Against his better judgement, Dexter Wellington decided to celebrate the destruction of Remnant Rock with a trip to Manta. It was a high-end restaurant in Silivia. Dexter considered the food well worth the price, although he still had to be wary even when he could afford it: Alchemilia had many connections in the city's wealthy elite. The only man he could trust here was a waiter named Aaron Fontaine.
On his last visit, an intoxicated Dexter had asked an Alchemilia Corporation operative about the progress of Project Lepton, a classified initiative to upgrade the combat effectiveness of the company's androids. The operative planned to have Dexter taken in for questioning. Aaron had to step in and inform the operative that Project Lepton was supposedly common knowledge for Alchemilia's shareholders. Dexter did not look the part of a wealthy businessman, but the operative let him go regardless. The Fontaine family had been part of Alchemilia almost as long as the Wellingtons. Paramilitary troops had immense respect for both Aaron and his brother John, who remained in their ranks until the moment Remnant Rock was obliterated. The incident nonetheless served as a reminder of how close he had been to being discovered.
From a barstool, Dexter took in his surroundings. It was midday, far from Manta's busiest hour. The few patrons it did have were mostly unrecognizable, with the lone exception of a tall, muscular man, sitting closer than Dexter would have liked. Baptiste Rousseau, former director of Alchemilia Robotics. He had a new tattoo on his right shoulder of a curved knife enveloped by vines and surrounded by playing cards. Dexter still recognized his outfit: light blue shirt with floral patterns. A man and a woman sat across from him, neither of which appeared to be the type who usually made up Baptiste's entourage. The man had long, unkempt black hair and wore a brown shirt with a faded image of a snake. The woman had a similar shirt, although her red hair was short and neatly combed. She had a large rucksack by her side.
Dexter turned away from them. He wanted to run out of the restaurant, but that would draw too much attention.
Three teenagers entered Manta. There was a tall girl with dark brown hair down to her shoulders and bangs that reached her eyebrows, another girl with black hair and a prominent blue highlight and a boy, a bit shorter than the first girl, with dark skin and short brown hair. Jordan saw his uncle pouring a drink. When he was finished, Jordan waved to him. His uncle, Aaron, waved back and pointed to an empty booth. Lisa took the lead, walking over to the booth and taking a seat. She pushed her hair out of her face quickly, before patting the table, which told the others to hurry up. Savannah followed Lisa's lead and sat down next. She picked up a menu and began to read from it. Savannah was not hungry: she just wanted to avoid Lisa's gaze.
Lisa grabbed Savannah's menu and pushed it down onto the table. "You can wait. Tell me everything you know, and tell the truth this time."
"There's no need for this hostility. Calm down," Jordan requested as he sat down next to her.
Savannah narrowed her blue-green eyes at Lisa and sniffed. "I already told you the truth," she said. "It's not what you expected to hear, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. Besides, I don't even know who you are."
For a second, Lisa was shocked at the tone in Savannah's voice, but it was quickly replaced by anger.
"If you must know, I'm friends with Jordan and Atticus' ex-girlfriend. He broke up with me when he decided to leave Silivia and join that group with the Cloverdale boy.
"With all due respect, your story is complete bullshit. I mean, you found Atticus and some girl in a barn, both with no memories? And with a robot hiding behind hay? Please," Lisa snickered. "I could probably come up with a better story on a whim. How do we know you're just not trying to get attention due to Atticus being on the news? Or even worse, a terrorist."
"You don't—" Before Savannah could finish, the scene was interrupted by a loud ringing.
Reaching into his coat pocket, Jordan pulled out a small gray cell phone and carefully flipped it open, placing it to his ear. "Hello, what is this about?"
"Hi! This is Park Chae Lynn, I'm the secretary for Governor Rosington," a female voice replied. "Can you come to the capitol building for a meeting soon? The governor wishes to speak with you, I believe it's about the news of his son."
"His son? I'll be over in a few moments," he affirmed. Jordan said goodbye and hung up. "I'll have to be leaving at any moment. The governor wants to meet me about Atticus."
Following Jordan's departure, Savannah continued. "You don't have to believe me. It's not like I'd buy it if I was in your position. We didn't even come here to discuss this: Jordan and I wanted you to help us find the supposed 'terrorists' behind Remnant Rock." She paused. "That offer isn't off the table, by the way."
"Can I take y'all's orders?" Aaron interrupted before Lisa could respond.
Savannah was a bit startled, having not noticed his arrival. "Just water." She still was not hungry.
Aaron wrote down her order and turned to Lisa.
"I'll take some chicaro ribs," Lisa said, not looking towards the man and keeping her gaze on Savannah. Once Aaron walked away, she continued. "It should be clear that I don't trust you, but of course, I'm going to help out where I can. I trust Jordan and I still want to find Atticus, regardless of what he's done."
