Disclaimer: I don't own Silent Mobius…it was created by Kia Asamiya

Chapter 1: Encounters

'Welcome to the Tokyo Hilton, Mr. de Winter. Your room is number 682 on the sixth floor. If there's anything you need, just call the front desk and we'll do everything we can for you.' The buxom redhead behind the desk handed a keycard to the white-haired man standing before her. His face was smooth, except for laugh lines around his mouth and eyes, but it nonetheless radiated an aura of sorrow and antiquity. Perhaps it was something in his piercing black eyes or the slight twist to his smile as he took the card, but the clerk had the feeling that this was a man who had traveled far and seen much of both joy and pain. He was lean, but not particularly tall.

'Thank you. Good evening, Miss.' The man's voice carried the tones of England, though his face was that of one born in the East. Winter turned towards the elevator, towing his pair of much-battered suitcases behind him..

His room was small, with little more than the necessities of modern life: network jack, TV, and phone. Winter stowed his suitcases, made a brief phone call, and changed into red shirt and grey pants before leaving again. A lean blue sports car awaited him at the curb, its roof no higher than chest height on Winter. A lion rampant paraded on the hood, a sign corresponding to no known make. A red-uniformed valet stepped out through the gull-wing doors and bowed him in. The older man asked about the local clubs; the valet directed him to the Blue Flamingo a few blocks away.

'Can I have an Ignis Inferni?' The bartender didn't know that one. Winter raised him voice over the old disco tune pulsing from a dozen speakers. 'It's pretty simple. Just take an ounce of Scotch and add about a dozen drops of Tabasco sauce, though any hot sauce will do (1).' The bartender mixed the drink, then thoroughly rinsed the shaker.

'Where'd you learn that one?'

'I think the bartender at the Golden Phoenix in Taipei invented it. It's great on warm nights, and wonderful on cold ones.'

'Can I have one, too?' asked a blonde behind Winter. The bartender complied and the woman downed it at a gulp. 'Wow, that really hits you, doesn't it? It's like my mouth's on fire.' She gasped and nearly spat the drink on her blue silk dress.

Winter smiled wryly. 'You get used to it after a few. It's a great surprise for your less social friends. By the way, I'm new in town. Do you know any other good clubs around here?'

'There's the Wolf Lounge down the street and across the bridge. The music isn't nearly as good as this one, but they serve a damn good steak.' The woman turned towards the dance floor and half-beckoned him to follow. He shook his head, nodding towards the men's room. She found another partner on the floor as he quietly left the club.

The bridge was surprisingly empty considering the early hour and its location in the heart of Tokyo's nightclub district. The air above the span rippled and a ten-foot-tall humanoid creature stepped onto the pavement as Winter approached. Slick blue-grey skin gleamed in the headlights and the rows of large spikes running down either side of its broad chest shone under the crimson moon (2). Traffic halted as drivers stopped to either avoid ramming the entity or to stare at it.

The creature slowly turned, surveying the bridge. Two chest spikes shot out and pierced the windshield of a small Mitsubishi. The tentacles pulled back, hauling the passengers into the creature's mouth. Blood spurted from its fang-filled slit of a mouth as it chewed.

'Damn! Alice, suit me up. I'm going out,' Winter shouted, slapping a switch on the dashboard. The car shimmered and faded from view as the monster cast about for more prey.

'Sir, may I remind you that the armour stored in the car is only a light suit? That creature may very well be able to pierce it, judging from the violence of its attack on that other vehicle.' The AI's voice was as smooth as ever, but she spoke as one might to a small child or a particularly foolish friend.

'Alice, you know damn well that I wore this on the field at Gora-sho. I doubt that this thing can match a Havamil H-019 for penetration. Besides, I can't just let everyone out there die, can I?'

'As you wish, sir,' the AI sighed. 'You really should get the dents out of that suit some time.' A battered suit of grey armour emerged from various compartments in the seat and ceiling to fit itself around him. Winter took a pair of slim metal cylinders from the glove compartment and touched another switch. The driver's door swung open and he stepped out.

