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The Heart of Gaia 15 Determined Fanatic

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*Pant! Pant!*

"Where did that idiot go!" I shouted.

The smoke from the rubble made it hard to see. I stomped on the ground with anger, from behind me I could hear the three men under my command. I turned only to see from the right to left respectively John, Dale and Cain.

"Did you catch him?" Dale said.

*Smack!*

"Ouch! what did you do that for?"

"You buffoon! you can clearly see that child is nowhere to be found!"

"Now, now! let's all be friendly here."

These three quirky men that followed are not just any subordinate under me, they were my friends. We've been together on many fields and always relied on each other. The grumpy old man was Cain, the light-headed person was Dale and the ever unifying character was John. Despite our differences in age, rank and personality. We respected each other.

"Shut up!" Sourly I uttered.

"Sourpuss..." Dale whispered.

*Sigh*

"Well, He might've not gotten far Hackmann!" As john said while nudging Dale.

I couldn't hope to disappoint Sir Bardel! He gave me this task and I plan on finishing it properly. I'd be too ashamed to face him now if I went back. As Squad leader and his right Hand man, I wouldn't dare to tarnish his name, better it be mine than his.

"John! Dale! Cain! We'll split up to search for that twit! Let's meet here after our search!"

"Alright!" They exclaimed harmoniously.

In agreement we each separated in opposite directions. I, of course went through the rubble that child made. Traversing through the jagged ground with it's entirety comprised of housing debris had been challenging.

"What made that child go through all of this..." I questioned myself.

I don't think that he fully grasps the situation he is in, Insubordination of higher authority could be his price to pay. But what troubled my mind even so was the fact that they let him off easily. If it was an ordinary member of the Liberators they would get punished direly for it. Disruption of operation was a heavy violation within the group, penalties would be issued, such as hazing or Isolation for days.

All these thoughts locked up inside but I wouldn't dare question the higher ranking officers especially Sir Bardel. Out of all these, one heavily outweighed the others and it was the fact. The fact that a recruit such as himself could muster Corr levels that rivaled mine...

Soon I found myself wandering the streets of the ever miserable Black market. The sight of slavery was ordinary, different races could be seen. Faustians, Deimosians and Elgans but they were rarely found.

Humans comprised most numbers of every slavery. You could discern every possible suspicious character you can find, this was the type of City Black Market was. Carefully I tread through the streets trying not to catch attention to myself.

Surprisingly, most people that came through my path would avoid me. Ever since childhood I've been known to have a rather fierce looking facial features, so maybe I fit in this dog eats dog world. Which was quite kind of offending to me that I started grumbling to myself. It's not my fault that my mother gave birth to this angry face of mine. Because of this particular reason it made my search for that meddling child quite straining. From a far I spotted a humble merchant, maybe I could get something useful from him.

"Pardon me..."

"Could you wait a sec!"

He said as he answered with his back turned. It looks like he was attending to his wares at the back of his stall. I waited patiently.

"Now! how can I help you?" said the man.

I tried to smile as cheerful as I could. The man faced me with an alarmed look.

"I-I'm sorry! I don't have money!"

"W-wait! I'm just trying to--"

He slammed shut his stall in front of my completely perplexed expression.

*Sigh!*

With a deep sigh, I tried to shrug off my aggravation.

*Thud*

"OI! WATCH YOURSELF!"

As a random stranger shouted at me, I took a look at his face and saw that his expression somehow exuded dominance. I ignored his undoubtful confidence as I passed by him. Even though it irrirated me so, I couldn't afford getting sidetracked. It would be a shame to the Liberators name and Sir Bardel as well.

In the following scenarios that same thing happened, my questions were thrown into the air as

they were answered with coldness by the people that received it or otherwise were completely frightful of my seemingly aggressive demeanor even though I approached them kindly.

At a loss, I had hoped that Yela was here. She was proficient in terms of tracking down and searching...

Oddly enough throughout my journey I saw a presence that seemed to tail me. I had to make sure, This may be a potential enemy from the opposing side and could have identified me. Swerved, curved and moving in all sorts of directions I moved trying to shake off my pursuer. The character was persistent as I could still notice their hidden identity, which was lacking thereof.

Ultimately I passed through the more crowded areas of the area. I squeezed through the dozens of men clumped up together in what seems to be a business related part of the city. Men of all sorts occupied the area, from really shady characters to the more sinister looking individuals. All of them minded their own while myself got mixed into the said characters, I couldn't see my pursuer anymore. His presence drowned in the sea of people as mine got shrouded within. I turned into a dark alleyway.

"Finally lost them. Now back into the task at hand." I said to myself.

"Pard'n me!"

