Subject: [FFML] [Guilty Gear] At Freedom's Expense, Chapter 7
From: "Christian Clark" <>
Date: 11/16/2006, 5:46 PM
To: ffml

Title: At Freedom's Expense
Series: Guilty Gear

Rating: +13
Chapter Title: Nobody Else


A man took slow and cautious steps on the pier as the deep-sea water lapped
at his feet, surging through the planks and over the sides of the wharf.
Decked out in a dark gray jumpsuit, ladled with deceptively heavy half plate
of armor, his lumus-powered shock staff was ready to give an unpleasant
surprise to intruders. Surrounding both sides of the pier, underwater rail
tracks, now empty at the moment, led onto the loading station further back
into the cavern.

A voice in his ear rang, "TK-240, anything to report?"

Keeping his gaze wary, he pulled a microphone, attached to a small disc on
his ear, close to his mouth. "Reporting. Nothing here at the moment."

"Are 241 through 245 nearby and within eyesight?"

He whirled around to one of the overhanging walkway to the entrance of the
installation, another at the far pier, a third walking around the entrance
to the factory, a fourth watching him from the far corner, and the final
watching from the archer's nest.

He nodded before looking back out to the water. "Yes. All members present
and accounted for. Nothing wrong as far as I know."

"Keep an eye out, though, last transmission from Greece said some suspicious
characters were heading our way yesterday."

Again, the guard nodded. "Not only that... it's been too quiet. The Gears
topside haven't been on a rampage for a while. I don't like it."

"Understood. Continue surveillance until the danger's passed. When the Rocs
start making a ruckus, we'll be pulling you guys out."

"Understood. Over and out." Turning off the receiver, he took another round
up of his fellow guards, noting that even their omnipresent surveillance
still had holes in it and the sooner he and his men got out, the better. The
atmosphere in the facility was full of tension and a few of them were ready
to crack if they didn't get out of there soon. He didn't want one of his men
disappearing only to be found a week later in tatters from being picked off
from a silent Roc.

He turned back to the edge of the pier, when he felt a blade lightly pierce
the base of his left trapezius. He suddenly found himself facing a man in a
black body suit with goggles that were tinted red and a 'cripso breather'
that could have only been used by deep sea divers.

In a voice muffled by the breather, the intruder said, "Tsk, tsk, tsk. Pay
attention next time."

He was about to cry out for his companions when liquid pain shot through his
body from the point of entry. A pain so intense that he lost all control of
his sense and he collapsed. As his eyes closed, his head leaned backwards
towards the installation, he saw the rest of his squad already fallen, lying
over railings or slumped over at their posts, either knocked out or dead.
He'd find out soon which of the two it was in a few moments.
"'Bout time," Haan grumbled as he tore off his breather and mask. Noting how
well his men had taken out all six guards in less than ten seconds. For a
second, he considered the handy little devices known by divers as 'gills'.
Using solidified 'crispo', it had created an almost infinite amount of air
for deep-sea divers to use when going under water. The goggles, normal glass
when mixed with estus enabled them to achieve an interesting infrared scope
to keep them at a safe enough distance to attack. Not only had it let them
see through almost lightless environments, body heat also showed up in
slight margins of brightness. It also made looking at a light or looking at
a person almost the same, so it was hard to tell at that amount.

Turning around, he noticed the temporary recruits in their little raid. The
hero responsible for ending the Crusades and a companion meant to gather
information about the factory and the other locations similar to this one.
Though he was sure of the ability of the former, the latter gave him cause
to worry since she was just an office worker and most likely having no
experience whatsoever.

"Hurry, we don't got much time. They're gonna be calling back on his guy's
radio soon and if they don't hear him, we're done for. And, if you sustain
any damage, we have an A.A. waiting off shore on our recovery craft."

"It's not a real A.A., since A.A. are U.N. sanctioned."

"It's the same damn thing, Kiske. Let's go."

Nodding, both Ky and Luveria dashed past him and into the entryway. Taking
another look to the sea, he made a note where the method of their transport
was still waiting for them. A few hand signals later and silent moves of the
squad, they were at the door.

The door was in the center of the building on the peer, the overhanging
railway above it had a few guards, and the pier had a couple as well, but
the large architecture was odd for only having one door such as this. Haan
noted there had to be another way in or out for their shipments, possibly
underground. Didn't matter to him, this was his job. One of his top men got
in the way of the door, took out a sword stuck it into the keyhole and
pushed a button on the handle of the blade. A loud hiss lasted a few seconds
as the lock was burned away, and the exposed handle now shone in the dull
night light like a beacon of hope.

