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Thread: Faster Than Angels

  1. #921
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    Nov 2012
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    Default Faster Than Angels | Part 37.5

    The referenced album title of Part 37.4 was St. Anger by Metallica... you know, Saint, Holiness, Angel... oh, whatever. Sorry.

    [s2_29.5: Part 37.5] An Identity Revealed


    Sunday, November 8th, 2212

    Omega Harbour, Perth, Australia.

    "Hah, looks like it was me that gave you a taste of your own medicine. You need to relax, you're being too violent."

    "No! I will never relax! You have not once considered my feelings, and now I've had enough of everything! Do you hear me, Gareth Ardos? I. WILL. DESTROY. YOU."

    <blknanct | calla soiled_>


    "How is that giving me a taste of my own medicine?! Never have I ever used weapons on you, so why?"

    "...[sigh], I'm hurting psychologically, so I'm going to physically hurt you back."

    "Kyoko... Why? Why don't we just talk about it, instead of having this stupid, ugly display of violence, this fight to the death... it won't solve any problems."

    "It's the only way I can be calm, I just need to do this... I have so much... rage... built up inside me. I just... have to do this... to be free."

    "Free? You already are, right?"

    "Of course I'm not!"

    "Yes you are! You can just take off the mask, the helmet... just be yourself!"

    "I can't!"

    "Then why... why do you need to be freed?"

    "Because... because... I... I just can't free myself."

    "How come? Tell me, please! I'm trying to help you."

    "You can't help me."

    "Again, why not?"


    "Just tell me why you can't free yourself."





    A large purple sphere of energy shot from the tailing craft, which missed Gareth's by mere centimetres.

    "WHAT?! How did you avoid that?!"

    "I'm in an Angelus Xygen V, it's only natural I can avoid that. If you can maneuver that craft like some kind of angel, then so can I."

    "You... YOU! D-Die... DIE! JUST F*CKING DIE!" Kyoko screamed.

    "Brandon, I know you're listening. A question: What the hell?!" Gareth asked, he had to know, for his sake, and the broken Kyoko. Brandon hesitated for a moment, before answering him.

    "I'll explain when the race is over."

    "It nearly is over, this is the last lap!"

    <final lap_>

    The final lap was as violent as ever, Kyoko trying everything in her power to eliminate Gareth. However, it had proved futile.

    "Not even an Angelus can hit an Angelus... fine then."

    At that point, she ran over a weapon pickup.

    "HAH! I didn't want the race to boil down to pure luck, but I'll take what I can. Goodbye, Gareth! This is it, the final win by Kyoko Fujisaki! Ugh, I feel like sh*t just saying that name, I just want this to end."


    <race complete_>

    <first place_>

    Kyoko and Gareth passed the finish line. The difference was so close, however that the two pilots had no idea who came first, just that it was a 1-2 win for Angelus. As the other pilots passed the line, Gareth got out, and rushed over to Kyoko, who was out of her craft. She turned to leave without a word, but Brandon appeared in her line of escape.

    "Goddamnit! Why can't you LEAVE ME ALONE?!" She yelled, turning around and facing Gareth.

    "I'm concerned about you, we all are. That performance was... well, it wasn't like you."

    "No sh*t, I just had to end it all, by any means necessary. Your feelings, my despair, EVERYTHING!"


    At the mere mention of that name, she screamed, a scream that was louder and more despair filled than any sound she had made in her life.

    "AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH! SHUT UP! SHUT! THE F*CK! UP! I've had to live with that f*cking name for almost 3 whole years! I told you... I told you I have had enough! Just... just call me by my REAL F*CKING NAME!"

    Ky... The girl standing before them opened up her helmet and tore it off her head in one fell swoop, hurling it to the ground so hard that it bounced. Her face was just as emotional as one would expect. Anger, sadness, frustration and many more were mixed into one ugly shade of despair.

    "My name... is Tarah Andrews. Got that? TARAH HAYLEY ANDREWS!"
    Last edited by Ace3000; 31st March 2017 at 03:37 AM.

  2. #922
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    Default Faster Than Angels | Part 37.6

    The referenced album title of Part 37.5 was 004 Identity by Monstercat.

    [s2_29.6: Part 37.6] End of a Pilot's Reign


    Sunday, November 8th, 2212

    Omega Harbour, Perth, Australia.

    The girl standing before them opened up her helmet, the lights surrounding it flickering off, and tore it off her head in one fell swoop, hurling it to the ground so hard that it bounced. Her face was just as emotional as one would expect. Anger, sadness, frustration and many more were mixed into one ugly shade of despair.

    "My name... is Tarah Andrews. Got that? TARAH HAYLEY ANDREWS!"


    "Finally! You finally speak my real name!"

    "Tarah, what the hell? I know you, you wouldn't take the violence that far!"

    "Oh, would I? Well, I quite obviously did! Look at you, trying to follow in my footsteps. How... pitiful."

    "T-Tarah... what... what the hell? Are you feeling alright?"

    "I feel fine! So... completely...... f-fine......"

    Gareth shook his head. "Dammit, Tarah, SNAP OUT OF IT! This is not like you!"

    His yelling caused her to blink, seemingly snapping out of whatever trance she was in.

    "...I-I... I..."

    She looked down, and sighed, looking back up.

    "I know it's not, but... I don't know, I think I'm broken. Heh... no. I'm definitely broken. I just have these... these extremely violent tendencies... I just... All I can think about is violence, destruction, hurt, kill! AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH.... WHY?! H... HELP ME!"

    Filled with rage and hatred for herself, wanting it to all end, she stepped backwards, before breaking out into a sprint... right into Brandon, who wrapped his arms around her, in a soft, warm embrace. It helped though, instead of yelling and raging, she started to break down and cry, her knees giving out and buckling.

    "Help me... please. Just make it stop." She pleaded softly.

    "It's fine, I anticipated this. Remember the AG pod? I had it built in case of an emergency. Anyway, even though the damage is done already, we need to get back now, to prevent further damage. Come, let's go."

    "M'kay." She mumbled, tears in her eyes, as Brandon headed to the car park, still holding Tarah in his arms.

    When they got in the car, Brandon set off, priming the Razer.X's Fury mode while they were moving. Once he had it warming up, he planted his foot down, the car accelerating at a decent rate. When he was out of the car park itself and on the piece of road leading out of the course, he finally activated Fury mode, adding 263hp to the car's power output. An addition to the mode was that the azure body light strips would light up no matter what.

