said, we're sorry for the mess and we will be going soon." In response, the officer felt slightly insulted but before he could say anything, the masked man called out to him.
"Terribly sorry for that, you see, that boy who's named Wave, tensed up the moment he heard about you guys and he's just generally uncomfortable around strange groups like yours, even my own so please, do excuse him."
"Is that so?" The trooper began right before he turned back towards the two. "Well then, I guess I have no luck with you, maybe the girl will prove more useful to us." Before the boy could react, Bols immediately shot him a look and with that after a few grumbles, he relaxed himself. Wincing slightly, Kurome looked the trooper dead in the eyes, the faint smell of alcohol being subtle but very, VERY noticeable.
"I'm sure you can answer this for us," He began. "what role do you play in this group?" The swordswoman said nothing, her wincing face soon developing into that of a glare, a glare that seemed to humor the trooper who let out a small chuckle.
"Now it's fairly easy, all you need to do i-"
"I'm not giving you a single piece you wretch." Kurome spat out, causing the trooper to let out another small chuckle.
"Well aren't you acting a little feisty today," The officer began as he proceeded to sheathe his blaster. "I don't think you realize the severity of the situation." Right then and there with reflexes as sudden and quick as a smuggler's trigger-finger, the trooper roughly shoved Wave down to the ground with one hand and gripped Kurome by the collar with the other.
"Resistance is futile, give us what we need!" The officer demanded with Kurome still shaking her head from side-to-side which served only to infuriate him.
"Listen here you little brat! I can give the order anytime I want to have your friends wiped out! Either you cooperate or you die!"
"I'd rather die!" Kurome shouted back, trying desperately to break from the iron grip.
"Don't be so foolish!" The trooper growled. Watching the whole scene go down from the distance, Bols continued to stare at it for a few more seconds before proceeding to slowly turn towards the rest of the troopers.
"I guess things never change." He said to himself with a sigh. A few moments later, he looked towards Seryu and gave her a small hand gesture which she responded to with a small nod.
"Koro! NOW!" She shouted. A few seconds later, in a scene that looked like something straight out of a dream, the troopers watched as the cute dog-like creature's face suddenly turned extremely monstrous and after letting out a loud roar, it grew several sizes and opened its mouth, the insides being filled with ENDLESS rows of teeth. A few seconds later, they watched with pure horror as the beast chomped down on the girl's arm, the sound of what they assumed to be bone shattering playing soon after. Before they even had a chance to pick their jaws off the floor or pull the trigger, the beast released the girl's arm, revealing that the slightly metallic armor had disappeared and in its place was something far more... deadly but before they had time to really gawk at it, the girl's face changed into that of a twisted smile right as she pointed the massive cannon towards the troopers.
"Justice will be served!" With that one comment, it all happened in a flash. One moment, the troopers were all standing ready to fight and the other, they were ripped apart by several metal objects coming their way, the force and size of which caused several chunks of their armor to be torn from their bodies along with pieces of flesh with the officer looking on in horror as his entire platoon was being wiped out with ease. Seeing that the grip had loosened and that he was distracted, Kurome wasted no time and in just a few seconds, she kneed the trooper right in between the legs. Howling in pain, the officer dropped to the ground with his face twisting both in pain and with shock at how damage was actually inflicted on him despite wearing armor. In fact, the only time he had felt pain like that beforehand was when Kylo gave him a direct punch to the gut after he ended up blowing his chance at a takeover of Dathomir and that was the first time he was hit by a... Force user. Before he could ponder this over anymore, the swordswoman drew her blade and in a few short seconds, she made a nice clean slash through his neck, stopping to take in every moment that the helmeted head came rolling off the body and as the neck soon became a fountain of blood with most of it splattering all over her. Pleased at the sight, Bols began to take a look around when he saw one trooper, trying his damnedest to limp away, a sight that particularly set off Seryu.
"Damn it!" She grunted. "I missed one, you can't escape true justi-"
"Let him go." Bols ordered, his hand lightly setting on the girl's shoulder. "He won't last long enough to get past the Danger Beasts, as far as he's concerned, he's dead to me." Remaining silent for a couple moments, Seryu then gave Bols a nod of agreement. As her arm changed back into its normal shape, the brute took one last look all around him where he saw that aside from the obvious new additions of dead troopers, there was nothing more to see.
"Alright gentlemen," He began. "we're done here, time to move out!" Giving him their salute, the Jaegers immediately began to move out with Bols, Wave and Kurome lagging behind just slightly due to the thoughts that filled their mind.
"For your sake, I hope you're right about this group Prime Minister." Bols and Wave began with perfect mental synchronization. "Because honestly, with what I've seen, if this whole thing falls apart. I think you may see the Jaegers with at least ONE less member."
Millions of lightyears away...
(Undisclosed Throne Room)
Throughout all of history, there have been several unexplained anomalies, anomalies that only a handful of people would truthfully understand, it could be a massive new discovery that has the possibility to be used for both catastrophic destruction or for the defense of the entire galaxy. These could take the forms of practically anything, whether it be a simple ancient artifact or even just a hermit who happens to possess unimaginable power.
However, there are some anomalies that to even the heartiest of people, the amount of fear it incites is... unspeakable, unimaginable. These are the types of things that with just one look or even just a simple mention, you can already tell that what lies behind that surface is pure, bone-chilling, soul-crushing, cold-hearted... evil and that description fit no one better than the one, draped in dark robes, sitting at his throne with head against his hand and despite not looking like much, the sheer presence he commanded was almost as dark as the original Dark Lord himself, Emperor Palpatine.
His skin, pale, wrinkled and scarred to an unimaginable degree. His frame, thin and sickly, looking as though he was raised from the dead. His fingers, thin and elongated with his pale skin making it appear as though it were bone. All of these elements combined with the loose fitting black robe would have you believe that this, this... thing was about as strong as a baby womp-rat and honestly, the thing himself wouldn't blame you... and then before you could even say anything more, you would automatically feel this growing, unspeakable pain in your head which would continue to become worse and worse until eventually, your eyes shut and your body fell limp with your final moments being left for you to wonder why it exactly happened in the first place. The answer was simple though you obviously wouldn't be living long enough to obtain it.
The pain was inflicted not by a hand, a blaster or even an parasite. Rather, it was inflicted through the Force and this particular power belonged to who is quite possibly the most feared hermit in the galaxy, a relic that was once thought to be lost only to be uncovered just a few moments after the Empire fell. That relic was the one and only supreme commander of the First Order and practitioner of the Dark Side, Supreme Leader Snoke.
Origins unknown with the only information being that he has lived through the rise and fall of the Galactic Empire, no one knew who or what exactly Snoke was and despite the ever-growing feeling that they probably don't want to find out, there have been several guesses and if he had to be honest, some of these crazy theories gave him a good chuckle or two. Most of them simply stated that he was the reincarnation of several various Dark Side users over the years such as Maul, Malgus, the Inquisitor, Vader, Sidious or what was quite possibly his favorite one of all, Darth Plagueis the wise who funnily enough, was the Sith he based most of his decisions off of, often preferring to hang back and learn more about how he could improve his technique in the Force instead of lightsaber combat and use logic to carefully plan out assaults instead of the usual "rush in guns blazing" strategy that the Sith, the Empire and even the First Order were quite fond of using before he took over. The Dark Lord was such an inspiration in fact that when he took a certain pupil under his tutelage for the first time, he leaned in close and used this direct quote which was recounted in one of his many writings as an example of how he approached the idea of obtaining an apprentice.
"Tell me what you regard as your greatest strength, so I will know how best to undermine you; tell me of your greatest fear, so I will know which I must force you to face; tell me what you cherish most, so I will know what to take from you; and tell me what you crave, so that I might deny you." If it weren't for his own apprentice being on his mind, this thought probably wouldn't have popped in but regardless, it was one that he greatly recalled as being one of his most notable successes. Ben Solo no longer, the dark warrior Kylo Ren was on his knees, bowing at his feet with hands raised up slightly with open palms as his lightsaber was lowered into his hands. When he opened his eyes, he could vividly remember how... disappointed he seemed at the blade's rather crude design despite it being a weapon he created and when asked, the answer given to him was chillingly on the nose.
"Your grandfather, Anakin Skywalker was pampered by his master." His mind played back. "He had great potential, unimaginable skill... skill that he wasted when he turned to the Light. With just that one moment of weakness, he let it all crumble down on top of him, one of his many shortcomings with the only thing that overshadowed it being when his lack of strategy or tact failed, it was then he lost his battle against the great Obi-Wan Kenobi. You see, master of the Knights of Ren, if you are to truthfully outdo your grandfather, if you are to truthfully bring respect and honor back to the Dark Side of the Force then you must remember one simple fact. If one is given power too early, failure is most imminent with overconfidence as it was with Vader. However... if one is given limits to overcome, a ceiling to strive towards breaking... your power will grow far beyond anything Vader ever could've achieved. View this saber, this weapon which is as crude and ancient as the design itself is only what you make of it. Succeed your training, surpass my expectations and if you can achieve that, the pain which you feel will die, just like the weak-minded boy you once were." From what he could recall, the only response he ever received from that man was an honorable bow followed up by him slowly moving his finger up to ignite the saber with the face he made upon taking one glance at the red serrated blade being not of Ben Solo but rather, he was looking straight into the eyes of Kylo Ren... if only he had actually listened to him from that point onward.
"That boy..." The Supreme Leader mentally began, his eyes being locked on the two small torches that faintly lit up the corner of the room. "in his eyes, I saw the perfect balance, one who was entrenched in both the darkness... and the light. A new member of the most promising bloodline, the only one to have ever brought the Jedi to its knees. Like his grandfather before him, he possesses unimaginable talents that surpass anything the old masters could ever dream of... and I was the one to bring them out." At this one thought, the hermit couldn't help but smirk to himself as he slowly clasped his hands together.
"It's true Skywalker brought out his potential in the Force and trained him in the art of perfect defense... a typical Jedi teaching. But it was I who like many before me, brought out his potential in the darkness, it was I who gave him his mastery in the art of combat, it was I who showed him the true weakness in the light and unlike most, he was my most... promising student, the only one who had the potential to truthfully reinstate the dignity of the Dark Side and bring balance to the Force by wiping out the last surviving Jedi." A few seconds later, he could feel a familiar emotion beginning to set in, one that was the primary fuel for any Dark Side user's power, their "bread and butter" if you will.
"However, despite my best efforts, he still continues to defy me." He began, the walls around him beginning to slowly wiggle and shake, causing slight dust clouds to be kicked up. "Even after that scavenger bested him, humiliated him which fueled his rage like no other... he still lets his personal feelings cloud his judgment which leads to him ignoring the most notable issue of all... the Resistance." The shaking started to pick up in pace with some walls developing slight cracks as the Dark Lord's teeth began to grit.
"He destroyed Han Solo, his call to the light. His power is at its peak, his skill cannot be matched and yet, he believes that desertion is the best course of action!" Possibly due to his bony frame or just the rage he was emanating from him, Snoke watched as a faint stream of red began to trickle down his mitts and onto the ground below which for most men, was a sight that would at the very least cause them to wince. Fortunately enough for him, Snoke was NOT one of those men.
"I gave him strict instruction, regardless of if the presence was there or not, leaving now would lead to only our deaths!" A few seconds later, a small piece of rock was shaken free from its confines, falling to the ground with a small "PING!" noise being made upon impact. "For all he knows, these girls could be pulls to the light and yet he still chose the mission over the FORCE?!" A few more rocks dropped to the ground, the thin beams of light shining through the holes with ease. The shaking now was almost as violent as an earthquake with boulders dropping to the ground which was also cracking beneath his feet, the beams of light becoming larger and larger as his anger flared up more and more.
"I worked for AGES to bring the Empire back from the depths of its boundless failure! When they came to me, they were broken, meek, frail and their attitudes were that of an infant. If it wasn't for my assistance, MY leadership, the Dark Side never would've prospered as much as it is now!" As this continued to go on, the Supreme Leader's eyes switched from their darkened hue to that of the usual yellow and red that a Sith possessed and with how dark the room was, it seemed as though the color cast a faint glow.
"To see him ready to ruin that foundation which I've spent YEARS building up is an act of treason I simply CANNOT follow or allow to happen!" After a few more seconds, the Supreme Leader finally took note of how much damage he was causing and realized that if this continued on for much longer, the entire throne room would crumble in an instant which was something he certainly didn't want, especially when considering that this planet was widely remembered as being the birthplace of the Sith. Taking a moment to shut his eyes and readjust himself in his chair, Snoke took in a deep, long relaxing breath and as he held it, the shaking went from a violent rattle to a light jostling before stopping completely. Keeping his eyes shut, he continued onward.
"At the very least, he wasn't wrong." His internal voice sounded off, the tone being far calmer and lower in volume. "I felt the presence as well and from what I could recall, the energy seemed... familiar, almost exactly like Kylo's own which played a role in my decision to let this pass." His face shifting into that of concern, the hermit moved his hand upward and proceeded to gently glide his fingers along the missing chunk of his cheek all while his eyes began to slowly close. "At the very least, if my apprentice is correct and he is successful in his mission, then we will most likely have more of a fighting chance against the Resistance and possibly, we can restart the Sith Order and put an end to that worthless, archaic order that fool Bane put out."
"Nevertheless, my doubts are still present." He began with a sigh. "So Kylo, master of the Knights of Ren, if you can hear me right now, let me restate this one final time. This is your one and only chance, if you succeed then the rewards have clearly outweighed the risks... but fail me again..." After letting it go, his eyes slowly opened, revealing that the yellow color of rage had completely drained from them, his brow scrunched up ever so slightly and for the first time in a long while since Ren left, he finally opened his mouth to echo the chilling words he had playing back in his mind.
"Know that death is your one and only consequence."
Millions of lightyears away...
Everything seemed to happen so fast, so much so that even she couldn't believe it. If one had told her way back when she first joined Night Raid that her career would eventually lead to her having to chase after a boy with anger issues and a magical set of armor while also having to deal with an army of white-clad soldiers with laser guns, she most likely would've assumed you were on drugs... oh how she wished that were the case.
When she first received word from the boss, she barely had any time to get dressed in her combat gear and so the only option she had was a loose fitting cloak that just barely covered her outfit which was sagging off of her body like nothing else. To make matters worse, this was one of the colder days with very light but extremely breezy winds blowing through with ease, taking every chance it had to nip at her exposed flesh. Despite this, Leone continued to push forward, her determination to find Tatsumi being far more important to her than worrying about how cold she was.
"Had I known this was how he was going to react, I possibly wouldn't have even told him." Leone thought to herself right as she leaped from one tree to the next, the bark crackling both due to the pressure and the speed she was going at.
"But then again, had I not told him, he eventually would've found out anyway and his emotions most likely would've been at an even poorer state." At the mention of the last word, Leone's eyes widened ever so slightly with concern once the image of a familiar silver haired woman came to mind.
"The boss must be going through hell." She thought with a sigh. "She worked so hard to get us this far and it was mostly thanks to Tatsumi..." Landing on the ground below, the scout then proceeded to break off into a run. "and now he's going off a bit into the deep end..." Feeling a small bit of guilt, Leone slowly looked down at her hand, recalling how she first came across the boy, ranting and raving about how the Empire wouldn't take him in which led to her conning him out of his money for some drinks and then the next time they met, he was at that one home during one of their assassinations.
Ever since that day when she convinced the team to bring him in, they had shared many, many victories against the Empire and it was all thanks to the boy's sheer tenacity and surprising amount of skill with a sword and when combined with the large amount of hope and drive to fight, he helped them through the worst of it all and it was one of the reasons why she felt her heart beginning to... flutter whenever he was around. However, it seemed as though the times had changed. Ever since Sheele's death, it set something off within the boy and the fact she couldn't see it was almost maddening since it should've been so obvious to her and had she noticed beforehand, most likely none of this nonsense ever would've happened. Before she could linger on this thought any longer, she finally burst through the trees and onto a nice wide open field which greeted her not with beauty but with something that could be considered both horrific and worthwhile.
Laying right in front of her with their shattered white armor, bloody pieces of missing flesh, cracked visors and the occasional faint last breath were the exact same troopers she saw back when Tatsumi's village went down.
"Holy shit..." She muttered to herself. "looks like they pissed someone off." If this was any other moment, Leone knew that she possibly would've found this quite cathartic and would take pride and relief in knowing that a group like this could be taken down. However, due to the current situation, the stakes at hand and the fact that she could sense a couple dark auras in the distance, she knew that now was not the time. After taking a few more seconds to glance over the broken bodies, the scout was ready to move out when she heard a small crackling noise followed up by a voice.