Each of them were equipped with the goggles, breathers, and two weapons. The
first was an Estus blade, filled with magic, it was meant for close combat
fighting with Gears, that would discharge a lethal dose of explosive magic
into the target. Smaller doses were often used to incapacitate human targets
when necessary. One would think the weapons were two long knives attatched
to the blunt ends of each other, with a thin metal tube between them. Though
useful enough as a sharp melee weapon, the real use of it was the central
'pipe' that would serve as a delivery system to send the solidified magic
into the target. The magic charge would be delivered from a small chamber in
the handle, where the user would pull a trigger and send the charge into the
tip. One would never need to ever truly change the chamber itself, for it
was comprised of a material that gathered the magic like a magnet, however
the amount of charges one could use in its lifetime was quite limited.
Henceforth, it, like any other weapon utilizing magic, had to be used

The other was a single shot rifle that held a metal rod, large and thick
enough to pierce a Gear or human surprisingly easy. At the back of the bolt,
there was a charge of ventus to propel the bolt forward and at great
velocity. Great care had to be taken to make sure the shot was never wasted,
otherwise, they would most likely find themselves at the mercy of their
enemy. Once the bolt was fired, the weapon was pretty much useless unless
one had additional bolts similiarly equiped with ventus.

There were three parts of the factory. The beginning hallways, leading to
who knows where. After the labyrinth of hallways was the factory, and in the
back of the factory were the production offices, built onto the factory
floor. The objective for Haan and his men was to place several charges, made
from materials during the first years of the Crusades and destroy the
production machines.

With the limited amount of time they had, Haan had his team went in first,
then shoved Ky and the female in before shutting it behind him, looking out
behind him, then followed the rest of him men into the factory.

With frantic footsteps, Ky unsheathed the Thunder Seal and kept his eyes
open for any possible entry from other possible guards as Haan's men went
through other hallways to clear the way for them. They would go to a hall,
and then kneel by the closest wall, Haan making some hand signals and his
team running up, clearing the way, and then signaling for him and they'd
advance. There was also another soldier at the rear that kept his eyes glued
behind, in case of someone flanking up from behind. Going over the plans
Kiske had received from Aeon, he figured just ahead, there would be the
general facility where the robotic versions of himself were being made. And
right behind it would be the offices where they would be finding the
information they needed.

The hallways were dark and poorly lit, which suggested that this place had
at one time had much more personnel. Now, it was practically abandoned,
considering that it was complete all that was needed was a set of guards to
make sure men like himself did not gain any access to their workings.

Taking another quick look behind him, his charge kept pace as close she
could, holding a waterproof satchel on one shoulder meant for any sets of
important documents they were to look for... if the factory had any. A few
more twisted hallways, taking a few weird routes, and they were getting
closer. Haan had to look back to Ky, who would use a hand signal to indicate
how far they'd have to go, or where they need to turn, and then Haan would
relay it to his team silently. If ever they came across two intersecting
corridors, they had a soldier lie down in prone in each direction until they
were all across, then regrouped on the far side until they had accounted for
every possibly attack vector, then continued. All of it was silent.

Once, Dizzy tried questioning Kiske as to where to go or what was happening,
her soft voice a scream among the absolute silence. Haan and his men ran
with the sound of mice, their foot steps like walking on clouds, and Ky had
also picked up the trait from his years as a soldier, but Luveria wasn't as
skilled at it, which drew constant glares from Haan. When she had opened her
mouth to ask something, Ky quickly turned around and clasped his hand over
her mouth. With one stern, yet sincere look into her eyes, covered in part
by her frazzled blonde hair, being in such a state from their dive suits,
she swallowed what words she had.

Passing through the last of the halls, Ky and Dizzy entered into a massive
room. The massive double doors were pure reflective steel, the silence
broken by a drone behind them. As they were slowly opened and Haan's men
stealthily filed inside to secure the perimeter, weapons ready to lance
anything that was a threat, the noise filtered into the hall, the
cacophonous racket catching them off guard.

The main facility was easily the size of the police station they worked in.
As far as the eye could see, there was metal. One conveyor belt moved the
heads of the machines to a set of hands that held the aloof while some
circuitry was being delicately placed inside, while another brought the
limbs to where the torsos were constructed.

Dizzy held her hands over her ears as the intrusive whine of all the
machinery grated her nerves. It sounded horrible. Like the sound of pain was
being screamed into her ears with every screech of the machines powered by
magic. Slowly lowering her hands, she moved forward as quietly as she could,
trying to stay focused and not pay attention to the sounds, nor the red
haired woman that had been haunting her.

What frightened Dizzy was how the woman was changing. Her eyes were still
the same, but she was getting smaller, her face was becoming more delicate,
and even her hair was becoming more straight and streamlined... like her

Getting inside, Haan slowly lowered his weapon and removed his goggles to
rest on top of his head, looking back at Kiske. Stepping behind them, Haan
blanched. "Looks like they had those things going around for longer than we
thought. And to think they probably got a whole bunch more doing whatever it
is they're doing right now."

Locating the entryway to the command offices, Ky frowned and started
forward. "Not for long."

He took a quick look to make sure Dizzy was a step behind him. And with his
target within sight, he charged forward, noting that the sooner they
retrieved the information, the sooner they could destroy this place. Kiske
gave one nod to Haan, and received one back as he went on his way solo, Haan
ordering his men to fan out and secure the entire area, almost needing to
yell to make sure his men heard him.

