Thank you, thank you, thank you! I'm so glad you waited! And you owe everything to my beta-reader. And the reviewers of course!
I've been busy losing weight… It's what teenage girls tend to do when they take home their school photo and the first thing their mother says when they see it is: "Haha, you look fat."
FOUR KILOS IN FOUR WEEKS. HELL YES!
Chapter eight: Infiltration
The corridor was empty and dark, for which he was grateful. Teito Klein had never felt so alive. After days of telling himself that it would be better if he forgot, it was truly amazing to remember those who cared about him.
It had all come back to him after the dream. About the church, his comrades and his friends. He also remembered why it was easier to have buried those memories. He could no longer comprehend how it was possible to live as a battle sklave after he had experienced such kindness at the hands of the church.
But in order to leave this life behind, he would have to kill just one more person. The one who was responsible for forcing him to live like this: Miroku. If he could just kill that person, then he would be free. Free of the collar around his neck, free of the life he was being forced to live and best of all free to go back to the church he loved.
It had been quite easy to escape from his cell once he put his mind to it. Silently, he had dispatched the guards outside. He had felt some guilt when he was done. They had not treated him too badly. Miroku had taught him how to be an assassin; now it was time to show his 'master' his true capabilities.
His footsteps were inaudible and he froze at every sound he picked up. Swiftly, he made his way out of the slave quarters and stopped abruptly when the floor under his feet turned from polished floorboard to thick carpet.
The question was: now what? It was all very well, having made his escape from the cells, determined to murder Miroku in his sleep. But how was he going to tell which room was occupied by that person? Before he could think everything through properly, a hand fell upon his shoulder, holding him so that he could not run.
"And where do you think you're going, hmm? 2741?"
Ayanami's face was, as ever, a blank slate, but a sneer could be heard in the voice. Teito froze, cursing himself for how mindlessly terrified he was of the other soldier.
"That is not my name."
He was surprised when he found that his voice was completely level, with no hint of any emotion in it.
"Oh, I'm sorry, I meant Wahrheit Tiashe Raggs."
The sound of the other man speaking his name in such a mocking voice made Teito angry enough to wrench his shoulder from Ayanami's iron grasp.
"You- You still dare to say that name, even though you were the one to betray the Kingdom of Raggs and kill your own family!"
Teito sent a wild zaiphon attack towards Ayanami, missing by several inches. The explosion caused several doors to be pulled open, the occupants clearly angered at being disturbed from their sleep or their nightly work. Ayanami calmly extended a hand towards Teito and a flood of zaiphon flowed into the air, an angry, red string of words. They encircled the boy, but before they could bind him, he quickly neutralised it with his own brand of blue zaiphon. Whilst the boy was distracted, Ayanami moved right behind him, catching hold of him.
"It's a pity that you happen to be Miroku's favourite pet; but I can assure you that it won't last for much longer; and when he tires of you, I'll be waiting."
He allowed the promise to hang ominously for a moment, before sending his fist plummeting into Teito's stomach, rendering him instantly unconscious. Yes, Teito would make a very interesting pet.
"Will this really be alright?" Frau grumbled as he pulled on the standard military uniform. "What happens if they ask for identity confirmation? What if there is security which we can't breach? What if-"
"Will you stop your incessant griping, already? I didn't see you coming up with a better plan and this is so we can save your crush." Castor threw Frau a sour look.
"I could have thought of a better plan than this, any day, four eyes."
"Really? Then how come we're not using that plan?"
"Would you two please stop arguing?"
The two of them threw each other one last glare before turning their attention to their fellow bishop.
Labrador was dressed in clothes made of very fine materials, as expected to be worn by a noble. The colour complimented his hair and eyes. The material hugged his body closely, bringing out his next to non-existent curves. A hat perched jauntily on his curly hair and the image was completed by the shoes which the man wore. High heeled ones which caused the bishop to take careful steps in order to stop himself from falling, like a newborn animal.
