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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, '08, 1:15 am
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Part Twelve- Pursuit

(Camineet Spaceport, the planet Palma)

"No. Alisa's not too far gone to save," Tairon said. "We're gonna go whack LaShiec open, and she's gonna be just fine, Lutz. You'll see."

"I hope so," Lutz replied, trying his best to avoid looking at Tairon. "But even then, Megid and animating the dead... they'll only hasten Alisa's corruption. We should hurry."

"Hold up a minute. You said you thought Suelo and the others were in danger?" When Lutz nodded, Tairon continued, "I think we can spare a minute to check on them."

"Yeah! C'mon, Lutz!" Myau bounded off Tairon's shoulder and strode up to Lutz, a smirk spreading across the Musk Cat's face. "Let's go make sure your girlfriend's all right!"

Lutz blushed, stammering slightly as he looked down at the ground, mumbling, "She... Miss Rainy's not my girlfriend-" When he looked back up, Lutz saw Tairon and Myau disappearing into the crowd. With a sigh, he picked up his Psycho Wand and started towards his friends.

Partway through the crowd, a strange feeling came over him as he pushed and dodged around groups that were headed towards and away from the gathered starships- a feeling that twin holes were being bored through his back. As cautiously as he could, Lutz glanced around the spaceport, looking for something amiss: Someone glancing away, someone darting back behind a newspaper, anything that told him, "You are being watched."

All he could see was a crowd of indistinguishable Palmans, back-and-forthing between spaceships. The feeling still lingered, frustrating the Esper with his inability to pinpoint its source.

"X button, Magic and Technics, Time Magic, Haste, target on Lutz."

Raising an eyebrow, Lutz looked down at the source of the voice calling him. He saw Myau humming dully, his body quivering slightly before imitating the casting of a magic spell. "Booya!" he said, smiling at Lutz. "Pick up the pace, will ya?! You were standing there for a couple of minutes!"

"Oh. Err, uh... sorry about that," Lutz told him. "I was-"

"Thinking about Rainy, I know," Myau interrupted. "We're gonna check on her, so don't you fret!"

As the two headed out of the spaceport and into Camineet, Lutz just couldn't help but think, We have to fret... someone's watching us.

-=-=-

"Lord Reipard. Lady Alisa."

Katya leaned out from around a pillar, keeping her eyes on the group of three as they left the spaceport. "Tairon, Lutz, and Myau are entering Camineet now," she said, taking care to keep her voice as quiet as possible.

"Very good," LaShiec's voice filtered through a tiny radio that Doctor Mad had implanted into Katya's left ear, the tiny speaker barely audible to anyone who happened to pass her by. "Keep following them, Katya."

"Understood, my king."

"And Katya?" Alisa's voice asked, barely hiding a malevolent chuckle. "Keep notes on who they try to contact- some of them might be old 'friends' of mine."

"As ordered, my queen."

Ducking back behind the pillar, Katya immediately shifted her vision to bring up her combat sensor. Red circles appeared around Lutz, as various messages flashed in Katya's eyes: "Brain - Heavy impact, death is immediate. Cardiac cavity - Collapse, death is immediate. Spinal cord, third vertebrae - Shatter and sever, paralysis and/or death is immediate. Heart rate 81 bpm..."

The cyborg ignored the callouts, instead switching to her thermographic vision. Lutz's heat signature radiated red and yellow on a sea of black, everyone else's body head filtered out. A rapidly-cooling green trail followed the Esper in Katya's eyes, winding behind him as he followed Tairon and Myau.

She set off, in pursuit, careful to keep her distance from the group of three.

-=-=-

The hike through Camineet from the spaceport to Suelo's house near the east gate exit made Tairon wish, for the thousandth time since he was swept up into the adventure, that the largest city on Palma had mass transportation. The hour-long hustle had taken its toll on the big man, and the summer heat wasn't helping him much.

"Guys, I know we're in a hurry, but..." Tairon wheezed, sweat pouring off his skin as he continued, "Can we take a minute to rest?"

"I'm not tired yet!" Myau protested.

"Nor am I, Tairon," Lutz added. "Miss Suelo's house is only another minute away. We can take a short rest there."

"Thank God."

