“What does it mean?” Lucy asked after a while, looking around her seeking the technicians while speaking in her ear-flap.
The concerned ones were already budging confusedly.
“Who are you?” the mayor added raising her head to a prominent image.
“Glad that you ask for.”
Woodle outstretched his arms from either side in a detailed move, designating his acolytes. To his left were Reisig, Mekko and Marnie, the wind blowing against their faces. To his right were Ling and two young men. One of them had grey eyes and tied back long white hair, the other was recognizable by a scar on his right cheek and short red hair. His eyes were cosmos blue.
“Recall this name. It will soon be on everyone's lips. We are the Players. If we came to you tonight, it was not only to exchange our best wishes…”
Kiseki stepped forward to his wife so he could protect her in case of an attack while she put a finger on her ear-flap, upset.
“Why does it take so long? You should already have recovered the signal.”
“I am confused Mrs,.. It's a well set cyber attack. We can't break through…” the manager in charge of the technicians answered.
“You've got two minutes!”
The policeman rose his head, scrutinizing the top of the buildings until he beheld the gathered shapes of the Players, squinting his eyes.
“…But to declare the war to public order as well as to anyone supporting Lucy Merlish, mayor of Asperia.” the Player's leader stated, articulating his words with delight.
“Cease immediately this masquerade. As the mayor of the city, I forbid you to disturb for any additional moment this ceremony.”
“Lucy, you should leave the platform to ensure your security.” the policeman calmly suggested.
“I can't afford to do this facing such a provocation.” she quickly answered, lowering her voice.
Ling which had remained silent until now, letting the leader speak, ducked her head on the stage. Albeit her mask hid her deviant expression, it gave her an oppressive aura instead.
“Haa? Is barking all you know to do? Come on, it doesn't suit your angel face. The proper thing to say was to ask why. Why we plan to destroy all you've contributed to.”
The mayor toughened her look, clenching her fists. Soothing her, Kiseki put a hand on her shoulder.
“Indeed Ling. I couldn't have said it better.” Woodle smiled back before putting on a mid-serious face, browsed by a veil of disgust. He'd waited for this moment since numerous years. “It has been nine years since you rule Asperia. These are nine too many. All along you pretended to be perfect and tended to brighten “people's” lives, to make it more secure, strengthening measures against “criminals”. Nonsense. You've only stepped over one's liberty for the sake of another's. Who even are you to declare one person's liberty is less valuable than another one?”
As he was talking, his long scarf waving in the wind, Mekko took off her back an electrical guitar. Many policemen began to unfurl near the platform to get into the occupied building.
“We will erase the frontiers you've drawn and make of Asperia our board game.”
“You're not but a prepubescent dreamer.” replied with apathy the mayor's husband, astonishing her. “Making of Asperia your “board game”? You are seven mere people facing the whole city, what do you think you'll be able to do? At this exact moment, an elite squad is rejoining you and you'll be soon under arrest.”
Listening to his words made Marnie laugh for a while in her soft voice.
“Oh, you sure about that?” the leader replied in a tone of defiance.
At the moment he said it, a sudden blast made burst windows two levels under the roof, making quake ground under Players' feet. Mekko strummed a cord on her guitar, echoing to the explosion.
Kiseki adjusted his glasses from the bottom of his fingers. He wasn't expecting that turnaround situation. Shrieks arose along the crowd, people paling in disbelief. Was it really happening? Most of them did not dare to move.
As soon as the explosion's patter weakened, a notification sound spread all along the crowd, as a wave upon the ocean. Their device's display part were blinking in red, an overturned chess piece in the middle of that. A murmur flowing over the whole place.
“Let me correct what you said earlier, inspector Idonosoko. Do we really have the whole population against us? Don't forget human beings are weak, they easily betray you.”
Woodle shared an electrical gaze with Kiseki.
“What do you mean?”
Without taking his eyes off him, he addressed to the entire oodles.
“I speak with all gathered people here. You wonder what implies the notification on your screens? Listen carefully to my words. You've been pirated. I've picked up your bank data.”
These few words were enough to sow fear and panic among the population. They desperately tried to escape the notification window though it was too late.
The situation was becoming absolutely critical, Kiseki was perfectly aware of that. A moment ago he still had a doubt whether the Players' appearance was full of smoke and mirrors. After all the one supposed to be their boss seemed to be underage, and he even spotted a little child among them. They may be gifted hackers, but have no more qualifications. Nonetheless, truth must be told. Their planned attack, trap against policemen and global and massive hack had to be regarded more than seriously. They profited from the first hack on the channel broadcasting the mayor speech to sneak into the security system of spectators' phones. Naturally, this is why Lucy and himself weren't hacked, as they didn't watch the show on their personal device.
“Do something to stop them!”, “You can't let them do such a thing!!”, “What are you waiting to protect us?”
The crowd feeling threatened could not wait any longer. This problem must be settled down right now.
“Don't worry this much. I won't steal your money. Well… At least not if you're cooperative. Here starts a little game. Let's call it...” Woodle thought for a while, folding his arms, tapping his index on his lips. “…I know. Dare or pay.”
“Time has come to see their true nature” the Player with white hair whispered with a slight smile.
“It's easy. The ones expected to play will receive a new notification. So now…” he began to raise a hand towards the platform, pointing Lucy Merlish. “Assault the mayor.”
All of a sudden, the holographic screens on city walls switched on normal transmission and displayed Merlish's face crumpling.