"A...alright. Maybe just a nap though." She felt a small twinge of fear. What if he wasn't there? "I don't sleep very often, without being sedated, but... I feel like I'll sleep well here with you tonight..."
"What's this? A cute little ECHO spy wandering around? They get younger and younger each year..." Cammy slowly stalked Sora a few minutes after he left Azimuth.
"I'll be fine as long as you give me those prosthetic organs AFTER I wake up in a tub full of ice." Freeman was starting to feel the one in a lifetime feeling known as unease when he remembered he didn't have a nazi girl to bail him out.
but... nah ill be fine 8D
"I would have called but I never caught your numbers~
S-sedated?! he held himself back from shouting. ...I'll bring this up tomorrow... right now she needs sleep. Just get some sleep. Ok? he put his arm around her on her shoulder. You really look like you need it...
She nodded with her eyes closed, nuzzling his neck. "I'm glad... you're back..." she whispered as she fell asleep. It was warm and comfortable, and safe. She felt bad for leaving Daza and Pico by themselves, but right now she knew they would forgive her for doing something for herself.
"Oh, yeah, we haven't replaced everything yet have we... hm... well, you're doing well without them anyways"
"We could replace them tonight, if you like?~"
He took a moment to just take everything in. She was back. But she might have to leave again... No... I'm not going to leave her alone... He once again noticed just how much weight she had lost She might say she's getting better... but there's something else... he sighed, his eyes getting heavy. He closed his eyes, and finally he fell asleep.
Hmm? Sora turned around, thinking he had heard something, but didnt see anything. Someone there?
"You've got a lot of courage walking into enemy territory like this, sweetie, I'll give you that" Cammy walked out of the shadows near Sora, smiling. "Not up to any mischief, are you?~"
Sora looked confused. Enemy territory? Right, ECHO. I've pretty much deserted them now. Me being ECHO didn't bother you the last time I was here. What's the problem now?
"I also haven't caught you snooping around by yourself yet. Last time you were here there was a little treaty going on. We weren't quite at war with ECHO. But now... why don't you head back to your room before I personally escort you, short stuff?"
"Yeah, and that's the weird thing. Perhaps I shouldn't complain about not being dead but I should check it out now while your princess covers the tab. Put his hand over his mouth trying to stifle a yawn.
"Sorry, jet lag setting in."
Amanda looped her arm through Freeman's right, leading him off towards the castle.
"Come on then! No time to waste! Let's get you asleep~"
"Although, the city's not a safe place... why don't you invite the rest of your friends to come into the palace? Awful hard to monitor them from out here..." Jenny laughed, only half joking. "This place won't be very nice to you people soon..."
Freeman took the arm graciously letting her take the lead.
"Not nice to who.." Took note of anyone who could be listening, still too careful to mention his "special" status.
...humans or NPCs?
"Men." They snorted and laughed simultaneously. Amanda went ahead and dragged Freeman off to the castle, while Jenny stayed behind, stretching. "Now... only the jester and the sourpuss are unaccounted for... shouldn't be that hard to find them."
What? But I was just with Azimuth a minute ago! And I'm barely even an ECHO member anymore. Even when I was, the only mission I've ever actually done for them was helping fight Pein. I've probably done more for the Empress and PAC than I actually have for my own organization
*Having had their fill watching Freeman interact with the girls, Stern and Dimentio left before they saw him get dragged off. In one of the back alleys of Josei, the two had stopped at what appeared to be a blank wall.
Stern knocked on the wall, his taps producing a hollow sound. After a few seconds no response had come, Stern knocked again and was once more greeted with nothing.
Tossing a somewhat confused look Dimentio's way, he then turned to the wall and punched it with his metalic fist; the robotic arm went right through and Stern began clearing away enough of the wooden paneling to make an entrance for himself.
A small corridor lay behind the fake wall, and a door at the other side led to an empty room, a flickering light buzzed on and off with the last of its power, from the state of the room, it looks to have been abandoned for quite some time.*
Shit, another bust.
*He paced around the empty room, tapping away at the interface on his hand.*
This was the last lead we had. Every one of my contacts is gone.
"One can never be too careful. After all..." She yanked him up by the back of his shirt, peering down. "You're still marked as an ECHO Operative." She dropped him. "Meaning ECHO probably knows where you are... and for all I know, you're spying for them."
"Leave the kid alone." Price said. He noticed the Cammy questioning Sora when he left his room for a stretch. He never really liked staying in a place for too long unless he needed to. "Alright, I get you're trying to protect the Empress but I know a spy when I see one and I really don't think Sora, here, is a spy. If anything, I'll shoot him if he does anything."
Sora adjusted his shirt. I won't do anything! I'm not a spy. At least someone here can see that. You know, I think I'm going to bed now anyway. Thanks for sticking up for me...uh, what's your name?
