Shintaion Rebirth

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Original poster
A few notes ahead. This is my NaNoWriMo project, and I will put updates on it for those who want to read. Here are the first three chapters. The chapters are mostly based off of words needed. So each are about 2,500 words long.

[align=center]Table of Contents

Chapter I: It Was Called Shintaion

Chapter II: A Debt to a Thief is Always Repaid

Chapter III: Saviors Live in Odd Places

Chapter IV: An Old Grudge with an Old Fart

Chapter V: Last Words, a Parting with Explosives

Chapter VI: With White Hair Comes Experience

Chapter VII: The Weirder They are, the More Helpful They Become

Chapter VIII: Tournaments are for Villains and Flashbacks

Chapter IX: Wait What Just Happened?

Chapter X: The Cute, Vicious, and Gullible

Chapter XI: The Word Extinction is Never True

Chapter XII: Getting Help Always Requires Side Quests

Chapter XIII: Wait What Just Happened, Again?

Chapter XIV: Mad Scientists Lurk in the Forest, or Was That Wolves

Chapter XV: Random Extras Make for Good Demonstration

Chapter XVI: Why do They Wait to Show Power?

Chapter XVII: Killard is a Villain's Name

Chapter XVIII: Always Resolve Sub-Plots Before the Final Battle

Chapter XIX: Final Battle, This Time we are Serious

Chapter XX: Make Room for Seconds[/align]

[align=center]Chapter I: It was Called Shintaion[/align]

There were many stories told about this one continent in the world. Unfortunately each story began about some conflict, a war, brewing between two separate groups. It was not long before another one sparked and engulfed Shintaion once again in the flames of war. This war was unlike any ever before, as technology had advanced to the point of human dominance. Fearing other species such as the demons from Colt, the elves from Solemn, even the elemental beasts from Azull, the humans took measure to see to the extinction of several races. The first to fall was the ones of the forest, the elves. Taken by surprise, the elvish kingdom quickly fell to the gun shots from the human battalion. In one night the elves, which have always followed the old ways, were gone. The demons did not take kindly to the act of genocide and readied their arms. Due to their power and personal talents the war was dragged on for seven years.
In the end humans found the winds of victory were blowing on their side. The Monarchy of Colt put up a last ditch effort to protect its people. The North Eastern castle was the standing ground of their king and queen, Alastor and Salika. AS the crimson blood stained much of the grand hall, the humans rested their flag upon the castle top. It signified not just the extermination of the royal family, but also the beginning of a hunt most gruesome.
The years later were riddled with the genocidal tendencies of humans. Fearing the same fate, the elemental beasts were forced into a treaty. With their appearance not differing much from humans, besides the animalistic features on them, they were well accepted into a peace. This left the demons and the elves all for the humans as Azull was declared a neutral city. The head hunt was called off only a year later as the humans began to realize they needed to seek a way to better their living standards.
President Vol S. Marconis launched an effort to organize the cities they claimed into circular based living quarters. The buildings of the residents, the businesses, and the industries were to be built around a system of towers at the middle of each city. The amount of towers signified the importance of each city and the grandest of all cities, Nostria, was built at the center of Shintaion itself with its mighty seven towers. Later these cities came to be known as Tower States. It took a grand total of fifty years to build from the rubble of the destroyed cities. It was an amazing effort and one that sadly surpassed the life span of the former president. His dream was not to be seen by him but his successor, President Robert M. Killard.
It was a glorious thing to see the cities completed, but so unfulfilling to see the efforts go to waste. The first thing on President Killard's shoulders was an economic crisis. With so much money sourced from other countries to build the cities, it was no question as to why the debt of Shintaion was so large. It would be suffering for all as Shintaion would try to struggle out of this dilemma. There was also increased rebellious activity which did not add such good news to Killard's hearings. There were three forces that stood up against him, the Kinito Gang of Colt, the Beelz of Faris, and the Prophets of Seren.
Loud cries from the cities could not be defended as the military was lacking at the time. Faris and Seren fell to the gangs, but Kinito remained at war with the inners of Colt. Such a crisis warranted severe action and Killard seized the opportunity. With his army barely a shell of its former self, he pleaded to the United Countries Bureau for some military aid. The hearing lasted for well over an hour and in the end he was given General Sizam and his forces which was nearly one hundred thousand strong. Unfortunately it was too late for Faris and Seren and they were left to waste. Instead the units were deployed to guard the perimeter of the remaining cities. With stability now accomplished it was onto the bigger and better things.
But what of the people who were still suffering from this recession? For one orphaned boy, it was tough but not impossible to live. His hair was a jet black and his eyes a crystal blue. His face was dirtied by lack of showering and his clothes matched. The unpleasant dirt grey of his shirt made him look like a real bum, but in his heart he was a hard worker. He still seemed like a child as his size came around five feet. Behind him was a sleigh with several boards rotting. It was the easiest thing to drag through the snow and slush this time of the year. The snow made it difficult to grow anything, so they had to rely on the program provided by the Nostrian Government.
A group called the Nostrian Relief Organization, or NRO, prided themselves in helping out the needy. This organization liked the media coverage they got and always it made them look like saints. In reality Shi, and everyone else for that matter, really detested the idea of others using the poor as a garbage disposal for their cans of expired beans, vegetables, and soups. Because they had no choice but to accept, there was no real complaining. The last person who did so was taken in by a Nostrian soldier and was never seen again.
The slosh of the snow attracted the attention of the man at the front gate. Shi was well recognized there as he was the delivery boy for an entire area affected by the recession. "So your back, huh? Must be Tuesday, or is it Thursday?" The guard questioned his tone showing some excitement, as if he got any as a guard of the most secure city in all of Shintaion.
"It is Thursday sir." Shi replied addressing him in a most formal manner. He had not much respect for the authority these soldiers were given, but rather the fire power they carried. A little dim witted the guards were, but each of them carried a normal triple burst rifle allowing their word to be the last. Keeping that in mind, Shi proceeded to accept the expired cans of food. He loaded several boxes up on the sleigh and gave a farewell to the guard. This trip home gave Shi time to think about things. Not all of it was coherent but sometimes he imagined living a normal life with parents.

