“Welcome to Cometz, your one stop show for Pop culture,” The host called Mal greeted. “Today is the 29th of May and it is a wonderful sunny day outside.”
Ray and Pennie sat at Twilight Heart watching the TV program Cometz on the request of Benny. Pennie had hardly seen Benny since the Regal Night attack as he had started working full-time for the Cometz Studio. She watched as Mal talked to his usual guests for a while about pointless agendas in Pennies view. She was surprised that such boring characters could be on a popular show. Pennie became bored quite quickly and began to play with her phone.
Pennie loved the communication system called the Twilight Character Communication of Advanced Technology Systems, which she got a few months after joining Twilight Heart. TCCATS was a program designed by someone known as MAD in order to connect MLC guilds from across Le Alba. MAD created a lot of Oviri everyday items such as Light Shoes and many other forms of advanced technology.
TCCATS was practically an advanced messaging system that allowed a person not only to communicate through texts but also video chat. The program used mini characterised versions of the user to make those communications and also allowed the user to play fun games as well. Pennie particularly loved making her little character run around the moon.
“If you aren’t going to pay attention, then what’s the point of watching in the first place?” Zander barked.
Pennie removed her gaze from her phone and realised that Noah and Zander were sitting in the middle of the table in front of her.
“Oh, when did you guys get here?” she asked.
“They’ve been here for a while, didn’t you notice?” Ray said, his chin placed on his hand and his gaze on the TV.
“That’s right we came back from training a while ago,” Noah stated. “You were too busy playing on your phone that you didn’t see us.”
Pennie sighed, “Sorry. Where’s Charlottea? I thought she was with you.”
“She was, but she said she had something else to do,” Noah replied.
Ever since the Toivoa incident, Noah and Charlottea had been working with the older hamara Zander to become stronger. As both of the younger hamaras were unable to help in some of their previous battles, they decided that they needed to become more versatile in their abilities. Pennie was thinking of doing something similar, but she had no idea of who she should ask to assist her.
“Brayden, today is the day!” Lynx shouted, running up to them while waving an envelope in his hand. “Be ready to pay up because today’s the day I show you how smart I really am!”
Pennie sighed. Lynx hadn’t given up on the argument on whether Ray was smarter than him. Lynx was so insistent on proving it that he went out of his way to get an IQ test and made a bet with Ray that whoever had the lowest score would have to pay the winner. Ray didn’t agree to the bet, Lynx only assumed he did. Ray told Pennie that he’d let Lynx continue with his ‘delusion’ if it got him to stop pestering him. He also said that there was something he wanted to buy and had no reason to refuse some easy cash.
“Alright,” Ray muttered dully, not sounding like he wanted to talk to Lynx. “I won’t lose though.”
“We’ll see about that!” Lynx stated, slumping into a chair next to Pennie.
Lynx ripped apart the envelope and pulled out the sheet of paper containing his IQ score. It took a week and a half for the score to come, which had caused Lynx to complain and whine about how long it was going to take. Without warning, Lynx slammed his head on the table.
“The gap between us… it’s just impossible…” he muttered.
Pennie grabbed the paper from his hand. She tried to hold back a laugh when she saw the score. For someone who kept bragging that he was quite smart the score was pretty low.
“Eighty-seven is not that bad, right?” Lynx asked.
“No, not at all.” Pennie lied.
“It’s quite good,” Ray said sarcastically. “I didn’t expect someone like you to get that high.”
“Thank you. I worked really…” Lynx began before noticing Ray’s sarcastic tone. “That was uncalled for. Why do you feel the need to do that?”
“I kind of felt it was expedient,” Ray stated.
“And now you’re using big words to confuse me,” Lynx sighed. “Alright I get it, you win.”
“Finally...” Pennie groaned.
“Here,” Lynx gave Ray a hand full of cash. “One hundred just as promised.”
“Thank you,” Ray said, placing the money in his pocket. “Now that that is settled can you leave alone?”
“What? No, I told you so? No smart-ass comeback or something?” Lynx asked. “You know, are you even going to brag about your victory at all?”
Ray said nothing. He completely ignored Lynx and continued to watch the TV.
“Why are you watching this rubbish anyway?” Zander asked.
“Benny said there was going to be something important on today. It might be good for you to watch this too Zippy,” Pennie stated.
“Don’t call me that,” Zippy growled, taking a can of drink and guzzling it down.
“It’s now time to talk to someone in our community about a popular issue, who do we have on the show today Mr May?” Mal announced.
“Well Mal,” Mal’s co-host Martin May explained. “Today we are here with Twilight heart’s very own Benny Caruso to talk about a very important issue.”
“Benny is on TV!” Pennie shouted with excitement.
The TV showed Benny sitting on the guest side of the desk. He wore his platinum blonde hair slicked back and wore a nice violet shirt.
“Hi, there!” Benny exclaimed.
