Following a Lost Logia incident on Unadministered World 82 ("Jetter"): Lost Property Division Six is reformed, ostensibly for Yuuno's Lost Logia hunt, but secretly to handle a new, JS related prophecy.
Because I was watching StrikerS about the same time I was reading Redemption Ark, I was comparing the two as I went along. The results of that thinking-please enjoy them, this story.
We begin, after things have already started-
I I I
Prologue: 2 vs 2
The man was a ragged vagrant.
An overlong tattered coat like a poncho. Scuffed boots with thin soles. Wild hair forcibly gathered back with a strap, and a jagged beard. Blonde and sun-bleached; the paleness of the hair only accented the dust that was caked into it.
What did not match was the gleam of the metal pendant. Wrapped around the wrist of his right hand, below a tattered glove without fingers, was a heavy bandage; threaded on that bandage was that polished metal ornament. Untarnished bronze, in a flattened disk with a wide central hole.
Compared to that image of a "ragged vagrant", his running speed did not match either. His sprinter's form was compact but not stiff. His legs devoured the ground.
"Stop!" His pursuer shouted. Her running form was less elegant, but had fierce determination. Her crisp black uniform and the gun-type device in her hands agreed with her policewoman image. She shouted over her own breathing to deliver her orders, her threats. "This is your last warning!"
"Shit." The vagrant muttered.
His companion said nothing; when compared to the other two, he is the least athletic. He had no breath in his lungs to spare for anything but pumping his legs.
Rather than a ragged vagrant with contradictions, he simply looked like an anachronism failing to look inconspicuous. The worn-out brown coat is fastened closed down his chest, but flared back from his hips to allow his legs to run; and the jet-black, alien pseudofabric of the trim jumpsuit underneath the coat that ran down his legs into seamless shoes, sticking out of the sleeves as equally seamless gloves, all fit perfectly. It did not move like clothing. It was like another layer of skin.
On his head was a tall hat, shaped like a pipe, with a chewed brim.
The alley was closed. The walls loomed up on either side like canyons. On one side, the immensely long and high wall of the Central Physical Research Lab; on the other, a factory building like a great cubic anthill, that once billowed black smoke into the black Jetter sky, now fallen to dilapidation and rust.
Everything was in its place. There was nothing but the walls on either side of two suspicious men running from the TSAB Enforcer.
The alley opened onto a wide street before them. Because the Lab had been interdicted by the TSAB, the city was comatose. The street traffic was no problem.
"At the mouth", the vagrant said between breaths, "we'll split opposite ways."
The anachronism simply nodded, his hat swinging like a curt upside-down pendulum.
An explosion, four meters ahead of them, against the institute wall. The shooting magic that had streaked past them to strike that wall from that officer did not cause either man to flinch.
'A warning shot'; the vagrant thought. 'They've gotten soft.'
With grim determination, he poured on speed, pulling ahead of his companion, veering slightly to the left, indicating the direction he will juke to the anachronism behind and beside him.
The great mechanical whine of rotation was not a noise he could place. But, the great roar of some woman's voice, that his ears could triangulate.
'Not a warning', he realized, 'but a signal…!'
With something like desperation, he threw himself backwards, crashing into his companion.
At that point where the warning shot struck the wall of the Lab, that wall shattered inwards like a great wrecking ball had swung into it full speed.
That is not too far from the truth.
Lunging in a great punch, the hand armored by the heavy gauntlet blasted through that wall. Counterspinning bangles inset in that gauntlet scattered the smashed debris.
Without wasting any motion, the hand hooked around, guiding the body and the legs as they slid across the ground; those legs flexed, cutting the wheels under those feet as the ambusher sliced to a stop. Halted, with a casual breath, that figure unflexed her crouching legs and stood upright. The long ribbon fluttered out of the short hair ruffled by the wind her own impact caused.
Crouched in that alley, nearly sitting on the ground, the vagabonds considered the gauntleted one before them and the Enforcer behind them. There is no doubt these were TSAB officers. Issued with custom devices, they possessed magic that was simply beyond anything available on this Unadministered World named Jetter.
"You can still come peacefully." The one with the gun commanded. "We just have some questions. You are not at this time being charged with any crimes."
"Hm." The vagrant said, standing, his poncho-like coat flowing like a stiff cape.
Smoothly, his silent companion also rose to his feet, leaning back to press against the wall.
"We're just here to save the people." The gauntleted one added. "After the spatial disaster at the Lab, many people are suffering. If you know anything, please, tell us."
"Shut up." The vagrant said. His tone is neither weary, nor angry; he is simply making his counterstatement. "Girl", he said turning to face the one in the black uniform with the gun, "maybe you're friend's speech would work... if I didn't recognize the uniform of the Enforcers." With a small sneer, he settled into a fighting stance. "Against that... it's already a fight to my death."
