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"You left them to die"

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Ch'en was a strong woman, she had to be one since she was born. Being the bastard child of a powerful man was the first hardship she went through, and as years passed, she started to lose count. Ch’en survived everything, however, it was slowly consuming her. Since the parting of her sister she never relied on anyone, but in the last years of fights and work, she could no longer keep going like that.

            Ch'en has gone soft, would be the first thing everyone would say, but what changed in her is that she is more emphatic, and so exhausted of this fight. When will it end? When will the discrimination to the infected stop? When will she stop being misunderstood? Ch’en wanted the best to everyone, she joined the police of Lungmen only because that job gave her a decent life and she could directly act and try to fix things between the infected and the citizens. But horrible things started to happen, like learning that Wei Yenwu sent people to find infected in the cities to kill them (he said they no longer needed more in their forces like Ch'en has recruited in the last years). Or that they cataloged the infected to not let them enter in any kind of public place, being completely ostracized. The worst of all is that here she was living like any other citizen. If people knew everyone would think so different of her, she would no longer be the respected head of the Lungmen Guard Department’s and now working with Rhodes Island as on-site tactical command. She would be seen as a threat, they would even think she will turn on them to join the Reunion (as much as she hates Wei Yenwu, joining those psychos is as bad as the first).

            The only difference between Ch'en and the rest of the infected, is that her degenerative process is much slower than the rest, she could probably reach her seventies with no problem. She had the crystalized Originium on the middle of her right hand. It was almost as if it cohabitate with her body, lending her the power of arts and not succumbing to madness like other infected, but of course no one besides her and her sister are like this, because it has to do with her species and the potential of each individual. Unfortunately, they both had it.

            Pairing up with Rhodes Island has made everything much harder. They were an organization of infected which were the complete opposite of the Rebellion, it made Ch'en wish she didn't have issues to solve in Lungmen so she could be part of them. But she had duties, and a play to act and follow.

            "Madam Ch'en, we need to review the strategy before we go." Amiya's voice brings out the tactician commander from her mind. She scans her surrounding, Hoshiguma is sitting to her right, and to her left is Amiya and the Doctor. There were another Rhodes islands operators like Meteorite, Frank, Liskarn and Penguin Logistics who were loudly speaking (mostly Exuxiai).

            "Sorry. Let's start reviewing it." Madam Ch'en replies.

            It was a simple mission; it was a land study of the terrain to check if the Reunion were still using it. If they are, they would ambush them, if not they would see if they left anything behind. Rhodes Island would take the lead exploring since the place will probably be with originium particles flying around, and Ch'en and her team would stay back waiting for any message coming from Amiya.

            “Of course you would send us to die first.” FrostLeaf comments in bitter tone when hearing the plan, but Ch'en ignores it.

            "Anything you want to add Madam?" The doctor asks. Ch'en wanted to say how she can send part of her team with them in case of anything, but she doesn't want to expose who of her team were infected (it would lead to discrimination), and that she is an infected too. A million of thoughts and insecurities rush through her head, but realizing she needs to give a reply, she shakes her head as a no as final answer. Only the day she needs to unsheathe Chi Xiao she will let the world know.

-

            The mission was a complete trap. Ch'en got deceived by what looked like Talulah, so when she chased after her alone she instead found a group of Reunion members waiting for her, and Rhodes Island got caught by FrostNova.

            Ch'en was in the middle of fighting Reunion's fighters when she received a call from Wei Yenwu. Barely deflecting the bomb that someone threw and hiding behind a torn down building she picks up.

            "Ch'en, they took over the LGD headquarters. You need to come here." Ch'en would have frozen in place if it weren’t because she saw defenders coming in her direction. She threw three consecutive slashes directed to their neck and she killed the last remaining enemies.

            The commander reaches for her radio to reply. "What about the current mission?" What about Rhodes Island who were waiting for her team?

            "I will worry about that. I need our best team ready to attack them before they also get more forces. They will try to do the same thing they did in Chernobog." He replies stern. That means she must follow orders.

 

            Aren't you afraid I will kill you? She once asked. He replied no because he doesn’t fear death.

 

            "Okay." Ch’en replies cutting off the line. She takes a deep breath and prepares for the betrayal. She changes the channel and contacts with Rhodes Island.

            "Amiya?" She asks praying they are alive. There is a lot of noise, but she hears her voice.