"FN-6776, come in!" Despite it being somewhat muffled, Leone began to carefully glance around in an attempt to find the source.
"FN-6776! This is FN-2000, we heard gunfire, are you and your men alright?!" Finally catching it, she began to slowly make her way towards the corpse, taking every precaution she could to not touch any of the fresh exposed wounds.
"Come in FN-6776!" After about a minute or so, she finally stopped at the headless, battered body of the one apparently known as FN-6776 which Leone couldn't help but chuckle at due to it being quite the oddball of a name. Dropping down to one knee, she began to carefully scrounge through all their equipment and what she found was quite impressive. Despite not being a massive fan of guns, she had to admit that whoever made the weapons for these men knew EXACTLY what they were doing. The sleek paintjob, the simple yet effective color combination of silver, white and black, the way the grips were so easy to hold yet so durable. If weapons were a work of art, she felt that they would definitely be put up on display for all to see.
"These are remarkable," She began. "I wonder if we can bring one back and possibly reproduce these."
"Who's there?!" The muffled voice called out, shaking the scout free from her trance. "All troops and transports in the area, move out and find that stranger!"
"Crap!" She cursed. "I have to find Tatsumi and fast!" Immediately with weapon in hand, Leone made a break for the trees and she couldn't have picked a better time since a few seconds after she had left, there was a faint low hum that began to metaphorically nip at her eardrums, convincing her to look back, only to have her eyes widen with shock at the box-shaped ships that were beginning to make their landing, the same type of ships that she saw land at the village which encouraged her to increase her pace exponentially.
When she first heard of how good of a warrior Syura was, she never exactly thought much of the supposed ability his Imperial Arms possessed to manipulate time and space, giving him the ability of teleportation. After all, the entire focus of her team's training was to condition their bodies in the case that they ever did face an Imperial Arms user with the focus more being on natural ability than it was the weapons themselves. To add onto that, the idea of a weapon like that seemed far too ridiculous, while she and Nines didn't exactly get along, she did agree with him, just because someone had a special weapon that granted him the edge in a fight didn't always mean that the victor was decided, it just meant the fight was going to be harder and oh boy was the fight difficult since currently, she was at the mercy of the warrior's brutal punches and kicks with every time she went to strike him, he'd just disappear without a trace and currently, she was locked in a brutal contest with the warrior on a nearby tree branch.
With her skills in mind, Mez moved into a series of fast but graceful kicks that were easily avoided by the simple sways of Syura and all the while this was going on, he proceeded to taunt her.
"Sweetheart, come on, you can't honestly think you're going to defeat me like that." He commented, his dodges and blocks not losing any sense of speed or technique. "You should just give up now and save me the trouble."
"Not a chance." She said with a shake of her head before proceeding to thrust her arm outward in a brutal punch. Smirking, Syura immediately gripped her fist and began to squeeze, causing her to wince in pain which in turn caused his smirk to turn into a grin.
"Really?" He began with a sense of false interest. "Well then, I guess that's fine, though I've always been more fond of bitches who scream but I guess a dead one would have to do." With that said, the man immediately tightened his grip around her arm and with a mighty heave, he lifted her up and slammed her into the tree branch behind him, causing her to scream out in pain. With his grip still wrapped around her arm, he lifted her up and stared into her face, taking note of the small stream of blood trickling from her mouth.
"You should've known by now that things weren't going to go your way," He began with a sinister hiss to his voice. "after all, it's not nice to treat a gentleman like me so harshly. Do I have to teach you any ma-ACK!" The only answer the man received was one massive boot to the head, causing him to be knocked back a few feet and his grip around Mez's arm to loosen. Now back on her feet, she took a moment to give her arm a few test rotations just to make sure it was alright and cracked her neck before proceeding to move back into her fighting position.
"Those are my manners." Taking a moment to rub his face, the lavender-haired man couldn't help but let out a bout of chilling laughter as his gaze morphed into that of his usual creepy wide-eyed smile.
"You call that a retort?" He began. "You really have been living under a rock haven't you? That sounds like a quote from an awful action movie."
"And you look like someone vomited pastels in your hair." She responded, inciting another laugh from the man.
"I'll admit, that's a good one though you should know, it doesn't matter how ridiculous I look, as long as I have the power you see now, I'll be feared by all who see me."
"Personally, I think your fatass of a clown is what people fear more."
"Is that so?" He replied right as he set his hands at his hips. "Well Champ always was the more... unconventional I would say and one who definitely puts the 'wild' in Wild Hunt. It's really quite splendid to see our talents are recognized all around the Capital."
"I would HARDLY call what you do a talent."
"That's because you've never understood the beauty of mutilation." He responded with a sinister glint in his eye. "Even you of all people should know, after all you apparently worked with Bolic is that right, speaking of which, how is that man doing? I haven't seen him at the bars recently, is he taking a break or is he just... occu-AGH!"
"Your weakness is like, so predictable." She began, all the while she proceeded to lay down a series of brutal punches on Syura's abdomen and face. "All it takes is just one hot bitch like me to get you talking and as usual, you boys will never shut up, leaving yourself wide open for a variety of attacks." After a few more seconds, the psycho finally straightened himself out and blocked Mez's assault with open palms, following up with a quick teleport. A few moments later, just when Mez thought she had every move memorized, she was caught off-guard by a brutal tackle that sent her careening toward the ground with Syura proceeding to beat the tar out of her on the way down.
"I can say the same for you my sweet," He began, taking a moment to hold up his weapon. "but as long as I have this, you have no chance of beating me." At that point, Mez knew that there was just no way she was getting out of that one and as much as she hated to admit, Syura was kind of right. Despite this, she continued to fight, her fists swinging wildly at the warrior which led to her landing some pretty good shots. Finally, the two hit the ground, the impact causing a loud "CRACK!" to be heard from beneath them. Ready to battle more, Syura looked down at the warrior to see if she still had fight left in her... only to be both shocked and pleasantly surprised when he saw that the girl was out cold, causing him to give a lick of his lips.
"Finally," He began. "now I can truthfully punish you." With that said, the psycho began to drag his hands up her body, taking in every curve, every inch of her smooth skin, stopping only when he reached her breasts. His instincts kicking in, the warrior tossed his weapon to the side and began to roughly rub and knead the mounds of flesh. He would've continued that for several more minutes had it not been for a loud scream that played in the distance that caused his head to jerk upward.
"What the he-AGH!" Before he could react, he watched as his vision became completely filled by the sight of Tatsumi flying towards him and felt as his entire young body came crashing straight into him, the force of which knocked him out cold. Once he hit the ground, the boy felt as he began to roll for a bit only to stop himself by planting both his feet and his sword firmly into the ground, just in time to watch as the trooper came charging for him with baton held over his head. A few seconds later and right before the weapon could come crashing towards his skull, Tatsumi drew the weapon from the ground and blocked it, thus continuing the trend of constant blocks and dodges once again with the only difference being that the two of them were seemingly watching each others' movements, waiting for the right opening.
From the beginning of the fight to the position they were in now, Nines could tell that the boy was definitely FAR more skilled with a sword than FN-2187 was since at the very least, he was using a few more blocks and parries that he'd expect to see out of a Jedi Knight. However, it was quite obvious that the boy lacked focus and emotional control since there were a few occasions where he tried to throw in a punch or a kick, only to be taken aback by his masterful dodges and hits to the abdomen.
"Clearly the age of elegant weapons and civilized duels has become a thing of the past." He thought to himself as he continued to defend against the boy's strikes. After a few more brutal clashes, the two locked weapons and began to stare each other down, the trooper being able to feel the heat of Tatsumi's glare though really, that was only the impression the outside gave since internally, Tatsumi's mind was both shocked and freaked out at what he was doing and was desperately pleading for him to turn back.
"He's not even using an Imperial Arms and yet he's still so skilled!" He thought to himself. "I'm flaring with rage and yet he's just acting so calm about it all, is this the same attitude he took when he attacked my village?" The moment that thought finished, Tatsumi could feel his rage flaring up once more, his teeth beginning to grit, his glare becoming sharper and his pushing becoming much more forceful. After a few more seconds, Tatsumi broke the clash with a brutal straight kick to the stomach followed up by a slash at the abdomen... only to look on with shock as the only thing it did was scrape against the white material.
"What the hell is that thing made out of?!" He thought to himself. Seeing his opportunity, the trooper rushed towards the boy with weapon in hand, ready to swing it right at his skull. His vision quickly filling up with the sight of the baton, Tatsumi immediately raised his weapon, almost tripping up in the process right as the baton came clanging against the shimmering blade. Before the boy could straighten himself out, the trooper followed up with a well-timed overhead strike that, despite being blocked, knocked the boy down to the ground just from the sheer force of his strength. Shaken up, the boy took a moment to writhe in pain before proceeding to stare up at Nines, his gaze locking with his.
"That can't be all the fight in you, get up!" He demanded. Right at that moment, Tatsumi slowly began to hobble up to his feet, using his sword to prop himself the rest of the way.
"This isn't good," He began. "I can probably hold out against him for just a little longer but he's just leagues above me, what am I going to do?" Before his mind could answer that question, Tatsumi found himself being shaken from that thought by a brutal baton strike to the stomach that sent him reeling backward onto the ground once more.
"Come on!" He said with a growl. "I've seen Gungans do better than that!" Despite having no idea what the race was he just mentioned, Tatsumi could feel his rage beginning to boil within him. Tightening his grip around the sword's hilt, he picked himself up off the ground and without warning, he charged for the trooper with arms drawn back. Bracing himself, the trooper met the blow with ease though this time, Tatsumi was clearly using a lot more of what he had with Nines now having to keep an eye on the boy to match his pace. After another series of blocks and parries, the trooper swung his weapon towards the boy's head which he avoided by quickly leaning back. Wanting to catch him off-guard, the trooper followed this up with a quick sweep kick which the boy avoided as well with a quick hop followed up by a roundhouse kick straight to the helmet, causing the trooper to stumble a bit.
"I've got you now!" Tatsumi thought to himself right as he raised the weapon overhead, ready to possibly go in for another cut. Seeing his opportunity, the trooper immediately dropped his weapon and charged the boy with one brutal tackle, the force of which both knocked the air out of his lungs and caused him to drop his weapon. After a few seconds of carrying him, the older man pushed Tatsumi down onto the ground and without hesitation, he proceeded to deliver a series of brutal punches to the boy's face. Feeling his adrenaline kick in after about a minute or so, the now bloodied and bruised Tatsumi quickly gripped the trooper's fist followed up by a massive headbutt to his head which despite causing him pain due to the helmet, it succeeded in knocking the armored bag of flesh off of him.
After going into a small combat roll to stop himself, the trooper wasted no time and charged towards the boy with a face full of determination. Once the two met, the duel devolved into a series of brutal punches and kicks that collided with one another with only a few hits actually making their mark. Despite the attempts he made at holding out and his determination, it was becoming rather clear to Nines that he was still the better fighter. After a few more moments of blocking and parrying, the boy immediately decided to pull a dirty trick as a last resort and with all his might, he launched his foot upward in an attempt to kick the trooper in the crotch. Noticing this right away, Nines quickly gripped the foot and with his elbow, he slammed it down straight into his knee with all his might, causing the bones to give with a loud "CRACK!" which incited a scream of pain from his opponent. His determination still pushing him to continue on, Tatsumi's immediate gut reaction was to grip the trooper's helmet, rip it straight off his head and with all his might, he bashed the red-haired man in the face with the hard object before proceeding to toss it to the side.
With all his might, Tatsumi wasted no time and followed up his strike with a quick but powerful deck to the jaw, causing a small stream of blood and spit to be flung from his mouth as he stumbled backward. Taking a moment to wipe it from his lips, Nines took notice of the blaster that was resting rather neatly beside his foot. Seeing as Tatsumi was making another charge for him, the trooper quickly stepped on the weapon at just the right angle, flinging it up into the air for him to grab hold. After turning the safety off, he was ready to fire when the boy was already inches away from him. With the perfect opportunity gone, the trooper immediately moved back into trying his hardest to dodge and block everything Tatsumi threw at him. Finally after a few moments, the boy was just about to go in for another strike to the face when Nines swayed out of the way and seeing as how his weapon was pointing into the boy's abdomen, he immediately let loose two quick bursts of energy into his sides, causing him to howl in pain all while he stumbled backward with hands frantically grasping at the wound.
At that point, Nines was dead certain that Tatsumi would finally just give up and with that in mind, he began to walk back, stopping only to grab hold of both Syura's Imperial Arms and his baton. However, just when he was inches away from Mez's unconscious body, he heard a loud battle-cry.
"YOU'RE NOT LEAVING BASTARD!" Tatsumi called out with sword in hand, his face still bleeding from the blunt trauma moments before. After storing both his blaster and the Imperial Arms, Nines immediately flicked his weapon to life and charged for the boy once more. The clashes overall were much more sloppy than before, the boy's injuries clearly being the main cause of it all. Though Nines did have to give him credit, he certainly was lasting longer than the traitor ever did against him and that was saying a hell of a lot. During these next few clashes, the trooper watched and listened as the boy began to vent all his anger towards him.
"This is for the pain you caused me!" He began right as the pair's overhead strikes clashed, causing Nines to stumble backward.
"THIS is for murdering my family!" As this was going on, the trooper was carefully examining the boy's movements, waiting for the perfect opening. Finally, after a few more clashes, Tatsumi caught him off guard with a brutal kick to the stomach that caused him stumble back into a tree. After regaining his composure, Nines looked up to see the boy with weapon raised over his head, ready to bring it down onto his skull.
"AND THIS IS FOR THE HONOR OF MY VILLAGE!" Right before he brought the weapon down, the trooper felt as metaphorical switches in his head went off right then and there and without hesitation, he initiated his plan.
With baton in hand and after making sure he had a firm grip on it, the trooper immediately swung the weapon upward and just as the sword was inches away from cutting into his cranium, the electrified stick came crashing straight into the boy's crotch with the force of an incoming speeder bike. All color drained from the boy's face, his eyes widened to extreme degrees, the grip on his weapon loosened, the only action he took being to let out one long, blood-curdling scream of pure agony.
Seeing his chance and after a few seconds of him backing away, his weapon falling to the ground in the process, Nines wasted no time and sheathed his weapon before proceeding to slowly walk towards the boy. Once he was inches away, he took a quick moment to crack his knuckles and before he could react, Tatsumi felt as a tightly balled fist came crashing into his face, causing his eyes to discolor a little bit and blood to spurt from his mouth. Not wanting to be beaten like this, the boy weakly threw his arm forward in an attempt to punch the trooper when he immediately swayed out of the way, grabbed his arm and gave a quick brutal upward open palm strike, causing the bone to go out with a "SNAP!". Howling in pain once more, the boy quickly gripped his injured arm a few seconds before he found himself being decked once again by another speedy fist with this strike now causing the boy to spit out a few bits of bloodied teeth. Stopping for a moment to examine his opponent, Nines couldn't help but comment on Tatsumi's worn down condition.
"How pathetic." He began. "It's honestly a wonder why Commander Ren wants you because just from this one fight, you have shown me NOTHING that indicates you as being a worthy addition to the First Order." Feeling his anger flare up again, Tatsumi looked up toward the trooper with a face full of pure malice.
"Good, because I would NEVER want to be associated with y-"
"SILENCE!" Nines interjected right as he gave the boy a brutal punch to the gut, causing him to drop to his knees. "I don't care what exactly you think of us, all I know is that this planet will be ours and there will be nothing you can do to stop it." After taking a moment to cough up a little blood, the boy looked up towards the trooper once more.
