We were going to the GRM facility early in the morning, so there was little to no time for me to get mentally prepared for this. I really shouldn’t be trying so hard to keep my identity a secret. But I did believe then the less connections, the easier it would be.
That and I was pretty convinced that Hyuga would be pissed.
The last time I spoke to him was during the mission on Rykros.
That was nearly four years ago.
It wasn’t like I was purposefully avoiding him. Well not entirely. Just that life happened and before I knew it, it had been that long. I was hoping that if we were to meet again it would take him a while before he realized it was really me. Emilia could tell I was nervous. But I still wouldn’t tell her the real reason why I was feeling this way.
“I told you, my dad works here and I haven’t spoken to him in a while.”
“Hmm I dunno. I have a feeling that isn’t the entire truth.”
“Well it is.”
“If you say so Ami.”
“I just did.”
Emilia being a genius makes it hard to hide stuff from her.
All too soon it was time to depart to Parum. Despite all the nerves, I was glad to be going home. It was my birthplace. A lot of memories happened on that planet.
Some good and some bad.
The shuttle dropped us off at Holtes City. From there we took a flyer to another part of the city which the facility was located at. We would meet with our guide there. My main goal was to make sure that Emilia got there, performed her research and got back to Clad 6 safely. Since she hassled me to come with her, I might as well perform my duty.
We got to the meeting spot simple enough. I didn’t realize until then that GRM facilities are huge. I had expected no less from the largest manufacturing company in Gurhal. But the last time I was in a GRM location, I never took notice. More than that, GRM had recovered so quickly from it being on the verge of collapsing. With a lot of employees in jail for aiding the Illuminus and nearly going bankrupt from helping with the Rykros mission, to see them on the road to its former glory I was proud.
As a Parum native and as a friend.
Of course, it’ll still be a while before it would be back to its full strength without Illuminus aid.
And people still speculate about the company.
Even more so since there was a six month stint of its president being secretive.
“Whoa! Look at all this stuff Ami!”
“You look like you’re in heaven Emilia.”
“Of course! This is a researcher’s dream come true. All the data these machines can input. Hey...you don’t think they would mind if I swip-”
“Don’t even Emilia. We don’t want GRM to be looking down on us already.”
“I’m joking, just joking. You seem better though.”
“Well, yeah. Maybe I overreacted a bit.”
“Pfft, a bit? I doubt that.”
“Shut up. Anyway, you need to keep your wits.”
“Why? Is this place dangerous?”
“No, at least I hope it isn’t. But if we somehow meet with the President keep your guard up. He’s...a very flirtatious guy. You’re probably a bit too young for his tastes, but you can never tell with him.”
“You know this, how?”
“It doesn’t matter how I know.”
“Okay, you’re definitely hiding something from me.”
“Oh? You two are the guests from Little Wing correct? I must apologize for my tardiness, my meeting went longer than expected.”
It seems that I wasn’t the only one who changed after leaving the Guardians.
Seeing Hyuga again felt like I was meeting him for the first time. He looked different than what I last remembered. His skin was paler, almost a porcelain white. And he was slimmer too. Though it kinda worked with how much taller he had gotten. I was only a few inches shorter, but then again, I was wearing shoes that made me a little taller. He also wore glasses now, with a part of his fringe covering an eye completely.
I was so absorbed into realizing his changes, I only picked up bits of the conversation he and Emilia was having.
The most I got was that he was a Duman now. Dumans were a newly discovered race; only just recently being officially classified as a fifth race in Gurhal. It seems that only Humans could become Dumans. Even though Dumans were a result of a genetic mutation, it immediately didn’t mean that there was something wrong with you.
But we can’t help that not everyone thinks that way.
“Your partner has been really quiet Miss Emilia.”
“Emilia is just fine. But he’s right, you have been quieter than usual Ami.”
“I’m fine Emilia, just a lot of things to think about. And thank you for your concern President, it’s been duly noted.”
