Go read Box: Detach instead!
I had arrived back to the northwest entrance to the Division warehouse within five minutes. Normally, I would not be able to do that without putting on the wares myself, but that was unnecessary when I had the fastest steed alive on this planet.
It was easy to surmise that the insurgents - whoever they were - would demand for me to enter the warehouse alone and without the wares. Likely, they would ask for a fair duel without outside interference, and whoever wins will continue to challenge the opposing side until there was a defined winner. Though it was annoying, I had to comply. They would have the defenceless technicians and medics killed if I did not agree to their demands. Perhaps I could have planned this out better and accounted for their safety as well.
Lyla grunted. "Are you going to get off me now?"
"No. Move to the north entrance."
I held onto Lyla's neck tightly from the back as I piggybacked off of her speed, knowing that falling off while she was darting around at the speed of a bullet would probably end with me breaking several bones at the very least. The world seemed like a blur to me, and I looked down at her glowing shirt to marvel at its potential again. I would try it out myself later and see what I could gain from it. If a tracker such as Lyla could move with such swiftness, how fast could I get?
She had surprised me when she appeared next to me with five sets of bloody apparel in her hand while I was running back to the warehouse. I had thought it would take her at least an hour or two to sort through the wreckage to strip the clothing off of the insurgents, but it had taken her less than ten minutes to recover most of the clothes and to catch up to me while I was still running. Since she had strength to spare, I had promoted her to the rank of stallion.
Of course, Lyla's face was beet red the entire duration of my ride, constantly glancing around the midnight street for anyone that might be snapping a few pictures, but I cared not for any of that. I was getting myself ready for the final confrontation, though there was likely not anything that I would have to worry about.
I hopped off Lyla once she circled around to the front of the warehouse, studying the charred outer wall with absolute displeasure. Should I have used weakened incendiary mines instead? I did not like how it looked like from the outside. The once bright yellow walls that some within the Division thought was too extravagant for a warehouse was completely seared off, leaving only intermittent chunks of darkened concrete here and there. All the time I had spent planning on the superficial exterior was now lost.
I blame the insurgents for forcing my hand. Even the cameras were destroyed, and those were the most expensive part of the exterior.
Lyla strode next to me, and together we stood before the giant metal gates that were the only thing still visibly intact after the fire. I waited for Lyla's eyes to stop glowing yellow before placing my hand on the gate.
"Eight Aerilosacs within. Three of them are using vast amounts of crystals at once while the other five are in your office. They should be the technicians and engineers that are being locked up."
"Where are the three insurgents located?" I asked.
"One on the overlooking second floor platform, another latching onto the wall below the third floor platform. I think he might be attached via grappling hook, though he's heavily swarmed with crystals as well, probably going to kill the hostages if he senses something off."
"And the third?"
"The third is hovering above the wares in the open area. He might be strong by the amount of crystals he's holding onto."
"Stronger than me?"
Lyla scoffed. "No, of course not."
"Then I will go in alone."
I began to push open the metal gate just as three more people burst out from the trees behind us, and I turned around to see the Raixien siblings plus Leki, leading the way for the two of them. I blinked at the sight of Rivin, who had a small horizontal cut on his cheek, but otherwise mostly unharmed. There was something off about the two Raixiens suddenly coming back to the warehouse like this, even though I had seen them both just a little over an hour ago. Was I forgetting something?
The three of them stalked up to me, and I smiled in relief at the backpack still slung over Rivin's shoulders.
"Are the wares secure?" I asked.
He patted the strap of his bag assuredly. "All twenty of them still there."
"Good. Was there much trouble with the insurgents?"
"They're all dead."
I raised an eyebrow. Why was it that it felt unnatural hearing those words come out of his mouth? Could one Raixien possibly accomplish that all by himself, nevermind a fifteen year-old?
It felt like I was forgetting something, though I could not place what it is was.