"You'll say that now but trust me, once the Revolutionary Army catches wind of this, they wi-"
"They will try to stop us with outdated means of attack like swords, staffs and arrows?" He interjected again as he began to slide his helmet back over his head. "Please don't try to humor us, our general has outfitted us with only the most advanced equipment for both defensive and offensive purposes and when combined with our combat training, your defenders will go down just like..." Right then, the trooper gave a quick snap of his fingers. "that." As Nines began to make his way back over to the injured boy, he decided to take a large risk and thrust his arm upward in an attempt to uppercut the trooper. Seeing it coming, Nines immediately leaned back and right there, he gave another brutal punch to Tatsumi's stomach before proceeding to grip his shoulders and continuously jam his knee into that exact same spot. After a few seconds, the trooper kept his knee embedded in the boy's stomach and during that time, he watched and felt as the young one began to vomit blood. After a few more seconds, Nines wasted no time and roughly shoved the injured boy down onto the ground and as he was writhing in pain, he began to unsheathe his blaster, his hands immediately flipping what appeared to be the safety though with how the barrel of the blaster lit up with a slight blue color seconds afterward, he couldn't really tell. However, that doubt was soon replaced once more with fear the moment his assailant began centering his aim on his head. Feeling his eyes going heavy, Tatsumi stared up at the trooper with a face full of shock, never in his life had he expected that this was going to be the way he was going to go out. It was almost like a dream, like one of those horrific nightmares that often left him sitting up in bed sweating, panting and occasionally mumbling curses. Realizing that there was no way out of this, the boy shut his eyes in preparation for his demise.
"Rest up my friend, you have a long flight ahead of you." Nines mumbled to himself right as he began to slightly squeeze the trigger when suddenly, his vision was filled by the sight of a rapidly approaching fist. Before he could react, he felt his entire body go numb and as his vision blacked out. On the other end, a certain blonde scout was calmly dusting off her fist all the while she stared at the trooper's unconscious body slamming against a tree.
"That's what you get for hurting my friend you son of a bitch." She grumbled to herself before turning her attention towards Tatsumi whose eyes were just barely open.
"L-Leone?" He weakly began. "Wh-What a-a-are y..." Leone wasted no time and slung the boy up over her shoulder.
"Saving your ass, that's what I'm doing, just relax, I'll get you out of here." At that moment, the boy's eyes widened slightly.
"No, I-I need to..."
"OVER THERE! GO! GO! GO!" A voice sounded off from behind the scout, causing her to look towards the boy.
"We can avenge people later, right now we've gotta get you the hell out of here!" Before Tatsumi could say anymore, Leone burst off into a run, hauling the injured warrior as best as she could through the trees. A few minutes later, a group of Stormtroopers burst onto the scene with one officer leading the charge. Not wanting to accept defeat so easily, the officer immediately gave a small signal for them to search the premises and through their scan, they found only the knocked out, battered bodies of Nines, Mez and a lavender haired stranger who was definitely not the one he heard over the comm since the voice was distinctly female. Despite this, the trooper did recognize the man who he thought he had seen jumping from tree to tree moments earlier around restricted areas where the beasts attacked which raised his suspicions immensely.
"You three," He began. "apprehend that man. The rest of you, gather up the troops and prepare to take them back to the transports."
"But Officer Zeroes, the gi-"
"The girl is lost, my biggest concern now is getting our troops safety! Gather them up now!"
"Sir yes sir." The trooper responded with a salute before proceeding to do what he was told along with the rest of the group. A few seconds later, a cold feminine voice sounded off behind them.
"So you're the First Order." Almost immediately, FN-2000 fired up his blaster and snapped his gaze to the back of him where he saw a tall, intimidating woman with long blue hair and a uniform that reminded him slightly of the basic attire General Hux wore.
"State your name and your business!" Zeroes commanded, his finger neatly resting on the trigger. Much to the trooper's surprise and possible frustration, the woman couldn't help but let out a light chuckle, almost as if the threat was worthless to her.
"Or what?" She began. "Surely you don't want to discuss this in a more... civilized manner?"
"State your business or we will fire!" The woman just continued to stare, her face developing into a small smirk.
"Again, I mean you no harm, there is no need for this pointless violen-"
"You're testing my patience!" He began with a growl. "I'm giving you one last chance, state your name and your business or we will be forced to shoot you dead!" At that moment, the woman continued to stare at them for an extended period of time, all the while she brought her hand to her chin.
"They really don't know what I can do, do they?" She thought to herself. "They really don't know just how ruthless I can really be and are just willing to kill me... wow... Ren has taught them well." Still waiting for their answer, the troopers kept their weapons centered on the woman, their faces filled to the brim with extreme caution at the possibilities of what she may do to them. Zeroes in particular felt somewhat... odd about this one. Despite not possessing any connection to the Force, the officer could sense and feel the sheer amount of dark energy that was radiating off of the woman and from what he could tell, it wasn't even related to the Force which had him even more concerned. Finally after a few more minutes, she spoke once more.
"So you want to know my business here?" She questioned. "Very well." Right then and there before the troopers' eyes, the woman carefully grabbed hold of her hat, slowly pulled it off of her head and gave an honorable bow right as she let out her next words.
"My name is Esdeath, I'm the general of the Empire and commander of the Jaegers. I seek a discussion with your commander, Kylo Ren."
(Night Raid HQ)
It was moving well past midnight and Night Raid was still as on edge as ever. A few moments after her meeting with Lubbock, Najenda had awoken everyone to inform them about the sudden departure of the new member, the swordsman Tatsumi. Despite never bothering to disclose the exact reasons for the action or even a guess with the only thing that actually was said being that Leone was on her way to get him, anyone with a brain present during the past few days already had a large clue as to what it was and no one was more affected by it shockingly enough than the one who was already quite rude to the boy in the past, a certain pink-haired sniper to be exact who sat at the edge of the room who despite her best efforts to look tough, she still came across as more than a little nervous with her hands constantly fiddling with one another and her gaze being centered on the floor at all times with the most worried of glances that one could ever see.
Needless to say, that became far worse when Leone came in with boy in hand, looking like how they initially expected his first mission to turn out. Granted, the injuries weren't grave but there was still plenty to be concerned about. From what looked to be a combination of burns and gunshot wounds in his abdomen with fresh blood still dripping from it to the several bruises and portions of discolored flesh all throughout his body, it certainly was worse than what anyone could expect and the worst part was that it didn't even look as though it was a Danger Beast that hit him which was especially true with the marks on his abdomen.
Despite how they could debate the wounds or what happened for hours on end, one thing was clear from the moment he was brought in and that was Tatsumi DESPERATELY needed medical attention and fast. Fast forward to now where after some hassle in transferring the warrior's battered broken body to another set of arms, Tatsumi was now resting peacefully in his bed with the only two who accompanied him being both the tall, bulky but medically proficient Susanoo and Mine who was sitting by bedside, her face looking as though it was on the verge of tears.
"Tatsumi." She solemnly thought to herself as she carefully rubbed his patched face. "Just why? Why did you have to worry us like that? Have you always been that stupid?" Of course, she knew the answer to that question since out of all the people she knew aside from the boss herself, Tatsumi by far was the most stubborn person that the sniper ever had the pleasure of meeting in her entire life and at first, she was absolutely certain that there was no way that the boy would grow on her. However, it was as the old saying went, never count your chickens before they hatch and in this case, Mine found herself completely shocked by how much Tatsumi had rubbed off on her in recent memory. For all of the times he drove her crazy, never had she met a person who was so understanding, so caring, so... human.
"Even after hurting me like that, you still went out and tried to fight off the threat yourself, all so that people like me can live a better life." Mine's free hand began to ball up into a fist right as a single tear dropped from her eye. "Just... how? How is it that you can be so brave and yet so stupid at the same time? How is it that you can drive me up a wall one moment and yet turn out so caring and sweet the next? HOW is it that you can be this human in the face of all the shit that we've faced?" Despite knowing her thoughts weren't going to be answered regardless of if she vocalized them or not, she still continued to stare at the injured boy for a little while longer, her single wet eye glistening from the one tear that dropped. For some sick individuals, they possibly would've looked at this as being cathartic, believing that what Tatsumi did was very deserving of this fate and many would expect Mine to think the same way... but she didn't. Instead, she just continued to softly run her hand through Tatsumi's messy brown locks all while staring at him with a face full of concern. Finally after a few more moments, the other person in the room let out a small noise.
"Done." Susanoo grunted as he stood up, using his arm to wipe the sweat from his brow. Being the team's only medical officer wasn't exactly the easiest task to perform, especially when considering that for the most part, normal medical materials and tools haven't exactly been the most available so he had to make due with what he had.
"Is he going to be alright?" Mine asked right as she jerked her head towards him. With a small reassuring smile, the weapon gave her a nod.
"He's lucky to have survived that." He began. "Whoever came after him injured him really good."
"What's his current status?" Stopping to take in a deep breath, Susanoo set his hands at his hips.
"So far he's only suffered a few cracked bones but thankfully there are no broken ones and while he wasn't inches away from death, that gunshot wound was bringing him to that point fairly quickly." If this had been a few months earlier, she would've chalked this up as being yet another example of a young recruit getting WAY over their head and possibly would not have even given the boy a concerned glance... yet it wasn't a few months earlier. For the very first time ever since she saw Sheele's weapon being wielded by that one brute, Mine could feel the rage in her heart beginning to ignite as she immediately stood up, her teeth grit and her hands balled into fists.
"When I find the bastard that did this, I'm going to make them pay!" Mine said with a growl right as she went to charge out the door, only to be stopped by Susanoo's serious, slightly whispery tone.
"I wouldn't get your hopes up about that. Looking at the shots, they don't match any gunshot, arrow or Imperial Arms related injuries and honestly, they're far too accurate for even the Empire." Her rage still rising, Mine shot him a look.
"So what does that mean?" Mine asked.
"It means that there's no way we're going to be able to trace this back." Susanoo responded right as he turned to face her. "Which means that the assailant could be anywhere by now." The sniper just stared in silence at the weapon for several straight seconds, the anger seeming to slowly drain from her face as time went on. After a little while longer, it seemed that she was completely calm which gave Susanoo the indication that he should walk towards her, only to stop when he saw her face light up with fury again and how in just a few seconds, she turned towards the wall behind her and gave it one good punch.
"I've had to deal with loss all my life!" Mine began as she rubbed her injured knuckles. "Sheele, Bulat, for God's sake I lived my whole life as a fucking animal, a sad, pathetic animal with no friends who was constantly abused by everyone around me all because of my blood-type." Seeing where this was going and not liking it one bit, Susanoo began to slowly make his way towards her.
"Mine..." Susanoo gently called out.
"If it wasn't for Night Raid, I don't think I'd even have the will to live! Especially with Tatsum-" Without warning, the large warrior lightly set one hand down on her shoulder and gently gripped it. Despite only being a member for a few weeks or so, Susanoo was no fool and took the time to learn of the origins of every member in order to better acquaint himself with them in the case of future missions that require teamwork and he had to admit, if he had a heart (or at least, a more human heart), Mine's story was definitely one that would've broken it as it took him back to the old days of human history where as he learned, several people were discriminated against purely based on skin-color and gender and in the case of Mine, there was no better example of that than her and with that in mind, he made sure to try his best to relax her.
"Mine..." He began as he turned her towards him. "while I may not be able to feel very many emotions like you do, I do harbor some form of understanding for your plight and I do regret having to disagree with you." Right before he continued, he set his free hand down on her other shoulder and with both present, he began to gently massage the flesh. "But you must understand, there is legitimately nothing we have on this. By this point, it could very well be anyone and the only info we have is that it was the First Order but the thing is, we still don't have a clue on who or WHAT the First Order is, how they operate or anything along those lines. Leone told us about their use of laser weapons, flamethrowers and batons but we were also told that almost every trooper looked alike, meaning that even pinpointing a SINGLE soldier is impossible." At that point, Mine let out a frustrated sigh, signifying that both Susanoo was right and also expressing her thoughts on the name of that organization.
The First Order, when she first heard of it, she never felt the amount of shock and awe that most of the team felt for them since not only was there an extreme lack of information regarding them but warfare in all of its history has had several cases of several parties jumping in with no affiliation to either of the two main sides only to cause havoc and destruction and even in this war, that has already happened in the form of bandits, pirates and many other seedy individuals. However that was just the basic idea and she was certain that possibly, things would change and more of the First Order would be revealed and in just a day or so, just the sight of the news was enough to make her jaw drop.
In just the span of a few days, news and announcements that came back surrounding the fall of a village was insane. Terms such as "screeching demons" and many more were making the rounds what seemed like every few minutes and the descriptions of the carnage that came back was bone-chilling to say the least and considering that all came in the span of a few hours after their initial introduction, that alone was enough to get her fearing for the worst and when also taking into account how Akame was described as fainting after hearing the name of Kylo Ren, she was certain that when the time came, it would be one hell of a fight.
"I understand Susanoo," She began with a low solemn voice. "but what are we going to do?"
"That's all up to Najenda to decide, and I'm going to figure out what she's thinking right now." Susanoo responded, his hands lowering from her shoulders before proceeding to make his way towards the door, stopping only when it was slightly cracked open. "Would you like to come out with me?" Mine simply shook her head.
"I think I would prefer to stay with Tatsumi for a little while longer." Understanding her decision, Susanoo cracked a small smile and gave her a slight nod before proceeding to make the rest of the way out. Once the door completely closed, Mine retook her seat by Tatsumi and looked down at the boy with a look that was full of concern.
"You know Tatsumi," She mentally began. "when Leone first brought you back here all those days ago, I'm not going to lie, I found her idea to be complete fucking insanity." A few seconds later, she couldn't help but let a small smirk develop at the thought of the boy's seemingly endless amounts of hilarious reactions to her actions.
"I mean, just what did she see in you? From what I could tell with what you went on and on about, you sounded just like every egotistical brat in the Capital, believing themselves to be the best only to be pissed when you find out that the world wasn't as it seemed and let's not forget that hilarious temper of yours." One particular memory that stuck out to her in that moment was how Tatsumi reacted when he went on a small "training" trip with her to the Capital in order to shop and goof off and how he reacted when he finally came to the realization that the trip actually had nothing to do with training. The way the veins bulged from his face, the red color that washed over him, it was and probably would continue to be one of the funniest sights that she had ever seen, so much so that just thinking about it caused her to let out a few small chuckles but they were just that, few and after a couple of seconds passed, she recalled another memory.
"But then, you showed me something like no other, something that I never thought was actually possible to find again in all the time I spent here." Mine stopped for a moment as the thought of what happened after Sheele's death came rushing to her mind. It was clear that Tatsumi knew about the pain she suffered but she also knew that he was not exactly the warmest of people to her so it came as a complete surprise when on the night that her death happened and she was in bed, she recalled how after a small bit had passed, she just... broke down. After trying her hardest to keep it all in, she found herself balling her eyes out which gave her that indication that the pain was just too much to bear... and then he showed up. Whether it was that he was awake that night and had nothing better to do or she just woke him. She recalled how Tatsumi that night came into her room, slowly got into her bed and wrapped her up in a gentle hug, telling her that it was okay to let it all out, a moment that has led her to this next thought.
"You were actually human. Unlike people like me who have been taught to refrain from mourning and set our focus on the mission at hand, you actually kept your friends in your memories. Hell, even when Bulat punched you that night, you still took the time to go out and mourn for Sheele, something that even her closest friend couldn't..." Feeling something was off, Mine carefully lifted her hand up to her face and gave her eye a good brush-off with her pointer finger. Looking down, she saw as the little bit of moisture remained on her flesh, causing it to glisten as it slowly trickled down to the ground. As per her training, the sniper stopped for a moment to try and hold it back which proved to be far more difficult than what she had imagined. After about a minute or so, another memory flashed by, one that she would possibly hold onto until the end of time and that was again, Tatsumi wrapping her up in that hug. At that point, she decided to just listen to what the ethereal voice was saying and just let it all out vocally.
"Even when you hurt me, even when you let your anger overwhelm your thoughts, I can tell deep down inside that you care!" She cried out, her head resting on her arms and her gaze being directed towards the floor. "Even after all I've done to you, even after making you into my personal little slave, you still cared for me! Hell, it's thanks to you that I've actually gained a new reason to fight! Tatsumi, I... I..." Right at that moment, Mine just couldn't hold it in anymore and unlike her memories, she was sure no one would be there to comfort her. Right as the tears started to flow down her face, she wasted no time and quickly but carefully cradled Tatsumi's head in her arms and buried her face into his short brown locks. For her, this was most likely going to end up as being the moment that she cried the most but unbeknownst to her, this was also going to end up as a permanent fixture in the mind of a certain green-haired man who was leaning against the door, listening in on everything.
"I don't think I've ever heard Mine get this worked up before..." Lubbock thought to himself with a sigh. "I always thought she hated the guy's guts, guess that was a wrong assumption on my part." Recalling his conversation hours earlier, Lubba slowly shifted his gaze down to his open palm and began to stare at the red fabric of his gloves. After a few more seconds, he calmly tightened it into a fist and as he began to make his way down the hall, he finally completed his thought.
