Book VIII: The Fourth Driver

Chapter LXI

Acacia woke up and took a look around. After rubbing the sleep out of her eyes, she noticed someone was behind her door… waiting for her.

She grabbed her longsword and opened the door quickly, pointing it at the person's throat.

"Good morning to you too," Canaan replied, backing up just a little bit.

"What do you want?" she asked, not putting the sword down.

"We need to talk about your sister."

She put her sword down and let him in, but she wasn't sure what he really wanted.

"You recovered quickly," Acacia pointed out.

"That flesh eater has some serious power," Canaan pointed out. "But not nearly as much as you or your sister."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Does the phrase 'The day the Crimson Butterfly wars against the Crimson Rose, history will change.' sound familiar?" Canaan questioned.

"It's a saying that was forced on my sister during her training, why?"

"Has that war already happened?"

"The Crimson Butterfly was broken, does that answer your question?" Acacia answered.

"No," Canaan said, shaking his head. "The Crimson Butterfly was not broken, because she's sitting across from me."

"The Crimson Butterfly is the name of my katana that was broken when I fought my sister. I don't remember the fight, nor do I remember what happened, all I know is that it did."

"Your sister has powers like Mòrag did," Canaan explained. "Mòrag was forcefully fused with blades to get the power she had, and your sister had the same abilities but much more powerful. She could even manipulate the ether like a blade, she had her own driver and blade arts, and I'm willing to bet you're no different."

"I don't remember my own past or my training, it's part of the reason I left with Silas and Mythra, I wanted the truth. If what you say is true, then I'm one step closer to finding out what Adonis really wants."

"So you really don't remember anything?" Canaan asked once more, just to make sure.

Acacia shook her head. "But we need to be more careful. If Violet and I have these powers, then Adonis would never let himself fall short. If this is true, then it might even take more than all of the power both of our Aegises have to take him down."

Canaan nodded. "For now, let's go see what plan the BAP can cook up, hopefully it'll be enough."

...

"Wowie! Silas getting very powerful!" Rafi said as he got launched back once again. Poppi was in her QT π form, and even she was impressed.

"Even with maximum Poppi power, Silas still keep up!" Poppi added.

I laughed a bit. "Thanks for sparring with Azami and I, it's really helping!"

Rafi shook his head. "But where all this power come from? Even with Mythra, Silas not fight this well!"

"I've been going through some changes that I can't quite explain. All I know is that I'm not complaining!" I said. "And you've improved as a driver too, Rafi! You and Poppi really trust each other!"

"Mind if I give it a go?" a familiar voice asked.

It was Granny.

"You want to give it a go? I won't hold back," I warned with a chuckle.

"I appreciate your concern," Granny said as she pulled out a beautiful sword with ethereal flowers wrapping around it. "But I taught you how to use arts, or did you forget?"

"I could never forget, let's see if I've really improved," I invited, holding Azami's ether cannon firmly.

"Oh, this is so much fun!" Azami giggled out.

https/youtu.be/uRtAbX2-f3A

Granny readied herself as I popped off a few shots.

She expertly slid to the left and came in close, almost hitting me, but I parried it off with the ether cannon.

"A little cocky, eh?" she teased.

"Guess you've still got plenty of skill," I replied before pushing back and shooting off a few more rounds.

Granny danced through the shots as she once again closed the distance between us.

"For having so many long-ranged weapons, you certainly are bad at keeping me at arm's length."

I flipped the ether cannon around and shot off a powerful blast behind me, using the recoil of the gun to help push the cannon into her.

She gasped as she parried it with her sword, but it still sent her flying backwards.

"Hey, that was pretty cheeky," she laughed. "Not bad, not bad!"

"Ether cannons are far from easy to use," I pointed out. "But I like to think I handle them well."

She rushed in again, bringing her sword down directly over my head, knocking me to the ground.

Or… that's what I saw happen, after that happened I was still standing, and she was standing across from me. It was just like Siren's attack back at the arena.

She rushed in, just as I had seen, and I put my ether cannon up in the air, blocking her attack completely. I then brought my ether cannon down and shoved with all my might, knocking her to the ground.

"You alright Granny?" I asked. After all, I wasn't trying to hurt her.

She stood up on her own. "I've taken whollups a lot harder than that, yeah? More importantly you saw that attack coming, didn't you?

"How do you know that?"

"It reminded me of Rex when he'd use Mythra's foresight, but Mythra's not here. What foresight are you using?"

"Mythra's foresight is much quicker than what I've been experiencing. Normally, I'd see the attack and dodge immediately, but with this, it's an entire image of what the outcome will be if I do nothing. I've even watched myself die. Mythra's foresight is more streamlined and reactive, but this one is more precise and detailed, I don't quite understand it myself to be honest."

"Hey guys, are you coming or not?!" a small girl yelled from the ship.

I soon realized that she was Electra.

"We'll be right there!" I replied as we all followed her.

Acacia ended up hugging me the moment she saw me. She told me if I ever ran away again she'd kill me. Gabriel and everyone else were also happy to see me, except for Malos, who was kind of indifferent. He also seemed irritated that he had to destroy his own artifice, but I wasn't sure why he didn't just regain control of it. After all, he did that to Artifice Ophion some five hundred years back according to Mythra and Adenine's history book.

We all walked to the BAPHQ and were met by Dromarch and Aegaeon at the gate.

