Chapter 28:


Code: Zero Defect

New Olympos, a city of great technological advancement under the absolute rule of the Queen. For every pure human who walks these godforsaken streets, there are three more who have augmented their bodies. Some chose their own path. Most were forced upon it.

After the Reclamation that happened ten years ago, the Queen passed a law, 'Project: Augmentation,' which required all denizens of the city to augment. The Reclamation proved that augmentation was the only way for us to defend our city. 'Perfection,' they called it.

Even though we have the military, normal citizens still need to augment their bodies. Where's the logic in that? That's just it. There is no logic.

To make matters worse, those who refused to undergo augmentation were marked as defects. I get it. Society needs laws, and laws need to be upheld.

However, in my personal opinion, Project: Augmentation took it way too far.

Should there not be a choice? Should people bend their knees willingly to something so inhumane?

Even as I ask those questions, it won't change anything regardless of the answers. If words won't work, then I'll let my actions do the talking.

"Hey, Solas!" someone greeted me from behind.

I turned around to see Minerva joyfully skipping up to me.

"How'd the mission go?" she asked.

"Bad," I sighed.

"Eh? You recovered the data chip, didn't you?"

"At the cost of my mentality."

"Pft... What did Loki do this time?"


For the past two days, Loki and I have been on a covert mission to a facility occupied by the coatsmen. 'Covert,' is the key word, but the second day was anything but.

Loki caused a storm in the facility, tearing it apart until it was nothing but rubble. Thankfully, I made it to the main control room and extracted the necessary data before she could reach it.

"Before she went haywire, the last thing she told me was, 'I'm bored.' Like... what the hell?" I shrugged.

"Mmm, definitely sounds like her," she hummed.

"Just thinking about it is pissing me off. All we needed to do was go in, get the info, and get out. Instead, she ditched me and set off the alarms. Had we stayed there for another minute, the Queen's Guards would've shown up."

"I think Loki can handle them... ish."

"That's not the point. It could've been so much easier and less stressful than it had to be."

She giggled softly. "Sorry I couldn't help you out on that one. Cap'n needed me for another mission."

"What was it?"

"What was what?"

"... The mission?"

"Ah, the mission! Right, right. A new artillery weapon was developed in a military base towards the Northern Ward. She went over to sabotage it and steal the reactor core used to power it."

That doesn't sound too difficult, but I may just be overconfident. Definitely sounds better than going on any mission alone with Loki. She's too... unhinged, but so is Minerva, in a way.

A prior assignment that Holiday gave me had me and Minerva raiding a prison. There, we were to infiltrate and free an informant who was vital to our most recent operation, which was the espionage and sabotage of known military stations.

I'm a stealth-only kind of person. I'll only reveal myself if that's the only way for me to complete my mission. The Calypsos? It's like they don't even know what that word means.

Minerva stepped over the most obvious motion sensor even though I told her it was there seconds before. Alarms began blaring, soldiers began swarming, and prisoners began shouting and rioting.

In the end, we managed to escape, but the informant was left behind. Holiday had to plan another operation to secure the package. Thankfully, Minerva took the flack for that one. As she should've, cuz it was definitely her fault.

"Not gonna lie, you're handling yourself a lot better than I thought," Minerva chuckled.

"What's that supposed to mean?" I mumbled.

"A part of me thought you would've given up by now. It's been, what... four months? Running it up with Calypso ain't no joke, pal."

"Oh, trust me. I learned that the hard way."

"I don't doubt it. Anyway, follow me, I need your help."

"With what?"

"Hehe, you'll see."

As we walked through the camp together, my mind trailed off. It's already been four months since the Calypso squad accepted me.

During that time, I've gone on a number of operations with them. Sabotage, raids, espionage, and ambushes, we hit vital points that were detrimental to the High Order's stability.

There are a few others who operate directly under Calypso, but I've only met a handful of others. As far as I know, only I have the 'privilege' of going on operations with them.

To be honest, I would've been fine with going solo, but Holiday kept insisting, spouting some major BS that I'm not good enough on my own. Granted, these missions are a lot tougher than what I'm used to, but come on... I'm not that bad.

Like every other day, La Senia's Memorial was packed with refugees who were at the mercy of the High Order. Among some of the missions assigned to me were rescue operations. Every week, new faces arrive at the camp.

"Ah, Solly!" a familiar voice called from the side.

I turned around and was immediately met with an arm wrapping around my neck. Strands of magenta curved along the corner of my eye, and the smell of booze whisked past my nose.

"Want some?" Loki grinned. "A celebration for a job well done!"

"My ass," I grumbled.

