Chapter 8:

Interlude: Post-Meeting Meeting

Gloudhaus


A little while had passed since the initial meeting of the Bureau, but Louise was still in the same room as before. Her surroundings were covered in papers now though. Overseeing a bureau with many organizations meant many times the paperwork, so that was expected.

While the overseer lady was still working on it in silence though, a knock on the door called her attention to the room’s clock.

“They should've waited a little more... Our guests should be far enough by now, but it's not sure yet.” She pressed her eyes while packing the spread papers on the oval table. “Get in, you both.”

The door opened under her call and two of the men from the meeting earlier got inside.

“Ms. Sayd!”

“Good afternoon, lady Louise.” The lizard admiral said while moving to his seat and bypassing the saluting colonel by his side.

“You got here a little earlier than expected… Our little problems were this quiet?” Louise asked while pointing Aaron to a seat.

"They left right away, not even spending a moment to observe us." Admiral Moem noted with a somewhat pensive expression. "Not sure why the rush though..."

"We'll know soon enough then... Now, give me the real information here. What did you two manage to bring?"

The two nodded and took their seats, even if they would be there for a while.

“It’s hard to mobilize much without calling for some ‘real’ measures. One or two squads to each police station were the most I could manage... No one seems to be acting up, but we're working with reservists and paramilitary related to me for now.” The archdemon soldier reported first. "We could ask the high command for support, but they would probably interfere too much."

“No much we can do about it. Moving more would gather too much attention, especially from the continent, but letting the army help could be even worse... What about the patrols, Admiral?”

“The seas are calm, for now. We are working only with a few ships I managed to sneak into the coastal guard, but they are enough for now. It would not be that hard to get more, but the admiralty moves so slowly that we would only get reinforcements next year...”

“Not perfect, but that's what we have... How's the inquisitor?”

“My Alya is keeping an eye on her from the air. No one left the apartment since she last reported, and I do not think someone could escape an aerial observation around there.”

“If the brat is like the last one, then there’s a bigger chance of her blowing the building than of walking out of it...” Aaron noted while remembering the events from a couple of years ago. "Is it safe to let her live in the middle of the condos?"

“I wouldn’t send her together with Karim if there was a chance of something like that happening, okay? This inquisitor seems a little more reasonable than the last ones, for now at least…”

“Half a day with no casualties is a record for sure.” The admiral agreed as, he too, saw that last cooperation, and even a couple more before that.

“I still don’t get why you people keep calling inquisitors here. They’re much more trouble than it's worth…”

“That’s an easy one, colonel, they have the tools we don’t. It’s not the best option, but we simply have too few resources around here to deal with the problems that are coming.” Louise said while picking one of the reports she had around. “Here's what we're currently ‘holding’ for our hot-headed girl…”

She threw the papers toward the two men and they took turns looking at the inventory of equipment.

“This… Is this real? You could equip a whole company with this much!”

“When did such a dangerous shipment move around, lady Louise? I do not remember being warned of it.”

“That’s because you weren’t.” The overseer explained. “It all came under wraps inside civilian freighters. Staying quiet and supplying their agents whenever they needed was one of the conditions for the visit. The people from the continent don’t know the word ‘moderation’, you see?”

“So we host their problem children and use them to solve our own problems in exchange for all the spare equipment and some chaos... I cannot condone you playing around with citizens' lives, but I can see the point.” The old lizardman nodded with a conflicted expression.

“This is wicked, Ms. We’re meant to protect our people, not sell them for weaponry!”

“I was pretty sure you would act like this, Aaron, which is why I ask...” The smile on the woman’s face became much somber as she started to list what she had in mind. “How many would die each time a kaiju left the sea if we lacked those shiny cursed rounds you and our admiral here use with so much care? What would your soldiers do each time a marid goes berserker and has to be taken down with spells we don’t know how to make? Prayers are wonderful and can do a lot, but we lack priests to keep our temples, the barrier, and a strike force running. What can we do if not bend to the more resourceful side then?”

If they were still a small island society with few people with independent lives, then it would be no problem. Relying on the traditional and common methods would be enough even with the extra conditions, but the Archipelago was now way too big for that.

There wasn’t a single thing that some prayers made by a decent cleric and a few mantras couldn’t solve. That much was a maxim and holy magic was special for a reason, but they took too long to train and too long to answer a threat that could come from anywhere.

In modern society, it was impossible to rely solely on old methods.

This much was even truer when most who could use said methods were occupied with maintaining their homeland safe from the continent.

“We either need better ways to protect ourselves from the corruption or better ways to keep the continent in check. Dealing with problematic inquisitors is one of the cheapest ways to do so for now, so that's what we do.” Louise concluded and then her somber tone calmed down. “I expect you both to understand that I’m only saying this much because you’re working under me now though…”

“So, what you called us here to say was…?” The soldier asked while his navy counterpart stood in a thinking pose.

The smile on the overseer’s face brightened under this question and she went to the whiteboard on the back. Her hands moved to Annabeth’s file and to the blank spot by its side.

“First, a warning. There’s something wrong with this situation... Our insider information and what we were told was different, and not for a good reason.”

“What do you mean?” Aaron asked unsure of what was happening.

“There’s something weird happening with our lovely church. For them, this girl we just saw should still be on-route, and more, she shouldn’t be alone. I don’t know why she left her escort and why she rushed here, but now knowing is the danger.”

“Someone volatile enough to avoid both our defenses and the infinians is not someone we want to keep around, milady... What should we do though?”

“It would be less troublesome if there wasn’t another one arriving, but it’s still doable...” She said while removing the foreign one from the board. “Don’t ever engage that monster in the open and keep watch for the second inquisitor arriving soon. If we ever need to deal with them, do so as quietly as possible. Otherwise, let them kill themselves… Just like the last one.”

Louise then cramped the file with almost no decent information on it and threw the paper ball in the trash, receiving a pair of nods in answer. Before they could continue though, the door of the meeting room suddenly opened and a hurried white-haired girl got inside.

“A-a-admiral!”

“What happened?! You should be watching…” Moem reacted right away as he saw his aide's panicked expression.

“She va-vanished!” The stuttering Alya said under her irregular and tired breaths.

The three seniors looked in silence at the new arrival, and then their nominal leader gave a long sigh.

“Get the dossiers in that corner and keep an eye on your own branches, you both. Having to start with the inquisitors already here isn’t good, but that’s what we have... I’ll start working on the cover-up for today.”

Louise’s words made both men get up with wary expressions and then leave, one of them giving a profound apology together with his aide before doing so. And then, she was left with the looming doom of what would be another massive pile of documents.

“I’m not even sure if it’s better if she lives or not after this…”

It wasn’t even night yet, but Louise Sayd was already sure she would be working overtime.

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