The Company That We Make
Barsburg’s Military Academy Hall, 29th February, 1:37 PM
The final examination came to an end after each and every group finishes their finals. Those groups who had completed the exam at an earlier phase were allowed to recover from their life-threatening trial – Group A was one of them comprising only a Teito Klein and a Mikage Celestine who passed.
Tarrying outside both teenagers watched as medics, coming in and out the hall, carry the wounded heading towards the infirmary. Less than half out of each respective group made it by the looks of it. There were no deaths or fatally injured, thankfully, recorded this year.
As time elapse, still there was no sign of Toshiro.
Mikage and Teito had been waiting for his arrival since the end of their turn. They were beginning to worry whether he would really make it. The brunet especially – he knew the three of them should have been in the same group.
Then again, this was pretty weird for Teito…very unlike him to fret over others. Risking his straight face and reveal emotions instead, that is. That was supposed to be Mikage’s job for crying out loud!
Well, sort of.
Speaking of Mikage, Teito knew he too hope the blond isn’t one of the victims. Not that he doubted his ability or anything… But dare he say it? Teito was slowly opening up to him. Toshiro left an impression.
Mikage was first to spot the teenager they were waiting on. Though there were scratches and dirt on his body, Toshiro was alive and well. He and Teito rushed over, relieve as well as gladness were obvious as they came to greet him. Mostly Mikage’s doing of course. The blond seemed to be troubled however. Furrowed eyebrows and eyes deep in thinking illustrate it.
“Why are you acting all depressed now?” Mikage asked curiously at his pensive bespectacled friend, snapping said boy in question back to reality. “I’m sure you did great!”
It was awfully nice of him to assure Toshiro that. But the fact he had done rather badly in the exam did not make him feel any better. It was the contrary.
Toshiro gave no response. He was sceptic to grasp the Chief Commander of Staff, let alone an officer, interfering with a student’s (or anyone for that matter) exam. Toshiro thought his group was the only one spared, but it turns out that Group A was also included. It made things… intriguing. The chief’s actions probably raise questions in everyone.
What kind of person this man is? Was he not this infamous daunting of a leader? Had he gone soft then?
“You two,” Toshiro began. “Do you have any idea why the Chief of Staff interfered with the exam? As far as I know, there had not been any intervention taken from the staffs in years. Wonder what reasons that led the chief to become the first…”
Mikage shrugged at the statement. “What’s important is that Teito saved my life. I really thought I was a goner! Right, Tei –”
He was forced to stopped midway. The cheery look Mikage gave changed into concernment as the brunet he turned to was lost in thought. He was very silent too, oddly silent, since Toshiro first addressed the query.
“Is something wrong?”
“That man…” Teito brought up his fingers to his chin. Now that they mention it, there was something peculiar about that man from the moment he saw him. He probed his brains out and yet, there was nothing. He could find nothing about the man; he can’t seem to remember. But his gut feeling told him he had seen him before.
“Don’t worry, Teito!” Mikage said optimistically. “Whatever it was, I’m sure it’ll come back to you.”
Teito, however, remains quiet and continued to be troubled by his train of thoughts.
“Pardon the interruption. I would like to stay and chat, I do, but I do not intend to linger. If there is nothing to add on, I rather take my leave then.”
Knowing Lloyd-sensei, Toshiro was sure he would get an earful from the man. When your practical class teacher said he wanted to personally see you, expect something important he had to discuss. Better not make him wait.
“Oh, Shigure-sensei wanted to see our student file report before graduation.”
“Crap…” Teito looked flustered. “I forgot to hand in my report to him. Why didn’t you remind me, Mikage!”
“Ehh? Why’re you putting all the blame on me?” countered Mikage. “You’re the one who agreed we should wait for Toshiro-kun here to finish. Don’t deny it, Teito. You were worried.”
“Shut up!” And the banters went on.
“Children, please…” Toshiro frowned, unimpressed at their display of maturity. “Yes, I appreciate the fact that the two of you are willing to wait for me, but there is no need to go through all that trouble for a single person. The reason why this had turn to… I have no idea. In any event, pass the message to other eligible candidates would you.”
Teito had turned back to Toshiro. His green eyed gaze was as hostile as their first meeting. “So you’re giving orders now?” he asked, looking cantankerous.
The latter raised his eyebrows. “How can a simple request possibly be an order?” Toshiro said, waiting for Teito to subside his misconception. But he was too stubborn to own up his fault.
“…Well, I’m going back to the dorms,” Mikage announced before turning to Teito. “You better hand that report. I did mine~"He winked. “And you said I’m not being serious enough.”
Toshiro ignored another round of verbal debate, hinting it would go physical, from the two as he headed to the faculty office. He might as well take up Lloyd-sensei’s offer after all.
