Forsaken Qualms

Don't Go... Oh, Beloved


Barsburg Military Academy, 1st March, 9:27 AM

“Next is Sou Culhwch, assigned to the Maintenance Unit. Then we have Tetsuya Dyer…”

Too many departments and too many names, mild irritation was starting to build up within Toshiro. Time, as infinite as limited it may be, easily elapses as each cadet’s department unit were revealed. All names were called in alphabetical order. This however was thinning the teen’s patience.

Toshiro was reaching the end of his line with waiting. The blond knew he would be the few last ones called; but how much longer will this take? It took rather longer than expected, despite there being only a sheet of paper fastened onto the held clipboard.

“Number sixteenth… Toshiro Rolfe?” Finally he heard his name being called out. Toshiro steps forward. Taking in a quick look at Toshiro, confirming his attendance, the officer then read from his clipboard. “You’re in the Reconnaissance Unit,” was the revelation.

Provided that random allocations were made apt to one’s capability accordingly, Toshiro was convinced his post ought to be in medical-based units. Experimentations on scientific background regarding human anatomy and natural science do sound intriguing.

Sure, there are other factors needed to be reconsidered. Majority of the vacancies are mostly paperwork and the like. In a sense, political affairs appeals the most at the moment. But for him to be assigned to the Reconnaissance Unit? Toshiro was… conflicted.

Toshiro had no clue, truth be told, what this unit’s function really was, its duties or the missions undertook by their personnel. Plausible to assume it as a task force that scouts and collects information, taken from its term of course. It was vague still however – the files he read mentioned so little.

In any event, the act of scouting might be a new experience for the blond. It is rather interesting, if viewed differently, to say the least. Acquiring vital information requires stealth, prudence and quick thinking. Toshiro understood he needed to cover more ground in these areas…

‘But the Reconnaissance Unit?!’ silently he hissed, disbelief. ‘The allocations must be flawed!’

Announcing the last two names, which of most candidates had tuned out by now (once they acquire their unit, that is), on the list, the officer finally finished. He then stepped back, returning to his original position whilst shadowing the lieutenant once more. With hands crossed back, still remained stationary; the other officer who had been idle throughout the whole occasion carried out his turn and gave the order.

“All’s said and done. Please assemble with your respective group members before proceeding on boarding the airships. You are dismissed.” The man probably had no important role to begin with – he was forgotten quite easily, which explains a lot of blank faces on the recruits’ expression as he wrapped things up.

‘Group members?’ Toshiro simply blinked as everyone disperse, adhering to the given command and gather around in clusters.

Perhaps he had been too engrossed in a world of own fleeting moment? He was having a headache just by assessing the mistake and in providing multiple reasoning as to why he was not compatible in such aforementioned department. Perplexed, lost even, Toshiro gawped at the happening in sight. And before long was the only one out of place.

The boy was embarrassing, no, humiliating himself.

Heaving a vexed sigh, Toshiro forced his legs to advance towards each clusters in hope to discover his fellow colleagues. Perhaps he should ask for help too. Though it would result in people viewing him as one who is incapable of listening to instructions, much less abide by it, and further exposing his mortification.

“You,” stated a voice out of the blue from behind. Toshiro stopped in time before he took another step. “Why aren’t you joining the rest of your affiliate?”

Grudgingly Toshiro turned around to face its owner. Another ranking officer as displayed from his badge. It appears that the man was late himself, given the fact that he was not at the airships – other officers alike were stationed at their vessels waiting for their inferiors’. Shouldn’t this man before him, then, take his post as well?

A salute was automatically offered. “Forgive me, sir! It seems that I…” the blond paused slightly – he could lie his way out, but lying ain’t going to help him in this situation. He might as well speak the truth – for appropriate words to explain, “have not been attentive to learn the names of my affiliates.”

“Ah,” the dark haired officer mused, “a stray aren’t ‘cha?”The man appeared rather crafty, Toshiro reckoned, despite having a respectable status. The superior eventually gave a knowing nod after a short while. “What unit you got assigned to, soldier? I wouldn’t want to be late if I were you.”

Toshiro was expecting some kind of scolding or a strict lecture or whatever, but the ranking officer did not present him with reprimands. The man was merciful enough to pardon him. What sort of ideas played in this person’s mind exactly? This superior was not too bothered by it.

Perhaps dealing with yearly the same rookie’s mistake, as akin to others before him, might be a feasible reason. Probably. Toshiro could not fathom it. So he answered.

“I believe I am in the Reconnaissance Unit, sir.”

Without warning the man let out a jolly laugh, earning the pale blond both a mini heart attack and a pat at the back.

