Xorsis : Invasion\Lost
Chapter 16: Shadows of that Night
1 year later. Mid-1968. Dottonex.
It was a dark cloudy night. The moon wasn’t visible, and the stars were barely there. It had rained a few times already since the morning, and from the looks of it, it’d rain the following day. The guards near the gates of Dottonex were idly sitting down. One of them was snoring, and the other one was forcibly trying to stay awake.
What a nice time it’d be, he thought, to get back home and sleep in the warmth of mattresses and a fireplace. The undead invasion had stopped two months ago. Though it could start at any time - he had seen it enough, he was used to them already.
The group of three Tokreians were searching for were still undetected, and he doubted whether they could be found anymore. They were gone. It was pointless to spend more money searching for them.
If only their pay was raised instead of that. He heaved a sigh.
Then all of a sudden, something caught his eye. Was it a mistake? He rubbed his eyes and looked around. It was as if someone had just passed by.
He wasn’t sure.
He elbowed the other guard.
“I think I saw someone,” he said.
The other guard yawned, and sat straight. They walked to the streets and looked around, but there wasn’t anyone.
“Even if there is any trouble,” the other guard said, “the inner guards will take care of it. Might be best if we get back to the gates.”
That little bit of distraction was enough for the real shadows to pass by.
“That was good, you two.”
The three of them were crouching in the shadows of a building. The dark colours of their dresses were almost indistinguishable from the darkness.
“Quick, follow me, but don’t let yourselves be seen at all costs,” Mersoy commanded, preparing to go, when the guards were out of their sight.
“Roger,” Nia and Aez replied in unison, in low voices.
Mersoy looked around for any guards, and noticed only one a few feets away from them. There didn’t seem to be any other good routes, and so Mersoy tiptoed to the guard, and from the back she clutched his neck. Under the pressure of her strong hand and fingers, the guard choked, jerked, but eventually fell down, knocked unconscious.
Mersoy looked back and ushered Nia and Aez, and they followed.
They mostly hid in tall grasses, or in dark places behind the buildings where they couldn’t be spotted. A few more guards had been knocked out by Mersoy, but otherwise, they progressed smoothly. They had to become good - Mersoy trained them for a whole year for today, after all.
At one pause behind a building, Aez suddenly noticed something on the wall. There was a poster snapped on it, with the word “Execution” written in bold letters.
“Execution?” Aez read, “Whose-?”
“We can worry about those stuffs later,” Mersoy replied, grabbing Aez’s hand. “We need to hurry up. If we get caught, things will get dirty. You don’t want that.”
A long time later, after taking multiple detours, the three finally reached the headquarters.
All the doors were closed and all the windows were shut, though lights were on at some of them. The trio walked to the back of the building, measuring the height. Then she started to climb through the edges of the windows. Aez and Nia hid nearby. Mersoy went up, noticed that there were no guards there, and bound a rope and threw down the rope. Nia left the bushes first, and started climbing up the rope. While she was hanging in the midway, there was a sudden voice.
“Who? Who is there?”
A Tokreian officer was walking towards the hanging Nia, his gun pointing directly at her.
Mersoy was deciding to assassinate the officer from the ledge she was standing on, and was waiting for the perfect opportunity when he would be directly underneath the building.
But the next moment, Aez had jumped out of the bushes in an instant, and landed a kick directed towards the stomach of the man, but he missed narrowly, landing it one the man’s right hand instead, knocking out the gun. The man was caught in surprise, but he recovered quickly. He picked up the gun and tried to point it at the boy - but surprisingly enough, he was gone. Surprised, he looked behind, and just like he guessed, the boy was behind him. He kicked the boy, and he fell on the ground.
Mersoy waited. Till now, the officer hadn’t noticed her. If things got out of hand, she’d attack.
But then, Aez stood up. He was bruised at some places, but it wasn’t serious. He punched the officer, and the gun was knocked out of his hand. The officer cursed, and punched Aez in the face. At the very moment, Aez placed a strong kick in his stomach. They both fell down on the ground. At least, the second solar plexus kick was at the correct place, Mersoy noted, and the officer didn’t get up.
Aez looked at Nia, who was staring at them in shock. When their gazes met, Nia nodded viciously, and started climbing the rope again. Aez turned his gaze away from Nia and looked at the man again and squinted his eyes.
Something’s wrong, Mersoy realised, and paid attention to the sounds.
The officer wasn’t unconscious yet, but he didn’t try to get up. Mersoy could hear a faint whisper from the man. Furiously, Aez punched the man a few times and knocked him out.
Mersoy swiftly climbed down the rope and walked to Aez, who looked to Mersoy nervously.