The Congregation, as most have come to call it, was a collection of cheap run down housing that could be used during the winter months. Walls on these buildings were not all that high quality and several of them had holes through it. Outisde the wind kicked around freshly washed laundry hung by the people assigned that job. Everyone was happy to pitch in a helping hand where needed. With any kind of small civilization like this, there was always a ruler. That ruler was the land lord of the area who preferred to be called by her name than by her position, Miss Charwell. She was around five feet nine inches and her hair was well underway of graying. Her hair was curly and the color strands left were dark brown. She liked to wear red dresses that she picked up. Everyone on the outside of the security was considered crazy and her no exception. It was actually her attitude toward getting expired cans that led her to giving the job to Shi. Her relation with the boy was like that of a distant elder and a child. She gave him advice and tried to look after him at the same time look after everyone else.
Shi pulled up with his sleigh of boxes catching Miss Charwell's eyes right away. "Oh Shi, nice to see you are back in one piece." She said her voice slightly raspy. One could swear that it was a smoker's cough when it was actually her job history. Before she worked in one of the industrial plants outside of the city. They provided power for most of the residence as well as the commercial district inside the walls. Before the development of the clean fuel technology by the Nostrian Science Division the factories were riddled with smoke and other toxic, unclean particles. Falling victim to this has made Miss Charwell look and sound older than she actually was.
"Why would I not get back in one piece?" Shi questioned as she was showing more concern for him than usual.
"I heard there were a couple bandits on the street recently. They say they steal the rations being delivered." She explained trying to press the feeling of concern she had. "So you be careful out there on your own." Shi only sighed as her worry only made him worry about her worrying. It was a confusing feeling but he knew it was best to heed her advice rather than try and prove his worth. Before Shi actually accepted Charwell, he went out and got into some intense fights. He always came back with bruises and bumps all over him. It was miraculous that they all healed up by the day after but she started showing a glint of care for the boy after his first fight. Now he understands what he should fight for rather than aimlessly attracting violence.
"Heather came by a few minutes ago." Charwell said as she noticed Shi sit down by a fire near her. "She wanted to know where you were. I told her you were off on an errand."
"What? I should go see her right away then." Shi said getting up quickly and taking off down the streets. As he left Miss Charwell put on a small smile, the kind that mothers put on when they know something nobody else does.

Heather was part of the Halberd family, daughter of Arthur Halberd. Arthur was the lead man behind the government's attempts at creating a better world and led the political end of the economy. His election was swift over the previous head of economics. With things constantly deteriorating people resorted to new hope in Arthur. His smile could bring that same sense of hope and renewal to a room of twenty pessimistic gentlemen. His efforts proved fruitful as the economic state of Nostria finally stabilized. His actions were so effective that they even offered him a spot as economics advisor at the UC building in Abscus. He declined the position as he loved where he was and so did his family. Both his wife and daughter had gotten to know the people outside of the Nostrian walls as they chose to live in an estate there. The estate itself was not that far away from The Congregation.
The manner itself was a three story building built in an old Victorian style. There were two towers at either end of the front. They were pretty much for effect as the rest of the home was inviting. Shi rang the door bell once and Maria Halberd answered. "Hello Shi, Heather has been looking for you."
"Is she here?" He asked in a kinder tone than he gave to the guard. Maria smiled and let Shi in.
"Heather is upstairs in our library. How is Miss Charwell doing?" She asked before Shi took off.
"She is fine, just delivered a supply to her a few minutes ago." Shi replied heading up the spiral stair case. At the third floor he stopped looking through a larger room. It had the feel of a small time library even though it was Arthur's own private one. Heather was at a desk set in the middle of the shelves. Her hair was a sandy light brown which was resting on her shoulders. She was wearing yellow nearly white shirt with a white long skirt to match. Her eyes were a jade green and took a brief moment to look up from the book she was reading.
"Shi look what I found!" Heather said happy to see Shi. Her serious studying face had gone to happy and light hearted in just a few short seconds. She dragged Shi over to the book she was reading. It was a old book from the look of it, something that would probably have been banned from Vol's rule. During the first President's rule he abolished all books that talked of Elves and Demons and administered total extermination of the existence of such a specie. During this event he also ordered the destruction of the mages' books they used to study from. It was his effort to make technology the one remaining force in the world.
"What is it? It looks old and possibly illegal." Shi said trying to make out what was the faded title.
"It is old and I found it stowed away in the back of a bookshelf in Father's study." She said trying to guise her stealing with a sense of adventure. "I know you like looking at the new books we get so I thought you might want to look at this one." Shi was an avid reader and first came to the Halberd house looking for a book. After finding this library he came back day by day and caught the attention of Heather. They became friends in the very same library several years ago. Ever since Shi had tried to learn from the books he read and was really good at translating languages. He was even able to translate old dead languages.
"I suppose I can try and decipher it." Shi said still trying to make out the title. He rubbed his hand over the front and found that the title was actually engrave in the soft leathery front. "We need paper and pencil." Shi said looking around. Heather knew where they were and went straight for them. She was back in seconds with the materials. He put the paper to the book and rubbed the pencil over it. Slowly a few characters from the old language formed on the paper.
"What does it mean?" Heather asked unsure about her translation skills.
"It is really old, but I think after literally translating it the phrase means, I Can't See Your Love." Shi said debating whether or not he had it right.
"So it is a romance story? Oh that is cool!" Heather said almost ready to squeal in excitement. Shi began flipping through the pages of hand written characters. Eventually he just stopped at one point near the end of the book. He took a bit of time to read it to himself before looking up at Heather.
"I highly doubt it is a romance novel. This page alone describes an intense fight with an enemy, one that is said to exist in a place called The Underworld." He pointed to a emphasized set of lettering which supposedly meant The Underworld.
"Is it history then?" Heather asked still curious about it.
"If it is history then it probably dates back before the war." Shi suggested as he rubbed the spine of the book. It was much worn down and made it seem a lot older than just a few decades old.
"Shi, perhaps we can talk about this book…in private." Heather suggested even though they were practically alone now.
"In private? What do you mean?" Shi asked looking around to see if someone was spying on them.
"Well, perhaps we could go out to the old clock tower in the middle of Nostria Plains. I heard that it is supposed to be beautiful with the moon out and everything." Heather said hoping Shi would agree. Shi was not dense and knew what she was suggesting. He tired to hide a bit of his own blush as he replied.
"Alright, when should we go?"
"Would tonight be alright?" Heather asked rather quickly.
"Sure." Shi smiled closing up the book. He packed up his things and ran down the stairs. "I will need to get ready."
"Alright, I will meet you outside the house later." Heather said looking at the clock. It read seven thirty and the sun was almost below the horizon.
[align=center]Chapter II: A Debt to a Thief is Always Repaid[/align]