“Boy, don’t you worry your pretty little head! I’m in charge with recons and the boss of you all. Lieutenant Colonel Hiro’s the name.” He sported a casual grin, as far as introduction goes. “I don’t have any unknown or lost twin last time I check so I’m the only Commander Hiro you’ll be seeing. You may call me as appropriate or sir but kindly avoid using mister at all times. If you value your file report that much that is. Respect the chain of command, then you’re good.”

Threatening gaze and pleasant tone do not go well together, Toshiro realized. He made a mental note not to anger this man in the near future.

“Welcome aboard, kid.” A huge grin returned and was plastered again onto the commander’s face.

‘Eccentric’ might not be an accurate word to describe the Reconnaissance Unit’s commander-in-chief after all.


Inside the airship, 11:27 AM

A similar introductory procedure was in order that day. Briefings included although short.

Commander Hiro repeated the dialogue he had said to Toshiro at the start of the recons’ induction, so the mentioning of mister and the effect it will take on getting a promotion earn big gulps from the newcomers.

Though one particular recruit, Toshiro, in all honesty, view the act of using threats to have things the way you wanted them to be weak, craven and ineffective. Pretty much illustrates what the commander was employing at the moment.

If one thought having mere clean records ensure one’s promotion, where was the effort, their hard earned work? Where goes the joy, the passion, of working your way out from the very bottom, from the very beginning, and then emerge as the top, to the very end?

Then they are badly mistaken: No one should have this sort of mindset.

Hard work guarantees success, not luck and it sure as hell is not some sort of a predetermined providence from God. Who would believe that? Only individuals who live in a world of crappy fantasy and delusion do not see the reality of it all explicitly.

Then again, Toshiro was only a low-ranking officer compare to the man of high rank which stood in front of them. The commander was far more experienced. More matured of how the real world works – possibly every nook and cranny – than the blond himself and his fellow greenhorns; an adult to top it off. Nothing that a teenage, lower insolent inferior who knew nothing of the world he is currently living could understand.

Who was him to have his saying?

Who was him to judge?

Seeing fresh recruitments were just taken today, some units either choose to: Start on their mission right off the bat; return to Hohburg Fort to report their selves; or wait for further instructions. As for the recons, they have a pending assignment to undertake. They were on an ongoing mission.

“I know,” began Commander Hiro sanguinely, “that some of you may or may not be satisfied with the unit you’re in. But look on the bright side, fellas! Least you can use this as a reason to go all-out. And before you know it, you’re already at the top! Heck, be my superior or something.”

Toshiro could not understand the enigma of a man who was supposed to be the commanding officer of the Reconnaissance Unit to be so… carefree? He was already having second thoughts about the man’s attitude and personality as the appropriate leader-figure he claimed to be from their first meeting – if one could ever call it. Then this flimsy encouragement came up.

For a captain in his early thirties, Lieutenant Colonel Hiro gave his statement rather half-heartedly and the way he represent it was seamlessly imprudent. Not that the blond was complaining of course. At the very least their superior was being friendly towards his subordinates for the very first day. He was unsure whether the coming days, weeks, months or years will be the same.

“Back to the subject at hand then…” The commander cleared his throat, bright and breezy tone instantly gone. He was dead serious.

Either the former attitude was purposely made to lessen his lower recruits’ discomfort or the man has a serious case of multiple-personality disorder or worse, both. Well, not at all worse – Toshiro did not know. For all the boy knew, he underestimated the man’s professionalism, and apparently so did the others.

There was a slight tension in the air and Toshiro could somehow feel it… as if the situation itself was trying to choke him by means of its rigid influence.

“As you might’ve heard this beforehand…” The commander paused for a more dramatic effect. “Teito Klein has escaped.”

And the effect it gave was tremendous.

Murmurs were heard and it immediately filled the airship, verifying the rumour that had been spread less than twenty four hours around the academy. No surprise there. However, at that revelation, Toshiro felt his heart sank. To the extent of him being unaware of the held breath he was suppressing until his lungs burned for air and finally gave out on him.

The blond drew in air slowly through his nostrils then breathes out some using his mouth, calming himself to rid the apprehensive feeling. Some sort of lump was caught in his throat. He felt his bile slowly rising, ready to vomit its contents, but Toshiro managed to bottle it up. He seriously wanted to vomit but he swallowed it back into his stomach.

He gripped his hand. He needed to recompose himself, fast.

“Anyone who basically has any or an association with said refugee was to be taken into custody.”

Toshiro felt eyes staring at him as the commander said this. He well knew guilt was agitating him; his mind was misleading his senses. The teen was in the red – he understood this – considering he was both directly and indirectly involved. In a way. It would only raise suspicion if he shows any changes, even the slightest, in his behaviour at this point. Toshiro could not afford to be caught now, that’s for sure.

