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[Graded][Arc] Blood and Ice Cream (feat. Nero Angelo); So problem. Many think. Much stress. This thread.
Topic Started: Jan 10 2017, 09:14 PM (1,402 Views)
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Tsuna stepped out of the ladies' room; finally the smears of dirt and blood on her body were cleaned and gone, and now she was clad in a set of clothes that were more decent than the tattered nightgown she donned earlier. With her hair in a messy yet stylish updo, the heiress was now clothed with a blue Aztec-printed hot pants and a white chiffon V-neck button down shirt which was rolled up on its sleeves. Instead of being bare foot like earlier, her feet were now secured from the heat of the ground by a nude-colored wedge sandal. It looked more pleasing to the eye than the nightgown with a huge hole from the corrosive bullet during the attack earlier, but still, for Tsuna, there was something with the ensemble that made her feel uncomfortable. Perhaps it was the short's lack of fabric, but there was nothing much she could do but to put to heave a sigh. She could not be choosy since she was fully aware that none of these were really hers. As usual, all of the items given to her as provisions from the guild were not in her possession at that exact moment as they were left in the apartment, the same way most of her personal effects were left in Vento's apartment back in Clover Town. These items were all thanks to the intimidation used by the large panda-butler against some random strangers outside the ice cream shop who, out of fear, handed some of their bought items from a nearby boutique.

The redhead dragged herself back to the chosen stall at a corner of the shop, the spot with a couch and a larger table than that of the normal ones around. From afar, she could see Zefywus adoring the tall ice-cream tower with hot fudge and toppings of different varieties. Adjacent to the said dessert was an untouched serving of brownie ala mode. Perhaps it was what the butler ordered for his mistress. A safe and classic choice. Near it was a half-empty glass of green-colored smoothie. Bamboo-flavored?

Knox could be seen sitting across Zefywus, his head turned towards the glass window as he kept an eye to the twins. Beside him near and against the wall was the bound, gagged and unconscious Amy who had a couple of swelling spots in her face and head she got from Tsuna's rather friendly greeting. Despite most of the customers were worried of their presence and the young maid's condition, none of them could question or apprehend them; who would if those involved were a seven-foot bear and a woman bearing a small Raven Tail tattoo on her nape?

Aside from them, the redhead could also see a blonde child of around ten to twelve years old wearing a blue Victorian-inspired dress sitting on Zefywus' right side. On her left was an incomplete image of a man. Both of them were still, but the mere sight of them made the teen feel uneasy that she was hesitant to go any closer to the table.

"I WAS feeling better... Why can't you let me be?"

It almost took forever before Tsuna reached the table. Upon her arrival, the first thing she immediately noticed was that those sitting with the toddler turned their heads away from the ice cream tower and placed all their attention on the redhead as their lips began to move as if muttering something, but none a word could be heard.

Knox stood up and had Tsuna take his spot as he excused himself to guard the wyvern and the babies. She took a seat and gave off another audible sigh. The redhead gave Zefywus a quick glance before she fiddled with a fork and stabbed the brownie underneath the vanilla-flavored ice cream on the plate in an attempt to distract herself from the stresses and concerns that plagued her.

"Cootie Zef... Father , will Nero take that long? Can't... Can't he hurry up? He... He... He cannot be dead, right? Can it be that I am waiting for nothing again?" she asked, the last two of her queries were laced with panic. It was not because she was getting impatient and disliked waiting; but it was brought about by a fear that she would not be able to sustain what remained of the silence by herself that his assistance would be needed --- even if he himself might not be aware of the aid he was giving.

Incomprehensible mumblings resounded her ears. Obviously the harrassment she bestowed upon the dessert was not enough to ease her mind, but she kept doing it anyway. One hand on the fork that mashed the brownie as the ice cream slowly melted and pooled the plate, her other hand found its way to her ear which she rubbed vigorously before plugging it with a finger.

They were still there.

Every second that passed by, all of the noises were getting louder. Murmurs became a collection of cries and hollers. More than two and a half pairs of eyes were staring at her, or at least that was what she was feeling.

This wasn't good.
Edited by Mariko, Jan 10 2017, 09:22 PM.
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"Sapientia Sola Libertas Est"
Zefywus took the time to observe the majesty of her store-bought treat and wondered how in the world such a majestic thing was possible without the use of magic. The tower itself was stacked and decorated solely in confectionary and dairy product, and none of which had any kind of enchantment that would justify the awe the child felt when she admired the work of sheer skill honed through hundreds upon hundreds of scoops. She could probably make one at home through magical means, but there was something different about something that took actual effort to make that made things taste more delicious.

In the midst of her childish reverie, the girl-sage was interrupted by Tsuna’s inquiry about whether or not Nero would take longer than he should, and more than that, whether or not he would come back as himself or in a body bag. “Would wowwying about it change anything dat has happened and wiw happen?” Zefywus quickly replied with childish apathy. “If hyoo are busy wowwying about something like that, then it makes me wondew how hyoo became Vento’s tool. Do you not twust in my son’s ability to survive?”