"Glad to hear it," Savannah said. "We'll pick up Jordan, pack some supplies and then get going."
The two sat quietly for a moment before a tall man walked over to the table and tapped his hands on it. "Excuse me," he said. "You're looking for the people behind the attack, right?"
Savannah froze. "Uh, no, we aren't. We were — well, that's not really your business. Why were you eavesdropping?"
"Sorry," the man laughed. "The name's Baptiste. I was a part of the company, I was a bit curious. I only hope you intend to bring them to justice."
Savannah chose her words carefully. "We'll do our best."
How long has he been listening? Did he hear what I said about the company?
"That's nice," he responded dryly. Baptiste turned to Lisa, who was listening intently to the conversation. "By the way, you should tell your friend it's disrespectful to take a dead person's identity."
"What?" Lisa asked, her gaze darting back and forth between Baptiste and Savannah.
"I'm not impersonating anyone," Savannah said. "Your hitman didn't kill me."
"As if I needed to buy John Fontaine," Baptiste quickly responded. "You're not giving him enough credit if you think he was a sloppy amateur."
"Maybe you're giving him too much credit?" Savannah responded.
"You and I both know the truth," Baptiste snapped back.
A man got up from a barstool and approached Baptiste. He was visibly nervous, but he tried his best to look unfazed by the situation. "Did anyone ever tell you to mind your own business, Baptiste?"
Baptiste turned around, adjusting his rose-patterned tie. "I'm afraid it is my business, Wellington. As director—"
"—of a department that no longer exists," Dexter interjected.
Baptiste was taken aback by Dexter's insolence. He bitterly recalled what Dexter had done in Gladea, but he should have known this was only tempting fate. "Remnant Rock wasn't Alchemilia Corporation."
Dexter smugly smirked. "It was a good start."
Baptiste grimaced. "Honestly, I'm a bit surprised," he began. "I was hoping that you still had a shred of decency, Dexter."
"Oh, I'm the indecent one?" Dexter dropped the smirk. "You're hassling some girl because she survived an attempt on her life."
"Decency is..." Baptiste almost raised his voice, but he quickly cut himself off. Before he spoke again, Baptiste looked to a woman at an adjacent table. She nodded and Baptiste turned back. "If you'd like, both you and your friend can come with me."
"We're not going anywhere," Dexter growled.
"I see," Baptiste swiftly removed a silver pistol from his pocket and aimed it at Dexter. "Does this change your mind?"
Savannah groaned and tightly closed her eyes as she experienced an abrupt headache. When she reopened them, Baptiste's expression had changed to confusion. His gun had been wrenched from him. Savannah noticed a new weight in her hand: Baptiste's pistol.
"What the hell are you doing?" Baptiste shouted. "I'd tell you to put that down, but we all know you're not going to use it."
"I'll use it," Dexter offered.
The group heard two clicks. The two Baptiste had been sitting with had retrieved their own weapons. The woman aimed at shotgun directly at Dexter's head, while the man pointed his revolver at Savannah's. Chaos followed as the customers and staff fled the building. Aaron came out from the kitchen, processed the scene, made sure the evacuation was complete, then went over to the table.
"Rousseau, would you mind explaining what this—" he motioned to the armed duo. "— is all about?"
"We're dealing with something. Just keep walking, Fontaine."
"I ain't gonna keep walking if you keep threatening our customers. Get your goons out of Manta."
Baptiste cracked his knuckles. "Goons? We're the ones dealing with the criminals here."
"Oh, really?" Aaron pointed to the man with a revolver. "'cause I seem to recall this fella bein' a suspect in the Salinger home arson. Ain't that right, Magnus?"
Magnus' eyes grew wide. He was not expecting to be recognized.
"Got quite the bounty on his head. Her's too," Aaron looked to the shotgunner. She barely noticed.
A shot rang out. Aaron rushed Magnus, pushing him out of his seat. He picked up the discarded revolver and shot its former owner in the arm. Dexter went down to the ground, Savannah and Lisa following. Savannah gave Dexter the pistol.
The shotgunner had already left the booth and went across the room. She peaked out from behind a table, setting her sights on Aaron. She focused her aim, put her hand on the trigger and—
A bullet went through her shoulder.
With the situation turned against them, Baptiste sat hidden behind a different booth near the entrance. He knew he could be discovered in a moment's notice, with Dexter and Aaron searching the rest of the area. He set his sights on an escape from the front. He got up and prepared for a quick exit when he heard the sounds of firearms clicking once again.
Baptiste sighed and turned around, slowly raising his hands. Dexter and Aaron were some feet away, pointing their guns directly at him. Both of them wore confident expressions.
Baptiste scowled. "Try me."
In an instant, the man turned and ran out of the store. The shotgunner followed.
Dexter was about to give chase, but Aaron held him back.