Myau and Lutz continued onward, pausing after a few moments. "Hey, Tairon?" Myau asked, looking behind him. "Maybe you should take some of that armor off?"

"I'm... I'm fine. (wheeze) Really."

Lutz sweatdropped, watching Tairon stumble closer. "I don't understand. You were fine on Motavia..."

"I'm used to Motavia. Maybe it's adaptation sick... (gasp) sickness." Tairon took a few more steps, then sighed. "Now, is it my imagination, or heat delerium talking, or is the front door to Suelo's house hanging open?" He pointed at the house ahead.

"Open?" Lutz repeated, looking at the house. "Oh, my..."

"You don't think LaShiec's robots arrested everyone, did you?" Myau asked.

"I hope not." Lutz started towards the house, Myau behind him as Tairon slugged onwards, pausing every few steps to adjust his Laconia armor.

-=-=-

"They've entered a house," Katya reported. "Street address is 930 Ellison Way, East District, Camineet Residential Area. This house is registered to-"

"Arturo and Suelo Rie," Alisa replied, smiling as she felt LaShiec's arm around her waist. "I'm familiar with the house."

"I don't remember having them arrested, Alisa dearest."

"The residents have not been arrested by your security forces, my king." The ever-toneless voice hesitated for a second, then continued, "Recent biological remnants lead away from the house- northeast towards the warehouse district."

Alisa's eyebrows raised. "The warehouse district?" she asked, surprised. She pondered this for a second, then chuckled. "Of course. Of course she'd go there."

"Now, why the warehouse district?" LaShiec asked Alisa. "Another rebel hiding spot?"

"To a degree, Reipard. The abandoned warehouses can be used as a staging ground for more insurgencies, makeshift shelters, even scavenged for equipment." As she looked into LaShiec's eyes, Alisa continued, "Where do you think I got the Meseta to get out of Camineet, my love?"

"A good point." LaShiec smiled at Alisa, then asked Katya, "Have our 'friends' left the house yet?"

"Not yet, my king. They are spreading around the house, according to my MRI scanner."

"I see. Katya, head to the warehouse district," Alisa ordered. "The warehouse you're looking for is ApathoMed Corporation Warehouse Four, at the end of Kodama Way."

"Understood, my queen."

"Report back to us once you arrive at the warehouse," LaShiec added. "We'll give you additional orders then."

"At once, my king."

Once Katya deactivated her radio, LaShiec asked Alisa, "You don't think the Ries have escaped, do you, my dear?"

"No, Reipard." The red flare in Alisa's eyes returned again as she spoke. "I think they're hiding out in that warehouse- I told Suelo about it before I left Camineet. She could potentially set up a makeshift living area for her family."

"I see. Two dangerous criminals, on the run from justice," LaShiec said. "It'll make good press."

"Five dangerous criminals- they have three children. What I'd give, Reipard, to see them face punishment for fostering insurgency."

LaShiec kissed Alisa gently, then ruffled her hair. "Don't worry, Alisa," he said. "They'll soon get what's coming to them."

"Thank you, Reipard," Alisa replied. "And thank you... thank you so much for teaching me how to bring my brother back to life."

She gestured towards a half-decayed ghoul, its features distorted. It was clear, though, that once, this was a man. He stood there in silence, swaying slightly as he shifted his weight.

"Anything for my beloved Alisa," Reipard replied. "As I said- ask, and you shall have it."

"The perks of luxury," Alisa cooed as she turned to face the ghoul. "You're still here?" she asked it. "Nero, why don't you be a good big brother and go patrol the halls of the castle."

-=-=-

"House is empty," Tairon said after the three spent half an hour looking around the house. "I don't think they got arrested, Lutz."

"I know- the house looks too clean for that," the Esper replied. "Perhaps they left to find a safer place to stay for a few days?"

"Maybe... hey, Lutz. That guy Alisa likes, Nekishe... think he might know?"

Lutz scratched his chin in thought. "Mayhaps," he replied. "Let's go see him. Maybe he can shed some light on this mystery."

End of Part Twelve

What does Katya have in store for Suelo and her family? Can Nekishe help Tairon, Lutz, and Myau save Alisa? And how will the shadow war against LaShiec end- in tragedy, or in victory?

(Apologies for the extreme lateness/shortness of this chapter!)
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