Friday, September 13, 2013

Insert MIA Agent Here (part 4 of 4)

"Is this Warhammer Fantasy or Legend of Zelda?" Michael pondered out loud as he rolled the last ball into place and the previously sealed door opened.

Whilst none of the others replied, they all silently agreed with him. The spiral nature of the tower did feel a lot like they were caught up in their own little video game. It was either a trap or a soldier that greeted them on each floor... or if they were really unlucky, both.

As the group arrived on the fifth floor, there was a yelp from the front. Tash had foolishly run head long into the room and then just as quickly exited it – a large gash on her arm.

"Soldiers..." she whispered.

"Worked that out..." Aster quipped.

Before any of the others could admonish her, a group of ten heavily armed elves hurtled around the corner. Adrian, sword already in his hand, merely extended it, and the unfortunate front elf gasped as the blade slid crisply through the thin plate armour, and into the flesh beneath.

Adrian pulled his sword out, allowing the elf to fall to the floor. His comrades spared him the briefest of glances before they launched into battle.

Phoenixia was not as slow as some of the others, and another fell in the rush to get to the front of the battle pack, a large circular hole appearing in his chest plate.

As the group of now eight elves collided with the rescue party, a melee of grey and red whirled around the corridor. The blend of colours was soon joined by the flicker of flames. Tash turned, Nephthys was aflame and the Assistant Librarian swung at the nearest attacker. Careful to avoid her friends with the four foot hot piece of metal, she impacted the broad side against the elf, catching him alight.

She gave the elf an incredulous kick, and he fell head-over-heels down the spiral staircase. Tash barely had time to wince at the loud crack she heard as her victim's head impacted on the flagstones, before she was faced with another one. Her flaming sword kept the poor unfortunate at bay for a second, but the others were herding the elves into the side room.

Aster, holding her staff in one hand, reached across to the melee of fleeing elves to give one a substantial whack on the head. The poor soul fell to the floor, and his comrades didn't have time to pick him up.

Backing the six elves against the wall, the agents fanned out, cutting off all possible escape. All agents raised their respective weapons; Tash's casting ominous looking shadows on the wall behind the elves.

"Where...?" Alice started to demand, but Adrian held a hand up to cut her off. With some of their enemies distracted, the elves saw a chance to run. Michael, however, had other ideas.

As the first remaining elf darted for the door, he raised his sword, and the escapee ran straight into the sharp edge. Michael gave a little wince as the elf crumpled to the floor. In the silence, a second elf fell, and those with keen eyes saw Cristoph sliding daggers back beneath his robes.

Seeing their companions fall seemed to give the remaining four elves courage rather than causing them to surrender, and they rushed forward.


Two elves were quickly impaled on agents' swords. Tash rapidly shook hers off, but Alice was mildly freaked out...-

"OH MY..." she yelled. The elf was impaled on her sword, and she froze where she stood. Tiredness was already beginning to creep up on her.

Adrian spun around, sword extended, and decapitated another, as Phoenixia called to Alice...

"Zap the damned thing!"

Alice pressed the button on her 40K sword, and fried the elf.

Michael, abandoning his sword for a second, seized the nearest elf and threw him bodily out of the window. The poor elf screamed for what seemed like forever. A loud wince sounded in the room as the silence of the last swordsman's death reverberated around it.

Adrian spun around, his sword still grasped in his hand. Seeing Alice clutching her injured arm however, the blade sagged, and Adrian leaned towards the young agent.

"Alice..." he began, but seeing the young woman's recoil, he crouched and rested a gentle hand on her injured shoulder. "Alice, your arm is hurting you, isn't it?"

Alice stared at him, wanting to deny the fact, but then winced softly and nodded.

"I think it is time you returned to the Library... don't you?"

She nodded again dejectedly. All those watching knew that she must be suffering greatly else she would not have abandoned Louise like this.

"Sorry..." she mumbled.

"You don't need to apologise. You've helped us this far. If you need to, kick everyone out of the Monitor Room, but I think you should return now..."

She nodded again, collecting her strength, and clambering to her feet with Adrian's help.

"Is there anything else we need to be aware of?" Tash asked, her hand joining Adrian's on her friend's shoulder.

Alice pondered for a second...

