“W-Who d’you think you are!”
“Do you know whose ends you’re in—?”
“SHUT UP!” I exclaimed. As I watched the pathetic goons bluff at my feet, I whipped the blood off my blade. They heaved and wheezed at my every move in fear. Before they could notice the snot dripping from their noses, I swiftly sliced through their necks. Left dead before they could realise. I turned to the glass wall as I looked down at the bright lights of the city. “London is the city, huh?”
My name is Rion Powel. Twenty years old. My life? It was never an easy one growing up, at a young age I was adopted by a family who owned a dojo for swordsmanship, never met my real parents, and my adopted family was the best I had.
It was a cold winter, On my way back from school, that’s when sirens started to go off, fire trucks sped by my street and smoke spread through the sky. I got close to my house, to the dojo, only to find it turned to a blazing hell.
Without a moment to think, I rushed into the raging flames to try and find my family, as I went in I found disciples covered and dripping with blood over the land, the smell was rotten and the smoke didn’t help at all. Seeing the surroundings I instinctively grabbed a sword from the ground trying to find whoever I could help.
I entered the main building of the dojo, only to see a cloaked and powerful figure gripping the throat of my mother, with my father stabbed by his other hand. My legs were like noodles, I felt my stomach turning in itself, weighing down as I tried to catch my breath, I felt myself wanting to puke.
Before I could react, the assailant snapped my mother’s windpipe as her life drained from her eyes, her movement coming to a stop, as she went limp. The assailant let her drop to the ground, he left his grip on his sword and as he did my father collapsed to the ground. The man left, my father crawled to my mother’s side as he gripped her hand in pain. I rushed to their side as tears dripped down my face.
I was speechless, my father looked at me and all he could build up to mutter was. “Thank god you’re safe…” As I watched my parents pass over, I couldn't think about anything other than how useless I was to help.
I quickly wiped my tears off my copper skin as I rushed to the dojo’s altar, I swiped the family heirloom of the blade and left the world I once knew.
I walked into the optician store, with a duffel bag by my side, I scratched my head as the owner noticed my presence. He walked over as he combed his moustache and adjusted his tie.
“Rion! My boy!” he shook my hand as he went on “Welcome back, job well done!”
“Think nothing of it, Éclipse won’t be much of a problem from now on.”
“That’s why you’re my favourite merc, haha!” he turned as he took the bag and left it behind his desk, he popped back up with a few cold drinks. “Cheers, to your safety and our success, Rion!” I took the drink and after knocking on our cans we took our time to chat.
A few minutes pass as the bell of the store rings. Four people walk in as they chat and browse the selection of spec frames. Two boys and two girls, all about the same age it seems, with one younger than the rest.
“Wait, so why do you need glasses? I thought your vision was fine now.” said the tall girl.
“It’s not about his vision, Ivy.” said the shorter one of the boys.
“Acey is really peculiar about his image,” said the young girl. “He grew up with glasses so he wants to keep that image!”
“Sure, we’ll say that’s it…” said the boy testing frames, as he chuckled softly.
As the group kept wondering about the store, the owner went to them and asked if they needed any help. Occupied by the customers, I grabbed my sword bag and slung it over my shoulder taking my leave. Walking to the door I look at the group, making eye contact with the crimson eyed boy. I closed my eyes and then went out as the door shut behind me.
After a few steps forward I heard the store bell again.
“Hey, you!” exclaimed someone. I turned back to see who and to my surprise… “I’d like to ask you something.”
“Me?” he nodded as he approached me, “I’m just a friend of the owner, I don’t know much about glasses—”
“That sword on your back…” I flinched as I looked at him in shock. “Are you any good with it?”
“How did he know?” I thought. To be fair it wouldn’t be unreasonable of a guess, but…
“What’s it to ya? I don’t even know who you are, blud?” I gripped my bag by its belt as I stared at the guy.
“Now, now, hold your horses. I’m Ace.” he smiled as he reached out his hand, hesitantly I shook it.
“Rion. I’m pretty good with the blade. Why’d you ask?” I crossed my arms as I waited for an answer.
“Well, you see, I can use a sword pretty well, but I have no experience to compare.” he explained, “If you say you’re good, then I’d love to spar with you.”