Hallways were brilliant with a near white blue color and the air smelled fresh. Through one of the rooms off the side of the large corridor, there was a window open letting a gentle breeze through. From where the prisoner stood this was enough relief to relax himself. This captive had on shabby clothes, a dark blue shirt slightly torn, some tight fit pants, and his hair matched the clothing, unkempt in a dark brown mess. This six foot man was bound in iron chains as he was led by two guards armed with small arms and wore a uniform that did not look all that protective. The light blue tint carried on with their uniforms but a navy blue stripe went over their shoulders and connected on both their front and back at about their stomach. One of the buttons on the uniform reflected light into the man's eyes as they finally reached the elevator. "X38, please state code number."
"This is prisoner guard number thirty two a. The other is a new recruit not registered in the system." The taller of the two said. The slightly smaller and younger as well, one nodded hoping that this computer would accept him.
"Understood, and the prisoner ID?" The female voice asked.
"Prisoner ID is five nine eight two seven, under Sether."
"ID accepted, please continue to President Killard's office." The mechanical voice vanished as the elevator doors opened with a skish. All three of them stepped in as the ascended to the top of the central tower of Nostria. Another sound of releasing steam and the doors opened. They found themselves in a waiting room. It was rectangular in shape and the floor was a neutral grey carpet. One the side of the room were single chairs and in between them tables. Several newspapers were on the tables made of wood. Behind the chairs was a display of windows. The sun easily lit the room with the windows on each side. Looking further up the ceiling was a lighter color than the floor and had inset lighting for the evening. Looking at their destination the wall was made of the same wood the tables were, a light brown color with several grout lines visible. It was polished to a nice sheen with several presidential pictures over it. Finally the door itself looked like a normal wooden door, lighter in color and a silver doorknob.
"Killard will now see you." The same female voice said over the intercom. The door clicked, unlocking it. Finally the guards guided Sether into the next room. Opening the door they saw not only Killard but General Sizam as well. They were discussing at a large oval table. The room in here was just like the room before but a lot longer to accommodate the amount of people that would have meetings here.
"We have brought the prisoner." The older man said.
"Good you can leave him with us." The slightly big president said. His body had a medium build but also had a small layer of fat. The suit he wore helped to slim his looks. Sizam nodded at the two signaling them to obey the order. He was taller than Killard, and stood in a straight upright fashion. The suit he wore was like the ones the rest wore but slightly more decorative. There was a gold trim on the seems of the shoulders and the cuffs. His chest had numerous medals adorned to it. He also wore a dark blue flat top cap with a black brim. This hat spoke of authority in the Shintaion military.
"He has been a hard one to crack. The records he holds are actually quite astounding. Five hundred eighty two recorded break ins into civilian owned businesses. One hundred sixty two government owned building break ins are registered. You have quite an extensive history." The general remarked.
"Yes and we have idly passed you by in each case. Now you finally got your hands on something you wanted. So tell me, where is it." The President said his eyes staring at the thief's long face.
"Heh, I would never give away such a secret. You want your precious trinket you will have to find it." His dry voice did not offer much for his position, however, the information he withheld seemed to be of great importance to the two gentlemen.
"I could go on with what you are charged with, but why bother? As members of the highest authority throughout Shintaion we can drop all the charges against you, if you find the trinket for us." Sizam said holding up a couple papers that had countless offenses on it.
"Drop my sheets huh? I actually would not mind something like that. Tell me, what is your interest in that orb?" Sether asked trying to get his own information out of the two.
"That would be none of your concern until we have it in our possession." Killard explained slightly irritated with Sether's constant questions. "Will you accept or not?"
"Well the most logical choice right now would be for me to accept. I will get your little bit of treasure, in return I get a clean slate. If you can absolutely promise me that then there will be no problem." The thief explained rattling his chains. Sizam went over to unlock the binds on the man. He rubbed his raw wrists and breathed a sigh of relief. "Alright, I just need a dagger type weapon. I can never trust other thieves you know." Killard nodded and pressed a button on a monitor embedded into his end of the table.
"Yes Mister Killard?" The computer responded.
"Please tell Professor Feral that he will have a visitor coming by." His voice sounded pleased with the results.
"Professor Feral is not in his office. Should I use the intercom?"
"Do what you must to get his attention." The button on the desk was pushed again as the machine carried out the orders. "Sizam, please escort our friend to Tower Three." He said turning around and leaving through another door at the back of the room. For a brief second there was a desk and a computer visible. The unshackled man was now guided out of the central tower and headed for the labs of Tower Three.