"Stay out of the moonlight..." she murmured... and with a glance up at the nearest window, added, "and please, be back before nightfall..."

Tash, who knew a little of the reason behind Alice's concern, simply nodded; her eyes darted to Adrian who echoed his partner if with a little confusion.

"Someone take my sword..." Alice suggested, holding it up for a friend to take.

There was a long silence. All the other agents already had weapons of their own, but all knew Alice was right, and that taking her sword would aid them significantly. Eventually, it was Michael was reached across the void and wrapped a hand around the proffered hilt.

Alice raised her plothole generator with her uninjured arm, and before long was standing in the Library Monitor Room. She shooed the agent on duty out, and slammed the door. Turning to the screen, she saw Tash, Adrian, Michael, Phoenixia, Cristoph and Aster disappear through the doorway to yet more stairs.

"I hate stairwells..." Cristoph muttered... "so easy to get the drop on the intruder."

The six remaining agents tiptoed up the spiral staircase. All held some form of weapon in hand, be it bladed or blunt. They all hoped that, by moving as silently as possible, they might avoid some of the more skilled swordsmen that Alice had mentioned inhabited this tower.

As the tower climbed through the canopy of the Ulthuan forest, the pale glow of the approaching twilight filtered in the handful of windows that followed the spiral staircase. The encounters with the guards did not lessen, but the rescue party became more and more adept at avoiding them, or if that were impossible, quickly dispatching them.

They didn't know which floor they had reached, but entered a room that was bathed in moonlight. All the agents stopped on the threshold, cautious of Alice's earlier words.

"There is no other way around it," Adrian reminded them. "If we want to rescue our friend, then we must continue."

The others agreed with this, and started to cross the moonlight filled room.

Half way across, Aster froze in her tracks. She was staring into the puddle of moonlight, a puzzled look on her face. There was something about this room that was different from all the others. Something in her moon-fae nature tingled, and she had the uncomfortable feeling that they were not alone.

"Aster?" Tash's voice called from the bottom of the next stairs. At this, the other agents turned as well. The moon-fae was looking around the room, as though trying to find something that was misplaced.

"Aster?" Adrian walked to her side. "What's wrong?"

"Stay out of the moonlight," she echoed Alice's earlier warning. She looked up at the Librarian, and in a sudden moment of clarity yelled, "Quick... move!" Aster pushed Adrian from the moonlight.

As the group made to climb the stairs, a mocking laugh sounded behind them. Everyone whirled around to face the pale lit room. A flicker of a shadow appeared in the centre; a human shaped shadow. But before they could even think about drawing their blades, it was gone.

"What was that?" Michael asked, a hint of nervousness in his otherwise calm voice.

Tash slipped her hand into Adrian's, and pulled the Librarian close. She was clearly freaked out by what they had all seen.

"We were very lucky there," Adrian announced, and Aster nodded in confirmation. "Best keep moving."

Phoenixia gave one final glance over her shoulder as she rounded the corner, and she could have sworn there was someone standing in the room now. But the others were moving, and as Adrian had told them all, they were on a rescue mission.

Stairs were all they saw for the next few minutes. Ever spiralling stairs, turning ever upwards. As the agents turned into the eighth floor, Adrian threw out his arms. Before them was a large expanse of nothingness. Looking down, they could see all the way to the bottom.

"How..." Michael asked. "How is that possible?"

Aster poked the space with her staff. It impacted on something solid. Cristoph copied, and the blade slid straight through.

"What the..." Tash exclaimed.

Michael held Alice's sword to a section of the floor, and suddenly there was a metre-by-metre square of solid wood.

"It's magic." Adrian surmised.

"It looks real to me," Cristoph countered, now waving his hand through the invisible floor. Phoenixia lowered a leg to the invisible floor. It slipped passed the metre square of wood that Michael had exposed.

"We can't walk on this," she declared.

"I beg to differ," Aster's voice came from the middle of the room. As the others looked up, it appeared as if Aster were floating in mid-air.

"Of course..." Michael cried. "Aster is a magical being. The illusion has no effect on her body."

Adrian tentatively placed a foot out in front of him. As it reached the level of the floor, it straightened out as he put his weight on it. Slowly, as if he expected the floor to give way under him at any second, he joined Aster in the middle of the room, and the pair walked to the small plinth on the far side.