“I clearly heard him saying ‘threats detected.’” He said.
His face was dark, and he was thinking deeply, “They can communicate? How is that even possible?"
“It’s not the time,” Mersoy gritted her teeth, and dragged Aez to the rope, “Remember why we are here. We have to search the headquarters for any information about them, otherwise we can’t do anything at all. Let’s go.”
Mersoy climbed up through the window edges. Aez started climbing the rope. Nia was crouching at a corner, seeing them arrive she stood up readily.
“Continue the operation,” Mersoy muttered.
There was a door, and after Nia picked the lock, there was a stair leading them downwards. They walked down quietly, hoping they wouldn’t make any sound. Upon reaching a landing, she stood behind a wall, looking at the people.
It was midnight, but people were still awake. There was a sort of commotion going on. They all paced around, both Tokreians and Dottonexans, chattering loudly among themselves.
“Bad situation,” Mersoy clicked her tongue.
“They can communicate,” Aez whispered. Nia looked at him with widened eyes.
“And that’s not what we should be thinking about,” Mersoy grunted, “Knowing that they can communicate is enough, but the solution,” she looked sharply at Aez, “that’s what we should be thinking about.”
Seeing both of them being silent, Mersoy heaved a sigh and said, “I think we have to use the final plan.”
She looked at both of them; they both had a determined look on their faces, but from the body language it was clear that they were tense.
“I’ll act as a decoy,” Mersoy said through gritted teeth, “I’ll cause havoc. You two go on to the insides. I’ll join if I get the scope.”
“Don’t die,” Nia said slowly, “We can’t conti…”
“Stop being so emotional over everything, ugh,” Mersoy dismissed her thoughts, “It’s nothing new to me.”
“But Tokreians are different!” Nia hissed, “You have to be careful.”
“I’ll start counting then. Three, two, one… start!”
Mersoy quickly sneaked downstairs, to the landing a bit away from the floor. From a pouch of the belt of her apparel, she brought out a smoke bomb and threw it, and a small area nearby was filled with smoke.
But the room was large enough, and only a small portion could be covered with smoke. The other people were alarmed; the Tokreians were dashing towards the area from where it originated, firearms raised. Mersoy looked up at the landing where Nia and Aez were sitting, waiting for her signal. She then dropped a second bomb further away, and looked up again at them, and nodded. The other two at the top started stepping down quickly.
Mersoy focused on what was resting in front of her. She threw another smoke bomb and walked through the people, elbowing anyone who was in front of her and making sure to change directions every few seconds.
She couldn’t fight anyone here. Not only because there were so many civilians here - Mersoy wondered why they were rallying up in the headquarters at midnight - but also because there were already many of them, the guards, and even if she could defeat them, they would call reinforcements in that instant and finish her off.
And so, the only way was to sneak through smoke bombs. Everyone would still be alert, and they’d start looking for her. But if Aez and Nia could take the chance and slide to the interiors and maintain their stealth, they’d be okay. Mersoy gritted her teeth. I have to succeed. And she continued running, knocking out two Tokreians once, dropping more smoke bombs.
When she reached the corridor she was aiming for, she noticed with displeasure that only three more smoke bombs were left in her pouch.
That took more than I expected, she scoffed. Unless I can go stealthily now, it’ll be only a matter of time until I’m dead.
Mersoy tiptoed through the corridor. She rounded a corner and found a room on her right hand side. It was a smaller one, and from the looks of it, it was an office of a Dottonexan. The Tokreian office can’t be here, Mersoy thought, if I have to visit it, I’ll come round later. For now… she started tiptoeing forward.
Surprisingly enough, the corridors weren’t much guarded. There were a few guards, mostly Dottonexan, and Mersoy knocked them out easily. She visited a few rooms, but found nothing except data about Dottonex and other stuff. Nothing about Tokreians anywhere. Nia and Aez were nowhere to be seen too. And it was expected. After all, they discussed it earlier - if this plan had to be used, they’d split up, and meet outside the building after two hours.
Mersoy searched for what seemed like forever, but the clocks at the corners of the walls suggested that it had only been one hour. When she was starting to feel like maybe the headquarters really didn’t have any information, she suddenly heard voices of Nia and Aez. She stood at a corner, peeking at them.
Nia and Aez were standing in front of a locked office. Aez was murmuring, and Mersoy could hear it clearly.
“This was his office. I can’t be wrong. I’ve been here too many times.”
“Of course it is the one,” Nia croaked, “But where is he? If not anything, it isn’t supposed to be locked, is it? After all, if they can communicate, they’d let Aaron know that there are threats in the headquarters now. But why…”
“I’ll open the lock,” Aez clenched his teeth, “What if something bad happened to him?”