Mechanical equipment blared sounds throughout a large room. Everything from large mechanics experiments to chemical labs were set up around the room. There was two exits to the room, one that was on the marked south west side and the other on the opposite end. The south west one led to the lower levels while the other led upward to the offices that lined the windows looking into the room from above. From the office elevator came a man dressed in a white coat and carrying a clip board. He seemed determined as he walked straight for one of the other scientists there. "Professor Feral sir, there is call in your office." The punctual man said to an older gentleman. His hair was turning grey but only beginning to. He had a bald spot just in the middle on top of his head. His forty year old figure was worn from a hard day's work as he peered out from his work place underneath a machine. His brown eyes stared up at the man who approached.
"That is what I get for being so popular." His kind voice sighed. Pulling himself out the rest of the way his dirty clothes were brushed off. Continuing on he wrapped up a few tools before finally departing for the offices. It was generally quiet upstairs except for the few sounds that leaked through the glass. He walked straight across from the elevator and into an office with his name on the door. There was a gentle click of the door closing as he sat down at the leather black chair.
"Good evening Professor Feral, you have a message from-"
"It is Killard again right? Not like anyone else calls me." Scratching his head he pressed a button to accept the call. A live video feed was put in to Kilalrd's office. The only thing seen was the windows behind the President. "Hello sir."
"Hello, how is the latest project coming along?"
"Well I have had a few set backs, the programming was not working quite well and we got debuggers on that right now; however, we did have a successful weapons test. The temporal disruption has been minimized but the new NNS is giving my team troubles." He responded holding a full report.
"So the neural network system is glitching out…when do you think we will be ready for a field test?" The irritation in his voice was relevant.
"A field test, that might take a bit. I think we can have something ready in forty eight hours."
"Good, I also called you for more than an update, Feral." Killard explained adjusting himself in the chair. "The General is bringing over our very own 'locator.' He is to be equipped with the best you have."
"But sir...that stuff is reserved for elite soldiers. Can we tru-"
"We can trust him, and I doubt he will be able to take on an N22." His face shown a smile calming Feral a bit.
"Very well, I shall do so. Professor Feral out." Disheartened he turned off the computer screen and looked out the window at the sunset. The bottom of the glowing star was just about to hit the horizon. "Now I am giving weapons to just anybody. I got to get out of this." There was a few knocks at the door. The startled scientist went to go answer it.
"Professor, I will leave this man to you." Sizam motioned for the loyal thief to enter. As he did the official left leaving just the Professor and Sether alone.
"Alright, the stuff you will be handling is pretty new. Let me show you all of your gear." He pressed a button on the wall. The space next to it receded slightly and flipped over unveiling a wide array of equipment. The first thing that was picked up was a double pronged sword. The blade and handle were pearl white. "This is our Lightning Fang. If you squeeze the handle a bit…" the sword began to hum and occasionally spark. There was a massive amount of electricity between the two prongs. "…a current which could potentially kill your victims will jolt through them." He handed the sword to its new owner. As he grabbed hold of the handle, the thief turned into swordsman in a matter of seconds. His art with the blade was that of almost a master.
"I like it." He commented setting the sword down. Feral set down a back strap next to the sword as he continued.
"That strap can hold any assortment of clips. Guns may be not as efficient as Armours but still are useful. The pistol you will be using is a five seven. It holds five point seven by twenty eight millimeter rounds and capable of penetrating personnel armor." He explained laying the black pistol on top of the pile of equipment.
"That will be all I need. I cannot have things weighing me down, after all, I am supposed to be quick on my feet." Sether said before the weapons briefing continued.
"Fine you should be well on your way to victory with just this stuff. If you have problems just come back and I will see about fixing it. I also assume you know how to control a pistol." His eyebrow rose with one eye on Sether.
"My shot is just fine." He strapped the belt around him and sheathed the sword first. Picking up the gun, he loaded a magazine in and holstered it. Several clips were also fitted into the front of the strap. Newly armed, he turned to the door.
"Wait, what does Killard want you to do? I must know what he intends to do with my project." The concerned man waited for an answer as the other struggled to find one. Eventually he thought of something that would satisfy the question in general.
"I lost something of his and he wants me to get it back. I have no idea about your project and really do not care." He was half way out the door when he turned back. "If it helps, he is letting a criminal like me off the hook to get what he wants." He continued out the door before watching the exhausted man show his response.
"My work…is too great for the hands of one person."

Sizam had been waiting outside of the office the whole time, his figure nearly camouflaged in the dark passage. "So you look ready. Your transport awaits downstairs."
"I do not know about you, but I am more the walking type." Sether said glaring at him.
"Fine, contact us when you have the object. Killard may be one for patience but I am not. Results are key when swaying my vote." Sizam walked past Sether briskly. There was an obvious animosity spawned from mistrust, but the thief was able to glance past it.