The sudden appearance of an armoured man from thin air seemed to amuse the creature. Its chest heaved with hissing laughter and it asked, 'Sssssoooo, you think you can defeat me, little one?' Two tentacles shot out at the man. He shook the cylinders and they expanded into a pair of long sabers, held parallel to the ground out to either side of him. Faster than the eye could follow, he spun to one side and struck out. Two large claws fell to the ground.

'My turn.' Winter charged, sabers trailing behind him. The monster shot more tentacles at him, but he dodged them all, severing them in midair. Twin strokes sliced off the creature's arms and the eyestalks on its broad, flat head.

The thing laughed as the severed tentacles and other appendages melted and flowed back to their owner. It reared up and kicked Winter in the center of his cuirass with its taloned foot, throwing him into the side of a tractor-trailer about twenty feet away. The truck tipped dangerously close to falling over; the driver frantically worked his door to escape. Winter's sabers fell from his hands as he flew and his breastplate had acquired a new dent.

'Tough son of a bitch, aren't you?' He picked himself up and clenched his fists. Angry red flames flared between his fingers, brighter than the sun and hotter than dragon's breath. He charged again, this time leaping into the air and twisting in flight to avoid the spiked tentacles. Winter landed behind the creature and drove one fiery fist into the center of its chest as it turned to face him. A moment later, flames surged from its eyes, mouth, and the ends of its limbs. The papery black shell the flames left behind fell into dust as the man pulled back his fist.

'Alice, uncloak.' The car reappeared where he'd left it. Winter doffed his plumed Greek-style helm as he sat down. A firm shake returned the sabers to their can-like state. 'Don't bother with the armour. I'll deal with it later. Bre– What the hell!'

A building at the far end of the bridge exploded in flames, followed by a violent flood of water. Alice calmly reported that the phenomenon appeared magical in nature and asked if her master would care to investigate.

'Not in this suit. Open a portal home and break out Scorpio and Draco. I have a feeling I'll need them.' He started the engine and turned back towards the Hilton.

'Sir, I think we should leave this world. We are on vacation, after all.'

'I can't leave, not yet. I told you when we entered this world, and again after coming to Tokyo, that something called me to this world, this city. There's something I must do here, something I left unfinished a long time ago.' The man fell silent, staring into the night. At last, he murmured, 'Nothing's familiar, but I still feel like I've been here before. My journeys will end here, at least for a time.'

'I wish you'd said that about the last world, Alex.' The car turned down a dark alley and passed through a glowing portal.

'Anything in the news, Alice?'

'The bridge incident last night was reported as a pair of murders with the bodies missing. That burst of water and fire we saw was attributed to a band's pyrotechnics that got out of hand, followed by a burst water main. However, the tabloids are reporting this as a "Third Attraction," which seems to have something to do with aliens from what I've read. No one has any pictures, though.'

'Thanks, Alice. Are Scorpio and Draco ready?'

'They're in the armoury and garage for final inspection.'

Alex rose from the breakfast table. He pressed his palm to a panel beside the heavy blast door down the hall and it hissed open. Inside were shelves of weapons and ammunition, ranging from polearms and swords to submachine guns and energy weapons. A suit of silver armour stood at the far end, surrounded by computers and various tools. The chest and massive cups surmounting the shoulders threatened to swallow the wearer's head. The helm was fashioned in the shape of a dragon's head with blue gems set in the eye sockets with a mane of red hair spilling down the back. The suit stood head and shoulders taller than its owner, who seemed almost frail beside it.

'Anti-gravs active, thrusters primed, Med-systems fully stocked….air supply needs to be refilled…everything seems fine.' Alex tapped at the main display console, scrolling through the status reports. Finally, he nodded, satisfied that the suit was in fighting condition. 'Fit it with the claw gauntlets, then load it in Draco when I'm done there. I'll also need my pistol, the sabers, a pulse rifle, and…this in there with it.' 'This' was a curious polearm–a three-foot curved broadsword on a five-foot pole. Alex turned towards the door and vanished. He rematerialized at the far end of the estate in a massive structure housing a vast collection of cars and other vehicles. Draco sat in a small side room filled with tools, parts, and diagnostic equipment.