Taking a quick look around him, Kiske slightly marveled at the ruthless
efficiency of Haan's men. They did their job well. Any more guards they
found were silenced just as quickly as the six at the entrance. Not like
there were many. A few overhanging catwalks had a few soldiers walking
around, but most of them were lazy push-overs, and were efficiently disposed

Namely, one of them was walking above the torso creation machine. He took a
moment to yawn, closing his eyes and stretch his arms, never to re-open
them. Two of Haan's men had been tracking him from the level below, and then
saw their opportunity; one of them acted as a base and hoisted the other up
to the edge of the catwalk, the soldier grabbing with his fingers. Swinging
up from underneath, the soldier quickly got on top, grabbed the man's neck,
and just as the guard realized something was amiss, his neck was broken like
a twig, he fell backward into the soldier and was dragged off to a hidden
location. He gave a signal to his fellow mercenary on the floor below
through the mesh grating of the metal catwalk, then they approached the next
guard. All in all, not one of the guards had spotted one of Haan's men, at
least before they were killed and no sign of any disturbance, not one alarm
raised. Perfect.

Ky's detour hadn't been un-aided. Haan had sent on of his men to act as a
chaperone for Ky, since he was the priority. It wasn't standard operating
procedure for the group to stray off course from their prime objective, but
this one was, because if they didn't secure the area, then they could be
flanked from an elevated position, even if they did stick together. But, on
Kiske's behalf, he should have waited for Haan's men to complete their
rounds. At the back of the factory were the offices. The separation was
noticeable, with five-foot high walls sectioning off offices, glowing
monitors sitting in the small spaces, covered in dust, and small offices on
the sides lined with faux-wood doors and glass walls. The metal floor turned
to a synthetic carpet also, signaling the office portion, and it also has a
slightly increased grade to it, holding it three feet above the factory
floor. The acoustic engineering of it, because of its angle, cut out a lot
of the noise from the factory, despite being open to it.

Creeping through the low lit office cubicles, chairs pushed neatly in, desks
made perfectly, and not a single thing out of place, Kiske walked further
on, his Thunder Seal in hand, Dizzy behind him, and Haan's man behind,
covering the rear. They came to a short cross, where an avenue of the
cubicles crossed his. He took a quick peak around the corner, to check it
was clear. He looked, saw nothing, then turned back around to nod to Haan's
man to clear across, then stopped. He took one more look, assured himself it
was clear, then nodded. He didn't know why he hesitated�maybe he saw
something, who knows. Probably his imagination.

After their crossing of the office cubicles, they came to the very back of
the office section of the factory. Ironic that the office they needed was in
the far back. With the door to the mission objective in front of him, Ky
leaned against the wall beside the door, taking a moment to hear if anyone
was inside.

"I can't hear anything... there's too much noise from those... things." He
whispered back to Dizzy, whom leaned closely to hear his voice. He jiggled
the handle slightly, feeling it was locked and wouldn't budge.

He stole a glance back to her, noting she seemed slightly pale. Though she
was keeping pace with him, there was something that was evidently taking a
toll on her. She wasn't sick... she couldn't be. Gears don't get the
maladies that humans did. Even then, some of the diseases human had on a
regular basis before the Crusades had vanished when the human body grew
stronger thanks to duress from the war.

However, whatever was bothering her, she had kept it to herself and had been
doing so for a while.

Before Ky could kick the door in, one of Haan's men stopped him, making a
signal with his hand. Kiske nodded, stepping back, holding out his arm for
Dizzy to step back also. The soldier put his sword at the crack of the door,
ignited the charge in the blade, then fired an estus charge into the
keyhole, breaking the lock, and then flinging the door wide open and jumping
in onto his knees, the muzzle of his other weapon finding no one in sight to
meet the same fate as the lock. Finding no one there, Haan's soldier pointed
to a large metal container the size of a desk in the back corner. It was
equipped with a turn dial and several keyholes, meant for tight security.
"My guess is that the documents you two need are in there. Our plan is to
get out of here in ten minutes, so you should hurry up. I'll sit at the door
to watch the back while you get what you need. Hurry." He said, walking out
of the doorway and across the hall to a small cubicle facing them, so that
if anyone were to attack them, he would grab them from behind before they
could even get inside of the office.

Ky nodded as the man dashed out to execute his protection plan. They would
probably get out before the security system came online as it were, but he
didn't want to take any chances. Once the security headquarters of the
station realized the radios were off and gone, they were send more troops or
turn on the automated security, and that could get very ugly. He considered
using the Thunder Seal to pierce through, but by the looks of the metal, it
would most likely be more resistant to a sharp weapon. What he needed was
something more blunt. Ky turned to Dizzy and whispered, "Do you think one of
your wings would be able to get into that?"

"I think so... Undine?" she asked as she pulled the back of her wet suit
down to give Undine the room she needed to emerge.

Looking at the box in question, the guardian cocked an eyebrow. "I see...
what would you have me do?"

Both Ky and Dizzy found themselves at a loss. "Well... there's something in
there we need and we need to get it out..." Dizzy tried to explain as best
she could under the strained circumstances. Ky only watched Dizzy talk to
the figure over her shoulder, a slightly feathered and organic face, lips
not moving or a word being uttered, but Dizzy talking to it regardless.
Perhaps she heard things that he didn't, Ky assumed.