"It's not worth it," he explained. "We got a lot of explaining to do already. An Alchemilia official ends up dead and we'll never hear the end of this."
Dexter sighed. "Yeah, you're right."
The police were called and informed of an unprovoked attack on Manta by two wanted criminals. After Magnus was taken to the Masquerade Hospital, Aaron, Dexter, Lisa and Savannah sat at a table.
"First off, I have several questions. Is there any reason you left Fontaine out of your story?" Lisa asked, examining her new sitting area.
"I didn't think it was a good idea to mention an Alchemilia assassin tried to kill me," Savannah responded. "I had to leave a few events out of my explanation."
"And you," Lisa began, looking at Dexter. "What was your issue with that guy? Why did all of that happen?"
"I used to work for him," Dexter explained. "Let's just say I didn't leave the company on good terms. I couldn't stand to see what he was doing today, so I had to step in. Now, I have a question of my own, if you don't mind — you were talking about tracking down the instigators of the Remnant Rock attack, correct?
Lisa glanced at Savannah, before taking the lead. "Yes, we are. We have personal reasons for doing such."
Savannah nodded and began to speak. "We believe that we might've known these people," she said. She licked her lips, wishing that she still had her glass of water. It would help her wrap her head around everything. She was still baffled about what happened with Baptiste's gun.
"You're not alone," Dexter said. "I knew one of the perpetrators, Chris Wellington. He's an ancient android, made before the great war. He was made by my ancestor, Andrew Wellington. I asked about your search because I'd like to see Chris again. Do you have anyone accompanying you with basic firearms training?"
Savannah glanced at Lisa. "No..." Savannah said, "but I doubt we will run into any big trouble. Though, we could always use someone who does."
"He's not the only person here with that," Dexter added. "Before I settled down, I served in Alchemilia's military."
"And I suppose you also have some connection to the attackers?" Lisa said.
"It's complicated. See, my brother John was assigned to Silivia not too long ago, he came to visit a few times. I called him a few months ago, and—" Aaron paused, tapping his fingers against the table idly. "—That wasn't my brother I was talking to. His tone of voice, his behavior, everything was off. Took a second before he recognized who was even calling him. I thought it was stress. I couldn't imagine what they had him doing.
"Then he stopped responding altogether. Complete radio silence. It's not a coincidence Remnant Rock happened soon after. No way that was coordinated by someone on the outside, soldiers were fighting their comrades through the facility. John could have snapped. He might've been forced to help them. I don't know, but I have a feeling the Port City Eight might."
As if I needed to buy John Fontaine. Baptiste's words echoed in Savannah's head. The man who had killed her was Aaron's brother. If Aaron was right, the man who had killed her had helped her friends deal a crushing blow to Alchemilia.
After being greeted by Lynn, Jordan was escorted through the building and finally arrived at a door, with the words "Governor Rosington" engraved on a black plaque plastered on it. He entered, seeing the office was a room with brown paneled walls and a blue carpet.
In the middle was a large black desk with a green table lamp and several papers stacked up, a dark-haired man with glasses sitting behind it and talking to someone on a phone. Jordan grabbed one of two black leather chairs and took a seat. "Greetings, Mr. Rosington."
The governor motioned for Jordan to wait and eventually ended his call, turning his attention to the boy. "I assume Lynn told you what this is about already, yes? I take it that you also saw the news about Atticus."
"Yes. Don't mind me, but could you tell me why you've called me here?" he asked curiously, "I don't fully understand what you could want from me."
"Well, first, I wanted to know your thoughts on it. What do you think? And be honest about your feelings."
"It's been hard, for sure," Jordan confessed, "he may be a terrorist, but I.. miss him."
Rosington nodded and folded his arms. "Anyways, I wanted you to be the first to know. Per Global Union laws, a group will soon be assigned to track Atticus and the other suspects down, so that they may be brought back here and face trial before the courts."
The man paused in his speech and glanced down at Jordan. "If convicted, they'll receive the death penalty. And they will most certainly be convicted, unless, of course — someone else finds them first."
"Are you suggesting someone else should find Atticus before the search team does?" Jordan inquired.
"Of course not," Rosington replied. "As a law-abiding citizen and the governor of this state, I would not intervene in this case. But if someone were to, say, leave on their own and search for him, a private investigator hired by myself could assist them on their own time."
"Oh, I understand. Purely out of curiosity, who would this private investigator be?"
|Season One:||Awakening • White Room • Bare Trees • One Night in Gladea • Divided we Fall • Hide & Seek • Exit Music • Reunion • In Somnis Veritas • Carpe Diem • Ticking Clock • Primo Victoria (Part I • Part II)|
|Season Two:||Until Dawn • Roaming King • Safe Haven • Silver Lights • Marked Map • The Less I Know the Better • Riding the Wave • Centuries of Damnation • House of the Rising Sun • The Master|