Chapter 2:

Movement

Silver Heart


“Xenos are cowards! Those that deny the gift of life we give them, have no worth in this world. If they’re not with us, they’re against us. People are greedy and self-interested. Take advantage of that, and no Xenos will escape with their lives.”

***

A crowd of people intermingled with one another. Some were talking business, others were joking. Some were dancing, while others were eating.

They’re all the same. Even if their personalities are different from one another, they can all be placed in the same category.

“How are you holding up Erity?” Isao asked.

“I’m fine,” I said.

“That’s not the feeling you’re giving off,” he said as he politely laughed, “I don’t think you ever had a lot of friends during childhood, so this should be outside your comfort zone.”

“It is. However, this is for the best. Now, CLEAR does not need to give anything to Albus and the relationship between the two of you will remain constant.”

“But is it the best for you?”

“Does that matter?”

“I guess the orphanage is to blame for your attitude. I think your way of acting is too focused on benefiting the company and too little on benefitting yourself.”

“Not to be rude sir, but this attitude is what got me so far. If I didn’t have this attitude, I would have had to replace an organ or a limb with an artificial one…” I lowered my gaze to the floor, “I don’t want to sacrifice my humanity.”

“Humanity does not stem from how much of your body is artificial. But if you think your attitude is fine then I won’t pry any further. I do want to ask one more question, however,” he said as he stared at me with a painful look in his eyes, “would you be willing to die for CLEAR?” he asked.

“...”

I thought about it for a while. Living as the head of security means warding off any intruders and fighting those who threaten CLEAR. If a situation ever occurred when my life was in danger…

I’ve lived practically my entire life for CLEAR…

Dying for CLEAR seems like a fitting end……… and yet… the same thought kept creeping up. I don’t want to die…

“I’ve lived my entire life for CLEAR. During that time, I met you, Akihiro, and Rai. You three at the most important to me, so if the need ever arises to lay down my life for any of you, I would.”

“...”

Isao lowered his gaze. It seemed as if he wanted to say something, but he took a deep breath and composed himself, his expression turned normal and indifferent.

“Don’t push yourself,” he said as he turned around and left, “Oh, and Erity?”

“What can I assist with?”

“Relax and try to have fun. That’s all. You look good, maybe someone here can catch your eye,” he said as he walked towards the other end of the room.

I glanced at everyone I could see. They all seem to be happy with this party.

I walked over to a large rectangular table, one that went from one side, all the way to the other side of the large room. Food and drinks were placed all over it and there was quite a variety. Everything from sweeter things like cake and macarons to normal food like rice and vegetables, to alcoholic beverages or water.

I decided to forego the food, as it could disrupt my diet. Instead, I grabbed a champagne glass and filled it with water.

“Erity,” a familiar and unpleasant voice called out.

Once I was finished pouring my drink, I turned around and saw brown hair and dark brown eyes. Albus.

“Is there something you need of me?”

“Nothing in particular. I do wish to compliment you on your looks. That long red dress is a perfect fit in combination with your snowy white hair and fiery red eyes,” he said with a light smile on his face.

“Thank you,” I said monotonously, “if there’s nothing else you need of me, I’ll be going.”

“Can’t we have a friendly conversation?”

“I’m feeling a bit light-headed, so I would rather remain by myself.”

“Is that so? Then do get better soon.”

I walked away and left Albus on his own. I quickly drank my water and went to the restrooms on the other side of the room. At least here it was quiet.

I took some deep breaths and reminded myself this is for CLEAR. Personal feelings don’t belong in my head.

I tapped my ear and started talking.

“Akihiro, Rai, How is everything looking over there?” I said over my earpiece.

“Perfectly fine,” Rai said.

“It’s been boring so far with nothing out of the ordinary.”

“Good to hear. If you two need me, just call me over the earpiece, and I will offer support.”

“Are you going to save the day in that dress of yours if need be? Do you even have a weapon on you?”

“I have an EMP gun, a small knife, and a small security tablet on me.”

“Wait what? How? You’re wearing a dress, unless it has pockets you can’t be carrying that around discreetly around guests.”

“I have a leg holster around my thigh. Is that so odd for a security guard?”

“It is…? Normally we wear holsters around our hips or torso, so I’ve never used a leg holster before. What do you think Rai?”