"That's all well and good for you two," Tash called from the other side of the room. "But the rest of us are normal humans."

"Use your wings, Tash..." Adrian shouted back. The other agents retreated a little as Tash summoned her flame wings, and launched herself recklessly into the room. Soon, she was stood with Adrian and Aster on the far side of the room.

Michael approached the edge of the safe area, the Darkness unfolding from his back in the form of giant wings. They easily carried him over to join Tash, Adrian and Aster.

As Michael landed and the Darkness-formed wings vanished, Tash immediately leapt into the air, aiming for the opposite side. As she landed, her foot slipped. Arms twirling like a windmill, she looked for a second like she might fall. Cristoph seized hold of her top, and pulled her into his arms.

On the far side of the room, Adrian let out the breath he didn't know he had been holding.

"Careful Lady Tash..." Cristoph made sure that she was balanced and stable before letting go.

Tash smiled at him. "Thanks" she murmured as he wrapped his arms around her slender frame. She walked to the edge of the drop, her eyes fixed on her favourite kitty on the other side. His eyes were glued on hers. Tash leapt up and out, into the perilous space between the two platforms.

Phoenixia looked down the hole, and then up at the ever increasing group on the far side of the room. She watched Tash land with Cristoph, and turn to make the leap into the void.

"Phoenixia..." Adrian called, placing a hand on Tash's shoulder. "Are you sure you aren't going to be too heavy..."

"How big do you think I am?" Phoenixia would have been mildly insulted, if she hadn't known exactly what Adrian was referring to. "No..." she threw her hand up before he had a chance to respond. "Don't answer that..."

Adrian smirked across the gap at his oldest friend, and released Tash, who leapt into the chasm between the two platforms.

Soon Phoenixia was safely delivered to the other side, and the others were once again a single entity. Tash folded her wings back in, and all six of them hoisted weapons.

As they climbed to the next floor, and voice behind them made all agents turn as one.


Coming up the stairs, standing abreast, were three elves. Two of them were small in stature, both clutching staffs of a dark wood. The centre elf was tall, lean and armed with a shining sword.

"You are not welcome here... the Lady has forbidden it," the elf in the centre spoke to the agents.

Adrian, catching sight of him, swallowed. This was going to be a difficult battle, and one that the agents gathered around him would have to use all their skill to win. The elf standing before him was a canon character, and as such, the agents were not permitted to kill him.

"I bet she has..." Tash muttered to herself.

"And whom might you be to give these orders?" Adrian's hand wrapped around the hilt of his sword.

"I am Teclis, High Loremaster of this tower, Prince of Ulthuan."

The hand of one of the mages twitched, and Michael raised Alice's sword before him. It had worked downstairs, so it stood to reason that it would work again. The agents reacted at Michael's movement, all drawing their weapons.

"Would you be that foolish?" Teclis was still addressing Adrian.

"I don't know..." Adrian's own sword was brought between the Librarian and the elf prince. "Are you going to risk it?"

One of the minor mages launched an unprovoked attack towards Adrian. Michael thrust Alice's sword between them, praying that it would work. As the blast approached, it fizzled into nothingness.

Michael planted himself at Adrian's side, Alice's sword in his hand.

"You think that puny little thing is going to stop me?" Teclis taunted the agents. "I am more powerful than you could possibly know."

Behind the main defensive line, Tash gave a yelp as the Copyrights she had just slipped from her pocket burst into flames. Adrian gave a glance, and found that Cristoph was already tending to her injuries.

"You will never use them on me..."

Cristoph appeared at Adrian's side. He whispered into the Librarian's ear.

Adrian tugged on Michael's tunic, and the agents retreated into the ninth floor room. It was fairly empty. A handful of boxes lay stacked by the open window and on the opposite side to where they entered, another door stood locked.

As the agents reached the other side of the room, they turned in unison. Adrian and Michael placed themselves in front of the others – a human shield against whatever the elves might throw at them.

As Teclis entered the room, a wave of pressure was launched towards Michael, knocking the chief agent from his feet, and sending Alice's sword spinning across the floor.