Undine, like her counterpart Necro, were both an unusual sight to him. She
appeared like a beautiful woman, colored in a hue of blue light enough to
assume she was made of ice. However, her eyes contained an intelligence that
belied her simplistic appearance. She even had a robe to cover her torso,
mysteriously materializing whenever she appeared.

Necro, on the other hand, hardly ever showed himself, and for good reason,
Ky thought morbidly. He held the appearance of something male, but his face
was as human as a skeleton, with a pair of eyes that were either encased in
shadow, or burning with the rage of a berserker. Ky had deduced that his
primary function was to provide Dizzy with the power she needed... and
protection that would kill people without a second thought.

Comprehension dawning, Undine clapped her hands. "Aha, I see what you
want..." raising her palm to her mouth, she blew a breath of air that
quickly turned into a stream of ice-cold wind. Within seconds the box was
covered in frost.

Blinking at the icy cage, Ky turned to Dizzy's guardian, "I don't
understand, how does..." he never got a chance to finish as Undine pointed
her hands towards the box, summoning a flat and sharp sheet of solid ice
from the ground to cut through the face of the safe, sparing the contents
within. The face of the safe soon fell forward, exposing a set of papers
wrapped in a manila folder.

With a playful air, Undine said casually, "Many solid objects are much
easier to break when they become frozen through." With her job complete, she
retracted herself into Dizzy's back, leaving both of them aghast at what
they just witnessed. Ky picked up the folder, looking at the contents. He
smiled up at Dizzy, confirming that they were, indeed, what they needed.
Before he could say it though, he had to drop the folder and grab Dizzy by
her shoulder also, tugging her to the ground.

It had seemed one security man had slipped by the initial sweep by Haan.
Kiske knew he saw something, and now he knew why. The security guard saw
them, he had been watching them from that one crossroads of the cubicles,
and so he took one step forward at them, smirking. He was dressed in a
normal security outfit, his weapon in a holster on the side and the standard
PWAB uniform emblazoned on him, except for the PWAB letters removed, the
stitching still visible from where it was ripped off. As he took the step
forward, he know Haan's man would leap at him from the darkened cubicle.

The soldier leapt forward with knife at the ready, but the security guard
was quick to duck and fire off three rounds into the gut of the elite
mercenary. He dropped quickly, the knife being picked up by the security
guard, and he then leapt into the room, grabbing Dizzy as she tried to stand
up and run off. She yelped slightly, like a child, as he ensnared her,
holding the mercenary's blade to her throat. He faced Ky with a smirk on his
face. He was a slightly pudgy man, a lazy guy that just worked his job, but
he at least knew what he was doing sometimes.

"Alright, if you don't want the girl hurt, you'd better put the sword down."

After a second's shock, he frowned at the man that held Dizzy hostage. "I
wouldn't do that if I were you..."

The man held the tip of the blade at Dizzy's jaw. "Oh, really? In case
you've forgotten, Kiske, I'm the one with the hostage."

Looking to the blade and then to Ky, Dizzy blinked her eyes slowly and
remained calm, silently informing him that there was little to worry about.
The man knew who Kiske was, but it would be hard to not know who he was.
Reports had circulated the PWAB on Kiske and his prying anyway, so he was
easy to recognize, as if ending the Crusades hadn't been enough of a dead

"No, I haven't forgotten, but if you heard us earlier, then you know that we
both got less than eight minutes left."

With the assaulter's gaze on Ky, he didn't notice a swell originating from
the small of Dizzy's back, slowly crawling down the leg of her wet suit.

"I got ears! Tell those guys out there to stop whatever it is they're doing
or the girl here dies!"

>From the exposed ankle of Dizzy's suit, Dizzy's tail quietly emerged. The
tip ballooned to the size of a fist, before the end opened up to reveal a
sharp-toothed maw. During the exchange between Ky and her would be captor,
the maw clamped down on the man's ankle, through his clothes, drawing a bit
of blood.

Not expecting the pain coming from his ankle, the man let go of his blade,
allowing Dizzy to wrench herself out of the man's grip and shove him towards
Ky, who in turn struck him in the head with the butt of his sword.

As the man fell silent, he looked from him to her as her tail started to
retract back into her wet suit. He still wasn't sure what to make of her.
They had fought each other in the past, due to their respective histories no
less, and now; here they were fighting on the same side.

However, the fact that she had used her tail, another sight he still wasn't
used to, to escape capture left him slightly apprehensive. Their previous
encounter in the grove had left a rather large chunk of a large tree missing
due to that... tail.

"We'd best hurry..." he said dragging the man to another corner. Though he
didn't enjoy the thought of being part of this man's death, the solider
would inevitably return to the Bureau and tell them of what had happened.
Kiske hadn't killed him with the hit, but incapacitating him would leave him
vulnerable for when the explosives went off. That man's testimony alone
would be more than enough to incriminate him.

He had no intention of becoming another conquest of those that would violate
the rights of those they were meant to protect. He turned to see Dizzy place
the file in the waterproof bag she was given. If Aeon and Gepetto were
right, then this could be the beginning of the end of the Bureau.