Barsburg Military Academy, 3:42 PM
Chief of Staff Ayanami had learnt that out of 500 candidates that took the Begleiter Exam, only 19 students have passed. Apparently this year’s cohort produced fine soldier, of course that boy, Teito Klein – the chairman’s pupil – was amongst them as well as that blond.
Toshiro Rolfe was his name.
To think he was incapable of summoning zaiphon was a mistake. Misleading one’s perception with that seemingly frail, willowy body…It was inevitable taking him too lightly. What surprises Ayanami, though, was that he uses defensive zaiphon.
He assumed the blond was more onto the offensive, considering the direct yet reckless approach he took. It proved to be successful nevertheless in overcoming such considerable magic. But in the end, he did not execute the judgment of death justified upon the criminal in his own hands.
It was the same with Teito Klein.
Indeed the boy has potential but the hesitation he bear led to Ayanami’s frustration. He acted without thinking. Killing the group’s target and triggering uncalled for interference in the exam. What was done is done: A leader needs not to question his actions. He trusted his instinct, and instincts told him to repeat yet another offense towards the latter.
If only he was firm – such that bold expression translating his obstinate, proud and guiltless demeanour – he will not doubt his obligation.
‘I suppose I should conduct an interview with the boy.’ To what extent can the blond surprise him? He seemed like a bright fellow. Morals probably blinded him between obvious wrong and obscure right. ‘Perhaps he is more than meets the eye.’
That, Ayanami intends to ascertain. It would be a shame to let this one go unattended. For now, there are other affairs to attend to. Personal matters come second.
There was to be a meeting that late afternoon. Bringing one of his subordinates, Lieutenant Major Hyuuga – a black haired man never seen without his distinctive and borderline against uniform regulation shades – the Chief of Staff departed from the temporary room where his personal unit, the Black Hawks, occupied at the moment and marched towards the designated area.
Hyuuga freely let out a yawn, showing his accumulated boredom as they strode along the corridors. “Ne, Aya-tan, I’m curious,” he spoke, straightening upwards from his slouched position. “I understand why you do that to Teito, but why him? Is it because that boy wears glasses, hmm?”
“Whether he wears eyewear or not, that is irrelevant,” the chief answered coolly.
“Aww… Don’t say that. I can change these lenses to clearer ones, if you like. Wonder how I’d look in them though.”This time Ayanami did not answer as they have reached their destination and the doors to the conference room opened.
Finding Chairman Miroku and some senior officers present, the meeting commences. Discussions about the Eye of Mikhail went into session with the chairman leading the discourse whilst displaying the royal necklace of Raggs which he brought during his speech.
The necklace made from bronze was unique itself, presenting the humble imperial insignia the fallen kingdom once were. A red jewel called the Eye of Mikhail was fixed in the middle. Through it, this jewel symbolizes God’s divine protection. After the Raggs War, however, the Eye went missing.
Supposedly only blood relatives can control this power. The military performed autopsies on all of Raggs’ royalty to search the stone, but none had it. Thus one of the reasons why army based institution was training cadets in creating strong and excellent candidates to host the Eye.
And it seems Chairman Miroku advocated Teito Klein as one of the potential vessels.
While they were discussing the matter, said boy happened to pass by the room and heard the conversation coincidentally. He was curious why officers were talking about him so he neared the half closed door to hear properly.
When the necklace came into view, at once fragments of his dreams came bursting which resurfaces as unpleasant memories and cause massive headaches to his amnesiac mind. The clank of dangling loosed metals sounded nostalgic.
In the scene, Teito saw his younger self watched as men clothed in uniform surround a man in garbs wearing that particular ornament. Their leader swung his sword at the older brunet and struck him down. Blood poured from his wound, draping the white earth with the colour of red.
He wasn’t sure but something told him the brunet was his father. His father… the very same man constantly appearing in his dreams lay there lifeless and dead on his pool of blood.
Blind rage overtook Teito’s whole being as hatred flowed into him like some sort of adrenaline.
It was him. That silver haired killed his father!
While Teito readied his zaiphon to direct an attack at Ayanami – a means of ambush if you may – but the man sensed his presence beforehand. Albeit alerting the others of their uninvited guest, Teito all the same waste no time and charges in. Offensive zaiphon raised he jumped towards the chief.
Before he could actually lay a finger on said person, Hyuuga intercept and immediately disarmed the boy. Locking his hold on top of him, Teito was left crushed under the weight of the bigger man.
“Don’t do that,” Hyuuga said lightly as Teito trashed about to get free. “If you stand against Aya-tan, I’ll have to kill you.”
Still the brunet move violently from his clutches. Teito could not accept defeat. All this time… his father’s murderer was right under his nose. Right in front of him. In this very room!