            "Madam Ch'en we are barely holding up. We need reinforcement."

            I can't lie to her, and telling her that Wei Yenwu will send them reinforcement is giving them false hope. "The headquarters of Lungmen got taken over, they are calling me to go back."

            "That is Chernobog all over again,” Amiya replies to herself.

            "I'm-,"

            "Go," Amiya says almost sounding like an order. "You need to protect your city, and you doing that doesn’t break our contract, I knew it could happen."

            "I will make it fast." Ch'en tries.

            "I don't think it will be. Don't worry. We are strong, we have survived worst. But I can't say the others won't be mad." Ch’en hears shouts right after that.

            "I know. I better talk to you again." Ch'en says with her voice quavering a little. Recently she has gotten too attached to that group, the idea of losing them torn her heart, but her city getting attacked by the reunion does too. It is a hard decision.

            "Take care." And the conversation ends.

-

            While getting out of the city they find another group of Reunion forces. They were stronger than the group she fought alone, but now she was with her forces so it was a smooth clearing. Hoshiguma clears the way with her shield at the others finish the job.

In less than an hour they are back on the ship to recruit more soldiers to get back their headquarters.

            Once Ch’en sits on the cold and hard seat of the aircraft the exhaustion hits her, and while resting her head on Hoshiguma's shoulder bare and warm shoulder, she falls asleep.

-

Ch’en office in Lungmen – 1:25 pm

 

            Cold water suddenly makes Ch’en stand up, she opens her eyes and bright lights blind her, after a few seconds her vision focuses and she sees the frame of the feline girl who looked really angry. She doesn't have the energy for this.

            "About time you woke up. You didn't even finish a mission and you are resting. You also messed up by leaving your group behind." Swire starts scolding her.

            "What do you want? You don't even have the position to be lecturing me." Ch'en hopes she shuts up, she knows that she messed up, she also regrets leaving.

            "Here, this is the radio to the group that is currently at the headquarters investigating. You must try to bring with you the best of both Rhodes Island and Lugmen." Swire informs giving her a paper with the profiles. Ch'en sees the Rhodes' islands operators and knows she is in no place to be asking them to join her. Her team will be enough (they better be enough).

            "Now I will go, I'm also busy." Swire says leaving with no other word, and Ch'en sighs. This is such a mess.

            A knock on the door brings her back, and as soon as the door opens she knows it is Hoshiguma. "Madam- why are you wet?" She asks looking at her drenched hair and shirt.

            "Swire got creative today."

            "You two can never get along." Hoshiguma sighs tired of them.

            "This time I really did nothing besides sleeping. But she was mad about something that is not necessarily about the mission." A sudden call brings out her attention.

            "XR02?" She asks at the call.

            "Madam Ch'en, we are getting attacked. They weren't supposed to be here, but they are and-." A loud crashing sound is heard. "We have the information written. We are on the first level of the Muk Wo warehouse. In case we don't make it."

            "You will!" Ch'en exclaims without doubt. "I will get you, just wait until we make it." Ch'en says ending the call without waiting for an answer. She looks over Hoshiguma who was sad, XR02 was her best friend, she didn't want to lose him.

            "Are you ready for this?" Ch'en asks looking at her partner, the green haired girl replies by nodding. They both take their weapons and walk to their team.

-

            So you left them there to die? And now we are informed you will take our operators with you. Who knows if you will sacrifice them just like you did to Amiya.

 

            Ch’en keeps repeating those words as she flies to their base, she didn’t take anyone of Rhodes island to everyone’s relief. She doesn’t have the right to do that, but of course people thought, ‘She doesn’t even see us a worthy fighters’.

            Ch’en is tired of the double standards, she does anything and she receives a critic, in the past in didn’t bother her because she had no relations to anyone besides the little team from her office. But lately she can’t stop herself from getting attached to people. The Lung girl looks at her side, the green haired woman at least a head taller than her is currently resting, and she is the one who has taken the biggest place in her heart. It was dangerous, but Ch’en thinks it is making her realize more things around her.

-

Muk Wo Warehouse – 2:57 pm

 

            "XR02 are you there?" Ch'en screams in the torn down warehouse, she catches a grunt from the back and she runs. A big piece that was once part of the roof of this place was over his legs, completely trapping him.

            "Madam, is that really your voice?" He asks, and Ch'en realizes the blood over his eyes, he was blind.