"Which gives me all the more reason to try and sway Najenda's decision."
(First Order HQ)
"Quickly, get these two to medbay now! Also make sure that the criminal is locked up nice and tight!" Shouted Zeroes right as he made his way into the tall room with Esdeath by his side and as for the latter, she had no words to describe just how different everything was in that throne room despite it having no real color and/or structural difference whatsoever. Comparing this to the last time she visited the palace was like comparing her feelings between a quick painless death and long agonizing torture, everything was just so much more interesting and alive. Gone was the smell of sex with its replacement being the smell of burning wood from the possible blaster training that was occurring in the adjacent rooms if the muffled screeches were to be of any indication. The women who were with Bolic were still there but now, instead of being in skimpy bikinis and bellydancer-esque dresses, they were in pure black military uniform with the First Order's emblem being proudly displayed in the patches on their shoulders. Overall, it was almost as though Kylo Ren had been preparing for her arrival and wanted to make a good first impression and if she had to be honest if the smile on her face was any indication, his mission, regardless of how unintentional, was most definitely accomplished.
"If Honest saw this, he would have a heart attack." She thought to herself as she continued to gaze at the room in complete awe whereas FN-2000, the trooper who was escorting her through it all was the complete opposite. Not in the sense that he wasn't proud of their accomplishments which he was but rather, it was due to the sense of dread that he had about the idea of meeting with Kylo Ren at this moment with no Tatsumi or girls or at the very least, girls that he wanted to see. In fact, the only thing Zeroes could think about at that moment were the several horror stories that were passed around by several veterans who mentioned how one of their comrades failed a mission only for Kylo to then stab them moments later or how whenever something didn't go his way, he would slash up whoever and whatever was nearby without a care. Despite this, he wasn't exactly looking to go back to the days of Vader who according to the few older commanders he worked with who actually lived through the age of the Empire, was not much better, the only difference being he preferred to choke his victims instead of slashing them. Trying his hardest to swallow down the fear, the two finally made it to his commander who was currently sitting at his throne with his hood pulled back and Phasma by his side.
"Have you found the girls or the beasts?" Kylo questioned the moment the trooper came into view. After taking in a deep breath, he simply shook his head.
"No sir, we're still looking." During this entire little moment, Esdeath found herself ogling the dark figure who she guessed to be Kylo Ren all over but not for his body like most women probably would but rather, his outfit and presence alone. The sleek black and silver on his helmet, his slightly tattered robes that were just casually flowing every once in a while, that deep booming mechanical voice, just everything about him just screamed pure evil... and efficiency, both being qualities that she quite appreciated.
"Really?" He began with a slight bit of sarcasm. "Then how do you explain the woman you brought here, is this just a joke to you?" Immediately, Zeroes froze in place. For most Stormtroopers back in the first few days of the First Order, Kylo thoroughly trusted them with all his heart, feeling that if the Supreme Leader saw the benefits in using recruits instead of clones then he should just accept them with open arms as well. However, this was all until FN-2187, the trooper that he had once called friend, jumped ship and assisted that one Resistance pilot in escaping which in turn led to him joining the fight against the First Order and the discovery of the last Jedi and ever since then, for anyone that wasn't Phasma or Nines, just about EVERY trooper was heavily scrutinized by the Dark Lord which included him. Feeling himself about to stammer, the trooper took in another deep breath before continuing.
"No sir," He responded with a shake of his head. "this woman actually was seeking to talk with you."
"To talk with him?" Phasma asked, her head cocked to the side. "FN-2000, how are you certain this isn't just a ploy just so that an attempt can be made on the commander's life?" Before the trooper could reply, Esdeath, with her grin intact, took one step forward.
"I respect your concern, which is why I came willingly with your troopers guiding me the whole way through." She called out. "Not only that but I also came with as you can see, absolutely no weapons and I refrained from harming any of your aforementioned soldiers, I really do have no intention to harm your commander."
"Is that so?" Kylo asked, taking a moment to lean forward in his throne. At that moment, Esdeath slowly held her hands outward.
"Tell me, do you see anything on me?" Right at that moment, the warrior began to feel a dark energy emanating from the woman, one that was incredibly vibrant and massive in size. One that reminded him a whole lot of his grandfather.
"No," He began. "but I do sense something in you, something... familiar."
"Like what?" Esdeath asked, her hands by her hips and her brow cocked out of interest.
"Like you have the Dark Side within you." He responded.
"The Dark Side? What's that?"
"Only the strongest force there is in the galaxy, one that binds every living being together which allows them to tap into a near infinite amount of energy." Despite the respect she was possessing for the Dark Lord, she had to use all her strength to refrain from chuckling right then and there... or she would've if it weren't for the dark aura she sensed right then and there, one just as pulsing as her own.
"I take it you've never heard of the Dark Side?" He asked to which Esdeath shook her head.
"I've never considered the idea of any mystical force binding everything together nor have I ever thought of it to be stronger than any Imperial Arms. The thought never occurred to me." Immediately, Kylo's head cocked to the side.
"Imperial Arms?" Smirking, the general kept her gaze locked on him.
"Oh don't tell me you haven't heard of Imperial Arms. They're only some of the strongest known weapons to ever have existed on this world, so strong in fact that only a select few can wield them." Kylo began to lightly grasp his chin, the idea of a weapon like this peaking his interest... while also sounding very familiar though he couldn't quite put his finger on what it exactly was.
"Interesting," He thought to himself before lowering his hand and beginning to speak once more. "well then, thank you for the information miss..." At that moment, the woman's eyes began to slightly widen right as she remembered that one missing detail.
"Sorry about that," She began before leaning into an honorable bow. "I am Esdeath, general of the Empire, commander of an elite strike-force known as the Jaegers. It's truthfully an honor to meet you Kylo Ren."
"You've heard of me before?" Kylo asked, his head on a slight tilt.
"Your exploits have been heard all throughout the Capital." She began. "Prime Minister Honest has especially taken notice of the news about how you've been destroying villages that actually support the Empire."
"My apologies," He said, his tone having a degree of falseness to it. "but we're hunting for someone. Whoever and whatever we destroy is none of our concern. If you're here to simply complain about that then you are useless to me."
"I can definitely see that." Esdeath began. "But you see, I wasn't sent here by Honest."
"Then what is it that you want?" Kylo questioned. At that point, the general couldn't help but let a small smirk show through.
"Simple, I believe that I can provide assistance."
"Assistance?" Kylo asked. "You actually believe we need help? Please don't humor me general, the First Order is large enough to capture an entire planet, I don't see how any of the useless creatures on this planet can help u-" The general immediately stomped her foot down on the ground and the Dark Lord watched with awe with how in just a few seconds, a small pillar of ice came sprouting out of the nicely polished floors with ease.
"I can assure you Lord Ren, not all of us are useless." If she didn't have his interest then, she certainly had it now. In all his countless visits to several different worlds and all the mystical elements that he had seen, never in his entire life had he ever bared witness to something like that.
"Alright then," Kylo began after a long bout of silence. "so what's the catch? You don't seem like the person to come in here without a catch." Smirking, the general crossed her arms.
"You're a smart guy, you know that?"
"Considering I'm usually surrounded by incompetent fools then yes, I guess you can say that. But enough about that, tell me the catch."
"Alright then," Esdeath began after taking in a nice long breath. "well you see... I'm looking for something as well. Something... valuable."
"If you're looking for money then I'm sorry to report that the First Order doesn't pay out credits." Phasma cut in, only to receive a simple hand gesture by Ren for her to step back, followed up by a gesture for the general to continue.
"It's not that, you see, I'm looking for a boy." Kylo gave a small jerk in his seat. Of course, there was always the possibility that she was talking about someone completely different but overall, it seemed just so oddly coincidental, so much so that he'd be hard-pressed to find if the Force wasn't trying to tell him something.
"A boy?" Kylo asked.
"Yes, a boy." She responded. "A very special boy I might add."
"Have you seen him?" Esdeath nodded.
"Actually yes I have, why do you ask?"
"No particular reason." Ren responded as he began to lean in closer. "Tell me, what does this boy look like exactly?"
"Well, he has short brown hair, an average thin build, green eyes, a nice bulky sword and he usually wears a jacket of some kind that's usually white." At that moment, the Dark Lord began to feel like the description was oddly... familiar to him and thought back to what the elder mentioned about there being a boy that used to live there. Not wanting to jump to conclusions, Kylo moved on.
"Tell me, did you ever learn this boy's name?" As the thought of him came rushing back through her memories, the general couldn't help but develop a small blush.
"Yes..." She began as her smirk began to grow even wider. "but I'm guessing you already know his name, don't you?" Behind the mask, Kylo could feel as his eyes widened, the outside representation being his head jolting upward which the general took note of.
"How did you..."
"I could tell from just how you asked the question." She responded. "So tell me, why do you exactly seek Tatsumi?" Shaking himself free, the Dark Lord regained his composure with ease.
"I believe he might be my key to finding the girls I'm looking for." He responded with clasped hands. "Also ever since I've heard his name, I've been feeling this dark presence in the Force, one that's filled with... rage and sorrow and if that belongs to him, then most likely he could be of use to me. So why do you want him?" Immediately, the general looked down towards her feet as her hand flattened against her chest.
"Simple, he took my heart." She explained. "Ever since I saw him that day at a tournament we held, I've never been able to get him out of my mind and it's driving me mad."
"You're... in love?" The general nodded to which Kylo simply responded by sitting back in his seat. "Interesting... but I can tell that isn't the only reason you came here, just from the way you were admiring everything, I could tell something else was afoot so what is it?" With that in mind, Esdeath looked back towards Kylo, her expression far more serious.
"As a matter of fact, there is more to this manner and that involves the state of our Empire." Esdeath began.
"What about it?" The Dark Lord questioned, his hands still tightly clasped together. "And why should I care?"
"You're absolutely right why should you care about the Empire? I'm not giving you reasons about why you should care about the Empire but rather, I'm giving you more reasons as to why you should care more about the First Order." His interest peaked once again, the Dark Lord leaned forward once more, his head resting against his hand.
"I don't think I follow but I'm interested." Grinning, the general continued onward.
"You see Kylo, I've been completely impressed so far with how quickly and efficiently you've been taking out villages left and right, without even a shred of hassle. From just the few observations that I've made, I can tell already that you conduct this operation with care and efficiency unlike no other and the fact that all of this was done in the span of a day is STAGGERING to say the least... and I wish I could say the same for the Empire."
"Wait?" He began. "You willingly came out here to commit treason against your own army?" Esdeath couldn't help but let out a small chuckle.
"Now what made you jump to that conclusion, I haven't even finished. Anyway, as I've mentioned before, we are being lead around by Prime Minister Honest who currently 'works' for our emperor or should I say, he orders around a child that he's molding into an emperor."
"That sounds completely ridiculous." Phasma interjected. "There is no way that anyone would allow that!"
"Well apparently, Honest did allow that. Now initially, I did feel that the Prime Minister's rule has certainly left us in great standing. With a massive army to rely on, skilled warriors and a complete sense of power, we were made to be unstoppable."
"So what changed?" Kylo asked. At that point Esdeath's voice began to show clear signs of frustration that he couldn't tell if it was meant for him or the subject in question.
"Simple, I woke up..." She began. "I guess I've known from the very beginning really. After several long years of ruling the Capital, it has come to my attention that in his old age, the man has simply lost all of what made him competent in the first place. His decision-making? It's sloppy. The fact that he called me in to deal with his issues? It shows that he's too lazy to deal with it himself. His son? A wild card that he exercises ZERO caution when it comes to watching him. Not to mention he also is far too arrogant for his own good. It's thanks to him that I feel we're losing against that group Night Raid."
"Sounds like you're dealing with the same issues that plagued the Galactic Empire."
"Well then," The general began as she slowly made her way towards the Dark Lord. "I guess that means we understand each other. As you can hopefully tell Kylo Ren, I'm not here to attack you nor am I here to commit treason. My heart is still devoted to the Empire and it's simply my opinion that by this point, Honest needs to be ejected and a new leader needs to take his place and raise the Capital back up from the ashes and I think you know who I'm referring to."
"Me?" Kylo asked, one hand pointing towards himself. "You must be joking."
"Oh but I'm not." She replied with a smile. "So Kylo Ren, in exchange for letting me assist you. I will help you find Tatsumi and those girls AND I will also be helping you to gain the position of power you need to take it all over. So what do you say?" Right then and there, the general held her hand out towards him, her smile filled with hope. Bringing one hand to his chin, Kylo already was somewhat weary about the whole thing, granted she did make a good point and she could be a major help but she also had the possibility of being a backstabber later on. However, it was one memory that changed his mind.
"Lord Vader was very direct and clear in the deals he made because he wanted to give those people that sense of trust. Master of the Knights of Ren, remember that if put into a situation like this, it doesn't matter if that person is completely truthful or not, just know that the Force fills your body while that person doesn't have that luxury." Snoke's voice sounded off within him. After a few more seconds of thought, Kylo gave a brief nod and took Esdeath's hand before proceeding to politely shake it.
"You've got yourself a deal." The Dark Lord responded. "However, I will need to perform a few tests, to see if you're truthfully loyal to the cause." Surprisingly enough, the general simply nodded.
"I'll do whatever you want me to do, what is it you request of me?"
"The troopers recently brought in who they claim to be a war criminal and if I have to guess, they believe him to be the one who has been interfering with our operation, would you like to assist me in... extracting information?" Realizing exactly who he meant, Esdeath couldn't have nodded any faster.
"Lead the way." With that said and done, the two began to make their way down the right side of the room with the Dark Lord stopping to signal for Zeroes to follow them along which he did so without hesitation, grabbing a baton along the way to make sure he was prepared. And with this one action, it marked the very beginning of one truthfully deadly alliance.
The union between the ice queen and the Dark Side.
(Night Raid HQ)
For someone who so far had dealt with discovering the mangled bodies of his friends, having two comrades murdered, his village destroyed and was brutally humiliated by an armored trooper who didn't wield any sort of Imperial Arms, it was fair to say that Tatsumi was not exactly in the best state both physically and emotionally and honestly, no one who had to deal with this beforehand would be able to blame him. Looking as though he was coming up on at least 16 or 17, Tatsumi was still a guy who had a bit of growing to do before he could settle into being that hardened warrior that his teammates expected him to become and a little while longer to accept this whole role that he was essentially forced into by the woman who conned him out of his cash all those days ago.
To think that one moment, that one simple moment would lead him to his family being murdered, becoming an assassin to now being on what he assumed was his death-bed was something that the boy never would've been able to fathom in all his life and honestly, how could anyone think that? Life is known for offering strange moments and has led to several average civilians being thrust into more important roles but something like this? It almost seemed like it was ripped straight out of a five-year old's handbook which is filled with stories that starred themselves as a hero without flaws. But it happened to the boy anyway and despite having a few hours now, he still hadn't quite come to terms with it. At the very least, he finally was able to escape into that long awaited peaceful slumber that he never could quite get into from the very moment he got involved with this whole mess.
Laying flat against his back with eyes completely closed, mouth slightly open and arms lifelessly draped along the sides, the boy was currently letting out a series of peaceful snores with the only movement being the slight in-and-out motion of his chest from the deep breaths he was taking in. The room was very much his usual bedroom though surprisingly, no one was around him. No Mine, no Akame, the boy was just left in peace and to his own matters which didn't seem like much of an issue at least, for now. Several moments later, a low whispery tone was heard in Tatsumi's ear, the voice being just loud enough to disturb him and for him to recognize it as the voice of Akame.
"You promised!" Right then and there, almost as if it had went off like a set of dominoes, following the voice was the room slowly starting to darken with the colors slowly being drained as Tatsumi began to toss and turn in response right as a few other voices began, some recognizable while others weren't.
"The Empire will prevail, you will surrender!"
"There is no way I will date someone as cold and monstrous as you!" After several minutes of hearing this, the boy's tossing became all the more violent, the darkening mattress being squished at every moment and with how aggressive the motions were, it was almost as though he was trying to purposefully destroy his sleeping quarters and it only got worse as the voices continued with them this time being far less recognizable.
"Fear is power."
"The hate gives you strength."