“Why were you aiming for me?” Ayanami demanded with calculating eyes. He received no answer from the boy. Instead a glare of unmistakable hatred in those two green orbs stared defiantly at the older man, refusing to answer. A feeling of déjà vu hit him.
“Come to think of it… he’s that sklave that was picked up in Raggs.”Officers without delay stormed inside the conference room at once.
“Take him away,” the silver haired youth ordered whilst they take the rebel into custody, safeguarding him from further means of assault intended towards Ayanami. “Until I go there to get him, keep him in prison. If he happens to know something, make him spill everything.”
Dormitory, 5:34 PM
Nearing the bunk bed, Toshiro freely let himself fall onto the thin uncomfortable mattress with a thud. He ignored its lack of softness as gradually weak fatigue overcomes his whole body. It appears that the action and excitement for one day was enough for him, most due to the exam earlier on. The day had drained him.
Lain there on his back Toshiro heaved a weary sigh. Maybe he should go up to his own share of the bed. Since his bunkmate was nowhere to be seen, Toshiro may have to overlook their agreement for once.
His gaze found not the usual ceiling wall but metal webbings of the upper bed, he let his mind wander. A frown overtook the blond. “What a fool I am,” he chided himself. He remembered what the criminal had said to him.
“Don’t kill me.”
It was ambiguous at first but Toshiro could tell the words were foreign yet familiar. The criminal spoke a lost language. Language he never expected to hear again since its eradication some time after the war.
For three simple words, his secure judgment had been utterly affected. It reminded him too much of home.
Toshiro was determined to pass the exam with his own strength. The efforts, the studying and the betterment of his weakness he had worked hard in his life; he was prepared for the unexpected. But when he heard those words – those words – his mind changed in an instant.
Was it all for nothing?
“Failing than killing? What on earth has happened to you?”– That was what Lloyd-sensei had said to him when he agreed to respect his request of meeting him.
Toshiro had no answer to give him. Neither an answer he could give to himself. He remained quiet and muted, bearing his ears and listen reprimands from the veteran educator. Lloyd-sensei has his concerns for his students. He has his concerns for Toshiro: He could have fallen victim to that criminal’s desperation.
“Kill or be killed. Hunt or be the hunted. Many times I said this in class. We both know you understood this simple concept perfectly fine, but why didn’t you apply it in that exact situation?”
But he passed, did he not? Despite practically cheated, all thanks to a certain ranking officer stepping in, Toshiro absurdly remarkable passed. Yet he refuses to acknowledge this ostensibly legal result. He outrightly refuses.
Why did Shuri not passed the exam, then? Although poor term sparks between him and Teito and Mikage, they were a decent group. But learning Shuri had tried to beg for his life and run away, perhaps he is not a good example to argue his case.
Given the chance to graduate, however, Toshiro had to swallow his pride and accept it. Had to swallow up his pride…Just like what he did in those couple of moments in life.
And now this.
Sometime a year ago…
For someone who’s from the house of gods, it was absurd and unthinkable if they were to join Barsburg’s Military Academy. An institution to engender future soldiers: Not future clergies. It contradicts the very co-existence between the military and the church. But it seems the academy made an exception that year. Ready to take whoever wants to join the imperial army regardless where they came from. Especially if that person proves to be able to use zaiphon.
And Toshiro, a child from the church whom had shown prowess in said ability, had his wish realized.
The moment he enrolled, at once rumours – ironically true – were heard about him. Often targeted caused by his lowly stature in military ranks. None of the students should take the blame though, it was laughable. Toshiro nonetheless regarded the tittle-tattle as a form of simple prejudice among different ranks of society within the academy. He took pride in his origin still.
All in due time will they later know who Toshiro Rolfe really is. What a member of the Rolfe family can do.
Kept a low profile he did, hindering himself during the first few weeks – being unaccepted and frequently casted away made things easy. How he savour their pathetic astonishment for a reaction once they discovered he had done extremely well in classes, whether it be practical or written. Achieving top marks was nothing to him; he was born to learn and excel. Having made a name for himself, he captured the attention of a conceited, prominent boy in particular.
Shuri Oak, the son of the field marshal, sense his superiority amongst peers jeopardized.
Of course, Toshiro never knew said boy exists until the two officially met during one practical lesson. Two classes merge into one, students were instructed to group into a party of five on that faithful day. Apparently the two had been selected in the same team. All worked together and defeated the practice dolls their team was assigned to.
Needless to say, Shuri, showing his supremacy as well as his skills, dealt damage towards more dolls than Toshiro. It was not a big accomplishment really but it was enough for the former to declare his flair at the latter.
“You’re Toshiro Rolfe-kun, are you not?” the young Oak had first said to him, his words pure haughtiness. “My, you’re not as good as everyone had said.”
Toshiro’s first impression of the boy?
