I don’t have a lot of friends.
I only have one person in my life that I can call family.
Due to this, the friends I have are akin to family.
I grew up with few of them, and have gotten to know the rest of them over time.
I never thought much of it before, as I was just grateful to be loved by them.
I was grateful to be accepted by them.
Never in my years…
Did I expect to be betrayed by them…
As the soldiers spread out in search of Aurelia, Kato remains seated in the halls of the temple, accompanied by the other Flare Aids. Kami is busy helping the other soldiers close their wounds, while Anna-Mae and another Flare Aid help to apply pressure in Kato’s wound.
Beatrice: “Are you sure you’ll be fine, Mr. Izana?”
Kato: “Don’t worry about me. I’ve dealt with worse.”
Anna-Mae leans in beside Kato and twirls her hair.
“Those soldiers weren’t in your division, were they?”
Kato: “What makes you say that?”
Anna-Mae: “Their badges were orange, while yours is blue.”
Kato: “I’m impressed you can see that well in the dead of night,”
Anna-Mae leans in closer and smiles flirtatiously: “Are you complimenting my eyes?”
Alita and Beatrice simultaneously: “Anna-Mae!!”
Kato looks at the clock outside the temple, spread across one of the major buildings closeby.
It was half past midnight.
Kato: “Forgive me, but where are the faeries? Should they not have heard the commotion by now?”
Beatrice: “After every Prima Osu, the faeries are tasked with delivering a new patronage to Sol personally during the stroke of midnight. It is to commemorate a successful new period of the calendar, and the new season of the solar axis.”
Kato: “Right, every solar eclipse symbolizes a new season to come.”
“This must be the real reason they requested for the Militia’s help. Today of all days.”
Suddenly, Kato realizes that the reason the invaders came was due to having concrete knowledge about the faeries and the timing of their whereabouts.
Kato: “The men from earlier were a ruse. They did not challenge the temple’s fortitude just for shallow reasons…they had a bigger plan…”
Kato quickly lifts himself from the ground, causing many of the ladies surrounding him to shriek in surprise.
Beatrice: “Mr. Izana, what are you…!”
Kato tunes out the questions and words coming from the Flare Aids, and drags himself as much as he can to the front area of the temple. As he looks out towards the front area, he remembers the men standing outside from earlier in the afternoon. The ones who refused to rush in, but remained standing around regardless.
“What were they really doing?...”
Kato remembers that the men outside were all spread out. None of them spoke to each other. All were peering in…as if they were trained…to be a distraction…
Kato’s eyes open in shock. He then reaches into his bullet-vest pocket and begins to quickly search through all the ID cards of the men that he had confiscated. Kato then realizes he had made one very small mistake.
It wasn’t that few of them were soldiers…they were all soldiers. Some were previous soldiers, some were active, and some were even in training. Volunteers often arrive in Floritian with different ID cards before receiving standard Militia ID once they join. These previous ID cards were mixed in with the bunch in order to throw the soldiers guarding the temple off the real threat of the situation…wait…
“...that confirms it…Huncho is a soldier in the Militia…”
Kato snaps out of his focus, and looks to his left to see Beatrice and all the other Flare Aids. All of them were clearly worried, but not for him. They were worried for themselves.
Kato: “Sorry…but I’m afraid I must leave you all for the time being,”
Beatrice: “What?! Why?”
Kato: “...I think I know where to find Aurelia,”
Beatrice: “Then please, have your soldier friends find her!”
Kato: “Unfortunately, the only radio we were able to attain belongs to Dante Jamaerah, as he is part of the Delta Squad that handles all the Militia equipment. He was unfortunately only able to retrieve two, and gave them to myself and Jason Beratio. This mission isn’t something the Foxtrot members are supposed to be partaking in, so they weren’t able to retrieve their usual equipment. Only that which they keep on them at all times.”
Kato: “So, I cannot currently contact any of them aside from Jason…who is the furthest away from where I believe she is,”
Beatrice: “But it is your mission to protect us in this temple! If Aurelia has gone somewhere on her own, I find it unfair that the rest of us should be unprotected!”
Many of the Flare Aids begin to protest, discouraging Kato from leaving their side. Some even begin to get handsy, trying to lure him to stay by any means necessary.
“Please, sir, don’t leave us!”
“We’ll do anything!”
Kato grimaces as one of them accidentally presses against his thigh injury. Beatrice claps her hands together loudly, forcing the Flare Aids to stop their advances. Alita and Anna-Mae watch on in dismay, as they were both worried for Aurelia, but also worried for the safety of those left in the temple.
Beatrice: “Please reconsider, Mr. Izana. I beg of you. Would a wise shepherd really leave his flock of sheep in danger just to retrieve one?”
Kato stares blankly at the large group of women standing before him. The pain from his leg continues to scream out. His mind races.
“Why do these moments always feel so…familiar?...”
Before the commencement of the invasion, Aurelia decided to step out from her living quarters in order to get some fresh air. She finds herself alone on the roof of the Temple, looking towards the deep blue ocean surrounding the massive island of Floritian. As Aurelia looks beyond the horizon, towards the lands she was raised in, she can’t help but reminisce about her happy days on the farm with her family.
Aurelia: “I wonder if Lexi remembered to give the chickens their feed…wait…that was usually my mistake. Hah. I’m sure mother would have been giving me a tough time about it at dinner time…”
Aurelia then began to reminisce about her interesting first day in Floritian. The introduction. The parade. The Prima Osu….
Aurelia: “He really is a pain…but he also has a really nice smile…”
Aurelia shakes her head frantically. Her cheeks turn bright red.
Aurelia: “What the hell am I saying! His smile is ugly. His face is ugly. His voice is ugly…”
“Well that’s not very nice.”
Aurelia turns sharply, and sees two men standing behind her. These men were dressed in Militia attire…but possessed no badges to symbolize which division they were from.
“And we only just met. I was just about to compliment you in that nightdress, too.”
Aurelia’s vision adjusts properly to the dark, as she looks at the two soldier’s faces. After a brief moment…her eyes open wide in realization. She points towards one of the soldiers.
Aurelia: “...Ah…I can’t remember where…but I’ve definitely seen you before!”