    As Brandon raced between the traffic, Tarah curled herself up in a ball, muttering "I'm sorry" and "Save me" over and over again. Then, in an even softer, sadder voice...

    "K-Kill me."

    Brandon had noticed, and placed a hand on her head, speaking softly. "Hey. It'll be alright. Why do you think I'm going so fast? I'm helping you."

    A soft whimper came from the direction of Tarah as a response.

    The climb up the many levels of the multi-story car park of Angelus' HQ seemed to take forever, but eventually, Brandon reached the highest level. He slid to a halt at one of the spaces and got out, rushing to the other end and helping her out of the car. They ran all the way to the R&D area of the building, after a quick stop over to the kitchen. One section of the R&D area was blocked off by a security door. Brandon entered the passcode as quickly as possible, his fingers a blur as he quickly punched out the keys. When they entered, there was only one object in the smaller room. At the far end was a large device with a thick glass door at the front. Brandon entered another passcode at the glass door, which opened the instant he pushed the enter button.

    "The AG Stasis Pod. Like the name suggests, this keeps you suspended in an AG stasis field, while it pumps purified air into the chamber."

    "Purified air?"

    "Ah, that's right... you don't know of it. Here, take this."

    Tarah took the object in Brandon's hand, a cold drink can "Wait, this is..."

    "Your favourite. Please, drink up, it'll take a while to explain." Brandon started, explaining The Condition to her, while she cracked open the can and drank from it.

    "I... have that?!"

    "Yeah, that's where the purified air comes in. With it, you won't be inhaling the toxin."

    "So how long do I have to be in there until I'm cured?"

    "The Condition is airborne, if you exit the pod, you'll just get the symptoms all over again. We are working on an actual cure, but it requires reverse engineering the chemical. We could have used purifiers, but the cost to effectiveness would have not been financially viable."

    "Okay, I understand now..." She replied as she gave the now empty can to Brandon and stepped inside the machine. She looked at him, and said softly, "I'm sorry, I don't think I deserve to see your face until I'm cured. Really, I'm so sorry." Tears began to well up in her eyes.

    "It's fine..." Brandon reassured her, "I'm... sorry too."

    He closed the door and started the machine. The last thing Tarah saw before the stasis field took effect was Brandon's face, which seemed sad, and was quite teary as well. He turned around and silently walked away, locking the main door behind him.

    "Are you okay?" A guard asked him.

    "Huh? Oh." Brandon was confused for a moment, but then realised why he was asked that and wiped his eyes. "Yeah, I'm fine. Oh, right. I need to use the conference room for a bit, then I'm done here for the night."

    "Sure thing."

    In the conference room, he called the rest of the team, still at Omega Harbour.

    "Hey team. Those who are with clean-up, you know what to do, pack up and send everything back to HQ. For the rest of you, you're free to leave for the night. Go home, you all deserve a good rest."

    "What about Tarah? How is she?"

    "Tarah..." His voice caught in his throat, "No, I'll explain tomorrow, I just want this day to be over."

    "Wait, wh-"

    Brandon cut the connection before anyone could ask any more questions. Not that that stopped anyone. As he was walking to his car in the carpark, he got a call. He looked at the ID and saw it was...

    "Damnit, Gareth, I said I'd explain tomorrow!"

    "I know, just... Kyo-Tarah left some stuff here."

    "What stuff?"

    "Like, her bag and some other belongings. What should I do with them?"

    Brandon thought for a moment, before answering, "I'm on my way home now, meet me there. Bring her stuff."


  3. #923
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    Default Faster Than Angels | Part 37.7

    The referenced album title of Part 37.6 was End of an Empire by Celldweller.

    [s2_29.7: Part 37.7] The Aftermath


    Sunday, November 8th, 2212

    Brandon's house, Perth, Australia.


    As Brandon crawled up the driveway, he saw the deep blue M-Type sitting outside his house. Standing between Brandon's car and the garage was Gareth, who moved to the side when he saw him.

    "Brandon," He started.

    "Let me get inside first." Brandon cut him off, pressing forth, the black car crawling into the garage.

    Brandon's garage, while looking like it could only hold one car on the outside, housed an elevator that went underground to his true garage, which held many cars he had owned over the years. He parked his current car, and got out, taking a second, smaller elevator up to his house. From there, he went to the front door and opened it.

    "Okay, now for Tarah's stuff." He said.

    "Sure." Gareth said reluctantly, going to his car and taking out her belongings, giving them to Brandon.


    "Please... just answer me one question!"

    "Is it about Tarah?"


    "Then no. I'll explain tomorrow. Thanks for her things." He replied, closing the door.

    "Ow!" Gareth exclaimed, as the door slammed into his foot he had placed between the door so it wouldn't close.

    "Wh-..." He started, before looking down and seeing his foot in the way. "That was your own fault."

    "Just answer me! Is... Is she dead?!"

    "Why would she be dead? She's very much alive. That's all I'm saying. Everything will be explained tomorrow. She is safe, trust me."

    "[sigh], fine. I'll see you tomorrow then."

    A look of sadness briefly appeared on Brandon's face as he closed the door, completely done with the day.


    Monday, November 9th, 2212

    Angelus R&D HQ, Perth, Australia.


    Brandon started the day by keeping his promise, and began revealing the truth of the cause of the prior day's events.

    "I told you that I would explain what happened during the events of the recent Omega Harbour race... so here it is. Kyoko Fujisaki was, in actuality, our beloved pilot Tarah Andrews. I had made her adopt the pseudonym to protect her, since by announcing our new relationship, I had inadvertently made her a target to get at me. The Christmas '10 incident was proof of that.

    "However, little did I know that there was something in the air. Literally. In the air right now, there is a chemical that was released 3 years ago. The chemical was originally an active ingredient to a drug used by Tigron to make their pilots more violent. Don't worry, not all of you are susceptible... however, there are some people who are, Tarah included.

    "This explains her performance in the last race, she was under the effects of the chemical, which we call The Condition. After the race ended, I immediately took her to... a certain location. I had the AG pod moved there and placed her inside it. I feel I can reveal the details of the pod's workings.

    "The Anti-Gravity Stasis Pod places the user in an AG stasis field, while it continually pumps filtered air through the chamber. It is by no means a cure for The Condition, there's something massive in the works for that, but it does help remove the chemical from the affected person's system naturally, which in turn removes the symptoms.