A snobbish, spoiled, narcissistic, proud, puerile, joker. Not to mention an annoying, childish fox-like blond. Later becomes a pest no matter how much he ignored the Oak, thinking he would lose interest on Toshiro. It backfired.
Shuri, not wanting the prestigious Oak family name to be sullied, deliberately stumble upon the blond. Pestering an interaction between he and him in order to make Toshiro notice his distinction among their colleagues. It was infuriating that he, Shuri Oak, was being discounted from his renowned presence by someone so low such as the pale blond himself.
Led to a somewhat decent conversation one day, which ultimately as a sign of acknowledgement to their fellowship. And later, an actual friend become of Shuri to him.
To be frank, Toshiro did not intend to familiarize himself with this boy – or any of the student body, in fact– but simply kept his distance away. His habit of courtesy that has been ingrained into his very fibre, however, led to the blond’s misconception.
If you can’t beat them, join them.
Barsburg Military Academy, 6:50 PM
Seated in his office with a couple of documents lay arranged on his desk, Ayanami was reviewing some files in an attentive manner. Particularly he was interested at Teito Klein’s files, the cadet who had attacked him a few hours ago. True enough, that boy was indeed the sklave originated from Raggs as he had conjectured.
‘Why hadn’t Teito Klein attack me before the exam?’ Ayanami idly wondered. ‘Perhaps he wanted a private opportunity…’
Without a doubt the boy has prowess in his offensive zaiphon, he certainly would have no trouble in killing the criminal. But the boy chooses to hesitate. And yet, at that moment, he decided to attack him during their meeting.
What is it that he was really after? What was Teito Klein’s true motive?
‘Does he know something about the Eye of Mikhail?’The chief continued to mull over various reasons of the boy in question’s deed. ‘It’s possible he purposely lay in wait to eavesdrop and caught us off guard. If so… it was a vain and feeble attempt.’
Ayanami then placed the report file down and reached out to pick another one – Toshiro Rolfe’s file. He was still interested in knowing what the blond was capable of, hence the reason he had ordered one of the juniors to call upon the boy to see him.
It would be nice if he could make the most out of Toshiro Rolfe and turn him into one of his pawns to use for disposal.
While waiting for him, Ayanami settle on skimming through said boy’s file. The lad was certainly a surprise. The chief learned that he came from District Six, a land once part of Raggs. Surely the people of Raggs who were not slain during the war were enslaved. So why did he and his family were rule out from the list?
…Unless, of course, they supported the Barsburg Empire. But that was highly unlikely.
There was a knock at the door, interrupting Ayanami’s contemplation, as Konatsu Warren – Major Hyuuga’s begleiter – entered the room. “Ayanami-sama, I have the information about Teito Klein that you needed.” The blond begleiter went towards his leader once he received his approval and gave the man the concern report he was carrying.
“Not much useful information is known about Teito-kun other than what we already knew,” Konatsu summarized his findings. “It seems that he doesn’t have many friends save for Mikage Celestine, the one who survived in Teito-kun’s group. Though as of late, as claimed by others, there’s another student that has befriended the two.”
The chief brushed his fingers against the document, turning over the pages as he glanced through. So the boy was an orphan, an ex-battle sklave and Miroku’s student. “Who is it?” Ayanami later on enquired after setting the report with the rest of its kin. Maybe those friends of his could be exploited.
“The cadet’s name is Toshiro Rolfe, sir.”
That single sentence was enough to rouse the silver haired man’s ever growing curiosity. An unknown twisted smirk crept onto Ayanami’s features then. Things were getting interesting… He would have to personally investigate the boy. Who knows what else are still hidden in that boy.
There was a sudden uncanny air in the room, and Konatsu did not like the look on his superior’s face. “Konatsu,” he flinched at the sound of Ayanami’s voice, quickly returning back to being attentive. “I want you to perform a thorough background check on him. If you found any results of the boy, report it to me immediately.”
The blond begleiter found it odd at the task he was given. Does this Toshiro Rolfe have anything to do with Teito Klein’s ongoing problem? Theorize all he can but Konatsu did not raise any questions, simply following the chief’s command. He saluted as his response and made his way out of the room.
Just when Konatsu was about to reach the doorknob, Major Hyuuga without warning burst inside the room with his jolly attitude lightening the mood. “Ah, there you are! I’ve been looking everywhere,” directing his statement at the Chief of Staff before glancing down to meet Konatsu’s startled gaze. “Ehh, Konatsu, didn’t expect you to be here.”
Said begleiter recomposed himself and gave an exasperated sigh.
“I should be the one to ask you the same thing. Shouldn’t you be working on those reports?” Konatsu berated his superior. “Honestly, Lieutenant Commander, we’ll get in trouble if you continue to neglect it at this rate.”The superior merely wave a hand.