“Please, just call me Hyuga. Ladies such as yourselves shouldn’t address me so formally. And your name is Ami? That’s a peculiar name, Neudiazian?”
“No, my Mom was from there.”
“Hmm, I see. May I ask for you last name?”
“That’s quite enough President. It doesn’t matter what my last name is. I’m just here at Emilia’s request and I would like to get this done as soon as possible. I’ve heard of your nature, please don’t make this harder than it should.”
“And you’re very committed to your duty. I’ve truly been blessed by the Holy Light in meeting you two.”
“With all due respect, are you finished Hyuga? I thought this was of utmost importance?”
“Ah? Yes of course. I apologize, seeing as I am female interaction is rare.”
“Too much information sir. Too much information.”
Hyuga gave us a mini tour as we made our way to the reason Emilia was called. Hyuga had talked about a gem that was found on their property a few days ago. After initial analysis, they figured that Emilia would be the best choice to start the more in depth research. From the pictures, it looked like a large black gemstone. The gem was so dark, I could feel it sucking me in.
As we got closer to the room it was housed in, I started to get a bad feeling.
My bad feelings are usually right...unfortunately.
When we got inside, there was a female near the gem. She looked younger than me, but older than Emilia. She was so close to it, whispering to it. A number I think? In a flash of light, the gemstone was gone.
Hyuga readied his saber.
“You’re a beautiful lady, but you’re still trespassing. I must detain you for questioning. Please back down now.”
“Hmph, I would like to see you try.”
They soon began to fight. I was surprised that Hyuga was still as sharp in his skills now that he was no longer in the Guardians. I wondered if he just kept his skills up as a hobby, or his job was more gritty than they let on. I watched in awe of his techniques. It was still so precise. No, maybe even more so since his saber didn’t look to have as high of a photon output than other sabers.
Now I was starting to sound like a newbie Guardian again.
For a good half of the battle, we thought he would win the battle.
Until the female intruder took off her eyepatch.
There’s a rumor that Dumans cover an eye as a sort of power limiter.
Once she took off the eyepatch, the tides of battle shifted. She was faster, her strikes were more powerful. Hyuga was soon on the defensive. And even then, it was taking all he had to just deflect the attacks. There was an attack that he blocked. But the aftershocks of it was so strong it pushed him to a wall, denting it.
That wall was made of reinforced metal.
“I’m fine Emilia, Ami.”
That was the last straw.
I could feel my protective nature coming out again. The raw intense need to protect him. I had put away my goggle/sunglasses I was using to hide my eyes. I was already equipping my twin daggers. Emilia seemed to notice the change in my expression too. As far as I know, Emilia had never seen this side of me before.
“Emilia, heal Hyuga. Your Resta is better than mines.”
“Do it quickly, when you two are ready come in. I’ll distract her until then.”
“Miss Ami, I’m fine. Really I am.”
“A long time ago, you told me to trust you Hyuga. I need you to trust me now. I told myself I would protect you.”
“Wait...Ami? Ami is that you?”
I didn’t answer his question as I went to attack the female. I think she was surprised I was going after her with such fierceness. Now that we were clashing weapons, I had a better look at her. She had pale skin as well, probably paler than Hyuga’s. It really stood out against her black hair and green and red eyes. All accented with a blue rose hair pin.
When we clashes blades, I felt something from her.
Like something incomplete?
It was only a minute or two before Hyuga and Emilia joined as well. I was thankful for the quickness. This female was strong, maybe stronger than me. It took a long while but we managed to drive her into retreating.
Well, more like she did it of her free will. But the point remains that she left.
“I apologize for all of this, in the end you two came here for nothing.”
“It’s fine, you couldn’t help that. That girl was wicked strong, wasn’t she Ami?”
“Yeah, stronger than I like to admit. I hope she isn’t our enemy.”
“Ami? Wait a moment, are you her?”
When you think that the day couldn’t have any more surprises, it likes to remind you that it does.
