Chapter 0:

Part One: The Black Knights — Prologue

Beyond the Borders Volume 1

Why did I sign up for this, Aryia thought. She was nervous about jumping out of a cargo plane at roughly ten thousand meters — about thirty‑five thousand feet — in the darkness of night. While her wind magic was great for defending herself in a fight there was only so much her magic could do… and flying was not one of those.
Of course, there was no going back now. This was the job she signed up for and a job she would have to carry out to the best of her ability. The thought of her parachute failing to open made her exceedingly anxious. This was her first real operation since she had joined the Black Knights and she questioned if she could actually do it.
As Aryia continued to question herself Lylianna noticed the uneasy look on her face. She decided to go over the plan again for Aryia’s sake. The last thing she needed was a soldier who forgot their role.
“Listen up, at 0200 hours we received an order from HQ to destroy a communications outpost. Everyone there is to be killed on‑site, while the HVT can be captured… if the chance arises.”
HVTs — High‑Value Target — were always more valuable alive, Lylianna knew this as did the rest of her team.
“Don’t forget your roles. We will go in pairs of two. Melissa, you are with Ryliah,” Lylianna said as she walked down the middle aisle of the plane.
Captain Melissa Rial was the medic of the squad. She stood at a height of one hundred fifty‑five centimeters and weighed about forty‑two kilograms. While her blue hair, tied in cute pigtails, and pale flawless skin made her look like an adorable little girl, deep down she was the most sadistic medic in the whole world. She rarely, if ever, used any numbing medication when fixing up her patients. To her, hearing their screams of anguish and fear of pain was like an erotic stimulant. Aryia had mixed feelings about her due to her sadistic methods of treatment, even if she was a skillful doctor. Part of her had even become a bit algophobic due to her.
In contrast to Melissa was Second Lieutenant Ryliah Hartfell standing at a height of one hundred sixty‑two centimeters and weighed forty‑six kilograms. With her long crimson hair and fair skin tone she was quite beautiful. Her expert skill with the sword made her deadly in close‑quarters combat. She was sweet and kind, completely the opposite of Melissa. Although, she was still able to kill a person should she be put in a life or death situation.
“Deadeye, you cover us from a sniping position that you believe would work.”
First Lieutenant Bartholomew Graves — aka Deadeye — had orange spiky short hair and dark skin. He was known as the best sharpshooter in the West. As the tallest member of the team he stood above the others at one hundred eighty‑two centimeters and weighed about fifty‑two kilograms. He had the look of a stone cold killer and the personality to match. Aryia barely knew anything about the guy other then the fact he was a skilled sniper.
“Aryia you are with me.”
Private Aryia Kozyki, the newest member of the team. Her long green hair and tan skin made her quite cute for her age. She stood at a height of one fifty‑two centimeters and weighed roughly thirty‑nine kilograms. While she was cute her somewhat nonchalant way of dealing with situations made her appear lazy and immature. This time however… there was no way she could be otiose or impulsive on a mission like this.
“Make sure your gear is set. Last thing I need is any of you dying on me from a parachute malfunction,” Lylianna said as she turned to them.
Major Lylianna Veltress — nicknamed Major by her teammates — was the most unique of the team. Being the shortest of the members she stood at a height of one hundred forty‑two centimeters and weighed only thirty‑four kilograms. Her long white hair and ghost‑like pale skin made her different then the rest of the members. The bangs of her hair covered her right eye due to the fact that it was beyond normal. Unlike everyone else her eye was red while around the iris had a clock outline with roman numerals imprinted into her eye.
Lylianna’s magic — like her appearance — was unparalleled. She could not cast fire from her hands like Ryliah, heal others with water like Melissa, run faster with wind like Aryia or sense others through the earth like Deadeye. Her magic was special in that it allowed her to stop time within a three meter radius around her. The only drawback to her magic was that it could only last for ten seconds.
The plane continued to fly to the drop zone as Aryia’s mind began to wonder. Unlike her training exercises the enemy would be shooting back if they had the chance. She knew she couldn’t screw up. While she seemed to worry about her abilities the rest of the team was calm and collective. All of them were considered elite soldiers. They had been on many missions before this and survived off the bare minimum to live. As soldiers they knew just how harsh the battlefield was. Aryia still had yet to truly learn that, even if she had been through the same training as they had.