            "Yes, we made it. Let me help you." Ch'en says getting down to grab the wooden joints over him.

            "Don't bother, I have my mission completed. On my belt you can find the paper with all their locations and movements, that until I called you."

            "You are still breathing, I'm sure we can help you." Ch'en responds stubborn and Hoshiguma helps her lifting up the heaviest structure meanwhile Ch’en put aside the other wooden joists. Using all her strength Hoshiguma puts aside the framework, and the first thing they see is that there is so much blood over his pants. How is he still conscious?

            "Madam, I'm blind, older than most operators and an infected, what is the use of me now? Just bury me in a decent place and I will be content."

            "You still have people who care about you." Ch'en replies taking from his pocket the paper with information. "And I didn't only come for this, I wanted you come back with us." Ch'en admits with a hint of sadness.

            "Madam you have always had such a big heart. It is sad not everyone sees it... is she here?"

            "Of course I am." Hoshiguma finally speaks.

            "You are taking advantage of my blindness." He replies surprised.

            "Maybe. But enough sad talk, I will take you outside to the aircraft." Hoshiguma says taking his arm to put it around her shoulders. She easily lifts XR02, but he tries to stop her; he didn't want to contaminate her.

            "I have been fighting for years with people who are infected, I know by memory all the procedures. Also, I won't leave you alone." Hoshiguma leaves the warehouse, meanwhile Ch'en stays behind to give them space. They were friends before they both joined Lungmen forces, he was almost like the Hoshiguma's father, and other times almost like her’s.

            Ch'en notices how her chest feels constricted, it was the pain of losing someone dear to you. Begrudgingly she reads the reason why she is supposed to be here. The commander immediately realizes how the Reunion carefully planned everything, they took the shortest and most unguarded path to take over the headquarters of Lungmen, which with time it has become a symbol of force. Other Reunion teams also took many rounds around her old home, were they trying to search for something? What could be left there? It makes her frown. She better check on her own.

-

Tei Hong Road 88 – Private Area - 4:57 pm

 

            One team was sent to search the main building meanwhile Ch’en took a small team to scan her house. Hoshiguma was also with her, walking right beside her partner. "Wow this house sure is huge." She says in front of the porch.

            Ch’en in the other hand was surprised at how it looked the same as seven years ago. The commander take outs her sword and breaks the lock, also tearing down part of the door. "What are you doing?!" The green haired girl exclaims in horror, that door looked as expensive as her entire house.

            "I don't have the keys. Also we don't have time." Ch'en walks inside the home, there was a short path until the front door of the house, which was unlocked. Ch'en scans the house, it was in perfect state, as if someone cleaned it every day in case anyone would use it. Maybe Wei Yenwu used it.

            "Stay here." Ch'en commands while entering her dorm. The two beds each in one corner of her dorm makes her take a pause, and she bits down her lip to suppress any memory. The room was intact, she looks over the desk and her favorite photo was in the same place as always (even when she knows she threw it to the wall and left it there). Ch’en takes a closer look at her and Talulah smiling after a day in the park, and after that year, slowly everything went downhill. Until the one tragic day, the one that made her want join the forces of Lungmen.

            "You were searching for this?" She ask to no one in particular. She reaches to the photo and takes out the last happy memory she had with her sister.

-

Third floor of Lungmen center - Shopping zone - 5:27 pm

 

            "Don't you think this is weird?" The Reunion caster asks to her reunion members.

            "What is it sir?"

            "Everything of value is gone. We took this place by surprise so at least some of the stores should have things left." He says.

            "We are not supposed to be stealing."

            "That is not what I mean. I'm saying it is almost as if they left it for us, but it is still weird that they haven't sent a good team. Which would mean we really took them by surprise... I'm rambling, just install the last bombs." He commands. But as he does gunshots start coming.

            "Any last words?" The caster hears a female voice ask.

            "You should be answering that!" He screams back clicking the button, the bombs go off, the blast burning everything in their way and breaking the floor making everyone fall.

-

Tenth floor of Lungmen center - 5:57 pm.

 

            "Madam we haven't encountered anyone. It seems like they are really hiding on the top floor, which also means they have all their forces there." The guarded Lieutenant informs.