Zippy looked at the screen and spat out his drink in shock. Pennie and Ray couldn’t help but laugh when the little hamara complained about it coming out of his nose.
“Well, Mr Caruso,” Martin said. “Today we’ll be talking about the strange attacks going around Le Alba. This has become a very important issue, especially since yesterday’s attack on Lilith is the eleventh attack. Apparently, we know who the culprit is now.”
“That’s right. It turns out that the Aria army had been the ones behind these attacks,” Mal stated in a tone that was a little too dull for a presenter in Pennie’s opinion.
Bold words in bubbled writing popped on the screen.
‘Aria attacks! What could this mean for the future of Luminea?’
“Could you explain more about it for us?” Martin asked Benny.
“Certainly,” Benny replied. “The attacks began in Aria, somewhere in the Libra region, which was rumoured to be plotting against the Earl’s rule. This wasn’t enclosed at first because they first decided to pin the blame on terrorists. That idea was thrown out the window when the Border Village was attacked. As it is the only area in Aria that allows MLC or CSOG access it became common knowledge that someone in Aria was against our current governments. The attacks continued to Hotoru, Eir, Teila and Fondre and then began to cross Luminea’s border at Stell and Yuna.”
“And at that point, it was still unknown who was behind the attacks?” Martin asked.
“Yes, that is correct,” Benny stated. “It wasn’t until the Ludwick attack just over a week ago, CSOG surveillance cameras confirmed that the attacks were being carried out by the Arian Army.”
“Do you think this was planned by Earl of Aria or some rebellion?” Mal asked.
“It’s most likely to be under the direct orders of the Earl of Aria. It’s the only way an army could move so freely.”
“Could you tell us more about Aria?” Mal asked, suddenly becoming more interested in the conversation.
“Unfortunately, I don’t know much about it, but I happen to know someone who might,” Benny answered with a sigh. “Is it alright if I call them using the TCCATS system.”
“Certainly!” Martin and Mal exclaimed.
Pennie watched the TV intensely as Benny grabbed out his phone and began to put in some numbers.
“Benny, you couldn’t possibly be calling that thing,” Zippy said.
“Do you know who he’s trying to call?” Ray asked, removing his gaze from the TV to look at the hamara.
“Err yeah, an old acquaintance of Benny’s,” Zippy replied, as the phone rang on the TV. “But it’s highly unlikely she’d answer anyway.”
Ray’s gaze returned to the TV as the phone stopped ringing.
“Hello…” a woman answered in a dull tone.
“She actually picked up?!” Zippy exclaimed in shock.
“Ah, thank goodness you actually answered,” Benny claimed excitedly.
“Huh… Benny? It’s been a while.” the women yawned.
Mal grabbed Benny’s phone and tried to connect it to the Cometz monitor to provide the TV audience with the TCCATS video feed. However, all that showed up was the words ‘Voice Only.’
“Mity perhaps you could be of help, it’s something really important,” Benny asked.
“I really wish you would stop calling me that,” she sighed. “And why should I help you? I don’t particularly owe you any favours.”
“Please Mity, I just want to know about Aria.”
“Aria…?” the woman muttered. She remained silent for a while before speaking again. “Very well, it’s not like I’ve got anything better to do right now. What would you like to know?”
“Could you tell us about how Aria is governed and what the place is like?” Benny asked.
“I suppose I could tell you what I can,” the woman said. “Aria is known as the land of blissful winds. It is known for its unique entertainment, rustic beauty and huge cities. Unlike the rest of Le Alba, Aria isn’t governed by the MLC or CSOG, but by the Haiva Nobility. It is the only place that the Haiva have any power. Apart from the Duchess of Luminea, the Earl of Aria has the most power in the Haiva, making him almost like a King within Aria’s borders.”
“Could you tell us more about the Earl?” Benny asked. “Like why is he attacking Luminea? Is he really that bad of person? What would he gain from all of this?”
“That’s too many questions. You said you only wanted to know about Aria. Therefore, I’ve got nothing else to say to you.”
“Please, just one…” Benny tried to ask again.
“I can’t say anymore I have no intention of continuing this charade,” The woman said bluntly.
“Bye,” she said before hanging up abruptly.
“Sorry I couldn’t get any more information out of her, she’s extremely anti-social and won’t communicate with anyone unless she deems it unnecessary,” Benny said with an awkward laugh. “Hopefully that provided you with a little more information.”
“Having that information may come in handy, anything to help us with the issue at hand,” Mal stated.
“That’s true. Since the attack on Ludwick eleven days ago there have been three more incidents in Maii, Lilith and Lumi.” Martin explained. “Their activities have increased in such a short amount of time. Why do you think that is?”
“It is most likely because they’ve been discovered and have sped up their operation,” Benny stated. “They lost the element of surprise, so now they can probably attack us whenever they please.”
“Unfortunately, that makes them still unpredictable,” Martin claimed. “With them so close to Espoirs Lumineux, many fear that war between Aria and Luminea is just around the corner.” After a short silence, Mal made his closing statement as the show came to an end. Pennie turned off the TV and sighed.