“Now, now. You know I’m not good at that sort of thing,” Hyuuga said. “That’s why I have you to do it for me.” Their faces mere inches apart and that playful grin earn the Begleiter a slight bright tone from his fair, pinkish skin. Wasn’t enough for Konatsu to let him win their one-sided argument though.
Before the lieutenant could say another witty remark, a swift breeze past by him. Jolt of pain then was suffered inflicted by what felt like a braided cord.
Ayanami eyed his shades wearing subordinate authoritatively. “Finish off your work, Hyuuga.”
Barsburg Military Academy; 7:15 PM
Strange. It was all too strange…
The hallway was quiet – abnormally too quiet – much to Toshiro’s liking.
Prior that early evening, having been awakened from his minor repose, Toshiro discovered officers had entered the student house. With the rummaging of drawers and the likes – coming from the left side of the dormitory – as his only indication, he understood that a cadet’s belongings were being confiscated. Meddling typical individuals secretly poke their nose into where they shouldn’t.
He cared for no such things: It was a clear sign trouble was brewing. It had nothing to do with him in any way. But when he heard the officers mentioned a familiar name, confusion wash over him. The feeling was unsettling Toshiro.
What happened? Why are they seizing Teito Klein’s possessions? Are they arresting him?
Questions roused in his mind, but the questions were never answered.
One of his peers came up to Toshiro at the
spur of the moment, informing the blond that;
“Ayanami-sama wished to see you right now… scheduled an appointment… waiting in his office… better go quick.”
Thus the reason he was walking down this silent hallway of the Academy.
Every step that Toshiro took was nerve-wrecking. He did not know what he felt then; excitement, guilt and anxiety mixed into one. Guilty for leaving Teito, not knowing the real reason behind those officers’ doings; excited for meeting the silver haired chief for a second time; anxious for a probable admittance, which he doubted, into the Black Hawks.
One thing for sure, he was not feeling so well at the moment. Images of the previous occurrence played in his vision, similar to how a movie was being presented on a screen, accompanying his tread.
Of course, the brain is a far more complex mechanism to fathom despite being simply tissues and muscles.
The once warm hands are now cold and clammy. It was taking him too long…far too long. As if some force was forestalling his advances. Forever trapped in this maze. He had chosen this decision half heartedly after all. Maybe that was the cause.
And then he stopped. Toshiro finally reached the room where his interview supposed to be conducted.
He felt his body become rigid. Both hands clenched into fists, applying pressure as his nails dug deep into his skin. Slowly he releases his grip and inhaled a lungful of air to subside the stiffness. It was vain, he knew. Least it managed to lessen the pressure.
Gaining his cool poise, Toshiro knocked on the door. Automatically a salute escapes his mouth once he entered.
"Toshiro Rolfe, reporting as instructed, sir!” Greeting his view was Chief Ayanami sitting at his table, signing some paperwork, along with Lieutenant Hyuuga standing beside him. Toshiro stood confidently, determined not to show any signs of wavering. “You wished to see me, sir?”
“Ooo~ we have a guest?” the bespectacled man said first. He had this smile on his face that was no more than a slit above his chin. It seemed pleasant enough but the boy wondered how someone can smile like that. He turned to his leader with a hurtful look, “You didn’t tell me you were expecting anyone.”
The silver haired man ignored him. “At ease, soldier.”
Hearing his voice, Toshiro realized the youthful man’s tone was devoid of emotion. Monotonous and cold yet firm. The way he spoke those words… he could not help but feel the power of its timbre. No wonder the man deserve the utmost respect from others and was feared by.
“Have a seat,” told Ayanami after he finished signing one last paper, looking up from his work.
Toshiro cut down sharply, “Thank you, sir.” He made his way to the turned chair facing him.
There was a sudden urge to get away as he felt his every movement were being watched closely by hidden eyes. He couldn’t explain why, probably uneasiness affecting his judgment, but… he had the need to get away. Every part of his being said so.
And yet, he forced himself. Forced his mediocre self to resurfaces… Forced his body to stay… Push and fight away the apprehension. But it did not hide the discomfort. It did not hide the fear.
Truly, he had stumble upon a lion’s den.
“First of all, I’d like to congratulate you for passing the exam.” A pair of cold amethysts locks its stare against wary blue-green hues.
Toshiro could feel the gaze looked deep through his soul, as though trying to force its way in bit by bit, albeit breaking the gaze, to make him spill any secret he holds. He watched Ayanami fingered through sheets of documents searching for a file, assuming it was his, and turned a few pages.
“It seems that you possess quite remarkable talent in swordsmanship as well as controlling zaiphon. Good grades to boot none less,” Ayanami commented. “I am certain you will be placed under good care. Have you decided on what unit you hoped to be in?”
Was this the reason he was summoned? To be ask the unit he wanted to apply for?