“But it’ll take time,” Nia warned him, “Mersoy said we have to go back in two hours and one hour is already gone. And we still have to search a few more rooms downstairs.”
“Don’t be stupid, Nia,” Aez said, his voice expressing anger, “It’s my brother we’re talking about, I haven’t heard anything about him since last year. I have to make sure he’s okay.”
“But if the Tokreians come here,” Nia hissed, “They are gonna take us captive, don’t you get it? I say, let’s come back later, after searching downstairs. Mersoy said Tokreians are desperate now.”
“Do you really believe everything she says?” Aez shot her a sharp glance.
Nia was taken aback. “What?”
“I still don’t think Tokreians have anything to do with the whole scroll-spirit incident,” Aez said. “It can be a group of people okay, but what if the spirit was mistaken and it’s not them who did those things to her?
“What if it’s all nothing but a misunderstanding in the end? We should take the forest spirit’s words with a grain of salt. No, Nia, I don’t think we should trust a spirit blindly.
“You’re insane,” Nia smacked Aez in his shoulder, “Aez. Mersoy showed us the book. She translated both Nevidilandi and Tokreian from the scroll. How come you still believe that Tokreians have nothing to do with this?”
“What if Mersoy’s lying?” Aez hissed, “People like Tokreians who want to help Dottonexans have a better life - I don’t think they can do such things. You like history, Nia, don’t you? Surely you’ve read about how the scroll of one country can transfer to another? Maybe Tokreian was a smaller nation once and it was raided, and that’s why…”
“You two want to be caught here?’
Mersoy walked out facing them. Her face was cold and unemotive
“Mersoy…” Aez staggered back, “Aren’t we supposed to…”
“If you keep talking here like that,” Mersoy’s eyes were cruel, “You’d be caught in no time.”
“Well, Mersoy,” Aez slammed his fist to a wall, “Hate me all you want,” he looked at her blue eyes directly, fire burning in his own, “I still can’t believe you. There’s a chance that you are lying to us from the start - and as much as I want to deny that…
Mersoy resisted the urge to punch him.
“Whether I’m lying or not is only a matter of time. And that’s why we’re here. To find information about them.” Mersoy scoffed at him, “But I can’t believe someone like you, who can use his brain, can waste time here in matters like this. Pathetic.”
Without any more words, or waiting for another response, Mersoy pulled out a lockpick from her pouch.
In a minute, the door opened. Nia and Aez rushed in, Mersoy followed, and then closed the door.
The room was dark. Mersoy found some switches for lights, and turned them on. There was no one there. It was a clean room, files and other items arranged neatly. Except, only one thing lay abruptly on the floor.
Both Nia and Aez rushed to the spot, and looked around for other things. Mersoy surveyed the center table and the cabinets just a feet away from the spot. The papers on the cabinet, Mersoy noticed, didn’t seem to be neatly arranged. No, in fact, there were a few drops of blood on the cabinet, which were almost unnoticeable in the wooden colour.
“A fight?” Mersoy said thoughtfully.
“Why…” Aez whispered.
Mersoy looked at the papers on the cabinet. There were all sorts of data, but in between them, there was a paper that wasn’t of the same type. It was an ordinary paper. Mersoy brought the paper out and realised that it was a flyer.
She read the heading of the flyer and then instantly put it inside her pouches.
Aez couldn’t know this now.
“You wanted to be here, and you’ve been here,” Mersoy said sharply to them, grabbing their attention, “and now, the mission has to be continued. Without information about the Tokreians, we can’t do a single thing. So let’s go.”
“But, what happened to my brother?” Aez said, “Something is not right…”
“And it’ll get worse if we are caught now,” Mersoy hissed, “They can be here any second now. Let’s go.
She walked out of the room and realised that the other two weren’t following her. However, she kept going, and in a few more seconds, she heard the sounds of their shoes.
“Let’s head to the main hall downstairs,” Mersoy said, “since these rooms contain nothing, we have to go to the other side probably.”
As Mersoy walked to the main hall, suddenly, a dart came, aiming at her. She dodged it narrowly.
A Tokreian was approaching her, also muttering consistently, occasionally looking at his hand. The other times, Mersoy had attacked the Tokreians from the back, and didn’t notice their gestures. But this time, she could see it.
Their hands. Why are they looking at their hands? Her eyes followed the Tokreian’s hand, and then she spotted it.
Inside his full-sleeved coat and shirt, there was something black shining in pink and blue light.
There’s only one way to find out.
Mersoy stealthily walked back to Nia and Aez, who were hiding at a distance.
“Get out of here,” Mersoy told them, “Be quick. I have a clue. But for the sake of your safety, leave.”