“We have already tracked down the deserter’s location,” he heard Commander Hiro continued, “and currently, we are to pursue him. It is believed that his crash point is at the north-eastern side from here. In other words, he’s in the 7th District. Let me remind you that –”

The pale blond did not bother to hear the rest of his talk. An overwhelming reaction was taking over his emotions behind such neutral face.

As a heavy pain – like cursed chains that were binding him at last release its lock fell down to the ground with an easing thump. Free! – has been lifted from his chest, Toshiro lessen his taut. He was glad, relieved in fact, that there were no mentions about Mikage. Yet…

Why must he find himself nearing the one place he swore never to return to?!

They were going to enter District Seven. They were going inside that accursed church.

To where Teito is situated; to where Mikage had set off.

Damn fate probably laughing their asses off and looking down on him from above. They really do have a cruel sense of humour.

“Hiro-sama,” one of the officers quietly working on the sophisticated terminals suddenly spoke. “We are nearing the site, sir.”

“Oh,” said commander asked back, “we’re there already?” He looked back at the mapping as displayed by the terminals. Lieutenant Colonel Hiro was rather pleased with the discovery. “This brings back memories…Reminds me the time when I had my first mission like you kids here. We didn’t have runaways at that time though. Just the usual, good old-fashioned miscreants doing all sorts of damage. Not that much different from today…”

“…Sir? The mission, sir.”

“Hmm? Ah, yes, yes. Forgot ‘bout that.” He laughed. “No point in wasting time here then. Get ready, men. We’re good to go once we land.”


Barsburg Empire, 12:20 PM

Few distances away from where Toshiro and the Reconnaissance Unit are located, a particular teen was heading his way towards District Seven.

The harsh heat of day was beginning to take an adverse toll against the teen’s being. Large sum of energy were used and lost, the constant need to black out due to exhaustions are bound to happen. He just didn’t know when. After all, spending hours and hours of travelling under the sun on foot without a means of transport exerts a whole lot out of people.

And here is a teen, in the middle of it all, that was taking a big step towards accomplishment.

Yet he continued to walk across the many miles of barren land under his feet. He was enduring what the world would throw at him.

Though fully covered, a hood on his head and a cloak on his person, the teen had to quicken his pace. Noon was approaching in few hours time, it would be best to reach a sheltered area than having the sun in the open loom over one’s head. It was as if he was in a miniature microwave-oven with these coverings. It was hard to keep a cool head in this nature. Even a beast should know its limit.

Then he stopped. Abruptly the cloaked figure stopped in the middle of his journey.

Dust and sand battered his body in all directions as they gradually began to collect on his being. The wind came to pick up speed. Behind his hood, a smile was tugging the corners of his mouth – the crossed-shaped scar on his cheek overtly seen. A wave of relief hit him.

He was near. He had come from a long way, and he was this close. He was near to his friend again. His best friend. He could feel it.

Mikage was going to see Teito again.

It appears that he was not the only one whose destination is the same. Without doubt the district stays true to its reputation as Barsburg’s Greatest Church. The place lived up to its name, thus the reason why there were a considerable amount of people lining up from afar. Mikage wasn’t sure what the occasion is about. He assumed it was normal, seeing the church known for its popular haven amongst both civilians and criminals.

‘Just a few more steps to go… A few more steps to go and then I’ll be able to see you, Teito.’

Oh, how much he misses his best friend’s presence so bad. He wanted, he desperately wanted, to see Teito again.

To be able touch him and reach a living form than grab invisible air that easily slips through his fingers; to feel the body warmth of a boy beside him than an empty, cold, space at his side; to embrace him into a hug and assure him everything was going to be okay with a ruffle of his silky hair. There were so many things Mikage wanted to do when they see each other again.

And teasing him was part of it.

Ah, yes. Teasing… he always missed that.

They were inseparable. Like siblings they never knew they had. If that were to happen, that – Mikage think – would be wickedly cool. No longer as friends but blood brothers who swore to die together, a special bond that could only be shared through this connection. Of course, their current relationship does not mean that it was not important. Both share the same purpose: They are friends.

Mikage began to wonder, as he made his way to Barsburg Church’s entrance, whether Teito had really survived his crash outside these walls. Just outside these surrounding walls. The crash site was quite far away from civilisation, possibly an advantage or a disadvantage, but still in District Seven’s zone regardless.

If Teito did survive, he was certain this district should be the best place and a good start to look for him. But he was not sure on where to find him either.

Teito is one reserved kid, he could tell. Apart from his evident awkwardness amongst people, his tendency to stare callously at others and his mindless choice of wordings because of the simple reason he knew nothing on how to react, the brunet was quite gullible.