"The darkness is the path to tranquility." Once the last bit of the room was enveloped, the voices seemed to finally halt, leaving nothing but dead air and the light breaths of the boy which seemed far more hasty in comparison to moments before, as if the silence did nothing to calm his nerves. A few moments later, Tatsumi felt as his body suddenly began to heat and tense up in a similar fashion to how he was in battle or almost in the same fashion as if there was someone present in the room with him... and this usually came when there was a particularly dark presence nearby. After a few more minutes, another voice was heard but unlike the whispers of before, this had a far more throaty, gravelly sound to it along with something that sounded like pure, unrestrained anger.
"Tatsumi." At that moment the boy began to slowly open his eyes, only to have that process speed up once a massive, balding, pale scarred face came into view, one that while unrecognizable to him, it still filled his very being with nothing but pure, unadulterated fear. which the figure seemed to sense as the face seemed to soften some.
"Do not worry, I sense it within you." Immediately beginning to back up against the headboard, the boy kept his gaze locked on the figure.
"W-Who are you and how do you k-k-know my name?" He asked rather shakily, his hands desperately looking for his sword but to no avail.
"My physical form does not know," The figure began as it proceeded to lean forward. "but rather, the Dark Side does."
"T-The Dark Side? Wha-What are you..."
"Silence!" The figure growled, causing Tatsumi to jump a bit, the action seeming to bring a small smile to the former's scarred, twisted face as it began to lower one bony hand towards him. "There has been an awakening..." Immediately, Tatsumi's eyes widened even more.
"A-An awakening? Where?" He asked, still scared as ever. Slowly, the scarred monstrosity began to lightly prod the boy's chest, the feeling of the flesh being oddly cold and lifeless to the latter.
"Within you." It began. "Throughout all the ages, I never thought I would see a specimen like you so young, so skilled, so... hate-filled. And yet you continuously deny that energy a chance to flow within you." Throughout the whole ordeal, the boy was too shaken to even comprehend what was going on. It didn't matter to him that he was able to move his limbs without a hassle, that his room was now completely enveloped in darkness or even that his weapons were gone. No, all his attention was purely being directed to the massive bony creature and just how much it frightened him when he knew that it shouldn't.
Hell, the thing didn't even look like much on the surface with its thin complexion, black robes and scarred face. In fact, it looked as though one simple shot to the face would be all that's needed to take it down. When compared to the Danger Beasts, it was nothing, when compared to Esdeath, it was nothing. Hell, even the Stormtrooper he faced looked far more threatening than the beast. But it wasn't the looks that incited the fear, it was just the presence it commanded. Just by how close they were, their voice and their mannerisms, it felt... ancient, raw, like this was a being who has been hiding for centuries on end, planning for this very moment. Before he could even give this anymore thought, the figure pressed their pointer behind their thumb and edged it towards him all while their face leaned in to the point where not only could he feel his warm breath over his body and get a good look at his dark yellowed eyes, their voice was so loud that it almost seemed to rattle his insides.
"It's calling to you," It began. Right then and there, Tatsumi could feel his heart pounding in his chest, like it was wanting to burst free from its confines and get away from it all. His palms, sweating like crazy and the same went for his brow. His legs, quaking at a consistently rapid pace. His soul, it felt as though that it was slowly being stabbed into by the monster's gaze. Finally after what seemed like several long hours, the figure finished up. "just let it in..." With that final word and before he could realize it, Tatsumi felt as with all its might, the figure flicked him up and over the bed, right as the sound of what seemed like hissing energy echoed to life only to be drowned out by his screams. Over time, everything seemed to happen in slow motion once the beast's quickly shrinking face soon disappeared from view. Looking around him, he saw several images of various sequences and faces he never recognized with one looking similarly pale to the monster up above though they appeared to have a respirator present. One scene showcased a hooded man with a mask that had nothing but a simple visor along with body armor and what looked to be a red energy blade stabbing through a robed figure. Right then and there, more voices began to play out with some seeming to be broken up.
"Good is but a point of view..."
"...the gambles of the darkness are all risk.. and high reward..."
"Let their losses fuel your desire..."
"A democracy is only as strong as the people who comprise it."
"Your friends have deceived you into believing this farce..." Right then and there, Tatsumi finally hit the ground with a loud "THUD!", the pain rippling throughout his body like waves in a body of water.
"Damn it!" Tatsumi grunted as he proceeded to slowly raise himself off the ground, stopping to notice the single cut on his head which upon just one rub, drenched almost his entire palm in blood. With a frustrated sigh, the boy immediately took a fistful of his jacket and was ready to pull when he heard a loud familiar scream.
"SHEELE!" Almost immediately, his head perked up.
"Mine?" He questioned.
"AAAGGGHH!" Despite the situation being strange enough as is, the boy felt the adrenaline beginning to pump through his body and through pure instinct, he burst off into a run towards the direction of the voice, using only his ears as his guide due to everything still being pitch black. After a little while of running and hearing more screams, the world around him started to illuminate some, revealing leaves, branches, dirt and stars which greatly confused the boy. Regardless, he just kept pushing forward right as the throaty voice began once again.
"Your friends have betrayed you." A few seconds later, Tatsumi finally caught a glimpse of HQ and began to speed up his pace but just as he was about to reach it, his vision was overwhelmed by the sight of a massive fist, one almost as big as his head, crashing directly into his skull. The pain that rippled throughout his body right then was excruciating with his jaw feeling almost as though it was about to shatter which was... familiar in some way. Landing on the ground in a small puddle of his own blood, he wiped his mouth with the side of his fist and after staring for a few moments, a familiar voice began to playback, one that brought memories back rushing in full force.
"Don't embarrass yourself Tatsumi!" Bulat shouted, his anger clearly being without restraint. "You're losing your control! You knew that this would happen from the very moment you joined us! Didn't we tell you that any one of us could die at any time?!" This moment, this very moment was something that changed his perception of Night Raid for what he assumed was going to be all eternity. Looking up into his "friend's" face, he saw how his eyes were ripe with fury, how the veins bulged from his hands and head. For the longest time, he remembered how he found himself in denial for the longest of times after this.
All the way before that moment, Bulat was like an older brother to him. He was also someone who was loud, bombastic and very much full of energy to the point he seemed intoxicated by it. But he also had what he considered to be one of the largest hearts in existence. To him, it didn't matter what it was whether he was being hit on by the guy, sparring or if they were just kicking back, Bulat was a man with a fiery passion and one he always took inspiration from in order to push onward in his battle for a peaceful world.
However, it was this moment that changed everything completely. While he was depressed by his death and eventually he did apologize for decking him in the face, from that point on, his perception of Night Raid had completely changed and no matter how hard he tried, he just couldn't put his finger on what it was exactly. Back then, he viewed Night Raid as a team of what one would consider anti-heroes. Sure what they did to their enemies was absolutely HORRIFIC and not everyone was exactly the friendliest to him but at the very least, it was all for a great cause and sometimes, one has to go to those extreme lengths in the fight for peace and tranquility. However, he was also taught to remember every comrade who fell in battle and that he should make sure they wouldn't die in vain... something that Night Raid NEVER seemed to believe in.
It was why he was so shocked to see Akame break down like she did back when he had that chat with her about Sheele's death as it showed that most of the people behind this crew were human, that they had thoughts, feelings, goals and ambitions. It showed that they weren't just fighting out of a lust for warfare but rather it was for something that the ENTIRE planet desired for... and then he thought back to this moment and what Chelsea said and he feels like a fool for even daring to sympathize with them. Looking around, he saw the usual faces of his comrades, looking at the whole ordeal with shock and sadness while Najenda's face... was blank which by that point, he found just plain typical. Looking around for a little while longer though, he saw the pale figure once more, standing right next to Bulat.
"Your friend wants you to ignore your pain, your suffering, not solve it. How does that make you feel?" The figure's voice seemed far calmer than before and oddly fatherly in the way that it was presented. Despite that, it certainly was working since a few moments later, Tatsumi began to stand back up. Vision or not, he was not going to let the man talk down to him like this. However, just as he was about to begin, he watched as Bulat's face suddenly twisted in pain and as the scene around him turned to black with the rest of the members fading from sight and mind.
"What the..." Before he could finish, he heard Bulat's voice cry out once more. Looking over, he saw as the scene around them began to change into something far more familiar and as the man was on one knee, his teeth grit and hand gripping his side.
"You injected yourself with poison! Damn you!" Before he could rush over to help him, a familiar voice sounded off behind him and it was here when the scene began to deviate since unlike what actually happened, General Liver was standing perfectly straight, his only imperfection being a small stream of blood dropping from his lips. Not only that but much to his horror, the rest of the Three Beasts were all standing alongside him though what was horrifying was that all of them clearly had the injuries that they sustained in the actual fight with the big brute looking as though he was two halves hastily stuck together and that one kid had completely whited out eyes, like he had when he used Incursio for the first time.
"It wasn't exactly easy." Began Liver right as he set his hands behind his back. "But you know what they say. You must exhaust every possible option to win a battle." If Tatsumi had to rank his greatest failures for the next three years to come, the loss of Sheele and Bulat would be ranking first every single time. To him, he should've been the one to receive the poison, he should've been the one to duel Seryu, he should've took his chance to try and kill the Jaegers when he had it and it was thanks to him ignoring these that Night Raid was in the state that it was. Dropping to his knees, he felt the tears beginning to pour from his face.
"Please..." He pleaded. "no more. Leave me in peace!"
"Not a chance little boy." A growl sounded off, causing Tatsumi to look up, only to see the brute in all of his truthfully messed up glory with fresh blood still dripping down from the neat red line that went perfectly down the middle, like he really was someone who was hastily stuck together. "I bet my experience points won't go up that much but honestly, I think just the pleasure that will come from killing you is good enough!" With that said, the man lifted his massive axe over his head, his sadistic grin being as wide as ever with Tatsumi only able to look up with fearful anticipation at the inevitable fate that was about to bestow itself upon him. The clock ticked down at an agonizingly slow pace, the only movements being the twitching of the brute's arms and the tears that dropped down to the wooden floor. After a little while longer, the man finally was ready.
"Say goodni-AGGH!" The scenery around him once again changed to a pitch black before seconds later being lit up to reveal a narrow hallway with several white lights lining it and this all came right as a red hot blade pulsating with energy came charging right through the blonde's chest, causing him to desperately gasp for air. Despite how this would be mainly pleasant for some, Tatsumi just found himself even more afraid by how this man, this once very sadistic, fearless monstrosity, went from cackling about his death to a frail, fearful bag of flesh who he watched as the life rapidly drained from his eyes and before he knew it, seconds later, the man's head drooped forward right as the eyes shut tight which would've been worrisome enough if it weren't for the slight hint of shimmering black that seemed to poke out from behind him. Slowly backing away, the boy wondered what exactly was going to happen next when suddenly, the red blade disappeared, leaving the body to slowly wobble for a few moments before falling to its knees, revealing a man unlike any he had ever seen in his entire life.
"All too easy." A deep booming voice sounded off right as the corpse finally fell flat on his face, leaving Tatsumi to get a good look at the figure in front of him. Dressed in dark robes, shimmering black armor and wielding what looked to be a red laser sword, the man who stood before him certainly commanded a lot of attention with just his physique which had just the right amount of bulk and height that would make any average person do a double take towards... before they were then filled with fright by the sound of his breathing. That low raspy breath, the control panel that remained lit up the whole way through and that booming voice that had a slight electronic sound to it. To him, he honestly couldn't tell if this was man, weapon or machine he was looking at. Not only that but there was also the manner of the aura he was giving off.
Being one of the few people to apparently ever get so close to Esdeath without dying, he already had firsthand experience with what a powerful dark aura felt like... which is what made it all the more frightening when he found himself PREFERRING the company of someone like her compared to this man. Before he could ponder over it any longer, the figure spoke out once more.
"Don't be afraid young one." He began with a hint of falseness. "You're safe now."
"W-W-Where am I and who are you?" Tatsumi questioned, clearly not falling for it. With a few movements, the figure pressed what looked to be a small button on his weapon and immediately, the blade retracted into the hilt. Then, in a move that shocked the boy, he let his grip on the hilt loosen and right there, he watched as the weapon was suspended in midair before proceeding to slowly move towards and hook onto his belt and soon after, he set his hands at his hips.
"That's pointless to know." He began. "But if you must know my name, I am the one known by the Force as Darth..." Right then and there, the man seemed to take a moment to let himself breathe and coincidentally, it was right here where Tatsumi could feel himself actually LOSING air and with how the whole scene was arranged, it was like the figure was somehow leeching off of his own oxygen. After a few moments of holding it in, he finally let out the last part of his name.
"Vader." Tatsumi felt as a huge wave of fright overtook him right at that moment, despite never hearing of that name, he could already tell that it had been associated with some of the most despicable crimes ever committed and yet he didn't know what those actually were. Despite that, Tatsumi was just about to continue onward when the dark figure beat him to it.
"And yes, I know you," Vader began. "the Force knows all living beings."
"What the hell is the Force?" Tatsumi questioned. "Why do I keep hearing about it? Is it a weapon?" At that moment, Vader seemed to let out what seemed to be his version of a chuckle though it was very, VERY brief.
"I expected as much from a youngling, the Force is not a physical object you can touch. It is a source of energy that exists inside every living being there is, even you possess that power." Having just gotten back up to his feet at that moment, the boy was feeling both his anger and his curiosity beginning to rise.
"What do you mean?" He questioned. "There's no such thing as a power that connects everything!"
"Oh but there is," The Dark Lord began. "and it is far greater than any blaster, sword or fist and as much as you would like to deny it, you know in your heart that it is all true."
"Even if it was true, hokey beliefs like that are no match for true skill." The boy responded, his confidence slowly building up.
"Strange, you speak with the tongue of a smuggler despite how much my presence... worries you."
"I've had practice against freaks like y-" Before he could finish, Tatsumi watched as the man held out his hand in a gripping motion and right then and there, he felt as his windpipe pinched shut, leaving him to gasp helplessly for air and when he looked down, he saw as his feet were dangling a few feet away from the ground.
"This should fix everything." A few seconds later, Darth jerked his hand to the side, the boy feeling as his windpipe was released... only for that relief to be replaced with the familiar rippling sensation of pain when his body collided with the metal wall. His actions not showing a single hint of care for the boy's pain, Vader continued on.
"I can feel your anger within you." He began.
"That's to be expected when you're in the presence of a freak with a ma-" Suddenly, the boy felt himself being pulled forward, his body flying through the air for a few moments before his neck found a nice spot in Vader's firm grip and as he desperately tried to pull himself free from that, the Dark Lord just continued on, almost as though the whole situation never even happened.
"I sense... conflict within you. A very normal sensation, even the Jedi have suffered through it."
"J-Jedi? What the hell are you..."
"I'm only repeating the knowledge my master gave me... hmm... your energy seems most familiar." Tatsumi's eyes widened.
"Your presence, it feels very familiar to what I felt on Rhen Var."
"Rhen... Var? What are you going on about?"
"You possess this... natural strength in the Force, like him..."
"Like who?! TELL ME DAMN IT!"
"Yes... this is exactly the kind of passion he possessed, the confidence he used. Let it all out, you're finally getting it."
"Shut up!" This continued on for several minutes and as it did, Vader calmly unhooked his saber from his belt, his thumb lightly caressing the button.
"I feel the Force flowing through you now, please do not try to fight me, it is worthless t-" Right before Vader could finish, the boy delivered one solid punch to the control panel, causing his grip to loosen. Once he dropped to the ground, he watched as the intimidating dark warrior went from blabbering on about possible relations to letting out several strained coughs and despite how much it bothered him, Tatsumi felt... oddly ashamed of himself for doing it, like he actually wanted to learn more about this so-called Force but instead, he just injured the man right as he possibly was going to get to those bits. Before he could focus on that for much longer, the boy watched as the Dark Lord with both hands, grabbed hold of the top portion of his helmet and the next time he spoke, his voice sounded eerily familiar.
"Perhaps, I should just show you." After a few more seconds, the dome came loose with a low hissing noise and as he raised it, he saw a head full of brown hair, HIS brown hair.
Almost immediately, the boy's confidence went from a burning fire to a low whimper with fear taking its place. Just as Vader was reaching for the final portion of his mask, Tatsumi felt as his defenses dropped which led him to doing the one thing every human is a natural at. He took in a deep breath and a few moments later, he let out a loud fearful scream.
And just like that, the scene faded to black once more, only to flash a bright red and right then and there, Tatsumi's eyes were greeted by the face of a tearful sniper.
"M-Mine, what are y-" Before he could question it, the girl immediately wrapped her arms around his bandaged head.
