Part Twelve: The Truth about Belle Starr
"AETHELWULF!" Leon blinked, looking up as he dipped his chopsticks in his bowl of rice, his blue hair gently hit his chiseled cheeks. Van looked up as well, from eating his breakfast, the early morning scream awoke everyone. "What's going on?" Fiona asked after stirring salt into her coffee, then from out of nowhere, Hermann stormed in. The color had drained from his face, and he looked more frightened than actual anger. Karl rested his cheek in one hand and sipped his coffee, looking up into the spooked face of the Republican colonel. "What's on your mind, Colonel?" Karl asked, smiling in his usual way, sipping his coffee. Hermann slammed the palms of his hands on the table, eye-to-eye with Leon. With a voice that suggested terror undescribable, Hermann shouted: "WHAT. THE. HELL. IS THAT.... THING..... IN THE HANGAR!?" "It's Belle Starr, the Berserk Fury. She's a classy lady and very friendly zoid." "....zoid? ZOID??? ZOIDS DON'T BLEED!!!!!" "B-b-bleed!? As in ACTUAL blood??" Van coughed up his coffee and stared at Hermann wide-eyed and in shock. "What do you mean!?" "Yeah, what do you mean?" Leon's eyebrow quirked, eating his rice. "Don't play dumb with me, Aethelwulf! You AND Schubaltz know what the hell Belle really is! Come clean, both of you!!" Hermann shouted again, he was getting angry and it showed. Removing the coffee mug to his pouty, pink lips, his eyelids fluttered open to look at Leon. "...he's not going to drop the issue, Leon. We might as well come clean now." "Karl, you know that if I explain it, it'll lose its' mysticism." Karl smirked and tipped his head back, setting his coffee mug against the table. "I have to work with this man into keeping the peace in Zi. I cannot do my job if Hermann is breathing down my neck demanding what it is that Belle is." "Hemph..." Leon's face twisted in a huff and he shoveled in a chopstick-full of rice. "Well, lemme finish my breakfast."
Behind a closed door and everyone's backs, Leon and Karl stood in the seclusion of a dim hallway. In the safety of each other's embrace, the lovers could only dwell on the forlorn, inescapable fact that their cover was blown and they must reveal the cold, hard facts about Belle and the reasoning behind Sanctuary. "...this is going to be painful." Leon whispered as Karl's lips tenderly touched his jawline. "...at best, we'll be exiled." "Shhhhhh...." Karl reassured his immortal lover, planting his lips on Leon's. "You're thinking too negatively, Leon..." "I'm being realistic." Leon frowned, his arms pulling the blonde Imperial colonel closer to his body. "If we are gonna be exiled..." Karl sighed, his cheek on Leon's shoulder respectively. "...we'll have nothing at all..." "Except each other..." Leon whispered softly, smelling the fragrant shampoo in Karl's wheat-gold hair, his fingers entrenched in each golden-colored lock. His lips touched the Imperial colonel's temple tenderly, Leon's eyes fluttered shut. "...l-let's go to the hangar.... they're probably waiting for us."