Toshiro kept the inquiries to himself, refraining himself to avoid stating improper questions carelessly. It will be considered an offense. Not something he wishes to risk the consequences willy-nilly.
“I am honoured to receive such kind words from you, Ayanami-sama,” started Toshiro humbly, confidence slowly returning. “Though, frankly, I have no particular division that I have in mind.” He raised his gloved hand to cross over his heart.
“As a cadet, alike most yearns for, I simply wish to become a Begleiter to serve and assist my superior. I will be content to whatever unit I am to be positioned. So long as I fight and serve for the greater good of the country, in the name of Barsburg, that is more than enough –”
“Whoa there, boy,” a voice not of the chief interjected. “You don’t have to use fancy words like that, you know. Drop the formalities.”
“Remember that conversation we had about interrupting me, Hyuuga?” Ayanami said, silencing his subordinate before turning to Toshiro. “Although you have a bright future ahead of you, it’s quite discouraging you don’t have high ambitions of what you want to become. Getting yourself into trouble all the more may also affect your application, regardless of your status as a brilliant student or not.”
The man leaned in closer, interlocking his fingers to make a bridge without removing their eye contact. “Are you one of those people perhaps?”
Toshiro gulped. Judging from the way things are, was he in some sort of trouble? “I beg to differ, sir. I have no reason to commit an offense or the likes neither to the school body nor its students.”
It was true. For all his academy life had he never once broke the rules. Well, he did once wander around past curfew… That was beside the point!
“If I had, I would immediately appeal for my transgression.”
“I see... Then are you familiar with a Teito Klein?” The man spoke with an element of query, questioning than before. “I heard that you are acquainted with him.” Toshiro was puzzled by this sudden change but he nodded his head. Ayanami continue to stare at him then, as though analyzing his form to see his reaction before expressing his next question, “Are you aware that he had confronted me?”
The words hit him like a pang in his chest. Toshiro felt the world spun. The colour drained out of his face if he could see himself now.
Yes, he heard what the man said clearly. So very clearly. But… was he hearing it right? Teito Klein… rebelled? Toshiro did not know how to react or what to say for this. The information was new by his ears, grasping the reason behind the appearance of officers was to be the brunet’s mutiny.
But why would Teito do such a thing? Was he unsatisfied for the fact that the Chief of Staff had interfered? He didn’t seem the type to be easily offended by petty reasons despite being, Toshiro admitted, a defiant little kid. Does Mikage have a part in this? Since they are friends, without question he would stood by Teito’s side and support him. It doesn’t surprise Toshiro if they complot on doing reckless advances.
All because in the name of friendship.
The chief closed his mouth shut. He does not like to repeat himself. “I assume that you know the consequences of these actions,” he pressed on.
“I… I…” The blond could hear his voice tremble.
He knew exactly the penalty of the offending crime – interrogation, a slow process of torture. Of course, a torture is not a torture if it won’t work. Torture depends on the person, not the torture itself, and vice versa.
If one fails to give an answer, by all means, they would use force. One must be cautious, especially when dealing with an interrogator who is proficient in his job. Their punishment will be worse than death… such a punishment befitting a deserter.
Toshiro took a deep breath before he spoke, dismissing all negative thoughts and compose himself to remain civilized.
“It was all thanks to you, sir, I have passed. I am indebted for what you have done for me earlier. If it were not for that, I would not be here. I do not deserve the honour.” He looked down the floor, avoiding direct contact for a moment.
“I know of him, yes, but we are no more close to friends but mere acquaintances. Even so, I truly did not know of his… his rebellion.” His last sentence came out more like a whisper, realizing he knew nothing at all.
“Is that so…” Ayanami’s voice was cold but less questioning than before. He fingered through the papers which rest on his table, turning to a blank page and wrote something down which Toshiro could only guess was the findings of the interview.
“Ne, Aaaya-tan~ Are you finished yet?”
Toshiro stare at the smiling major. ‘“…Aya-tan?” ’ he dared not to voice this out.
The shades-wearing man, who deliberately pried in (again) after being dormant during the whole session, approached him. He noticed the man had inserted something in his mouth, a white stick poking out of it.
“Want a candied apple?” Hyuuga offered a red lollipop that he fished out of nowhere. Toshiro gaped at the older man in disbelief and back at the candy, unsure whether he should take it or not. Then he found himself fixated at the latter.
If one would say he was mesmerized… Well. He was enthralled.
‘Red… Oh, the sweet colour of red. Thick hardened liquid shaped into small bite-sized confectionery. Such goodness… such syrupy goodness, melted and savoured in one’s mouth with just one taste. A taste so heavenly, it seemed… surreal.’
“Major Hyuuga,” voiced the high-ranking officer threateningly, immediately ending Toshiro’s trance-like state.