Draco was a black sports car, somewhat larger than the blue one in the Hilton garage. A scarlet dragon roared silently on the hood. Alex opened the door and tapped a hidden switch on the steering wheel. Panels slid aside to reveal missile racks and small energy cannon mounted to cover every angle. Another switch, retracted the wheels while the car lifted into the air. Alex noted, 'Anti-gravs are good. Weapons seem to be charged.'

Another switch made the car's paint job shift from black to green to purple to silver before becoming invisible. 'Holoemitter and cloak check out. I'll take it out tonight.'

'Yes, ma'am, we've already sent a patrol car to investigate. There have been several similar reports tonight,' the dispatcher sighed after the caller hanged up. That had been the fifth report of a flying silver man in the last hour. The last two patrols had seen nothing stranger than a young man showing off his new sports car. He'd been sent off with a warning about aerial traffic laws and the second patrol had seen nothing at all.

Miles away, just above the last caller's building, Alice's voice sounded in Alex's ear. 'Sir, Draco's sensors have picked up a swarm of unidentified life-forms moving towards your position. They are emitting energy in a manner similar to the creature you encountered last night, though at a much lower level. There are perhaps fifty of them, each half the size of a human.'

Moments later, Alex caught sight of the hostile swarm. Seen with Scorpio's telescopic vision, the creatures were maroon and grey globes about a yard in diameter with stubby wings and fanged-fille maws. Alex remarked that they seemed to resemble piranhas, small predators that hunted in large packs to bring down larger prey. A bare second passed before the swarm saw him and attacked. When they were within a hundred yards or so, Alex clenched his fists and the gems in his helm blazed with cold blue fire. Darts of golden light appeared between his fingers and he threw with a flip of his wrists. A dozen small suns flared and died as he fired a volley of fireballs. The 'piranhas' easily dodged those and spread out to surround their prey. The dragon's eyes blazed again and two bolts of lightning arced from Alex's hands. They forked a dozen times and more piranhas fell from the sky, charred and lifeless.

The survivors charged and claws extended from the back of Scorpio's hands. Sapphire flames danced along their edges and the dragon's eyes burned. Alex danced in the air, striking savagely with his flaming claws. The piranhas' teeth found no purchase on the polished plates, but Alex's claws left black ashes wherever they touched alien flesh. Within a minute, all that remained of the creatures was a shower of charred steaks. The eyes' fire dimmed and the claws retracted as Alice spoke again. 'Sir, I'm picking up a large aircraft, approaching fast. ETA…2 minutes. I'd advise you to pull out.'

'Give me a visual.' An image of the craft appeared on his helmet screens. It was a slim silver pyramid, enlarged by engines at the far end, with a single vertical fin at the bow and two horizontal ones at the stern. Its design screamed military or police vessel. Alex and Draco vanished from sight as it approached.

'I can't believe it…it finished fifty Lucifer Hawks in under two minutes! What was that thing!' A muscular woman with reddish brown hair aboard the cruiser stared at the viewscreen in front of her in shock. The crew was female, all dressed in blue uniforms with white shoulder 'wings' and a small white loop under the right shoulder.

'It was a man…I can't say much more than that. I see silver hair and a woman…no, two women. I think one's far in the past, but the other is very near.' This came from the small young woman with orangish brown hair beside her.

'The cameras got a few shots, but they're blurry because of our motion and range. I should be able to enhance them once we get back to the station,' said the blue-eyed blonde in the pilot's seat.

'Whoever he is, he's welcome to all the Lucifer Hawks he can kill. Makes our job easier.' The brunette had a pragmatic view of life.

'We'll have to report to the Chief that someone else has joined this war. He seems to have some very advanced technology at his disposal–that flying armour, for example. I hope we can get him to join us.' Ironically, the blonde seemed to be the brains of the group.

'Hey, Alice, where are the papers?' Alex asked groggily as he emerged from the bathroom.

'On the table. Where they are every morning.'