Exiting tower three he was released into the plaza lit up by the street lights. There were some flood lights at the bottom that lit the sides of the tower which made them seem even more monolithic. Sether moved down the street toward the west gate. In that time he began to talk to himself. "Perhaps it is for the best. I will be able to live the life she wanted me to live. A small orb for the freedom we desired, it almost sounds too good to be true." That one thing was all that he was able to think about. The freedom that he had not had in the past years in his life tempted his hand making him more set on following his orders. Once he approached the gate and showed his verification he was allowed to pass. The wall the gate rested in was like a trapezoid in shape. Two large doors controlled the traffic in and out of the inner city. There was one guard for the inner gate and one for the outer gate. Both of them let Sether pass and he was on his way to the Nostria Plains. Once he was outside the walls he caught site of a dog. He bent down and called it over successfully. It panted and was happy to be petted by his new friend. "Hey boy I got something for you." He dug into his pocket and pulled out a small metal device. It was cylindrical and about the size of a finger nail. He then pulled out some food he had stolen earlier. He stuck the metal device into the bread and fed it to the dog. He then moved on as the dog ran away. "You can fool many but not a thief. I will have my freedom very soon." He began to whistle as he tread down the dirty streets of outer Nostria.
[align=center]Chapter III: Saviors Live in Odd Places[/align]

The pale orange glow of the Nostria city hung over the sky as Shi walked over to the Halberd manner. The moon was hidden behind the glow as well as several clouds that had accumulated over the sky. There were several breaks between the clouds making it seem almost haunting. The young man kept his path and it was not long before he finally made it to Heather's home. She was dressed up and waiting at the front gate, her normally straight hair curled at the front. "Y-you look beautiful." Shi commented, himself wearing the best he could muster. Miss Charwell actually had some fun finding some nice wear for him this evening, bugging him about fashions.
"Thank you. My mother will be driving us out to the plains." Her head had nodded over to the garage they had with a black slim car running. Almost as if it were on que, the car rolled out as she had nodded to it. Pulling up along side the two, Miss Halberd waited for the two to hop in. A speedy take off, and the three were headed toward the Nostria Plains.

Out of the city, the moon hung gently behind a patch of clouds. The glow behind it was enough to light of the area and the clock tower that stood there. It was not a functional device nor did it look up to code. The war had ravaged the tower, leaving it a shell of its former self. It used to be a symbol of peace between all races.
The inside was much like a lighthouse as the stairs spiraled upward to the mechanics at the top, all of which lay still. A brass bell even came with the whole tower, only it had been rusted and uncared for. The stairs seem to mesh into the machinery, but there was a clear path. Once past the gears and cogs, one would find themselves looking out over the western horizon. "Mmmm, the breeze feels nice." She said as her sandy brown hair rolled against the wind. "It is just too bad the moon is behind the clouds. It really is gorgeous."
"Perhaps we may find ourselves lucky tonight." Shi suggested taking a seat on the ledge facing out to the west. This wall had a large circular hole, probably for the cock face, while the others were tall and thin. It gave the sense of a cathedral more than a clock tower.
"I love your optimism." Heather smiled and laughed while her head cocked to one side. "Certainly the moon will come out at least once." She returned her gaze to the sky just behind Shi. As it turned out, the moon was just about to come out from behind a cloud, into a large gap. The anticipation mounted as the light just got brighter and brighter. Finally the round edge of the moon could be seen and a spectacular purple glow was given off from around the tower.
"What is that?" The surprised boy asked. Looking below there were several thousand flowers all glowing like an ultra violet light.
"Those are the Luna Flowers. They are quite popular in Abscus but found their way to Shintaion. They only bloom at night once a month." She explained, having been here before. Both of them were taken in by the flowers below dimly lighting the stone structure of the tower. Heather seemed entirely taken in by the moment as she leaned back against the wall. She noticed that something round embedded into the wall was pushing on her back. She took a step forward, and then turned around to see what it was. In between the bricks there was a small hole with a sphere shoved into it. As she stepped to the side allowing the moonlight in, the sphere glowed the same purple color of the flowers.
"What is that?" Shi asked, jumping off his ledge.
"I do not know, it was just in the wall." Her face was filled with curiosity and her hands reflected that. She began fiddling with the object. "It is smooth." Without realizing it, she pressed against it and set it in the wall. There was a flash of purple as the sound of machinery starting up below could be heard. They quickly bolted below to confirm what they heard. It was true, the clock was now working. "I wonder what it really is." Heather said heading back upstairs. This time, Shi pulled it out of the wall having the cogs below stop.
"It was not dusty, so it must of not been here long."
"Not long at all." A voice came from the stairs along with two sets of footsteps. As they came into view, one belonged to Miss Halberd, the other to a dark brown haired shabby mess of a man. He held the adult at gun point and motioned her to the side. "You see that object is mine, and I happen to be able to sell that for a nice price."
"Who are you?" Heather asked, her eyes kept flashing over to her mother. The man seemed irritated and stepped forward. Confused, the girl did not know what to do. She held the orb back and prepared to chuck it.
"That will not get you anywhere." His smile seemed devilish and untrustworthy.
"I believe she asked you a question." Shi said, his eyes focused on the new guest. He did not show any fear and actually stood in front of Heather.
"Hmm, brave, young, and stupid. I am Sether, some call me The Thief of Relics." His free hand extended. Heather held on tightly to the orb and backed up a bit while Shi remained like a wall. "I see, perhaps you need to learn a thing or two about bargaining chips. I have a hostage-"
"And we have what you want." The boy interrupted.
"I have killed my fair share of people, what makes you think that two children like you will be able to stop me?" He turned his head toward Miss Halberd and squeezed the trigger, intentionally missing her. The bullet ricocheted off the stone wall right next to her head. The night was filled with a scream by Heather as the bullet took off. "Now do you see? A chip is only worth as much as the one who holds it." The two had no other option. He nodded to Heather and she nodded back. She walked forward and held the orb out. The small object rested in his hand gently as he pointed the gun away from his hostage.
"We gave you what you wanted." Sether approached the young man. As they came together Shi only came up to about his neck. "Can we go free now?" He asked as they were in each other's face.
"Indeed you did follow my orders." The accomplished gentleman turned to the stairs. He stopped at the top of them and turned his attention back to Shi. "Something about you, I do not like." He pulled the gun and aimed it at Shi. Before he could press the trigger a large fireball consumed the area. It blinded the thief as well as made him drop the orb. Quickly, Heather, Shi, and Miss Halberd bolted for the stairs while Shi picked up the orb. It was not long before they were encountered by another pair of people. The two figures that stood in the doorway at the bottom were darkened by the light of a car behind them.
"You three, come with us." A male voice said. He was the taller figure. This time Miss Halberd stepped forward.
"No, we are headed home." She held her ground with just like Shi had done.
"We do not have time for this, we should get going." A female said from the other side. They left the doorway and the sounds of car doors opening up could be heard.
"I do not know what it is, but I trust these two." Shi said running out first. His girlfriend soon followed and her mother shortly after that. Each got along the side of the car as they heard clicks off in the darkness. Because of the headlights they were blind to the hundreds of Nostrian guards in the area.
"This is the Nostrian Police, turn yourselves over or we will be forced to fire." A megaphone blared.
"Now hold it, we were just attacked!" Miss Halberd yelled furious at all the bad situations she was put in. "If you should be chasing anyone it is the man upstairs." There was some whispering between a couple people but the police stood their ground with the same message.
"You guys ready?" The man from before said in the driver seat. His hair was orange and dressed in a suit of some sort. It was made of brown leather. Underneath the uniform was a regular shirt and jeans. His leather gloves gripped the wheel tightly.
"Surrender yourselves now!" The megaphone blared again.
"Tell us what we are charged with."
"This is your final warning."
"I will not go withou-" She was cut off, a quiet shot from a silenced weapon could just barely be heard. She dropped to the ground dead.
"No!" Heather screamed, tears filling her eyes.
"Door open or not, gun it Kinzen!" The female in the front said, her uniform the same as the man's but her normal wear was more custom to a lady. The driver messed with the gear and pounded his foot down on the acceleration. They went backward at top speeds, getting away from the clock tower. A quick flick of the shift and they were rocketing forward toward the north. Heather was still in tears of her mother's death.

