"I asked Sofia about the 'ADAM' and 'plasmids' I saw advertised everywhere. Turns out, this ADAM thing could give a person superpowers…teleportation, telekinesis, fireballs! Then I says, I'd like to be able to shoot fireballs. Y'know, a surprise weapon? Would be really handy for a soldier. But then Sofia tells me the plasmids mutated people, drove 'em nuts. Said it was what destroyed Rapture in the end. Showed me some pictures of 'em…I don't think I'm gonna sleep tonight. I've seen a lot of sick stuff in the Halo Wars, but one of those things, appearing out of nowhere, shooting ice and fire and who knows what else? Wouldn't wish that kinda fight on my worst enemy."
Two of Rtas' soldiers were shoving Sander Cohen's remains into a body bag with disgusted faces. The burnt corpse was not a pretty sight, and they could tell he wasn't particularly good-looking before the actual fireblast. Nevertheless, they winced and did their job. "Where do you want this, sir?"
Rtas gestured them away. "Go to the Medical Pavilion. Leave the crematorium furnaces to their job."
"Yes sir." Placing the mutated corpse onto a gurney, the soldiers exited the Fleet Hall. Rtas stayed behind, surveying the damage done by Cohen's fight with Link and Casey. Almost all of the black holes in the walls were still smoking. Some of the human's arrows were imbedded in the theatre seats, like misaimed darts. Rtas sensed that they weren't misaimed when they were fired. Rtas plucked one out and examined it. A sliver of blood on the tip told the soldier Link had grazed his attacker with this one.
Rtas heard someone approaching. He could tell who it was before she said anything. "Sofia Lamb."
If there was an undercurrent of frustration in his voice, he didn't mean it. But Sofia still picked it up. "You're not…angry, are you?"
"What?Why would I be angry?"
The ruler of Rapture shrugged. "That I sent you out like an errand boy, rescuing two operatives that didn't need rescuing."
Rtas laughed aloud, dropping the arrow. "They needed rescuing when you gave the order. I still follow the orders of my appointed superiors. Within reason." he added.
"Of course." Sofia looked at the wrecked theatre.
Rtas walked over to one of the burnt walls, touching it slightly. "Tell me about this 'Cohen'."
"Sander Cohen was a musical composer, and one of Andrew Ryan's strongest supporters. He composed 'Rise, Rapture Rise', the anthem of the city. Sander's duty was to create propaganda for Ryan's objectivist Rapture, and his actual talent could be questioned. The splicing drove him insane as much as it empowered him. He specialized in teleportation and Incinerate plasmids."
"It would have been a tough fight." Rtas remarked. "There were at least 10 arrows in that…mutant's body. The Hylian had good aim, he would have killed a normal human with the first one."
"He told me that Casey had delivered the final blow after his bow was destroyed." Rtas blinked at her. "Well, Casey told me and he agreed."
"Remarkable." Rtas muttered. One the burns on the wall wasn't due to fire, but electricity. His hand buzzed when he placed it on the hole. "Those…three are more effective than I would have assumed."
"Yes…I would think they deserve a proper field test."
"They? The Hylian, the Chronicler, and her pet?"
"Yes. I've just received my new orders. The League's next target is in Hyrule. We can observe their effectiveness properly."
Rtas chuckled lightly. "The Hylian, I am confident in. The chronicler…I doubt she is willing to follow orders. And 'Jimi' is loyal to her, not us."
"Precisely why I suggest we only tell them the desired results. Perhaps…"
Rtas stopped her. "Speak to the Arbiter, not I. The two humans are under his command."
"Well, that was crazy! I was playing guitar, getting my first break in a while, and this teleporting psycho destroys my guitar and tries to kill me! Thankfully, my knight in green armor saved my neck. I did help a bit at the end, though…You'd like Link, Mindy. Real quiet type and old-fashioned like you wouldn't believe, but you'd be surprised at how well he can pull through when he's gotta. Anyway, I gotta go. Sofy tells me I gotta see her and Boss in the briefing room, 'something I might find interesting'. It better be good."
Link touched his burn bandages gently, wincing. He would've wanted his red potion, but the burns were minor enough for the nurse to bandage and leave to heal on their own. The lad guessed he could handle it for now. What really frustrated him was the loss of his bow.
He passed by the crematorium on his way out of the Medical Pavilion. The smell of antiseptic mixed badly with the smell of cooking human flesh. Link covered his nose as he walked out of the otherwise pristine pavilion, assuring himself that now that maniac would no longer threaten another person.
He had only wanted to get back to his flat in Mercury Suites and get some rest. But he had only arrived in Olympus Heights when he was stopped by someone he recognized.
"Link." Lara greeted him warmly. "Rtas told me that you handled yourself pretty well in the Fleet Hall."