The notion itself dove deeper in its simplicity than the girl-sage’s words were at first. Vento’s ability to survive, as proven by Nero’s ‘birth’, was second to none for the simple fact that he managed to find himself back from Beyond the Boundary after having acquired all possible knowledge from all possible lifetimes he had lived and reincarnated into. Nero was the very symbol of Vento’s tenacity and the pinnacle of power his previous incarnation could have never become. Thus, it was necessary to discard it and remold it into something new – something better – into a vessel capable of channeling the true extent of the Shakugan bloodline.

Knowing the truth of her son’s ability, however, is something she took into account when she analyzed Tsuna’s question. She was out of the loop and unable to grasp the true extent of Vento and Nero’s relationship and their intimate connection as soul and vessel; her only conception of it as the heterochromatic sage being something as simple as a reincarnation of someone who had already ‘passed on’ and not someone who ‘tore open the gates of death to be reborn anew’. Zefywus was tempted to explain that concept to her, but she hesitated thinking that doing so would only fall upon deaf ears. Insanity, as she personally saw, had the penchant of glossing over important parts and rewriting it in the sufferer’s head into something else.

That, however, did not stop the girl from at least hinting that Tsuna’s concern was unnecessary.

“Have hyoo ever hewd of the concept of Resurrection, Chuna?” asked the child, taking the spoon on her right side and digging into the towering treat, “Resurrection is something deemed impossible according to ancient texts, yet that is a lie – a blatant lie devised by lesser scholars who have not decided to go to the extremes to prove it wrong.”

She continued explaining her obviously deep point despite her nonchalant manner of partaking of her ice cream. “The reason why Resurrection went wrong is because mages have no concept of equivalent exchange. They think that in order to resurrect the dead, one needed to have enough power to break through the boundaries of the two worlds and forcefully take the dead person back. However, that is impossible, for when a person dies and his soul goes Beyond the Boundary, that soul becomes a part of a massive ocean of souls in a cycle of death and rebirth, uncontrolled by any means either magical or mechanical. This is called the Karmic Sea, a massive collection of souls that have lost their individuality and merged into a giant super-soul. People call this entity as ‘God’ or ‘Gods’ and, depending on the collective will of humanity, may allow people to manifest these divine beings into their own vessels.”

Zefywus shook her head, disappointed. “However, we live in a world where ‘God is Dead’ in that the collective will of the people do not believe in such things. Hence, there are no gods in this world, and in effect, it has lost ‘something it ought to have’.”

She smiled. “Nero changed that, however; and it is by his hand this world has ‘found’ something ‘it had lost’.”

Minutes after Zefywus had begun eating her ice cream, a familiar black-haired youth entered the ice cream shop with an air of dignity that evidenced success at whatever endeavor he had undergone. Through deduction and simple detective-work, Nero had managed to track Amy down to a peculiar ice cream shop which had coincidentally been the same one his father had referred to and was quick to realize. Thus, with his signature half-smile, he walked towards the table where Zefywus and Tsuna were, and unfortunately, Amy, who was beaten to unconsciousness.

As suave as his entrance was, things were different in the wake he left behind prior to entering. The streets of Trillium were littered with broken buildings and cracked-open streets, along with scores of people in unmarked purple uniform writhing lifeless or dying in the various plots that had become their graves upon engaging the son of the girl-sage. A total of fifteen men added to the body count from before, and all of whom were already in the process of being dissolved into nothing. It was just luck that Trillium’s populace were extremely skilled in detecting trouble that they steered away from Nero’s path and avoided being caught, although the collateral damage he had made throughout the city was something he needed to address as a courtesy.

“Sorry for the wait,” apologized the sage, “I was intercepted by a few stragglers.” His attention then focused on the beat-up maid, shaking his head pensively. “I see you found Amy as well…”
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The plate in front of her was finally free from the violent squashing courtesy of the teen mage, though the aftermath of the attempt to free herself from stress could easily be seen on it as the act left a puddle of mud-colored fluid which was once the ice cream and the brownie. The hands which were a few minutes ago busied themselves on the dessert and their owner's ear were now slightly concealed underneath the crossed arms on the teen's chest, her nails dug deeply on her own flesh, still in an attempt to either pacify the incessant blabbering she could hear inside her head or control herself from giving in to the voices by thinking what they were saying were indeed true or by doing something unnecessary, if not ridiculous.

Being asked if she was doubting Nero's ability to survive considering he was an also Aureo like Vento, Tsuna heaved a sigh as she sank on her seat. The child before her must be thinking that of all the other people outside her 'family', it was Tsuna who should have known better. That, but it also showed that the two were looking at the situation on different angles. "It isn't like that... ' just that I kind of need him right now..." the young lady whispered half-truthfully, at the same time hoping that the child wasn't able to overhear what she said as the child-sage might take offense in the retort, if anything could really offend someone as enlightened as her.

Consciously, the redhead was aware that the reason why she asked the question was because of the idea that stuck in her head, which was not from the voices in her mind but an observation from the string of events that transpired earlier: whenever Nero is close, the harassment from this imaginary being stops. However, she did not really or fully intend to just 'use' him for that. Consciously, she was just 'traumatized' of waiting and anticipating, and feared that the suffering she experienced before might happen once again, hence the current waiting game that made her feel uneasy. Unconsciously though, maybe, she was genuinely worried for him... but not because she had no faith with what Nero could do. Though, come to think of it, Zefywus was right. Worrying would not do anything or change the courseof what is bound to happen.