    "This means that until the cure is developed and deployed, Tarah will not be participating in any AG league, be it the F12000 or any league after. I've been thinking and discussing our options, and we can do one of two things. We can either drop the second pilot and have Gareth be our one and only pilot, or we ask around. In any case, we will have a final roster for the final 2212 race and onward."

    After the meeting Brandon asked around for a pilot. The responses ranged from "Getting me ready in 2 weeks time is just impossible" to a flat out "No.", to...

    "H-huh? No... that's not happening. I'm not racing. I told you already, I'm only wanting to help behind the scenes, I'd rather not fly for you, even under a pseudonym." Alex replied in response to Brandon's request. "Besides, everyone knows of the whole Tarah being in a disguise thing, they wouldn't buy it if I did it."

    It seemed that there was just no-one willing to race, and naturally so. Knowing that, Brandon moved on, finding who was now the only pilot of Angelus, sitting at the lounge.

    "Gareth, a word, if you don't mind?" He asked, getting the other man's attention, who looked up and nodded.

    "Sure, what's up?"

    Brandon sat near him, and began what he wanted to speak with him about. "Now, I've always known you were a good pilot, but not as good as Tarah with actual races, or so I thought. I just reviewed your race at Omega Harbour, and... I don't know how to say this... ah... it was nothing short of perfect!"

    "It... really? Well, thanks."

    "Could you do it again? For every race?"

    Gareth blinked, looking quite shocked. Nervously, he looked around, then sighed and looked at his feet. "I... don't know. I've always raced in styles I found fun. In that race, I had a target, a purpose... and chasing Ky-Tarah down was the most fun I ever had. I was determined to win, to beat her, and with her gone, I'm not sure I can do it again."

    "See, you're wrong." Brandon shook his head. "You just proved it yourself. You need the determination to win, the feeling, the confidence that you can win. It's why you are the best here at Zone runs. You are confident that you can win at them, thus, you do. If you put that confidence in racing, you can win. You have the potential to be as good as Tarah."

    That pep-talk raised his spirits, he looked much happier now. "Okay... I'll do it!"

    Brandon smiled too, nodding slightly. "Good. Now, Tarah left one last high score on the simulator... I want you, as a test, as training, to beat that record. You can do it... you will do it."

    And his spirits left him once more. He knew of the high score, a previously unattainable target for him. But Brandon having faith in him did bring his confidence up. "I... err... I'll try."

    "No. You will. Confidence is key, Gareth. If you say you can do it, and you legitimately feel it, in your heart, in your whole being... then, it will happen."

    Clenching his fist, Gareth started psyching himself up, taking Brandon's confidence in him and making it his own. He had the talent, Brandon could see the talent in him, it was up to him to bring it out of himself. Suddenly, he shot up out of his seat.

    "Right... I will beat her record!"

    "That's the spirit." Brandon said, standing up too.

    Seeing him stand up, Gareth started walking out of the room. Brandon ran after him, following him to the simulator room. He set it up for the remaining pilot, who was raring to go.

    "Alright, let's do this!"

    "...I lost, damn it!"

    That was the case, Gareth did, indeed lose to Tarah's final record. However...

    "Now, you see?" Brandon commented, "I didn't say you'd get it first try... but look! You've beaten your own record by a gargantuan amount! You should not let this loss get you down. Keep practising, keep your confidence and you will definitely get there."

    That was an undeniable fact, he had done far better than he did before, and because of that, he smiled happily. "Thanks, mate. Thank you so much. I still believe I can do this."

    "Excellent! Shall we go again?"

    >>logs[22100311|22120131](2) are now available for public viewing
    >>logs downloading...
    >>estimated download time: 6 hours
    >>download: complete_
    Last edited by Ace3000; 2nd May 2017 at 06:54 AM.

  4. #924
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    >>log_02: 22100321_

    Thursday, March 21st, 2210

    Angelus R&D HQ, Perth, Australia


    As soon as she walked in, Brandon disabled the CCTV in his office.

    "Tarah, I need to discuss something with you."

    "What?" She asked coldly.

    "Look, I'm sorry about the other day, I had to make a scene."


    "To save you."

    "...??" A confused look was on her face

    "See, because we've grown close, there are some people who want to use you to get at me."


    "It's fine, I've had time to think about it, and the only safe option for you is to hide under a disguise."

    "A disguise?"

    "Next Monday, Tarah Andrews will resign from Angelus R&D, and so I will have to search for a new pilot. One or two weeks later, I will find someone. A 'Kyoko Fujisaki'."

    "Kyoko Fujisaki?" She repeated.

    "Basically, your disguise." He went on to describe her personality and appearance. "She is never seen in public without her helmet on. In fact, she is almost always seen wearing her full racing suit. She rarely comes to Angelus, only doing so to train, and even then, she makes sure she is never seen."

    "Alright, I think I got it."

    "Oh, and she also speaks Japanese. Don't worry though, I've got a translator in development. When you'll be speaking English with the translator off, people will think it's on and vice-versa."

    "You... really thought this through, didn't you?"

    "For every situation, I always think several steps ahead. I've always joked that I'd be quite good at chess, if I had any interest in the game in the first place!"

    She moved to a quite shy-looking position, then spoke, blushing. "Well... d-did you think of... this step?"

    She suddenly leapt up on the desk, grabbing Brandon by the shirt and pulling him in for a passionate kiss.


    After pulling away, she took a large breath, "I just had to do that. I-I'm just so glad that you still love me, cause I still love you! Tonight... th-that will be our first..." Her usual happy demeanour had returned once more.



    <!--end log-->

  5. #925
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    Default Faster Than Angels | Part 38

    The referenced album title of Part 37.7 was 012 Aftermath by Monstercat.

    [s2_30.0: Part 38.0] Brace for the End


    Wednesday, November 18th, 2212

    Location Unknown.

    "This is it, our final meeting before the plan is undertaken." CO-02 opened with, beginning the final meeting between the Crinale Originals and Alex. Lucia would have attended, but was busy pretending to practice for the final race of 2212.

    "So, we've had a recent development. According to one source of ours, Syncline are attempting to take the team from the inside."

    "We have done some negotiations with them," CO-04 spoke up. "And they have agreed upon our plan."