"Don't scare me like that again!" Mine cried out. "You may not know it but we need you, I need you!" As she continued to essentially pour her heart out to him, Tatsumi found himself feeling rather odd as a result of the whole scenario. He expected some to be worried about him, that was for sure but just the idea of Mine, the one who actually made him carry her bags back when he first joined Night Raid and has consistently been teasing and insulting him, being the one to have this major breakdown, the whole experience was just odd... but he didn't care. Despite the pain he felt which thankfully had subsided a whole lot since then, the warrior slowly began to wrap the sniper up in a hug.
"Shhh... it's okay Mine," He reassured, lightly caressing the back of her head. "just let it o-"
"Well look who's up!" Immediately, the two turned towards the entrance to the room to see a very happy Lubbock who was making his way towards him with Mine being... less than pleased and going right back into a familiar mode.
"What the hell is wrong with you?! Tatsumi nearly died, why are you acting so cheery about it?!" Mine growled, her face as red as a beet which Tatsumi couldn't help but smile at. Immediately, Lubba held up two hands in a "take it easy" motion.
"Relax a little will you?" He asked in his usual carefree manner. "I just thought I would make Tatsumi laugh a little, after all we can't let this ENTIRE situation depress us." At that point, the boy couldn't help but let out a small chuckle. If there was one person he could always count on to make him feel better or give him a good laugh, it was definitely the dude with the threads.
"Thanks Lub." He said with a smile which the man returned with ease.
"Don't mention it," Right there, he took notice of the boy's patched face and began to smirk. "would you look at that. You're healing up better than what I anticipated, you look like you can rip the arms right off of a Danger Beast!"
"I hope he's strong enough for that." Immediately everyone turned their attention back towards the entrance of the room and upon his sight being filled with the familiar silver hair and eyepatch, Lubbock couldn't help but let out a whispered curse once he noticed Tatsumi's face beginning to go grim while Mine was left a little surprised.
"Boss! Are you checking up on Tatsumi?" Mine asked to which Najenda just shook her head.
"I think you've done enough of that," She began after taking a puff of her smoke. "I'm here to talk with h-"
"Let me guess, you're pissed about me going off to do something about the First Order, aren't you?" Tatsumi interjected, leaving Najenda to stare at him with frustration.
"Oh Jesus here we go." Lubbock muttered to himself right as his palm met his face.
"If by doing something you mean being completely reckless then ys, I'm more than a little peeved about it." She responded.
"Tatsumi what you did was completely stupid, you could've gotten yourself killed." Chelsea cut in with hands on her hips.
"So what if I do?" He replied with a scoff. "At least I'd be going out trying to make a difference, unlike you who only cares about the Empire."
"Tatsumi mind your tongue!" Najenda demanded. "You know you're one of our most valuable members, acting like this isn't going to bring your friends back."
"So is that all we are to you? Possessions?"
"Come on Tatsumi, you know the commander doesn't mean th-"
"If we let our emotions get the better of us then there will be no progression!" Najenda cut off. "It has been several days since those deaths and not once have you defied me before, why are you doing it now?"
"Is that what you call it? Defiance? You call showcasing humanity DEFIANCE?!"
"I call going out on a SUICIDE mission defiance!"
"You call that a suicide mission?!" Tatsumi growled. "Excuse me for actually REELING about the destruction of my village!"
"Mind your tone! If you had died right then and there, our fight will be all the more difficu-"
"And what about the loss of MY friends?! Hasn't that made the fight more difficult?!"
"Tatsumi, relax yourse-"
"Without you, we wouldn't have gotten as far as we did!" The boss yelled. "Without you, we wouldn't have been able to nail the Three Beasts."
"BULAT nailed the Three Beasts!"
"Tatsumi, I beg of y-" Chelsea was cut off once again by another bout of angry ranting.
"What about all that talk about how you were going to dedicate yourself to this life, you knew EXACTLY what you were getting int-"
"I didn't know you were going to be a bunch of emotionless shitheads who didn't care about humanity!" Right then and there, the room let out a collective gasp with the only one who didn't being Najenda who after a few seconds was just about to open her mouth when Tatsumi cut her off, jerking himself up right in his bed.
"I joined not because I wanted to, but because I was FORCED to! I wanted to take vengeance for my best friends who were murdered by all this madness! Through that, I met and lost several MORE! Sheele, Bulat, I lost them all thanks to this Empire and yet you have the absolute fucking gall come in here and tell me that I'm acting out of line when really, you're still just pissed about the fact that I'm not the emotionless killing machine you wanted!"
"That is not true and you know i-"
"Oh really Najenda? It ISN'T true?! You expect me to pretend that you caring about the mission more than our lives ISN'T true?!"
"Tatsumi, you have to rel-" Before Chelsea, could finish. Tatsumi effectively just... blew up.
"SHUT UP! I don't need to hear crap from the exact same person who told me that my friends were WORTHLESS!"
"Tatsumi," Leone cut in. "she lost teammates beforehand, she's just being hone-"
"Being a heartless bitch is NOT honest!"
"Tatsumi, you will stand down!" Najenda demanded.
"That's your response to every thing isn't it?" Tatsumi began with a low tone. "Someone has a complaint, stand down. Someone is frustrated, stand down. Someone is showing actual emotion, stand the fuck down! You're not used to that are you?"
"Tatsumi..." Najenda began through grit teeth.
"Oh don't act like this isn't the truth. When Sheele died, I chalked it up to you just thinking more about us as a whole. When Bulat died, I thought the same thing but now... now that I've gone out and actually fought a member of that one group, that ONE group who murdered my family! I realize now that you don't give a single shit about if any one of us dies."
"You've never actually had an attachment to one of us."
"All you care about is satisfying that little grudge with Esdeath and the mission itself. You've had to deal with troopers falling back whenever they piss you off ever so slightly and expect me to behave like a good little soldier." Right then and there before Najenda could speak, Tatsumi pulled himself out of bed, wincing ever so slightly from the pain as he slowly grabbed his sword. "Well excuse me for not being such a cold-hearted bitch." With that final word, Tatsumi calmly made his way out the door, lightly shoving Akame to the side right before he proceeded to slam the thing shut. At that point, never had anyone seen Najenda so infuriated before in all their lives and the one who was taking it hardest was the green-haired man standing off to the side since he knew now what he had to do.
A few moments later and without saying a single word, Najenda turned around and began to make her way out the door, all the while lighting up a small cigarette with the members who followed out being Susanoo, Chelsea and Leone with the two who didn't being left to stare at Lubbock, who had quite the concerned look on his face, ESPECIALLY when the door slammed shut.
"What's going on with her?" Mine asked. "Tatsumi got all the scolding he needed by us already, what did she exactly expect?"
"From what I can tell, it's like she's looking to get rid of him." Akame inferred.
"Actually, you're not far off with that." Lubbock began with a sigh, both members immediately snapping their gaze towards him.
"What do you mean?" Mine asked before having her eyes widen with realization. "Oh that's right, you had that private chat with the boss didn't you?" Lub just gave her a small nod.
"Well then," Akame began. "what did she tell you?" Lubba said nothing, keeping his mouth shut for what felt like several minutes after she said that.
"Lubba what did Najenda tell you?" Mine asked, only to still receive no answer. If only things hadn't come down to that. If this was a generic soldier or even Tatsumi back in the early days of his time at Night Raid, NO one would've given a single damn about it all but now that the boy has gotten acquainted with just about EVERY member including him, telling anyone about what was meant to be this private thing was either going to be his or her death sentence or worse. However, he was the one who brought it up and overall, his conscience would constantly be getting back at him with migraines if he didn't say anything so finally after several long minutes and after muttering a curse to himself, he looked towards Akame.
"Before I tell you, you must lock that door." He ordered, causing Mine's brow to raise.
"Why is that?" As Akame was doing what she was told, Lubba turned towards the sniper.
"Because what I'm about to tell you is something that I expect to be kept a secret between us and us alone." He began. "I don't want anyone getting hurt over all this." Despite feeling like she was still being kept in the dark, Mine decided against pushing on and just gave him a nod, signaling that she understood. Afterward, the warrior took in a long hard breath and held it in for several seconds, almost as though he was preparing to die after all this which especially showed when he let it out.
"The subject, that me and Najenda were discussing about." The two immediately gave an attentive nod. "Well, we were talking a bit about Tatsumi, she was very angry about what he said to you and Chelsea back there."
"Well that was to be expected," Mine responded. "after all it was VERY out of his character."
"Yeah well, it's a bit more complicated than that. You guys remember how he was when he returned without Bulat?" The two began to solemnly look down to the ground as the image of the boy's tearful face flooded their memories, if Sheele's death made everyone feel depressed then the best way to describe Bulat's death was that everyone felt suicidal and due to him being a usual source of encouragement, it took a little while for the team to accept that they would have to fight on without him. After a few more seconds, they gave him another attentive nod.
"Well... Najenda took note of all that and has noticed that Tatsumi... hasn't been getting any better since that time." Lubbock continued on, all while nervously twiddling his thumbs.
"So Najenda was expressing how she thinks Tatsumi's too emotional about this?" Mine asked, receiving an accepting nod from Lubba. "Well what the hell does she expect? He's still fairly young."
"That's what I told her but it's not just that. You see Najenda mentioned to me that she's considering... that she's considering..."
"She's considering what?" Akame questioned, her arms crossed, intently staring at the man who had more than a little sweat pouring down his face and palms. The moment of truth was here, the time to reveal everything and yet he still couldn't get the words out.
"Come on, spit it out." Mine demanded. After several more minutes, the warrior took in another nice long breath and held it for a few more seconds before proceeding to continue on.
"She mentioned that if Tatsumi doesn't show improvement anytime soon..." Stopping himself, he looked around to see the two staring attentively which let him know that there was absolutely no way he was getting out of this. With a low sigh, he continued on.
"She's considering the possibility of 'silencing' him if you know what I mean." At first, it seemed as though everything was about to go just fine since both Mine and Akame were left a little puzzled. However, this little moment of relief didn't last long when Mine's eyes widened, signaling that she finally got it.
"She suggested WHAT?!" Lubba gave her a nod.
"Trust me, I had that exact reaction, I'm not thrilled about it eith-what are you doing?" Lubba stopped himself to notice that Mine was already making her way towards her door not with dainty little taps of her feet but with angry stomps.
"I'm going to give her a piece of my mind about th-" Giving Akame a quick hand gesture, the assassin, despite her own shock, quickly grabbed hold of the sniper and pulled her back, all the while she continued to whine.
"Hey! Let go! It's not your f-"
"I don't think you realize the severity of this situation!" Lubbock said with a stern voice. "I've tried my best to sway her decision but it didn't work. The only thing I was able to work out was that she at the very least gave Tatsumi a few days to prove himself."
"But he's a friend," Mine began, clearly not having it. "our comrade, I..."
"AND Najenda doesn't and won't see that right now." He cut off. "Don't you understand? This whole damn thing with the First Order has her stressed out of her mind! You saw her a few moments earlier, I don't think she's exactly keen on hearing something that I was supposed to keep secret coming out of YOUR mouth."
"But if she does this won't that cause an uproar among the entire army?" Akame inquired. In response, the man couldn't help but let out a sigh of frustration.
"That's why I was supposed to keep this a secret." He complained. "Now with two people knowing about it, it will only be a matter of time before the whole goddamn team finds out about this!" Setting one caring hand on Lubbock's shoulder, Akame looked him in the eye.
"Don't worry, we won't tell her." She began before giving Mine a look to which she responded reluctantly with an agreeing nod and once she did, she snapped her gaze back toward the man. "Is there at least SOMETHING we can do to help though?" Bringing one hand to his chin, Lubba scrunched his brow before proceeding to enter a moment of intense thought.
"Like I said, the only thing that would change her mind is if Tatsumi can prove himself in the following days that he's still a valuable ally." Lubbock explained. "Which means the place to prove that would be..."
"The day we attack the Jaegers." Akame finished to which Lubbock nodded.
"Which already could lead to Tatsumi's death if he's not careful about the whole thing with all that's going on right now."
"So what do you suggest we do?" Mine asked.
"I'm getting to that. To me, the best and only thing we can do is just try our best to keep Tatsumi out of harm's way." Almost immediately, Mine's brow cocked upward.
"Really, that's it?"
"Look I really don't know what to tell you." Lubbock explained. "If we get involved directly and essentially admit to Najenda what we heard, we risk Night Raid falling apart but if we leave Tatsumi alone, we may lose our ONLY hope for winning against the Empire. I really have no clue what else I really can say." Not exactly satisfied, the sniper sat there for what felt like several straight minutes, stopping every once in awhile to shift which leg was resting over what knee. After a little while longer upon coming to the realization that this was it, Mine stood up and set one reassuring hand down on his back.
"If this is what it'll take to save Tatsumi then I'll do it." She said with a smile which Lubbock returned with ease. With all that said and done, the three began to make their way towards the door and after unlocking it, they made their way out.
(Imperial Capital: Jaeger HQ)
It had been several hours following the Jaegers' search for the First Order and slightly less than the surprise attack they suffered by their forces which was a particularly notable event since a few moments earlier, it was when their commander Esdeath left to deal with what they assumed to be personal matters. It was this very moment in particular that made some members, especially Wave and Kurome, rather worried for what was going to happen to them after they reported back. After all, Honest was especially known for his cruelty and his hatred for failure so for the next several minutes following this event, their minds brainstormed particularly horrific options.
Whether it be something as light as simply giving them a swift death or something as horrific as brutalizing each member one by one with the others being forced to watch, the point was that for them, this was one failure they were not particularly happy with. However, one could imagine their surprise when they explained the situation to the prime minister... with his only response being his usual thousand yard stare and chilling grin that would haunt anyone's nightmares for months on end. To them, the response was certainly unexpected but not uncommon since the prime minister usually did keep this expression, even when he was infuriated with the change usually coming after the initial meeting. So they waited, and waited, and waited but to their shock, Honest didn't seem remotely bothered by it which confused them greatly.
After all, even with Honest's nature, the idea of smiling at a failure this massive since it could turn the tide for either side in this war was by far one of the most confusing idiotic options you could go for. Sure enough, what they didn't know was that behind that grinning sack of flesh and his wide golden eyes, Honest's emotions were going through a massive flux, something which he had never gone through once before.
For several long years, Honest has had absolutely, positively no reason to ever panic or worry about the Empire in any way and shockingly enough, it was very easy to understand as to why this was.
From the very moment he came into power to even the point when Night Raid had started to achieve their first set of victories against them, concern for the possibility of losing power had never even crossed his mind and that was mostly due in no small part to the allies he had surrounding him. Granted, the troopers themselves were nothing to really be frightened of, in fact, their equipment was about as standard as standard could get with only the most basic of protection being provided as to not waste much funding on anything that he might need along with combat training that, while it did exercise brutality, it was very much focused on the simple yet effective "survival of the fittest" principle in that if the weak fell then the strong should outright ignore them and instead carry on with bringing about the world's future which although effective, was ultimately rendered worthless in comparison to the emphasizing of teamwork and it was one of the main reasons why hordes upon hordes of soldiers could be and were taken down with ease whenever contact with Night Raid came into play... and yet, he never found it remotely that frightening.
For what his army might've lacked when it came to extreme skill, it certainly made up for that with just the sheer size of it and the fear that was instilled into the hearts of everyone who saw them. To the civilians, they didn't just see people in uniform marching down the streets, what they saw was a truthfully vicious organization that even if an offense as minor as a vulgar gesture was performed toward them, that would be met with a swift chop of the arm and crushing of the head, the latter of which just so happened to be one of Honest's favorite sights even to that very day. To him, it didn't matter if his soldiers were somewhat ill-prepared, with the power that he and his fellow officials possessed with Imperial Arms and simple word-of-mouth alone, the complete overwhelming sense of dread that filled the souls of those who witnessed them was more than enough to leave him satisfied.
When Night Raid then came into the fray and started to fight back, of course Honest was concerned somewhat since despite what he put into place, he was no fool and understood that in this world, actions did speak FAR louder than words. However, what quickly calmed this in a matter of seconds was how he eventually came to the realization that unless they managed a way to get through Esdeath and a secret weapon that he possessed, the sheer size and scope of the army alone made just about every victory and kill, no matter how big, to be more like the minor irritations brought on by a mosquito rather than the powerful chomp of a Danger Beast and even then, Honest LOVED the challenge.
