It was a quarter past eleven at night in Vacuo. A lone figure stood in the warm glow of a street lamp in an intersection that, during the day, would be crammed with bustling commuters, though at night had all the life of a discarded piece of driftwood.
The figure was wearing a long black overcoat that may have been out of place, but indisputably helped repel the cold of the desert night. The dark material was a stark contrast to the small shock of white hair and pale gray skin that added to their sharp facial features.
Not for the first time since the bell tower of a nearby building had struck an hour to midnight, the figure pulled up the overcoat's sleeve to check a small watch that was concealed by the garment. "He's late," the figure muttered in a somewhat rough, feminine voice. "He's never late...but I can't wait anymore."
The woman lowered her arm and sleeve and turned down to face the street leading away from the lake, and began to walk down the path inland. She knew where she was going. It wasn't far. But she had to take a little detour first.
The woman stopped briefly at a warehouse in the downtown district. It was empty, save for two rather large black duffel bags nestled in an alcove that was rather well-hidden. Only one of these was meant for the woman. She took it and promptly exited the warehouse, now headed for her true objective.
Taking a meandering route to ensure she wasn't tailed, she made it to the waypoint by a quarter to midnight. This was where she was to meet up with her cohort, as they took separate paths through the city, but seeing as she was alone from the initial meet-up, this part of the plan was moot, which was a bonus seeing as she was behind schedule anyway.
This would be the tricky part. The planned method of entry required two parties - one to momentarily shut down the complex's power, and one to open the doorway once the place had gone dark. However, seeing as she was alone, she would have to resort to other tactics.
The facility in question was not powered solely by the grid. Due to its sensitive nature, it had multiple power sources, including generators, Dust batteries, and even a dedicated substation from the regional grid.
No one of these was more crucial than the other - they all worked in tandem to power the facility, and there were backups upon backups to keep the facility running in any emergency. However, there was one thing they hadn't accounted for.
A significant seismic event could likely destabilize all of the power sources for a long enough time to permit entry. This because the region lacked a fault line, and therefore there was no need for such measures. Fortunately for the figure, the architects and engineers had never accounted for an artificially-created earthquake.
The figure didn't know how the device work and wouldn't pretend to; all she knew was that it had a detonator that would set it off and that it had to be separated into four components and spread equally around the facility, ideally at a few meters away. This was, of course, easy for the figure, given their prior experience with stealth.
Once the device was planted, the figure ascended to the roof of the facility by use of a highly advanced grapple-rappel system that allowed them to reach the roof in a matter of mere minutes. So far the schedule was being followed. Hopefully, that would last.
The woman hit the button on the detonator, triggering the seismic device. It had apparently worked, because all around, she could see plumes of sparks and flame, and the building going quiet beneath her. With a small smirk of grim determination, the figure walked over to the doors that allowed the building's main elevator access to the roof.
"Showtime," said Siva as she drew and activated Sunslash.
Knowing that the facility's security would soon be upon her, she rapidly cut open the elevator doors and used her telekinesis to eject them onto the roof behind her, bringing them to the ground with all the noise of a mouse. With that taken care of, she stowed her weapon and jumped into the shaft, which was thankfully empty, with nary a glance.
So far, all was going according to plan. Well, aside from the fact that she was alone of course; this was meant to be a two-man op, but in this line of work one had to adapt, and so, adapt she would.
This was one of the riskiest parts of the plan. The bottom of this elevator shaft was not truly its bottom; in reality, it was a trapdoor that hid the main research lab of the facility. It may have seemed ludicrous to an outsider, but to someone like Siva it made perfect sense. The material in this laboratory was so sensitive that it required redundant power, advanced security, everything she'd had to deal with thus far.
As she got to the door in the shaft mere seconds after her jump, Siva readied her Semblance. If the plan had been followed, it would be open by now, but it hadn't, so it wasn't, and Siva was forced to improvise. Fortunately, she had a means to get past this obstacle.
Using all of the power she could muster, she loosed a burst of telekinetic energy at the door, forcing it off of its hinges and onto the true bottom of the shaft with a tremendous noise. It certainly wasn't stealthy, but at least she could get to the lab.