'Oh, thanks, Alice. I'm going out for coffee now; please route calls to my cell phone.' Alex picked up his papers, stepped through a golden portal and emerged in a dark alley beside a small coffee shop. The sign over the door read 'Labyrinth.' The shop was only open intermittently, but the owner had set up an email service to alert her regulars. She was standing behind the counter when Alex walked in.

'Good morning, Alex. Are you still reading those things? Where do you get them?' She was a young woman, perhaps twenty, with light brown hair that was just shy of orange. Alex stood almost a head taller than her.

'Morning, Ms. Saiko. I subscribe, like half the city. I just print them out like this.' He held up the old-fashioned floppy black-and-white pages. Most subscribers read them on computer screens.

'Please, call me Yuki. Why do you read them? You don't even subscribe to the gossip columns, just the Third Attraction news, and that's mostly nonsense. Here's your coffee, just the way you like it.' The young woman handed him the cup with a smile.

'Thanks, Yuki. I guess I'm just fascinated by aliens, though these Lucifer Hawks aren't aliens in the usual sense according to these writers. The endless speculation about the people who fight them is also very funny some mornings. Here, read this.' The column looked like it had been written by an intern who had no hope of ever getting laid. He was speculating about the love lives of the various members of the AMP, the alleged secret police organization dedicated to fighting the Lucifer Hawks. The accompanying picture was a shot of several women standing against something not unlike the beast Alex had fought on the bridge. The author had somehow gotten the idea that one of the women in the picture–who had an uncanny resemblance to Yuki–was involved with another, a purple-haired young woman wielding a long golden staff.

'Where does this idiot get that idea?' Yuki fumed; she seemed personally insulted by that idea.

'Calm down, Yuki. It's not like he's writing about you.' Alex pulled at his nose and pretended to be deep in though for a moment. 'Though that would explain why Labyrinth's only open a few days out of the week…and why that girl right there looks so much like you.'

'Do I look like the type that can stand up to monsters like that?' She laughed. 'Anyway, that sort of thing isn't anyone else's business. I just think it's a little ridiculous that he'd bother making up stuff like that.'

Alex drank his coffee in silence as Yuki attended to a customer who'd just walked in. The silver-haired man turned to a page about the 'Silver Knight' who'd appeared in the skies over Tokyo several weeks ago. He (all 'knights' were assumed to be male, though the helm and armour made it impossible to determine gender) was supposedly a hero who used a mix of exotic magic and fast blades to defeat Lucifer Hawks. The story was mostly plagiarized from old novels, video games, and anime. Alex knew for a fact that the Knight hadn't fought for several days.

'That guy again? Half that paper must be about him alone! And they don't even know who he is.' Yuki exclaimed over Alex's shoulders.

'Well, they don't seem to have any shortage of ideas about who he might be. Some say he's a rogue AMP officer, though all the tabloids agree that they're all female. Others say it's a robot…though how a robot could use magic is beyond me. Some of those attacks they've photographed can't be replicated with current technology. One guy even says he's an alien bounty hunter who's after a specific Hawk, but can't distinguish it from all the others.' They both had a good laugh at that idea, though the AMP proposal drew a giggle from Yuki.

'Say, what if you were the Silver knight? That would explain why you read about him and the Lucifer Hawks so much.'

'Me? Do I look like the warrior type to you?' Alex barked a laugh. 'I'm just a guy who thinks he saw something driving home from a club one night. Thanks for the coffee; I have to get going now. See you later.'

'Bye, Alex.'

That night, Alex was back at the Blue Flamingo. Despite the odd name, the bartender was the best in town and the DJ actually had decent taste in music. She mostly played oldies, mostly from the '60s. Around midnight, Alex staggered out of the door and towards his car. A streetlamp flickered overhead as he passed the dark alley beside the club. A deep woman's voice addressed him from the shadows.

'Hey, you. Get over here.' A vise-like hand gripped his shoulder and pulled him into the alley. It belonged to an almost mannish brunette in blue. Beside her stood a short girl with purple hair in two buns who gripped a curious golden rune-carved staff. Behind them stood a tall blonde with ice-cold blue eyes and an oversized gun.

'Who are you and what do you want with me?' Alex asked as calmly as if he'd been in a drawing room.