For a man of his age and portly figure, one never would've expected that he had an inherent love for warfare. While the love for cruelty and torture has certainly been given away by the nightmare-inducing grin he had during the many executions he put forth both public and private, it was never expected that the man actually loved conflict. In fact, initial rumors suggested due to how he referred to certain battle-tactics as being "uncivilized" and "unrestrained messes" that he actually despised the idea of engaging in battle
However, that couldn't have been any further from the truth since to him, warfare (more specifically victories against the Revolutionary Army) was damn near intoxicating for him. With the descriptions of heads being slashed clean off, disembowelment, bones being shattered, and the various battle strategies that were set in place, there was nothing that gave him quite the metaphorical high like it and due to their victories making impact on Night Raid at LONG last, that feeling was very much present then and in much, MUCH greater doses... that was of course, until a certain new visitor came into town.
While he did make it clear to the Jaegers that he'd prefer for the First Order to be brought to him so that a deal may possibly be worked out, deep down inside, the idea of them being burned at the stake was proving to be more than a little enticing by that point since like every dictator, he possessed a burning hatred for one outcome, a hatred SO pulsing that it made his dislike for rebellion look like a minor agitation.
He absolutely despised the idea of a rival who could in theory, take BOTH the throne and army away from him. A fear possessed by many if not ALL dictators who came before him and it didn't appear as though that it was going to stop anytime soon.
In just the span of a day, the First Order had effectively managed to completely upstage him with both how quickly they got their name out there AND with just how effective their strategies were. From what he could tell, the troopers were quite educated in the art of the blitzkrieg or "lightning war" which consisted of mainly striking locations with rapid speed and all of your military might, giving the enemy no time to breathe in order to bring about a swift and easy victory and while it was a favorite tactic of his, it was due to the lack of advancement present among his troops that prevented him from using it to its max potential as more often than not and especially by the time the Empire became feared by many, there was extreme difficulty in catching villages by surprise due to their approach on horseback being more often than not reported on by the said locations which led to them preparing themselves for the inevitable assault.
Due to this massive shortcoming of his purposeful lack of extreme and extensive training, prior to the First Order he only had the pleasure of viewing a grand total of three people and/or groups able to use this strategy and those were General Esdeath, the Jaegers and Wild Hunt and even then it was very rare since both combatants like him, preferred a good fight in comparison to no fight and loved to inflict excruciating pain on their opponents. With all this in mind, one could imagine the sheer surprise that Honest felt when in the span of a few hours, the group had ALREADY made a name for themselves with this tactic... and it would still not even come close to what occurred in reality.
To say that Honest was surprised and annoyed by the whole situation was an understatement... he was infuriated by it. What his army was only able to accomplish when everything seemed to align in just the right way, the odds of it happening having been predicted as being exactly 2,467 to 1, the First Order was able to do so in a consistent pattern of seemingly two villages per two minutes over the course of a single day which had once been reported as being literally impossible to perform and yet, the group was able to pull it off like it was nothing and when combined with how they were attacking villages regardless of current alignment, this made him FAR more nervous than he ever was over the course of his entire life.
Due to the dangers posed by this unknown fighting force with the only details they had to go off of being eyewitness accounts by those who clearly were more than a little disturbed by the encounter thus leading to what they assumed to be various inconsistencies, it was decided that the Jaegers would be dispatched to investigate since normal troops would most definitely fall to them if the descriptions were to be believed. As usual due to a lack of any real means of communication, Honest ultimately had to rely on the report he would receive from the group coming back... or the lack of one which would confirm their fates. Ultimately, he expected that they wouldn't be able to track the First Order due to their lack of information but was certainly not expecting the loss of Esdeath as evidenced by his tone.
"Surely you're mistaken," Honest began, trying his damnedest to hide his concern. "Esdeath wouldn't just desert our army like that, she has put any personal dealings she may have had back in the past, there is no reason for her to do such a thing."
"Trust me prime minister, we didn't believe it either." Wave responded. "But she just... took off and we just couldn't find her." At that moment, the prime minister leaned forward in his seat and clasped his hands together right as his heart seemed to drop like a rock, metaphorically smashing into every single bone on the way down. For many dictators, there was always the rule that if one was clearly far more capable than you were, that person would be one you would fear the most and to say that Esdeath fit this mold would be, again, a massive understatement.
In his eyes, Esdeath was pure perfection. The way she executed actions, her strength and powers were unrivaled by many as were her skills with weapons and due to her love of torture and pain, anytime an interrogation was initiated, he would always have her being the one to conduct it all... which was why the idea of her either running off or wanting to take the throne was a massive issue for him since all she really had to do was just catch him off-guard with a strike of her powers and "BAM!", he would be gone.
Fortunately for him, if there was one thing that Esdeath possessed that made him far less concerned was her seemingly unwavering loyalty to both the Empire and the cause at hand. Hell, one of the very first principles she taught the Jaegers during their first meeting was that they were to remain loyal at all times which was even said to those who were actually serving under the Empire beforehand. With this in mind, it made the whole situation even more odd and even more important to figure out.
"Well... that's unfortunate." Honest said, his voice slightly lower than usual. "Did she at the very least leave a trail?"
"Negative," Bols replied. "we would've taken the time to track where she was going but we were a bit held up."
"By who or what?" Honest asked, his brow cocked. Setting one hand to his chin, the masked man was just about to answer when Wave cut in.
"We were held up by a squad of Stormtroopers."
"A squad of... what?"
"Stormtroopers," Wave repeated. "the main foot-soldiers of the First Order. They had a small squadron out by the remains of one of the villages and they found us."
"What happened then?" Honest questioned with intrigue.
"We tried to reach a peaceful negotiation with them but they went rough on our two comrades here so we had no choice but to fight." As Bols told the story, Kurome noticeably winced, the armored warrior's grip on her being quite fresh on the mind. Spotting this, Wave immediately held her closer to him.
"Was anyone harmed?"
"No sir," Bols said with a shake of his head. "in fact, I would say that we got out relatively unscathed."
"Well..." The masked man lightly gripped his chin. "Wave was pushed down to the ground and Kurome was shaken a bit but they're extremely minor and very easy to ignore."
"I see..." Honest began, releasing a mental sigh of relief right as he sat back in his chair. "well then, it's a shame that you couldn't be less aggressive with them, we could've gotten an extra fighting f-"
"They were the ones who were aggressive with us!" Wave interjected. "If we didn't do anything we would've been killed!"
"No harm in peaceful negotiation." Honest shrugged.
"With all due respect, you are HARDLY what I'd call someone who prefers peace." Wave responded right as the old man straightened himself in his seat.
"I'm a man of the moment, if there's a way for us to use peace over warfare then we do just that."
"I hate to admit it but I do side a bit with Wave on this one prime minister." Seryu cut in, lightly petting Koro in her arms. "The First Order could be great allies but they seem a bit too filled with..."
"Injustice?" The prime minister guessed, only to have the warrior shake her head.
"Not exactly, they seem to be most interested in just causing pure anarchy without being necessarily attached to either side."
"Well then, that is an interesting assessment." The minister admitted.
"Furthermore," Run added. "we can also confirm that they seem to use a form of firearms to battle against us and that the white armor, despite being durable, can be broken if subjected to enough punishment as Seryu demonstrated on them." As he continued on, the minister stopped to take one massive swig of a mug he had set on the desk, presumably as a form of comfort drink. "They also don't seem to be immune to enhancements like the kind that Kurome has."
"That's good to hear." Honest responded, setting his drink down with a loud "THUD!" soon after. "So at the very least we should be able to do something against them if push does come to shove." Stopping for a moment, the minister clasped his hands together once more, his golden irises showing a glint of madness. "Moving on though, does anyone have any guesses on the reasoning for Esdeath's departure?"
"We've had a few over the length of time it took to get here." Bols began. "Wave, why don't you start us off?" Nodding, the man stepped forward.
"While she never specified to us exactly why she went off so suddenly, I personally believe that there was just a personal issue she had to deal with, like she possibly felt that a member of Night Raid was in the area and went to take them down." Honest looked onward, the nods of his head making his positive thoughts quite known despite there being no words. Then, out of respect for Kurome's lack of desire to speak, Run took over.
"While it has been changing over time, I do believe that it might have something to do with this Kylo Ren person that we've been discussing." Run explained, the swordswoman once again tensing up slightly at the mention before being calmed down by Wave's tightening grasp. "While we know literally nothing about him, I could tell just by the way she was examining everything that the general was thoroughly impressed by how each and every operation was conducted and at such a quick pace as well. Not only that but she also has been seemingly turning her head from side-to-side every now and again, almost as if she was a wolf listening for prey and when asked about it, she just explains that it's nothing."
"Which means?" Honest cut off, head cocked.
"Which means that if Stylish has taught me anything before his untimely demise, it's that a person's aura CAN be sensed if one clears their mind enough which means that most likely, Esdeath was seeking the man out in order to have that chat with him."
"A chat that doesn't involve us? When she's going against someone who has already taken out multiple villages in a single day? Are you crazy?!" Wave asked.
"First of all, no I'm not. Second, Esdeath is not to be underestimated and finally, while she most likely would've gone in with us by her side, it is my honest opinion that she thought our presence might've had the possibility of triggering a violent response from the Order therefore she wanted to make it clear to them that her intentions were entirely peaceful." After he finished his explanation, no words were spouted from anyone in the room as their faces went from being that of confusion to that of clear understanding, the sight of which Run couldn't help but give a slight smile at since it at long last gave him more reasoning for why he took up that teaching job back then. The only person however who didn't show this expression was Seryu who seemed actually more nervous than anything.
"Seryu?" Run questioned. "Is there something you'd like to add?"
"Well..." The woman tried her best to seem inconspicuous and normal but with her shaky hands petting Koro followed up by the very light shaking of her body, needless to say it was not going to be her day once she saw the amount of eyes that were set on her.
"Well what? It's alright Seryu, we're all here for you." After a few more minutes of silence, she took in a deep breath.
"Well if you ask me..." She carefully looked around the room, her gaze especially resting on Honest. Despite this being something that was taught to her especially by Ogre, she knew that what she was about to say could possibly be considered something far worse and most likely would be used against her. After a few more moments, she continued onward. "I don't think you're right Run, I personally feel that this is an act of tr-"
"Highly unlikely given her extreme devotion to the Empire," A deep male-sounding voice cut off along with a door slamming shut. "After all, she provided comfort after Stylish fell in battle." Her shock at the knowledge was quickly cut off by Honest's voice which clearly showcased his happiness upon seeing the bulky armored man enter the room.
"General Budo! What a pleasant surprise!" Honest called out. "Please have a seat, get comfortable."
"Forgive the interruption, I had just returned from my quest to find Syura and it pains me to report that I couldn't find him anywhe-"
"No don't worry." Honest cut off with hand raised. "This actually works in our favor."
"I don't think I follow Prime Minister." Budo said right as he planted himself down. His grin becoming wide once more, the minister gave them all a glance.
"Well you see, I'm sure you've heard of our little... problem with Esdeath."
"I heard parts of it but I was able to put the pieces together." The general replied with a nod. "But sir, don't you think we should be putting more focus on fighting the war?"
"You just read my mind Budo." Honest began. "You see my friend, the war is important to me and I've not forgotten about it... but Esdeath and Syura are just FAR too valuable to leave behind." Right then and there, his dark expression changed. "However, this does not mean I plan on standing by, constantly having my men search for them like they're trying to find a needle in a haystack and it's your sudden appearance in particular that gave me this idea."
"What is it that you're suggesting?" Budo asked with interest, the Jaegers being completely clueless on the whole matter.
"Hey Bols, do you have any idea who this guy is?" Wave whispered.
"General Budo is one of the most respected members of Honest's team." The man explained. "He's pretty much Esdeath but without the love for torture and a lower tolerance for failure and I think you know what this is leading to." Nodding Wave looked forward.
"I have a bad feeling about this Bols."
"It's mutual." Not paying a single bit of attention to them, Honest wasted no time and kicked everything off.
"For the time being, I want YOU to be the new commander of the Jaegers." Honest gave him another wide-eyed grin. "That is of course, until Esdeath is found or she comes back but even if she doesn't, it is my honest opinion that through your leadership, these fine gentlemen would be nearly unstoppable. So what do you say?" Without any hesitation, the broad shouldered man pushed his chair out and gave Honest a look of respect.
"It would be an honor to lead this fine group prime minister, an honor that I fully accept." He said with a bow before proceeding to make his way towards the group who were all staring at him with cautious optimism.
"Yep, the bad feeling's still present." Wave thought to himself.
"What are your orders?" Budo questioned right as he crossed his arms. In response, the prime minister stood up and set his arms behind his back.
"You will move out and scan the entire area for any sight of Esdeath and/or Syura." The prime minister began as he proceeded to turn his back towards them. "If you honestly can't find them or you happen to discover their rotting remains, you will bring them to me and will begin your training with them immediately, do I make myself clear?"
"We will do whatever you ask of us." Budo replied right as he gave a quick bow.
"I sure hope so, now I know that you are very aware of your only punishment for failure so I won't bore you. Now go!" The moment Honest gave his hand-signal was the moment that the group turned to leave the room and as the door shut tight, the man just stared up at the wall with one thought in mind.
"I certainly hope you're not conspiring with the First Order as a means of betraying me Esdeath, because I really don't want Budo to have to show the both of you how terrifying he can be."
(First Order HQ)
For someone who has evaded everything from the law to the media, Syura had absolutely no idea what a prison looked like with the only pieces of info he had to go off of being the descriptions Champ and the others gave him. Despite this, one thing was for certain, none of the prisons were like what he was seeing. Though those weren't his only thoughts, in fact, he still was reeling over the loss of his "prey" and it was all thanks to that one trooper.
However, before he could ponder over that. The man was shaken from his sleep due to a sudden jolt and a ripple of pain in the back of his head.
"Damn, guess you don't believe in treating prisoners with respect huh?" He asked in a rather cocky manner, only to then be shocked to find himself in a room unlike any other. From the looks of things, it was a Path of Peace location, Bolic's palace to be exact but everything about it just seemed so... different and what was especially telling was the icy cold sensation around his wrists and legs which was quite strange since he always expected Bolic to be the type of guy to use ropes though he didn't shy away from using metal chains. Looking down, he was fully expecting to see just that, only to have his eyes widen at just what it was he was strapped in.
It looked almost like a surgical table of some kind, very much like the one Stylish used for his "patients" way back then but the colors were completely different with it mainly being black with hints of silver. Not only that but whereas Stylish used leather straps, here it was clear that what he was exactly being held by were metal clamps that were SO tight, that it seemed to be slowly squeezing the life out his limbs. "Well, I guess that answers my ques-ACK!" He was cut off immediately by a black object crashing straight into his face, sending blood from his mouth and straight onto the floor.
"Best keep your mouth shut, the commander expects at least THAT much out of you." A male voice suggested rather gruffly, the tone sounding oddly crackly, like it was coming from a radio. After regaining his composure, the psycho's vision was filled with the sight of three figures, the first being easily identifiable as Esdeath and the second he assumed was the trooper he faced beforehand whereas the final was very, VERY odd with his dark menacing robes, somewhat lanky body and the black dome he had mounted on his head.
"Did Halloween come early for you freaks?" Syura asked mockingly. "Because you certainly look like you're wanting some can-ACK!"
"What did I just tell you?" The trooper asked as he began to rub the back of his blaster, only to have the dark figure's gaze settle on him.
"I can take it from here FN-2000, there is no need to continue on." The figure explained.
"My apologies Commander Ren." Zeroes gave the Dark Lord an honorable salute. "It won't happen again." Eyes lighting up with interest, Syura's face developed into a smirk.
"So you're the big bad Kylo Ren that everyone is talking about?" Syura began. "I have to admit, you look a little thin to be this big imposing figure."
"I was thinking the same for you." Kylo replied rather dryly.
"Everyone thinks the same for me..." The psycho responded right as his smirk developed into a grin. "until I kill them that is."
"Is that so?" Ren asked, his tone unchanging to receive a nod from Syura. "Well then, it looks like what I have here is another case of an egotistical fool who believes the universe centers around them, how original."
"You're certainly right about it being original," He said. "after all, I am handsome compared to the majori-"
"Moving on," Kylo cut off. "I would just like to ask you a few questions. If you answer them properly, I may let you go. If you answer them wrong or refuse to even respond..."
"Let me guess, you'll kill me?" The Dark Lord slowly leaned forward.