    "That explains it," Alex replied, in realisation. "I, too, have been in contact with that group. They contacted me recently, questioning me about the credibility and trustworthiness of you all. Naturally, I told them the truth. We've all matured, become wiser. 2210 was a major tipping point in Crinale, not just because of the change in leadership, but because we've realised our true goals. I told Syncline that the CO's and my new goals are to still provide entertainment, but through a rivalry with Angelus, nothing further. I still stand by the fact that I don't particularly prefer their ideals of a high handling, low shield craft, but I can now agree that a new F9000 is not what this sport needs. The F12000 will definitely fall soon, but first things first, my team needs to be back in my hands."

    "Exactly." CO-02 agreed with her, "We could not agree more. Now, back on topic. Syncline have also decided to aid us in taking Crinale back."

    "As does Angelus. Brandon will be accompanying us."

    "That is fine. We need to fight against the greater evil."

    "True. Now, about OE-0."

    "We know where our target is being held up." CO-09 replied, hearing the codename for their target. "Or more, where they will be. I am sure you are aware of a construct called Преисподняя?"

    "Tch, right, that Russian fortress that's been said to be impenetrable." Alex said

    "Viktor is still the Tsar of Russia, that is the one place he would think he would be safe. However, thanks to some data we've obtained, we now know that to not be the case."

    "Ah, that data I got from Brandon?"

    "Yes. The one showing weaknesses in the fortress' security systems."

    "I'm curious," CO-13 asked. "How did he obtain that data?"

    Alex shrugged. "I asked him, but he wouldn't tell me. Something only he knows about, apparently."

    "We can pursue that later on, after this is over." CO-02 cut in, trying to bring them back on topic. "Now, we've spoken to Lucia, and she knows what to do. Oh, there is one small thing though, Alex."

    "Go on."

    "She was almost ready to give up on Crinale and quit the team."

    "That's quite problematic, I was hoping she'd stay. She has an amazing talent that I've never seen anywhere else."

    "I was thinking you'd say that. We have convinced her to stay long enough to hear you out, once this whole thing's over."

    "I can only hope she'll stay. It will be a very different team to the one she knows. What about the other one, Leon?"

    "Leon races because he enjoys it, there is no doubt that he would stay because of that, no matter what happens."

    "Perfect. I cannot deny that he has talent too, guess he takes after Naomi."

    "So, the people going to the rendezvous are all 10 of us, Alex, Lucia and Brandon?" CO-06 asked.

    "Yes." CO-02 replied. "We do not need irrelevant people getting caught up in this, on the off-chance this all goes horribly wrong. Brandon can hold his own, and Lucia's too far into this to back out now, not that we can stop her now, anyway."

    "Heh, that's true." CO-11 joked.

    "In addition, Syncline have helped us in preparing Lucia for combat."

    "I thought she was against it?" CO-03 queried.

    "Only on the track, when it is unnecessary." CO-06 answered them.

    "Alright," CO-02 concluded, realising they had come to a natural ending point for their conference. "Late tomorrow, we all meet up at Point 12-D3. From then on, we go about our day. On race day, we meet up at Point A-12 and move on from there, Brandon will meet up at Point 0 after the race starts. That is all."

    "Everyone should now begin preparations for the plan." CO-13 added. "I shouldn't have to say that this is something that should not be taken lightly."

    "Indeed. Ending transmission."

  6. #926
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    Default Faster Than Angels | Part 39.1

    The referenced album title of Part 38 was Brace by Birds of Tokyo. In addition, it's also a reference to a lyric in the chorus of the title track.

    [s2_31.1: Part 39.1] Arrival of the Hunting Party


    Thursday, November 19th, 2212

    Unknown Location [Point 12-D3], Russia.


    The sound of a helicopter filled the dark, windy night sky of Moscow. Atop a certain skyscraper was a heliport, the destination of the helicopter's passenger. The location was referred to the current occupants as Point 12-D3, a minor meeting point for those related to a certain plan to be carried out. Eleven individuals stood on that roof, their hair and clothes moving in the wind. All eleven of them looked up upon hearing the sound of the aircraft arriving, which was difficult to see in the overcast weather.

    "She's here." One of the ten suited individuals spoke, to the remaining person, who was wearing a leather jacket to keep warm in the cold weather.

    As the girl nodded, the helicopter came into view, coming in to land on the heliport. The door opened, one person getting out. She was a woman, of taller than average height, with dark, shoulder-length hair. She was wearing, all in black, a turtleneck crop-top, pants and a rather long coat. The coat was unzipped, had the collar flipped up to shield her neck from the wind, and was flapping in both the natural wind, and the flow of air created by the helicopter's rotors.

    Sliding her hands in her coat's pockets, the woman started walking towards the group of people, as the helicopter took off, making its journey back, making the coat and even her hair move about in the wind. Her green eyes scanned the populated area, seeing the ten suited people she knew well and the one girl in the leather jacket, that she did not. Once she had gotten close enough, she held out her hand, and spoke to the girl.

    "My name is Alexandra Kotova, founder and former Director of Crinale. I've heard a lot about you."

    The girl looked down at the woman's hand, then back up at her face. "Lucia Scarlatti, I just want this over. I agreed to stay to hear you out, so let's hear it, why should I stay?"

    Alex smiled, dropping her hand gracefully. "You said it yourself, you'd rather get this over with. Let's just focus on the plan, We can talk about that afterwards."

    A few seconds of silent consideration later, Lucia sighed. "Fine, let's get out of here, then. It's cold as sh*t."

    The woman couldn't help but chuckle. "Welcome to my homeland, Lucia. It's always cold here." She then turned to the rest of the people that were there to greet her. "It's good to see you all again."

    CO-02 was the one to reply, but it was no surprise that they did speak for them all. "It's good to finally see you again, too, Alex. Frankly, we've missed you."

    "Thank you, I've missed you all too. Anyway, let's go, we can talk on the way out."

    Spinning around, the woman started walking to the entrance of the building, her coat swishing and flapping in the wind. The group of 11 started following her, making their way down and out of the tall building, starting to make their way to where they would be for most of that weekend.

    As she looked ahead, Alex spoke to her former group members. "So what's the situation on OE-0?"

    CO-02, again, was the one to respond. "Everything is normal. The plan is going smoothly."

    "Perfect. This is the one time we have to do this. The sooner the better."

    "However, it would not do well to have the one plan. We've devised a backup plan, should this one fail. However, it's a last resort, all of our attention will be focused upon this plan."