“Hyuga? I heard that the gemstone is gone.”
“Unfortunately, yes. Oh Emilia, I would like for you to meet Shion Tusakanova.”
“Wait, The Shion Tusakanova. One of the regarded researchers in photon applications.”
“Well I wouldn’t go that far. You must be Emilia Percival. I’ve heard that you’re making quite a statement in the science field.”
“Thank you Professor Tusakanova.”
“Shion you’re too modest. It’s okay to show off every now and then.”
“You’re too much Preside-Ami?”
“Oh, hey Dad.”
“It’s been a long time Ami. You haven’t called lately, so I got worried. I guess you being here means you’re on a mission?”
“Sorry Dad, been busy. But yeah, I'm Emilia's security escort.”
“Wait wait wait. Ami you said your dad worked here right? You’re telling me your father is Professor Tusakanova? But your last name is Satomora right?”
God, I wanted to hide after all of this. All of my intentions just backfired in moments. But I couldn’t lie now.
“Fine, fine. My full name is Ami Satomora-Tusakanova. Satomora is my mom’s maiden name. I’ve been legally going by that since I was fourteen.”
“I should have known at first glance. I can’t believe that’s you. You’ve changed.”
“Not seeing each other for years can do that. You look well Hyuga, all things considered.”
“You know Hyuga too?”
“Yeah, we were in the Mobile Defense unit together in the Guardians. We went on a couple missions together and seem to click being friends. Though he’s trouble.”
“Your wit is still on point Dear Ami. I heard from Ethan that you stepped down from being Commander. I was a bit surprised. So you can imagine my surprise when I heard from him you had resigned from the Guardians not long after.”
“Ami you were a commander?”
“Just for the mission to Rykros, yeah. And stepping down from the position was their response. But this isn’t the time or place to discuss the specifics.”
“You were on Rykros!”
I knew how sensitive Emilia was about Rykros. She had died there, met Mika and was brought back to live as a result. When I found out about her death, I was guilty. If the situation had been different, then I might have been able to do something then. She never blamed me for that. We didn’t even know each other then.
“I feel like I’m being interrogated. At any rate, the mission’s over right? I’m going to go back to Clad 6.”
Emilia tried to get more information about my sudden reveals during our ride back, but I kept quiet. At least for now. I would explain when we got back home, no sooner. The ride gave me time to think about everything. The female who was intruding, I think she was holding back. I had felt there was something hidden inside her.
It was faint, but I thought I heard another voice when we were fighting.
“I’m not telling you anything until we get home.”
“That’s not it right now.”
“You’re dodging the subject. Anyway didn’t you hear another voice while you were fighting with that lady?”
“I don’t want to admit it, but yeah I did. So if you heard it too...”
“Then that means...”
“She might be hosting an Ancient.”
I thought the Ancients were done for once we defeated Kumhan. I hope that if it is the case, this Ancient isn’t out for revenge for disrupting their plans of having a physical body again. Shortly after we arrived back at Clad 6. The first thing we did was head straight for the office, where Crouch was waiting for us. No doubt wanted a report on the mission.
“We’re back old man.”
“Yeah I heard you Emilia. Heard your trip was a bust.”
“How did that get back to you? We’ve only left the facility like a couple hours ago.”
“That doesn’t matter. Anyways Ami, I gots a client for you. Asked specifically for ya.”
“Already? Man, I should really retire from the mercenary work sooner or later.”
“You’re too young to retire. I feel like you’d be restless.”
“I think it’s well deserved. But you aren’t entirely wrong.”
“Hush, your client’s here.”
The moment I turned around and met my new charge, life was going to change again.
I just knew it.
“Emilia Percival and Ami Satomora-Tusakanova correct?”
“W-What? Wait a minute! You’re-!”
“Emilia, pipe down.”
“Old Man you don’t understand, she’s-!”
“My name is Nagisa. It’ll be a pleasure to work with you.”