“Five minutes until drop off,” said a voice over the intercom.
“You heard the man, five minutes.”
Lylianna slammed her fist against a button on the nearby control panel. Above the bright red button were two words, Raise/Lower. The cargo hull of the plane slowly lowered revealing the sea of achromatic clouds. While Aryia stared out at the vast ocean of the clouds an LED on the wall of the plane lit up a dim red hue. Lylianna continued to stand there at the edge of the plane. I hope Aryia remembers to deploy her chute, she thought as she turned back to her squad. She hoped this mission would be over before the two hour time period. If they didn’t…
“One minute until drop off.”
While the rest of the squad remained calm Aryia continued to have a look of fear on her face. What if my parachute doesn’t deploy, she thought. Within a minute the LED on the wall of the plane turned a dim green hue, signaling for the members to jump. It was now or never. Aryia did not have time to think about things any longer.
Without a second to waste Lylianna fell backwards into the sea of clouds. None of the members could see her from where they stood. While the others seemed calm Aryia was now even more anxious then she had been before. In a way, she could feel her heart skip a beat or perhaps it actually did.
Free falling from ten‑thousand meters was nothing new to Lylianna. The feeling of wind rushing against her body was something she had grown accustom to. After passing the clouds she could see the ground below her or rather she could see the vague outlines of hills and trees along with some buildings off in the distance.
Melissa was as cheerful as ever. She appeared to be completely carefree about jumping from a plane.
“See you guys at the bottom!”
Following a few seconds behind Lylianna, she ran and jumped off the edge in a swan dive like motion. As she fell an audible WWWEEEE, was heard until it slowly faded out of ear shot.
“She acts just like a kid,” Deadeye said as he walked calmly off the edge.
Ryliah noticed the look on Aryia’s face. She placed a hand on her shoulder.
“Don’t worry Aryia.”
She simply smiled at Aryia, hoping that it would calm her, at least a little bit. As Ryliah leapt from the plane Aryia stared out into the darkness of the sky. Jump… just jump, she told herself. She continued to tell herself that over and over again until she finally jumped into the dull gray sky. For a few seconds she could not see anything. It felt somewhat cold possibly due to the fact the clouds at one time had been the cause of a small rainstorm.
Once she was past the thick layer of the clouds she could make out faint outlines on the ground. With the wind rushing against her body she felt slightly tired due to the act of trying to keep her body straighten out as the wind continued to push against her. She felt as if she was going to pass out as she felt a bit dizzy and light headed. However, she needed to stay awake and alert. As she continued to fall, the ground was quickly coming into view. She would have to open up her parachute soon.
Three‑hundred five meters…
Two‑hundred ninety meters…
Two‑hundred seventy‑four meters…
Two‑hundred forty‑four meters…
With haste she pulled the rip cord while her body jerked slightly from the sudden decease of momentum. Even with this decease she was still descending faster then she had hoped. As the ground started to come into view Aryia could only make out one thing. Trees, trees and more trees… she knew this was not going to be a soft landing.
Aryia’s knee managed to slam into a tree branch that dislocated her knee. Lucky for her she was so focused on trying not to die that she didn’t even notice she had shattered her left knee bone. As she continued to plow through more leaves and limbs she finally stopped.
Lylianna noticed Aryia’s landing as Ryliah met up with the rest of the squad. Once they were ready Lylianna gestured with a few hand signs to head out. The four of them moved slowly and quietly for fifteen meters until they noticed Aryia on the ground. Aryia had felt a sharp pain shoot up her left leg when she hit the ground, however, she was more surprised by the fact that there were guns trained on her. Lylianna quickly signaled a hold fire command as she bent down on one knee to take a look at Aryia’s leg. While she checked on her the rest of the team covered their fire sectors ready to silence anyone that was unlucky to walk into their sights.
As Lylianna ran her fingertips slowly up Aryia’s left leg she pressed down gently against her knee. Aryia covered her mouth with both her hands — trying not to let out a loud scream. As bad as she wanted to, she knew she couldn’t.