The brunette seemed to be the spokeswoman. 'We're with the AMP and we don't appreciate you taking over our business, Silver Knight.'

'You've got the wrong guy. I'm just someone trying to find his car and get home.' Something in the back of Alex's head told him that this wasn't real…perhaps just the slightest flaw in the bricks beside him or the utter absence of life besides the women and himself.

'Right. And we're Tooth Fairies.' The brunette lifted him by the throat. Alex's view of the world shattered like glass, dissolving into utter darkness for a moment. The streetlamp bulb exploded above him as he came to. Overhead, a man screamed. Alex translocated himself to the Blue Flamingo's roof (3). A man with knee-length purple hair knelt on the roof, clutching his head in agony. He was completely enveloped by a high-collared black cloak. Alex nudged him with his foot.

'Get up.' He ordered brusquely. 'You're lucky I didn't kill you when I broke that spell. I know a place where we can talk privately. Follow me if you can.' He dematerialized as the other man climbed to his feet. A few minutes later, a blue light flared from the top of Tokyo Tower (4). The black-robed man faded from sight.

Alex lounged on a girder of the arch under the first level of the Tower. The other man appeared standing in midair. The silver-haired man spoke first. 'You obviously know who I am, so I'll ask you, who are you? What do you want?'

'I am Ganossa Maximillian. I serve the Lord of Nemesis, who rules the Lucifer Hawk. I am here to make you an offer: join us and you will be richly rewarded. Continue to fight against us and your death is inevitable.'

Alex shrugged. 'I have little use for more material goods and even less for power. You could have made your offer directly, yet you chose to deceive me into believing the AMP was out for my blood. If you cannot even approach me openly, how will I trust you as an ally? I will defend myself if attacked, no more; I do not hunt Lucifer Hawks, but neither will I allow them to attack me nor will I allow them to slaughter innocents. I am curious, though: how did you find out that I was the one in the armour?'

'I have my ways. If your answer is that you will continue your war alone, I am afraid that this interview is at an end. When next we meet again, it will be as enemies.' Ganossa began to fade out, but Alex recalled him.

'Wait. Remember this: Odysseus defeated Ajax (5).' With those words, both men teleported away. Alex materialized in his own living room. 'Can't these servant of evil gods types come up with a new line? In an infinity of worlds, you'd think one of them could find something to say other than "Join us or die." Gods below, I need a bath after dealing with that creep.' He shambled down the hall to the bathroom. 'Alice, I've left Draco outside the Blue Flamingo. Recall him, will you?'

Notes: I'll be rewriting most of this fic over the next few months. I hope this version's better. The last edition feels a bit…lifeless and dry and I'd like to fix that.

1)I have no clue what this would taste like. Imitate at your own risk. The name means something like Hell fire if my Latin is correct (it's been a while since I took that one course).

2) For those of you unfamiliar with the Silent Mobius series, the moon is a crimson colour in the time of the series. At least, it is so part of the time.

3) 'Translocate' 'Teleport' (verb). It's a word I picked up from David Eddings' Belgariad/Mallorean series.

4) It looks rather suspiciously like the Eiffel Tower with a red and white paint job. It is some 13 meters taller than the original, though.

5) Odysseus defeated Ajax. This line refers to one of the events after the end of the Iliad but before the actual fall of Troy. After Achilles's death at the hands of Paris, the Greeks recovered his body and armour. At the funeral games held in his honour, his mother Thetis offered his arms as a prize. Both Ajax the Greater and Odysseus claimed them. Ajax was the strongest of the Greeks after Achilles, and Odysseus was the most cunning. Athena and several Trojan prisoners were called to judge between them (Athena, incidentally, was probably the most biased deity they could possibly have asked to judge). Odysseus got the armour and Ajax committed suicide over it. There's a reference to this in the Odyssey when Odysseus meets Ajax and various famous dead people in the Underworld (Book 11 or 12, I think). Alex says this since his magic is based on knowledge and skill rather than raw power…you'll see why if you read on a few chapters. There's a play about this; Ajax by Sophocles.