"Aven Nterru. Species: Sangheili. Designation: Elite. Rank: Minor. Aiming skills: Average. Is capable of wounding or killing attackers and reasonably skilled with Plasma swords and grenades, but has difficulty with precise aiming from long distance. Piloting skills: Slightly above average. Able to pilot most dropships and covenant vehicles, though not to any significant skill level. Intellegence: Average. Additional notes: Will follow orders to the letter given by superiors but appears to have little respect to anyone who does not have a higher rank than him. Subject has instigated several minor scuffles between elites and humans after the Halo wars. Bad temper and bitter overall nature. Overall, subject is best suited for guard work and simple grunt work. Supervision is recommended."
-Coalition soldier database
"Excellent." Aven groaned from the cockpit of the transport. "Simply excellent."
When he had volunteered for the assignment Sofia had brought up, he wasn't expecting to be supervising the chronicler on a trip to her home city. And to do what? To investigate a 'lead' regarding some performer in the city, who was alleged to have the Dark Prognositcus! Please. Aven felt this was a waste of time. His REAL superiors, Arbiter and Rtas, were already seeking that book elsewhere. Why were they looking here, on a random hunch?
Still, Sofia was still technically his superior, so he was obligated to follow her orders. And honestly, he was desperate to get out of Rapture and do something other than guard work. He wasn't relishing the prospect of the dinmaker telling him where to go because she was the 'expert' on this city, but he would do his assignec duty.
Link and Casey were talking in the back of the transport. Well, Casey was talking. She sounded oddly cheerful considering what happened on the last assignment, but Aven chalked it up to returning home after so long. There'd probably be a delay with her reuniting with family, but Aven was prepared to weather through it. This was already a waste of time. What would be 10 more minutes?
Strangely, Aven was glad the swordsman was coming as well. His cut from the boy's blade was still healing after so long, but he still felt oddly comfortable Link was with him. Maybe just to absorb some of the chronicler's attention. He'd heard quite a few good things about him from the Hyrule mission (though he still didn't understand what was so special about this human) so maybe he would help get this 'assignment' over with.
The elite tensed when Casey and her pet walked into the cockpit. Jimi seemed to have healed up since the Orre campaign, although with all those scars it was hard to tell. "How long until we get there?" the girl asked.
"A few more minutes." Aven answered. The coordinates Sofia had given him were displayed on a nearby screen, and the transport was moving straight towards them. "We will arrive before the sun sets."
"Great. Right, you'll need to land by the outskirts of town. We don't wanna get too much attention."
Although Aven loathed the fact that he was taking orders from this girl, he had to acknowledge the logic of her statement. It wasn't anything he didn't know, however. "Thank you. Any more suggestions on where to land, Chronicler?" he muttered.
"Hmm…" Casey glanced back at where Link was waiting. Her gaze dwelled on the tunic and chainmail he wore. Not the most inconspicuous of outfits in a town like Venturas. "Actually, yeah. There's somebody I gotta talk to…"
"Could it not wait?"
Casey sighed. "Yeah, if we wanna stick out like sore thumbs when we get into town. Link looks like some fairy boy cosplayer, and you…"
Aven shoved his wrist into her face, presenting his camoflauge device. "No-one will notice me. The scientist finally repaired my stealth module. Took him long enough. You do not need to hide me, Chronicler."
"Ok, ok, I got it. But Link can't turn invisible. I need to borrow some threads from a friend for him."
"Very well. And where is this 'friend'?"
"I'll tell you when I see it." Casey replied, taking the copilot's seat.
Aven took a deep breath. It's an assignment. You're not answering to her, you're answering to your superiors. These two are your responsibility. It would be wise not to hurt them. "Very well."
"Lately when I've been cleaning, I've noticed that a lot of floors around Rapture have this long, continous scrape. The rugs and tiles have this long cut I can follow, a shallow cut that doesn't break. It's as if someone was dragging a knife across the floor…oh…I forgot he was still around…never mind."
Back in Rapture, Mario had just finished welding a grate onto the air vent outside 'Failsafe Armored Escorts' in Point Prometheus. Rtas had theorized that the burglar recreated the security bots using scrap metal from the lab. However, Mario had been so busy he had only gotten to it now. Still, a job done was a job done.
Mario heard a faint scraping noise in the distant background.
Before he had time to think on the noise, Gordon walked up to him. The scientist was wearing his white labcoat, and was clearly frustrated. His eyes were narrowed, his mouth was silently cursing, and his arms seemed to flail about like someone trying to grab something that kept escaping their reach.
Mario was confused by this outburst. Gordon had always struck him as a reserved individual, not someone who would act like this. Then again, he had never really met the man. "Ah…hello?"