"Let's just say that you don't want to find out." Kylo threatened, his tone low and stern. So far, Esdeath was quite impressed. Granted she would've started right out the gate with letting out her frustrations... BUT so far, the approach that the First Order took seemed to be quite professional.
"Very well, I'll bite but wouldn't you rather know my n-."
"I don't care enough for that," Kylo cut off. "all I want to know is what exactly you were doing near our search areas?"
"Now why on Earth would you ask that?"
"Because we've been getting reports about some troopers seeing a figure like you jumping around in the trees, near the sites of the monster attacks we've been investigating and the village remains, something that's far too suspicious to ignore." The psycho's head cocked to the side.
"Is that really all you want to know?" He questioned.
"It's all I need to know." The Dark Lord responded. At this point, Syura began to think about how this actually may not be that bad. While he certainly didn't appreciate being hit by the soldier, his high tolerance for pain certainly kept him from feeling much of it and so far, it had been fairly light. After a few minutes of patiently waiting for his answer, the psycho gave him a smirk.
"Too bad," He began. "I ain't telling you shit." With that said, he took in a bit of air through the mouth and with all his might, he threw his head forward, launching a small bit of saliva that splattered on Kylo's helmet with there being no response though to the others, especially Zeroes, they knew this was a big mistake.
"What's the matter?" Syura asked after about a minute had passed. "Not amus-GACK!" Almost immediately, Kylo thrust his hand out toward Syura with an open palm and despite him not even remotely touching his flesh, the psycho felt the back of his head slam against the metal contraption hard, sending a rippling pain through his head that strangely enough stayed put. While the impact itself wasn't exactly much to him, there seemed to be this light but very noticeable pressure that was being put onto his skull, almost as if someone was slowly squeezing it.
"Let's try that again," Kylo kept his hand held out towards him as his tone shifted into something a bit more demanding. "what were you doing out there?"
"So this is the Force?" Esdeath thought to herself. "So he's able to just knock anyone against anything without even touching them?" Right then and there, the general gave a small grin. "Now this is entertaining."
"Are you going to speak?" The warrior asked with a cocked head and after several seconds of silence. Despite the pressure in his skull, the psycho shook his head... which proved to be a massive mistake since Ren almost immediately seemed to increase the pressure, causing that minor pain to evolve into something of a heavy migraine.
"How about now?" Again, no answer which was something not unheard of by Kylo since he had to go through the exact same issues with that one Resistance pilot way back then with the exception being that last time, he never exactly had the abilities that he did now and unlike the Resistance pilot, this one wasn't necessarily someone he planned on keeping around and when considering how that was one of the moments that led into FN-2187's departure, the similarities weren't exactly pleasing him.
"Tell me, what were you doing?!" Ren growled.
"Go to hell." Syura responded, earning him another slam into the headrest followed up by the pressure increasing on his skull along with another event.
"Trooper," Kylo began, his gaze shifting towards Zeroes with his arm still held out towards the psycho. "I think I can use your assistance now, I'll tell you when to stop." Knowing what this meant, Syura watched as the officer gave his commander a quick nod and began to move towards his position with the latter backing away to give him space. Reaching out towards Esdeath's leg, the trooper drew what appeared to be a futuristic baton of some sort with its black, silver and white color scheme being simple but very striking. Right when he reached his front, the trooper flicked the weapon with the psycho watching with surprise as the weapon sprang to life in a matter of seconds, electricity coursing through the tip exactly in the same fashion as the one he saw the trooper Nines using.
"Go on," He taunted. "give me your best sh-AAGH!" Not wanting to waste anymore time, Zeroes cut Syura off with a BRUTAL slam to the leg, sending a massive jolt of pain up his body and judging by how he screamed, it was almost as though this was the first time he had ever felt something like this... though it could have something to do with the condition of his leg which notably upon striking it, not only did it give with a sickening "CRACK!" but also if one were to take a closer look, they would see a small sharp shard of bloodied bone jutting out of his leg, the wound easily able to be identified by the lines of crimson that were flowing down his tanned flesh. Right before he drew his weapon back for another shot, Zeroes stopped to take a look back at Kylo, waiting for permission to be granted. In no more than a few seconds, the Dark Lord did so with a nod of his head.
"You may proceed." He said. Nodding himself, the trooper drew his weapon back once more right as Syura was trying his best to let out a taunt through grit teeth.
"Is that the best you can d-FUAAAGGHH!" The baton came down into his other knee seemingly harder than the last and just like last time, the bone broke through the flesh though instead of a little nub, it now was more like a small handle that was stabbing through the skin. Not bothering to wait for him to finish screaming, Zeroes began to unleash an onslaught of baton strikes all over his body while Kylo and Esdeath watched and while the former's expression couldn't be gauged due to the mask, the general was feeling immense pleasure as the beatdown continued.
"Their troops are trained well," Esdeath thought. "they certainly don't show mercy." Finally after a few more minutes of being beaten with the thing and having blood spew from his mouth, Zeroes finally stopped himself, giving the man a grace period though if he had to be honest, he wasn't sure if he was going to be exactly "walking" this one off. Seeing her chance, Esdeath decided to taunt the man for some added enjoyment.
"I guess that's why Wild Hunt does so well without you," She jeered. "you're far better at running than you are fighting." Giving the general a harsh glare, the warrior took a moment to spit a bloodied tooth down onto the ground, all while Zeroes was slowly raising his weapon into the air.
"GO FUCK YOURSE-YEEAAGGHH!" Before he could speak again, the officer brought the baton down with such a massive amount of force that would've made even a Sith proud and where was this shot exactly targeting? Well, if the screams were of any indication, the metal object collided with the psycho's prized "jewels" and right then and there, the trooper watched as the pants immediately became drenched with red, signifying that with how hard he hit him, they simply could not stand up to the pressure and were squished like the head of an Ewok had been during a mission to Endor. The screams of pure agony were nothing but symphonies to Esdeath's ears, to the point where she took her moment to shut her eyes and REVEL in them. After a few more moments, Zeroes was just about to raise his weapon again when Kylo gave him a look.
"I'll take it from here." Kylo said right as he proceeded to make his way towards the psycho who was battered and somewhat broken with bruises all over his body and his broken legs. "Look at how pathetic you've become, going from being cocky like a smuggler to now remaining silent like an abused slave to the Hutts and yet no matter how many times I see it, it still fills me with solace." With no response to give, the psycho just glared up at the Dark Lord, his thoughts being filled with ideas of what he would do if he was out of the restraints.
"You certainly have some interesting ideas on how to kill," Kylo blurted out. "but it's not what I want." Immediately, Syura's eyes widened. Apparently the Dark Lord not only could use telekinesis to bash him against his seat and squeeze his skull but now he could read minds?! It was all extremely surprising to both him and Esdeath though the latter was clearly more pleasant about the situation.
"I've already told you..." Syura finally began, his voice weak and slightly raspy. "I'm NOT giving you shit."
"Oh don't worry, I'm not asking you anymore nor is it about that particular piece of info." Kylo responded before thrusting his arm outward once more, slamming the psycho against the seat. "I'm now demanding to know where this 'Wild Hunt' is stationed." Right then and there, his eyes widened. Compared to the First Order and the state he was in right now due to just two people from it, he was certain that Wild Hunt would be nothing but mere ants compared to them. With this in mind and despite the severe amount of pain he was in, Syura shot Ren a look.
"You won't touch them, you will NEVER fucking touch th-"
"You've certainly got quite the mouth on you," Kylo commented. "it looks like there's still some more 'convincing' to be done." With that said, the Dark Lord immediately turned towards Esdeath, his head motioning towards Syura. At first, she wasn't exactly sure of what he meant but once she thought back to what he said, she was left utterly shocked considering this was coming from the same person who at first didn't trust her.
"Are you sure?" Esdeath asked to which Ren nodded.
"If you are to prove your worth to the First Order then yes, I'm sure of this." With that said, he slowly backed up, leaving Syura to get a good look at the general who at one point, was at the mercy of a small little stunt he pulled that involved teleporting her and that boy Tatsumi to a far off island. After a little bit of thought, Esdeath's face developed into a small smile right as she used her powers to form a very, VERY thin icicle before she proceeded to make her way towards his body which seemed to be twitching... out of fear and when he spoke, all confidence seemed to be drained from all his vocals.
"Say come on now, isn't this a little bit too crazy?" Not listening one bit, she just continued to march on over to his position, her grip tightening around the spike. "I-I-I wasn't me-meaning for all this..." Finally reaching the foot of it all, she began to lightly push the head down against the back of the metal with Kylo providing that extra support to keep it there. "I mean, really guys, we're all shitheads here aren't we?! We're all just looking to have fun, we're not meaning this!" After a few more seconds of hearing his rambling, the general wasted no time and shoved her hand over his mouth. With his head perfectly situated, Esdeath began to carefully lower her weapon down towards the center of his eye, making sure that it was as perfectly lined as it could get which wasn't easy due to his constant blinking which Kylo stopped with relative ease. Seeing that she was in position, she slowly raised the weapon over her head, her shadow against the ceiling reminding the psycho of something straight out of a classic horror film except this time, it was all real.
After a few more seconds, the general, without the need of taking a single breath to calm herself, thrust her hand downward, letting gravity do the rest of the work and just like that, it all happened in a flash. Right then and there, Syura let out a muffled scream of pure unadulterated, unhindered agony right as the icy tool stabbed straight into his eyeball, sending several little spurts of blood launching from out of the wound, a sight that, in all his years of service, had actually made Zeroes want to vomit in disgust. After a few more seconds of letting it linger in there, Esdeath grabbed hold of her hand and began to roughly jerk the eyeball around from side to side with each thrash inciting more screams, causing more blood to spurt out and even tears to pour down. After several more moments of jerking it around, the general finally with all her might pulled upward, the eyeball raising from the hole with ease, the optic nerve and the small orb itself tearing like they were nothing but paper.
Raising her hand off of the warrior's mouth, his screams came echoing outward with such extreme force and by far out of all the people she had done this to, this was the most satisfying. Feeling pleased with herself, she took a moment to examine her "trophy" much to the dismay of Syura whose screams of agony quickly shifted into crying and constant begs for mercy with a mixture of tears and blood running down his face. After taking the moment to examine the severed eye, Kylo made his way towards the warrior right as Zeroes made a suggestion.
"He's beaten, I think that's enough for now." Ignoring him, Kylo just looked the man directly in his injured face.
"Are you going to cooperate now?" The Dark Lord asked.
"Fuck... you." Syura responded in-between the agonizing screams.
"You're still going to resist me?!" Kylo growled, his cool quickly fading. "Are you really that dense?! Do you want me to take it from you by force?!"
"Lord Ren relax plea-"
"YOU AND YOUR GROUP CAN ALL ROT IN HELL!" Syura roared. Right then and there, after a few more seconds, Kylo lowered his hand though the pressure on his head was still going on. Dead silence filled the room with the only thing that was heard being the heavy breaths from the Dark Lord and the few huffs and whimpers from Syura. His gaze still locked on the psycho, the warrior began back up a bit, his hands being at his sides. After a little bit more time had passed, Esdeath had to quickly blink since she swore that in the man's hands, she saw little crackles of lightning pass in-between the fingers, something that definitely didn't go unnoticed by Syura who was looking incredibly anxious.
"RAAAAGGGGGHHHH!" With that one rage-filled roar, Kylo thrust his arms forward and before Syura could even blink, several bolts of what looked to be lightning came launching from his fingers with such force, that it knocked the man free from his restraints and into the wall behind him with the only sound he was able to make being a long whine of pure anguish. Not wasting any time, the Dark Lord began to march toward him with Esdeath following close behind while Zeroes looked on in pure horror.
"You will give me what I need!" Ren growled. On the receiving end of it all, Syura was completely shocked by what had become of him. The bravery he showcased? Gone. His wit? Gone. His charisma? Gone with all that laid in their places being the overwhelming, burning sensation of pain and he just couldn't believe it. For a guy like him who had the ability to manipulate time and space, he was very certain that through the use of this ability, he most likely was able to outlast and evade anyone who came in contact with him, not once thinking that someone would catch him. While he was shocked that he was now humbled, what became even more shocking to him was that it came from being brutalized for what felt like several grueling days.
On the end of the bystander, Esdeath was having the complete opposite of experiences and was absolutely loving what was going on. Despite the clear temper that Kylo possessed with how this whole thing started, it was at this exact moment that she realized she had made the perfect choice in coming there especially if it meant watching something so beautiful like this. The way Syura screamed in pain, the way the bolts coursed through his body, seemingly cooking it from the inside if the smoke was to be believed and most important of all, the fact that it was Syura was more than enough to get her to crack a smile.
Out of all the people that occasionally fought for the Empire, Syura was definitely not what she would call an honorable fighter. In fact, she had made it a point that if she ever had come across him or his little group without Honest and the Empire ever knowing about it, she gladly would've put them out of commission without a shadow of a doubt and to see that dream realized in one form or another through Ren's "shock therapy" was more than enough to have her smiling the whole way through. Finally after several more minutes, Kylo finally stopped the lightning, the psycho taking a moment to revel in the brief period of relaxation he had.
However, it was clear that Kylo was understandably not as willing to let him have this since a few seconds later, he immediately held out his arm and using the Force, he flattened him out against the wall. Seeing that he had him in the perfect position, he immediately reached for his saber and flicked to life with the pressure on the psycho's mind becoming far rougher right then and there though this time, it also felt as though his very thoughts and memories were being violated.
"This is what you get for defying me." Without any sort of heads up, Ren took his weapon which Esdeath was extremely impressed by and gave it a good upward swing, the blade cutting through various tendons and flesh with ease, causing a noticeable red mark to appear along with more screams and despite Zeroes's horror, he just kept his mouth shut in case the commander turned on him. A few moments later, Kylo followed it up with another brutal slash with this time being in a backhand motion and afterward, he took a moment to breathe. However, that moment was extremely brief since he immediately began to hold the tip against the prisoner's back, the sheer heat of the red blade causing him to whimper with pain.
"Please, just kill me!" Syura pleaded, his demeanor unlike anything Esdeath had seen from the guy beforehand.
"Why? So that I would lose my chance at learning your team's location?" His blade easing much closer to the flesh, the psycho was looking on with pure fear lining his face. "You brought this on yourself." With that final word, the Dark Lord began to slowly stab the unstable saber into the man's lower back, causing him to let out a LONG eerie cry as it went on. Finally after a few more moments, the man at long last shattered.
"WE'VE TAKEN REFUGE IN ONE OF THE WESTERN VILLAGES!" Syura cried out. "THERE'S YOUR FUCKING INFO NOW PLEASE! JUST LET ME DIE!" At long last, after what felt like an eternity, Kylo Ren flicked his saber off and let the broken remains of the man drop to the ground, with him whimpering and begging the whole way through. At first, it seemed as though the man was not going to be granted his wish which would've filled the psycho with such a fury, if it weren't for Ren snapping his gaze towards Esdeath who had been watching with a face full of pure awe, almost like the one you would have looking at fireworks.
"Feel free to finish everything up yourself, afterward you will accompany me to Wild Hunt's base where we will personally crush them." Kylo said to which Esdeath had a face full of disbelief, her dream was actually about to come true. After she was given a nod, signaling to her that it was all real, the Dark Lord began to make his way out the door with FN-2000 ready to follow when he was stopped by his hand.
"I want you to help her clean the mess up." Kylo mentioned. "We're dumping the body as soon as we can." With that said, he was continuing his walk when Zeroes stopped him.
"But sir, wouldn't that attract attention?"
"A good question," Kylo began. "it's simple. Attention is what I want, attention leads to fear, fear leads to submission and submission is exactly what the First Order wants." With that said and done, the warrior made his way down the hall, leaving Zeroes with nothing but conflict in his brain. He was taught by many to be a good soldier and loyal to the cause but to see such extremes taken along with how Kylo essentially just flipped his lid served as a grim reminder that this job was extremely dangerous to the point where it seemed as though just the rage killed MORE troopers than the Resistance ever did. Despite this, he shook this from his head and prepared to do his duty, watching as the general walked up towards the shattered shell of the man who couldn't even find the will to speak. Looking down at what was once the most feared, reprehensible criminal in all of the Empire, Esdeath just gave off a dark sadistic smile right as she raised her leg up over his head.
"Sayonara." With that, the foot came down with such amazing force and speed and it was at that point where in the last few moments he had, his last memory before death was his vision being filled in red with those who were unfortunate enough to watch this having their memories forever haunted with the sight of the psycho's splattered brains lining the ground below.