"After the last three insurgents are gone, I will call for the Lyosa to handle with the disposal. They will clear and destroy all evidence of the battles tonight before dawn," I informed the two Raixiens, who surely had a lot of questions to ask. Surprisingly, both of them simply nodded.
"So you're going to call your boss to clean up the mess?" Samantha laughed. "Wow."
"Not him personally, but once I explain the situation to him, he would understand. In fact, he would one-hundred percent help me."
"Why is that?"
"I will tell all of you later." I turned to push in the door when Leki shot a hand out to grab at my bandaged arm, shooting me a look of disapproval. "What is it, Leki?"
"I don't like this. Your arm is badly wounded, and so is your leg." He pointed down at my scrappy trousers, where I had first stabbed myself to demonstrate the medicinal cube and where my own attack had slashed me. "I can sense their strength even from out here. If all three of them decide to jump on you at the same time, you'll die."
"No worries, Leki. Would you two mind going to buy five hotdogs for me? Without mustard and onions, otherwise pick any you want." Leki started to fume and make funny faces when I nonchalantly brushed off his concerns, and I turned to face both of my Officers, addressing them with my Commanding Officer voice. "Neither of you are to enter the warehouse under any circumstances. Until I order you to, you will stay out here without interfering. Is that clear?"
Lyla wanted to argue, and Leki was still giving me the murder face. I towered over the two of them with my aura and grinned, which finally made them cave in. They nodded sullenly, and I pushed in the door just as I saw them leave for the Twelve-Minute's Diner. I clapped my hands to close it shut before they could change their minds and decide to disobey my orders, which made the entire gate heave and tremble under my force.
"You came alone. At the very least, you are intelligent." A voice I did not recognize caught my attention, and it took me a second while scanning the rather intact and clean interior to realize the Aerilosac was speaking at me from above. My lips pursed at the enormous presence he emitted, not entirely sure what I had expected when Leki told me that this Aerilosac held great strength.
In the middle of the open area, where the glass panes once lined the ceiling allowing polarized sunlight to 'motivate' my subordinates, was an unarmoured Aerilosac floating in the centre with three massive crystal columns under his feet, each column twisting and turning like a mutated tree branch. It would probably look impressive had it been anyone else standing in my place.
However, as massive and imposing his crystal creation was, I had seen better. We Commanding Officers know this for a fact. Larius was certainly something else.
For that reason, I did not move and stared dead at him in the face. I tilted my head when I did not recognize him at all. Was he new?
"Okay. Are the technicians and others unharmed?" I asked him, raising my voice a little so he could hear me clearly.
His tree branches cracked and broke off from their convergence point, that being the Aerilosac's waist. They warped around in a large spiral and stabbed down to where I was standing, the impact making the ground thunder and rise up in small chunks. I scowled and jumped up onto the steep branches, using the crystals themselves as a balance on the steep surface.
"Fool. Destroying this warehouse any further would not earn you any favours from Larius. And neither I." I walked up one of the massive branches at a steady pace, and the Aerilosac snapped.
He brought his hands together into clashing fists, and began swiping at the air vehemently. The crystals all split apart at once, forming a radiant hailstorm of gold, and I smiled uncontrollably. Everything looked so beautiful even as I fell from the air with every crystal shard reoriented to stab at me. There had to be at least two to three hundred actual shards that I would need to block from all directions, and the Aerilosac cackled.
"Is this all you can do, Commanding Officer?" The shards darted forward all at once, and I suddenly found myself in a very favourable situation.
I snapped my fingers, and the closest shards to me changed their course to start ricocheting off each other, bouncing so fast that the shards formed a semi-circular barrier around my body. The Aerilosac hovered away when my new defence of hundreds of orbiting approached him, so I pushed off of the rapidly rotating shards below me to hover as well. Might as well meet him eye to eye.
Amidst the deafening clinks and clangs of the crystals, I spotted the two other insurgents hiding up on the platforms, still staying their ground without moving in to help their comrade. It was not the best move, considering they would both die if this Aerilosac died here, but at least I knew now that they stilled respected the honorifics of a duel. For now, that was.
