Energia: Titans of Verità
The hustle of life passed as it always did. Crowds of people passed through the streets, all completely unaware of what was about to happen. The second sun was rising in the east, taking the torch from the first and keeping the afternoon bright and warm. The walls towered all around the city, piercing the skies like the mountains themselves and bathing the cities in a cool shade. Every business on the street, from the tailors to the bakeries, was teeming with customers, some from the same sector and others visiting from the neighboring territories. A man stood in the corner, waving a sign reading “The old gods are dead! Fear and praise the new gods!” and crying out the same message. His message went ignored.
All except one. This store, a simple pawn shop called ‘Hans’s Pawn’, only had one customer: a middle-aged man in a cap, dark blue clothes and black boots, and a button-up shirt labeled ‘Polizei’. He spoke to the store owner, a simple and short man in a brown shirt and jeans. Both bore simple looks of confusion tinged with frustration. They had been speaking back-and-forth for upwards of ten minutes, leaving both the store and the police car unattended.
Everything was going according to plan.
Across the street, in an alleyway between a clothing store named ‘Foreign Fashion’ and a shoe shop titled ‘The Solid Sole’, a young woman stared intently at the scene. She grinned to herself. This was perfect! At the rate those two were going, she’d have more than enough time. All that was left was to move.
Steeling what few of her nerves were still working against her, the young woman pushed forward. She kept her head low and used the seemingly endless crowd to conceal her. Some turned their heads to her as she passed. Others didn’t pay any attention to her at all. She ignored all of them.
It only took her a moment to break through the first torrent of life, and only an instant longer to dash between the slowly passing cars to dive back into the other side. A blur of different colored hairstyles and clothes all rushed past her. But her eyes remained entirely fixed on the squad car.
When she broke free from the gently flowing crowd, the woman dashed straight into the patrol car. Her hands flew to the computer within with a familiarity that would make most officers on the force jealous. Within seconds, she had accessed the civilian database and looked up the name she’d tried searching for so many times: Emilia Ironchase.
Her heart hammered against her bones as the long, hollow loading bar slowly became light blue. She had never gotten this far before. Usually, she had been caught before she had even typed in her mother’s name. A large part of her didn’t know what she would do once she had what she needed.
Luckily, the rational part of her still did.
The instant the bar filled with blue, it disappeared to reveal a simple Proof of Citizenship form. Her mother’s name sat at the top, right alongside an old portrait of her. She had bright red hair and a pale, thin and sharp face, all of which the young woman had inherited. All that she hadn’t taken from her parent were her eyes, which were dark blue sapphires rather than Anna’s grass green, and the scars she’d acquired over the last few years. Beneath her portrait, the dates of her birth and death were written in a small font. May 7th, 3139 – October 15th, 3160. Cause of death: accident in the field.
Anna bit her lower lip. That can’t be it, she thought. There had to be more. On the next page, there were several paragraphs of text. There had to be more to it, somewhere in the sea of blurred words…
A throat cleared just to her right. “I would ask you to get out of my car.” Said a gruff German voice. “But on second thought, you should stay. It’ll make it easier to haul you down to the station.”
She didn’t bother looking up. “Hey Frank.” she said with an uncomfortable familiarity. “How’s the wife?”
“She’s at home, cooking a lovely dinner.” The officer said, opening the door to the seats behind her. “Unfortunately, I couldn’t get home in time to eat it. See, I got a call about a break-in at a local pawn shop, and no one else was taking it. And now I have to drag everyone’s favorite troublemaker down to the station rather than going home to enjoy that lovely meal. Again.”
“What did she cook?” she asked quickly, trying to find a way out. She considered flirting with him, but she dismissed the thought immediately. Neither of them wanted that to happen. “Sauerbraten? Bratwurst? Kartoffelklöße?” Her eyes darted around the car, listing every possibility available to her. They quickly settled on the floor. That’ll do.
“Meatloaf with baked potatoes.” He growled. “My favorite.”
“That sounds lovely.” She dug her heels into the hard plastic. “Tell her I say hi when you get back.”
“Oh, I’ll make sure to-”
Using the full power of her legs, the young woman threw herself over the computer and onto the driver’s seat. By the time Frank had begun to move after her, she had already pushed the door open and rolled onto the street. Several heads turned from the crowd to face the commotion. When she had darted down the street and Frank called after her, everyone was checking in on the show.
She shoved through crowd like a rabbit bounding through the woods. Meanwhile, her pursuer shot past all those she left in her wake like a cheetah on its prey. He clutched his radio and held his head beside it, muttering something beneath his beard. The sight of him bearing down on her sent a cold rush through her body. Not this time, she told herself. If you can’t get away from an old man, what hope would you have against the monsters beyond the walls?
Desperate to put something between her and her pursuer, the young woman broke free from the crowds and directly into the road. Each oncoming car came to an abrupt halt, wailing loudly at her as she passed. She bolted down the road, dodging and weaving around the passing vehicles. As soon as she was out of the way, the traffic resumed, as if nothing had happened. Within a few minutes, she had left the market area and onto the main street. The crowds of people died down, and the number of cars coming at her had skyrocketed. She felt like the dumbest soldier on the battlefield. Who else would dive straight into no man’s land?