    "Hopefully, we will not have any use for that backup plan, but you're right, it wouldn't be smart to have nothing to fall back on." Alex then looked to Lucia. "While I have heard much about you, one thing I have not heard is your reasoning for accepting to take part in this plan. If you don't mind, could you tell me?"

    "This team is sh*t. They don't care about proper racing strategy, they just want pilots who would mindlessly destroy the competition, not winning through actual racing talent and strategy."

    "Hmm..." Alex contemplated.

    "That's not all though, they'd even go so far as to attack me for just planning out the perfect route around a circuit."

    Lucia flipped her hair away from her face, pulling it behind her ear.

    "You probably can't see it in the dark, but I've got a scar from when they did it. Cut my face open with... well, I don't even know what it was, they swiped at me so quickly. One minute I was threatening to walk out, the next I was on the floor, and in f*cking agony."

    "And... exactly how far are you willing to go with this plan?"

    The leather jacket-clad young woman stepped in front of the older woman, and stared up, directly into her eyes. "I will kill the bastard with my bare f*cking hands if I so damn well need to."

    A few seconds had passed. The two women looked at each other wordlessly. Just as silently, the taller woman removed her hand from her coat pockets and placed it onto the shorter girl's shoulder.

    "Well, then. You definitely seem to have the resolve. I just had to test that, sorry."

    Lucia sighed. "Fine, do what you must. Just... don't kick me off this... 'plan', okay? I still want this done, I still want them dead."

    "That would be counter-productive. I'm not going to kick you off. You've come this far, and the COs trust you enough."

    They had travelled about half of the way back. At that point, Alex split off from the group.

    "I'll meet up with Angelus, this is where we depart. Remember, no contact until the day of the race. You should all know what to do."

    With that she turned and headed for another location, one planned beforehand by the team that was helping her.

    Vnukovo International Airport, Moscow, Russia


    At that moment, that certain team had arrived at Vnukovo International Airport. The team leader had a plan set out, and upon landing, had put that plan into effect. He informed the team to send the craft, relevant personnel and other mechanical and technical things to the track's location, and the pilot, the rest of the personnel and their belongings to the hotel they had been provided with.

    After taking his belongings and getting through customs, he set off, walking out of the airport and starting to look for a rented, but still relatively new Neko, the compact car from the team's motor car branch. He had got the car delivered to the airport in advance, and obtained the key after providing them with his credentials. At last, he had found it, a small, familiar car, in a red paintjob. Putting the two suitcases in the back, he got into the car and drove off.

    The man drove, not to the track or the hotel his team had been provided with, but another location entirely. It was a square near a skyscraper with a heliport on top of it. That location was where he was to meet up with a woman, and take her back to the track with him.

  7. #927
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    Default Faster Than Angels | Part 39.2

    The referenced album title of Part 39.1 was The Hunting Party by Linkin Park.

    [s2_31.2: Part 39.2] Assembling The Resistance


    Thursday, November 19th, 2212

    Unknown Location, Russia.


    Alex was waiting at the square she had planned to meet up at, which lay between a few buildings. The wait wasn't that long, when the sound of an inline-4 grabbed her attention. Looking around, she saw a red compact driving up to the square, parking by it. Having seen the car's design before, she walked up to the car and knocked on the window. The driver lowered it and looked out at her.

    "Alex." Brandon greeted her. "Did everything go well?"

    Knowing it was the person she was waiting for, Alex walked over to the passenger's side of the car, and got in. "I had no doubt that it would. The plan's still on."

    Brandon's usual smile filled his face. "Fantastic."

    "Oh, on a side note, did you bring my stuff?"

    "Yeah, it's in the back. Ready to go?"

    "Let's move."

    A simple nod came as Brandon's response, as he started to drive to the final course in the F12000's 2212 roster: Vohl Square II, a course that was originally in the F9000, but was updated to match the F12000's rules and regulations. As such, the long course no longer had the open area, an enclosed track section filled the gap and closed it off. However, apart from that, the overall layout was largely the same as the old version, even using the old track portions, albeit upgraded from the old 2150's surfaces to use modern materials.

    The two of them had arrived at the track, and met up with the rest of the Angelus employees, who were setting up for the final practice day.

    "As a track, I cannot deny that it is solid at the very least. As an idea for the roster... no. This guy really wants a new F9000, more so than you did." Brandon commented.

    "It's more so than you think, Brandon." Alex replied.


    "It's not so much that he wants an F9000, more so that he has his new F9000. This is just the first season, so there's not that much in way of illegalities. For a comparison, the best example would be the debut season, the 2154 season."

    "Hmm, you're right. That is why we must destroy this league before it gets to the truly horrible stuff."

    "Definitely. But we must not bite off more than we can chew."

    "If I didn't know that, I would be going straight for the league in the first place, not taking the time to meticulously go over the plan to get your team back."

    "You have a point. Still, I appreciate your help."

    "No problem."

    He walked over to the technicians and mechanics working on setting up for the race, looking over their set-up and ensuring that everything was alright. Soon, though, it became late, so Brandon decided to leave for the night.

    "There's nothing I need to stay here for. We're done for the night, you can continue any work that still needs to be done in the morning. See ya."


    Friday, November 20th, 2212

    Vohl Square II, Moscow, Russia.


    The next day, the final settings were made to the only craft Angelus brought, the one used by Gareth Ardos. Once it was complete, they decided to send him out, to get a feel for the course, and to make any fine adjustments to the craft's tuning. Due to the changes in the pilot line-up, when Gareth was called back for the first of his craft's fine-tuning, they decided to deviate from the norm.

    "Alright, so before, we used to just tune the craft based on the data it sends back to us, but for this round, I'd like you to give us the feedback. What should we change and by how much?"

    Gareth looked surprised. "Huh? Uh... I didn't know we were going to do it like that. But... perhaps, maybe..."

    He made a note of how the craft handled, and gave suggestions on what they could do to prevent the negative parts, and how to improve the craft's overall speed through not only the corners, but the various complexes the course had. Such adjustments included how much the craft bounced on the track when moving over bumpy or hilly sections, the tilt angle when going through a corner and how fast it tilted, and the force the airbrake provided along with how long it took to completely deploy and retract.

    The process to set the craft up to Gareth's liking took the whole day, going back and forth between going on the track and bringing it back for further fine-tuning, but it was ready for the qualifying round, and the race itself.


    Saturday, November 21th, 2212

    Vohl Square II, Moscow, Russia.