As he and Dizzy dashed out of the office and ran to the entrance, they
noticed a few of Haan's men running in a similar direction.

"Took your sweet time, didn't you?" Haan hollered from the docking ports.

"We were detained for a moment," Ky returned, not wanting to get into yet
another argument with someone that was supposed to be on his side.

Haan turned to another one of his men, "everyone back?"

The man went over a list in his head mentally and shook his head. "No, sir.
Katari's not back yet."

"And the one you sent with us," Kiske added.

"Damn!" Haan said looking to the entrance. "The active Robots must have
gotten to Katari first. What about yours?" he started back to the factory
and turned to Ky and Dizzy.

"A security guard shot him, three times, but Kiske knocked him out in
return. I'm sorry about the loss." Dizzy said as the ran along through the

"You two get back on the mariner, I'll be back." He turned to his
subordinate again, "if either one of us isn't back in six minutes, consider
us dead and blow this place."

"Yes sir," the man said without hesitation. He quickly opened the doors from
the factory, his weapon at ready and held out in front of his face as he
jogged through the corridors, a few men in front and a few behind, with Ky
and Dizzy in the middle. Counter to their initial stealth approach, they had
no use for it now. If any security got in the way, they'd be quickly and
loudly killed. The time for stealth was gone.

Finding the entrance to the building, they all ran outside, two of Haan's
men sitting tight at the door, waiting for their leader to come out as Ky
and Dizzy followed the rest to the end of the pier. They passed over the man
who was stabbed earlier on the edge of the pier, one of the men kicking the
body into the water as a wave snatched him up and drifted the corpse along
the currents. Before they could get outside, the open doors, held that way
by the two men waiting for their leader, Ky turned to Haan.

"What are you waiting for! Go!" Haan yelled an order before dashing as fast
as his feet could carry him back to the factory.

"Wait a minute, you're just going to let them kill you if you don't make it
back?" Ky asked following suit as Dizzy trailed him helplessly.

"Of course. It's S.O.P. Preventing casualties is the most vital thing. It's
how the group's survived for thirty years of the Crusades."

"And yet you're going back?" Ky asked incredulously as he stood still, Haan
itching to turn and run back inside.

"Of course! I don't abandon my men, if I can't help it."

"You talk about not abandoning your men, but the ones that survive still
lose you if you die!"

"Shut your hole, Kiske! The previous leader of the group died to save me and
I'll be damned if I don't do the same!"

"Fine, I'm going with you. I can't let you die, or I'll be at blame for it.
Di... er, Luveria, follow them and don't turn back!" Ky yelled at her, the
girl nodding and behind escorted out by the remaining soldiers, the two
sitting tight at the open doors, weapons at ready and scanning the area.

As they entered the main factory, alarms blared as a computerized voice

Knowing that time was not their only enemy, they ran up a set of stairs,
leading to the storage area of the completed Robo-Kys. The conveyor belt
from the torso area wound up to the other attachments, the finally up to the
top on the right side of the factory into another huge room that housed the
fully assembled robots.

At the end of a large assembly line, several hundred of the metallic
soldiers began to awaken. The yellow lights in their metallic skulls seemed
to spread like a virus as each one, in turn, shot to vibrant life, a wave of
the functions coming online. In the middle of the floor, a wounded Katari
crawled from one of the first awakened Robo-Kys, trying to contain the
bleeding from his side and leg. The robot had taken him by surprise and
though he survived, he needed to get to the team's A.A. and soon. His
surveying of the area took him up here, and he had gone too far, so on his
return, he was wounded. Haan was only moments late for the wounding, though,
as Katari was running moments before, as he could tell from the soldier
falling to the ground and rolling along as his head popped above the


It raised its false Thunder Seal to strike the final blow when Haan's
personal knife, sheath carried by a strap to his chest, threw it off balance
and Ky's sword cut it in two.

Wasting no time, Ky and Haan dragged Katari to his feet as Dizzy cried from
the entrance, "Hurry! There's more coming from this side!" Ky sneered,
knowing that Dizzy didn't follow his orders in going with the others to the
pier, but the voice did help him to urge himself to be quicker. She seemed a
bit surprised by his reaction, but knew that there was little point to

True to her observation, sentry robots began to emerge and converge on their
location to cut off any avenue of escape.

"We're not dead yet!" Haan said as he pulled a trigger from his pocket and
pushed the button. All three of them were rocked violently off balance,
along with every other robot in the vicinity as several charges Haan placed
earlier had gone off in case resistance was met on the way out.

True to Haan's expectation, it slowed the robots in the main facility as
they dashed back on the walkway, said walkway being suspended above the
machines, from where a few guards were earlier dispatched. The robots had
taken a few moments to calculate and make up for the damage inflicted by the
bombs around the structure, but were quick to follow. Beneath them, the
Robo-Ky's were beginning to regroup faster than anyone of them would have

"How much time do we have left?" Katari asked, trying to stay conscious.