Gordon frowned. His mouth moved in an angry fashion, but no words came out. As soon as the scientist noticed this, he stopped trying to speak and started gesturing.
Mario blinked. "What's wrong."
Gordon's hands flew about, seemingly at random. He gestured to his eyes and his hands, pointed in several directions, tapped his palm as though something should've been there, placed his fingers over his glasses like a scout, and generally shook his hands and head in frustration. The entire thing played out like an incomprehensible game of charades. Mario could gather that Gordon was looking for something, but couldn't figure out what it was. First his hands were curled in a fist, then the thumb was pressing something, then they were twirling about, then Gordon flat out gave up and threw his hands at his sides.
Mario gave the only answer he could. "I wish I could help."
The mute scientist took a deep breath and started gesturing again. He was in the process of pressing an invisible button when a jarring scraping noise suddenly echoed through the hallway. Gordon whirled around before nodding a hasty 'goodbye' to Mario and leaving.
Mario blinked before returning to his work. "Odd…" he mumbled as he replaced his tools. Once everything was back in it's proper place, the League's handyman turned to walk out of Point Prometheus.
He rounded a corner and encountered Pyramid Head.
Mario gasped. He had forgot that huge man was still in Rapture. Mario's eyes were drawn to the colossal blade still fused to his hand. Instinctively, the handyman hugged the wall beside him, making himself as small as possible.
Luckily, the huge man didn't seem to notice him or care. Without acknowledging Mario's presence, Pyramid Head slowly walked by the stock-still plumber. His Great Knife dragged on the floor, creating a long, shallow scrape. With a loud Skreeeeeeeeee the knife wielding giant walked right past Mario without even stopping or slowing down.
Mario didn't move until Pyramid Head had slowly walked out of eyesight. Once the earsplitting screeching had quieted down somewhat, the man carefully removed himself from the wall and quickly walked to the bathysphere station. He'd have to ask Sofia about that giant…once he had his breath back, of course.
"I met Casey at the mall a few months ago. I was at the Pokepiercing place when a bunch of the PETPricks showed up with signs claiming I was 'abusing' my Lucario. Tony liked the earrings, and he didn't have a damn problem with the piercings! Unbelievable. Then this girl walks out of the tattoo parlour with a really banged up Pikachu, and suddenly the 'poor abused helpless victim' Lucario gets completely ignored. The girl in charge tried to 'rescue' the little guy by grabbing it out of the girls arms – brilliant strategy - and got a good thundershock for her trouble. The blonde chick grabbed her pet and told the protestors to piss off, and I knew I was gonna like this girl."
It was almost sunset, and Green Pipes Point had closed for the night. A lot of skaters had insisted that it would be totally hardcore to skate at night, but insurance and safety standards said otherwise. Didn't stop a few reckless dudes from sneaking in to booze it up and try to smash their heads in. Mindy's Lucario acted as a night guard, driving off the idiots who would risk the park getting closed as a safety hazard.
Mindy was quite used to her Pokemon nudging her awake to deal with the latest bunch of morons who needed to be tossed out. Lately though, she kept waking up expecting someone else. The car Casey borrowed was returned by the cops a few days after Mindy lent it to her, and she hadn't been able to raise Casey on her cell or at her apartment no matter how many times she tried. The rocker was reported missing a few weeks later, causing a huge stir in the music industry. Not that her band really cared…
So when Tony came up to her room and started pointing excitedly at the door, she felt a surge of excitement and hope. She tried to suppress, having been disappointed several times already. Quickly stumbling over the mess that was her boyfriend's wardrobe, she opened the door, trying to maintain a straight face.
That face quickly dissipated when she saw her friend, Jimi on her shoulder, smiling and looking as if nothing had happened.
"Casey!" Mindy wasn't really one for hugs, but for now she figured 'screw it' and embraced Casey in a bear hug. Casey gulped, more than a little surprised at this show of affection. The entire thing lasted for a second, before Mindy released her friend and started asking questions in a somewhat harsher tone.
"Where the hell were you? What happened? Why didn't you take your cell? You vanished without a damn word, no note or message or nothing, for months! And now you just show up? What, were you abducted by aliens?"
Mindy's eyes wandered to the boy standing beside Casey, smiling and waving awkwardly. The boy with long pointy ears, bizarre clothes and deep blue eyes. Mindy blinked before returning her gaze to Casey.
The rocker smirked and rubbed the back of her head. "Long story."
Mindy heard a very audible groan of frustration coming from apparently nowhere. Her eyebrow raised. This was gonna be interesting…
"Casey Casey Casey, fucking Casey! What's so damn special about her? I'm the damn singer in the band, but half the world don't know my name! Nope, it's all about Casey! Ever since that nitwit Joe blabbed that she was the one who wrote everything, the entire music industry decided that Casey was the goddess of rock and we're her goddamn backup! Fuck!"
