Chapter 35: Teddy Bear

Energia: Titans of Verità
Table of Contents (For Catching Up)

Coincidence had smiled on Tommy when he had gotten on the train. There she was! Anna Ironchase! There could be no doubt that the two would be patrolling the same Sector. If there were any time to prove the necessity of their alliance, now would be the time.

Then Anna had vanished, right after the man in the satyr-like suit had bolted. Tommy had thought about chasing her, but quickly discarded the idea. His suit was powerful and durable, but it wasn’t exactly fast. At least not by E-Suit standards.

So, heaving a sigh of defeat, Tommy set out into the Israeli Sector alone. He found the place rather charming. There was an open market, something only the Chinese and French Sectors shared. A blend of interesting scents drifted through the air, which Tommy temporarily disabled his air filters to smell. It wasn’t as crowded as the American Sector got at this time of day, but there was still a thick crowd. One that broke like waves against a stone as his massive form pressed through.

This earned him more than a few dirty glares. He couldn’t exactly blame them. Tensions between their countries had been on the rise for the last twenty years. Still, he couldn’t bring himself to exclude the flag from his suit’s design. His family was often at each others throats. But when it came to patriotism, they were unified.

A cacophony of voices blended together into nonsense all around him. Curious, he tried to listen. But he was quickly overwhelmed by all of them. They were energetic people, if nothing else.

One voice, however, broke through the white noise. “Order would have you think them monsters!” A man standing atop a box was shouting in English. “They are the farthest thing from that! They are the children of the gods! Gods that will soon return and bring judgement upon us!”

Tommy rolled his eyes. Preachers like that were getting more common these days. Most people ignored them. But from all the confused and annoyed glances that flew in his direction, he could tell that the man was being a nuisance.

Better safe than sorry. Tommy thought with a shrug. Then he made his way to the preacher, with a thousand apologies to those that stood in his way.

Before Tommy could get a word out, the man glared at him and shouted. “You!” He snapped. “Here to silence me, are you? Eh? Well, I won’t have it! Look at this, everyone! A heretic of Order, here to silence those that would spread the truth!”

“Good!” One man from the crowd shouted with a thick accent. “Truth is loud! Annoying!”

The preacher ignored the man. “Monster! Demon! Heretic! Servant of the devil! You will never silence me!”

Tommy swallowed the desire to grab the man by the throat. Are they all this annoying? “Sir.” He said, keeping his voice calm and steady. “Do you have a permit to speak here?”

“Permit?!” The preacher spat. “Why should I need your permission to spread the word of the gods?! No, I have no permit!”

“Oh, good!” Tommy said cheerfully, hoping they would be able to hear the grin they couldn’t see. “Then you won’t mind if I handed you over to the police for causing a disturbance in public!”

Even that did not deter him. “Go ahead, you demon! Heathen! Heretic! Blasphemer of the highest-“

Tommy’s patience finally ran out. With as much restraint as was necessary to avoid murder, he drove his fist into the preacher’s chest. The man’s features twisted in pain, a gasp escaping his lips. Then he collapsed into Tommy, who scooped him up with one hand. The crowd cheered at the preacher’s expense.

A pair of Israeli officers approached, a tired and relieved expression on their faces. Tommy offered them the limp body of the preacher, which he lifted with ease in one arm. Once the two had securely thrown one arm over a shoulder each, they carried him off.

That’s a whole stack of paperwork right there. Tommy thought as he looked after them. His satisfaction was short lived.

He tried to put the incident out of his mind. But as he wandered the streets, his thoughts drifted back to it. Were all of those preachers so hostile towards Operatives? Because they fought aliens? Did they not realize how dangerous they were? He remembered the giant fish Anna had fought during the entrance exam. If those things are gods, then I’m the president of the UEA.

He began wondering who was organizing all of them. They all spouted the same nonsense about gods and the coming doom they would bring. If they were all repeating something they had heard from someone else, there would have been differences in their spiel. All of them were the same, almost word for word. Who wrote their script? And why did they do it?

If he’s half as annoying as his followers, all of Unity would celebrate his arrest. Tommy thought with a grin. I’d like to see Andy or Chris outdo that.

He shook his head. How would he even find him? There was no way the preachers would tell him. Hell, he doubted they’d even talk to him. What could he do?

That’s why I need Anna. She could figure it out. Now, how to convince her…

A metallic tapping sound broke him out of his thoughts. It sounded like a loose screw was rattling around within his armor. For a second, he was worried that it was exactly that. But then he realized that no, his suit wasn’t broken. Someone was tapping his leg.

Looking down, Tommy found two small children staring up at him. One, a little girl with a dirty pink shirt and faded jeans, had the beginnings of tears in her eyes. The boy, a taller kid with baggy pants and a stained white shirt, had a panicked look on his face.

“‘Scuse us, mister!” The boy said in heavily accented English. “C-can you help us?”

Tommy’s previous contemplations immediately vanished. He knelt down to meet the children’s eyes, though he still towered over them. “Sure I can!” He said in a warm, confident boom. “What do you need?”

The girl sniffed loudly. “O-our sister!” She stammered. “She- she-” she broke off into tears.

“Stop crying, you baby!” Her brother scolded. He seemed only a few steps away from tears himself, though he did a better job hiding it.

Tommy put a reassuring hand on their shoulders. Given the size difference, they covered the children like a jacket. “Slow down.” He said comfortingly. “Tell me what’s wrong.”

The boy shifted uncomfortably. “It’s… It’s our baby sister, Aila. We don’t know where she is!”

“W-we were together in the market!” The girl sniffed. “I told her to hold my hand, but- but- she let go and ran off!”

“That is a problem.” Tommy nodded. “Alright, don’t you worry! I’ll find her nice and quick!” For an instant, he forgot about the preachers and their mysterious could-be leader. He even forgot about the competition with his brothers. Children needed help. That was all that mattered. “Aila, right? What does she look like?”

The two gave him a quick description of the child. Small, just shorter than the other two children, with wavy black hair and big emerald eyes. She often carried a ragged brown teddy bear in both arms.

“Alright.” Tommy said, standing. “Leave it to me!” With that, he jumped high into the air, kicking up a powerful cloud of dust as he went. Landing on the roof, he began surveying his surroundings, searching for the little girl.

Half an hour into his search, he realized his mistakes. He had forgotten to get the kids’ names or address. Like an idiot. Well, no point in worrying about it. He’d cross that bridge when he reached it.

He quickly realized how futile his rooftop search would be. If Aila were as small as he had been told, he wouldn’t be able to see her. So, more than a little embarrassed, he jumped back down and started his search again on foot.

This part of his search went much smoother. He asked around for the girl, talking to anyone who would listen. Which was most people; there weren’t many people who would say no to an Operative on the job. If the job wasn’t enough, the E-Suit certainly was. You didn’t need to know anything about them to hear and feel the hum of its power.

His search didn’t amount to much, however. The few people who had seen the child didn’t pay much attention to her. Given how excited she seemed, no one thought she was in any trouble. Tommy followed all the leads they gave him, but found nothing. If the girl had been where they had said, it was a while ago.

He stomped along, wondering what he could do. The thought of defeat never crossed his mind. He had promised those kids he would find them. If nothing else, he was a man of his word. Even if he had to keep going until his E-Suit lost power, he’d keep searching until he found her.

Determination renewed, Tommy scanned the streets again. There were still so many people. It felt like he was looking for a needle in a-

Something caught his eye in the crowd. Tommy pushed towards it, shoving people aside with many apologies. He reached down to grab it, earning him several annoyed glares from those that were forced to go around.

There, covered in the dust of the road, lay a small brown teddy bear.

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