"Is there no other way?" She asked. Her eyes were soft. Her voice was sad. But, the gun was held steady. It neither shook nor lowered. It was still firmly pointed at those men.
"Flamberge." Without breaking eye contact, he spoke.
That bronze pendent at his hand responded in a cool voice. "Setting Up."
In a flash of red light, he transformed. The tattered coat and scuffed boots were gone.
A double-breasted vest of slate grey buttoned all the way to the throat. An ascot spilled out of the top, hiding the line of the man's neck beneath that garishly striped white-and-red fabric. Stiffly flaring down from a wide belt were grey pants, tied closed beneath the knee. The arms and legs below the knee were covered in a thick stocking-like material of solid color; right leg and right arm were bright red. The left side were white. Hands in grey gloves, and feet in grey shoes like slippers.
Gripped in that right hand, a longsword-type device. The blade pointed straight out, but along its length, it undulated, a sine wave, up and down like the water on the ocean surface. And yet, despite that knightly sword, it was the circle of Mid-childan styled magic that turned at his feet, not the Belkan triangle.
Without breaking eye contact, leaning towards the gunner, he spoke one more time. "Blitz".
He dropped down and spun, knees bent tight like a frog, his chest barely skimming above the ground, dodging the reflexive shot the Enforcer made. Even in that instant he dodged, he was like a flash of thunder across the night as he shot up from the ground towards her.
Although her guard was up, the one with the gauntlet could barely even raise her arms before he was already attacking her.
The bicep of the raised left arm-
Right stomach beneath the ribs-
The thigh of the leading left leg-
The sword flashed like three-pronged lightning, forcing her back, cutting her open.
He spun, streaking forward in the blink of the eye coming up-!
The gunner desperately stepped back, throwing back her head as the sword cleanly passed right through where her chin was less than a second ago.
The sword was raised, pointed skyward between them, still going higher-
The gun came up. With his self thrown behind that powerful rising stroke, all he can do is look down and meet her victorious grin. He could not slash downwards before the muzzle that was already pointed towards him-
And the sword smashed down, the pommel brutally striking her in the face. Rather than swinging the sword, he simply pulled it to slam straight down into her skull.
Dazed, she pulled the trigger, but it fired wide-
He stepped back, corrected his position and stance, and cleanly slashed downward. The most basic attack; with the sword raised before him, pulling straight down with both hands. The edge bit into her collar, and was pulled down through her body. She was cut. There was no cleaner cut that could have been made.
His eyes narrowed.
The wound was not fatal. On neither of those women were the wounds fatal. Although he had surprise against them, although he was faster than either of them, although his years of battle experience exceed each of their years alive-the wounds were not fatal.
Their barrier jackets were too strong. He simply… could not fully cleave through their defenses.
All that time, avoiding the TSAB; the growth of the organization's magic across four decades was unknown to him. Knowing that as a rational hypothesis in his head and feeling his own inadequacy through his sword are two different things.
Although is battle skill is four decades superior, his weapon is equally four decades inferior.
His musing was cut short by the blood cry behind him, the woman with the drill-like gauntlet. Even if his triple attack wasn't fatal, he is surprised she is capable of even standing with those wounds.
Power exploded from her body, racing forth in a blaze and a spiral. It gushed from anger.
Her fist was drawn back; the gauntlet spun furiously. She launched-
She was intercepted.
The other man, under his dull brown coat, moved.
He did not move elegantly. His motion was not skilled. He simply lashed out with his hand. It was like he drew a line in his mind from where he was to where he wanted to be and simply traced his palm along that line he imagined.
But it was inhumanly fast. Without magic, without a device, he was a blur. From thinking "I will move" to his arm moving—no human nervous system could pass signals that quickly.
As that left gauntlet passed before him, his hand whipped out like a snake, and with unnatural accuracy grasped the wrist just beneath the thumb, seizing the gauntlet head adjacent that first spinning gear. Without hesitating, without pausing, he shoved it downward with bestial strength, forcing that fist to drive into the ground before him.
She snarled, whipping her arm out, snapping it back to chamber at her hip, uncaring of the concrete sprayed outward-
And she jerked back: a sword thrust downwards towards her shoulder. With a twitch the grip is changed; from a thrust, it could now swing up in another rising arc.
She stared up.
He stared down.
Can I punch him before-
Can I cut her before-
For the first time, the anachronism spoke. His voice was rusty and uncertain, like a monk used to a vow of silence. "We are leaving." He paused, and slowly backed away from the scene before him. "You should seek medical attention for yourself and your companion."
"Teana..." Compared to the roar, this desperate note was totally different.
The sword-wielding man grunted. "It wasn't too deep. She should live."
With careful glances, unmindful of her own bleeding wounds, she backed up, towards her friend.
When the two broke and run, she ignored them, turning to scoop up her friend, already shouting over the telepathic network for help.