“Impressive Erity. Always prepared for everything.”

“I’m quite pleased to hear that from you.”

“In that case, Akihiro and I will call upon you whenever necessary. I can tell from the cameras and your voice that you’re not quite comfortable there. There is one thing I have to ask you Erity. Instead of supporting us, protect the guests at the party as your top priority.”

“I will. Good luck Rai, Akihiro.” I said as I tapped my ear to turn off the microphone.

I took some more deep breaths before heading out of the restroom. Once I did, an unexpected face seemed to be waiting for me. She was wearing a golden dress that almost seemed to shine, along with some long, thin yellow gloves that covered her metallic arms until her elbow. Her clothing matched her blonde hair and eyes.

“Care to talk?” She asked me.

“About what, Mana? Is there something you need of me?”

“Your attention and words. So?”

“I’ll talk.”

“Then let’s go somewhere more discreet,” she said as she turned and walked towards the exit.

“Is it something about CLEAR or personal?”

“Personal.”

I started walking as well, and caught up to her, walking slightly behind her.

***

The cold air brushed against my cheek and made my long, loose white hair flow. I was at the terrace, with a few tables and chairs present, leaning on the railing, I could see the park from up here, my favorite view.

“What did you want to talk about?” I asked Mana, who was here with me.

“Childhood,” she said, not elaborating but remaining still.

She said nothing else. Did she think I knew what specific thing she wanted to talk about? Or does she just want to reminisce about our time growing up together?

I decided not to talk. There are a variety of things we could talk about, but all of those topics would be painful to her.

“Do you feel any regret for what you did to my friends?” she tried to say calmly.

“I would be lying if I said that I do.”

“Do you even remember their faces? Or even their names.”

“I don’t.”

“And I hate you for it.”

“Is that all you wanted to say?” if that was the case, then my time here was wasted. I wanted to say that, but that would most likely make her lash out.

“It wasn’t… Erity… I want to challenge you,” she said calmly yet confidently.

“This never ended well for you when we were kids. Why do you think this time would be different? Because you have two metallic arms?”

“Because I finally know how to defeat you.”

I stood up straight, not leaning on the railing anymore, and turned around at her. Her gaze was lowered, aimed towards a particular spot where the floor had cracked as if someone had punched that particular spot.

“Then do enlighten me.”

“I don’t have to.”

“Has your desire for vengeance made you forgetful or lose touch with reality?” I said as I continued staring at her golden eyes which seemed to have lost all shine. “This is unlike you. Mana, I don’t dislike you. While it’s true I sometimes think your hatred for me gets in the way, I don’t hold anything against you. If there’s anything or anyone bothering you, tell me. I will help you.”

“Thank you Erity,” she said as she made eye contact for the first time, “but all you have to do for me is continue being yourself.”

After she muttered those last words, she turned around and walked away. I stared at her back for a bit, wondering what she was talking about. Thinking about it, she mentioned she wanted to challenge me. She never said what the challenge was, did she give up?

I turned back and looked at the view the terrace offered.

It was calm and peaceful.

But things seemed to be changing, various groups are making their moves. Mythical is just the first of many groups that want to steal from us.

The last time the head of security failed at their job, they were taken to the lowest level, stripped of everything. Any artificial limbs, organs, or even clothing. Wandering in the lowest level that’s filled with criminals and terrorists in only their underwear. Death would be certain.

“Erity, we have A SLIGHT PROBLEM!” A man’s voice said over my earpiece as the building began shaking and trembling violently.

I lost my balance and almost fell down but managed to get a hold of the railing. After a few seconds the building calmed down again, but my senses were everything but calm.

I quickly tapped my ear and started yelling to whoever was listening on the other side.

“Status report, NOW!”

“An explosion has been confirmed in the middle floors at areas C, G, M, and Z,”

“Intruders?”

“Confirmed,” a soft, female voice said, “There seem to be 17 of them!”

“Cybers are heading towards them,” a man said.

“Shut down any door in their area, as well as any door leading to the party. Disable the elevators.”

“Erity, the jammers have been taken out! Signals outside our frequencies are now possible.”

“Listen up. Shoot to kill. They could suicide by an explosion if given the chance. Leave no survivors. Akihiro, you–”

“They’re splitting up! One team is heading to you Erity!”