Soon Zefywus started explaining the concept of Resurrection, which led into hinting the truth as to the raven-haired sage's existence. While it was easy to grasp for a normal person, Tsuna was unable to understand it. The child's manner of laying out the concept was grating her ear, while the concept itself was akin to a strong acid burning and melting the lump of muscle inside her skull. Tsuna swore she felt slightly dizzy and the sensation of blood oozing out of her nostrils upon trying to comprehend everything.

"Mhm," she nodded just to make Zefywus know she was listening... comprehending the explanation though was a different discussion. It was accompanied by a series of snuffles, as if really taking back the reddish fluid that was about to slide out of her nostrils.

--- it was not enough though to make her stop piercing her upper arms with the sharp tips of her fingernails whilst her limbs folded tensely across her chest. As the purple-haired child dug the silver spoon on the tall tower of ice cream, Tsuna started, albeit without her knowing it, swivelling her head from one side to another, taking a double take at people every now and then, and increasingly throwing a disturbed look at everything, including the pastel-colored walls and the laminated tables adjacent to the booth where they were. She was starting to lose track of her own thoughts, as slowly her mind began to succumb to the unwanted voices in her head... it was like she was now, and once again, perhaps, trapped in quicksand: the more she struggled to pull herself up to the unpleasant thoughts in her head, the deeper she sank into it.

Just in the nick of time, a familiar presence pierced through the then-thickening veil that was about to separate the heiress from the world of the 'normal people'. Turning to the direction of the source of the apology that was able to overcome the various noises only she could hear, it was revealed to the heiress that finally, Nero arrived. Out of the blue, she jumped out ofher seat and embraced the young sage. Relief was etched on her visage, as when she was finally close to the other teenager, all the negative feelings brought by the discordant voices disappeared.

Finally, back to having a peaceful and sane mind.

She clung onto him for around a few seconds, before peeling her arms off him but making sure she was not letting go of him by having one hand holding his right wrist, the other just below his right elbow.

"Sorry about that, it was... out of impulse," she lied... or maybe it was partly true.

"Uhm...you want to take a seat or order something... or massage, anything, except letting go of you right now, but I don't really mean that. Maybe I do. Don't listen to me. Or you should but it probably wouldn't matter."
Edited by Mariko, Jan 14 2017, 11:08 PM.
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"Sapientia Sola Libertas Est"
Emilie hit the brakes hard on her arcana-tech motor vehicle, fishtailing hard as it left a long black trail on the cobblestone road that had been ripped apart by what could be best described as a world-rending power. Traffic, both people and vehicular, was at a standstill; Trillium had come to a halt by the hands of what seemed to be an unseen force that literally turned the very earth upside-down and rendered even the titanic cement structures into nothing more than discarded debris that buried several familiar-looking colors beneath their veil of gray. The black-haired Oriental cursed behind her pursed lips.

I do not have time for this! complained the Neo Cortex agent, her head craning so as to see how far the damage was and roughly assuming that it was at least two hundred meters long – too long for normal magecraft without some serious support. That was not the case with respect with Emilie Ashcroft; she was not called Neo Cortex’s ‘Multi-Tool’ for nothing.

Swiftly lifting her hand into the air, a silver-colored gun appeared in it as fast as one could blink; its chrome frame sparkling under the light of the mid-morning sun, bathing the weapon in an almost divine glow, save for the more concentrated blue hue that began to trace itself onto the frame of the gun from the handle up to the muzzle. A simple pull of the trigger released the contents of the ensorcelled gun – a blue bolt that froze the air in an instant as it traversed the destroyed path onto the other end of the line like a makeshift bridge over the unpassable debris.

With her immediate problem solved, the woman smiled in triumph and revved up her vehicle with all the horsepower it could muster from her magic reserves and sped over the roadblock, hurriedly navigating the ice bridge and the streets thereafter until she came upon the sight of a large draco outside an ice cream shop where her huntress’ instincts told her that her quarry lay. She had no idea if the reports held true, but one thing was for sure: she needed to get to Zefywus and Nero before anyone from Neo Cortex did.

A raised eyebrow met Tsuna’s questionable attachment to him for he, by his perspective, had not earned such a degree of closeness with the young woman nor did she earn the privilege of touting him like he was an accessory of some sort. He did not mind it, of course, but merely found the course of action to be questionable. Her reasoning was likewise suspicious if not outright concerning since it made little sense apart from the fact that she was troubled by something, as clueless as he was at what that ‘something’ was. It was understandable; Nero knew nothing of the depths of her condition, and as far as he saw the heiress, she was just some crazy overly-attached girlfriend-type of his brother.

“Quite the clingy one, huh?” Nero lightly commented before allowing the redhead to drag him to a seat where she, his father, and the unconscious maid were seated in, while ignoring the stares he received just by being associated with an admittedly eccentric gathering of people. Nero shook his head to diffuse the thoughts; whatever happened now was going to be simple and clean. He would report the activities of Tranquil Heart, report the activities of Neo Cortex, and confront the persons responsible for escalating the situation he was in by overcomplicating matters.

Just when he was about to give into Tsuna’s suggestion to make an order, several thumps rang throughout the store as red energy lanced out from the glass double-doors that opened into the shop just missing the family by inches. It sent a message to Nero, Zefywus, and anyone who sat there that the assailant could have easily made good on the warning shots had it been the intention to do so, and as soon as the familiar sharpshooter walked into the shop, all the parties involved except Nero would know why that was the case.

