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Phantom: Red Moon

Phantom

Red Moon

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Gabriel Common

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This is a work of fiction. The events and characters described herein are imaginary and are not intended to refer to specific places or living persons. The opinions expressed in this manuscript are solely the opinions of the author. The author has represented and warranted full ownership and/or legal right to publish all the materials in this book.

Phantom

All Rights Reserved.

Copyright © 2008 Gabriel Common

Edited by Kristen Corrects, Inc

Shakespir Edition

This book may not be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in whole or in part by any means, including graphic, electronic, or mechanical without the express written consent of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

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1

In the distance galaxy of Evangeline, on the dim planet of Robant, two figures were posted on a distant cliff, over looking a small colony nested within a large canyon. They were wearing black clothing, with red leather vests, over long sleeve black shirts. Both of them had a symbol over their hearts of a shield with feathered wings extending from its sides, two swords crossing behind it and a single five-point-star in the middle of the shield.

Dark clouds had begun to form above them, with the distant roars of thunder, and flashes of lighting simultaneously striking just outside of the canyon.

One of them was nineteen; he had short black hair and blue eyes. He was wearing a sword at his side, in a leather sheath. The handle of the sword was black. The hand guards were shaped like wings of a golden Dragon, with the rest of its golden body swirling around the black handle. He was croached down; looking straight at the colony, with his eyes squinted as if he was trying to find something. After a moment he shook his head and looked up at the other young man, who was standing behind him, looking out through a small pair of binoculars.

“Hey Shawn,” Called the first young man. “You see anything?”

The young man standing behind him had black hair, a bit longer, that hung off the sides of his head and brown eyes. He had a curved scythe blade at his waist with a short silver handle. “Not yet, Traiven.” Shawn answered.

Traiven then leaned back and sighed. “Me neither,” he said. “Are you sure they’re here?”

“Positive;” came the voice of Captain Joker Jenkins, over small communication devices in their ears. “According to our Intel, Lance and some of his men come here regularly to resupply.”

“It would make since,” came the voice of Cid Hughes, also from there ear pieces. “This is a quiet colony. They usually keep to themselves and with the constant storms, only a few would want to come here.”

As Shawn continued to look down at the colony, he noticed a strange man to the left. He was wearing a brown hooded cloak and walked into a small, square, grey building with a group of others. “Look,” Shawn said. “It’s Joey, he’s one of Lance’s Summoners.”

“Then let’s go,” Said Traiven as he stood up. “I still don’t see a demon so we’re good.”

“Okay,” Came the voice of Cid. “Maya and I will stay on the look out. Arc team two-nine, what’s your status?”

“We’re seeing questionable behavior by the hanger bay.” Came the voice of Sneaux Sasuke. “Might be nothing but we’re going to check it out, just to be sure.”

“Okay Arc teams, let’s make this quick.” Said the voice of Joker. “That storm will be here soon. If you’re caught in it we’ll have to wait it out before we can retrieve you.”

“Shouldn’t take us that long.” Said Shawn, he turned to Traiven. “Ready?”

“As if I have a choice.” Replied Traiven.

The two walked over to the edge of the cliff and jumped off.

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Traiven and Shawn were now walking through the colony, following the direction of the stranger into the small grey building. As they entered, they noticed a flight of stairs that lead down a narrow grey passageway, into floor with dim lights coming from the bottom. They progressed on and came to a large dimly lit room with several people standing around and socializing. They quickly stop and began to scan the area with their eyes; but were interrupted by a voice in front of them, “Welcome!”

Their attention was suddenly taken by a short chubby man in a white robe, with a long braids and a smile of his face, standing before them.

“Judging by your attire I can tell you two are with the Federation,” he said. “Welcome to our little sanctuary. Please make yourselves comfortable, while waiting out the storm.”

“Thanks but we’re here on business.” Replied Shawn. “And really don’t plan on staying long.”

“Well,” replied the man as he scaned them with his eyes. “Whatever it is, I advise you make it quick. Once the storm hits you won’t have a choice.” The man then turned and continued on.

“Look,” said Traiven staring in the distance. “There he is.”

Shawn turned and saw the mysterious man Joey, sitting at a crescent shaped table surrounding by others in conversation. They were setting in a dark corner with only a little light shining on Joey, who now had his hood off with two others directly beside him. There were figures to the sides that weren’t visible and a tall dark figure in the back, standing behind them, with its arms cross.