A deep toned voice echoed behind me. I turned around in shock, this man was humungous with blue-ish colored skin, more importantly his face had worn this odd facial expression but what made it frightful is that he wore a smile. The smile felt menacing as the scar that continued from the left side of his lips emphasized it. The man was well dress as my eyes wandered about, atop his head rested a top hat that matched his coat.

To my bewilderment, I saw the very same person that I searched for. He was swung unconscious on his shoulder. His eyes followed mine as he saw my expression, he slowly turned his head towards me as his mouth curved forming a huge grin. My spine tingled with fear.

"Sorry..."

I moved towards the side and let him pass. I readied myself mentally, as well as physically for a fight. My round shield steadily hung behind my back underneath the cloak I had worn. It was ready for use anytime that the need called for it. Slowly but surely he passed by that came with a sign of relief for me. I could've sworn that he noticed my interest in the child that he carried, was he taunting me? or could it be that he didn't knew. I waited patiently for him to leave the narrow alleyway so I could follow him...

I tailed him through the city while remaining steadfast. It could be that he was weary of my presence already or it was his plan to lure me into the trap. Therefore I prepared myself, for any dangers that I may face, in the ready I activated spells on my shield if ever the situation escalated. I left markings on every path I went in order to prevent getting lost as the man had been passing through the most isolated paths in the city. I rarely encountered individuals, it's as if this area was prohibited.

What was it with this new recruit of ours, he attracted all sorts of trouble. Firstly, he attempted to disrupt the operation by infiltrating. Secondly, he escapes only to be caught by slave traders. Stressfully I scratched the shaven side of my head with utmost irritation. If only Sir Bardel isn't the one who enforced this mission upon me, I couldn't careless if it was someone else.

I patiently followed and waited for a chance to nab Knoxx. The sheer mass of this person that carried him belittled my strength against him. His size wasn't the only thing that made me cautious, earlier I felt the tremendous amount of Corr that lay dormant inside him. I don't know if it was

intentional but he displayed it carelessly.

Soon he stopped underneath the brightness of the street lamp, in front of the natural cavern walls of the City. I stood carefully scouting from afar behind a partition, with a blink of an eye he was gone. I rubbed my eyes in disbelief as that large man disappeared into thin air. "How could it be so?" I thought to myself. But one thing was for certain, this was no ordinary slave trader.

"I need back up..." I whispered.

Soon as I turned around my eyes met the same arrogant man that had bumped into me a while ago. He was at the far end of the alley.

"OI!"

"What do you want?!" I shouted in reply.

"Nice shield you have there!"

To my surprise he must've seen it earlier. His voice suggested some form of interest in it.

"It's worthless, you won't get anything from it!"

"Oh, I definitely disagree... HAND OVER THE SHIELD!"

"MAKE ME!"

I staggered forward from the recoil, the trap I placed on my shield activated that blasted anyone foolish enough to surprise me from behind. The voices of several men cried out in pain, I turned and saw at least two men down on the ground while two remained standing.

"Fools..." I thought.

"W-what was that?!" the other questioned.

"No matter! let's take him down, it only proves that shield is worth a lot!"

I took arms, as they charged at me with knives. I blocked their advance as I quickly disarmed them and bashed them unconscious with my trusty shield. Ranged attacks were never my expertise, so I honed my melee combat to the outmost level I could. My shield had always been my choice as I fitted my style and way of magically means into this unique fighting style. They never stood a chance.

"RAAHH!"

The voice of the man behind me reminded myself of his useless existence. Casually, I crouched on the ground and waved my hand to cast a trap in front of me. I went over it as I turned to face my enemy.

"Was that all you got?!" I mocked.

Stupidly enough he came bolting towards me, screaming like a mad man. The moment he stepped on the trap, a struck of electricity paralyzed him causing him to fall to the ground.

"W-when did y-you?"

I shrugged off his question as I knocked him to the ground.

"Why were you tailing me?"

He didn't respond. I pressured his neck with the shield as I punched his ugly face. I asked the same thing again but he still wouldn't talk. After a few hits he gave out.

"We o-only wafted the shielf! There'sh no one elsh! Shpare me..."

Seems like he was telling the truth, I knocked him out cold. I wasted time because of this hopeless thugs, hurriedly I went back to the our promised meeting place.

In time I returned to the same area we agreed to earlier. There I met them as they casually waited for me, I told them of the good news but what followed after that was the bad news that came with it. Eventually I decided that we'll inform the higher ranked officers by regrouping with the Bardel and his squadron. It wasn't my position to decide but I know that they'll make a logical move. We hastily left without wasting a shred of time we could spare. I prepared myself for a loud sermon from Bardel.

My discovery felt unordinary, it felt of some importance although I wasn't sure. Instinctively I could tell, this might be the same fabled facility that Madame Cordelia was always concerned around.

A storm was brewing in this depressed city of Black Market, I could feel it, my body felt tense; it's nearing...


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