"No... Ruki, I want you to join PAC. With me. I... I know it's selfish, but I don't want to leave you again. They won't let me keep seeing you if you help out other factions... The world is shrinking. I'm running out of places to hide. I'm running out of people who can help me. I don't want to run anymore. And when I stop... I want you to be there with me."
hmmmm...incoherently to himself as he took the stairs up to the roof. Sleep was for people who didn't fly into five time zones every paper thin reason they had to do so.
As he shut the door he saw he wasn't alone.
"Its me." Taking a seat on the ground with his back against the door.
I... Neko... could we talk about this later? Please...we just got back together. And I need some time to think about it... He sighed. Why can't you just come back with us?
Good to see I'm not the only one up here... Dimentio didn't seem to mind Freeman joining him.
*Getting bored with staying in the room, Stern decided to take a walk. He passed a few of the rooms but heard only silence; passing by one of the rooms, he heard Rukifellth's voice, he figured he must be in there with the girl. He wasn't particularly thrilled with her return, figuring she wouldn't be too happy to see him either. He continued on down the hallway arriving into one of the larger rooms of the palace; he had to admit, the place was beautiful, under different circumstances coming here might've even been enjoyable.
He continued his aimless wandering, earning stares from a few of the palace guards he passed.*
"What we had was great. Answering to no one but ourselves, helping whoever came along... but I need help. I can kill everyone, and it scares me sometimes. I tried to kill you. Where would you rather have me run? To WMD? To ECHO? Just... promise me you'll think about it, alright?" She got dressed in her official uniform. "I need to check in with Price. I'll be back as soon as I can, and we can get something to eat, okay?" She pecked his lips, lingering a little while in the doorway. "I'll be right back."
"Yep, just you, me, and probably 20 different kinds of listening devices up here. Don't think we will be alone until we leave from here." Looks for the moon somewhere between the clouds.
"Am I the only one who thinks we were a bit more welcome here last time."
He sighed. Well... I'll think about it, at least... He leaned back, thinking of what to do.
You ain't the only one. Something just doesn't seem right here. But maybe I'm just overreacting. I don't think so, but maybe...
Price puffed another ball of smoke into the night air. It was a peaceful stay here at the Palace and he hoped that the Empress wouldn't mind but he wasn't staying long anyway. Neko was the only matter he cared about here and once her business is done then his business here is done as well. It was a beautiful place here but too quiet for Price. Maybe if he died and his body was still in one piece then maybe he'd put this place as his burial ground.
Soon he heard the familiar steps near him followed by the showing of Neko. She looked freshened up for the most part but he could tell something was still bugging her.
"How did it go?" Price said curtly.
"I tried. I'm not sure if he'll come back with me. He's not really the kind of person you can tie down. We'll leave tomorrow morning... with or without them." she resigned with a sigh. "I'm going to be going to India soon. Right in the middle of the fight. I wanted to have my friends there with me. But it looks like that might not happen."
"Well at least you tried." Price put a hand on Neko's shoulder. "Have you talked to the others yet? Maybe you can convince them to come with you or at least y'know... convince Rukifelllth to do something about all this..." Price scratched the back of his head, unsure of what to do either. "Listen, I don't want you to be a damn recruiter but just tell them how it really is. You've seen it yourself, the world is getting too small. They're just going to keep running in circles if they keep up with what they're doing."
"Mmm. I'm not sure they would come. They have no reason to. I doubt Dimentio or Stern would like to be apart of another organization. That leaves Sora and Azimuth... who both have interests in ECHO. Freeman... who is still a bit of a threat, himself. And then there's a lot of wildcards. We've been around quite a bit now, and people know us. It'll be crazy to finally pick a side..."
"That's what I was afraid of, really. It won't be long until the PAC goes after your friends and I don't want to be the one to hand you that mission dossier. Once they cross the wrong people they'll be the ones that will be on the most wanted list. God knows they are already." Price stepped back and rubbed his tired eyes. "I guess this is it then. The only way out is to end the war but I'm afraid that even the Empress over there knows that we are at a stalemate. As long as WMD exists they'll be ECHO but without WMD the PAC will have nothing to hold the territories together. I don't want to even think about costs it'll take or the lives that'll need to be rebuilt."
Neither do I.
*Stern's rough voice pierced through the quiet air. He had spotted Neko and Price talking on his walk, so he decided to take up a position and listen in on their conversation. Stern leapt from his perch and landed in front of the two PAC operatives.*
I overheard your conversation. As much I hate to admit it, you're right. The others might not want to believe it; I can't blame them for that. *He turned to look at Price, then to Neko* But I think we're running out of options, and sooner or later we're going to be forced to pick a side, and when the moment comes I'm afraid some of us will end up making the wrong choice. Now I don't give a shit about any of the factions, you're all the same type of scum to me, but at this point, it doesn't matter who controls the world, it's gotta be better than this war. And from what I know of PAC, you're the lesser of all the evils out there, so I'll throw my flag in with you lot, on one condition: You get me the location of the WMD's current Commander.
"You're the last person I imagined joining PAC... maybe you're better offering yourself up as a mercenary. I don't know how PAC deals with demands." She knew they would probably just get him to fight in a few skirmishes first, have him sign some things... maybe if he defected anyways, they'd send her to go kill him. "I'm not going to tell you what to do. You seem to know your way around fighting and politics." she shrugged. "And obviously, neither me nor Price can really just make that decision."