“I’ll take care of that group. Destroy the other!”

I forcefully tapped my ear and began running inside. The normal lighting was turned off, and an alarm dyed the hallways a bloody hue. Forcing my dress up, I grabbed the EMP pistol and the security tablet from my leg holster. Forcefully pushing the buttons, I connected myself to the camera system.

Seven of them headed up through the staircase.

I slammed the buttons on the tablet and closed a special security door that would stop them from heading up further. we'll fight on this floor and only this floor. Before they could arrive, I ordered the two Cybers who were already on this floor to standby deeper inside.

I positioned myself behind a corner, looking at the staircase door. I aimed my gun…

The door forcefully opened and people rushed inside. I shot and hit a Xenos.

Within a second the remaining six aimed their weapons at me and shot. The corner I was hiding behind was slowly obliterated by small repeated explosions coming from their bullets. I retreated and hid behind the next corner.

If I want to win, I need guerilla tactics.

I glared at the tablet and checked the security devices available to me. Cybers were the only mobile option, but the cameras along with their traps can help nicely…

Footsteps are coming closer. A camera was a bit further back. I turned around and ran but intruders came around the corner and aimed their weapons at me. I adjusted my weapon and aimed it at the ground, shooting it. The intruders were stunned. Some had their arms disabled, others’ legs and all the weaponry malfunctioned. It lasted for a short while and they started shooting, ripping a hole through my dress, but otherwise missing.

I continued running, retreating to the camera, with a group of Xenos chasing me. I reached the place and hid behind another corner. I checked the cameras and saw three of them running through the hallway. I thrust my finger on the button. The walls opened up at blinding speed, revealing two metal balls. They tried to flee, but it was useless. Shocked and fried, their bodies fell to the ground, twitching and convulsing from the aftershock.

Four more intruders came in sight, but they threw a grenade at the tesla coil inside the walls, blowing it up with a loud bang, the scent of nitroglycerine entered my nostrils.

Forced to run further back, I found the Cybers I prepared in advance.

Three intruders followed me, their footsteps blatantly approaching. They turned the corner and were met with a Cyber’s punch. The intruder’s body flew backward and slammed into the wall, breaking through it on impact.

The others stepped back and gave up their large assault rifles for a pistol on their hips. I shot an intruder, causing him to drop to the ground. The other managed to shoot their pistol while aiming at the ground. The Cybers disabled for a few seconds, but in that time I sprinted to the intruder, forced my gun as hard as I could against their forehead, and shot. Falling backward, he landed with a soft thump.

No more attackers seem to be coming this way.

“C-Cyber, find the last remaining intruder that should be on this floor.”

One of the Cybers ran away without saying a thing. While I’m busy studying these two, the Cyber will at least find the last intruder.

I glared at the two intruders at my feet. The one I shot last remained quiet. The other one gasped for air repeatedly almost as if they were choking. Their hand was reaching for my leg, but I stomped on it and kicked their head with my other foot. After that, they remained quiet.

I studied their appearance for the first time since they entered. Covered in entirely black clothing, they had various holsters and belts equipped across their body. I messed with one particular belt that had various pockets on it. I looked inside and saw various types of grenades. I placed the belt across my torso, making sure it wouldn’t fall off.

Next up, I checked their guns. First, the assault rifle whose bullets caused mini energy blasts that would vaporize anything it hit. The weapon was using an OS so that its user could change various settings and change the weapon to what fits them the most. I gave the remaining Cyber an assault rifle and told him to use it to shoot intruders.

Their pistols were EMP based, identical to mine. And just like mine, they had three settings. Single Blast, Area strike, and Complete Shutdown. Each mode uses more energy than the previous and thus needs more time to cool down, as well as consume more ammo. The mode could simply be changed by the press of a button near the trigger, and the pistol would cycle through.

Finally, the identities of the perpetrators. Not that there would be any use for that anyways. The intruders were all wearing helmets and a black bandana, making it impossible to tell who was behind the attack.

I took off the helmet and bandana from an intruder, revealing their face.

“G-Cyber, scan CLEAR's database and criminal database for this person,” and while I would love to scan the databases from VOID and SPEAR, we don’t have access to it.

