Chapter 44:

Solas La Senia Pt. 1

Code: Zero Defect

Pain. That's all I feel. I'm not injured or anything. No wounds, no blood, not even a scratch. So why am I crying? Why isn't my body doing what I'm telling it to do?

I need to run. I need to get out of here. It's suffocating. What's suffocating? The fact that Mother is lying dead right in front of me? Or perhaps, it's because I'm standing in the middle of my enemies with no chance of escape. I'm not so sure anymore.

My fingers were tight on the handle of my dagger, yet I felt nothing. I took a step back even though I didn't mean to. The tears that ran down my face were cold, but I couldn't feel that either.

My eyes stayed on Mother and they wouldn't leave. This is all my fault. I'm the reason why she died. There's no other way to look at it.

This burning sensation in my heart... It won't stop, as if it is screaming and wailing, crying out in agony. Every beat felt like it was trying to force its way out of my chest.

It hurts. It hurts so much.

"It would seem we have found our target," Ramses said. "Guards... apprehend him, and make sure he stays alive."

Slowly but steadily, the Queen's Guards began to surround me. My eyes tilted up at a few of them. They all had triangles in their eyes. Lucky me.

Maybe it's because I just killed the executioner, but they dared not approach me any faster than they were. Are they scared? That's kinda funny.

"Strider!" a voice called out to me.

I looked up at the Highlands to see General Sigastiris glaring at me with a massive grin. For some reason, that look on her face didn't scare me as much as it did back then. No... that's an exaggeration. Standing here today, I do not fear her. The only thing I felt... was rage.

"Remember me, darling?" she asked.

I said nothing.

"Of course you do," she continued to blabber. "Who could forget a beautiful face like mine? I gotta say, though, you look a whole lot different from when we first met. You were practically pissing your pants. Isn't that right?"

Again, I met her with silence.

"Ah~ That look in your eyes... How wonderful," she smiled devilishly. "Tell you what, darling, I'll make you a deal. All these guards are here to capture you. The catch, though, is that we want you alive. You get where I'm going with this, right?"

"Van Lachlein..." Ramses grumbled.

"Shut up, dork. Interrupt me again, and I'll kill you."

Sigastiris turned back to me with a smile, however, it was neither malicious nor evil. It was one of unbridled curiosity. She genuinely wants to know whether or not I will take her up on it and how far I can go.

"So, how about it, darling?" she asked. "If you can kill, let's say... five of them, I'll think about letting you go."

I reached my hand into my pocket and grabbed a hold of four smoke bombs, all held in between each of my fingers. With that, I raised my arm into the air, but not without glaring at Sigastiris.

I'm not just killing five of them. I'm killing them all, including her.

"Go to hell," I said.

My fingers separated, allowing the smoke bombs to fall. As soon as they touched the ground, a cloud rapidly exploded outwards, covering me in its thick veil.

"Shit... Our optical lenses ain't working on the smoke bomb!" one of the guards cried. "Be careful!"

As Sigastiris said, they're not gonna shoot into the smoke and risk killing me. They want me alive, and I'll take advantage of that.

I may get captured here. In fact, I'm expecting it. But I won't go down so easily. No... I'll make sure to kill as many of them as I can.

I threw another smoke bomb out, creating a shrouded path that allowed me to close in on an unsuspecting guard.


Before he could finish the activation sequence, I ran at him and plunged my dagger deep into his neck.

Another one tried to escape from the smoke, but I grabbed him and pulled him to the ground. With eyes full of fear, he stared at me while I carved a hole in his chest for him to bleed out.

Not enough. I need to keep going. They deserve much worse.

Within the cover of the smoke, I killed every guard that entered the veil. Every time the trail ended, I threw another smoke bomb to create a new one.

"He's using the smoke as a path!" a guard shouted. "Don't let your guard down!"

It seems like they'll be ready next time. Perfect. I reached into my pocket for another, but it wasn't a smoke bomb this time. I pressed the button on the grenade and tossed it out. Since they were expecting it to be nothing but smoke, they weren't ready for the deadly explosion that blew them apart.

With that, I raced out of the veil and charged at a distracted guard, slashing at his chest before slicing an arm off. Another one came rushing at me, and he, too, met his end after I parried his fist and pulled him over my body. While he was defenseless on the ground, I plunged my dagger through his heart.

How many did I take out? I already lost count. My eyes felt heavy, and when I lifted them, I saw that I was still completely surrounded. I've been close to death so many times in the past, but never this close.

Nonetheless, I rushed in once more, aiming for a girl who stood at the forefront.

"Code: Security Grid!" she shouted.

When I swung my dagger, it was deflected by a seemingly invisible barrier. Right then, a guard ran up and landed a stab on my hip. He lifted his arm for another strike to which I blocked his arm, took his knife away, and shoved it into his chest before throwing him back.

I stumbled back while clutching the open wound on my hip.

Shit... I'm starting to feel tired. My breaths feel shallow, and my vision is getting blurrier by the second. However, I can't stop. Not yet.

Suddenly, a massive figure landed in front of me. He looked at me with eyes that I hadn't seen since I was a child, but I couldn't care less, especially when it was coming from him.

"Solas..." he muttered.

"Theo De Leux," I chuckled. "How dare... you show your face... in front of me."

His face made it look like he wanted to say more, but nothing came out. He looks... pained.

"I... I'm sorry, Solas," he grunted mournfully. "I don't..."

"Tell me something," I said weakly. "Do you really... think you have a right... to pity me? Do you think... I need... your pity?"

He said nothing, only keeping that saddening expression on his face. Eventually, the tears began to slide down his chin. It makes me angry.

Attached to his hands were a pair of massive gauntlets, and even with husks like those, I could see his fingers twitching as he clenched them.

"What's wrong?" I scoffed. "You didn't seem to care when you killed Nelia and Mother. Why now? Why... are you hesitating?"

Father... No... General Archontas bit his lips as his brows furrowed even deeper. He took a step forward and pulled his fists up. In his eyes... I could see his sadness and regret. However, I am far past the point of forgiving.

"That's right," I said. "This is a battle between you and me. Either I kill you... or you kill me. Because that's all you've ever done to your own family anyway."