            "The only way to stop them is directly fighting them. Hoshiguma is already injured, we lost our entire first team and we won’t wait for a new team to arrive” Ch’en  explains. “We are not rioters nor criminals, we do this for our citizens, not for us. Even if that means death." All her men nod, there is pure determination in their eyes, and she promises herself to protect them.

            "Let's go." Ch'en says taking out her sword and tearing down the door to the top floor.

            "I wonder what’s the difference between stupidity and bravery." Ch'en hears Mephisto, the strategists of the Reunion, speak.

            "Stupidity is coming to Lungmen." Ch'en counters back taking out the first group of Reunion members. Mephisto starts laughing from the back of the roof. "You sure are strong, but will your be able to take this?" He raises his hand and a sniper shoots directly to Ch'en' face, she barely deflects it with her sword. She takes notice it comes from the small storage room in front of her.

            "That was meant to fail. Give up, my forces will win." Mephisto says. Ch'en confused sees how her team is clearly winning and remembers one of the strange occurrences in Chernobog, the soldiers raised from death. She looks back at Mephisto who was spreading dark dust all over the place, easily flying and reaching everyone since they were outside. The twenty soldiers she just killed were now screaming, in such an agony as if they were being tortured.

            "You monster..." Ch'en exhales not believing he could do that to his own comrades, to the people who put their hopes on him.

            "Am I? Didn't you just kill them? I'm merely giving them a second chance."

            "They are suffering worse than what my blade did to them." Ch'en answer bac while gripping on the handle of her second blade. Is this the right moment?

            "Madam! Our forces can't reach you; the dead soldiers are attacking us." The lieutenant informs from her earphone. "Worry about yourselves. I can manage. And that is an order." Ch'en says holding even tighter the handle of her second blade. Chi Xiao is not meant for this, not for him, but it was the only way to stop them and protect the people she cares about.

            "Come to think of, I have never seeing you use that red blade. Is it only for distraction?" Mephisto asks changing his manic expression to curiousness.

            "This is something you probably didn't take into your little game." She replies unlocking the handle.

            "Surprise me-," the red blade glows and cuts in half tree guards without even touching them, and manages to make a small cut on Mephisto's neck. Ch'en also stops the sniper, and spins with Chi Xiao now fully deflecting the shot and also killing other four guards in the path of the blade.

            Mephisto starts roaring with laugher, he could not believe he missed something like this. This chess game definitely became more interesting thanks to the Madam, but he still had an advantage.

            "Amazing! It made me shiver to think that if I were one step ahead I would have lost my head!" He yells with a wicked delight. "But it seems like your blade can't reach large distances."

            "This place doesn't have much floor for you to move." Ch'en replies without wavering.

            "But arts take energy from you. All of them do. And Faust is ready to kill you." The sniper immediately answers and starts shooting, Ch'en catches three shots from different directions, all aiming for her heart. She spins and swing her blade blocking the multiple shots. But they continued nonstop.

            "How many will you take until you get exhausted?!" Mephisto screams as he sends his dead army into her direction. "20?! 50?! A hundred?! Will Oriphathy take over you? I would love to see that."

            Ch'en feels her blade losing control, her movements sloppier. More force would mean the danger of losing herself in the power of the originium, and right when she is about to cross the line it stops.

            "Madam Ch'en, would you like to join us? How long will it take until he throws you away like he does with everyone that it isn't of use for him." Mephisto offers, Lungmen losing their best head would sure be a big lose.

            "And join your group of lunatics? No thanks." Ch'en scoffs.

            "Aren't you aware that he is using you? Are you that stupid?" Mephisto asks slowly losing his composure.

            "I know," that is why one day I will be the one to kill him.

            "Then you are stupid. Let's see how long you can last!" He screams, and Ch'en starts concentrating her arts.

            "I can see the red aura; do I shoot now?" Faust asks in the radio.

            "Let's wait, she still doesn't know your hideout so even if she has a strong power she will die."

            "But-"

            "Wait."

            Ch'en swings her blade and kills twenty reunion members in one swing. The sniper starts shooting, she steps back and deflect everything.

            Chi Xiao, please last a little longer.

            Ch'en implores feeling the originium flowing through her thin blade. But she suddenly realizes how a blast misfires over a side without foes.

            "She lost control." Faust points out as he shoots to her face, but she blocks with her normal blade. He tries again, one of the second shots landing on her shoulder, she still continues attacking the reunion members, using them as a wall to protect herself. Smart woman.