The chief executive emitted an air of killing intent with his eyes slit ever so dangerously. Despite the hinting vibes, Hyuuga did not retract from the boy but kept smiling friendlily towards him instead. The feeling soon vanished when a noise was heard coming from outside. Ayanami stood from his chair and headed for the balcony, curious to know what had made it.
From where he was, Toshiro could not discern the noise but he knew it was similar to clatters caused by an operating vehicle. The sound got nearer and louder, and eventually a figure of a brunet was seen riding on a hawkzile.
He opened his mouth to callout the familiar brunet’s name but the words were caught in his throat. The teen only watched as the vehicle zoomed by. In no doubt he knew the army would not let go of him that easily. Not without a fight. Not with the Chief of Staff, in particularly above all, saw this beforehand.
Ayanami raised his gloved hand – his amethysts eyes glinting dark magenta – as red, blood zaiphon encircle it. He launched the ominous wave of energy towards Teito Klein but a shield was quickly created by the brunet to counter the cursed zaiphon, preventing him from severe injury. The impact however was enough to harm him. But by then, the hawkzile has already sped off into the dead of the night, disappearing into the darkness to seek her tempting solace.
For a moment there Toshiro felt a sense of relief engulfed him. Teito survived the chief’s wrath. Be that as it may it did not change the reality that Teito has been marked as a traitor. By the time he left campus, search parties will assemble. The military will hunt him down.
“R-reporting!” Two officers suddenly barged in. Apparently they are the ones who were in charge of the runaway. “Teito Klein has made a jail-break! We are currently pursuing him!”
Ayanami turned around, walking away from the balcony and stare at them flatly. “Where is Chairman Miroku?” The officers saluted as they inform him the man in question was away from his office. “…Let him go then. We’ll find out soon enough,” Ayanami instructed then. He turned to the only cadet in the room, “You may be excused, soldier.”
Toshiro heeds his command and saluted, at once leaving the area. As he made his way back to the dormitory, he could not shake the feeling that there was a strange glint in the man’s eyes when their eyes met. It was as if Ayanami had begun devising a scheme in that calculative mind of his. Toshiro wondered if this is how the finest strategist of the Empire works.
Whatever it was, Chief Commander of Staff Ayanami is a man that should be feared. A man that should not be made as one’s enemy. A man he certainly dares not to defy.
Somewhere up at the darken sky, 8:01 PM
It was a silent night.
No clouds were present in the sky, no stars in sight and the cool wind was blowing ever so steadily. Alas, the stillness of the night was disturbed by clatters of a revving hawkzile that accompanied the night sky. And on it was a brunet.
His white undershirt was in tatters, some covered with dried up blood stains out of others along with recent blood stains out of his. Both his hands and feet were in shackles.
From that harmful impact earlier, Teito have no idea how long the hawkzile would last. His fall was inevitable – it was just a matter of time – but with a bit of luck, land on other districts. Away from that accursed place known as District One.
He was tired, he was wounded and he was hurt. Suffering from unseen wounds, his emotional state was unstable compare to his physical state. His heart aches for answers… answers to the outcomes of what might ensue upon his saviour. Of what will happen to his best friend, to Mikage.
Why did Mikage have to do what he did? Why did he have to risk his life for someone like him, a mere sklave? Why did Mikage have to do such a thing? Why did he save him when he knows that he, Teito himself, can’t even protect him?
A thousand questions whys filled his mind. Without realizing it, fresh warm liquid rolled down his face.
Teito clenched the handle hard, gritting his teeth in frustration as the feeling welled up inside him. The fact that he was incapable, powerless to do anything, pained him. Getting Mikage involved in all of this was not his intention – Teito did not want him to become a criminal just for aiding his escape. He never expected Mikage to come for him, he never expected himself to resort using a weapon against him.
But there they were, acting like some sort of terrorist and hostage, purposely selling the make-believe to their… no, his pursuers. Of course, Teito knew the military would not buy their story but that was the least he could do for Mikage. Even so Mikage will still be arrested.
If only he didn’t know, things wouldn’t turn out this way. Things shouldn’t turn out this way.
But things were never that simple, is it?
Teito wished he and Mikage could have escaped together. That was selfish of him, Teito knew. Mikage has a home to return to, a family he had to protect and an honour to present them with too. Unlike him who doesn’t have a home nor a family, at least as far as his dreams had showed him.
There’s no one waiting for you somewhere, is there?
Closing his eyes Teito raked his mind for the good memories he had with Mikage. It did not help to lessen the pain in his chest but it soothes his core, smiling inwardly at the times they spent before this incident came to be.
It was just Mikage and him. Together always, never seen each other apart. Teito cherish their friendship… to the extent of sharing an oath to die together. Being friends became a new world to him. For reasons unknown, somehow, through this, an image of their new-found friend suddenly came to mind.