"About time." Hermann folded his arms, angry and disillusioned. "Now, Aethelwulf... Schubaltz..." He angrily pointed his finger at Belle, a small snarl on his lips. "What is that??" "She looks like a normal zoid to me, Colonel Hermann." Van spoke up, looking Belle over. "... think again..." Leon replied in a low, forlorn voice, his hand clasping Karl's tightly. "...Belle is not a zoid." "Not a zoid!?" Everyone turned their attention to Leon and Karl, shocked and surprised. "Come again?" The exemplar parted from Karl and stepped up to Belle, his expression morose and his voice was low. "Belle..." The Berserk Fury looked at her pilot, her small arm wiped her face and let out a small growl. She saw the look in his eyes, then saw the crowd around them. "...de-shackle." Belle let out a menassing growl, but she stepped out of her hangar and threw her head up and roared. The white armor plating of the Berserk Fury began to dettach themselves from Belle's body and fall to the floor. The armor pieces on her head fell as well. Everyone, except Karl and Leon stepped away from the thing that stood before them, shocked and scared stiff. It turned out that the thing under the armor plating was an actual black dragon with cybernetic implants, technomantic-workings, her body was covered in bio-organic metal, the particle beam cannon remained in her mouth, there was no tongue accompanying it. The buster claws extended to form dragon wings, Belle let out a sickening roar, instinctual dedication to her masters sank in. "Belle...." Leon walked closer to the massive beast, followed by Karl, Karl was holding Leon's hand tightly. The dragon lowered her head so the Imperial exemplar can pet her. It crilled, but her peaceful moment ended when she witnessed the troubling expression on everyone's faces. In a blink of an eye, the armor plating reformed on her body and she returned to being a Berserk Fury. "Explain... NOW." Hermann's arms folded, his expression went back from fear to anger. Closing his eyes to collect his thoughts, he rubbed his temples and cleared his throat. "Belle.... is a Dragon-Borg..." "Huh??" "Dragon-Borgs are the work of technomancers. Sanctuary breeds dragons from the first day of their life to maturity and train them in magic and combat skills... but also the mages encase the dragons in armor to simulate the feeling of fighting in zoid armor. Using various technomancer rituals and incantations, the mages of Sanctuary turned the dragon into a half-living, half-cybernetic being of remarkable capabilities. Then... we encase the dragon-borg in zoid armor, making them resemble T-Rex zoids like Raven's Geno Saurer and Geno Breaker or even Redlers and Reddras. But... that's not all. Other technomancer rituals are performed to make them look like and even pass as zoids." "Why? Why did you Malfaesians build these things??" Van asked, running up to face Leon. "....to learn from our first mistake." His eyes closed, his hands in his pockets. "Our first Borg-Zoid.... wasn't a dragon at all." "What was it?" Thomas asked, now fascinated by this. "...." He sighed, then looked up at Belle. "....scorpion." "SCORPION!?" It dawned on Van, then on everyone else, the color from everyone's face just drained. "THE DEATH STINGER!?" "...yes." The Imperial exemplar didn't have to nod, his voice was sad enough. "....the Dragon-Borg-Zoids were our last ditch effort to stop the inevitable. We had foreseen Hiltz's rise to power through use of our prototype Borg-Zoid. In fact.... Hiltz didn't destroy Sanctuary on his own accord, Hiltz didn't know Sanctuary existed until he found the Death Stinger." "...." Hermann replied to that, bitterly.... but it wasn't toward Leon at all. "The Death Stinger lead Hiltz to the doorsteps of the Mages and it talked Hiltz into firing." "Makes perfect sense. The entity inside the Death Stinger didn't want the Mages to build Dragon-Borg-Zoids to destroy it so it had Hiltz destroy the Sanctuary." Van replied with his own theory, which was accurate. "But knowing Hiltz, he'd have no objection to it." O'Connell growled his anger out. "In fact, he'd embrace the idea of destroying the only thing that can destroy his pet Borg-Zoid." Thomas clenched his fists and looked at them. "Aethelwulf, Schubaltz..." President Camford stepped up and cleared her throat, she smiled at them and bowed her head. "I want to congratulate you both for returning to us during trying times." "Thank-you, Madam President." Karl bowed, but Leon remained still, his expression bleak. "But, Aethelwulf... I am greatly displeased that these experiments were taking place... and in my borders." Camford's pleasantries ended really fast, Leon however, remained adament. "I want Belle destroyed..." "WHAT!?" That shocked everyone, Van turned his direction to confront the President. "NO!" "Belle is a breach of the Refugee Treaty, Mr. Aethelwulf. She must be destroyed!" "Tell me something, Madam President.... if Belle was destroyed then who shall stop the Death Stinger?" Leon's eyes turned white and demonic, claws ripped from his fingertips. "The Death Stinger as old as it is.... it has an avatar... and when avatars age, they grow in power... and if they reach the pinnacle of power, they become practically immortal... so tell me, Madam President.... HOW ARE YOU GOING TO STOP THE DEATH STINGER???!!!!!" "We shall find a way to stop it without Belle!!!" Camford shouted, soldiers surrounded Karl and Leon. "Arrest Aethelwulf and Schubaltz and have the Berserk Fury destroyed!" "NO!!!!" Belle gave the Blade Liger one BIG push then rushed for Leon and Karl, snatching them both in her small hands. She almost trampled Camford along the way, using a spell to blast her way out of the Ultrasaurer. The buster claws turned into techomantic dragon wings and flew off into the morning sky...