A.L: I'm back! AP classes are hell, that's all I'm gonna say. But, since all of the tests are over… I'm back to writing! Yay!
MisakaMisaka0202: Thanks! And after a long wait, here it is.
SakuraDreamerz: Thanks! Time will tell.
Abinac: Thanks! Fixed it.
KaguTheGreat: Thanks! Because drama.
DestinyLatias: Thanks! It takes thought. Lots and lots of thought.
Guest: Thanks! Finally updated.
The group had barely made it back to the airship. Everyone was hurt in some form, with Emily and Raphael being the worst cases. As soon as they'd arrived, Angel cared for the two and put them to bed, before helping everyone else.
"Lance, stay still. I can't bandage you if you keep twitching." Angel said, trying to bandage
"I'll be fine." Lance said, pouting.
"Sure you will, like the time at the zoo with the walrus-" Kai started.
"We do not speak of that incident." Lance said, glaring at Kai.
"Kai, could you stay still?" Marie asked, bandaging the older girl's arm.
Kai sighed, and stopped moving as Marie finished up bandaging Marie's arms. She then gave the violinist a look.
"You ok, Marie? You seem off…" Kai asked.
"Me? I-I'm fine…" Marie said, looking at the floor.
"You're worried about Raphael, aren't you?" Galileo asked. Slowly, Marie nodded.
"Maybe I should have just let J.F-" Marie started, before Leo cut her off.
"We all know J.F wouldn't have kept his promise." Leo said, folding his arms.
Marie sighed in response. "I don't feel any better…"
Angel sighed. "We're all alive. That's the good thing."
"But now what do we do? Raphael and Emily haven't woken up yet, and J.F could use this opportunity for a sneak attack…"
Angel gave a weary nod. "You're right… It's not like him to leave in the middle of a fight like that…"
"They said their leader was summoning them… It must have been the true Napoleon. But why?" Leo asked.
Lance sighed. "Whatever the reason, we should be thankful. Now we can make a plan…"
"We should wait for Emily to wake up. She is our planner, after all." Kai said, stretching.
"Kai's right." Angel said. "Good things come to those who wait…"
"I was worried something like this would happen…"
Raphael slowly opened his eyes, the room coming into focus. The infirmary was small, only holding three cots and a cabinet full of various medicines.
However, he wasn't alone. Two other people were in the room also- Emily sitting on the bed next to his and Angel standing.
"Raphael! Thank goodness you're alright!" Angel said, hugging Raphael tightly. "You had us all worried! Marie would have stayed up all night if everyone else hadn't stopped her."
Raphael nodded in response, slowly getting to his feet, before gasping in pain.
"Don't strain yourself." Emily said. She was mostly covered in bandages, and she had a passive look on her face.
Raphael looked at her in worry. "Are you alright?"
Emily shrugged, before wincing. "More or less."
Angel then gave Raphael and Emily a downcast look. "Well, Hiro betrayed us… Why?"
"I overlooked the possibility and suffered the consequences. That's all there is to it. I should have been more careful." Emily replied, rigid.
"Don't blame yourself. We all fell for it- " Raphael started.
"I'm supposed to defend all of you. I failed. Now we have to plan." Emily said.
"Emily, you should rest-" Angel said, but Emily shook her head.
"I'm not resting until Napoleon is defeated. Every time we waste only will lead to more destruction…"
Angel just sighed in response.
"Well? What's our plan?" Raphael asked.
"Well, our priority is to get the final key… But with Hiro's betrayal… I'm suspicious of Kai and Lance. They were extremely close together…"
Raphael paused, thinking.
She's right… Kai did mention something about the three them being together for a long time…
"Wait. If they were together, why did they bother taking such a beating? Wouldn't it have been better to turn on us along with Hiro and finish us off?" Raphael asked.
"That's true… But there's one component that contradicts your theory." Emily replied.
"What would that be?" Angel asked, a questioning look in her eyes.
"Simple. The earth key." Emily replied.
"But we haven't gotten that key yet…" Raphael started, trailing off.
"We haven't gotten that key. I, on the other hand… I called in a few favors, so the key is now hidden." Emily said, yawning. "I suspect Kai and Lance would want to find out its location before trying to strike." Emily said, pressing her fingers to her forehead. "I had a fake key made. I'm going to put that out, and then we can wait to see if they take the bait."
Angel frowned. "What happens if they are traitors?"
"We will deal with them as the situation calls for." Emily finished.
Raphael looked out the small window, staring at the moon.
Could they really be using us? Is this just another trick? He thought.
The next morning, things were oddly silent, everyone lost in thought. Even Kai was quiet, the only sounds coming from her being the chewing of cherries.
Marie rubbed her eyes, yawning. She'd barely slept, most of it out of worry for Raphael.
