Chapter 90:

The Back of the Leviathan - Part 2


“So… What in the heavens was that, Annabeth?!” Karim asked the red-haired inquisitor as they moved toward the Leviathan’s bridge. It should be obvious by now that she wouldn’t be answering this one upfront, though.

It was an expected question, but also one Anna was hoping she could simply avoid. And since finding Minako and Col made them cover most of the distance to their destination without talking much, it almost worked.

She also wished to have time to sightsee around the city of metal, but that was for another time too.

“No idea what you mean with it… Maybe yer hallucinatin’, ay?”

"Did she salute someone?" The recently found Col jumped into the matter as she could somehow understand the question. "If so, it's all about her family, get it? The Hero is pretty much a one-man army, so the family that has them is made of military officers… Most of them are fucking pricks though.”

It seemed that the memo of not talking about her backstory didn’t seem to have reached the only old friend Anna had.

Her way of spouting personal info for no reason was kind of a pain, but it didn’t amount to more than a glare. Any other payback would wait until a more suitable moment… The next time the talk was about romance would do.

“So, my dear Anna is a prim and proper high officer too? We have so much in common.” A certain hyped fox added, which also gained her a glare in answer, one with even more annoyance behind it. Her remarks weren’t even worth commenting still. To begin with, a literal princess and a daughter of the military were very different things.

They had reached the body check leading to the massive control tower of the floating base though, so this matter could die for now.

That was, after the long process of unequipping all her weapons and having them checked was over.

“So that’s it? You went to military school or something and that’s the reason?” Karim asked in disbelief as she seemed to be unable to understand why her partner wouldn’t talk about it. “What’s the point of hiding something that minor? Aren’t all inquisitors pretty much soldiers anyway?”

“Puny muscle-brained soldiers are called templars and not inquisitors. We’re the cool spec-ops, y’see? Or the military police depending on the day…” Anna said as she left the fifth bag of bullets and her two reserve derringers on the inspection table. “It’s kinda messy.”

“I… I don’t get it. What’s the difference?”

“One of us’ crazy and likes frontal assaults while the other's crazy but tries to think a li’l before doin’ a frontal assault.”

“It’s funny when you say like that, but it sums our job well...” Col smiled in amusement at the abnormal summary of the two main military factions of the Federation. “And it somewhat scares me now that I think about it.”

“It’s more ‘bout the political side than ‘bout bein’ different forces, by the way. The overall chief’s still our holy elected pope and his stupid big hat, so the division’s kinda hard to see.” The walking arsenal concluded as she waited for the guards to finish checking the last of her weapons. “Think as if yer temple people, army, and navy all were the same organization.”

“Sounds like a mess. An utter and absolute mess.” The blondie said with a hard-to-describe expression, likely caused by a mix of confusion and disgust. “How do you people manage to survive against real demons like this?”

“Ben always said that the trick was sending the battle junkies to whatever place you want to protect or capture fast while the murder maniacs to where you need to lower casualties.” Col jumped in with a prideful expression on her face. “Since I worked with the hero, we were the cool people that did the crazy hard missions, by the way.”

“By hero you mean Anna’s brother, am I right? The one with the magical sword and Col’s crush.” It was Minako’s turn to ask as she was getting bored of waiting. Anna was almost envious of people like her and Karim that didn’t need any proper weapons to fight…

“Yeah, that’s the one… But let’s go to out meetin’ already before we lose more time ‘ere.”

The forced break didn’t seem very natural and it wasn’t as if they were late too, but Annabeth’s tone made speaking very hard. It was a weird situation, but that was how things went whenever her brother entered the talk, so the other three girls weren't surprised. Even the kitsune that had very few interactions, if any, with this matter seemed to understand what was happening.

It likely had something to do with her being an oracle, but it was hard to be sure.

Either way, some rows of stairs and a few extra long corridors later, the four girls finally arrived at where they should be able to find the admiral.

From the outside, the place didn’t seem to be more than a common ship bridge. A metallic door on a plain corridor, but this idea changed when the inquisitor barged in without bothering with formalities.

Inside the room, more than half a hundred tables were ser in a cascading fashion that went further down the closer you got to the other end of the room. Radios, telegraphs, papers of all kinds, and even some of the newly invented computers covered everywhere else. And manning them was a host of officers working at full speed.

It was such a bustling place that someone could mistake it for the lobby of the stock exchange.

And heading this whole operation was the one dragonoid they were looking for. He was one of the few people sat, by the way, but even his sitting image seemed to be very busy with the number of subordinates stopping by him to receive orders.

Even the fairy he had called as his personal aide seemed to be running around doing errands. The speed at which she did them was all but normal though. It was even hard to see her movements, and Anna was usually very good at this kind of thing.

As a side note, and from what little Anna could manage to get from this mess, all that was happening here was related to the attack at the Tortuga. She was unsure of why that would mean so many orders and documents, but she could hear snippets of talk about reports, prisoner handling, and repairs, so it should be it.

Trying to understand all without asking wasn't necessary though. It would be much faster if they asked the chief of the room instead of waiting around.

“Admiral Lizard!” Anna shouted as she moved forward, gathering gazes of surprise that soon became either glares or full-blown confusion. “We came to’ve a talk with ya.”

“You ladies arrived very fast. I am yet to see the report about you docking even…” Moem answered over the dying noise of the room. “I would ask for a moment to finish here before our meeting, but I do not think it would work… It is hard to guess if this place will ever quiet down either way.”

“If it’s not a good time, then we can…” Karim started to answer in what was sure to be a good way to lose a day but was cut mid-sentence.

“We can call it a ‘coffee stop’ and talk as you rest, ay? Workin’ too much ain’t no good fer yer health anyway.”

“A ‘coffee stop’, you say…” The admiral spoke in a contemplative tone as his eyes went through each member of the group before getting up. “We shall take a fifteen minutes break now, Alya.

Everyone else, keep going… We are already low in personal as is, and time is short.”