Chapter 46:

Declaration of War

Code: Zero Defect

New Olympos, a lonely city whose people know not of what lies beyond the walls that protect them. The moon rested high in the sky, casting its beautiful rays just barely enough so that it compliments the plethora of florescent colors shining in every corner of the city.

Along the roads, the sound of traffic went on tirelessly through the night. In the undercity, the nightlife knew no bounds, with people out on the streets drinking, laughing, and cruising along in absolute joy.

"May La Senia watch over us!" they cried in celebration.

The moment before her death awakened the minds of many. It was only after she was shot dead that her words began to make sense. Her will was her own. She did not act upon it. Instead, she spoke her mind and gave her reasoning. For that, she was killed.

"May La Senia guide us to freedom!" they cheered again.

In every corner of the undercity, the people of the undercity sprung into action. They marched through the streets, carrying signs and screaming at the top of their lungs to demand change.

Of course, they were met by retaliation from the coatsmen, but it made no difference. For everyone who fell to the brutality of the law, tens more joined the fray.

"May La Senia live on in our hearts forever!" they sang once more.

Erianna La Senia's death sprung a movement, unlike anything the city had ever seen. For better or for worse, a storm was brewing, and nothing could halt the destruction that would surely follow.

Within the campground of La Senia's Memorial, the Calypso squad rested alone in their office while a parade was happening right outside their doorsteps.

Yet, they could not join in the celebrations and protests. Instead, they sat still, pondering and wondering about the next course of action.

Loki was spinning around the tail end of her whip sword.

Astrid was playing a game of chess by herself.

Minerva was swinging her legs back and forth on the table.

Zephyr was leaning against a cabinet with her down.

All the while, Holiday sat at her desk with her eyes shut.

The four of them periodically turned their attention to each other, then to Holiday, yet none of them wanted to break the silence first.

Several hours ago, they received the notice of Erianna De Leux's execution being broadcasted live. Astrid opened up the broadcast right as she was shot in the head. As speechless as they were, the next scene was what caused them to panic.

Solas came running out of the crowd, holding his mother with tears as he wailed in agony. Holiday knew that feeling all too well. Then, the moment came when Solas beheaded the executioner and revealed himself as Strider.

They debated going to the Arch of the Immortals to pull him out, but it would've been too late. It takes hours to reach the Arch, and even if they made it, the chances of a successful rescue mission would've been close to zero with all the generals present.

And so, the only thing they could do was watch as Strider fought the Queen's Guards all on his own. His skills proved to serve him well, but as a human who wasn't augmented, he could only get so far.

In the end, he was taken away after a brief battle against his father.

"What the fuck are we doing right now...?" Loki growled.

"Loki-" Zephyr called out before she was quickly interrupted.

"No, and don't you dare bullshit me again, Zephyr. We could've done it. We could've left and... and... I-I don't know! Just something instead of leaving him on his own!"

"Pray tell, what could we have done?" Astrid growled. "The moment we turned on the broadcast, he was already revealed. Maybe if we had known a little bit sooner, but there was no possible way for us to make it all the way to the Arch that fast. There just wasn't."

"So what? Are you saying we couldn't have at least tried? That's Nemesis's fucking kid brother right there!"


Even Astrid couldn't think of a reply. It's true that they didn't bother to try and save him, but the reality of the situation was that they couldn't.

"So... what's gonna happen now?" Minerva asked sheepishly.

They all turned to look at Holiday, who was leaning her head back and taking deep breaths.

"No matter how hard I try, I can't stop thinking about it," she said. "I told him it was okay to come along. I knew what the possibilities were. I knew exactly... what could've happened... Yet, I..."

The guilt that overtook her mind was no less painful than the burden she had carried for the past nine years. On that day, Nemesis was resting her head on Holiday's lap, and that was where she gave her final breath. She watched her die, and now, if nothing is done, she'll have to watch another one go.

"To make it worse, Erianna died, too," Holiday scoffed. "I... practically sent her to her death. Nelia and Solas's mother..."

"No, you didn't, Captain," Zephyr assured.

"Yes, I did!"

Her voice boomed harshly, a tone they had not heard in many years. Tears ran down her face as she expressed her anger at no one else but herself. Long has it been since they've seen their captain show such emotions, but they could do nothing to comfort her.