Link smiled slightly and nodded. However, he wasn't in the mood for a conversation, and shifted past the woman. Lara turned to follow him.
"Listen. I know you haven't seen a lot of action since I brought you down here. I got good news."
"What?" Link finally asked, realizing that the woman wouldn't leave him before having her say.
"We've been given a new assignment. I'll just give you the particulars now. We've been ordered to collect something called the 'Triforce of Courage'…"
Link's pointed ears pricked up.
"…from nearby your birthplace, Hyrule."
Link whirled around to face her. Lara read his expression and chuckled. "Yes, you're coming. It's ironic, isn't it?"
Link nodded, shrugging a little. He was containing his excitement, trying not to look like a fool in front of Lara. "I'll get my stuff." He turned the corner that led to his suite and stopped.
He and Lara looked at something strange that had been placed in front of his door. A large present with clashing wrapping paper had been deposited there, and was surrounded by crayon doodles. Most prevalent was the words ThAnK YoU Mr WooF!just below the present. Link smiled. Masha. He bent over to pick up the gift.
Lara and Link looked inside. It was a crossbow, or at least a part of it used to be a crossbow. Now it had been welded and taped with machine gun and spear launcher parts. Beside were three cases carrying what appeared to be darts. One case contained normal throwing darts, another had darts with tiny red bottles attached, and another had blue-white 'bottled' darts. Link picked up the cobbled crossbow. It was somewhat hefty, but easy on the hand.
"Looks like somebody supercharged your bow and arrows for you." Lara remarked. She pointed to one of the white darts. "I wonder what this is."
Link wondered too. It took him a moment to figure out how to load his new weapon, but he managed to latch one of the white darts into the crossbow. For a target, he settled on the wall across from him and Lara. Holding the crossbow up, Link aimed like an expert with Lara watching.
The crossbow had a trigger like a gun, and once pressed, the dart flew straight and true, exactly where Link had aimed. When it smashed into the wall, the bottle broke and a white liquid splattered all over the wall. Upon contact with the air, it froze instantly, covering the wall with ice.
Link and Lara glanced down at the crossbow. An ice arrow? So the red bottle darts would be…Link was about to ready another shot when Lara stopped him.
"Mm-mm. Besides, we need to go to the briefing room right now. You can play with your new toy on the assignment."
"The current leader of the coalition we obey is one Eleanor Lamb. Yes, Lamb. Sofia's daughter. It would seem her experiments succeeded in a way. She was the one responsible for organizing the defense of earth, manufacturing the weapons and spaceships necessary. She is an undeniably excellent leader through both peace and war. But does that mean we should congratulate her mother? Sofia herself has stated that she is not proud of what she has done, but is satisfied with the results. What can I say about her? Can I trust her?"
"You cannot be serious!"
"You don't need to shout, Arbiter. I can hear perfectly well." Sofia responded calmly. "And why would I not be serious?"
"You would have me send that boy and that rebellious chronicler on a mission alone!"
"I never said 'alone'."
"Ergheg…Regardless! What makes you at all confident that those two humans are any sort of asset?"
"I'm not. I would like to be. Listen to me. I am proposing that we use this assignment to test how effective those two are. Don't interrupt me. This mission will not be as consequential or dangerous as the Mercer or the Anubis stone campaigns. We can observe them in action and see if we can utilize them on the field."
"The only way to see for certain if these operatives can be counted on is to test them, and this is the perfect opportunity. Would you have one of your soldiers languishing permanently at the base because you didn't know whether or not he could be used and wouldn't properly test him?"
"THEY ARE MY SOLDIERS, NOT YOURS! YOU WILL NOT TELL ME HOW TO USE THEM!" Arbiter boomed. There was a silence as the commander caught his breath. Sofia hadn't moved. She was not intimidated easily.
Sofia lowered her glasses and spoke again. "You're concerned about my power in this league? I was under the impression we would avoid power plays and politics in this place. Isn't that why this city fell? I am not telling you how to command your operatives. I am merely making a suggestion."
Arbiter glowered at the ruler of Rapture. "What if you are wrong?"
"What if I am not?"
Arbiter didn't answer. He simply sighed resigningly and walked out of the small 'conference room'. Just at the door, he turned to Sofia Lamb. "Remember your place, Sofia Lamb. You may be the owner of this city, but you do not command my operatives as you did your 'subjects'. Remember that."
With that he walked out, leaving Sofia to think about what he said. She did.
Casey and Link were waiting in the briefing room. Link stood to attention when Arbiter entered. Casey and Jimi didn't rise from their seats, but turned their attention to the boss. Arbiter sighed. This had better work.
"Both of you are going on the Hyrule campaign."