    For the qualifier, two different settings were used. One of those were the settings the team would have used had they used the data sent back, the other being Gareth's set-up. Both seemed to be fairly similar, but with the latter set-up, Gareth was able to post much faster lap times.

    "...amazing. I never knew I had that in me!"

    It was a very fast time indeed, but it wasn't fast enough to get pole position. However, Brandon spoke to him, giving him a sort of pep-talk.

    "It is very fast... but I know this craft is capable of so much more. Keep going, I know you can do it. Push for pole."

    "U-uh... okay. I'll t-... I'll do it."

    "That's it." Brandon replied with a smile.

    Gareth did push harder, and made full use of his own set-up. Unfortunately, he had slipped into his Zone mindset, and... zoned out. He had not realised until he heard people yelling into his communications system that he had actually set a league record 6 consecutive times.

  8. #928
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    Default Faster Than Angels | Part 39.3

    The referenced album title of Part 39.2 was The Resistance by Muse.

    [s2_31.3: Part 39.3] Fighting the Juggernaut: Alpha


    Sunday, November 22th, 2212

    Vohl Square II, Moscow, Russia.


    More spectators were present at the racetrack than usual, as it was the final race of the year. All of the teams were busy preparing, making final fine-adjustments to almost everything they could. Angelus, while also working hard, didn't particularly need to change anything regarding the craft, as it had already been tuned to near-perfection with Gareth's help.

    "Well, this is the final race of the season." Brandon spoke to his team, "Let's hope that everything becomes better after this. But let's just focus on this race. Once again, we're given reminders of the old F9000, this whole course is one of them, Vohl Square II. It will be tricky, but I have faith in my craft and my pilot. Now, unfortunately, I won't be able to oversee the race, I have some important business to attend to. However, like I said, I have no doubt that Gareth will be able to do a very good job. Alright, let's get ready to race."

    Upon hearing the 5 minute warning, everyone split up. Gareth and some technicians headed to the craft, where the sole remaining pilot got in, and was assisted up to the start grid. Brandon and other engineers went up to the control room and the rest stayed where they were, working on making the race as smooth as it could go.

    At long last, their 5 minutes were up, and the race began.


    At Crinale's pits, while the various team members were trying to get ready for the race, they could not find Lucia anywhere. She, as far as they were aware, had disappeared off the face of the earth. Not even her phone was working, as if it were turned off. Because of that, upon the 5 minute warning sounding, the F12000 officials had to bring the positions after her up, the 27th ranked racer being allowed to race.

    What they didn't know was that she had met up with the COs, at what they had called Point A-12. They were on board a small rented bus, and were on their way to Point 0, where they would wait for Brandon to meet up with them, which would only happen a certain time after the race began.

    3, 2, 1... GO!
    <vohl square ii: short fwd_>
    <race: lap 01 of 88_>

    ARD889.0.19.194 (#19 | Gareth Ardos | AX2.0_r3)
    02. TUR847.1.13.329 (#13 | Leon Turner | F0-RA8/00191)

    <zero searcher | desimal_>

    "Alright, that's my leave, see you soon." Brandon said, walking out.

    As the control room's occupants waved Brandon out, they saw the craft shoot off at an incredible speed. Like the last race, Gareth's start was different to any other race he participated in. This time, his racing style was more aggressive, but not violent, as his new evolution made him want to win more than anything else. While he did have the choice, he decided to stick with his usual craft, instead of using Tarah's, with it's unique livery.

    While tuned to his liking, Gareth also had his craft upgraded again. He had a prototype thrust system installed into his craft, all to give him the edge over the competition. However, he wasn't the only one to upgrade his craft. Leon had also paid for yet more upgrades to his craft, making his craft's weapon systems more powerful. Those upgrades cancelled each other out, as no one pilot had the upper hand.

    Another reason why was that due to extensive practice on their home circuit, Crinale were able to keep up with Gareth. While the latter had received adequate practice, he could not get as much practice as Crinale did. Had Lucia been racing, she would have been so far ahead, Gareth would've had a very slim chance of catching up to her, despite the fact that he was racing much faster than he used to.

    Because he knew the course extremely well, Leon was able to sideshift out of the way of some mines placed in a rather difficult corner, and realign himself for the rest of the corner, so when he exited it, he was in just the right position for the next corner, where he let out some missiles when he locked onto the azure craft...

    Point 0, Outside Preispodnyaya, Russia


    A small red car slid to a stop from quite a high speed. It stopped next to what looked to be a small bus, a group of 12 people standing by it, some looking at various "equipment" inside the bus' storage area. One woman, clad in a rather long coat in particular saw the tiny compact speed up to and stop near the larger transport. Seeing the driver step out, she greeted him.

    "Brandon, you finally made it."

    "I got here as fast as I could." Brandon replied. "We all ready?"

    "Yes. All that is needed is for you to pull that thread and destroy the security, then we can proceed."

    "Right, on it."

    Brandon reached into the car and pulled out a laptop from the passenger's seat. Opening it and turning it on, he executed a program on it, bringing up a rather large list of files. He selected one of them after scrolling down for a while and passed it over to Alex.

    "Here, I am sure one of you can get how to bring it down. I just uncovered the data on this place's weaknesses."

    Immediately, she passed it over to CO-11, telling him. "I'm sure you can do it, with 02 and maybe 05's help."

    Looking over the data with the other two COs she mentioned, they were all able to find out how to bring the entire security system down, including the confinement cage, and all would have been possible with the very laptop that was in their hands. Of course, it was a very small, obscure opening, one that was easily overlooked. So, that begged the question.

    "I really have to know, how did you get by this information?" Alex asked him.

    "Is that really important?" Was Brandon's reply, complete with emotionless smile.

    "It is."

    "Okay, let's just say I obtained the data on the security and looked it over until I found the security hole. Would that suffice?"

    "And how did you get such sensitive information?"

    "[sigh], let's just sa-"

    "Let's just say you actually tell me the truth, hmm?"

    Brandon's smile faltered, leaving just a cold glare in her direction. "Hey. I work hard, just as you do. We may not agree on everything, but we have a common goal. How about we just work together towards that goal and not scrutinise anyone until we get this job done, okay?"

    Alex remained in her stance, ready to fire off another counterargument, but decided against it.

    "Tch, fine. 02, 05, 11, are you ready to kill this place?"

    "Yep, we know exactly what we can do with the info we have."

    "Then get on it."