It wasn’t something he wanted to think right now. But… Does Toshiro know about this? About his uprising with that man Ayanami?
Teito hoped not. It would be best if that arrogant blond doesn’t. There was no need to involve him in this fray. He cannot afford to risk another life he knew anyway. There weren’t obvious attachments made between them. Good riddance. Teito wants himself and himself only to bear his crime, not others and certainly not his friends.
The journey was long and without doubt the night as well. But Teito had to remain conscious, had to fight the fatigued and sleepiness his body yearns for. Falling asleep is not the best option for now.
Sleep. He needed sleep. He wanted to at least close his eyes. Feel the wind blow in his hair and soothe him, gently embrace his body…
His mind was beginning to wander faraway. Away from the world he was living into the silence of the night that came to drown his sorrows. The last thing he knew, before he could allow his consciousness to slip, Teito listened to the sound of the engine acting as his berceuse.
Barsburg Military Academy; 9:29 PM
In one distant part of the academy, there exists a room that dares not to be specified hidden deep inside the bowels of the establishment. The partially furnished space which consists of only a chair had been kept dark designed for interrogation procedures to be conducted. And now, it seems, the room has finally been put under good use.
Bounded on the aforesaid furniture was Mikage Celestine with his head hang low. Time had long passed since his capture, being questioned along with some torture here and there, but he refused to talk. He refuses to unveil any information about the escapee, knowing that the military would track his best friend down.
Major Hyuuga, who was on guard duty that evening, was beginning to get tired from the boy’s stubbornness. He had to give some credit though for his unyielding spirit. Not a moment too soon Chief Ayanami entered the area.
“Hi Aya-tan!” Hyuuga greeted him enthusiastically. “You know what, this kid just won’t fess up! He won’t even play with me…” he whined, expressing his boredom in the follow up. As usual his amend was ignored by said leader.
Behind the black haired man revealed the form of the detainee once he neared the two. Ayanami sets his cold gaze into Mikage Celestine’s amber eyes, filled with hate and insolence, staring up boldly at him. Sparks light up between the two, prisoner and captor.
“I was taken hostage,” Mikage persisted after he was questioned again, recurring his statement for the umpteenth time. “Even if you torture me, I have nothing to say!!” This course of action cycled throughout their interrogation and Hyuuga was damn tired of that.
Hyuuga yawned. “Keep saying that all you want, but I know you’re not telling us the whole truth. I bet you know that I know you know something that we don’t.”He decided to try a different method then, put it up a notch to put it simply. “What about this?”
Confusion reigned at first but Mikage’s eyes grew wide, alarmed at the sight he beholds. An item held by the lieutenant major was a photograph. In the man’s hand was a photograph of his family. Just what are they planning to do with them? They have nothing to do with this!
“You have a cute sister~”
At an instant Mikage’s world crushed before him. They were using his family against him, his sister of all people! That feral smile…
“ “For my family.” When I read that on your army application, I was deeply moved. You’ll become an excellent man of great talent.”
Chief Ayanami continued to stare down at the boy. He saw his body stiffened, covered with a visible veil of sweat forming all over his body. Slowly Ayanami approached the silent boy from behind, placing a hand onto his shoulder before bending down.
“That’s why I’m offering you a choice,” he breathed the words near Mikage’s left ear, making said boy’s body to shiver from the closeness. “Your family…” the chief said, “Or Teito Klein.”
The boy shivered again but Ayanami did not care. He caressed his gloved fingers touching Mikage’s chin, again disregarding the fact he could feel his skeletal fingers: The bones of a shinigami; a death god – His true self.
“Choose which option you like and bring it to me.” Whispering his cursed mark, Ayanami continued. “Think well. If you choose neither, you will die.”
And with that, the silver haired stood. He gave Mikage one last glance. With his subordinate following him from behind like his shadow, they left the interrogation room.
Along the corridors leading back to civilization of the academy, Major Hyuuga broke the silence. “So what’s next?” he asked curiously, not halting the strides both take. “What are you going to do with that other boy, Aya-tan?”
Said commanding officer remained quiet, pondering on what to do with Toshiro Rolfe. Because of his association with Teito Klein he could be used to capture him. Because they boy showed genuine ignorance of the traitor’s uprising when he, the silver himself, personally mentioned the news, he could not use him to capture Teito Klein.
He was clearly innocent.
Ayanami rather avoid a loss of great potential for the army. It was regretful indeed Teito Klein chooses to dissent, chooses to run, but it cannot be help. Another loss was unavoidable either with that accomplice of his. But that other boy... this Toshiro Rolfe… he has that aptitude as well.
“We’re leaving,” Ayanami quietly said.
Perhaps that boy can actually be of use after all. A smirk creep his mouth.