“Let’s try and keep this civil,” said Shawn, and they begun to walk towards him.

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Joey leaned back in laughter with a drink in his hand, amused with one of the men beside him. He then looked up and saw the two young Arcs walking towards him. “Ah,” he said as they entered the scene. “If it isn’t my favorite Arc team, what a surprise. Well actually it isn’t because you’ve been following me across the entire galaxy. So, what can I do for you?”

“Do you really need a reminder,” answered Shawn.

“Well no,” Joey said as he leaned forward and put his drink onto the table. “I just expected you’d have enough decency not to ruin these lovely people’s evening with a messy battle.”

“There doesn’t have to be a battle,” replied Shawn, “In fact, there isn’t going to be one.”

Traiven extended his left arm towards Joey and a handgun emerged from his sleeve in his palm. “If you make even the slightest attempt to summon your demon, you’ll be dead before you could lift your arms.” He said.

“This doesn’t have to be painful Joey,” added Shawn. “Just tell us where Lance is and your prison on Vana will be slightly nicer than the rest of your clan. He’s the only Summoner we need to kill.”

Joey begun to rub his chin in thought, “Hmm, a tempting offer, but I’m going to have to refuse.”

“Well you may not want to tell us now, but you will.” Replied Shawn. “We have some pretty persuasive methods on Vana to make you talk.”

“Okay boys I’m going to be honest with you,” Joey said while he slowly stood up. As he did, Traiven tighten the grip on his gun. Joey continued, “Yes I do know where Lance is, in fact he’s here. The reason I’m telling you is because I’m nice enough to let you two have a since of accomplishment before you die.”

“You can’t beat us Joey,” said Traiven. “We’ve got the upper hand.”

“Then I guess it would have been wise of me to plan ahead, right?”

They heard a sudden spark coming from behind him. They looked ahead and saw electricity emanating from the talk figure in the back. The sparks lit him up, revealing a tall muscular demon with rough blue skin and horns protruding from his head. The demon suddenly stepped forward into the light with a sinister grin.

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Meanwhile across the colony, Sneaux was walking against the wind towards a large dome shaped structure in the distance, the size of a stadium. He was wearing the same type of uniform as Traiven and Shawn, except the symbol on his chest had three stars instead of one. He had long white hair that hung to his shoulders, and a long sword at his waist with a thin curved blade.

There were armed guards standing on a platform, connected to the roof of a large dome shaped structure before him. In front of the structure were guards standing on the ground and a large square door, with a slit down the center, for it to slide open. The further Sneaux walked the darker the sky seemed to get, the louder the sounds of thunder grew, and now the strong wind was beginning to make its presence known.

As Sneaux walked up one of the guards left his post and met Sneaux half-way, “I’m sorry sir.” The guard said. “But this whole area is closed off, it isn’t safe with the storm coming.”

“I’m here on official Federation business.” Replied Sneaux. “I need access into that hanger.”

“Sir if you wait until the storm clears, we’d be happy to assist you.”

“By the order of king Joseph Williams the second, you are obligated to grant me access to any area I need in regards to Federation affairs at any time. I need access to that hanger, right now!”

“Yes sir, sorry.” The guard stepped aside and held his hand out, “Right this way.”

Sneaux silently stepped forward, continuing his walk towards the hanger with the guard a few paces behind. While Sneaux’s back was turned the guard suddenly pulled out a small gun, aiming at Sneaux’s back. Before he could pull the trigger, a blast came from behind, hitting the guard’s back and taking him out. The guards on the platform noticed and begun to lifted their weapons, but were taken out by additional shots before they could act. Sneaux continued to walk ignoring the events around him.

A large muscular man wearing the same uniform and a symbol with two stars over his chest suddenly ran up from behind and joined Sneaux’s walk. “I guess you were right about these guys,” he said.

“I’m rarely wrong, Benson.” Replied Sneaux, “I thought you’d know that by now. Anyway, I’m sure Lance is hiding somewhere in that hanger.”

They suddenly heard a roaring sound and saw the large circular roof of the hanger beginning to open.

“Come on,” said Sneaux. “Let’s hurry.”

They quickly began sprinting towards the hanger.

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Across the colony Traiven and Shawn came crashing out of the ground next to the small grey building, and the blue demon Raijin came floating out behind them, his body flowing with electricity. Traiven and Shawn slowly stood up staggering. Traiven quickly grabbed his sword handle and his side and unsheathed a radiant red blade. Shawn grabbed the handle of his scythe with this right hand and lifted it up. As he did, the handle extended and he caught the other end with his left hand.

