Chapter 3:

The Bureau - Part 1

Gloudhaus


Annabeth was escorted to an underground meeting room right after her arrival at the department, so she was still unsure of what was happening. In some ways, this much was expected, but leaving her alone around was weird.

Her relocation to the Archipelago was half a banishment and half an international request, so it was easy to understand why little was told to her. Moving around with no idea what you were doing was still a pain in the ass though.

Luckily, it didn’t take more than half an hour for more people to pass through the meeting room’s door.

“Hello, mah' fellow somethin'! Yer willin' to explain what in the hells I’m waitin' fer 'ere?” She asked the two big men in black suits that passed through the door with her accent openly flowing.

Her question echoed through the empty meeting room and its big oval table, but neither of the buff guys seemed to be willing to answer. They instead whispered something among themselves and left again.

“Rude bastards…” Anna said while unlocking her holster just in case. “I wouldn’ be against all this bein' a trap, but still...”

The inquisitor wasn’t expecting a warm welcome, especially after what she did to the contact earlier, but being left to rot in an empty room was a little too boring. If she knew it would be like this, she would have wandered around in search of some lodging, and maybe some trouble while at it.

Looking for trouble was always fun and it would give a decent excuse to fire her weapons lawfully.

There was a chance Anna was in trouble right now though, but that much was kind of beyond the point.

Either way, new guests entered the room a few minutes later and none of them looked to be there for a fight, be it good or bad. And eventually, the silence was broken once more. The three new arrivals took sits on the big oval table in silence, two of them being the man in suits from earlier and the third one managing to draw Annabeth’s eyes.

This one was a young woman, or maybe just a slightly older girl, with straight well-groomed hair, wearing a southern kimono and displaying her fox ears and half a dozen tails. Her clothes, hair and fur all had the same dark-blue and black color scheme, and she had a regal aura that was quite hard to ignore.

How beautiful the fox-girl only added some extras to the growing smile on Anna’s face.

“Hello there, fox demon. Can I ask what brings you this far from home?”

The redhead’s words drew the eyes of the two suit-wearing men that had ignored her earlier and she happily received their anger with a smirk. No one answered though, and it somewhat puzzled the girl.

“Silence treatment is so borin'... Yer sure that a mighty six-tailed monster like ya can let a random gal talk like this?” Anna continued in search for a reaction and, although faint, felt that there was something there. “Or maybe yer one of those old hags that got tails the old way. So dusty and old you can’t be bothered at all… Yer a member of the sandiest council then? I would be merciful enough to help ya with that before a li'l purifyin'...”

One of the men threw his chair away and almost charged at the red-haired girl, but his companion managed to hold him in place as if he was waiting for it already. Annabeth's eyes stood on the fox girl as it was happening though, and she could feel by her quivering lips that she only needed a little more pushing.

“Bottlin' up anger, ay? Yer that scared of a human? Now that’s funny… It explains why y'walk around with two useless pieces of cursed shit.” She snickered at the two bodyguards, not losing the reaction from the princess-like girl to some of her words. “What if I got 'em a real fight…?”

Before she could finish her phrase, the door opened again and another group entered. This one was a pair composed of a humanoid lizard, most likely a man, and of a white girl, probably the same age as Anna.

The dandy lizardman was greenish in color and wore what Anna could recognize as the garbs of an admiral, with hat and medals included. He also had a saber on his hip and she could feel an abnormal aura coming from it.

He looked quite like a veteran in both his complexion and apparent age, which was weird when no major sea battles had happened in this area of the world in recent history.

Either way, the girl by his side seemed much greener, even with her officer clothes and trained steps, so it was easy to assume that she was an aide. She had short grey hair and pointy ears in addition to some doll-like features. Also, she wasn't the shortest person Annabeth had met lately, but she was still small.

By this point though, the red-haired girl was starting to find it weird how pretty every single person she saw was.

All eyes on the room went to them when the door opened and the lizardman’s first reaction was to silently greet everyone before heading to a nearby seat. The grey-haired girl took a little longer to follow his steps as she seemed to freeze when all attention went to her, but she also rushed a greeting and took a seat.

“What an interestin' line-up we have here... It seems that I entered somethin' a li'l bigger than I was told.” Annabeth commented while giving up on picking a fight with the fox girl and controlling her voice.

She could swear that the dark-haired lady muttered something the moment her aim changed, but it was hard to hear from this far. In comparison, how her bodyguards clicked their tongues while returning to their seats wasn't hard to get.

It was a problem for another time either way...

“Can I assume that you are the envoy from the continent, lass?” Asked the lizardman with an impressively deep voice.

“Arch-Inquisitor Annabeth Solomon from Infina’s main branch.” Anna presented herself before returning to her smug smile. “It’s a pleasure to meet ya, admiral lizard.”

“I see you fit the bill… The name is admiral Moem Cors. This young lady by my side is my aide, Alya Wessex.” Moem presented himself and the quiet girl by his side while eyeing Anna, but cut contact right after. “You can wait for the other representatives to arrive for your answer though. My old self cannot handle folks from the continent anymore...”

“Is that so…” It seemed unwise to take a fight against this many people, in special when one of them felt quite dangerous, so she just said so and went silent. The admiral, on the other side, was willing to keep talking.

“Since half of us have presented ourselves, could I ask for a name, kitsune from the south?”

At his words, the fox girl gave what seemed to be a sigh of relief and then gave a small and proper smile before opening her mouth.

“I’m Minako Chiron, sir. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“I see, I see… The pleasure is all mine, Ms. Chiron. Are both of them…?”

“Familiars I can’t disclose the names, yes.”

“Understandable.”

They both started to exchange small talk without much content after a while under the gaze of the four other people. Three of them were quietly keeping an eye on the talk due to curiosity, but the fourth one was instead observing for more analytical reasons.

Be as it may, the door soon opened again and a group bigger than any of the others appeared in view. A huge tanned man in military garbs, a mature woman in an overly revealing dress, a creature made of stone, and the small blondie Anna met before, all joined the meeting.

In reaction to them, Annabeth simply smiled under the angry glare she received right away and waved smugly. She also took notes of the different glares the other members of the new arrivals gave her before the woman in their group started to speak.

“Looks like everyone is here…” The scantly dressed woman said while nodding with an endearing smile. “We will now start the first meeting of the Gloudhaus Bureau then!”