With what little force she could muster after that great strain of her Semblance, she slowed her descent just enough that she would walk away with only bruises upon exiting the shaft.
As she entered the main lab, she scanned the surrounding area, looking for her objective. "Now, where are you..." she said quietly to no one in particular. It had to be here somewhere. It was just a matter of time until she found it. Time she didn't have...
The clock was ticking. This would either be Siva's greatest triumph...or her most grievous failure.
There was no question in the nigh flawless plan of Siva's to infiltrate the facility using a method that would create enough light havoc to permit entry to the building and the item she was hired to retrieve. There was no question in mind over how very well thought out and experienced each step was taken. There was no question that this had no chance for error or failure.
Chance... was definitely something a person like Red would be able to see through as clear as day.
And it was because of this and all of the foresight that came with it, that Red knew every one of her moves before she did it. All that time stalking had to amount to something right? So, it shouldn't have come to such a surprise that when the elevator being taken to the main lab which held the light reactor, that the almost suspicious silence would have resulted in the upcoming trap.
A trap... Siva should not have let herself be too blinded to see.
Upon entering the destination, the sight come across with was a surrounding amount of Atlesian knights pointing their guns at Siva and an inescapable amount coming from behind as well.
For someone who knew the workings, like her... it should have been known... A figure with brown hair stood wide eyed at the scene behind the android forces. Beside was none other than. Red.
Well. If nothing else...it explained why he wasn't there...
He was here...
Siva's mind was a race of emotions. The person she'd shared her feelings with, let into her world, slept with, had ditched her...but was here with someone else? And Atlesian knights?! What the hell was going on?!
If nothing else, she knew she was surrounded by the Knights. Them, at least, she could take easily. Red couldn't touch her. But there was one variable. The newcomer. And that made things dangerous. So for now, she would play it by ear.
"Red?" She asked, her tone loaded with conflicting emotions, rage, fear, and confusion being among them. Her right hand hovered by Sunslash, her left ready to spew forth lightning in a millisecond. She had a feeling she'd need both. "Red, what is this? Who's that?" She would play the overly-emotional woman for now in an effort to appeal to emotion, but knowing Red, she doubted it would work. But at least this way, she couldn't be criticized for going straight for conflict.
"....." was Red's simple response.
Honestly, the Atlesian knights were only for show and it's not like they actually meant anything to anyone other than his idiot of a brother.
Sighing, Red looked down and tapped his wrist a couple times, knowing that by the third time the drug in her coffee would start to kick in. He knew now would be around the time as he arranged everything to the dot.
Trust is a dangerous thing. The smallest and most normal of feelings, with so much potential to destroy.
Siva stumbled as she suddenly felt weakened. "What-" she said as she tried and failed to regain her balance. She wasn't falling asleep. Just losing any and all control of her muscles as they all gave out. This was quite worrying because, if it continued, eventually her heart and diaphragm would follow suit, and she'd lose the flow of oxygen and blood through her body, and eventually die.
She inwardly cursed herself for having been played for the fool. She should have known better than to trust some stranger, let alone Seren Love. The tales of the heartless Atlesian Intelligence operative were true, after all. Legends exist for a reason; she was an idiot for not believing them. She had no one to blame, in the end, but herself.
Looking away, Red wasn't easily going to sit through any of this... He knew Siva well enough to understand what was going on in her mind, but... he couldn't exactly say the same for her...
Charon quickly snapped his fingers so that the mindless machines would collect Siva, knowing that whatever was given to her would dispose of her sooner than the Atlesian Knights but needing the death to take place elsewhere so as to not contaminate the lab.
Red was unmoving for now...
Siva knew it wouldn't be long before she lost control of her bladder. At least the machines were taking her somewhere alone where she could die with a shred of her dignity left.
She could feel control of her body slowly slipping away. She had to do something while she still had control of her vocal chords. "I can't believe I trusted you," she said, forcing out the words, strain incredibly evident in her voice. Of all the ways to go, this had to be one of the worst. Betrayed by her would-be lover and losing control of her muscular system. What a cruel fate.