The two stood staring into Raijin’s eyes, ready to strike, as the winds increased speed and the volume of thunder rapidly grew. Joey calmly walked out of the building through the door and stood next to Raijin.

“Well boys,” said Joey, “I must take my leave now. In my absence however, Raijin here will be happy to keep you entertained until our ships takes off. So……..”

Raijin angrily turned back toward Joey and interrupted him, “JUST GO TO THE SHIP JOEY! HAVE YOU FORGETTON THE STORM THAT’S HEADING THIS WAY!”

“Right!” replied Joey. “So long.”

Joey quickly took off heading towards the large dome shaped hanger in the distance. Shawn begun to head after him, but Raijin quickly appeared in his way and thrust his palm forwards unleashing a bolt of electricity onto Shawn’s chest pushing him back to the ground.

Traiven ran over to help Shawn up.

“Darn!” said Shawn. “Joey’s getting away and we don’t have time to deal with this guy.”

“Maybe if we rush him we could get pass.” Offered Traiven.

The two stood staring at Raijin with their weapons tightly gripped in their hands. “Okay,” said Shawn. “Let’s go!”

They both lunged forward with all their might, swinging their weapons toward Raijin.

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Back by the hanger, Sneaux and Benson had finally reached the door. The roof was now completely opened and two large ships had already taken off.

“Come on,” said Sneaux. “Let’s go in through the roof.”

Then they bent their knees preparing to jump, but before they could, the large door in front of them slid open and revealed a large dark creature. It stood twenty feet tall with a wide muscular body. Its skin was dark brown, with a dark yellow chest. There were several large spikes sticking out of its wrist and spikes sticking out of its knees. It had a snout like a pig and tusk sticking out from the bottom of its mouth. Its horns curved up from the top of its head signifying its species as a demon.

The creature took a large step forward causing the ground to shake underneath Sneaux and Benson, as it swung its right arm. The two Arcs quickly jumped away in opposite directions, barely missing its swing, as the spikes on its wrists extended into the ground where Sneaux and Besen previously were standing.

The demon suddenly tilted its head and gave out a loud monstrous squeal.

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Far from them, Raijin had each of his claws, locked with Shawn and Traiven’s blades, on his right and left sides. All of their attention was suddenly taken by the loud squeal of Lance’s demon over the sound of the thunder from the deadly storm.

“What’s that?” asked Traiven.

Raijin gave a slight grin then pushed the two Arcs away. “Sounds like Astaroth decided to make an appearance.” He said.

Traiven quickly tightened the grip on his sword and rushed toward Raijin. He swung and Raijin quickly lifted his right claw and blocked the blade; then quickly jumped up over Traiven, dodging Shawn’s swings coming from behind. As soon as Raijin landed, Traiven thrust his palm forward emitting a powerful force that pushed him back a few feet. Shawn rushed towards him and swung his scythed with all his might, striking Raijin’s chest and sending him crashing into the building behind him.

Traiven begin to go after him, but Shawn grabbed his arm stopping him.

“Wait,” said Shawn. “We don’t have time to waste on him. We have to catch Joey before he gets away.”

Traiven nodded and they took off toward the dome shaped hanger in the distance.

Raijin finally recovered, breaking his way out of the rubble, only to see Shawn and Traiven heading away. Raijin strained in anger and suddenly stomped the ground, as he did electricity rushed through his body giving him a burst of energy. He quickly bents his knees, gathering all his might in a single burst; then instantly took off like a bolt of lighting, cracking the ground behind him.

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As Shawn and Traiven were closing in on the dome, they could see a large creature standing in front of the entrance.

“That must be Lance’s demon.” Said Shawn.

A bolt of powerful lighting suddenly came down crashing before them. The force of its impact tossed the two back several feet.

Once they recovered, they could see Raijin standing in front of them; flowing of electricity with his arms crossed and a grin on his face. “Leaving so soon?” He said.

The two Arcs stood up in pain, as they drew their weapons.

“FINE!” Shouted Shawn. “LET’S FINISH THIS!”