"Hey it's been a long time fleabag," Granny said to Dromarch. "What's up with your eye?"

"It is very nice to see you again m'lady," Dromarch greeted with a courteous bow. "The years have taken their toll, I'm lucky to still be alive."

Granny sighed. "You and me both."

"Granny, do you know Dromarch?" I questioned, even though the answer was obvious.

Granny giggled a bit. "This furry mess is my original blade."

"I must apologize for not visiting," Dromarch said simply.

"Don't be, it was my fault for telling you to leave," Granny replied. "I was confused by Waylon's last words to us, and I didn't want my task to drag you away from yours."

"I am simply glad that fate drew us together again. However now is hardly the time to reminisce, as I believe Mythra needs our help," Dromarch stated, leading us into a planning room.

There were gadgets and gizmos everywhere, which only made me realize my own technological ineptitude.

A hologram brought up a location and Granny immediately gasped.

"That's-" she started, and Dromarch responded with a nod.

"The ruins of Indol," Dromarch continued.

"But Waylon and Rex destroy Indol!" Poppi pointed out.

"Unfortunately it seems we missed a spot," Dromarch replied.

Granny shook her head. "But we made sure to destroy the whole bloody thing!"

"Wasn't Indol the place that Praetor Amalthus controlled?" I questioned.

"Yes," Granny answered. "It was there that blade eaters like the ones you fought at Juliani's arena were created. It was also where Mòrag and Zeke became infused with other blades. However Mòrag's process was much more extreme and it was done by Cereza, not Amalthus."

"So this is where he's taken Mythra?" Acacia asked.

"It's very likely," Dromarch stated. "We've monitored this place for some time, and whenever he enters, he brings no one other than his blades. He doesn't trust others, so it only makes sense that this would be the only place he'd take her."

"We searched every nook and cranny of that place! How did he find something we didn't?" Granny still hadn't gotten over that Waylon and Rex had both missed something.

"Amalthus was a clever foe, he had backup plans for his backup plans," Dromarch explained. "The only thing we can do now is stop what he started."

"So what's the plan?" I asked, trying to get us back on track.

"I will accompany you and we will infiltrate and retrieve Mythra," Dromarch answered. "We need to prepare for the scenario that he already messed with her core crystal. As her driver, it will be your duty to bring her back, if needed."

"Are you so certain I can? She distanced herself from me out of fear of loss."

"I think you'll find a way," Granny cheered. "You've already proven you're willing to die for this, and we're all with you!"

"Yeah! Silas much stronger than stupid liar!" Rafi added.

"Poppi want to help friend Mythra!" Poppi chipped in.

"Thanks guys," I laughed. "Alright, then tomorrow we head to Indol starting at day break. Everyone take the time to polish your gear."

"The Mighty Band of Misfits will join you too!" Floren shouted excitedly as the three of them burst into the room.

"Absolutely not!" Dromarch stated.

"B-But why not?!" Electra questioned.

"Need I remind you that you not only broke the bounds of reconnaissance but also abandoned your mission directive entirely?"

"Oh, I never got to properly thank you Floren," I interjected. "Thank you for saving my life."

Dromarch stopped and looked at me. "He… saved your life?"

"If he hadn't been there, Silas would be six feet under in Fonsett's cemetery by now," Acacia confirmed.

"Is that so?"

"It was the least I could do," Floren responded. "I was the one who recommended abandoning the mission directive, and I'd do it again too. If that goes against the rules, then maybe the Misfits deserve a new leader, because I'd only break the rules again."

Dromarch sighed. "You made a call and you can justify it. I commend you on your efforts and I humbly request that you stay the leader of the Misfits. After all, a Rank 8 squad needs all the help it can get."

"Yeah but I don't know if-" Floren stopped to reassess what he had just heard.

"Did Dromarch hit his head?" Nim asked.

"Pretty sure he just called us a Rank 8 guild," Electra added nervously.

"Sir, you're not serious?!" Floren said enthusiastically.

"You acted on recon, threw yourselves in peril, and staked your own safety to save the driver of the Aegis' life. You even received his thanks and approval. I believe this decisiveness and quick thinking warrants a reward, so henceforth the Merry Band of Misfits will no longer be a Rank 10 guild, but a Rank 8 guild. You will need to meet up with Kora at 0700 tomorrow morning, where she will be giving you your first assignment, I expect great things from you."

Floren nodded, hiding the tears in his eyes. "Yes sir! We won't let you down!"

Dromarch turned to us. "I also heard that the Helios Trinity helped you in Tantal, is that correct?"

"Yes," Gabriel responded. "If you see Perceval, give him my thanks."

"No need for that, I'm right here," Perceval, who had entered with Corrin and Agate, said.

"Perceval! To what do I owe the pleasure?" Gabriel asked.

"The Helios Trinity have taken it upon themselves to get you updated gear," Dromarch explained. "The only difference between the gear they're providing and the gear you have now is the ability to channel either. Your ether crystals and bullets should be much more powerful now."

"We should go rest up," Canaan interjected. "We have a busy day tomorrow."

"Quite," Dromarch agreed. "Please grab your gear and then enjoy the rest of your day, we will all take your Tantal ship tomorrow. Please leave it to the blades here to refuel and repair any problems."

And with that, we went to rest. Tomorrow would be the day we fought Adonis again, but was I ready?

Readability Level: 11-12th Grade

Time Taken: 2.5 Hours