            "Ch'en please say your last words!" Mephisto screams throwing more dust in the air, raising again the guards who could still walk and move, and the others getting even more aggressive.

            "I will be the one to take you down. Even if that means my death." Ch'en says charging for the last time her arts, so much energy that even if she misses it will damage them.

            "Let's see!" Mephisto screams, and his army starts screaming along him. He freezes, they shouldn't be feeling anything, all their emotions are currently suppressed!

The sound of a helicopter takes his attention, two figures are falling. And he is sure one of them is that stupid bunny.

            "Madam Ch'en, Rhodes Island is here to assist you!" Amiya informs from her radio. Madam could not believe it; how did this happen?

            "When? How?" She asks, and immediately the secret channel of her radio goes off. "Hey Ch'en, I brought them to you. So don't go around throwing away your life." Swire speaks in the most casual voice possible.

            "Why didn't you tell me!" She exclaims.

            "Secret orders. Just be thankful." Swire replies.

            "Thank you." Ch'en says and cut it off before Swire can reply. "Madam Ch'en, prepare because Blaze will-" Amiya's voice gets cut off by the loud crack on the floor, half of the terrace gets broken making a hole in the middle. Most of the reunion  foes fall to the ground and separating Ch'en from Mephisto.

            "Blaze you can put me down." Now she hears Amiya behind her, she sees the familiar face, and a tall woman with feline traits.

            "How did you survive?" Is the first thing she asks stunned by how in perfect shape the bunny looked.

            "Blaze and her squad came to help, also a really loud woman from Lungmen gave us a hand." Ch’en immediately knows it was Swire.

            "I'm sorry." Ch'en apologizes now that she has the opportunity, she really didn't think she would have it. Amiya only smiles. "I already told you, I don't blame you. But I think Blaze did need to hear those words." Ch'en looks at the other woman who has a hostile posture.

            "You left Rhodes island to die back there. Do you truly regret it?" the woman questions her.

            "Of course." Ch'en replies with no hesitation. Blaze smirks.

            "Madam you aren't as cold hearted as I heard. Doctor, care to tell our strategy?" Blaze asks to her radio. Before they can reply Ch’en' radio goes off, "Madam all the reunion members are going upstairs, we tried to stop them but they walked up like nothing!"

            "I will manage. Get downstairs as quick as possible, I will end this now." Ch'en commands. Now the doctor speaks, "Blaze take the sniper. After that take madams lead, she seems to already have a plan in mind."

            "Thanks for your trust doctor." Ch'en replies holding Chi Xiao who was in its carcass.

            Blaze is already over the other side, her Originium adaptability glowing crimson red, and suddenly all the snipers over roof get exposed.

            "Retreat!" Faust orders to the lancers.

            "No!" Mephisto screams, all his army suddenly getting on the roof, over a hundred of them running in their direction, Amiya could no longer hold them back.

            "Blaze guard Amiya!" Ch'en screams. "Crimson overflowing!" She swings her sword cleaning the first wave. Relax. She repeats it, and the final wave is gone. The screams of the foes stop. "Thank--- you-" some of them say, and Ch'en' anger only grows stronger.

            "Mephisto you will go down now!" She adjusts her blade and jumps to the other side.

            "Mephisto we must leave!" Faust screams to his commander. "No! Where are the others! W was supposed to come!" Mephisto screams not believing it.

            "I told you this is not Chernobog." Ch'en reminds him, and twirls her blade over Mephisto's head, but Faust pushes him away taking the cut over his left shoulder.

            "No! Faust!" Mephisto shouts with anguish. Faust replies by shooting with his able hand to the floor making them fall down several floors and successfully leaving.

            "Dammit!" Ch'en screams seeing they are gone.

            "That boy for sure lost his arm, and you are barely injured, isn't that a win?" Blaze asks and sees Ch'en faces who clearly seemed sour.

            Before they can speak Ch'en gets a call of Wei Yenwu. "I didn't expect you to pick up. Swire are you here?" He asks.

            "Yes of course."

            "Begin your inform." He commands.

            "I went to help Rhodes Island from FrostNova, we got some information from her. I will share that later. And successfully sent Rhodes Island to Ch'en."

            "Madam Ch'en?" He asks, and Ch'en suddenly understands. He planned Lungmen getting taken, he made Rhodes Island be the bait to them believing no one strong would come. He sent XR02's team for that, and secretly made her and her best team get here.