“Kaela was right; things are getting worse.” She said with a worried expression.
“What I don’t understand is why they have let this go on for so long,” Lynx claimed angrily. “I understand the CSOG, but why isn’t the MLC doing anything?”
“Unfortunately, making a move is impossible,” Ray replied bluntly. “We aren’t governed by any kind of monarch, Luminea is governed by the CSOG and MLC together, and neither are on good terms at the moment. If one or the other were to suddenly go out and fight an unknown army without proper consideration, we’d be trapped in the middle of a war against the CSOG and MLC. Also, most of the attacks had occurred over the Aria border, where neither the MLC or CSOG have any jurisdiction.”
“Is there really nothing we can do?” Pennie asked. “Is there really nothing that can stop this war?”
“Not necessarily, there are ways. Or rather people who could help.” Zippy claimed. “However, for now, I suggest we just go on with our ordinary lives.”
Azaliea sighed as she stared at her phone. The small fox charm and glitter covered bells jingled as she lowered in and turned it off.
“Aria, huh…” she muttered.
“Is something the matter Lady Azaliea?” Ivan Submerge asked, walking up to her.
“Err… no, it’s nothing,” She replied, placing her phone in her pocket. “What is it that you need?”
Azaliea had been sent by the MLC to help Ivan Submerge, the rank eight Starlight Knight in his investigation of Blaze Tooronga’s disappearance.
“I need you to assess the situation. With your help, we might get a better understanding of how the Tooronga boy disappeared.” Ivan explained.
“And this is the exact place?” she asked, looking at him out the corner of her eyes.
“Right, they walked around this corner and vanished,” Ivan said hesitantly.
“Oh…” Azaliea said, taking off her hood and revealing her fizzy brown hair. She knelt to the ground, and her eyes scan the area.
“It’s quite pathetic that you let someone so important getaway.” Zeke Viila sneered. “Clearly you aren’t worthy of your rank.”
Azaliea sighed, those ranked in the bottom ten of the Starlight Knights often resented the top ten. Zeke never failed to voice his opinion on those ranked slightly above him.
“It is quite an unfortunate turn, I’m afraid,” Ivan said. “Due to the suspect being Blaze Tooronga, I couldn’t get as close as I would have liked.”
“That’s really no excuse,” Zeke snarled darkly. “You’re a Starlight Knight. Failure is not acceptable.”
“Zeke,” Azaliea said, getting to her feet. She looked back to Zeke with a cold expression. “That’s enough.”
Zeke became silent and tense. Azaliea’s cold gaze sent shivers down Ivan’s spine.
“S-sorry,” Zeke muttered with a click of his tongue.
“Mr Submerge, do you know who it was that was with him. Could you describe him for me?” Azaliea asked with a sigh.
“He was an older man,” Ivan began to explain. “He had long white hair pulled back into a low ponytail, and he wore a long black trench coat. If I remember correctly, I believe he may have been one of the leaders of the anti-government movement.”
“Hmmm,” was all Azaliea said.
“I think his name was Sabra or something like that,” Ivan added.
“Who cares about that right now! We shouldn’t be focused on this Sabra or Blaze Tooronga; it really isn’t important at the moment,” Zeke growled. “I mean sure; there is rumour stating that the wanted criminal Sabra Blackwell was spotted on the outskirts of Aria. But we really should be focusing on the Earl of Aria and his armies attack on Luminea.”
“What did you just say?” Azaliea asked not making any eye contact with the two men.
“Oh, that?” Zeke replied. “I received a call from the MLC about it around two or so months ago. It was worthless to our mission, so I didn’t see the point in telling...”
“You idiot!” Azaliea snarled. “That information is incredibly important. Especially since we now know, he was spotted with our current target.”
“What? It was most likely to be false information anyway,” Zeke shrugged with a smug look on his face. “Besides even if Mr submerge over here wasn’t just imagining things and given Sabra’s history, that Blaze boy is obviously long dead.”
Azaliea turned to him with a fierce and angry look in her eyes. The combination of her bloodlust and magic power made Zeke and Ivan freeze in terror.
“Would you shut your horrendous mouth for five minutes, if you say one more word that displeases me you will be severely punished,” she growled.
“S-sorry milady,” Zeke muttered looking at his feet. “I was out of line.”
Azaliea sighed with discontent, “Honestly how much more of an idiot could you be. We don’t have time to waste here. We must be going, immediately.”
Ivan Submerge watched as Azaliea placed the hood of her cloak back over her head. “As for you Mr Submerge, I suggest you report back to the MLC. Tell them to drive their focus to the border of Aria and their imminent attack. I would also mention Sabra as well.”
Azaliea stormed off, and Zeke followed hesitantly behind her. As she disappeared into the distance, Ivan heard Azaliea snarl.
“I should have known. All of these problems are connected.”