Mikage chuckled lightly at a particular memory. One such memory was telling Teito he would grow taller if he drank his milk. It was true of course but Teito was sceptic. The brunet was desperate to get taller, but not that desperate. He didn’t like drinking dairy substances apparently. Always those pills and protein stuff with him. But, with a lot of teasing, which involves his sensitive height, he finally yielded.

The very reason of it all was because Mikage dislike drinking milk himself.

At last the vast gates of the church opened widely, granting its entrance upon outsiders and at the same time granting departure for its insiders. Mikage came to realize this was the first time he ever came to visit such holy sanctuary, which meant that he knew no one or the group of people he could turn to, to seek help.

The church was amazing, no, magnificent! Maybe those words offend how grand the place really was. The church was simply extraordinary. The area was already bustling with people as soon as he entered – a whole lot variety of them. And they seemed… happy, here.

Mikage felt extremely tired all of a sudden. He did not know why but his knees felt weak under him, ready to give way. He could see the reason why.

There, amongst many individuals, stood a familiar teen he knew right in the middle of it all. Emeralds meet ambers. Two pair of eyes merely stared down at one another, both trying to weight between falsity and veracity. Amber eyes were the first to soften its gaze.

“Teito,” the taller teen breathed out as he lowered his hood. “Thank goodness… You’re alive.”

Mikage was overjoyed. He was relieved... he was overwhelmed! There was Teito – his Teito. Right in front of him. Next thing was a blur as Mikage saw a glimpse of brown before he was embraced in a tight, longing hug.

Time stilled. The moment, meant for only them.

Maybe… Just maybe... they could be happy here as well.


Outskirts, 7th District, 6:27 PM

He was too arrogant, perhaps too ignorant as well, to believe that they would actually enter District Seven’s territory. The irony of Toshiro. Perhaps he was overexcited, too uptight, forgetting minor details like that. He was too focused worrying about the potential violation of the vow he made that he failed to consider the problem at hand.

Everyone knew that the military are not allowed to enter District Seven’s place of safety. All due to a charter made between the two leaders, the King and the High Pope. For that reason, and that reason only, it is not wise to barge in uninvited.

Boarding off the ship with the rest of its personnel, the Reconnaissance Unit looked around their surroundings. Investigations on anything worthwhile or suspicious were to be reported.

There was nothing much to note really, so far. Only barren land with steep cliffs and hard ground were present; a wasteland to put it into simple terms. Definitely impossible for a creature, let alone a human, to be able to live here, or even survive for that matter, in such harsh environment.

What could be expected from the periphery away from the inner city anyway?

A large scar in the desert was identified during aerial view where the supposedly thrashed hawkzile was located. A one kilo radius search around the area was conducted once the unit neared the site. To Toshiro’s greatest relief, no corpse has been found. Indeed a damaged hawkzile was discovered, but there was something wrapped around it. He could not tell.

With the others busy examining the scar and hawkzile, and the senior officers writing reports regarding the findings, Toshiro moved forward curiously. “Flowers?” he gasped though it was more to a whisper. A glimpse of green vines and coloured petals came into his field of vision.

Toshiro was bewildered. ‘Where did this greenery came from?’ It was still fresh too, he noticed. The vehicle was undoubtedly the one Teito used to escape with. Where was the coincidence of there being another hawkzile? But the appearance of plants could have not been his doing.

These plant lives were manipulated.

As far as Toshiro knew of, manipulation zaiphon is rare. So rare, he never encountered a living soul who would possess this kind of ability. That old man notwithstanding. Albeit there being plain manipulation applied as he manoeuvred those flowers, it was pure healing zaiphon mannerism.

But these flowers… His forsaken treasure…

How long has it been for him to witness their beauty? To touch those delicate herbs under his finger tips; to feel their essence of tranquillity; to sense the animated life those plant lives can give and create; to converse and listen to their language?

Does he still remember that old man’s teachings?

Toshiro was losing his bearings as realization struck the pale blond. After all those years… encountering such forgotten memory unexpectedly – he was having a hard time to grasp the whole concept. This was all too soon, too sudden. Toshiro felt devastated.

“This is bad…” Commander Hiro interrupted, gaining his subordinates’ attention and, more importantly, brought a prompt end to Toshiro’s stupor. “He may have escaped to the church.”

One of the senior officers volunteered, “Sir! Then I will have a unit sent immediately to the church.”

“No,” the commander said, turning down the harmless proposition. “I’d like to avoid that.”

Slightly dazed, Toshiro tried to collect his scattered thoughts and concentrate on listening to Commander Hiro. The lieutenant colonel began to explain the role of the Barsburg church, revealing things that some were not even aware of its existence. He highlighted ‘God’s Territory’ and their ‘Law of Sanctuary.’