Raijin quickly threw up his arm and strained causing a great force of electricity to flow through his body. Just as he took a step forward, there was a sudden force of power, followed by a petite woman flying toward him with her leg extended. She flew toward Raijin’s chest, forcefully kicking him back several yards. She then quickly grabbed a chain wrapped around her chest and struck it at Raijin, grabbing his body and pulling him back toward her. As he came forward, she cocked her right fist back and landed a powerful blow to his stomach. Swinging her left palm up, she hit him in the chin causing him to fly upward. She then grabbed his feet keeping him from flying away, causing him to fall back down. Then she threw her palms forward, emitting a force that pushed Raijin forward towards the hanger and crash to the ground, directly in front of Astaroth.

Traiven and Shawn stood staring at the young woman, wearing an Arc uniform and a two star symbol, with their mouths dropped. Traiven then leaned toward Shawn and whispered, “I don’t know about you but I feel completely emasculated right now.”

“Thanks Maya.” Said Shawn.

She turned back toward them and said, “Come on, let’s find Lance.”

They all took off toward the hanger.

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Astaroth stared down on Raijin as he slowly stood up. “Pathetic!” He said.

“She caught me by surprise,” explained Raijin as he dusked himself off.

The two demons watched as Maya, Shawn and Traiven ran into the hanger.

“I’ll be ready for them this time.” Said Raijin.

Sneaux and Benson walked in and stood beside the other Arcs.

“It’s to late,” said Raijin, as the final ship begun to take off behind them. “Guess we’ll just have to finish this another time.”

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Just as the ship had tilted up to boost into the sky, a stream of blue energy suddenly came from the distance and shot it down. The ship crashed back into the hanger, destroying the front wall.
h1<>{color:#000;}. Phantom seven-three-five suddenly came hovering over with a middle-aged man with curly red hair standing on top of it. He had an Arc uniform with a three star symbol, and was holding a long battle ax in his hand. The ship was accompanied by dozens of Federation fighter ships.

Cid jumped down and landed in front of the other Arcs. They all lined up facing the downed ship with their weapons gripped tightly ready for battle, and phantom seven-three-five floated down behind them, hovering only a few feet from the ground.

“IT’S OVER LANCE!” shouted Cid. “THERE’S NO RUNNING AWAY THIS TIME, COME OUT NOW!”

Several hatches on downed ship busted open simultaneously, letting out several soldiers. They began to aim their riffles at the Federation forces, ready to make their stand.

A large door then opened behind them, letting out a single man in a dark cloak. He patiently stood behind the soldiers with a grin. Cid tightened the grip on his ax, with anger, as he saw the sarcastic expression on his face.

“DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT TRYING ANYTHING LANCE!” Cid shouted. “YOU’RE OUT NUMBERED AND OUT GUNNED!”

The man in the cloaked let out a soft sigh then replied patiently. “Don’t worry I won’t.”

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The winds suddenly tripled in speed, pushing everyone backwards. Tornados begun to spawn, simultaneously, within the city and the lighting begun to strike fiercely, causing everyone to run for cover.

The Arcs were struggling to hold their ground, as Lance and his men loaded into escape pods and begun to retreat.

“ARC TEAMS IT’S TOO LATE WE HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE NOW!” Joker shouted over the communications system.

“BUT LANCE IS GETTING AWAY!” shouted Cid.

“WE CAN’T STAY IN THIS STORM ANY LONGER, IT’S TOO DANGEROUS!”

The winds begun to toss the ships around, sending then crashing into each other. Phantom seven-three-five struggled to fight the storm, as the Arc team begun to jump into its open hanger bay.

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The ship fought the storm trying to keep still, until a violent tornado suddenly knocked the ships nose, sending it crashing into the side of a near by Federation cruiser.

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2

The instructor walked up and down several rows of tables as he delivered his compelling lecture to a group of potential Federation medics. The students sat two to a table, each looking down upon an embedded flat screen before them. Upon their flat screens were simulated ill patients the students worked eagerly to save, guided by the words of their instructor.

The class sat under a large clear ceiling, held up by four beige pillars, positioned around the students in a square. The floor was a thin white panel, tapping the instructor’s every step. In the front of the class was a black glass surface, projecting a hologram of their patients’ information. Around them were no walls, only the sight of the other classes going on in the same type of setting, all on a lush grassy plane.

Within the medical class sat a young man struggling to keep his simulated patient alive. He worked vigorously to pass his assignment as his female partner, Cassidy, tried her best to talk him through his mistake.

“Come on Bristol, you’re losing him,” she said.