Nia and Aez were taken aback, but they realised the importance of their actions from the look on Mersoy’s eyes, and so they scurried away. Mersoy now paid attention to the Tokreian. He was close, and she’d have to lure her further if she wanted advantage.
Too many of them here. They can shoot me at any moment.
And so, she ran. Away from the Tokreian.
“Don’t you dare to..!”
The Tokreian followed her. Again, Mersoy was sure to change her direction of movement in a way that he couldn’t predict where she’d be standing next. When Mersoy felt that they were pretty far from the main hall, she turned back.
“Good,” she sniggered.
The Tokreian stopped in his tracks, confused for a moment.
That’s all I need.
The next moment, he collapsed on the floor, faced by a few powerful punches on the face. He muttered something, and Mersoy punched and kicked him till he was unconscious.Then she bent down and pushed away his sleeve. The pink and blue lights fell on her face.
There was a wide black band on his hand. Except it wasn’t really a ‘band’; it displayed texts that quickly disappeared. The band was stuck in his hand, as if he had been wearing it for years now, but finally after trying she got it out. And then, a voice came from the band.
“Threats under search. Coordinates of your location are required urgently.”
Funny thing, Mersoy thought.
“Officer Morgan,” a voice came from the band. Mersoy didn’t respond and decided to listen. “Officer Morgan, you are required urgently. Two threats were discovered. We need your assistance quickly.”
Two threats? Nia and Aez?
The voice faded away, restoring the previous texts. Mersoy clicked an icon that looked like a seed, and a text appeared: ‘2893934657 steps away from the seed. Connection: poor. Coordinates’ and next to that, a few symbols were written, to which Mersoy wasn’t familiar with.
That’s it then, Mersoy thought, and started to walk towards the exit. They don’t keep information stacked in papers like any of us. It’s on their body, always.
But I won’t understand how to use this. Aez. I need Aez.
She walked out of the corridor and then out of the building, sneaking from everyone’s gaze.
When Mersoy reached the base in the forest, she could finally breathe in relief. Nia and Aez, both were sitting quietly, and stood up as soon as they saw Mersoy.
“I’m sorry that we…” Nia started, but Mersoy raised her hand to stop her.
“It’d be pointless anyway,” Mersoy said, “I’ve got where they keep information.”
She brought out the wristband, and put it on the grass. Both Nia and Aez seemed shocked.
“Haven’t seen anything like this before, have you? Guessed it.”
“It’s what they use to communicate,” Mersoy replied, “And to store information. I think all of them wear them. In a way, we could avoid it all if at least one of us tried to search that officer we knocked down earlier. It’s a shame we had to go through that mission - but at least we’ve found what we needed.”
“But, they didn’t demonstrate anything like that then!” Aez said, surprised, “How come…?”
“It’s understandable though,” Nia said, “You can’t say everything you know. Then you’d lose your position as the leading nation.”
Mersoy merely shrugged.
“Look, I’’m not familiar with any of these things, but I’m sure you can figure it out. Let’s figure out all the info-”
“Mersoy, you are forgetting something,” Aez said, interrupting her. “My elder brother. We have to find out what happened to him.”
There was a long pause.
“It’s most unfortunate,” Mersoy said quietly. Then she brought out the folded paper she retrieved from Aaron’s office in the headquarters, and handed it to them.
“It had already started,” Mersoy added, “And that’s what the commotion was all about. That’s why civilians were there at midnight.”
Nia opened the folds of the paper. It was an article from a recent newspaper. Nia read out the heading, her voice trembling.
“Execution of Aaron Emer, convicted as a traitor against the nation.”
Nia couldn’t continue.
Both of them looked at each other, with a dark look on their faces.
Then suddenly, Aez screamed at Mersoy.
“You didn’t stop-”
“I couldn’t have. If I tried, I’d have been caught and I’d have been killed,” Mersoy replied, looking away, “I’m not a justice warrior. I’m just an assassin who’s trying to find the truth. Your brother, as that suggests, tried to start a revolution in Dottonex. And the kind of person he is - he probably found out about Tokreians earlier. Somehow, maybe that’s why…”
“He was the most loyal soldier I’ve ever seen!” Aez yelled, “He could leave his family behind so that he could serve the nation, and now, now you are telling me-”
“It’s a cruel world, isn’t it?” Mersoy sighed, walking away from them. “The things you believe in - they shatter so easily. And the truth is always… always… so damn bitter.”
The crying voices reached her ears, and Mesroy closed her eyes.
It was the same kind of voice. The same voices she had heard from herself, from Azura, from Idoph, Cinthia, and many others back then when her hometown, Crovas was burnt down.
Arc 2: Truth? - End