    As she gave them the order, they instantly set to work, configuring everything needed to connect to the security systems, after asking Brandon if they could tamper with his laptop, and getting the response of "Sure, I got it solely for this operation. Destroy it if you want, I don't care what happens to it. Although..."

    Brandon took control temporarily, killing a certain process and unplugging something.

    "That's rather important, wouldn't want anyone taking control of that. Please, continue."

    After that, they continued their work, completing it after a very short while. Looking at each other, then Alex and Brandon, they activated the metaphorical kill-switch after both gave them an approving nod. A low hum emanated from the building, before slowly dying out. The first hurdle was done, as the entire security system of the fortress fell apart.

    "Alright. Get ready, grab the stuff, we're going in!" Alex commanded.

  9. #929
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    Default Faster Than Angels | Part 39.4

    The referenced album title of Part 39.3 was Juggernaut: Alpha, the first half of a double album by Periphery.

    [s2_31.4: Part 39.4] Between Two Worlds


    Sunday, November 22th, 2212

    Point 0, Outside Preispodnyaya, Russia.


    "Alright. Get ready, grab the stuff, we're going in!" Alex commanded.

    Knowing that time was of the essence, no-one had the time to complain about the fact that they were expected to just simply walk into the front doors of the place. The quicker they moved, the less time they would give their target to compose themselves from the initial confusion and escape. The 10 COs and Lucia grabbed a weapon each, and followed Alex and Brandon to the fortress itself, pulling the door open, and entered, ready to put the next phase of the plan into action...

    <vohl square ii: short fwd_>
    <race: lap 48 of 88_>

    TUR847.1.13.329 (#13 | Leon Turner | F0-RA8/00191)
    03. ARD889.0.19.194 (#19 | Gareth Ardos | AX2.0_r3)

    <rinsa | photek_>

    For around 40 laps, Leon was playing a long game with Gareth. He planted enough weapons behind him to keep Viktor happy, but was also playing a strategy given to him by Lucia before her disappearance. He actively attempted to stay in the lead. Although, due to his advanced knowledge of the course, that task was easier than he had originally thought.

    Further down the pack, Gareth was having difficulty getting back ahead again. The main cause of his difficulties were due to him having to avoid the various mines and bombs planted by Leon. Although, there did seem to be a rather large amount of them, and Gareth had picked up on it. He opened his communication system and broke the quite lengthy silence.

    "Hey, what the hell is going on? Th--"



    Gareth was caught off mid-sentence, as he came within centimetres of tripping the bomb and pushing himself further behind.

    "This is not a racetrack, it's a freaking minefield! There's mines and bombs everywhere!"

    The person in charge of the communications system, in the absence of Brandon, spoke. "It's Leon, it's the only things he's getting. Something is definitely amiss, although we suspect this is more tampering of a circuit that's theirs."


    Since he was preoccupied with avoiding all the weaponry on the track, it took him a while to realise where they were getting at. "Wait, you mean like 2209?"

    "Exactly. Although, instead of banned weapons, it's giving them whatever weapons they like."

    "Tch, damn it! Can they even remotely make one single attempt to race fair?!"

    Gareth resumed his radio silence, passing the Jennter that ran into a bomb, strategically placed after some mines so that it was extremely difficult to avoid. As he passed the slowing craft, he was reminded of something, as he kept swerving and sideshifting to avoid the various mines on the track.

    'This feels like the final mission in that driving game I played a while back' He thought.

    His zone mindset also accounted for Zone Battles, so he was able to avoid most of the mines and bombs, apart from the odd unavoidable set. However, since he forced that mindset to be moulded to races as well, he had held his own, retaining a mild gap between him and Leon, which was neither widening nor shortening. Leon had closed the gap between their talents, they were now on equal footing.

    Had the mines not been there, he would have been able to catch up to the darker craft laying out the explosive obstacles. Or so he thought. On the 61st lap, Gareth's luck had turned on its head, as he was finally able to simultaneously destroy those obstacles and harm the pilot behind them...

    Preispodnyaya, Russia.


    10 similarly-dressed individuals, along with 3 others had successfully entered the fortress and were sneaking through the near defenceless building. The only defences remaining were the ones that weren't controlled through electronics: actual human guards. However, they had observed a route they could take, and were halfway through taking it. The route was one where there would be the least amount of guards along it.

    They made no noises, not even to speak. All of their communication was done through hand gestures, and even then, it was only related to the task at hand, navigating the building without being caught. Every so often, they would all move silently, swiftly, to the side, into one hallway, while they waited for the guard approaching their general location to move out of view. Once they were, they continued on, slipping out of their hiding place and sneaking as fast and as silently as they could...

    <timberwolf | muzzy_>

    ...The Crinale Originals, Lucia, Alex and Brandon kept moving, closing the distance between them and their target, bit by bit...

    Vohl Square II, Moscow, Russia.


    ...a clean track, free from any mines or bombs put a smile on his face, as he loosened his tightened grip on the controls...

    ...Gareth kept racing, closing the distance between him and his target, bit by bit...


    The two groups, fighting for their own reasons...

    ...the climax of both battles were simultaneously approaching...

    ...the final race of 2212 would bring an end to a lot more than just the racing season...

    ...and in the midst of it all... will...


  10. #930
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    Default Faster Than Angels | Part 39.5

    The referenced album title of Part 39.4 was Between II Worlds by Nero.

    [s2_31.5: Part 39.5] Overkill


    Sunday, November 22th, 2212

    <vohl square ii: short fwd_>
    <race: lap 61 of 88_>

    TUR847.1.13.329 (#13 | Leon Turner | F0-RA8/00191)
    02. ARD889.0.19.194 (#19 | Gareth Ardos | AX2.0_r3)

    <timberwolf | muzzy_>


    The wall of asphalt shot forward, following the track. What it left behind was a clean track, free from any mines or bombs. A smile appeared on Gareth's face as he loosened his tightened grip on the controls. He twitched his hands to the left, then turned the controls all the way to the right. The maneuver caused the craft to turn in a rather aggressive way. His mindset changed back to the one he had when the race began, as he attempted to make full use of the advantage given to him.

    His lap time had immediately improved, as he was able to use the whole track without having to worry about mines or bombs... until the quake had passed through Leon and he was free to begin laying them down again. But the damage was already done. The combination of having his mines and bombs destroyed, and being slowed down from the quake damaging him was all it took to bring Gareth so much closer to the black and orange craft.