Emilie swallowed hard knowing full well the risks involved in her act of giving Nero and Zefywus a chance to explain their actions. She had an open kill order for them and that was supposed to be the case, but as a professional, she knew the score and knew that the games Zefywus and Nero were prone on playing were naturally shrouded in mystery at the expense of everyone involved. Besides, if Frederick himself told her to find out the ‘truth’ behind Zefywus’ actions, then it was absolutely certain that something was amiss that even the organization was not aware about.

“Nero Angelo Aureo and Zephyrus Ventus Aureo; you are suspected of stealing classified technology belonging to Neo Cortex and for killing three Class-B researchers connected to those stolen arcana-tech. An open kill-order has been issued against you and all the people who choose to aid you. If you are not guilty of these accusations, explain yourself now and I may be able to help you clear your name,” explained Emilie, although it did not do much to deter Zefywus from eating her ice cream tower nor Nero with respect to browsing the wares of the ice cream shop.

Still, a question needed a reply – that was simple courtesy.

“I did it; they wewe twying to take cwedit of Vento’s discowewies, after all,” the girl-sage answered then took another mouth-full of her treat.

“I, on my part, have no idea about the killings or of the stealing – my father gave me the things you deem stolen because she – who was a ‘he’ at that time, said they belonged to me anyway.”

The straightforward reply shocked Emilie enough to falter her usually rock-steady grip of the gun. The revelation was somewhat of a shocker, but to hear it from their mouths was something surreal altogether. Now Emilie knew that something was up and it was something that was the reason why Neo Cortex was now running around like a headless chicken in an oven trying to fix itself.
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Disarray was the result of the unexpected 'assault', which caused most men and women inside the ice cream shop to either run in panic or duck under their tables and chairs. Children, on the other hand, felt fear, evident it was on the wails that filled the ears of every mortal being in the said location. Everyone was consumed with fright and confusion, which was a normal reaction for any normal person in such an encounter.

Everyone... but those who were in a particular table which, based on the shot that was made, might be the target of the assassin. They continued as if nothing happened: the child in a bright yellow Sunday dress merrily chowing down on her ice cream tower, the bounded maid still asleep, the man in a gentleman's suit scanning through the menu and the lady, whose arm was wrapped around one of Nero's, also taking a peek at the list of items the shop offered.

Amidst the multitude shards of glass that glistened as rays of sun freely graced the interiors of the shop, and fragments of concrete that lay on the floor, stood the charcoal-haired woman holding an arcane weaponry straight at her targets: Zefywus and Nero. The father-son tandem paid little mind to the threat a couple of feet away from them. Once she spoke and demanded explanation from the two was the only time Tsuna swiveled her head to take a glance at this person who was attempting to ruin this family affair. Cerulean eyes scrutinized the assassin as the men --- or rather, the young man and the baby girl --- gave the answers to the question hurled at them. Her stance was familiar; her firm grip on the gun until shock took over her was all too familiar for Tsuna.

Emilie Ashcroft, the 'once' admirable sharpshooter Tsuna first met in Jagdarmee. Since then, the two frequently face each other until Tsuna was thrown to Tranquil Heart, thanks to Emilie's boyfriend, Vert. The heiress' admiration on and amity towards the femme fatale deteriorated over time, which was mainly caused by the many voices in her head. They were, too, blaming the woman on the many sufferings Tsuna experienced.

Of course, she never told Emilie about her ill feelings towards her, or the voices she could hear.

It did not matter this time though, since she could not hear them now.

"Hello, Emilie," greeted the redhead in a lacklustered manner. Eyes on the nozzle of the gun, Tsuna then tilted her head before she continued, though the words were bereft of any color or intensity. "First was Vento and now, Nero and Zefywus. Seems like you're being everyone's favorite choice when it comes to assaulting an Aureo. Oh yeah, I forgot. The last time was not related to slaughter but kidnapping. Yeah. That... Or you really love hurting my feelings. Are you going to take my children who are outside as well?" Then, she paused. Taking the risk of 'losing herself', Tsuna finally let go of Nero's arm and, with what her speed could afford her, hopped and dashed forward until the nozzle of the gun was at point-blank range. Not a trace of fear did she exhibit.

"Are you decided on killing them, or turning them over to your superiors?" she asked. "If you do, then kill me first. Nero is my mind's leash. Take him out first and I'm afraid we're going to have problems bigger than what we have now. In fact, I can hear a lot of people talking right now, and they're telling me to do wonderful things."
Edited by Mariko, Jan 20 2017, 01:24 PM.
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"Sapientia Sola Libertas Est"
“Do they tell you how much of a b*tch you are these past few months?”

A harsh tongue and a sharp look was the response the ashen-haired assassin gave to Tsuna’s unsupported accusations, although she would be the first one to admit that such were not baseless. When Vento died and Tsuna had fallen prey to the violence and despair that welled up within her in an attempt to fill the void left by the one she lost, the heiress had become a dangerous nuisance to the people of Clover Town. She was powerful, but unrestrained; that gave rise to all the ‘accidents’ that went all over and caused more than a few innocent bystanders to get injured by her own fits of insanity. It was hard to keep tabs on her so she and those whom Vento called his ‘friends’ did what they thought was the best course of action – put her up in an insane asylum.