The Colt Outskirts was a place unlike any other in the land of Shintaion. It was considered a volcanic vent for one of the resting volcanoes near by. The magma surfaced into small pools around the area keeping the place warm. There was a large, thin plateau that separated this area from the inner city of Colt and its three towers. The car the four had traveled in was able to maneuver around the magma holes with great ease. As they drove past they could see the ruins of the old city that used to exist out here. Unlike Nostria, Colt could no longer help those outside the city. They either moved on or died.
The vehicle came to a stop inside a graveyard and was parked in what looked to be a vault for the dead. The door closed behind them as the floor gave way to a mechanical arm which helped them down into a dark cave. They were at some kind of underground ravine with the only connection to the other side being a rickety wooden bridge. "Mind telling us who you are?" Shi asked, trying to still comfort Heather. The orange haired man turned around to answer.
"We are part of Kinito gang. We were on a routine survey when we heard someone scream. I can only assume it was her. I am Kinzen and this is my associate Nunda." He pointed out introducing her. Shi had only just realized her hair was tinted a light green.
"If you are going to ask about my hair, we will have much more time for that inside." Nunda said her voice smooth and airy. The group pressed on over the bridge that led them to another ledge. Flipping open a keypad, the supposed leader of the two typed in the password to a large metal door embedded in the rock. It opened rather quickly allowing each of them to pass through into some kind of lobby. Once everyone was through the door shut tight and a red light replaced a green one over it.
"Hey Kinzen back from patrol?" A man at the desk asked. "Oh, I did not know you were into bringing back such small prizes." He snickered picking up a newspaper.
"They are not prisoners; we saved them from a Nostrian assault." His tone was more professional than the one who was at the desk. They walked onto another door at the opposite end of the lobby. "We will provide you with a place to rest for now. I will go talk to our leader, then we can talk further." He said his professional like tone still present. They boarded an elevator that had clear walls. The tunnel they traveled in had clear walls as well, allowing them to see the stone it was set into.
"It may take some time." Shi said helping Heather on board.
"We understand." The kinder woman said. Her attitude towards them was filled with much more sympathy than the other. The elevator started up and all that Shi could think about was getting some rest for tomorrow.
[align=center]Chapter IV: An Old Grudge with an Old Fart[/align]