“Identity_unkown. Match_not_found,” a mechanical voice told me.

“Then let’s try the other one.”

But it still remained negative.

“G-Cyber, take photos of their faces.”

While the Cyber did that, I grabbed a helmet and placed it on my head. The visor had all kinds of data on it, but a second after I had placed it on my head it vanished and said: “Non-verified user not allowed”

I dropped the helmet to the ground. Before I continued walking, I grabbed the nearest assault rifle and shot all three intruders around me. Two on the ground, one intruder partly through the wall. After I confirmed each kill, I went on my way. Checking and clearing each corner as I arrived at them. I tried looking for the intruder through the cameras but they were nowhere to be seen.

“C-Cyber, status,” I said to the tablet in my hands.

Instead of a voice telling me, a message popped up on the screen: “C-Cyber has been destroyed”.

“This… is a slight problem,” I said as I bit my nail.

“Erity, come in,” a soft voice said.

“What is it?” I said, my focus was on the cameras and C-Cyber’s last reported location.

“The intruders are destroying any Cybers we sent. Moreover, it seems they’re trying to use various cameras to detect the Tesla coils and all other traps hidden.”

“Will the security room be overtaken?”

“We will have to fight. Akihiro and I are thinning them out, so it should be no problem. We will lose communication for a short while.”

“Once I’m done finding the last intruder here, I’ll back you up.”

“Don’t. There are five intruders heading towards us, we also saw seven heading your way, but the last five are nowhere to be seen.”

“Understood. I’ll look for them after I’m done here.”

I turned around a corner.

Down the hallway, I saw another intruder aiming at me. I pushed some buttons on the tablet and tried to duck behind the corner again, but the intruder pulled the trigger, a blast at the speed of light heading my way. I blinked and the Cyber had blocked the shot, thanks to the panic button I pressed. I ducked behind the corner as a storm of light passed the Cyber, thoroughly destroying it.

I opened a pocket from the belt I took and grabbed a grenade that seemed familiar to me. Yanking out the pin, I threw it around the corner and a curtain of smoke unveiled, enveloping the entire hallway. The intruder panicked and shot rounds of energy blasts through the thick smoke, all of them blasting the wall beyond it.

He stopped for a second and I took advantage of it. I dived while aiming my gun down the hall and shot with the assault rifle clenched in my hands, its recoil fighting my strength. I hit the ground and stopped shooting, quickly crawling behind the corner closest to me.

No sound, no light. No energy blasts. Except for the red alarm lighting. The smoke slowly lifted and I took a peek at the hallway. There, an intruder was lying on the ground.

I walked over to them and noticed that their helmet was obliterated into pieces, revealing their male face. His black gear had holes in it, caused by the energy blasts. A black crater could be seen where his skin should have been. I took off his bandana and took a picture of the man’s face, instantly storing it in CLEAR’s online database.

That should be all the intruders on this floor.

“Erity?” a voice called out from behind me.

I quickly turned around and aimed my gun at them. There stood a woman wearing a golden dress with random holes in the excess cloth. yellow gloves covering parts of her metallic arms up until her elbows, partly torn, showing more of her metallic skin. Her blonde hair was a slight mess. Mana. An assault rifle like mine was clenched in her hands.

I relaxed my arms and pointed the gun at the ground. Mana’s expression was dull but it was obvious she fought some intruders herself.

“Did you let one go?” I asked Mana.

“All dead. Five confirmed kills. How about you?” she asked me with a sad smile, her gaze dropping.

“Three by Tesla coil, four by an assault rifle, for a total of seven confirmed kills,” I said as I recalled my encounters.

Looking back on it… these people are odd, to say the least. Their gear suggests they're professionals, but their tactics were pathetic as if they were beginners…

I glanced back at Mana when I heard she was muttering something, but I couldn’t catch what she said, and found myself biting my nail.

“Mana, go back to the party and make sure everyone is safe. I’ll head to the security room to assure that Akihiro and Rai are safe.”

“I understand you're my boss, but can’t you ask nicely? I don’t like being ordered around by you,” she tried to force in her usual tone…

Mana and I split up. I checked the cameras that were on my route through the tablet. Everything seemed clear. Once I arrived near the Security office, I calmed my pace. And slowly made my way over there, trying not to make even a single sound.