Despite the hard and far-reaching consequences of their actions, deep in their heart, they had Tsuna’s best interests in mind. They had their own lives to lead and could not attend to Tsuna by a majority of that time, and as such, they gave that job to those people whom they thought were specially trained for that task. However, when news broke of an escapee from Tranquil Heart killing several people in her run, Emilie, Vert, Frederick, and Alicia were the first ones to respond to the call. They tried searching everywhere without using Neo Cortex assets and it was only when the issue of Nero and Zefywus’ return did they manage to find out that Tsuna was in Trillium. There was a bittersweet feeling that ran in Emilie’s veins for she knew that she needed to confront the woman whom she had caused transgressions to.

“I am not going to make excuses for the things that happened to you in that place or what happened thereafter,” she said, “but I only – we only – acted based on what we thought was best for you, us, and the people you hurt.” She grit her teeth. “You are my friend, Tsuna, but you were also a danger to everyone. Ever since Vento died, things changed – you changed. You became more violent and unstable; you became something entirely different. Do you really have to be reminded of all the people you hurt with your outbursts? Do you even remember how bad you injured Vert by stabbing him in the stomach with a godd*mn arrow?! Or how about the train station you burnt down; or how about the fact that you blew up your apartment in Clover Town with a bomb?! Do you remember those, huh?”

Fuming at the mouth at that point, Emilie intentionally refrained from talking any further until she managed to regain her composure. She knew better; of course she would not remember since she was insane at that time. Still, if she wanted to talk about how much she ‘loved’ hurting her, she could reciprocate the gesture by likewise expressing the times Tsuna hurt her with a confident number that the discrepancy between those numbers rose to her favor.

“We had no choice but to send you away since you were trapped in a delusion of your own making in a world that did not exist. How the he** were we supposed to handle that kind of problem?! We are not Vento – WE CANNOT HANDLE YOU!! AND YOU DARE ACCUSE ME OF TAKING PLEASURE IN HURTING YOU WHEN YOU ARE PRETTY MUCH DOING IT TO YOURSELF WITHOUT ANY OF OUR HELP?! KNOW YOUR PLACE, B*TCH!!!”

After the incensed final words, Emile jammed the muzzle of her gun straight into the redhead’s forehead with a murderous look in her eyes. “You want to die that badly? Do you think you can act so tough after everything we did for you to keep you alive? You ungrateful sow; I should have shot your back at Ranunculus if this is how I expected to be treated. You owe us! You owe me! Had it not been for us—”

“—she would have been fine.” Nero interjected, his face bearing the lax half-smile that disarmed the furious Emilie into changing the target of her muzzle from the heiress’ forehead to the scholar’s own. Nevertheless, he continued.

“People think that as long as they act with good intentions they can pretty much get away with anything, no matter how bad the consequences were. You had her ‘best interests’ in mind; you wanted to ‘help’ her – that is all well and good, but as with everything, everyone has a choice. You chose to gave up; you chose to let other people take care of your friend, and for some reason, that made it worse. In short, you all abandoned her to be taken care of while you continue to live your lives – that pretty much sums everything up quite well.”

As soon as Nero finished his explanation, the chrome frame of Emilie’s weapon found itself kissing the scholar’s cheek with a forceful smack that sent Nero’s head slamming onto the table with a loud thud. He was about to get up when he was stopped by the same gun, its business end now jammed painfully onto the back of the sage’s head, its wielder dangerously close to losing the last modicum of civility she had left to unbridled rage.

Even so, that did not deter Nero, and he continued with his speech as if nothing had ever happened.

“You… had a choice… and you took it. It was logical; it was the best solution, but in the end, it was still a choice. I am not saying it is wrong; rather, I am saying that you should not blame the consequences of your decisions over something as pathetic as ‘not having a choice’. You do, you did, and this is what happened when you did – take responsibility for it and do not try to sweep it under the rug like you did last time.” He looked at Tsuna and shook his head. “No one needs to die today; not you, not Tsuna, not me – not anyone. Just chill out, sit down, and have some ice cream, okay?”
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"Friend? That's laughable, right Tsuna? Where were they when you were mourning? Where were they when needles pricked you day and night? When she and Vert dropped by for a visit, you told them what happened with Cornelia, everything you saw that night, and begged them to take you away from that place, did they believe you? Did they do anything? When they sleep soundly at night, you suffer many nightmares and the body aches of one's attempt to remove your magecraft --- how can that be for your welfare, Tsuna?"

"If Second is still here, she'll definitely silence that b*tch."

"I don't really remember half of the things she's saying. Why on earth will I blow up the apartment? That's my home, and I'm dying to go home... What a liar..."

"You don't need friends like them. I'm sure Daiki will tell you the same thing. We're so sure your brother will tell you we're all you need ---"

What made the young lady stop listening to the discussion only she could hear was the resounding thud on the table. It was followed by an ear-splitting shriek from a ten-year-old, then again it was only the heiress who felt the sharp pain in her ears.


All it took was for her to blink and that cold end of Emilie's weapon was now on the back of Nero's head as the man was pressed on the table. And, even if her son was facing danger and was on the brink of having the flesh within his skull scattered all over the place, Zefywus was unmoved. He --- or rather she --- kept on indulging herself with the dessert she was having, almost half-way done. Nero appeared to share the lack of care on his situation as he kept the half-smile on his face while continuing his exposition.