Cristoph threw a knife with pinpoint accuracy at the junior elf mage. The elf fell to the floor, his lifeless form providing a convenient obstacle for the approaching attackers.

"All this is in vain, you know?" Teclis called from the other side of the room. "She's already dead."

Tash saw red. She launched herself at the elf. Teclis fired a blast at Tash, who was thrown backwards; her head impacted on the wall and she crumpled to a heap on the floor. Adrian's head whipped around, and he made to launch himself at the elven prince.

The remaining minor mage took advantage of the Librarian's distraction and threw a blast at his unprotected back. Adrian twisted, and dodged the attack.

Phoenixia had seen the cowardly attack on her companion. She was furious, and she raised her weapon to her shoulder and fired. The elf fell head over heels through the door and down the stairs.

Standing alone in the doorway, Teclis withdrew a hand from his sword, and raised it before the agents. All the copyrights, from wherever the various agents had stuffed them, caught alight. Michael and Tash, now climbing unsteadily to her feet, rapidly began patting their pockets to put out the flames. Adrian turned to face Teclis.

"We have no quarrel with you or your people, my Lord..." he was up for trying anything, including diplomacy at this point. "All we want is to take our friend and leave."

"How foolish do you think I am, boy?" Teclis took a step towards Adrian. The other agents, not occupied with extinguishing pocket fires, seized their weapons. "You are but children to me..."

Teclis took another step forward, and he strayed in range of Aster's staff. It came down with a satisfying crunch on Teclis' helm, and the elf crumpled to the floor. Phoenixia stepped deliberately over the unconscious form.

"Now can we move on?" she asked purposefully, lifting Incandescent Silverreign onto her shoulder.

"Onwards and upwards," Tash declared, taking the lead and heading for the stairs.

"We can't have much further to go," Tash panted as they reached the tenth floor. Despite being tired, she was leading the group. Her friendship with Louise, along with her unspoken promise to Alice, was pushing her onwards.

As the group turned a corner, they came across a locked door.

"DAMN IT!" Tash screamed. To have come so far, she was not going to be stopped by something as mundane as a locked door. She threw herself against the door, but it didn't give.

"Tash... stand aside." Adrian squared himself in front of the door. He charged at the handle side, and it gave way, and the door swung back on its hinges.

As the agents rushed into the top room in the tower, the sight that greeted them was one that made many gasp. The more alert among them rushed forward to support Louise's unconscious weight. Adrian reached up; his sharp steel making light work of the rope that suspended the agent from the ceiling. Louise crashed down, her limp form falling into Cristoph's embrace.


Alice woke with a start, and was initially a little confused as to where she was. She remembered being in the Monitor Room waiting for the others to bring Louise back. Dead or alive, she had wanted to be there for her best friend. Why was she now in her room? It didn't take her long to work out what must have happened.

She must have fallen asleep in the Monitor Room, resisting Valerie's attempts to get her to go to bed. In the end, the empath had allowed her to remain at the desk, but had slowly observed her getting more and more sleepy.

When Adrian and the others had returned with an unconscious Louise, Alice was none the wiser; being slumped on the desk in front of the monitors. The other agents had merely helped her back to her room, knowing that in the morning she would demand to see her best friend.

And so it was with a sense of trepidation that Alice approached the hospital wing that morning. She did not know in what condition she would find her friend, but as Louise had guarded her bedside during her latest stay, Alice thought it her duty to do the same.

The hospital wing was near enough deserted when Alice opened the doors. She had passed Tash on her way from her room, and been informed of Louise's safe return, but wasn't going to be happy until she had seen for herself.

Louise lay fast asleep on one of the hospital beds. Valerie or one of her team had clearly lain what was left of her clothes over one of the others; Alice's eyes were drawn to the tears in the fabric. She winced as her gaze moved onto the figure of her friend.

Louise's left arm was wrapped in a sterile bandage and held in a sling, although Alice could see that the lower layers of the bandage were stained with blood. A chair sat at the side of the bed, no doubt put there by a helpful Valerie. Alice jumped into the seat, and waited for Louise to come to.

What Alice was waiting for took just over an hour. First came a little murmur, catching her attention. She turned to look at her friend's face. Louise's eyes blinked, eventually focusing on Alice's face.