It should not take long until the one in front called for their aid. With the amount of crystals all three of them had access to, they could pose a fair fight against me.
The Aerilosac's back touched the second floor platform, and I stopped moving closer. I did not want to shred my own compound up any further like I did to that warehouse. The damage right now was something I could control, so I will keep it as it is.
I reached out a hand to grab a fistful of razor sharp crystals and ground them to dust before his eyes. I smirked. He certainly was not expecting to see me do that without any gauntlets or gloves.
It actually did hurt a bit, though. I think I might be bleeding all over my palm, but as long as he does not see that...
I dropped the orbiting shield of ricocheting crystals to the floor and let it rain for a second before I cast out the dust towards the Aerilosac. He pushed off the wall and punched the cloud of dust back at me, but I brought my fingers together to solidify the dust around his right arm. He immediately lost control of his hover and dropped down several metres, so I yanked at the crystals stuck to his arm to keep him afloat. He screamed when I did, which was when I realized the crystals might actually be embedded in his flesh.
"Is that all you can do, Commanding Officer?" I muttered, before I turned around and flung him straight into the north entrance gate. The crystal around his arms served as the propeller as he flew at the speed of sound towards the metal. I winced when the bandages around my arm suddenly ripped, allowing the unhealed wound to start dripping blood again. The two Aerilosacs above and behind me stirred, but I ignored them for the time being to stare at the newly formed dent in the gate.
I had thrown him too hard. And I had just decided to minimize the damages.
"Kill him!" he screamed as he pried himself off of the wall to collapse into a heap on the floor. He must have seen my arm and decided that it was his only opportunity left to beat me while I was weakened.
Well, the Aerilosac was bleeding heavily from all over, and even from this distance, I could tell that that initial branch attack was all he really had. There was no more strength that he could pull on. I knew not why he held a terrified expression on his face, though it did not seemed to be directed at... me.
I turned and looked upwards to see two shadowy figures at where the two Aerilosacs last stood, their eyes glowing a dark shade of purple underneath the moonlight. The Aerilosac that was hanging from the third floor via a grappling hook had been pulled up and stabbed in the neck with an obelisk-shaped crystal, while the other on the second floor had another shard of crystal pierced clean through his chest. Both made no noises when they died, and I mused for a while at their efficiency.
The girl was sitting on the third floor fence, legs dangling freely over the edge that if anyone came and gave her a shove, she would fall off and die a quick death. The boy was leaning against the second floor fence with one hand propped up against his chin. My gaze wandered around to see where they could have possibly came in from, then shook my head in quiet acceptance. They were never to be underestimated. I know that now.
"Do you have any last words?" I asked as I opened my palm to construct a spear of crystal in my hand. The Aerilosac opened his mouth as if he was going to speak, before clamping it shut and looked up at the broken glass ceiling. I gave him one more second to think.
Then it was over.
Everything became eerily still after the spear entered his heart, so I dropped down onto the lid of a wooden crate, breathing in the rather burnt and musty air of the warehouse. I would certainly need to spend some time repairing this Compound. Maybe I could even make some renovations while I am at it, make it more secure.
"We killed them both with crystals so it'll look like you were the one who did it," Rivin shouted out to me, and by the time I turned around, both of them were gone. I squinted and tried to rat them out from where they could have disappeared to before giving up. At least they were considerate enough to not leave any evidence of themselves aiding me during my supposed duel.
Would that earn me any points from Leki, who had warned me not to come in?
I laughed, dreading the clean-up that I would be spending most of the next day doing.
Today was already the third day since the wares were initially stolen. Now, they had returned mostly intact, which meant it was now time to make my call to Larius. There was still a few things to take care of before doing that, like the open wound on my hand, so I suppose that I could settle for some hotdogs while I do that.
I began counting the seconds as they passed by.
It really should not take Lyla and Leki that long to finish their task.