As if instinct kicking in, and perhaps in retaliation as well, Tsuna silently and hastily took out her bladed bow and, as she was behind Emilie, locked her head from behind with one hand while the other rested the cold sharp blade that protruded on the edge of Miho against the assassin's neck. If Emilie was ready to pull the trigger and erase Nero from the physical world, the young lady behind her was ready to severe her head with one sweeping action once she fires her gun. None could be heard from the human tool but her ragged breathing. The lack of expression belied the turbulence in her head, the cheer from Kid and Half to not wait and think twice but instead commence with the murder. She was not her friend, anyway. Friends are supposed to be there for each other. They... She... did the exact opposite.

The blade pressed deeper, almost making a scratch on Emilie's neck. Had not Tsuna caught glimpse of Nero glancing at her, she would have dug it further into the other female's flesh. Thus, she just held on her and her weapon steadily.

"I'll let her go if she'll let you go, stop pointing her gun at you, and not shoot you," the redhead said in monotone while controlling herself as she heard strong disapproval from the other residents in her mind. "... even if they are telling me to just end it all here."

She would do what she said if Emilie would let go of Nero. Once she retreats her gun would be the time Tsuna would let go, and move to sit beside Nero to take her sanity back --- or recharge it, whatever the appropriate description is. If she would be near Nero, she can actually discuss with her the things she and Vert dismissed as her 'hallucinations' the last time they saw each other. Closure? Perhaps. If Emilie will heed Nero's words, perhaps she would also figure out rhe truth behind Neo Cortex's lies... if the explanations earlier were not enough for her, and decide on her next actions. In case Emilie opts not to, Tsuna would just stay in her position and, in case she harms Nero, the young lady would not think twice into beheading Vert's special one... and cause one more violent ruckus after another since her last chance to redemption is gone.
Edited by Mariko, Jan 23 2017, 03:45 AM.
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"Sapientia Sola Libertas Est"
Although there was a choice given to Emilie’s next course of action, the femme fatale found it difficult to curb the pain in her chest from all the insults, both direct and implied, doubting the purity of her actions. Nevertheless, in her indecisiveness, Nero took it upon himself to make the choice for her as a blue blaze engulfed the armament she was holding which prompted the woman to immediately let go of the weapon out of sheer instinct.

This was not a sign of hostility, however, as Nero was quick to explain; he needed to in order to prevent a bloodbath from happening by reason of an emotionally unstable and dangerous redhead and an incensed professional killer taking their desires to their logical conclusion. He wanted to avoid that as much as possible for he understood that they – as a whole – were already causing a lot of trouble for the ice cream shop owner. The sage would probably have to rectify that later on, but he figured he should take things one thing at a time.

“Now before you say anything, I could have easily burned you alive instead of your gun,” clarified Nero, the calm in his voice adding to the veracity of the claim since the laxity was a sign of confidence. “Now, since the situation is pretty much diffused, can we please just sit down like civilized persons and eat some ice cream?”

The request nearly shocked Emilie had she been any other operative from Neo Cortex. The simplicity of it was just baffling, especially since it involved an extremely dangerous situation where lives were put on the line. Despite that, for one to request something and mundane as to sit down and just eat ice cream.

“Fine…,” replied Emilie, her tone still retaining a modicum of rage but now mixed in with restraint, as she walked around Nero, took a seat from the adjacent table, and allowed herself to sit at the head in between the Aureo side and the Kushinada side. Her silver eyes examined each person and – naturally – found the Aureo side strange, completely rewriting everything she was told about the eccentric family from the ‘father’ who was supposed to have even the upper echelons of Neo Cortex’s power circle running to the superstar son who seemed to mock each and every dangerous situation he was presented with in his lazy half-smile.

With a wave of a hand, a nervous waiter approached the table with understandable concern as Nero placed his order for himself and Emilie, as well as an additional order of a milkshake for Zefywus since she was already a few spoons short of finishing her once towering treat. It was enough to make Emilie raise an eyebrow, wondering how everything could fit inside such a baby-sized body and – for that matter – why Zephyrus was even in the form of a purple-haired child in a Sunday dress. It was enough to make the woman wonder if she even had the right target in the first place, but she heeded Frederick’s warning to ‘never take anything at face value’ when it came to the Aureos.

Hence the reason why she began to initiate her questions as soon as she saw an opportunity to ask.

“So what is the dea—”

—but was interrupted when Zefywus, who was frustrated for not having a speaking role last post, began explaining to her everything in her own, baby way.

“Newo Cowtex is wowking wid sum mean pewson pawading as Chuna Kuchinada but is actually a pewson named Uda Kuchinada. By wowking with the Kuchinada Beesness Empiwe, Newo Cowtex fowd da oppowtunity to expand dewe opewations into a fewd which dey want to go two befowe and weaponize deyr inventions fow mow pwofit by sewwing to both sides of da Boscan-Fiowan Waw.”