“Erity, are you okay?” a man’s voice asked.

“How is the security room?” I asked, whispering.

“Don’t worry it's all clear,” he said tiredly.

I walked the rest of the way to the room normally and walked inside. At the center platform, which was slightly elevated, I saw Akihiro sitting on the ground, with Rai patting him on the back. A body was lying on the staircase across them. I checked it and the person’s helmet and bandana had already been taken off, revealing a girl’s face.

“Have you checked her in the database?”

“Of course, I have,” Akihiro said, his gaze not to me but to the roof.

“Akihiro and I have already confirmed that the coast is clear,” Rai said while patting Akihiro’s back. “We took out five of them. What about you?”

“Seven myself. Mana had joined the fight and she took care of the remaining five on her own.”

“That’s good to hear,” Rai said.

“What’s up with Akihiro?”

“The body next to me is a person I killed. You know I don’t like killing people… I had to do it. If I had done something like knocking her unconscious, she could have exploded inside the security room and compromised everything,” Akihiro said, placing his right hand on his hair and restlessly combing through it.

“You did well Akihiro,” Rai comforted him.

“Thank you, Akihiro. You did great.”

“I just hope she won’t haunt me in my dreams,” he said with a forced chuckle.

I walked over to Akihiro and placed my hand on his left shoulder. Afterward, I continued to the rows of screens and keyboards on the far side of the platform. I pushed some keys into the system to show the camera inside the party room. There, I saw Mana taking count of who was present and who was missing with Isao at her side.

I turned on the speaker attached to the camera.

“Mana, is someone missing?”

“Everyone seems to be here,” she said as she turned her face to look at the camera.

I turned off the speaker.

I bit my nail, making sure I wouldn’t tear it off.

Why had they targeted CLEAR? Was it because their target was someone at the party? Were they after our research data? The server room containing all the data is on the floor below where the party was held. If it is someone from the party, it has to be someone who’s normally unreachable. Albus, Malcolm, and Isao were a few of those that fit that description…

“ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT” a mechanical voice repeated.

“What’s happening?!” Akihiro asked, an intrusive red light illuminating his face.

I turned my gaze to the camera footage and felt that I had bitten through my nail.

The room the party was in had been partly destroyed…

People knocked over, tables destroyed, food and drinks dirtying the floor, with glass pieces shattered across it…

“Intruder at the party! All Cybers go there NOW!” Rai commanded.

It was already too late…

I ran out of the room and dashed towards the elevator, ordering Rai to enable them once more. The elevator zoomed through the floors until it reached my destination, at which point I continued my dash towards the party room. But when I arrived…

People were on the floor, trying to flee the room and distancing themselves. Mana was unconscious on the floor, pieces of glass piercing her back. Isao was beside her glaring at the thing that made me lose hope.

A metallic suit colored mostly black with red and blue lines across its torso, forming a cross.

An expansion suit…

Something that extended upon every aspect of the human body. Sensation, smell, hearing, sight, pain… power… Power that was no longer something a normal human could take on.

And in that thing’s clutches, wrapped tightly as if the suit was hugging him, was Albus…

The metallic suit stared at me for the first time. My legs felt weak.

Even then, I can’t let this happen. I aimed my assault rifle toward the metallic figure, but in response, he held Albus in front of him. He seemed to be unconscious…

“Erity!” Isao yelled. “...Let him go…” he said while gritting his teeth.

“I can’t follow that order, I won’t follow that order!” I said as I readied my finger to shoot.

“ERITY!” Isao yelled louder. “FAILURE TO FOLLOW MY ORDER MEANS YOU FAIL AS HEAD OF SECURITY. DO YOU UNDERSTAND!?”

My finger stopped moving. I wanted to pull the trigger, it was already on it, but I couldn’t.

I lowered the assault rifle and then dropped it. After seeing that, the metallic figure headed towards the window it had broken on its way in and flew off silently. I watched as he left with Albus in its arms, further out of reach with every second.

I failed…

“Those that don’t reach the expectations we have placed upon you are worthless. To stand amongst the best means being the best. If you can’t reach our expectations at this current point in time, you will never fulfill them. And those that have always fulfilled them, you would be wise not to trip. For one fall could mean being brought to the lowest level.”

Then what will happen to me…