The weeping heard in the hallways was heartbreaking. Heather was still trying to get it together after the incident. Shi sat next to her on the bed as she balled out every tear she could. There was a small break in the tears as she started to take control over her emotions. "Are you alright, now?" Shi asked in a calming voice. He was confused as to how to treat the situation. He never had parents of his own, and this kind of emotional strain he never felt. The sniveling ceased with a quiet and composed figure, her head nodding. "If you want I can talk to their leader right now and you can get your rest." His offer seemed to soften her face even more. She put her head down on the white bed pillow. The beds themselves were pretty standard and the room itself small like a hotel room. The curious boy ventured off into the hallway and was stopped by the two guards.
"Are you ready then?" One of them asked. Their clothes were generally casual wear, but had the posture of a guard. A quick nod and the two positioned themselves around Shi guiding him to the elevator once more. As he road the elevator this time, his mind was completely blank, focusing on the scenery as it went by. To his surprise the rock gave way into a pool of magma. The material the elevator was made of was obviously highly heat resistant. It felt strange riding through a pool of ooze that reached temperatures well over one thousand degrees. It was not long before they were back inside the rocks and walking onto another floor.
"Please, go down the hall, it is the last door straight ahead." The other guard directed. They kept their positions at the clear door. The eager young man went on into the door he was shown. Inside, it was like an office. There was a desk with papers scattered every which way, two chairs on the visitor side of the desk, and one chair with the leader turned around in it. Slowly he turned his chair around revealing someone about the age of thirty five. His hair was clean and combed his eyes a deep hazel color. He seemed to be the only one wearing what appeared to be a uniform. It was like the Nostrian uniforms only colored a deep red and near black. The gold lace was silver but the medals on this man were that of a general.
"Good to see you. I am the leader of the Kinito Gang, Kinito himself." He extended his hand across the table. He was a bit weary about it, but Shi eventually shook the large hand. "I am sure you have heard rumors of us and some questions, but, before that I would like to ask a few of my own."
"Where is it?" The boy said before Kinito could ask anything. "I had an object in my possession last evening, where is it?"
"Do not worry it is being taken care of. Our scientists take great interest in it. In fact it was the subject of my first question. Where did you find it? I thought all the battle orbs were destroyed in the war." His knowledge proved extremely vast. He was asking about things that neither Shi nor anyone else have heard of in over fifty years.
"I have no idea what a battle orb is and I do not really care. Will it be given back?" He asked realizing it was futile to argue for it in foreign territory. Kinito's eyebrow rose knowing that he was making enemies of someone he did not want to.
"We are not your enemy, and we do not wish to be so. I will kindly answer any questions you have." His arms sat at the rests on his chair as he turned his full attention to the kid.
"You are Kinito, why did you not try and kill us? I heard that you guys are ruthless." His question was one of the most common. The battles with Kinito in the past have ended in the government failing and suffering casualties.
"Our group is like a family, and you have to understand that. We do not fight because we are unified in one topic. It is our combined care for each other that helps us fight." Kintio explained but his audience was confused. "Let me explain by telling you a bit about our past. When the recession first started I was about six years old. My parents had died from a work related accident. The only person I had left in the world was my brother, Thomas Kinito. It was with him that the first of our gang was born. I was too childish at the time to know where my clothes, food, and other necessities came from. I later found out that his gang looted and pillaged everything they could from inner Nostria. There were homes that used to be up there amongst the magma pools." His face saddened but held back any tears from reaching his eyes. "They saw us as a threat to living and sent out their army to attack them. Those that survived, primarily my brother, his girlfriend, and I, lived quietly avoiding the guard stationed throughout the area. Slowly we tried to rebuild and in that time I grew of age to enter the Kintio Gang. We had about twenty members at the time and each had lost someone to the previous attack."
"That is just awful, a meaningless set of deaths." Shi said, as Kinito paused.
"Yes, that was our original driving force, until we found this sanctuary. In some old plans that my brother had found he had discovered the entrance to this underground living space. It was constructed by the demons that used to live here as a means to safely coordinate military attacks. It was also taken over several weeks before the final raid on the castle, and because of that we found some useful technology just left here. Thomas, he was the first to try it out. There were several vials of nanites left over down here. After taking in the substance they found themselves in control of certain elements. As more and more took it we eventually started calling ourselves Technomancers, the combination of technology and magic. We carried out our missions more effectively, but it was not long last. My brother was killed in an ambush in the central tower in Colt. Johnson, the leader of Colt, he tricked my brother. He offered peace between us and the people in the city. It was only a farce to get us to come out of hiding and kill our leaders. I was so insistent on wanting to come with him that day, I would have died along with him."
"I am sorry."
"There is no need to be. My brother went out fighting and that is always the spirit he gave off. Kinito was handed down to me and the several remaining members. It became mandatory to have those nanites inside as they are the means of our defense. Over time we created newer nanites using the logs in the computers down here." He pulled out a black case that could easily fit inside a pocket. "There are fifteen capsules in here that unlock the abilities of a Technomancer for about thirty minutes. I want to give them to you as a way of saying sorry for your inconvenience and the loss of your friend's mother."
"You knew of that?" His face went from curious to surprise.
"Yes, Kinzen keeps me well informed. He is one of the Four Guardians, my four top members who show the most strength. He usually partners up with Nunda and as you saw, her hair is unnaturally colored. It is a small side effect she has from the nanites. Her brother is Mark and he is well in tune with earth as an element. Finally-"
"Sir you asked to see me?" A voice came from the door. The pitch to it was strange and almost nasally.
"Yes. Shi this is Fei, my fourth guardian, controller of water." His hand extended to the door. Turning around his eyes caught the sight of a blonde haired man, well fit and wore a loose fitting blue jacket. He did not wear a shirt just to show off his abs and his jeans were tight fit. He looked like someone desperate to show off to the ladies.
"The best of the four and nobody forget it." His arrogant nature was easily heard in the first few words. "So what is with the tea party; you training kids to replace me?"
"Not quite, please take a seat for now, I was just finishing up with our guest."
"Oh so you are the ones that Kinzen picked up?" His voice started to get on the boy's nerves. He restrained himself from hitting him right in the chin. "Shows you should not be messing around in places you're not supposed to."
"That is enough Fei!" Kinito's voice became commanding and very effective. The blue jacket squeaked as he sat down against the leather seat. "I am sorry, please take a look around. If you see Kinzen tell him I allowed you to go on tour of the place." Shi nodded and pocketed the black box he was given. He headed out of the office and back to the elevator leaving the two to talk about their own business.

The launch pad of the most recent airship in the military divisions was busy with workers. Several brand new N22 Armours were being loaded onto the cargo bay as well as a few boxes marked classified. "Schedule report sir." A young soldier said with a clipboard in hand.
"Proceed cadet." Sizam ordered, his voice short and to the point.
"N22's loaded, the classified box's loaded, pilots aboard, your personal N23 is loaded, and five hundred cases of ammunition are aboard sir, but…"
"What is it?" The taller General asked annoyed by the boy's delay in speech.
"Well Johnson is asking for five hundred more crates. He says that his ammunition is being depleted on false targets."
"Tell him to conserve it! I am not going to waste crates on incompetent men. Five hundred crates and that is final." His voice finally calmed as he observed the loading of the blimp shaped ship. Although it was shaped like a blimp the quarters extended throughout the entire vessel. The real propulsion was several energy concentration jets at the bottom. It utilized magic left over from the war as the system making it highly efficient. While the last of the crates were being loaded another uniformed person approached Sizam. "Did not think I would see you after that royal screw up at the tower."
"It was not a mistake on my part, I was blinded by fire." Sether explained annoyed by his own failure. "I have been directed by the President to board the Phate and go to Colt."
"Very well, I have quarters to spare. I do not care what you do when you reach Colt, but try to not make my job harder than what it already is. I have quite enough to deal with when I got the UC and Killard hounding me."
"I will keep that in mind." Sether said slinking off to the ship.

