The city of Lux never sleeps. That was the first thing Akiko learned about her home when she was a child. There were always people who enjoyed the night life, people who lit the streets with powerful lamps, people who were afraid of being shrouded in darkness. Thus, it was no surprise to her that Lux had the biggest light pollution rates in the world, as the maze of the city literally obscured the stars, making stargazing impossible within the city. It was no better in the agricultural sectors, nor the small pieces of coast that have been left undeveloped either: Akiko could barely see the stars despite the fact that she was at least a kilometre away from the closest source of light. What a fitting metaphor for the situation of Lux. It was not dark, but it was lit with artificial lights, not by a magnificent sun. If one were to carry the metaphor further, there was a solar eclipse approaching, along with a hint of a complete blackout at an unexpected time, covering the whole room in pitch black darkness, which had no doors that would lead into the outside world. To use yet another metaphor, Lux was now a prison, under which lied a ton of nuclear ordinance, ready to explode at the slightest touch, and now there were prisoners digging escape tunnels towards this cache of weapons. But why has no one defused the weapons? Because the weapons were just discovered. Ten years ago, when Lux has decided to seclude itself, and not engage in any forms of politics, the other countries of the world allowed this decision to be made because they thought the isolation would not last long. When a few months passed, the world leaders still supported the decision of the city so it could deal with its own internal issues, along with the group that called itself The Guardians of Lux. However, as the months stretched into years, problems begun to appear. Countries could no longer maintain their rate of progress because of the lack of experts from Lux. Within a few years, many of the major countries’ economies began to stagnate, and soon, the whole world’s progress grinded to a halt. Then, two years ago, the sabotages began. The European Experimental Fusion Reactor, which has been operating for over fifty years, shut down without any prior warning, leaving the European Union in an energy crisis. Careful investigation of the facility revealed that the reactor has been sabotaged, and the damaged parts could not be repaired without significant assistance from Lux-based facilities, not to mention the experts from the city. But no matter how much the EU pleaded the government, Lux would stick to its principles as if it wanted the whole world to burn. Eventually, through the cooperation of several countries, the reactor was brought online again, however, this was only the beginning. The sabotages begun to increase in frequency, but slowly, natural errors and problems also begun to rear their ugly heads, and it became apparent that the world could not function without the aid of Lux. However, the leadership of the city would not budge in its position, saying that its technology will not be used for violent purposes. They claimed that if they were to open their borders once again, the tragedy that happened ten years ago would happen again. They also refused to even consider approaching the Guardians of Lux, or even the creators of the IMS technology for help in maintaining their independence, claiming that the device was unethical. What nobody seemed to realise, though, is that the world was getting impatient with Lux. Even now, as the waves crashed against the shoreline of the island, Akiko could feel the approaching conflict. The city of Lux would cooperate with the rest of the world, or it would be forced to cooperate, after all, its army was pathetic when compared to the ones of other countries. The only reason it was able to gain independence, were the Guardians of Lux, who selflessly fought for their home. But will they stand up for Lux once again, even though they were being chased? Akiko did not know the answer, even though she was a Guardian herself, or at least, she had identified herself as such. She did have an IMS, but she had no combat training, nor experience like her father had. She did not even know what was locked inside that bracelet on her arm, so while the term could be technically applied to her, she was no Guardian. She was only a simple civilian, caught up in the crazy schemes of her father, the university of Selene, and perhaps Lux itself. Her thoughts were suddenly interrupted by her cell phone ringing. Akiko immediately snapped out of her trance, then took the cell phone out of her pocket, checking the display. Sighing, she put the cordless headphones into her ears, then pressed the receive button. “Hey, dad. What is it?” “It has begun.” “What?” “Turn on the news right away. You have to see this,” said her father, then disconnected. Curious, Akiko connected to the Lux News Network with her phone, and started listening. “… The captain of the aircraft carrier also stated that in exchange for repairs, he and his men are willing to swear allegiance to Lux. The Lux government has yet to release an official response to the statement issued by the captain, but the ship is clearly in a grave state. A large chunk of the carrier’s hull is missing, it is seemingly incapable of movement, and our equipment has detected a large amount of radiation emanating from where the nuclear reactor should be. Even though there are no sign of the pursuers the captain mentioned earlier, the aircraft carrier is still in need of need of assistance. This was Amanda Smith, reporting live from the scene.” Akiko could not believe her ears. An aircraft carrier near the territorial waters of Lux seemed impossible enough, but for the captain to actually offer the whole ship in exchange for simple repairs was just ridiculous. This had to be some sort of a trap, and a very obvious one at that.