Emilie’s eyes widened at the sudden revalations, mostly because it was her expression when she was visibly trying to make sense of something she did not understand whatsoever. It was not the baby’s fault though since her speech impediment was expected from a girl her age, although it was quite apparent that her mental processes were incredibly advanced and well beyond what her age portends. Still, with everything, Emilie’s brain was still trying to keep up and still keep up even by the time their orders came.

Amused at the ashen-haired woman’s struggle to make sense of everything, Nero glanced at Tsuna and, for his part, turn the conversation to her since the mention of ‘Kuchinada’ was something she was probably familiar way with more than himself. “You heard her; it seems that ‘Chuna Kuchinada’ is behind wanting to kill me."
Edited by heiner777, Jan 24 2017, 06:06 AM.
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Only when Emilie agreed to sit down and eat ice cream, even if it sounded forced, did Tsuna lightened her grip of the woman. She caused to dissipate her weapon; the once solid bow with an image of a fox on the upper limb where the protruding blade could also be seen lost its form as it became thin orange smoke in the air. Eyes were still on Emilie, who took a chair from an adjacent table, alert in case she would use the said chair to smack Nero like what 'professional' wrestlers do for the sake of 'entertainment'. But, as it proved that that was not the intention but to indeed sit down and talk, the heiress went ahead to her designated place and folded her arms.

Not long after, a nervous waiter approached the table and took everyone's orders. Tsuna scanned through the list, glancing at some of the pictures, and decided to take a hamster-shaped bread with an vanilla ice cream and red bean paste filling. There was just something about the hamster-shaped bread that amused the redhead; perhaps because it looked so alive, or maybe because it was 'cute'. As soon as every single order was jotted down in a small ruled pad by the shaky right hand of the servant he excused himself, stuttering by saying so, and scampered away. A number of the shop's patrons, faces were white due to fear, who hid themselves under the tables because of the blast, also took this time of 'peace' to scuttle out of the shop.

“So what is the dea—”

“Newo Cowtex is wowking wid sum mean pewson pawading as Chuna Kuchinada but is actually a pewson named Uda Kuchinada. By wowking with the Kuchinada Beesness Empiwe, Newo Cowtex fowd da oppowtunity to expand dewe opewations into a fewd which dey want to go two befowe and weaponize deyr inventions fow mow pwofit by sewwing to both sides of da Boscan-Fiowan Waw.”

At the mention of the name of Tsuna's grandmother, Uda, the teen slouched on her seat. Underneath the table, she managed to have her leg brush and pressed against Nero's, trying to still somehow be 'connected' to the source of her sanity. And, once the voices and confusion in her head disappeared, she was able to look at Zefywus with an inquisitive look on her visage. Never once, even when she was still in the mansion, did Tsuna thought that her grandmother would collaborate with an organization like Neo Cortex. This the heiress made sure that the people gathered on the table would know.

"That's unthinkable," she looked at the grandfather of her children, who looked like just their cousin or an older sister, then to the teen sage. "First, have I not killed her already hours before the mansion was attacked? More importantly, grandmother only ties up with organizations if it would profit her by a hundred folds, to exaggerate. If in case she would get something monetary with this cooperation with Neo Cortex, it won't directly benefit her because she's too old to enjoy anything and might die sooner. It'll all benefit the next in line, and since mom won't be getting anything, I'll b---" she paused...

She turned her head and stared at Zefywus, widening her eyes in surprise after a few seconds.

...Zefywus was also old, but was in a body of a child, retaining his 'youth'.

...Vento has writings and researches regarding the discoveries in Jäger Rüstkammer, some of them were already submitted to his higher ups, while still a number of them, as far as Tsuna could still remember, were in his apartment in Clover Town which she, before she went to West Bosco, secured. If she could remember it right, one of them included the invigorating fluid that saved her from stab wounds and caused the regrowth of Vento's right arm. Neo Cortex has in possession of some of the samples of the fluid, since her boss turned it over after the mission.

...Vento was also participating in a project called Oculus Magica.

...The last time Tsuna was subjected to torture, and it was hours before she participated in the Oktoberfest celebration, someone from Tranquil Heart Sanatorium told her that they needed her eyes. Her 'key' to everything they had in Crocus was one of her eyes.

It all made sense now, except for one thing: why would her grandmother, posing as Tsuna, also want Nero gone?

Tsuna bit her lip. She was not sure if she got it already. She could also be wrong, since she was not sure if it was her who thought of this or one of the noisy people in her head.

"Should...I tell them, or just keep it all to myself and figure out a way to solve this on my own, since this involved my kin and they just got dragged into this?"

The heiress, who was in a daze as she pondered on all of these, started to bite her nails.
Edited by Mariko, Jan 26 2017, 11:33 PM.
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"Sapientia Sola Libertas Est"
It's often said that life as a child prodigy was a rose-colored one filled with routine excellence that was already so common that it had lost its appeal and became mundane. The same was true – perhaps even more so – in the case of the two sages, both of whom seem to take Tsuna’s lack of a characteristic response to be the best evidence of a chilling realization, if her outright admission was not enough of evidence of such. Neither of them knew of the complicated relationships the Kushinadas had on each other, but one thing was for sure: they were getting dragged into it without their consent. To an Aureo, that was tantamount to an insult that deserved punishment.

