For three hours, Bjorn desperately ran, leaving behind long trails of blood that made tracking him simplicity incarnate. Still, none followed him, and in some dark forest east of Ostria, the youth collapsed. For another half hour, he bled on the cold ground, slowly heading into death. Hades' gates readied to welcome him, but at that time, a cloaked man appeared, emerging from a blue vortex to land at Bjorn's right.
This man was no other than the mysterious individual, the fake slaver, behind Ostria's calamity. As he stared at Bjorn's dying form, his eyes contorted into a frown.
"He reached the next stage of evolution without scientific help and used the virus to rise to another level. He's just like her, a Mahana. And even then, his grade should be much higher. Who could have thought that in the tiny Ostria, I'd find two? How negligent..." The man whispered while Bjorn gurgled on his blood.
With all the broken bones, punctured organs and traumas, it was a miracle that Bjorn still breathed. On the one hand, his unique constitution played a significant role, on the other hand, his thirst for survival carried him ahead. Mahanas currently were the most prized jewels of the man's organization. Hundreds of High Emissaries were dispatched to track them down. But according to their finest calculations, Ostria would at best have one.
Therefore, after finding Tamara and securing Olaf's assistance in the virus' test, the man directly left, returning only to monitor the virus' progresses. Little did he expect that an infernal disaster awaited there. At first, he considered diving in to grab some guinea pigs but quickly dismissed the thought. Individually, the beasts might be limited to top-level Core Emissary strength, but if hundreds or thousands gathered for a united assault, he could only feed the worms.
In frustration, the mysterious man could only take notes of the situation and wait for hypothetical changes. Fortunately, Bjorn appeared, and as he faced this bit of good news, he couldn't help but feel a wave of elation.
"While I do not believe in luck or fate, I must say that your appearance is quite auspicious. Boy, welcome to the Technocracy." The mysterious man stated and stretched out his right hand, causing a dark-blue cube to appear and suck Bjorn into a miniature world. There, sky-blue fog shrouded him, numbed his pain and healed his wounds. The physical ones, at least.
"Is this wise?" Jezebel asked, arms wrapped around Kilian's waist and chin on his shoulder as he made the inventory of Olaf's wealth. Staggering results awaited him.
"Why would it not be?" Kilian countered. From Olaf's experiences, he'd learned all there was to regarding Ostria's viral calamity and now knew that Tamara, Lukas' sister, was never taken by a slaver to begin with. That being the case, her rescue task became a whole lot more complex.
A slaver, he could directly maul. But an organization able to put up a virus capable of making super humans or monsters out of the common man? Now, that was another story. Clearly, Tamara showcased a unique constitution or traits that seized the man's attention. Traits useful to his organization.
To say nothing of Tamara, if only for Kilian's own sake, finding out who, or what they were and what goal they pursued was of capital importance.
"I am not against doing some digging. But you didn't rig him with a nano-spider, didn't use a tame version of Profane Allure, or even modify the structure of his brain to have him obey you. You just let him go. What makes you so sure that in the future, they won't turn him into the harbinger of your doom?" Jezebel asked. Kilian undoubtedly wasn't the type of man to leave loose ends. Why then did he not guarantee Bjorn's loyalty before hurling him out of that window?
"Before an enemy able to create a virus of that caliber, using my current spiders is no different from wild conceit. Restructuring the brain is useless if they also possess the ability. Of course they're going to ensure the blind loyalty of their new recruits. Although we have no way to know what weight he will hold in their faction, give them a reason to doubt Bjorn, and they will make sure he can't harm their interests.
On the contrary, if he not only gives them no reason to doubt him, but gives them reasons to trust him, and showcases his thirst for vengeance. There is a chance, a tiny chance, that they will welcome him not as a puppet, but as a true member of their faction. After all, most rewiring methods leave the brain somewhat damaged. For minions, this is not an issue. But for future elite members? They'd think twice.
Therefore, I can't rig his body. Instead, I will bet on his mind," Kilian explained and closed the ledger detailing the last of Olaf's resources.
"Indeed. I am betting that Viktor cannot betray Alina, for the pleasure of harming Klaus."
"Viktor? Alina? Klaus? What the hell are you talking about?" Again, Kilian's words left Jezebel utterly confused. Bjorn may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but he was no fool, either. Moreover, upon waking up, his senses grew tremendously sharper. At first, he worried that the frenzied Lena had abducted "Lukas" or worse, and made his way through the slums.
But on the road, he realized many things didn't add up. If Lena prevailed, why did he still breathe? The feral bloodlust in her eyes left no doubt that she'd spare no one. The destruction clearly showed a heated battle, yet, no casualty to report. Even the sick bystanders escaped the tribulation. Only "Lukas" and Lena vanished. Bjorn thus concluded that "Lukas" not only won, but somehow tamed Lena.
Where then could he be? As he sought the answers, the monstrous tide razing Ostria forced him to seek shelter in the viscount's castle. Little did he expect he'd come across the suffocating massacre of 11,000 men. Such gruesome deaths, he'd never seen. Worse, a certain order existed in the scene, showing the work of a callous man rather than a beast. Throughout Ostria, "Lukas" aside, who possessed the strength?
Bjorn couldn't gauge Lena's battle prowess. But a man able to single-handedly crush a trained army? That no longer was a man. And at that time, he started doubting his friend's identity. If "Lukas" held such strength why did he need to hide for three days? Beset with doubt, Bjorn rushed past the gash splitting the wall into two to dive into the castle—all while dreading what he'd find within.
Seeing a dark-grey - feral - fox woman and the viscount kneeling before "Lukas," Bjorn put two and two together, realized his friend never once stood before him in those last 72 hours, and probably fed the worms.
He now saw the cold-blooded murderer before him as another one of the leeches. Another power-hungry despot eager to throw the world into chaos.
When Bjorn barged in with his fists bared, demanding answers he couldn't have, Jezebel expected Kilian to either rewire him for his potential or outright kill him. Instead, he pummeled and defenestrated him.
Jezebel didn't doubt that the beating held a special meaning, a form of communication she couldn't figure it out.
"What makes you so sure that the mastermind will take notice of, and save him? He could be in another city as we speak," Jezebel pursued.
A valid question, and while tilting his head against hers, Kilian replied:
"It may not be him, but there will undoubtedly be someone of their faction eying the developments from the shadows. If they were inside and powerful enough, by now they would have noticed the barrier and made an overt attempt to escape.
Since they didn't, they're either outside, reporting the fehl chaos to their superiors, or both. I'm using Bjorn's life as a wager. If they're present and overseeing the outskirts, his potential will not escape them, and they will take him back.
If they are not, I've calculated that it'd take him about three hours, five minutes, and 24 seconds to kick the bucket. You can save him at the last second."
Doing the math, Jezebel realized that only ten seconds remained.
"You're sure you don't want me to go now?"
"Not before the last second."
"What if he can't make it?"
"Sucks to be him."