    "Tch, damn it." Came the response of the Crinale pilot.

    As he got back up to speed, he decided to refrain from placing so many of the explosives on the track, only putting as much to let Gareth catch up to a certain extent, effectively laying dormant until the final lap, where he would launch his counter-attack to ensure his victory.

    For the first time since the massive amount of mines and bombs appearing, Gareth could see the craft putting them out. His hands were twisting the controls so quickly it seemed like they were snapping between only 3 directions: left, right and straight. The blindingly fast movements synced up with his craft's equally fast handling, propelling him along that much faster. Unfortunately, though, he wasn't close enough to Leon that missiles or rockets would be effective, only another quake.

    The laps were flying by, there were not that many left remaining. The higher that number grew, the more tension filled the air, not just in the two warring pilots' craft, but the audience spectating. Everyone was aware that, because of a lack of actual combat between them, there would be some massive tactical strategy that was waiting to be unleashed. Of course, they were right, but they did not know that.

    The final lap had come, it was almost time for the final phase of the two Crinale pilots' strategy to be carried out. As that final lap was raced, Leon allowed Gareth to close the gap between them ever so slightly, as he recalled the details of the plan once more in his mind...

    "You cannot afford to lose on our home course," Lucia began, "So here's what you do: Keep ahead of him, let him think up some strategy of passing you. Then, before he puts it into action, pull your airbrakes open, let him pass, then fire a weapon into him. Pass him and keep the lead. Don't leave it too early or late, you must only do it at the final lap, near the end, at just the right moment."

    "Hold up, I remember something similar..." Leon interjected.

    "Exactly. Kyoko, or Tarah, I guess I should call her now," She rolled her eyes. "She did a similar tactic, I just took it and made it into an actual strategy. No-one would think to intentionally slow down, so the tactic creates a lot of confusion that takes a long time to recover from. But still, if you leave it until too late, he will definitely fire a weapon at you first. That will cause you to lose."

    "Wait, what about you, then? Aren't you going to win?"

    She looked down, and then away. "I can't say anymore on that matter. It's not something you need to know."

    They were nearing the end, the final chicane series followed by the final longer corner was nearing, closer and closer. The time had come for that counter-attack to begin. As if mirroring the Omega Harbour race prior, Leon had slammed his airbrakes open. The heavy craft's speed dropped quite dramatically, allowing Gareth to pass him to fire the final weapon up his sleeve...

    Preispodnyaya, Russia.


    A stroke of luck, skill, and teamwork had brought all 13 individuals to their destination, behind a rather heavy set of doors. Under normal circumstances, that door would be barricaded with approximately 30 high security electronic locks. Every single one of those locks were rendered useless with the effective blackout imposed by the group of people now standing close to the door. However, there was one last hurdle. Or more, two.

    Two guards were standing outside the door, who looked like their sole purpose was to keep watch at all times. Looking at one another, two of the COs each brought up what looked like a pistol, close to their chest, their fingers on the trigger while they held it securely with both of their hands. After a brief nod, they moved as quickly as they could, as if they were professional combatants.

    CO-09 spun out from behind the wall, aiming the pistol at the guard to the right and firing two shots in quick succession.

    Just as blindingly fast, CO-12 rolled from the same wall, and in even quicker succession, fired two shots at the guard to the left.

    The guards had attempted to retaliate by aiming their own assault rifles at them, but all they could manage was moving it to face them, before getting hit, which caused them to fumble with the rifle as they were rotating it. Had it not been for the strap around their bodies, the next thing they would have done would be to send the guns flying as they lost their grip along with their consciousness, but because of said straps, all the action managed to do was to make the guns soar in the air for about half a metre, then swing down back to their bodies as they hit the end of the strap's length. While that was happening, they had started to collapse themselves, and were soon unconscious on the floor.

    The two gave the rest of the team the okay with a single hand gesture, allowing them to navigate the short hallway with ease, right up to the door. Brandon had looked down at the guards and the bloodless floor, and noticed they were still breathing. They had, of course, been shot with fast-acting tranquillisers, not real bullets. But the more important thing, the door. The final obstacle between the group and OE-0, (Crinale) Original Enemy-0, was pushed open as easily as a heavy door could be opened.

    The 13 people entered the room and found Viktor Antonov sitting there, looking quite surprised, despite the fact he still had a helmet on.

    "Y-what?! How were you able to get this far?! G-!"

    Before he was able to call the guards, the rage inside Lucia immediately and rapidly built up, upon seeing his form. She could wait no longer. She didn't care for what the others were going to do, or what they would think of her for doing what she was going to. She lunged at him with a large amount of speed and nimbleness, her light form almost tackling the large man to the ground. While her attack alone was not enough, a sigh came from CO-02's mouth, who gave the order to 09 to fire a live bullet at him. Usually, he'd shrug it off, but his loss of balance meant that the bullet was just enough to bring him crashing to the ground.

    The panting, teeth-gritting Lucia pulled a rather large dagger from her pocket. Pulling the hard plastic sheath from it, she spoke the last words the man was going to hear.

    "An eye for an eye. You ruin my life, I'll ruin YOURS!"

    "Lucia, w-" Someone spoke, but they were cut off.

    BAM! Holding the knife with one hand, she thrust it into him with the other, pushing it from the base. The blade sliced cleanly through the bulletproof helmet, deep into the man's head.

    BAM! Pulling it out, she slammed it into his head again.

    BAM! And again.

    BAM! And again.

    BAM! Her stabs became faster and faster, until she had stabbed Viktor's head exactly 23 times. He most likely would have died within the first three, but yet, she had used that specific number. She was also mumbling while she was stabbing him, almost as if she was counting the number of stabs. No-one had time to stop her once she had started to speed up her stabs, but nevertheless, Viktor Antonov was clearly dead. And yet, something about the whole scene, the way it was, just seemed... off.

    "...Uh, doesn't something look wrong to you?" Brandon asked.

    "What do you mean?" Alex asked. "You mean with Lucia?"

    "No, Viktor. Something about this, right now, seems very... wait a minute..." His eyes had widened upon realising the horrible truth.

    Lucia, who had looked back at them when they started speaking once again, looked back at the body, and then... pulled out the knife embedded into the recently deceased's skull. It was then that she had seen it. She had realised what was so very, horribly wrong with the situation, and the evidence was right on the weapon.

    Although, a more accurate description would be that it wasn't.

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