"Not enough, let's keep moving!" Haan roared as they struggled to descend
the stairway despite Katari's limp. The horde of robots still pursued them
and knowing their targets were getting away, accelerated their pursuit. The
sections of walkway were quickly cut apart under them as they ran..
Incomplete models fell from the assembly line, clawing at the ground with
incomplete frames and bodies, trying to catch the intruder, robots jumping
off of high balconies and through containment walls, rubble, and any other
obstruction to join the flood of metal figures drawing close behind the

Seeing their chances of escape growing slimmer, Ky took himself away from
Katari's arm and said to Haan, "Take him ahead, I'll see what we can do
about giving you more time."

"You stupid or something, Kiske?" Haan said, still moving as fast as he

"No, just not willing to lose anyone here. Even if he's your man."

Haan didn't reply as he and Katari moved down the hallway, leaving both him
and Dizzy to confront the several dozen Robo-Kys ready to do them harm at
the factory's mouth. Dizzy had ran back through the halls, the two
mercenaries who were at the entrance doors catching up to her now, seeing
Haan, Katari, Ky and the oncoming flood. With a couple of obligatory "sirs"
and words, they grabbed Katari and Dizzy and ran back off.

Still clutching the satchel, Dizzy looked to him, "Can I help?"

Ky shook his head. "No. You go ahead. I'll catch up. You have what we need,
you're the priority, and I will not let you be put into harm's way�" As the
robots drew nearer, he readied his weapon, "�besides, I prefer fighting
alone." Though he wouldn't acknowledge it, a slightly manic grin grew on his
face. The adrenaline was too much for him to take, and he needed an outlet.
It was quite reminiscent of the Crusades, now that he thought about it. A
seemingly one-sided battle, with the odds mysteriously in his favor. All
thoughts of his charge forgotten, he charged. He didn't even notice how his
comment had hurt her as she turned and ran into the hall. The surge of
Robo-Kys had to quell themselves to fit through the narrow double-door space
to get to the real Ky, so it gave Kiske an opportunity to start smashing
through them as they tried to configure themselves to be able to fit

"You see?" the red haired specter said with her arms folded. "A liability
that interferes..."

"Leave me alone!" Dizzy cried mentally back as she ran down the hallway. The
persistent taunting of the specter was driving her mad and she wasn't sure
how much more of this mental torture she could endure. It floated around her
as she ran, matching her pace as it floated along, seeming not even to
notice, as if it kept a radius on her and her alone, no matter where she
went. It was as real as Katari being carried by two other soldiers in front
of her and Haan behind her, pushing on her shoulder blades with the palm of
his hand, but it wasn't real to anyone else, that much she knew.

Coming into the underwater docks, she found Haan ushering his injured man
into the water with the assistance of another crewmember that had tarried.
Noticing her solitary condition, he asked, "Where's Kiske?"

"He's back there... fighting..." Dizzy said, trying to keep her composure.
Yet, feeling so tossed aside the way she was didn't sit well with her.

Haan gaped at the news. "Muhammad's Beard, he's lost it! This place is about
to blow, doesn't he get that?!"

Dizzy nodded and turned back, "He wanted to give you more time... but...

Looking over his options, with what little time he had left, he said several
orders in his native tongue to his men before turning to Dizzy.

"Come on..." He said, motioning to one of his soldiers. The soldier nodded,
took a step forward, then fell off the pier at another explosion inside,
knocking him off. The boat slowly unmoored at the explosion, drifting
outward, with all of his men on it, including the one who just fell into it,
except for Haan and Dizzy. The waves quickly isolated them from the pier
once Haan and Dizzy had fully stood, and he cursed slightly. He then waved
off to them to execute their plan, and he turned to Dizzy with a sigh.

Surprised she found herself following the squad leader as he drew his blade.

"What are you..."

"Got no choice now. I'm gonna bash this thing over his head and I'll need
your help to drag his sorry ass out of here. That is if he doesn't get
crushed once the factory falls. In plus, he can't be taking my line in dying
for the team when I told him that was my idea."

Even more surprised, she followed him back into the compound.

"What did you tell your men to do with that hand gesture?"

"They're to get the mariner to a safe distance and wait for us. If we don't
show up from here, we'll meet them on the eastern portion of the island. If
we're lucky, we'll be able to use the secondary escape tunnel this place has
just in case."

Not sure where this was going, Dizzy asked, "Then why use it at all if the
place is going to be blown up?"

"Because the tunnel leads topside, where a nest of Rocs eat anything large
enough to put into their beaks is! This island is their territory,
especially at sunrise. The underground tunnel is somewhere around the
hallways before the factory, and once we get into it, it's a straight shot

She was starting to find this alternative plan of action to be more
disconcerting than she was willing to admit. Commander Gear or not, she
wasn't sure of her ability to control Gears since it was never truly tested.
She recalled trying to control Testament to simply raise his hand when he
wasn't looking, but his will was too strong.

Either way, it appeared that it had to be dealt with later as she and Haan
found Ky actively engaging and holding his own against several dozen odds to
one. With every stroke from the robots, Ky was practically rank with blood
lust. He was actually enjoying himself.

"The hell are you doing, Kiske! We gotta get going!" Haan screamed as she
decapitated a Robo-Ky that was caught off guard.