He basically talked about the church’s special advantages towards giving protection, may it be criminals or civilians. Toshiro secretly scoffed at this as other recruits feel as sense of awe at the fact. But because of that law and guaranteed protection, neither the government nor the military have the power to tap into the system. They cannot lay a finger on them publicly.

“What’s wrong newcomer?” Commander Hiro asked a highly disturbed recruit once he finished. “Your face looks pale.”

And true to his words, said recruit was indeed pale. He was staring down the floor, suddenly interested in fiddling with his feet, before looking up. The black haired inferior stuttered in his speech.

“S-sorry, sir…I-it’s just that I remembered what my grandmother used to tell me… There are monsters called the Seven Ghosts inside that church!”

Amused, a crooked smile was tugging the corner of Toshiro’s lips. It had been a while since he last heard those words before – “The Seven Ghosts.” A myth about the death god Verloren and the seven heavenly lights being told from generations to generations, spoken from mouth to mouth and finally, as a form of conviction held by the people.

Thinking about that now, it all seemed incongruous. Back to where he came from, and other similar places, these gods were reserved but here… they are feared. If only he could laugh at their ignorance and prove them wrong, the world would be a better place. And perhaps be united under the Empire.

A few moments in time passed before the Reconnaissance Unit ended their task for today –enough for Toshiro to recover his sanity from the past encounter with the green life as well. The sun former sun that had risen above their heads has already set. It was high time to head back. They have had taken ample time investigating and analysing the area.

Before the young blond made his way towards the airship, as the others did alike, soft voices whispered by his ears out of the blue.

….go…

He halted his tracks. Was he hearing things now? He must have come down with something which had made him become this delirious. Maybe he should not have been curious; it was a mistake to find that greenery. And yet, he was bound to confront them. With or without curiosity. Toshiro shook the thoughts away and continued.

“…Stay...

Toshiro looked over his shoulder but nothing was there except for those blank, bleak surroundings and the unclaimed hawkzile. That was another unit’s job to take it back to headquarters. ‘This is not funny.’ Toshiro was annoyed. The stops which he took cost him to be the last one who still had yet to embark their means of transport.

But something was amiss… Something was not right.

Toshiro cannot seem to explain it, but the discomfiture feeling kept pestering him. There was this tugging sensation that kept hindering him from reaching the airship for far too long. There may be some hidden importance for this disturbance. But what...? What is it?

Don’t go. Stay...

Instantaneously Toshiro twirled on his heels only to be taken aback by the phenomenon ahead of him: The earlier plant lives are swaying in the air!

Many times he blinked and many times he rubbed, still he could not believe his eyes. Toshiro refuse to comprehend! Last time he checked, he needed his glasses to see properly. So he took them off. The scenery was as clear as crystal, neither blurred nor vague.

Has his poor eye sight suddenly become better? Preposterous!

The young blond could accept the logic that those plants were able to move side to side because of the help from the wind. No question about that. It has to be a rational explanation, is it not? So how the hell in that fucking Chief of Heaven’s retard name did those plants supposed to sway in the air when there was no wind blowing at that time?!

There are many strange things in this world, and this has got to be one of them.


Fort Hohburg, 1st District, 7:45 PM

There was to be a meeting taking place back at the military headquarters in District One. High ranking and senior officers alike were summoned – including the Military Academy’s head, Chairman Miroku – to discuss matters over the fugitive, Teito Klein.

It had been a proper political ambience within the conference room… that is until Chief Ayanami, bringing the rest of the Black Hawks with him, arrived. Presence of hostility lingered in the air along with apparent disgusted faces. But to the young man that rose as the high rank of Chief of Staff within a ridiculously short time-span, he paid no heed to their antics. The meeting began as soon as the members are seated.

Discussions over Teito Klein’s whereabouts were reviewed. And as revealed from given reports, there were remnants of a crash in District Seven.

Chief Ayanami simply watched as each of other higher ranking officers, clearly older than him, with their mundane behaviour making a fuss over the current issue. They were quite childish in presenting the matter with such immature debate rather than exhibiting a much, more refine, formal meeting. His calm demeanour however amplifies the ill will of most officers.

One of the senior officers suddenly spoke, directing his attention towards the young chief. “Why don’t you explain to us, Ayanami-kun…” purposely the elder addressed him in a snide manner. “?Why did you let him run away?”

The silver haired saved his breath; his subordinates were the ones to answer him.

“Teito Klein just came back to take something he forgot, right, Aya-tan?” the cheerful voice of Major Hyuuga innocently replied. Then, followed by his blond Begleiter, Konatsu Warren said; “I’m sure that he’ll come back here, even if he doesn’t want to.”