Against her better judgement, and common sense, she shot a glance back at Officer Frank. He was keeping pace with her, but he didn’t pursue her any further than the gutter. Now and then, he’d try to signal the traffic, or to just yell at them to stop. But wherever they were going proved too important to stop for anything.
Excitement rose in her chest. Her legs and lungs burned as she ran. The bitter, foul-tasting wind ran through her hair, sending it into a crimson frenzy that followed behind her. The sounds of frenzied horns flew past her, hitting her ears like a jack hammer. But she smiled despite this. With one push, she could get to the other side of the street. The next intersection was a few blocks away. By the time the officer was on the same side of the road, she’d be long gone. She could do this. All she had to do was get out of the Sector before they could-
Reality ran into her so hard it nearly shattered her legs. More accurately, she ran into it. Just as she turned to look back ahead, she collided into another black and white car. She fell straight onto the hood of the car, dull pain blasting through her stomach. Just as she got up to run again, she felt a firm grip clasp both of her arms and pull them behind her back.
All she could do was sigh. If nothing else, she thought, it was a good effort.
A few hours later, the young woman found herself sitting alone on the bed of a gray holding cell. Her only company was an officer, a young man with a large, chiseled face, who did not seem eager for conversation. Aside from that, she had a plain white bed, a small toilet in the opposite corner, and a projected holographic screen in the corner. The bed was far from comfortable, and she was less than eager to give the toilet any of her attention. So instead, she decided to turn the holo-screen to the nearest channel.
The screen came to life, and the wall of the cell was covered by the news feed. A young, pretty reporter, American from the looks of her, was on the scene of a verbal war between a pair of tall Chinese men and a trio of Russian women who could have easily been confused for bulls. Standing between them was a man in a heavy suit of black armor. His eyes glowed a brilliant bright blue, and the gaps in his suit burned with the same aura.
The woman sat up on her bed. Behind the reporter, she could see the flags of the eight countries flowing in the wind. That must have been the Central sector! Which meant… the armored man was an Operative for Order!
Everything else disappeared. She wanted nothing more than to sit by and watch, to see what happened next. This was her mother’s work, after all. It was the job that she had wanted since she was a little girl. If she could have her way, she’d sit there and soak in every single detail of every single word. The test was tomorrow, after all. She was going to need all of this.
Unfortunately, much like her earlier attempt at escape, she was going to get the exact opposite. Her cell door slid open, and the projection came to an abrupt stop. “Anna Ironchase.” A familiar voice said in the doorway. “Isn’t this the third time this week? Or is it the fourth?”
She didn’t even need to look at the entrance to know who stood there. Heaving an exasperated sigh, she turned to face him. “Hey Chief.” She gave him a forced smile. “Easy day?”
“Not anymore.” The Chief returned her grin through a bushy black beard. He was a very fit man, tall and more than a little muscular. His beard more than made up for the lack of hair up north, though they couldn’t hide the scars all over his scalp. Some were small, while others were long and ragged, much like the scar upon Anna’s left cheek. “One of my favorite officers didn’t get to enjoy a meal with his family, and now I have to deal with you. Again.” He rubbed his sapphire eyes and took a few steps towards her. “How many times do I have to tell you this, Anna? Police records are for the police. Squad cars are meant for officers and criminals! You are neither of these things!” He paused. “At least not on a good day.”
All she could do was shrug. “I would’ve left you alone if you just gave me the file.”
“Don’t make me repeat myself Anna.” His false smile disappeared, revealing the demonic expression he usually had when he spoke with her. “I can’t keep giving you slaps on the wrist for this! Frankly, I shouldn’t have given you any in the first place!”
Anna gave her mother a silent ‘thank you’. She had done a lot of work before her death that made life for the German police force a lot easier. Had it not been for that, she likely would have been thrown in prison several years ago. But she had the feeling that she had just run out of favors.
The Chief let out a long groan. He looked up at her, shooting her a glare bright with anger. “I hope you got what you wanted.” He growled. “Because that was the last time. Next time I catch you doing something like this, I’m going to make sure you don’t see either of the suns for at least ten years. That, or I’m shipping your ass back to Earth. Got it?!”
Ice cold dread wrapped around and squeezed her heart. She had seen the chief when he was upset before. But this was on a whole new level. For the first time she could remember, Anna was at a loss for words.
“I’ll take that as a yes.” The Chief seemed to ease up, letting his body relax. But his eyes still burned with the same malice. “Regardless, I can’t let you get off free this time. I’m putting you under house arrest for the month. You aren’t allowed to leave the German Sector for any reasons so long as this is in place. I don’t care if its family business, a college trip or a sunbathing vacation to that fake beach in the American Sector! You are not to leave.”
Her heart sunk into the furthest depths of her stomach. She shot straight to her feet, a sudden extreme sense of panic sending her into a frenzy. “Y-you can’t do that!” she practically screamed. “The Order entrance exams are tomorrow! In the Central Sector! I can’t–”
“Let me stop you there.” He interrupted. “You’ve spent most, if not all, of your teenage years making life a pain in the ass for the German police force. Then, when it’s convenient for you, you expect us not to punish you for your actions?” a small smile crept across his face. “Sorry Ironchase. But that’s not how the law works.” He turned his back to her and started down the hallway. “You know where to find the exit.”