As the borders of neutrality corrode and the path of non-aggression comes to an end, the arrival of the day where Nero and Zefywus would be forced to take sides was not something anyone should – now or ever – look forward to. The gray line between morality was their territory; a realm all their own where these two scholars and others like them thrive in pursuit of their own agendas. To break that was taboo as far as they were concerned, and should an event force their hand to break that, the recompense sought would be greater than the alleged violation. Deem it disproportionate retribution, but regardless, it was still a rule that both sages intended to follow.

“So… I guess there is no escaping this without dealing with the problem itself,” commented Nero, his lax delivery and easygoing expression all but deceptions to the gravity of his words he uttered in response to Tsuna’s own revelations. Whether it is studying, sports, or romance, there will always be some people who would prefer a gray-colored life rather than all that. Nevertheless, even the laziest of men draw their line somewhere, and in Nero’s case, it just so happened to be at a point where the thought of constantly dealing with attempts on his life for supposedly ‘stealing’ something ‘he’ already owned by his birthright. It was, of course not the idea per se, but rather, the overwhelming annoyance with dealing with it.

Still, it's quite a straightforward way to live one's life, but Nero was Nero; there was not much point in trying to change that. Even now, in his half-baked attempts to maintain a conversation with a topic he would rather ignore until later, Nero still thought of his own needs first as a paramount interest. Nevertheless, as if reading him like an open book, Zefywus interjected once again after slamming another mouthful of her creamy confectionery in her widened, ice cream-smeared mouth.

“Hyoo chould twy and sowt tings out, Newo. After all, hyoo are da uncle to dose babies, right?” she said with the disarming charm afforded by her infantile body that housed a mind that was far beyond what her vessel’s age portended.

Nero shook his head. “It is not my problem. As soon as we get these people to safety, my service ends there. Why would I when things could easily be solved by just surrendering them to some authority more capable than us in dealing with Neo Cortex?”

“Because dis involves hyoo more dan any stwanger would,” the child-sage replied with consternation. “Fow someone who knows evwyting, you seem to be oblivious to dat fact, or do you just enjoy playing da fool all da time?”

The question dug deep into the raven-haired sage’s psyche; as expected, his father’s perception was far beyond even his own comprehension. That she could tell that much by just analyzing him was clear evidence of her skill in reading people, probably accumulated by years of dealing with the same whether she wanted to or not. As for him, he had the skill set to do the same; the only thing lacking was the capability to actually follow through. That was the drawback of being grown from a vat of birth-gel; accelerated development yet plagued with a much larger learning curve than a newborn would normally be subjected to.

“Speaking of newborns, how are the twins?” Nero interjected in an attempt to steer the topic away from himself, to which Zefywus replied in kind, acting that she had just not noticed her son’s wariness to pursue the topic further.

“They are outside with the dwagon and da antromowph, like they ought to.”

The city was built on a grand scale, yet it was wholly different from the sprawling hive that was Crocus, Fiore’s central business hub and capital. It was understandable considering that Trillium had just reeled from an attack from an ancient beast, the Queen Dragon herself, yet even if the city was rising once again like a phoenix from the ashes, one could not discount that it was still a tainted existence that was merely taking on a new shell, rogues and all. After all, Trillium was still Trillium at its heart – a cesspool of filth and undesirability that housed the dregs of society in its ramshackle notion of ‘order’ under the criminal syndicates that run the city from the shadows.

“What a detestable place,” commented a large bald man standing on top of a nearby roof overlooking the ice cream shop. Clad in a gray full-body suit that accented his overly muscular physique, he was as daunting in form as he was in actuality; complete with an ebony face adorned with marks of valor and penetrating brown eyes that held nothing but contempt for the transgressors he was tasked on eliminating. This was Heavy Infantry Captain Clay Cartwright, and to him, they were just as this city was, cruel and corrupt to their very cores; and as such, they deserved to be purged in all the sense of the word.

“Strike Leader, this is Machina 01; operative Emilie Ashcroft has failed to exit the building within the allotted time. As such, we will assume that she is lost and we will now proceed to CAT-ET procedures. Confirm?” Clay asked as a matter of course; he already knew what the man on the other end would respond.

The line was silent for a few seconds until a voice confirmed – albeit hesitantly – the course of action in a forced monotone. Clay almost mocked the indecisive tone; an operative of Neo Cortex should be sure in all things. Still, the man on the other end was of a higher rank than he was so Clay just kept that notion to himself. “Understood; proceeding to lay suppressing fire.”

Minding its own business like a timid housecat, the draco quietly lay on the cobblestone path with the protective bubble housing two floating infants still tethered to its tail. It did not mind waiting for the child who had somehow tamed it, but even its primal directive seemed to favor the purple-haired girl over the raven-haired man. As if by magic; and in fact it was magic, if the Oriental script ‘従う’, that meant shitagau or ‘obey’ in the Fioran language, branded on its nape had anything to do with it.

In the midst of its peaceful slumber, the draco was suddenly roused by the lancing pain of several armor piercing rounds striking its supine body, its armored scales doing little to stave off the tirade that came from the adjacent building. At that moment, its ancient mechanisms began to override the Spell put on by Zefywus as its reptilian gaze focused on the gunmetal-gray assailant that assaulted it, its heavy bipedal form almost reminiscent of another bipedal unit Neo Cortex had added to its latest acquisitions in the recent months.

Machina 01
Edited by heiner777, Feb 18 2017, 04:20 AM.
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