Colonel Katsuragi, an older man amongst the Black Hawks, glanced up from his book. “I look forward to meeting with Teito-kun,” was his lax echo before returning his attention to a held book in hand.

“Do you guys even have any serious motivation in this?!” Being part of the elite group was one thing, but that does not mean they can slack off. All senior officers alike seemed to agree. “Especially you!!” berated the same senior officer, “You on the left side!” Specifically he refers the blue haired Begleiter, Haruse, carrying a snoozing child with the rank of a Lieutenant Colonel – his superior, Kuroyuri – in his arms.

“Yes! We do~!” came most of the Hawks’ reply. Somewhat light-hearted as if it was a trifling matter to engage on. If one were to carefully observe their faces, they would know this was a jest to them. The tallest of them all panicked however, slightly disoriented due to his attention being centred on the smaller figure he carried.

A disapproving commotion was triggered as a result. And once again, for the most part, it was aimed at the unfazed youthful man.

“Think about your position as staff officer! Did you really need to inspect the school? Stop doing what you please!”

“Besides, you…! You’re just a brat!”

“Aren’t there other things you should be doing?! Impertinent youngster!”

Chairman Miroku calmly intervened, “Now, now. I was the one who called him to the school.”

Offended officers set their eyes upon the aging man. More protests were ready to be spewed but it quickly dissipates in the presence of the former field marshal – a highly regarded man Miroku is, to put it simply. The uproar was temporarily quieted down.

The chairman then puts his attention at the Black Hawks’ commanding officer.

“You’ve met him, eh?” Miroku began, propping both elbows against the sturdy long table, as he started a new conversation with the young man under his supervision. Fingers meshed with each other making a bridge, he continued. “I was considering assigning him as your Begleiter.”

There was a moment of silence before Ayanami finally gave a reply. “…Thank you for the thought, but I have to decline the offer.”

Personally Ayanami had no interest in having another Begleiter really. He was not planning on creating some sort of attachment with another human. And yet everyone kept on pushing potential candidates to him.

Never giving him a chance to decide for himself… It was too painful.

Memories of the past still lingered in his mind, dancing along his vision with the memories of that person whom he deeply trusts. That person. The only one whom Ayanami had truly loved… The man he loved with every part of his soul, the man that was everything to him.

Sometimes the silver haired man thought he could see silhouettes of him appearing when he was alone. Sometimes he could hear his voice and his soft laughter when he let his thoughts wander. He could feel it; he was turning insane.

Unable to grieve properly like a normal human, unable to forgive himself for being the cause of his death… He punished and punished himself, but he knew He was the one to blame it all:

That Chief of Heaven took everything away from him!

First, it was her… and now, him. Curse that Chief of Heaven, curse him a million folds! He would never forgive Him, his Creator, his so-called father. Until the ends of time, he would never forgive Him. He would live. Live to see His downfall.

An apathetic person that he is often viewed, Ayanami locked his heart. He reduced even his close relations with the Black Hawks to that of professionalism. He could not afford to lose another subordinate again.

No. That person was more than that: He was his beloved Begleiter, his wonderful helper, his great and dear friend, his one and only Yukikaze.

No one can replace Yukikaze.

“Is that so…”

Miroku was slightly disappointed at his answer. He hoped that Ayanami might open up again and began to accept another Begleiter again after a good, long, ten years had passed. He has a bright future ahead of him. That man really needs to move on; he had mourned enough over that person’s death. If he still insists on being this stubborn, when will Ayanami man up?

“Then,” the elder have a go again, suggesting another potential applicant to offer, “what about that other boy you’ve helped during the examinations? Although he is unrivalled to Teito Klein, he does excel in his zaiphon skills and swordsmanship.”

“I am aware of that,” Ayanami admitted, bringing to mind a certain Toshiro Rolfe in the picture. “However; the fact that he came from the Rolfe House, his allegiance to Barsburg is highly doubted.”The Church and the Empire weren’t exactly on good terms if truth be told.

As a man with strong loyalty towards Barsburg himself, call him a nationalist if you may, Chief Ayanami deemed it unacceptable when he found this particular knowledge. Who would have known that capable young boy came from a family of bishops? It was no wonder the boy has proved himself to be gifted in zaiphon, healing zaiphon in particular, but the weapon he carried raises questions.

Was it meant to hide his place of origin? It did not look that way; he did not make any effort on masking it. Others were not bothered at the slightest as well – the relative teamwork during the exam proves this. Does that mean the Academy already knew of this, then? If that is the case, why would they allow it?

Nevertheless, in spite of everything, that Rolfe boy certainly piqued his interest. Ayanami was intrigued.