However, the silence was quelled when Emily's laptop screen glowed.
Incoming Audio Message. Sender Unknown. A voice said, a small envelope appearing on the screen.
Without a word, Emily moved the cursor onto the envelope and clicked. The message loaded for a moment before opening.
"Greetings!" A voice said, causing everyone's eyes to widen.
"Jean-Francois!" Leo yelled, before looking at the screen.
"It's me, Jean-Francois. I hope you're all doing well. Raphael especially. But, enough of the greetings. A rather pressing matter has surfaced, and it requires the utmost attention." J.F coughed before continuing.
"It's only a trade – a simple exchange. You see, I have some people in my grasp you might know…"
"Marie! Don't listen to him!" A strained voice said. Despite it being in the background, Marie immediately recognized the speaker.
"Mother!" Marie cried, her eyes widening in fear.
"Charlotte! It's a trap!" Another voice said.
"Inspector Vergier?" Angel asked, shocked.
"I figured these would be the two you were interested in. There are others, but these are the ones that would have a lasting effect." J.F said, laughing.
"Now, here's the trade- If I get the items and a certain violinist by the end of the week, I release all of the innocents with their heads attached. If not… I hope you enjoy closed casket funerals." With that, the message ended.
Angel pounded the table in anger, causing everyone to react in shock.
"It's not fair!" She yelled. "Damn him!"
"Now is not the time to react like this. We need to keep a level head. They're obviously not in any rush, given the long time frame…" Emily started.
"Why do you think they've given us such a long time frame?!" Charlie asked, her voice shaking. "They're daring us to come up with a plan. And if we try anything-" She shook her head, not continuing.
"But we can't just give them the items… If Napoleon got his hands on them… Think of the casualties…" Galileo started.
Marie then buried face in her hands and started to cry. Lance rested a hand on her shoulder, trying to comfort her.
"Charlie- I know it's your dad... But what else can we do?" Kai asked, eating another cherry.
Charlie turned to Kai, glaring.
"Why do you care? After all, it was your friend who betrayed us and got us into this mess!" She yelled.
Kai frowned. "Hiro made his choice. No clue why- but it happened."
"His choice? He stabbed Emily in the back and almost killed us! And he's going to help kill others!" Charlie retorted. "Unlike you, I have a family to worry about!"
Kai's eyes widened as the words hit home. Without a word, she turned and ran out of the room, eventually outside.
"Kai! Kai, wait!" Lance yelled, dashing after her. However, she soon disappeared out of view.
Lance sat on the couch, defeated. "She's gone…" He ran his hands through his hair.
"I think we all need to rest." With that, Emily left the room.
"Charlie…" Leo said, knocking on the room door. "Are you alright?" After Kai had left, Charlie retreated to her room without another word to anyone else.
Charlie opened the door, glaring. "My father is being held hostage by J.F. How do you think I feel?"
Leo sighed. "I'm sorry… Want to talk?"
Charlie nodded, and the two sat on her bed.
"It's just been so much… First Hiro betrays us, and now this… What lengths will J.F go to succeed?" She asked.
"Anything and everything, probably." Leo replied. "Bad news for us." He paused before speaking again. "What you said to Kai…"
"I know. I shouldn't have said that. It was a low blow, and I'm sorry I did." Charlie said. But then, her face grew grim.
"Do you suspect her?" She asked.
"Suspect her of wha- Oh." Leo said, thinking.
"I just- feel something is off about her."
"There is something off… But her? Working for Napoleon? I can't see it."
Charlie sighed. "Oh well."
Raphael picked up a box of tissues before handing it to Marie. After Charlie's outburst, everyone had left the living room sans Marie and him. She graciously accepted them before blowing her nose.
"Thank you, Raphael." Marie said, smiling. "Are you alright?"
Raphael shrugged. "I'm fine." Then, he sat next to her.
"Are you alright?" Raphael asked.
Marie shook her head. "Mother… I haven't seen her in so long, and I don't want to lose her again…"
Raphael held her in a tight embrace. "I promise I won't let anything happen to you or your mom. We're going to get through this."
Marie smiled, holding him tighter. "Thank you, Raphael."
Lance walked through the hallway towards his room, silent.
"Lance. I want to talk to you." Emily said, walking behind him.
"Hm?" Lance asked, turning to look at her.
"Outside." Emily said, indicating the door. With that, she walked out, and he followed her.
END CHAPTER 36
Next time on ROTH 4!
"Well? What did you want to talk about?" Lance asked.
Emily didn't reply, but looked at the sky. After a moment, she turned and looked at Lance.
His eyes widened as she pulled out her swords.
"Friend or foe?" She asked. Then, she rushed at him.