It seemed like for the most part Red was going to be ignoring the entire ordeal do the very end, showing his true apathetic colors. Though... it's not like that could... last for long.
Opening his mouth, a short minute after Siva had spoken what would be her final words of shock/betrayal, he came with a response of his own, "No," he started out. The word came out awkward though loud enough to put everyone to small halt. Narrowing his eyes as he was glanced back at, he continued, "No... Keep her here. She doesn't deserve the dignity of a solitary death. I need to see this." He said swiftly.
The nerve agent he administered into her beverage was a quick one, soon to cause permanent damage was first and death soon after. A minute longer and her muscles would give way to seizure and convulsions until she asphyxiated.
It was only a matter of time.. and not much of it.
Red was unmoving, as he watched her get dropped.
Charon's eyes widened further for a moment but then nodded as he escorted the Atlesian Knights out of the room to stand watch near the door, giving them some privacy.
Red moved over to Siva finally and crouched down over to her. In a swift motion, he grabbed her by the hair and slammed his lips against hers, shoving his tongue inside and something... hard as well as hard to swallow. He kept their mouths pressed together until he was sure he had shoved whatever compartment down her throat then jumping back as he activated his guns to start an electric charge, the magnetism accompanying screwed a little with the machines but the charge was shoot back at Siva, to give a seizure and allow her to swallow and accept the pill given to her.
Unknowing of the situation, Charon shot back at Red, "Easy there!"
Red gave a simple wink to Siva, waiting her next move, and readied his guns. He was not realizing the damage he had caused or the seriousness of it as permanently affecting their relationship.
That was all that filled her mind.
Pain from the electricity. Pain from her nerves being damaged and healed all at once. Pain from having something jammed down her throat. Pain from having a seizure.
But the pain somehow made everything seem hyperfocused. Everything seemed magnified, as though her senses had been cranked up to eleven. And in addition, the world seemed to be moving at about half speed. Was she faster? Or was the world just slower?
Either way, Siva knew this was her chance to grab the objective and get the hell out.
Taking advantage of her altered state, Siva made a break for the lab, blowing past Red and the other man. It would be in here that she would find her bounty.
Resting on a table in the large room was a simple, cannister-like apparatus. It was mostly painted yellow, with a red radiation symbol painted on one side, and red devices attached to one end. This was the Core Battery - a device reported to be a supply of limitless power.
Siva hadn't the first clue as to how it worked, other than that it had something to do with fusion, but she didn't care so long as she got paid. She grabbed the Battery from its resting place, finding it to be surprisingly light, and bolted back to the elevator shaft.
Of course, the car was still smashed at the bottom, beneath the wreckage of the doors that had served to hide the lab. Fortunately, augmented as she was by adrenaline given by vast amounts of pain, Siva could just use her Semblance to jump to the first floor.
She did this with almost no effort, then sent forth a wave of kinetic force, which smashed the front doors of the building, allowing her an easy escape. The bounty huntress hastily made use of her new exit and fled into the night.
The next few minutes were a blur, but when she came to, Siva found herself on the ground in a warehouse on the outskirts of Vacuo with a briefcase full of five million Lien in unmarked notes next to her. Everything hurt, but she didn't care. The package had been received, and she had been paid.
She slowly stood up, careful not to strain her aching body. Red had betrayed her; there was no doubting that. But...what to do now?
Maybe she could finally find the place she belonged...and there was only one possibility as to where that could be.
Slowly but surely, and wincing in pain with every step, Siva Mako set out to find the place of her birth.
On a rooftop not far from the warehouse, a figure dressed in the robes of a court jester chuckled as they watched the bounty hunter depart. This figure wore a comedy mask that was divided in half vertically, with the right half being white and the left black. The left eye was yellow, and the right black, while the mouth was red. The mask was also made of relatively simple shapes, yet seemed to move and emote as though it were part of the wearer. Overall, it made for a rather disturbing sight.
The jester reached into his robes with his free hand and pulled out a scroll, quick-dialling a number as he did so. "Package received," they said in a smooth, masculine voice. "The project can move forward. ...Yes, mistress. Our time grows near. I shall return with the package immediately. ...Of course. I shall see you then. Farewell."