The boy wanted to be a soldier; a church person wanted to be a soldier. Laughable alright. He found it ironic upon reading his application to the army – for the country. If Ayanami hadn’t known any better, the boy was rejecting his religious conviction. The light of the gods practically left him.

Perfect.

That boy will surely be made into a usable pawn, feasibly a worthy benefit when time calls for it. Until then… he would have to be kept in check.

Then there was that Eye’s candidate – or so what Miroku tends to believe – is another matter that needs to be brought up.

“But the boy…” asked Ayanami, referring to a certain green eyed brunet. “What will happen when he finds what he has forgotten?”

The chairman let out a small chuckle. “I’m looking forward to that more and more. Aren’t you, Ayanami-kun?”

There was a peculiar glint in his superior’s eyes, top that with a smirk Ayanami knew too well; Chairman Miroku was hiding something from him. Again. Although he shares valuable information with him, Miroku still neglects to inform him of the details.

Did he not trust him? For all those years they knew each other, a pact of mutual camaraderie basically created between them. He was the only man that disregards his whole being as warsfeil and values him as a normal individual; an asset. For that, Miroku have Ayanami’s respects. But something did not add up. He was curious.

What was so special about this ex-battle sklave he held so highly? The boy was his best student, countless of times he had said this, was there something more? And why did he mention that other boy? For what reason does he have a connection in all of this?


Barsburg Church, 7th District, 8:11 PM

The sun had set and in turn night began to fall, replacing clear blue skies with silent darkness for the world and its inhabitants to rest and drowse themselves to forty winks.

The church in District Seven seemed empty now that myriad number of visitors left the area as the gates closed its entry for the day. Those who had not made it on the other hand were allowed to stay within the building as guests in the guest rooms.

Along the many empty corridors of the church sat Teito on the concrete bench that serves as a public resting place. He had changed from his former tattered clothes into fresh white garbs provided, similar to what the people here wore.

Alone and deep in thought, he watched as the clouds slowly drifts away. A pallid moon which glowed dimly hidden behind the greyed clouds was revealed, giving a somewhat melancholic mood for the occasion. Perfect for reflecting the events that had played earlier on.

‘I wonder if Mikage is doing all right, ‘thought Teito worriedly. ‘I hope he’ll get better soon…’

Hours had gone by since his reunion with his best friend. Teito was extremely glad; beyond relieved – elated! – that Mikage was safe. How he desperately ran up to him, burying his face at Mikage’s neck and hugged him. Never to let go and snuggle closer… Teito felt his cheeks getting warm. But that didn’t matter. Mikage is here now. With him.

Teito planned on leaving the church that afternoon. In order to rescue Mikage from the evil clutches known as the military, he could not afford to stay here any longer. Especially when that man was involve.

Ayanami…

Teito hissed the name like it was poison; the kind of name that would instigate some sort of curse to befall upon him. Just thinking about it makes him sick.

But when Mikage fall unconscious under his embrace, slipping from his grasp, panic and fear engulfed Teito. A feeling so strange it exhibits an alarm in him – it scares the living daylights out of him! He frantically cried out… for someone, anyone, to help his best friend in need. Thankfully those three bishops came to offer a helping hand.

Frau, Castor and Labrador were their names.

Teito met these three figures when he regained his consciousness prior that morning. They were wearing strange darken clothes at first. Naturally Teito was very wary, fearing the trio were enemies. The reason why Teito was surprised when he was told he was in a church. Wasn’t bishops supposed to wear white robes?

Frau was a tall blond man. Despite being a bishop, he freely carries around porn magazines without shame.While Castor, the russet haired wearing glasses man, was this seemingly friendly bishop; although his attitude towards Frau changes quite considerably. And finally, the shortest amongst the three was Labrador, a gentle and nonchalant violet eyed bishop.

For what little amount of time he spent around the church, Teito figured the people here are very kind and are very eager to help; the sisters in particular. How can anyone be so kind to a complete stranger anyway? Never thought he would interact with the opposite gender so the brunet was pretty embarrassed at first. They gave him a set of fresh garments, helped clean his wounds and happily guide him throughout the church for instances.

And the bishops, they were in more ways helpful. Well… except Frau. Who made him bishop? Bishops like Castor and Labrador were decent people. The latter having given him a flower.

A silver rose to be exact.

But what was it for? Labrador said it was a protective charm. If that is the case, why can’t he give the rose to Mikage? No answer or even an explanation was given. Castor only helped fasten it on Teito, saying the flower was meaningless unless the brunet wears it.