Explaining the entire story to Mindy would take a significant amount of time no matter how Casey paraphrased, so it was decided to save some time and have Link get a new outfit while the two girls were talking. The invisible groaner simply leaned on a wall nearby and waited impatiently. Mindy pretended not to notice him (or Tony growling at the unseen intruder) as Casey relayed her story.
Link was rather conspicuous in his green tunic and cap, so Mindy suggested he go through her boyfriend's wardrobe to find a good outfit, as well a backpack to hide his sword and shield. The minute Mindy saw the ancient weapons, she gave Casey a very unusual glance.
"What is this guy?"
"A green knight." Casey answered, shrugging and smiling.
"Is he spoken for?" the girl joked.
"Yep." Casey sighed.
Mindy didn't quite get what she meant, but simply chuckled and changed the subject, handing Casey a suitcase. "I saved your stuff from the landlord when the rent ran out."
Casey smiled broadly, and a feeling of glee washed over her when she held her guitar. The Les Paul standard was perfect for her – a strong body for making excellent music with enough decals and painting to make it look interesting. Somehow, she felt like herself again having her own instrument with her, after the one she'd borrowed in Rapture. She strummed a few notes to make sure it was in tune. It wasn't, but that was quickly fixed. "Thanks, Mindy. That's another one I owe ya."
Mindy nodded. Casey went into another room to get changed out of the old, bland outfit Sofia had supplied her with and into her own clothes. With Link sorting through a rather messy closet and Casey getting changed, Mindy and Tony were left in the room with the-alien-who-wasn't-there. Tony was still growling lowly at him.
"Easy, Tony." Mindy snorted. "Mr. Invisible ain't gonna shoot me, are ya?"
Aven tensed, unseen. "How do you see me? I thought Gordon had fixed this!"
"Word of advice? Sneaky guys don't talk." Mindy snarked.
Aven let out a low sigh. Not interested in a conversation with this friend of the Chronicler, the elite simply moved away. Casey and Link weren't going anywhere…perhaps he could make himself useful and check his ammunition. Resolving to keep a close eye on the house, Aven walked out the door to check his weapons.
Casey and Mindy resumed their conversation through the door. "So, how is this 'Link'? You know what I mean."
"Actually, I wouldn't know."
Mindy blinked. "What? Why not?"
"I tried. Scared him off. He's like a little kid sometimes. Other times…" Casey sighed. "Well, I'm just glad he's with me. The kid's a real saint."
"Mindy, he's like Sir Galahad Jr, and you know what I had to do to scrape up money for the band before we got big. I really don't think I should…" Casey sighed sadly and changed the subject. "Say, how's the band?"
"Just friggin' fine." Mindy groaned. "Ya know, they're doing their last concert tonight as 'Sight Readers'."
"Seriously?!" Casey was angry at first, but reason took over. "Well, be fair. I did disappear. Who've they got for a guitarist?"
"Judy. You know, Max's girl."
"The Punknut? Huh. Didn't know she could play."
"She CAN'T. The fans are pissed. They protested the last 5 concerts, you'd think those guys would get a clue."
Casey blinked. "Wait…last five?"
"Yeah, they had five concerts with her. In fact , the day after I called them to ask them where you were, there was a tweet about another Sight Reader concert. You should've heard how the crowd booed when they realized Judy wasn't you."
"WHAT?!" Casey was getting angry now.
"Yeah, they didn't even look for you! They just went ahead and shoved Judy in and carried on like nothing's happened. In fact, you know that sponsor you wouldn't accept?"
"Wait, you mean Eric?! Don't tell me they…"
"Yup. They signed up with him. Not that it matters, since the bands officially ending tonight. They're claiming it's 'creative differences' but it's because they're not getting the attention you got."
"Those friggin…Where's this 'final concert'?"
"The old Contest Hall. Everyone's going, cause they hope you'll give them a decent sendoff. The way the band's going, that ain't gonna happen."
Casey burst out of the changing room. Her conservative shirt and shorts had been replaced with a leather tube top and tight-fitting jeans. Crimson boots completed her renewed rocker appearance, with her standard necklace and belt around her neck. Jimi was perched on her shoulder, smiling now that his old mistress was back.
"LINK!" She bellowed.
The boy in question quickly stumbled out of his own dressing room. His tunic and tights had been replaced with somewhat-intact jeans and a green military jacket he quickly threw on when he heard Casey yell. His cap was still in place, however. The boy did a double take on seeing Casey's new look.
Casey groaned on seeing his head was still covered in that weird looking cap. She promptly replaced it with a green toque, making sure to cover his ears.
Casey smiled at Link. "Alright Link, grab your stuff. We're going on a friggin' date."