“Hmm. Is that so?” I paused as I thought to myself. I was not expecting that, but I don't think sparring with a rookie will benefit me in any way… I’ll just turn him down. “Look, man. As much fun as it is for you, I don't really have the time for this, if you wanna spar, go look for a Dojo that can teach that—”
“If that's how it is then, here—” he extended his palm and before my eyes, a small card appeared in his hand as it reached me. “I study at the Institute, if you change your mind just ask for Ace Adams at the reception, we’ll have a whole arena to spar, but—” he paused as his gaze turned hostile “don’t make any excuses if you lose.”
I gulped as I felt a cold sweat behind my ears.
“You ain’t just an eager sword collector, huh?” I took the card and smirked as I turned my back, “I’ll consider it, just make sure you don’t choke on that overconfidence by the time I make up my mind.”
“Overconfidence dulls the blade, Rion.”
As Rion left to go on his way, Ace gazed at him for a second before going back into the store. He rejoined the group by his sister’s side.
“What was that about, Acey?” asked Freya.
“Just making a friend, nothing to worry about.”
“What, all of a sudden we’re not good enough to be your friends?” exclaimed Ivy as she pouted “Austin, do you hear this nonsense?!”
“You’re the one not making sense, Ivy.”
WARNING, INTRUDERS DETECTED IN THE BUILDING, INCREASE SECURITY LEVEL TO CLASS S. LOCKDOWN IN PROGRESS. WARN— Gzzzt!
As the speakers throughout the fortress abruptly cut off, security guards formed a wall, keeping six over the last door of defence between the security vault and the intruders.
“Keep on your toes, intruders are to appear at any moment!”
“How many are there?” asked one of the goons
“J-Just three have been reported, sir!”
“Who are these people…?”
Air-filled with uncertainty and fear, as the door was watched, stared and guarded, the guards were unable to shake off the anxiety in the room.
Suddenly, two gunshots are fired from the other side of the door. All the guards ready their arms, and as they prepare for fire the heavy double doors are blown off towards them, crushing the life out of the majority. The smoke clears as three masked and suited assailants walk calmly and avoid stepping over the casualties.
“You’ve overdone it again, Abaddon.” Said the womanly figure.
“Tch, you really don’t hold back at all, even at the Police station …” said the second man
“Now, now… Samael, Lilith. It’s all for the righteous cause is it not?” said the man called Abaddon.
“Yeah, whatever, what’s with these codenames anyway? Talk about ridiculous sense,” complained Samael as the trio walked over to the vault.
“Then you would rather risk the slim possibility of your son finding you?” Samael gulped as Abaddon’s cold words sunk into his very soul.
“Tch, that twisted personality of yours will be the fall of you.” Samael entered the vault and grabbed the package they were after.
“Honey now’s not the time for chit-chat. Let’s go!” Lilith cut through a wall and kicked the piece off leaving it to fall. As it fell the three jumped out of the skyscraper and latched onto a zip line to another building.
A few hours later they settled in a warehouse for the heat to die down. They took turns keeping watch as they awaited their contact to pick up the package. A few minutes pass before they arrive, with one guard by his side, and the rest outside keeping watch from the car.
“Took you long enough, Director Doyle,” said Abaddon as he reached to shake the hand of the Director. He then turned his attention to the guard. “I see you brought your son today, which one was this?”
“Colt, he’s the one more likely to take my place with enough training.” boasted the director has his belly rolled. “I thought it’d be appropriate that I give him a jump start, that’s not an issue is it?”
“Not at all! Make sure you pay attention, young master!” Colt gave a nervous smile as he took Abaddon’s words to heart. “Now, onto business… We have it.”
“I knew I could count on you. Let’s see it!”
Abaddon led the director to the briefcase containing the stolen piece of hardware, they opened it and a processor chip with lustre and glow was contained within it. The director smiled and laughed as he gazed over the processor.
“Haha! So this is what the wet wipes at Ansoft were developing? If only they made the right choice and sold it to us none of this would’ve happened.” the man strokes his beard as he smirks. “Abaddon, you are to research this unit until we can replicate it, with this we can manipulate the world into becoming our puppets…”
The director turned to Colt.
“Do you hear me, son? This world will be ours to control, imagine, politicians, governments and world leaders, doing all that we want for the promise of immortal life using this CPU right here!”