He didn't even notice Haan's yelling, to far into the moment, into the
fight. He slashed another Robo-Ky, kicking it down onto the ground then
swiping its body with an electrical arc and then approaching another with a
deadly diagonal swing. He was about to slash the same robot as it fell in
two pieces vertically when Haan grabbed his arm, jolting him from his battle
stupor. He stuttered for a second, making one big arc with his sword to buy
some time as the current wave was thrown back, circuitry frying and smoke
emitting the pores of the eye-sockets on the robots, then followed Haan to a
staircase, concealed after a long way of winding hallways, the Robo-Kys ever
vigilant behind to spear them. The staircase led to the ceiling, Dizzy
following closely behind Haan, and Ky in back.

"There's no time for that, this way!"

With less than three minutes left before the fuel-line charges went off,
Haan swung the door open, ushering his companions through before slamming
the door shut. They had planted three sequential charges, the initial ones,
which detonated when he got to Katari, the secondary, which had gone off
when they were at the piers, and the third. The third were the nice ones
though�they were at the fuel dumps for this place, and would make a grand
explosion. It reminded Haan of the fun he and the squad had when they found
a lightly defended Gear production facility in his homeland. The only thing
that marred the occasion was the stench of burnt Gear flesh, but that
couldn't have been helped.

The passageway appeared half complete, for several meters up the tunnel, the
footing changed from the metal plating to soft gravel and dirt.

"How far does this tunnel go?" Ky, a few steps behind Haan, asked between

"Fifty meters before we get to the surface. If the plans were right, then
the Bureau was planning on using other parts of the island as drop off
ports. Before they found the Rocs, I think they were hoping to have a hidden
observation deck to watch anything from above ground, besides that shitty
dock we came in on."

"You think?" Ky asked in anger, knowing their situation.

Clearly irritated, Haan nearly yelled back, "I'm just a dirty merc,
remember?! I'm just pulling straws since the plans we got weren't all that
clear in this section."

Ky was about to retort when a rumble threw all of them off their feet.
Though the charges Haan blew up previous were strong, the ones made the
first bombs seem minute in comparison as all three of them discovered to
their horror the ceiling above them starting to crack.

"KEEP RUNNING!" Haan screamed as dirt and rock started to fall between them.
A deep rumble started to shake the tunnel as the chunks from the walls and
ceiling grew larger with every passing second. Bits of debris, growing roots
of plants above and silt started to rain down on them heavier and heavier, a
choking cloud of brown particles making it harder and harder to keep one's
eyes open.

Up ahead, cracks from the door ahead grew brighter as the cave started to
fall from several meters behind. They didn't have time to look back because
of the frightening rate it was moving towards the three escapees. What they
could notice though was the surge of Robo-Kys. They had expertly maneuvered
over every obstacle, every piece of debris that fell. The debris would crush
one, maybe two, then the others would jump around or destroy it and
continue. But, the last of the debris had completely cut off the force of
the Robo-Kys, crushing the six in the front of the charge. Their parts gave
a whine as the metal bent like paper under the weight, their circuitry
exposed and clicking with electrical life before sputtering out. The
mechanical cries of the ones behind could be muffledly heard as they hacked
away at the debris without avail, cut off from their target.

They weren't out of the clear though. More debris fell in front of them, Ky
narrowly missing taking a boulder on his head, and Haan having to snatch
Dizzy by her collar to avoid being crushed, and tossing her ahead as she
stumbled around then got to sprinting again.

"This is it!" Haan screamed, throwing the map behind him as he read the last
thing he needed to see, waiting for the open air to greet him as he turned
the last straight away. Instead, a large metallic door, reflecting their
images a hundred feet off could be vaguely seen. "The hell! There should be
nothing there!"

"Will you make it?" the specter leered to Dizzy, laughing slightly as it
leaned forward into her face, staring into her eyes with the fiery ones it
had sunken into its perfectly-mirrored face of Dizzy's. She closed her eyes
and shook her head, trying to move the ghost so she could see in front of
her again, it not moving when she reopened them, only running straight ahead
as much as her body would allow. "You'll just die, like them. You are
something much greater than any of them, you realize. A goddess among
insects and yet you pretend to be one of them. Spread your wings, child, and
leave them for dead, the way they should be..." She screamed mentally, "No!
I won't abandon them!", her eyes watering, from both dust and dirt,
continuing ahead.

The woman frowned and then started to fade into the darkness, "Your choices
will bring you only regret..."

Overtaking Haan for the lead, Ky concentrated all his strength into the
Thunder Seal, letting the lightning gather around him like a bubble. His
speed increased greatly as several more spheres of electricity appeared and
pushed him towards the door, the spheres slowly popping off of the Thunder
Seal like bubbles from a water-and-soap wand, conducting the elastic
electric sphere.

Thrusting his beloved sword forward, the tip tore through the metal door,
tossing ahead several meters before coming to a halt just below a ridge
where the exit lay. Exhausted, Ky let the magic dissipate and he fell down
as Dizzy and Haan leaped out of the door after him seconds later. They all
fell down, the door a good five feet above solid ground, tumbling and
rolling as they hit the ground and fresh air, a morning sun slowly rising
over the horizon.