Once Lylianna was done she signaled for Melissa to fix Aryia up. Melissa smiled an evil grin as she dropped her medical bag next to Aryia. She knew that Melissa was going to put her through intense pain. Opening up the medical bag, Melissa pulled out a small wooden board and shoved it in Aryia’s mouth. The board was meant to stop a person from biting off their tongue and to keep them quiet during any painful medical treatments. Before Aryia had a chance to even think about what was happening Melissa had already relocated her knee back into place. Aryia could feel the sharp pain coursing throughout her whole body as she heard the sound of a bone popping back into place. I hope I never have to experience something like that again, Aryia thought.
After the ordeal was over all of them continued on with their mission. Due to the HALO — High‑Altitude Low‑Opening — jump, the squad was only a few clicks from the outpost. They moved slowly as a unit through the dense forest, silently as to keep the element of surprise. On occasion the only sound that could be heard in the distance were orthopterous insects.
As they continued on, halfway through the forest Aryia started to feel an excruciating pain in her left knee again. Melissa noticed as Aryia tried to keep the pressure off her injured leg. Oh my, she must need some numbing medication, Melissa thought. Without even a simple warning Melissa pulled out a needle with numbing gel in it. As she stabbed the needle straight into the side of Aryia’s knee she almost felt herself falling over. The pain of the needle into her knee was beyond agonizing, however, after a few seconds the painful sensation was gone completely. Melissa smiled another evil grin. Does she just enjoy teasing me like this, Aryia thought.
As the five of them continued on they finally made it to a clearing in the dense forest. In front of them was the target building where the commander would be.
The communications outpost was somewhat small. It appeared to have seen better days as the metal walls on the outside appeared to be rusting due to weathering and age. All of the squad quickly hit the dirt to avoid being spotted by any guards that could have been patrolling the perimeter. Lylianna pulled out her binoculars and surveyed the landscape. Hm, no guards around the perimeter? That is strange, she thought. She signaled for Deadeye to take up a sniping position as the rest of the team slowly crawled up to the outpost wall.
Hugging up against the cold metal wall the four of them crept up to the entrance of the outpost. As they came to the doorway Lylianna signaled for the team to stop. The entrance was about three meters wide and from what she could tell the door wasn’t even there. Perhaps the guards got tired of opening and closing the door and decided to simply get rid of it. That question would never be answered.
Lylianna peeked beyond the doorway, taking note that it was pitch black inside. After putting on her XGLRG — Experimental Green Light Refracting Goggles — and seeing that it was clear she signaled for Ryliah and Melissa to take the other side of the doorway. Both Ryliah and Melissa put on their XGLRGs as Aryia followed suit. Aryia began to feel more anxious then ever as Lylianna’s hand signaled for all of them to take the building. Her and Melissa entered the outpost as Ryliah and Aryia brought up the rear. Lylianna and Aryia hugged the right wall as Melissa and Ryliah hugged the left. Everyone had their weapons at the low‑ready position. All of them slowly scanned the hallway, ready to engage any hostiles that came into view.
They moved slowly, being careful about planting their foot down. The metal floors could give away their position if they stepped to fast or to hard. Lylianna quickly threw up her hand signaling the squad to stop. Everyone dropped to one knee as she ordered them to hold position. A few meters ahead was a corner. Around the corner was a soldier who patrolled the inner corridor, slightly bordering on ennui. His careless missteps gave away his position to Lylianna, who could hear them as clear as a pin dropping. Like a ninja in the night she rushed to the corner and pulled out her dagger. As the guard came into view she grabbed him and began a series of complex close‑quarter tactics, like an assassin she killed the guard swiftly and quietly. Only one guard, Lylianna thought. Something isn’t right here.
One‑by‑one the four of them cleared each room, noting that most of the soldiers were sleeping. Aryia felt bad that she had to kill them like this. Part of her wondered about how their families would feel when they finally got the news.
No, I shouldn’t think about it. Lylianna told me not to show emotions on the battlefield.
It was a sin for soldiers to have any emotions on the battlefield. Having any kind of feelings or emotions could lead to a soldier losing their own life.