‘The next time we talk to each other, where should I begin?’There are so many things Teito wanted to tell Mikage. Problem is he wasn’t sure where to begin – his memories in particular; being the child of the fallen Raggs King and all. I wonder if I’ll be able to explain my past to him clearly…’

Guessed that Teito would have to wait for tomorrow. Mikage must be tired from his journey. Distance between District One and District Seven seemed relatively far, moreover when travelling by feet. Via hawkzile was a different story.

‘But come to think of it… How did Mikage know where I was…?’

Teito however let the thought slip away. Footsteps were heard echoing throughout the corridors, causing the brunet to turn his head at its source. A hooded figure was walking towards him.


Barsburg Church, 7th District, 8:31 PM

With the Barsburg Church serving special products, not to mention a delectable delicacy, of District Seven which consists of eyefish stew and edible flowers, dinner was quite a feast tonight. According to the church’s staffs needless to say. Some of the guests and denizens of the church were found chatting their time away while some were eating their dinner inside the dining hall. The atmosphere was rather lively.

Meanwhile, in one of the rooms of the church’s hospital, a certain lilac headed bishop was left alone to attend Mikage that night. It was evident on his face that he was overly exhausted. Once his head touched the pillow and body lay flat on bed for a few moments prior, the tired teen had fallen asleep in that instant. However, soft groans and whimpers ensued in his sleep every so often.

As if he was in tremendous pain… Or was he simply having a nightmare?

Sitting on a chair positioned near the bed side, the petite bishop watched with worried eyes as a bed bound Mikage sleep soundly. His chest subtly, taking slow and light long breaths. Labrador had a feeling there was something off about the boy. He could sense it, but he was not too sure what that feeling exactly is.

Therefore, as a medic, it was Labrador’s responsibility to keep an eye on the boy lest any unwanted problems were to arise. Better not make that happen then.

“Urgh…”

A painful yet weak moan was once again heard. Quickly, the whimper acquired Labrador’s attention.

There was a slight stir from the patient, but no signs of Mikage ever waking up at that moment or anytime soon. Promptly Labrador stood, nearing himself towards the bed to check up on Mikage. Tholed agony was evident on his cringing face, grimacing at an unbeknownst suffering he endures. What was happening to this boy, what was tormenting him: Labrador did not know. A hand was extended out to reach the bedspread that had slide down a bit…

Bones? No… A winged bone?

Labrador blinked and stopped midway. The vision disappeared in a flash – he could not make certain of what he had actually saw. Towering over Mikage, he leaned down closer towards him. Two orbs belonging to its owner stared curiously at the apparent sleeping teen, concentrating its gaze to discern a clear image out of the blurred vision earlier on. Lavender eyes became wary and troubled. The gentle bishop did not like what he sees.

Some skeletal framework of a wing was wrapping its gaunt appendage around Mikage. Unworldly strings connecting the boy and the quiescent wing were tied at each end. The wing was eating Mikage: A clear sign nothing good will come up from this.

Who had done this?

His worries not at all waning, Labrador pulled his back from its prior position. It was not his place to be involved ahead of time. If he were to act now, Labrador fears its dire consequence upon the boy. There was nothing he could do but wait and watch the situation unfolds.

Labrador left the room and made his way towards the garden. The variety of flowers which grew there welcomes the lilac haired with warmth and whisperings only he could hear greets him. A smile found its way upon the man’s lips; they were a sight for sore eyes. But it soon vanished in the same manner as a gust of wind carrying coloured petals blew past him.

“The one has come…” came their urgent whispers. “The one has come!”

Labrador was confused. The flowers surrounding him became restless all at once, excited and saddened. A mixed of reactions. He never seen his plant friends acted this way before.

“My dearest,” the gardener gently asked as the flower petals swirls around him, “what do you mean?” Voice implied half worry, he was hesitant to ascertain whether the news the petals brought was a forewarning or not. “Who is “The one” you speak of?”

Whispers mellowed, they replied; “One who can understand us… one who can speak our language. Similar yet different beings you and he, Profe… A human…”

“A human…?” Labrador repeated. He touched the petals in attempt to soothe… Poignant, they are poignant. Labrador understood their incitement.

“Sad and conflicted… our human friend. Once lost and astray, now found again. Lead him, guide him… Save him before it is too late…”

“Lab!” a familiar voice called out. Labrador turned around, revealing a shock of chestnut that belonged to Bishop Castor. “Am I interrupting?” Castor asked as the petals makes its departure drifting along the evening’s wind.

Labrador shook his head in response. “What's wrong?” He walked up to the taller man.

“There’s a kor in church’s grounds,” Castor said solemnly. It earned the lavender eyed bishop an alarmed expression and a look of understanding. “Frau is being reckless again.” The shorter bishop between the two chuckled quietly as Castor heaved a tired sigh. “Before he does anything stupid as usual, let’s go.”

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