"I killed her... them..." Holiday mumbled. "I couldn't even save Nelia. I don't deserve... to be your captain."

Loki bit her lips in anger as she rushed at Holiday. She grabbed her by the collar, pulled her up, and shoved her against a shelf.

"Loki!" Astrid shouted.

"You... What are you saying...?" Loki whispered dangerously before raising her voice. "Look at you moping around like a sad little puppy. You killed them?! Yeah! Maybe you did! But what are you gonna do about it?! Huh?!"

"Loki, that's enough!" Zephyr demanded.

As reluctant as Loki was to let go, she eventually did, allowing Holiday to slide to the ground. Minerva quickly ran over and latched onto Loki's hand. It was a shameful tactic, and Loki knew that, but when she saw how sad Minerva was, she had no choice but to back down.

"I'm sorry, Minny," she mumbled. "I didn't mean to scare you."

"It's okay," Minerva smiled. "Let's just... relax."

Loki took deep breaths and faced Holiday once more.

"Looking at you like this pisses me off, you know," she said. "What happened to the big and bad captain of Calypso? The one that even the generals fear? If they saw you like this, best believe they'll never see you as anything but a crybaby again."

"Why should I care about that...?" Holiday muttered.

"If not that, then what do you care about? Clearly, it ain't Solas, right? Cuz instead of getting your ass up, you're whining and bitching."

Zephyr took a step forward, ready to silence Loki at that very moment, yet she neglected to take another step. As much as it pained her to watch her captain in such a state, not even she could deny that sitting around wouldn't fix anything.

And so, she spoke. "Captain."

When she was met with complete silence, she continued. "It was not entirely your fault. You may not think so, but each of us played a role in what happened. We all agreed to bring Solas along. As such, we... we indirectly sent Captain Nemesis's mother to her death."

The others lowered their head in shame because they, too, shared her sentiments. The thought of it tore them apart, yet Holiday refused to believe that anyone else was at fault.

"Boss," Astrid said. "Please, don't keep blaming yourself as if you're the only one who feels like this. All of us. We... We..."

She suddenly turned away with a hand covering her mouth. With convulsive gasps and shallow breaths, she finished her sentence.

"We are to blame... for everything..."

Minerva twisted her head to see Astrid's tears sliding down her face. She, too, began to cry. It was a burden that was weighing upon each of their shoulders.

"Man... Now it's all moody in here," Loki grumbled, yet her voice was steadily cracking.

She knelt down, and, much to everyone's surprise, threw her arms around Holiday and held her tight. Minerva quickly rushed over and did the same, followed by Zephyr. Astrid sniffled and wiped her eyes before joining them.

Just like all the other times they fell victim to overwhelming sorrow, they held each other for hours in silence.

Holiday's head bent and twisted until she couldn't take it anymore. The logical solution would be to simply let Strider die. Facing the three generals all at the same time might as well be a suicide mission. However, her mind told her that even if she died, she had to save him. No matter what, she had to try.

And so, Holiday released herself from their grasp. She stood from the ground and wiped her tears away. Finally, a decision was made, so she faced her fellow Calypsos with a confident resolution.

"From this moment forth, I will be leaving Captain Nemesis behind," she declared adamantly. "What I do now, I do not for her sake, but for Solas, an ally, a friend... a brother. If you feel the same way, then join me. if not... then don't."

She stepped towards the entrance and opened the doors to leave. It took no longer than a few seconds for the other members of Calypso to follow behind her.

"Heh, finally. There's the Holiday we've been missing for the past nine years," Loki chuckled as she wiped her eyes. "And here I was starting to think we'd lost you forever, Cap."

"Just like the good old days, eh, Boss?" Astrid laughed. "The five of us, on our way to do some damage."

"Wherever you go, we'll follow you, Cap'n!" Minerva grinned. "Ain't that right, guys?"

"Right. If it's the captain's orders, there's no questioning it," Zephyr smiled. "On you, Captain."

As pleasantly surprised as Holiday was, it was to be expected, and a soft smile grew on her face.

"Calypso. Load up and prepare to move out," Holiday commanded. "Our mission: Infiltrate Tartarus and break Strider out... No matter the cost."

Code: Zero Defect, Part One - End