“I’m trying, Cassie.” The young man’s nervous hands began to shake.

“Having trouble?” asked the instructor, stopping at their table.

“Don’t worry sir, just a small mistake,” Bristol answered. He continued to try to save the life of his patient.

The more he tried, the worse it seemed to get, before his patient eventually gave out and its life slipped away.

Bristol sat there in despair. “I’m sorry, sir,” he said. “I followed everything from the book. I mean, you did say this was a basic assignment.”

“Yes, Bristol,” said the instructor, who began to look over Bristol’s work. “I see you administered the Torccide before you began the procedure.”

“Yes,” answered Bristol. “It’s an anesthesia, right?”

“Yes, Bristol, but you didn’t go over the files of your patient. Torccide has an artificial element in it that helps to boost its effect—yet a few people can suffer allergic reactions to it. Before you began the operation, you should have scanned your patient’s prints, which would have informed you what you can and can’t do. A mistake like this on your exam tomorrow will be an instant failure. In the field, little mistakes like this one can be fatal.”

“I’m sorry, sir. I’ll get it tomorrow, I promise.”

“For your sake, I hope so.” The instructor left Bristol’s table and walked to the front of the class, addressing the rest of the students. “That covers it for today, class,” he said. “This was last time we’re going to review. Tomorrow is your final exam, which will determine whether or not you’ll graduate. So, get some rest and good luck.”

The students began to leave, while Bristol stood there, shamefully staring at his lifeless virtual patient.

“Don’t worry, you’ll do fine tomorrow” came the comforting voice of Cassidy as she placed her hand upon his shoulder.

“Yeah, that’s what I thought the last two times,” Bristol replied, unable to shake his shame.

He felt the warmth of Cassidy’s soft hand rubbing his neck, just as she always did to comfort him. He turned and saw her brown eyes staring at him with love.

“Look, how about if I help you study tonight? I’m sure you’ll get it,” she offered.

Bristol smiled back. He had been concerned about failing the program since they had started, yet every time he would have doubt, Cassidy would always find a way to reinforce confidence.

“Yeah okay, I’ll stop by later.”

Cassidy gave him a warm hug before walking away, taking Bristol’s confidence with her. Bristol put his head down as he slowly walked up to the instructor.

“I’m sorry sir,” he said. “I really am trying.”

“Bristol, I have no doubt you can pass this program,” the instructor replied.

“I know, sir. Fourth time’s a charm, right?” Bristol quipped, trying to build self-confidence.

The instructor laughed a bit before dropping a message that came as a surprise to Bristol.

“Well, General Tracy requested to speak with you,” he said.

Bristol lifted his head. He knew that for someone like him, meeting the general couldn’t be a good thing. “Why?”

 

“Wish I could tell you, but from what I know, it’s an important matter that’ll define your future in the Federation.”

Bristol’s concern grew as he began to speculate a reason as to why the general would request his presence. He stood in silence as depression slowly began to build, making the bright field around them seem a bit darker.

He had already failed the medical program twice and the odds of him passing this time weren’t looking good. The only reason he could think the general wanted to speak was to kick him out.

“I suggest you don’t keep him waiting,” the instructor prodded.

 

 

 

Moments later, Bristol found himself standing outside General Mark Tracy’s office door, contemplating whether or not he wanted to go inside.

Okay, Bristol, you’ll be fine, he thought. He just wants to talk.

Bristol took a deep breath as he reached for a panel beside the door, prompting it to silently slide open.

Bristol walked into the large office, looking ahead at a bulky man at his desk, which sat at the end of a long blue carpet. He was wearing a standard officer’s uniform with red stripes on his shoulders, and over his heart was the Divine Federation’s symbol. It was a silver shield with white feathered wings on its sides. Two swords crossed behind the shield. On the shield was a circle with two lines crossing inside the center, making an X, and two lines crossing the X, one vertical and one horizontal. This signified his position as an officer.

The general continued his work, not noticing Bristol’s entrance. As Bristol approached, the boy contemplated turning back. However, before he could, his footsteps gave him away.

“Bristol!” called the general as he looked up in surprise. “I didn’t hear you come in.”

“Sorry sir, I didn’t want to disturb you.”

“Nonsense, have a seat.”

Bristol walked up to his desk, sitting down in a chair in front of it.

“So, how are your studies coming along?” asked the general.

“Okay, I guess.”