With all the rooms cleared out aside from one the squad converged on the last room. It was a somewhat spacious bedroom with plain stone walls, however, unlike the other rooms there were no windows. In the corner was a small candle that could be seen still burning on top of a wooden oak desk. A small bed was in the back of the room, centered proportionally. From what the squad could tell it appeared as if the target was asleep.
Something just doesn’t feel right, Lylianna thought as she removed her goggles. Still, she knew that they had to complete the mission. With a few hand signals she ordered Aryia to remove the bed sheet. As Aryia inched closer to the bed trying not to make a sound the others had their weapon sights trained on the target. She inched even closer as her heart started to pound. Pulling off the sheets revealed a straw dummy. In that split second Lylianna knew this was a trap. She quickly covered her eyes as Melissa and Ryliah removed their goggles, trying to shield their eyes for what was to come.
A white light engulfed Aryia’s sight along with a loud ringing in her ears. She fell to her knees wondering what was happening around her. Lylianna quickly turned to the door as Ryliah and Melissa readied their weapons. A girl that looked just like Lylianna rushed in quickly from the dark corridor and matched her in hand‑to‑hand combat. Both girls ended up disarming each other but Lylianna was able to pull out her backup pistol. Within those few milliseconds of the fight more then a dozen guards with fully‑automatic rifles entered the room, their weapons trained on all the other members. Damn, they got us, Lylianna thought.
As Aryia’s sight and hearing returned to a relatively normal state she seemed confused at the fact that there was a girl that looked just like Lylianna. Once she looked around she realized they were screwed. Lylianna’s eyes scanned the room as she made a mental note of how many guards there were. With her here this is a losing battle, she thought.
Outside of the outpost Deadeye laid prone watching the entrance through his sniper scope. He had a bad feeling about this mission. Suddenly, he rolled over on his side quickly drawing his backup pistol. He was right to be paranoid. Standing over him was a dark skinned girl with long orange hair, her twilight eyes piecing through the darkness. Her sniper rifle was trained on his head. If the two of them had pulled the trigger both of them would be dead. Deadeye knew he could win if he managed to push the barrel out of the way. Due to having a smaller weapon he had an advantage. Before he could act however, another girl landed just a few meters from them. This girl also had orange hair and twilight eyes but wore a pair of glasses. She pointed her dual pistols at Deadeye’s head.
“Hello!” she said in a cutesy voice.
Deadeye knew he couldn’t win this battle. With a simple smile he turned his gun the opposite way, offering it to the sniper that still had her rifle trained on his head. She merely nodded as she took the pistol from him. He laid his head back and turned on his radio.
“Major, it seems—”
“I know…”
It looks like we have no choice, Lylianna thought. As she unloaded the magazine from her pistol she tossed it to her left while tossing the pistol to her right. Afterwards she pulled out her dagger slowly. With a simple flip she held the sharp end of the dagger and threw it backwards, forcing it to stick straight up into the head of the straw dummy on the bed.
“Stand down.”
Without another word she placed her hands on top of her head as Melissa and Ryliah lowered their weapons to the floor — kicking them over to the guards along with their other weapons. Aryia did not want to drop her gun. Damn, what should I do, she thought. Maybe I could use my wind powers.
However, she felt odd when she tried to tap into her magic, almost as if something was blocking it. Even though she did not like it, Lylianna had ordered everyone to stand down so she had to comply. She slid her weapons over to the guards and feared for what was to come next. The girl that looked like Lylianna simply smiled as she twirled her gun for a bit before finally holstering it into her thigh‑holster.
“Good girl,” she said.
Her tone was like that of a queen or someone of royal status, however, her dress said the complete opposite. After everyone discarded their weapons Ryliah, and Melissa dropped to their knees and placed their hands behind their backs. Everyone knew what was about to happen — everyone but Aryia…
As the soldiers tied up Ryliah and Melissa they remained calm, even when they placed a cloth sack over their heads. Once all of them were tied up the guards proceeded to knock them out with a blow to the back of the head. The last thing Aryia heard before completely passing out was Lylianna’s voice. She sounded as cold as the feeling of snow.
“If any of you talk, I will kill you myself.”Bookmark here

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