Senator Abraham Johnson, one of the oldest men in the Shintaion Government and active participant in UC affairs. His position is mostly given to him by his experience in politics and his generally accepted method of dealing with not only his own city but the attacks from Teros on the eastern sea. His relations with Lavion to the north also make him that much more valuable to their cause.
"Can we trust Sizam?" An old man in his sixties with a raspy voice asked. His hair was white and his physical condition not looking well. He tried to shun off his age with the grey suit he wore and light blue tie to match.
"He was assigned to my jurisdiction from the UC and will follow his orders exactly. They cannot have Shintaion be lost to the Terosan Empire and thus they will use whatever means it takes to get our situation under control. They will take special care of you, Johnson. Nobody there would want one of their key pieces falling short of a pawn this late in the game." The President said over the computer at Johnson's desk.
"You talk of me as if the only reason I am still alive is my connections; but, that may be true. I will allow Sizam to take control of the situation and I will monitor all of it. He will find that my mole can be rather useful."
"Glad to see we got that straightened out. I will talk to you after the situation is resolved Johnson." The screen flashed off as Johnson sat back in his chair.
"What I could give just for a rest."

Entering the lobby that they came through, Shi found himself lost in the large base. "Argh, where am I?" He exclaimed rubbing his hair around out of frustration.
"Hey you are that kid Kinzen came in with. If you are looking for him try the fifth floor, he is bound to be in one of the training facilities." Accepting the advice he quickly pushed the fifth floor button as he entered the elevator. Rocketing down he found himself at one of the lowest levels in the entire base. The hallway was dark except for one room that was lit with a green light. Stepping in front of it he found himself in a large room, almost like a hangar. There was one protrusion from the wall, a glass box where all the controls were.
"What are you doing here?" The familiar voice asked from the stereo system controlled from the box.
"I was told that you would help give me a tour of the area." Shi said waiting for a response.
"Hold on I will be right down." He messed with a few control and left the box. It was not long before he came through the door Shi had. "Well, what do you want to do?" His voice was slightly friendlier than before.
"Well what is this room used for?" He asked, curious as to why there was such a large room underground.
"Thought you might want to know, I set up a training simulation before coming down." There was a glow coming from the white floor and in the middle of it there was a form starting to shape itself. It finally darkened in and colored itself. After it was complete the creature did not look entirely human, if anything it could be called an elemental beast.
"What is that?" He asked, his questions building in his mind.
"Despite what you might think, that is not an elemental beast. Instead it was designed after the leader here, Alastor. It was said that this machine is magic based and creates soulless images for you to fight. We can also set levels for each of us. Although it is a magic based image, it still hurts when it hits you." Kinzen stepped forward to demonstrate. "Level fifteen, kick only." The image came to life as it started to use its feet to try and attack the red head. His defensive moves were outstanding. He blocked most of the kicks and avoided the others. After a final dodge a fireball flared up in the creature's face knocking it over and severely burning it. Even though the copy had been hurt it still got up. "Stop." The image froze in place as Kinzen went back over to Shi.
"Your skills are amazing. I wish I could fight like that."
"Well it is hard, but what I am facing it much stronger than me, especially if it was real. That thing is a vampire, one of the toughest demons in Shintaion history. Not only do minor injuries heal fast, but as they start to lose blood they gain a special control over it that this place can replicate. I only got the image to go into that at level five."
"I am always a fan of history. I love learning about the past, the only thing is, the government destroyed and illegalized most of the books." His passion was evident and was the thing Shi loved most. His constant curiosity always had him looking into the past.
"We do have a library of older texts some describing the strangest of creatures."
"I would love to see them."
"Come on I will show you." His enthusiasm grew along with Shi's. They were about to go out the door when it opened showing Nunda.
"No I do not think so. You are behind on training my dear. I will take him, you get to work." Her smile seemed to calmly settle the fire technomancer's enthusiasm and direct it toward his training.
"Alright, you can take him, but later we go have dinner." She nodded as she took Shi on for a tour of the library.
"I bet you remind him of his younger brother." Her voice broke the silence between the two as they got into the elevator once more.
"Younger brother? Seems the government has affected everyone here." He said realizing the common story.
"It was not the government in his case. His kid brother was sick, almost about your height. You even got the same color hair now that I think about it. Anyway, his brother came down with influenza and he had no money to treat him. He looked to Kinito for help, they were able to help him for a time, but it was never permanent. They needed real medicine and nobody had what he needed. I remember sitting in the med room with my brother crying over his death that day." There were some noticeable tears welling up in her eyes. She wiped them away but was too late to hide them.
"I am sorry. Your brother, I heard he was one of the Four Guardians."
"Kinito told you? Yeah, he is and a damn good one. I am the Guardian of Wind and am pretty darn good. Kinzen can still beat me though but do not tell him I said that. I like to keep him on edge so he keeps training." They both had a small laugh before they entered the library. It was not like the others Shi had been into; it was expansive and had many old books along the shelves.
"There are so many. Where do I begin?" He asked himself.
"Nunda, there is trouble up here. There are several reports of the Phate landing in Colt with a nice big supply of N22's." A communicator fitted to her waste coughed out.
"On my way, let Kinzen and my brother know."
"Already done, Garamond out." The radio switched off and her attention shifted to Shi. "I have business to do, you look around all you want." Nunda ran off to the elevator leaving Shi to look through the wide array of illegal literature.
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