“After looking over your progress, it seems that the test tomorrow will determine if you pass or not. I also see that you’ve already begun enrolling for next cycle.”

Bristol answered with a sigh. “Well sir, given my track record, I wanted to get a head start in case I fail again.”

“If you do fail, it’ll be your fourth time, right?”

“Yes.”

“So why do you keep enrolling? Don’t you think that maybe medical isn’t a good fit for you?”

“Sir, it isn’t the program,” answered Bristol. “I just have trouble processing information.”

“Well, you have done exceptionally well in all of the hands-on training. Also when it came to leading medical teams. It’s seems that you can’t seem to get the book material, but that’s important as a medic. You need to know the science behind what we do.”

“I know sir, but I really think I have a shot this time. If not, I’ll try again until I pass. I do get better after each time I take the program.”

The general sighed. “That may be true, but the reason I called you is to offer you another path. A path only a select few are offered, based on their personal traits.”

The office door again slid open, and a tall man walked in. Bristol turned toward the stranger to see him wearing a familiar black uniform with a red vest. He had slicked-back dark hair that hung to his neck. The man looked past his prime in age, but had a strong, fit body. He was clearly a warrior.

Bristol noticed the pin over his heart, the symbol of the Divine Federation with a gold ten-point-star, signifying his rank as a Master in his class. Three red stripes were embroidered on his upper sleeves, signifying his class as an elite warrior of the Federation, called an Arc.

Bristol stood in respect as the man made his way toward the Master Arc.

“You must be Bristol,” the man greeted with a smile.

Bristol replied nervously. “Yes sir, pleased to meet you.”

“My name is Rukaryo Ruiz, and I’ve heard a lot about you.”

Bristol was struck silent for a second, surprised by the fact of being in a Master Arc’s interest. “You have?” he asked.

“Yes. The student who refuses to give up, no matter how greatly the odds are stacked against him—a quality I find interesting. Please, walk with me; we have much to discuss.”

 

Rukaryo led Bristol out of the general’s office and through the academy. The sun was beginning to set as the students moved about finishing up their studies for the next day’s final exam. Bristol was still puzzled as to why Rukaryo seemed so interested in meeting him, so he remained silent, waiting for the Master to begin the conversation.

“So, I hear this is your fourth time going through the medical program,” said Rukaryo. “Also that your chances of passing this time are slim.”

“Well…somewhat,” answered Bristol. “It all depends on this exam tomorrow. If I don’t get a perfect score then I’ll have to retake the program for the fourth time.”

“Will that be your last?”

“If I pass, it will.”

“And why is it that you keep enrolling? Haven’t you ever thought that maybe joining the Federation just isn’t for you?”

“Not once, sir,” Bristol stated boldly. “I want to help people. I see all the good the Federation is doing throughout Eden and all the lives they’ve changed. I want to be a part of that. No matter how many tries it takes, I will succeed.”

“I see,” replied Rukaryo, a smirk growing across his face. “That’s what I like to hear.”

Bristol looked up and noticed the sun had descended past the horizon; the planet’s two moons shined brightly in the sky. His curiosity with Rukaryo’s visit escalated.

“Sir?” He turned his view toward Rukaryo. “May I ask why is it you’ve requested to speak with me? I mean, I never really thought that I’d be in an Arc’s interest, especially a Master.”

“Well,” answered Rukaryo. “As you know, we’re about to begin a new cycle.”

“Yes.”

“So tell me…what do you know of the qualifications we look for when selecting Arc apprentices?”

“Well, you look at the descendants of Nephilims. Those who posses the power of Angels, that’s lain dormant until the person learns how to awaken it.”

Rukaryo replied with a smile. “Good. That’s false, but it’s good that you know that. It means our secret is still safe.”

“What do you mean, sir?”

“That’s only a ruse we tell so we don’t inspire competition among the students. Being an Arc isn’t about being the smartest or the strongest. It’s about heart, it’s about courage, it’s about wanting to press on, no matter how greatly the odds are stacked against you. Which is why we are interested in you. You see, when people don’t believe they’re being watched, they feel free to let out who they truly are. When we find Arc apprentices, we look for people who are genuinely worthy, not just putting on an act to impress us.”

“Wait, so you’re saying that you’re here to recruit me?” asked Bristol, still finding it hard to believe. “But sir, I can’t even pass the medical program, how am I supposed to make it as an Arc?”