“That’s… that’s impressive.” nervously, struggling to hide his excitement, said Colt.
“Are we done here?” asked Samael, tapping his foot in frustration.
“Ah, of course, I’ll have it delivered to your headquarters.” the director closed the briefcase and made his way to the exit. “You should watch your tone Samael, who knows what might happen to them if you’re not careful.”
“You—” before he could speak, Lilith held Samael back, interrupting him as she nodded her head to signal him to stop.
“We already gave up our right to worry… let’s just focus on our roles here.” somberly she said.
“Oi are you done yet?” asked Ace.
“Just 2 nails left, don’t rush me or it’ll smudge!” said Freya as she held Ace’s hand. She took the brush as she painted the black polish onto his nails. “Once I’m done make sure you don’t use them for at least two hours so they can dry.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. Thanks again, every time I try to paint them myself the paint goes on my fingers… it’s a pain.” he sighed.
“Don’t worry, just promise to help me with mine when the time comes, okay?”
“Promise, right hand to heart.”
“And done!” She backed up as she cleared up the table and put away the cosmetics. “You’re sure you don’t want me to come with you? It’s a Saturday.”
“You take your weekend rest, I don’t want you to be doing anything else other than being lazy.” Ace grabbed his jacket and slung it over him as he walked to the door. “Capisce?”
“Watch yourself out there.” she waved him off as he left through the door.
Few minutes pass until Ace makes it to the Training ground where Silver was awaiting his arrival.
“Good, you’re here.” he stood up and grabbed a few throwing knives. “Time for your training.”
“I just got here—” before he could finish, Silver threw the knives at Ace, before he could do anything Laverna activated swiftly a barrier to deflect the knives.
“I thought as much...” sighed Silver.
“What was that about?!” a frustrated Ace called out to Silver.
“Kid, You’re too dependent on Laverna as of right now.” He explained. “I’m sure you have some basic skill, which is why you managed to easily win against that Cromwell kid. Going toe to toe with me, that’s all Laverna isn’t it?”
“...” Ace scratched his neck as Silver’s hypothesis hit the bull’s eye. “Yeah, I guess you see through all that, huh?”
“It’s pretty obvious, your eyes light up in the dark, kid,” he commented, hearing that left Ace dumbfounded. “Judging your expression, you had no clue, haha!” he chuckled. “Well, don’t worry, that’s why it’s just us two today.”
“What do you mean?”
“If you really wanna earn your win, you have to be more than your tech.” Silver grabbed a sheathed sword as he walked toward Ace.
“Take that tech away, what are you?” Ace took his words by heart. Silver handed him the sword, at first hesitant, he grabbed it and held it in his hand. “Rumours are that a student went toe to toe with the Silver Fang. Polish yourself up and you could be the student who almost defeated the Silver Fang.”
“Now, listen, you’re going to have to keep Laverna on standby during these training sessions, otherwise you’ll never get better. Understood?”
“I want you in standby mode until I say otherwise, disable any combat assistance completely.”
“Understood. preparing, standing by, disabling assistance. Confirmed. Stand by commenced.”
“Alright, she’s asleep. Ready?” Ace looked at Silver as he took a stance. Carefully watching him, Ace moved his sword by his hip, holding the hilt preparing to unsheathe the sword at the slightest move Silver would do.
He didn’t let himself blink. Silver started to move, as he took the first step, Ace watched Silver's ankle as he gripped the hilt of the sword.
With that one step Silver disappeared, only to appear above Ace, who still faced the front. Before Silver's kick made contact Ace jumped back with all his strength, leaving Silver to kick a crater on the ground.
Before Ace could react Silver quickly used his leg and propelled himself to Ace, within range of him, Silver tensed his arm as he threw a punch right in ace's abdomen. In pain, Ace gags as he's knocked back a few feet, stunned as Silver makes another dash and disappears behind him for another kick to Ace's upper calf.
In pain he is left on one knee, gripping his sword as he clenches his teeth. Ace is punched in the face as Silver keeps his speed up, jumping north, east, south and west. As unpredictable as he could, kicking, punching Ace's jaw, arm, thigh. Repeated, bruising his body little by little. Ace slowly got back on his feet.