            "I... with Rhodes Island's help we eliminated the men except for Mephisto and Faust, the later got heavily injured so I sent I team to search the area."

            "Anything else to add?" He asks and Ch'en grips the handle of Chi Xiao, she could feel it reacting to her hatred, to what is meant to use this blade.

            "Next time don't sacrifice people, you have me for that." She says and cut off the line, XR02 died for his stupid plan, Rhodes Island were on the verge of death because of him (he probably didn't even care if they had died). She walks to Amiya and Blaze who were asking their aircraft to come to get them.

            "I didn't know you had this kind of technology." Ch'en observers amazed by the model, it is newer than the one they own.

            "You never show all your cards, right? Tell me, why did you not bring any of Rhodes Island?" Blaze asks with no filter. Ch'en is tired, so she answers not caring whether they believe her or not. "After what I did I had no right to ask more from you."

            "Wow. I expected something like 'I would rather die than work with them' but, I think I'm terribly wrong." Blaze replies staring directly at her red blade. Oh right, Ch'en forgot how she totally exposed herself in front of them. She looked at Amiya who had the same expression when she saw Ch'en taking care of the children of Lungmen, the ones that Misha used to feed.

            "Madam do you want a health checkup? They are completely confidential." She puts emphasis in the end, but she shakes her head.

            "Just give me something for my shoulder." I don't need more pity gazes.

            "Okay." In that moment, a stair rope falls in front of them.

            "Will you be able to climb this?" Blaze asks.

            "It is not broken so I should be fine."

-

Rhodes Island’s Aircraft – 8:04 pm

 

            For Ch'en misfortune Kal'tsit was in the ship so as soon as she saw the girl covered in blood she made her sit on the bed to properly treat her arm. While being there Ch'en got a lot of stares, and she for the first time felt small, if she is being honest, she deserves it. For the infected she let Wei Yenwu kill, and for abandoning them, who cares about orders.

            A Vulpo girl guides her to sit in one of the beds, she has a big smile on her face which is a big change to the others stares she got. "Can you move your arm? I need you to remove your jacket. If not I will have to cut it." Ch'en replies by taking it off with only a small whine, that arrow did more damage that she expected.

            "Um, be careful that my blood is... contagious." Ch'en says looking down and she hears a small giggle.

            "Don't worry, I'm an infected too." Breeze admits. "I heard so many stories of Madam that I thought you were 190 cm tall, but we are pretty similar in height." She says taking a piece of cloth to clean the wound.

            "People always exaggerate things." She murmurs while trying to not flinch too much.

            "I must warn you I prefer natural remedies, so I will wrap your wound with plantain herbs." Ch'en only nods, but when smells that funky scent from the herbs, she can't help her mind drifting to old memories, one in which her mother tended her scraped leg by using a natural remedy, she didn’t remember anything but the strong smell from it. "Did you live near Lungmen?" Ch'en asks.

            "You sure are sharp madam. Yes this leafs are from that place, it is a common remedy from there." Ch'en only nods, in the place she lived many prominent families where there. She wondered who this girl was, she doesn't remember meeting a Vulpo.    But she looks young so maybe that is why.

            "It is ready. Change it in four hours more and in less than a day it will be closed. Still, try to not make brusque movements."

            "Thank you so much." Ch'en stands up and Breeze puts her jacket over her shoulders.

            "Hey, don't beat yourself up so much. The ones who knows what happened down there understand." Ch'en opens her eyes, what exactly did they know?

Breeze noticing Ch'en discomfort immediately clarifies. "Only Kal'tsit, me because I'm nosy, and the doctor know."

            "I don't keep it secret because I'm ashamed." Ch'en clarifies.

            "I never thought that. Now go, you need to rest." Ch'en nods and walks outside to see Rhodes Island in the middle of a reunion with Wei Yenwu.

 

            "Sorry I used you as bait, but I did bring back forces to save you. And if it makes you feel better, none of my own commanders knew what was going on either."

            Ch'en instinctively grabs with her good arm the handle of her red sword. Always controlled and deceived by that man, when the right moment appears she will fulfill her promise.

            "Still, we would appreciate not being used that way. We could have worked better if you had told us." The doctor replies with a hint of anger.

            "I normally work like this, then I will not add you into my ploys. But the contract is still up, right?" He asks already knowing the answer.