“You have potential, Bristol, and the Arc training isn’t like any other academy of the Federation. I have reviewed your record and apart from your exams, you truly are an exceptional student. You are a fast thinker and are able to find your way out of almost any situation. You’re a great leader and wise, but the thing that interests me the most is the fact that you do not give up. These are qualities most cherished when selecting Arc apprentices.

Bristol reminded silent in deep thought, trying to process the offer that was just presented to him.

Rukaryo noticed the boy’s clear inner struggle and tried to lighten the load.

“How about this, Bristol: I’ll give you till tomorrow morning to decide. If you choose to join the Arc ranks, then meet me at the transport station at sunrise and we will be transferred to Vana’s Phantom base where you’ll begin your training.”

He gave Bristol a comforting pat on his shoulder.

“Take your time and think it through. I know it is a big decision to make in so little time, but you can’t tell anyone about this. No friends, no family, not until you have completed your training if you choose to join. It’s vital our selection process stays confidential.”

Bristol looked up at Rukaryo and nodded before the Master turned and walked away.

Bristol continued his walk through the base in deep thought, trying to piece together everything that had just happened. Since he was a child, all he’d ever wanted was to join the Divine Federation. If he passed the exam, he would finally have his chance. On the other hand, he could instantly leave the medic academy and become an Arc, but he felt that by doing so, he would be abandoning everything he and Cassidy had worked so hard to build.

Bristol found himself conflicted by the risk of being an Arc. All he knew about the Arcs were the stories he’d heard—the stories of danger and battle. Arcs are put against the most powerful creatures in existence to protect humanity. If he couldn’t even succeed as a medic, how would he accomplish a goal like that?

Bristol stopped walking, noticing himself standing in front of Cassidy’s home. With all that was going on, he had completely forgotten their study date.

Bristol took a deep breath before making his way to her door. Slowly lifting his hand, he pressed a call button in the center of the door. Seconds later a screen appeared before him, displaying a live feed of Cassidy’s face.

“Bristol,” she said with a smile. “You’re late.”

“I know, but I had a meeting with the general.”

“Really? Is everything okay?”

Immediately noticing her concern, Bristol tried his best to not show his struggle. “Yes, everything is fine.”

“Okay, come in.”

The door slid open, allowing Bristol to step in.

Cassidy was sitting a table, awaiting Bristol to join her. The tabletop was a flat screen, displaying information for the next day’s exam. She greeted Bristol with a wave. Although he tried to hide it, his discontent was obvious.

“Are you sure everything is okay?” she asked as Bristol reached the table.

Bristol sighed as he sat down next to her. “Cassie,” he answered in a low tone, “there’s something I need to tell you.”

She gave him a silent stare.

Bristol thought for a second, remembering how Rukaryo told him not to tell anyone about his offer, so he decided to keep his motives hidden.

“Look, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking,” he said. “And I think it would be best for me to drop out of the medical academy and pursue something else.”

“What!” exclaimed Cassidy, surprised by his words. “But you actually have a chance of passing this time…and you’re just going to drop out? What happened to not giving up, no matter how long it took?”

“Look Cassie, I’ve tried three times already and failed, and my fourth time isn’t looking so good either.”

“But if you pass this exam, you can pass the program.”

“How can we be sure that I even will pass the exam?” replied Bristol. “Besides, it really shouldn’t be like that. Everyone else can score low on this exam tomorrow and still pass the program, but not me. And even if I do pass and go on to the Federation, then what? If I did this bad in training, how can I expect to do better when people’s lives are actually in my hands?”

Cassidy angrily turned away, crossing her arms with disapproval.

“You’re an idiot, Bristol,” she said. “We’re supposed to pass together, then go into the Federation together. Yeah, your grades aren’t so good. But you’re still managing. And when we do go out into the Federation, I’d be there for you.”

She turned back toward him, tears brimming her eyes.

“You’re not as stupid as you think you are.”

Bristol shook his head before standing. The only thing he could think to do at that moment to stop himself from telling the truth was to leave.

“I’m sorry, Cassie,” he said.

Cassidy again turned her head away.

“Good luck on the exam tomorrow,” Bristol murmured. He took a few steps toward the door, wondering if he’d ever see her again.

“What are you going to do now?” came the voice of Cassidy, stopping him with one final question.

“Whatever suits me best.” Bristol continued toward the door and out of her life.

3

The students of the medical academy had just settled in their seats, ready for the morning exam. The instructor pressed a button on his platform in the front of the class, causing the screens on their tabletops to illuminate.