He said definitively. Taking his glasses off, fogging them up, and wiping them down with some cloth.
"There must be pressure from one of the factions that bothering the empress. Ever since we got forced into that joint operation against the Piens the factions think we are for sale. If not persuadable we're a threat. It must take all of her power and integrity to stay independent from all the sheep- to hold us here without selling us out.
No, but your words will obviously carry some weight. If I had another option I wouldn't be turning to you. I'm an old soldier; this world isn't meant for people like me anymore, and I don't have a lot of time left. My knowledge of the WMD is out of date, probably not useful to PAC anymore, but I still have my skills, and you could use all the help you can get.
"I'll see what I can do. I can't promise I can help you with your personal vendetta." She leaned against the railing. "Still... you're not exactly who I'm trying to get into PAC."
I'm well aware.
*He leaned forward against the railing next to her.*
Look, you try to help me out... and I'll see if I can't do something about him.
*Stern's voice had an uncharacteristic tone of begrudging sincerity. He leaned off the railing and started walking away.*
"Hold on Stern. I think I can arrange something but I do need to know something from you right now before I make those calls." Price spoke up trying to get Stern back at least for one question. "How far are you willing to go to kill find this man? If I called my people right now and they told me where he is or how to get them, what can you make certain? We live in a world where promises aren't kept and oaths broken by the dollars. I need to know right now if you want to kill this man even if you know you won't be walking out intact one way or the other. Revenge is a one-way road, my friend."
*Stern stopped in his tracks and a grin came over his face. He turned to face Price.*
If you can find him, I'll do whatever it takes to bring him down. You get me his location, some back up, and a shit load of explosives, and I promise you a dead commander.
She didn't know if Stern would do better than she did, but she was willing to let him try. "We'll see what we can do then. No promises, and you better not screw this up." Neko ran her fingers through her hair. "Well, it looks like we have a lot of people on board. Should I go ahead and invite everyone along?" She looked at Price. "What do you think?"
"I can move them around but they have do something about their identities and I can't guarantee all of you are going to be together. PAC is big and needs their soldiers spread out all across the globe, Crimson Band or not. The Council might keep some but hate others enough to send them to farthest outpost in the world." Price took another puff of his cigar, his mind was deep in contemplation. "This might the only way to get the past behind you lot. At least Stern's demands are much more simple..."
*Stern was making his way back to the rooms. Stern's thoughts were racing after talking with Price and the girl. He could finally get another shot at the WMD's commander, he had some reservations at officially declaring one side in the war, but it was a small price to pay.
While walking back to his room he passed the room Rukifellth was staying in, remembering what he had told Chimera, he stopped and knocked at the door.*
Maybe she's right... maybe we are running out of options. PAC isn't exactly ideal, but the others are worse. And they aren't going to let her leave, even if she wanted to... he sighed, and waited for a couple moment. ...For her. I'll do it for her... he got up. But there has to be some better way to deal with this...
Dimentio was floating around the conversation area. I'm not working for PAC. I'll work with you guys, but I don't take orders from the factions. Hopefully the old bitch can come to some sort of understanding on that. I think Rukifellth will feel the same way.
*Stern was still knocking at the door.*
Hey, open up. It's me, I need to speak with you about something.
He opened the door, letting Stern in. What is it? And when did you get here? And where are the others?
Freeman lounges about nodding in approval to Dimentio's response, looking at Price for a moment wish a question on his mind.
"Who is this douchebag?"
I've been here for a few hours now, where the fuck have you been? Just sitting in this damn room?
We were dragged here by the head bitch's private army, I haven't seen Azimuth and the Boy, but they're probably here too.
Not important though. Big things are happening; your girlfriend's in talks with her PAC handler now. It looks like it's all coming to a head; sides are being chosen. She wants you on hers.
I know, I know... I need to find a way to be with her. I don't trust these people. But she isn't going to leave. I don't want to work for these folks, but I'm afraid I don't have a choice...
None of us do, but our hands are being forced in this matter. The best thing we can do now is to just accept it.
And it's what she wants for you. I'd be hesitant to trust her fully, but we don't have many people left to say "no" to.
I'm going to try and find another way around this... but for now, I guess I'm going to go along with this. What about you? I know you wouldn't just join up. You after something?
*Stern paused for a few moments before answering.*
We all have our reasons, don't we? I'm still after Reynolds, PAC is my best shot at getting him. I'm not exactly proud of it, but this is something I have to do.
Perhaps we can negotiate something with them... I know Dimentio isn't going to come along quietly. Hell, I think this might be what finally gets him to leave... he sighed again So you're ready to fight Reynolds?
*Stern silently nodded.*
I need to get some things squared away. We'll probably be leaving sooner than we expected.
*Stern gestured in the direction he came from.*
Girl's over that way, along with her PAC friend. If you're ready to give her your answer.
*He started walking back to his room.*
"Oh Price, maybe this isn't a good idea, I shouldn't have asked him to do this..." The reactions she had gotten from the rest of the group were giving her cold feet. She paced back and forth, biting her thumb. "And here I am making promises to help a murderous psycho get revenge, and... gods I've made a mistake..." She ran back to the room, standing in the doorway when she noticed Stern leaving the room.
"Rukifellth! I'm sorry, I was wrong to ask you to join PAC, I made a mistake. You don't have to join. I shouldn't have ever asked you..."