"Aw, come on! It wasn't even that bad. All I did was trip a couple of alarms."

"A couple? You tripped all of them! The Queen's Guards were en route!"

"Nothing I can't handle. Ain't that right, Minny?"

"That's totally right!" Minerva egged her on. "Now, what were we talking about?"

Loki and I stared at her with blank faces as she contemplated and muttered to herself. I gestured for Loki to inch closer, and when she did, I held my hand over her ear.

"Is she always this forgetful?" I whispered.

"Always," she whispered back.

"Hey! What are you guys gossiping about?!" Minerva shouted. "I wanna be a part of it!"

"Sorry, Minny. Cool kids, only."


Minerva suddenly yanked me away.

"Come on!" she grumbled.

"Hey, where are you guys off to?" Loki asked. "I want in!"

"Sorry, Loki. Dumb kids, only."

"Eh?! Wait... I'm dumb, too. Hey, that means I can tag along, right?"

"Huh... I guess it does."

And suddenly, they were back to being best friends. What the hell did I just witness? Knowing that they're the legendary Calypso squad is actually hurting my head.

The three of us made our way across the mall to a strange-looking storefront.

"... A makeshift workshop?" I asked in awe.

"Yup! Ya like it?" Minerva grinned proudly.

Racks of highly complicated-looking weapons were lined up near the back, and several tables with a bunch of machines and blueprints were spread around.

"Whoa..." I mumbled. "You could make all sorts of useful things here."

"Hehe, I know right?" Minerva snickered. "I tend to tinker whenever I'm bored, so I have a bunch of random stuff here and there."

"Could I make something, too?"

"Absolutely not! If you ever touch my things without my permission, I'll kill you."

"... Noted."

What a shame. I've crafted a variety of weapons in the past with very limited accessibility to tools—things from anti-optical smoke bombs to neural disruptors. I like to think that I invented anti-augmentation warfare, but La Senia beat me by a whole seventy years.

With tools like these, I could probably make something ten times more effective than my average creations. Maybe I'll snoop around when I get the chance.

"Alright!" Minerva popped up and cheered. "Solas, comere."

She began tinkering around with an enormous weapon that, as cool as it looked, didn't seem practical at all. Her hand reached out to me.

"Hammer," she said.

I looked around at the nearby tables for a hammer. When I found it, I gave it to her. After a couple of swings, she reached back with an empty hand.

"Hammer," she said again.

"I... already gave you the hammer," I mumbled.

"Huh? Who said anything about a hammer? I said screwdriver."

"Ha?! No, you didn't!"

"Just give me the goddamn ham- I mean, screwdriver."

Reluctantly, I handed her a screwdriver that I found sitting in a small toolbox.

"Pst, Solly," a faint whisper came from my right.

I turned over to see Loki ducking behind a large container. I quickly peeked over at Minerva, and when I determined that she was currently busy, I snooped over to Loki.

"There's no way this is real," I muttered under my breath.

"That's Minny for you," she whispered back. "You can give her the most clear instructions, and she'll ask what it was again a couple of seconds later."

"Why is she so forgetful?"

Suddenly, the mood shifted. The playful smile on Loki's face turned into a subtle frown. Did I ask a question I shouldn't have?

"Well..." Loki said.

"What are you two doing here...?" a menacing voice growled.

A jolt ran up my spine. I slowly twisted my head to Loki, only to find out that she had the exact same reaction as me. We both turned our heads up to see Minerva looking down on us with murderous intent.

"M-Minny," Loki stuttered like the guiltiest person in the world. "No need-"

"No need to what?" Minerva interrupted with a smirk. "I forgot what happened. You don't mind telling me again, right?"

"Uh... Haha... Well, ya see..."

"Strider," another voice came from in front of us.

At the entrance to the workshop, Zephyr was standing with a look of confusion. I don't know what she's thinking about this situation, but thank the gods she decided to show up now.

"Y-yeah?" I gulped.

"Come with me," she said. "The captain wants to see you."

"Right away!"

"Hey! I'm coming, too!" Loki declared as she latched onto Zephyr's arm.

Zephyr stared at her, then peeked over at Minerva, who was acting like her usual self. I could see the gears shifting in her head as she was trying to decipher this enigma.

"Did something happen?" she asked.

"Nope, nothing at all," Minerva grinned. "Isn't that right, Loki?"

An ominous mass of black mist exploded from behind her, but I knew very well it was just my imagination. If I didn't know any better, I'd say Loki saw the same thing.

"Absolutely," Loki said. "Yup, nothing. Peachy. Squeaky-clean."

"... If you say so," Zephyr sighed. "Let's go."