            "Yes it is." Amiya now speaks.

            "Then I will see you when you arrive here. Tell Ch'en that her squad is also flying back, and that preparations will be made immediately." That makes Ch'en breath hitch, XR02 will have a funeral, she heard how Hoshiguma asked if he preferred his home or the battlefield, he said he wanted to rest were he spent his last years.

            Ch'en clearly shaken by that takes a sit and starts missing her partner, right now she needs a shoulder to lean on. She needs her slight teasing jokes and soft affections.

But instead she is met with angry golden eyes, she sees the black horns and immediately recognizes the Sarcaz.

            "Despite being tricked like us I still won't forgive you for abandoning us." Meteorite says.

            "I... I'm not asking for forgiveness."

            "Then stop looking so depressed, Lungmen won. You won." Ch'en stays silent, she didn't win. She lost a dear friend, lost possible friends, and only protected the city because citizens who are not able to protect themselves would suffer far more than her.

            "Meteorite I think that is enough." Amiya warns in a soft but commanding tone.

            "Why do you defend her? She directly betrayed you. After you helped her during all the other battles she can't lend you her hand. She probably feels so superior around a bunch of infected that she would never help back." Meteorite speaks with pure anger, and Ch'en wonders what would she do if she knew half of the things she is. Would that humanize her?

            "Amiya decides how she feels about me." Ch'en says. "And don't ever think I see the infected that way. Today one of the best operators I ever had, one I could almost see as my father died. And he was an infected." It wasn't only him; it was an entire team that Wei Yenwu sent to die. It makes her skin crawl thinking how cruel he can be. She looks over Meteorite and she looked completely shocked and taken aback, she was staring at her hand. And it hits her, while using Chi Xiao the powerful energy of her arts completely peeled her gloves. And her right hand showed the black piece of originium inside her, smaller than most people's mark but it was there for everyone to see.

Ch'en is so tired. She takes off the torn gloves and puts new ones back over her hand, thankfully only Meteorite and Amiya were close enough to see the crystallization. But the news will soon spread between them, and she will be seen as the biggest traitor since she is the highest ranking person under Wei's power.

            "Since when?" She hears Meteorite ask.

            "Since I was a kid." It was true, 8 years old her suddenly got sedated and dragged into a hospital. When she got back she had a dark mark on her hand, and people avoided her like plague.

            "So those red energies were you." She mutters and Ch'en nods.

            "I hate how I’m feeling so empathetic with you right now." Meteorite complains. "But I'm still angry at what happened with FrostNova."

            "I am too." Ch'en replies.

            "Ugh stop being so understanding, I terribly misjudged you."

            But I'm used to it, Ch'en thought, but she knew it would only bring more discussion. "Then please let me rest." She says instead, leaning her head over the wall and closing her eyes. Her world immediately goes dark.

-

Rhodes Island’s Aircraft – 10:40 pm

 

            "Madam Ch'en, if you don't wake up I will have to carry you" she hears that warm voice. She opens her eyes and sees Hoshiguma sitting next to her. Her golden eyes directly looking at her red ones.

            "Shouldn't you be checking your shoulder?" Ch'en asks groggily.

            "And you should get a full health checkup." She replies and it makes Ch'en' breathe hitch. Did she also know? Ch'en drifts her attention to her gloved hand, her mark completely hidden.

            “Ah you are doing it again, drifting off to your own world.” The green haired comments and Ch’en feels her face heating up a little bit. Hoshiguma perfectly knows how to tease her.

            “Too many things happened in less than a day, it feels surreal.” Ch’en replies.

            “You are right. But I have a feeling things will slowly get better, I noticed how some of Rhodes Island finally didn’t give you an angry look. And with their help I’m sure we will achieve more.” That makes Ch’en notice how the aircraft was empty and the open door showed the dark sky of Lungmen being illuminated by their bright streetlights.

            “And you said I’m the smooth one with words.” She replies with a smile remembering the speech she gave to Hoshiguma after she saved her life.

            “I wasn’t lying, you did make my heart flutter.”

            “Shut up tall giant, let’s get over that checkup.” Ch’en says standing up and grabbing Hoshiguma’s hand to drag her outside. The green haired girl follows, and even after they were walking side by side, none of them let go. The feelings between them were left unsaid, but they both knew they were closer than job partners.