Well, that isn't good. That isn't good at all. Like a pair of twigs caught in the dreariest rainstorm, we are left without a spark to ignite out investigative flames... he said, waving his arms wistfully. After he finished saying that, he shook his head. Sorry... ol' habit from back home. Been trying to cut that out...Anyway, what shall we do next, Stern?
*He stood there stroking his beard.*
Nothing left to do except go back. Hopefully your fool friend succeeded in finding the girl, otherwise this trip might've been another waste.
*He started walking out*
Come on, let's go.
Jenny was waiting for Stern and Dimentio when they exited the alley. "All this noise in the middle of the night, and it's the two people I'm looking for~" She waved her mace around with a flourish. "I'm supposed to escort you fine gentlemen to the palace: the Empress was worried you would get lost, since you can't teleport very well within the walls. But who wouldn't take the chance to join such fine company?"
Well... I guess you might have a point... who else is there? He acted nonchalant. After finding out about Stern's lack of contacts, he knew there wasn't really much of a need for secrecy anymore. How have things been since we've been gone? I see one of you have found Freeman...
"And I see you got Stern." Calling out since he heard his name used.
"Do you think Omega found his crazy wifu yet? Haven't been paying much attention to that soap drama you see.
"Oh, you know, busy. Kind of hard keeping snitches out of the city, but we manage." she grinned. "Come on, I'm sure you're wanting for a nice warm bed right about now. I sure am. Maybe we could share?~" she joked, turning around and starting to walk towards the palace.
*Stern grimaced at the woman. There wasn't much else he could do at the moment though, so he cooperated.*
No restraints? Rather trusting of you.
"You don't know that I don't have measures to keep you in line. If you want to get lost in Josei though... I can't guarantee you won't get lynched by a mob or something." she laughed. "Just stay close. If I lose you, I'll assume you're up to no good, and we'll set some guards on you, okay honey?~"
They made it back to the palace without much event. She showed them to their rooms, then leaned against the door outside, watching the guests' door. They were under more scrutiny than they suspected.
"Price. That's my name. And you must be Sora, eh? I assume ECHO has lost their reins on you ever since Pein fell." Price said. He took a puff of his cigar and looked back at the boy. He was still so young but had already seen no child should have. "Go on scram. I can't back you up forever."
*Stern examined the room. It was nicer than he expected, but the feeling of once again being a prisoner to these people was all too prevalent.*
This figures. They probably had us tagged the moment we touched down; just let us follow long dead leads for the hell of it.
Sora nodded. Alright, thanks Price. Nice to meet you. He started walking towards his room, then suddenly stopped and turned back. Oh, before I go, can you tell me how Neko's been?
"She's ...had it rough these last few days. It's hard for me to tell you really, you're going have to ask her yourself." Price looked back at Sora who was still standing there. "Never mind, that's actually a really bad idea."
The night was very quiet, save the sounds of crickets. Jenny paced outside the guests' rooms, keeping an eye on them. She occasionally went around outside, making sure that they weren't up to no good. She almost burst into one of the rooms when she heard someone scream, but it turned out Neko had just had a nightmare. It didn't matter: it wasn't her job to calm the woman. Neko had her boyfriend with her, after all.
The morning sun slowly rose over the chalky pastel buildings, reflecting off of jeweled roofs and glass windows.
Neko jumped into the shower. She was wide awake, thanks to Rukifellth. She found herself smiling stupidly as she washed off. She didn't want it to end. "Ruki? You awake still?" I'd give anything for him to come with me... I just... I'm not sure if he'll come...
He woke shortly after she called to him. By the time he realized what was going on, she was in the shower. Yeah, yeah, I'm up... he yawned. He waited for a minute, then nervously asked her Um... Neko... how long are you going to be staying here?
Dimentio had opted to sleep outside, on the rooftops of the palace. He stared up into the sky, the stars fading from sight as the sun began to rise. So what happens now...
She was silent for a while. "No... I don't need to be back to base until the day after tomorrow. But Ruki... I need to ask you something." She turned off the water, coming out in a towel with her hair still dripping. She sat down next to him, putting a damp hand on his cheek. "Rukifellth... when I go back to Manila... I want you to come with me."
Will... will they even let me come with you? he thought about it for a second. He reached up to her hand, his fingers interlacing with hers.
Dimentio started floating down to the floor of the palace, deciding to see who else was awake.
*Stern was tapping away at the interface on his hand. Making personal notes regarding various subjects, including once again worrying about the thought of his own demise. The procedure Reynolds made him undergo would seem to have halted his condition, but lately he had experienced a feeling of intense dread. Not helped by the assumption that he would shortly be drawn into the war once again, and all of the complications that came with it would return.
Stern didn't care about the ideologies at play; if they were going to drag him back into the conflict than he would return to his mission, to find and kill the WMD's current commander. He had enjoyed the brief peace he had in Canada; he reflected on whether he could have that again, if he could go back to a normal life, see Lydia once again.
Thoughts for another time, and not thoughts he wanted recorded. Stern deleted the last few sentences he had written.*