"Alice..." she moaned. Her voice was dry, as if she had not had enough to drink over the last few days. Alice winced as she contemplated the possibility that this may actually have been the truth.

"Louise" she whispered gently, "I'm here..."

"Where...?" Her friend's words were coming in starts.

"You're in the Library," Alice filled in for her. She knew Louise well enough to know what she was likely going to be asking.

Louise slipped her hand from inside Alice's, and reached forwards. "Water..." she croaked.

Alice moved from her side, but was soon back with a glass of liquid for her friend.

"Thanks..." was all Louise could say, between sips.

"Careful..." Valerie's voice called over from the other side of the room. "Don't give her too much too quickly." Alice merely nodded, and placed the glass on the side table.

"How long?" Louise's voice was a little better following her drink. It no longer sounded like she had swallowed a cheese grater.

"Only one day," Alice's hand collected her friends. "We came and rescued you."

Louise smiled. She knew that Alice would have gone through hell and high water to get her back, just as she would do for her. Looking around, she realised that, besides Valerie at the other end of the room, she and Alice were alone. "Where are the others?" she asked quietly,

Alice too looked around. She had no doubt that Adrian and Tash would want to debrief Louise as soon as possible. It was Valerie again who spoke up, "They are giving you two some time together."

Alice's voice, barely above a conspiratorial whisper, said, "It's as if they think we're a married couple."

Valerie, pretending not to hear Alice's jibe, approached Louise's bedside.

"How are you feeling?"

"Better now I've had something to drink," she murmured, still holding Alice's hand.

"Don't drink too quickly," Valerie tested Louise's temperature, and pulse rate. "I'll come and have a look at you in an hour or so, and if you are improved then, I'll let you go back to your room."

Louise attempted a nod, but her head was throbbing. Valerie left the hospital wing, leaving the two agents together. Alice sighed, catching her friend's attention.

"What's up?" she asked.

"You lied to me" Alice accused, though her heart wasn't in it.

"I'm sorry..." Louise could not have sounded more sincere. "Merle is my problem. I don't want others getting into trouble because of her."

Alice still looked a little sad, "I could've come with you."

"You would have ended up in the bed next to me then... or worse." Louise's words had such finality to them.

"I guess..." Alice surrendered a little. "But Merle isn't just your problem, Lou..."

Louise sighed. She knew she would have this argument with Alice, even before her current encounter with her foe.


She just kept on trucking... "She may have this vendetta against you, but it doesn't mean you have to fight her alone. Remember Rome..." Alice was clearly on a roll. "We went as a team, and look what we accomplished."

Louise sighed again. Her ordeal at Merle's hands had been brutal, and subconsciously she knew Alice was right, but as she closed her eyes, the one thought that lingered in her mind was:

"She is my problem... one that it is my duty to solve."


Three figures looked over the treetops from the balcony of the White Tower. The two gentlemen flanked the petite central form of Merle Senlurial. Beneath them, the leaves of the Ulthuan forests rippled in the gentle breeze. The robes of the two elves fluttered majestically as they turned to their companion.

"Well..." Prince Tyrion asked; he looked down into Merle's face. Despite the fact that both brothers were at least a foot taller than her, it was obvious to any onlookers that Merle commanded their respect.

Merle did not look up at the elven prince, her eyes focused on something beyond the vision of either man. A sinister smile spread across her lips, and whilst it barely made it past a sneer, she made it look perfectly beautiful.

"I think things will turn out very well..." Merle didn't take her eyes from the rippling leaves as she addressed the prince. "Everything has occurred as I have planned it... and now the pieces are moving into checkmate..."

As the elven princes silently took their leave, Merle lingered at the top of the White Tower. She had lots of things flying around in her expansive mind. Mirani was just one problem; a problem that would soon be taken care of. She removed a letter from her pocket...

Whilst Merle had no objection to assisting her fellow Sues in general; what this anonymously signed letter asked for was a little too much... besides, Merle mused to herself, running a slender hand through her flawless locks, she had Mirani to deal with. Her eyes drifted over the letter; whilst it was not signed, Merle could hardly escape the distinctive mark of the former Librarian...

"Runoa..." Merle murmured, her dislike of the woman's style did not prevent her from allowing her access to her contact list, but this was... Merle swallowed... too much, even for her.

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