All three turned to see the passageway darken and cover with more than
enough dirt and rock to make sure no one else was getting back in.

"We... made it?" Dizzy asked quietly between breaths.

Gasping for air, Haan nodded as he wiped his brow of perspiration and the
dirt that had speckled itself across his face, picking a few weed roots from
his shoulders that had fallen from the loose soil. "Yep. Primary objective
complete. Now, we just need to get going and meet up with the others." They
all sighed, sitting down on the moist grass.

Morning dew settled over the small garden like area, the rising sun slowly
giving purple and amber light across the skies to the Mediterranean island
and its unkempt vegetation. They all gathered their breath for a few
minutes, hearing the last of the rumbles from inside the factory die out.

"Just give me a minute..." Ky said as he gasped for air, his lungs afire not
only from the exertion, but the draining use of 'Ride the Lightning'. All
the tension he had gathered up from fighting the robots was gone and he was
more than willing to sleep right then and there. However, when Haan's foot
connected with his temple, his agitation returned, with a splitting


Haan's anger was all too easy to see with his hands on his hips. "What do
you mean 'what'!? It's 'cause of you we were nearly killed back there!"

Though exhausted, Ky was not willing to hear any of this from Haan. "Those
things would have closed in on us, if I didn't."

Haan wasn't convinced. "Yeah, and Justice was a woman. Stop pretending this
is the Crusades! There's no ceremony or tribunal or whatever for this. In
case you've forgotten, we're still in enemy territory and until we get out
of here, the *last* thing we need is you pretending to be a hero again."

Ky stood up faster than he would liked as the blood rushed to his head, yet
still did his best to stare down Haan. "What do you mean by pretend?!"

"You heard me, Kiske. You have to be the big hero that saves the day. It
comes with the territory. But as far as I'm concerned, the lives of my men
matter to me, yours does not! I lost one back there, protecting you and her.
You've defeated Justice and now you're on your own personal Crusade. This is
your war, not mine and I was hired for this job, but I am not here to just
rampantly die for you and your stupid ambitions, be it fighting those idiot

Ky tightly gripped the handle of his sword, as the adrenaline was starting
to reappear in force. "You will regret those words, Hazrat."

"Both of you, STOP IT!" In an instant, both Ky and Haan felt something...
almost like a pair of invisible hands pulling them apart, though they were
the ones that stepped back. They both turned to see Dizzy, still catching
her breath and rubbing her nose from the excess dirt in the air, with the
occasional cough, leaning against a small tree she found on the side of the
overgrown area in which the exit had dropped them off at. She was just as
frustrated as they were as she continued.

"This... isn't helping... how... are we supposed... to survive if we... keep
fighting each other? We're... alive, aren't we?" She wiped away some of the
dirt off her face, trying her hardest to keep the tears in. After barely
escaping death, she was not feeling any better than she was before. The
ghost's taunting had taken its toll on her and she didn't want to see the
discord continue.

Though Haan had kept his disdainful glare, he mirrored Ky sheathing his own
sword. Reluctantly, they both had to acknowledge that to argue the point of
who's fault it was became moot. They were alive and that was all that

"I'm wondering... why her, Kiske? Most information officers I know of have
basic training for something like this. She doesn't. Why bring her into

Looking at the ground, Ky muttered, "Luveria's friends were killed by those

Haan cocked an eyebrow. "You don't say?" He turned to Dizzy and said in a
manner that resembled admiration, "Good job, kid. Not many people as brave
as you."

Dizzy, not fettered by the dirt, responded in confusion. "Huh?"

Haan folded his arms and continued, "I know people and you can't fake
courage. I've seen people that were fakers their whole lives and when their
time came, they didn't do jack."

Feeling slightly flattered, she responded. "Thank you."

He waved it off and said, "Watch it though, the same thing's happened to
others and they wound up dead."

Knowing that he would say that, she nodded in compliance to his warning. She
was no stranger to being in harm's way. She had been targeted by bounty
hunters and police for a good portion of her life and in a strange way, this
was nothing new.

Ky, watching the whole scene, wasn't sure what to make of it. In addition,
he was beginning to think that he was truly to blame for their delay back to
Athens. If he had simply joined the others in the craft, they would have
been spared the time. But it was too late to regret now.

"Shall we get going? We got a boat to catch." Haan said casually to Ky as he
turned to the mercenary and nodded, not expecting the whole fight to be
forgotten to quickly... perhaps it was better that way.

A loud and blood curdling caw made all of them freeze in mid-stride. For a
second, a large and menacing shadow whipped past them, blocking out the sun.

Almost scared to look, all three of them turned up to see five large
bird-like shapes circling overhead.

Feeling all color drain from his face, Haan whispered in fear he had never
known before,


End of Chapter 7
Note: A friend and I collaberated in the construction of this chapter, so,
Zero Nova deserves credit where it's due.

Also, all things Guilty Gear belongs to Daisuke Ishiwatari and Sega.

Haan belongs to Yuuzo Takeda.

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