He gripped the hilt as tightly as he could as he held the blade in front of him. He closed his eyes and focused on his senses, he tuned out his pain, he tuned out his breathing and tuned into his hearing and smell.
He heard a step, and then another, he smelled the light scent of cologne which he remembered he noticed before. It was behind him, but then disappeared to his left, then his right before he heard a definite step north, the scent approached rapidly. Ace swung his sword, blocking the attack, even using the scabbard to out the strength ratio between him and Silver.
Ace managed to parry Silver’s attack, pushing him back and leaving him open as he used the bottom of his hilt to strike Silver in his stomach, knocking him back a bit.
“Good!” he exclaimed. “You’ve cleared the first step.”
“Wha—?” Ace took this time to catch his breath as he held himself up by his knees.
“When it comes to battle, you need to hone your senses and trust your gut more. You cleared that first obstacle. From then on you need to repeat that practice until you can listen and hear your intuition and trust it.” Silver walked to Ace as he held out his hand to help him.
“I’ll let you rest for now, in the meantime let’s talk about techniques.”
“Roger.” As the two sat down on the benches of the arena, Silver pulled out a bottle of fresh water and handed it to Ace. Ace gulped the entire bottle down as his exhaustion settled in.
“If you’re thirsty that means you’ll be good in no time.” joked Silver. “On that note, kid, What techniques do you have in combat?” Ace paused as he racked his brain.
“No idea, haven’t thought about it.” Silver sighed as he passed the boy another water bottle.
“Look, kid. Once the tournament is here, you need to have a technique that can assure your victory. Maybe it’s a combination move that turns the tide, and so on.”
“Like in games and anime, huh?”
“Exactly, if I’m honest, given that we only have less than two months, I doubt that we can complete your technique. Even then it’s always good to have one.”
“I guess it wouldn’t hurt.” Ace sipped more water as he thought up another question. “I was gonna ask… Any news on mom and… you know?”
“As much as I wish to, there’s only radio silence regarding them. Ryan’s been in the shadows, I'm guessing he’s laying low so the heat on him dies down.”
“I see…” Ace looked down at his water as he wore a sour expression.
“By the way, kid.” Ace turned to Silver. “Why do you even bother with this… chaos or war, whatever this is?”
“Why you ask?” muttered Ace.
“I want to know. Is it that you want to be a hero? Maybe you’re doing it for reasons you’re not responsible for. Why is that?”
Silver took the chance to light up a cigarette as he waited for the boy’s response. He racked his brain as he tried to think up an answer. But instead, one voice overtook those thoughts that said—
“Because it proves I exist…” he said “All my life, I followed in my dad’s attitude towards me.” Silver frowned as he listened intently.
“I don’t have a lot of memories from before my accident ten years ago… but after that, my father stopped being present in my life. He was there, but his absence affected me. As if he was avoiding me.”
“Given how children tend to follow in parents’ footsteps, I began being absent in my own life. I didn’t care about others, I only went with what others wanted, never interested in how I had no benefits from them.”
Ace fidgeted with his bottle gently as he frowned.
“I never decided to come to this country, I had no choice or say in that decision. That small event dictated my entire life through school. Alone, unattached, and absent from my own world. I don’t have any grand reason, such as glory. I don’t even think I found a reason yet.”
“What I do know is that I want to take this chance to be present in this life of mine, telling the universe that ‘I belong here!’ while I search for myself, you could say.” Ace sighed as his mind calmed, he smiled as he looked up “It’s okay if I spoil myself now and then after all.”
Silver watched the boy in surprise at his mood change, Silver smirked as he placed his hand on Ace’s head.
“What’s with that Philosophic rant, you’re not getting easier training just cos I feel bad for you, okay?”
“What?! Listen, old man, if I wanted you to take pity on me with easing my training, I’d have dislocated my shoulder this morning.”
“Heh? So you did have a plan to take it easy.”
“Shut up! I’m going home, see ya next time, old man.” Ace took his bag and walked off leaving Silver on the bench.
“Soak in a bath tonight to relax your muscles!” he shouted.
“I will!” replied Ace as he left the building.
“What a kid.” Silver chuckled as he muttered to himself. “I’ll make sure he gets all the strength he needs. Whatever path he takes, it’ll be one he made himself.”
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