Frau stared and then tried (unsuccessfully) to stop himself from laughing. Labrador was dressed as a woman. Again. Labrador shot an uncharacteristically annoyed look in the other bishop's direction.
"Thank you for that, Frau."
"Don't listen to him, Labrador. I think you look beautiful." The moment the words came out of his mouth, Castor wished that he could take them back. Labrador looked down, blushing. To their immense relief, Frau snapped on his glove and adjusted his collar with a flick.
"Done," he said.
"Now remember the plan. Frau, you are a regular officer of the Imperial Army. I am a noble of the Barsburg Empire. Labrador is a lady of high class, also of the Barsburg Empire. It is highly likely that Teito-kun would have been taken to the slave quarters and is currently being forced to fight in the arena. And therefore we must-"
Frau stood up. "Don't sweat on it. I won't be reckless." He flinched internally as he realised that those were Teito's last words to him.
"OK, then let's go. Be careful with your coat. It's heated and will only last for a few hours so don't use it unless absolutely necessary." Castor held out his hand towards Labrador. "May I?"
Labrador smiled before taking it. "Thanks."
Teito woke up to the sound of a pen scratching a few metres away from him. The sound was unexpected and he was wary, even before he opened his eyes. He decided to play dead for just a bit longer as he explored his surroundings using his other senses only.
About ten metres away, at two o'clock to his head, someone was writing on a sheet of paper. That was what the scratching sound was coming from. There was no echo and so Teito assumed that the room was fairly luxurious. He was lying on something soft and long with a back; probably a couch of some description.
The pen stopped moving.
"You can stop pretending to be asleep now." Teito opened his eyes at the voice and sat up to see Miroku peering down at him from his desk. The chairman got up and crossed the room to the coffee table in front of the couch. "You know, that is the reason you're the best student I have ever taught." He poured himself a cup of tea from the pot. "Tea?" he offered.
"No thank you," Teito muttered.
Undeterred, the man poured himself some tea; Teito was forcibly reminded of all the times Labrador-san had made him a drink and he closed his eyes as a wave of homesickness washed over him.
"I was genuinely quite worried when you went missing a few months ago," the man continued. "You're like a son to me, Teito, I've taught you everything I know and I'd like to hear your side of the story before deciding on the outcome. Now, have you got anything to say about what happened last night?"
Teito swallowed nervously before raising his head to look the man in the eye. "I don't, Chairman Miroku. I broke out of my cell to assassinate you and if I had the chance I would do it again."
"I see. Then you understand that the consequence of your actions will be death."
"Yes,sir," the final word contained sarcasm, which was not lost on the older man.
"You will be sentenced to fight until you die, tomorrow. Your fans may as well have some enjoyment out of your death," he said bitterly.
"Calm down, Frau, worrying isn't going to help Teito-kun."
"Yeah…" Still the man remained tensed up, knuckles clenched around the handrail. They were quite high up, looking down into the arena. People pressed against them, and as far as Frau could see, every tier of the stadium was crammed. Labrador was examining the protective shield which lay over the pit, like a glass bowl put over the ground, trapping the sklaves inside.
"It's zaiphon-resistant," he said. "From both sides. Which means that either the sklaves are able to use zaiphon or they expect zaiphon users to be able to break through and make contact with the sklaves."
"Well that certainly makes our job a bit harder for us."
They were cut off by an announcement.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we are sorry to keep you waiting, but the programme for today has been changed. Instead, today we will be watching the public execution of Prisoner 2741, a favourite."
A figure was thrown into the arena, landing hard in the sand. Frau was struck by how small the boy was and how proud he looked despite being sentenced to death. He didn't need Castor's gasp or Labrador's shocked expression to tell him who it was.
No promises for a happy ending, guys. You'll have to see what mood I'm in while I'm writing it… So don't assume that everything will be alright with cheesecake and marshmallows at the end!
* Cheesecake and marshmallows?*
Hey? What's wrong with cheesecake and marshmallows?
On another brighter (?) note I am pleased to declare that I am not the only one to have my heart ripped out and stomped on by the final chapter of 07 Ghost :)