Cassidy looked over at the empty seat beside her where Bristol usually sat. After letting out a hopeless sigh, she began her exam.

 

Across the academy, Rukaryo stood by a large transport shuttle, greeting students as they stepped in. After hearing a pair of footsteps behind him, he looked to see Bristol standing with an unsure look on his face.

“Glad to see you,” Rukaryo greeted.

Bristol answered with a shrug. “Figured I didn’t have anything to lose.”

Rukaryo smiled and motioned toward the shuttle entrance, directing Bristol forward.

Bristol slowly walked through the entrance onto the shuttle and chose a seat next to a window. He noticed a strange young man staring at him, but decided to pay him no mind. He turned to the window, staring out at the academy as thoughts flooded his mind. He was still trying to decide whether or not he was making the right choice, but was quickly taken by the voice of a young man greeting him.

“Hey!”

 

Bristol turned to see the young man who was staring at him now sat in the seat beside him. His spiky black hair was just as strange as his voice, which sounded much deeper than he appeared in age.

“Hey,” replied Bristol in confusion. “Do I know you?”

“Not sure,” answered the young man. “But you do look familiar. Where are you from?”

“Juno.”

The young man jolted in excitement. “Wow, so am I!” He extended his hand. “The name’s Virgo Castro.”

Bristol grabbed his hand and shook it. “Bristol Trammelle.”

“So this is really something, right?” spoke Virgo. “Never thought I’d ever become an Arc. I always thought they picked people of higher class than us.”

“Yeah, well you know the Federation, they’re full of surprises.”

 

The loading was complete and Rukaryo stepped into the ship after the last student. The door closed behind him and the hangar ceiling opened. The shuttle lifted up and accelerated into the skies above.

Bristol and Virgo looked out of the window as the ship soared across the planet on its way to the Phantom base.

Virgo turned toward Bristol with an excited grin. “So, what part in the academy are you leaving behind?”

 

“I was training to become a medic,” Bristol answered. “However, my future in that field wasn’t looking good. How about you?”

“I was going to be a pilot.” Virgo shrugged. “I wanted to pilot a Phantom one day, but becoming an Arc was too good to pass up.”

“Yeah, I’m just hoping I’ll make a good one,” replied Bristol. In the ensuing silence, his thoughts began to shift to Cassidy. He felt like he was abandoning her, but she was excelling and he was being left behind. He figured that if things stayed the way they were, he would lose her regardless.

“Bristol!” came the voice of Virgo, taking Bristol from his train of thought.

“Are you alright? You seemed to space off for a second.”

“Yeah, just thinking, that’s all.”

“About what?”

“What I’m leaving behind.”

“Oh, I see,” Virgo replied with a smile. “What’s her name?”

“It doesn’t matter. I walked out on her.” Bristol sighed as he dropped his head down in shame. “I didn’t even tell her goodbye. So, I’m sure she hates me now.”

Virgo gave Bristol a rough pat on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, you’ll be an Arc soon. With that status, you could have any girl you want.”

Bristol gave a half smile, trying to forget his recent past. “I think, at the moment, I’m going to focus on my career as an Arc, instead of worrying about finding a girl.”

“That’s it,” replied Virgo. “Throw yourself into your work and you’ll forget about what’s-her-name in no time.”

 

The shuttle hurtled through the sky and finally docked in an open transport station at Vana’s Phantom base. The doors rushed open, letting out all the students.

Bristol and Virgo stepped out in amazement to the sights of large Phantoms landing and taking off around them.

“Welcome to the Phantom base,” said Rukaryo as he stepped off the shuttle behind the students. “This is your new home.”

An oval-shaped ship descended upon them. Instinctively turning, the students caught the sight of Phantom Seven-Five-One passing directly over them. Their jaws dropped in confusion and fear, as they noticed the once-glorious ship now filled with noticeable scratches, large dents, and holes in its hull.

Their eyes followed the damaged Phantom as it slowly moved through the sky, barely staying up, and docked in a nearby hangar.

Two young men approached their group.

“Ah,” Rukaryo said, turning to the students. ”These are Sam and Josh, one-star Arcs. They will show you to your quarters and brief you on what’s going to happen tomorrow. So enjoy your day and I’ll see you at the ceremony.” He hastily took off toward the hangar of Phantom Seven-Five-One.

“This just makes me realize how boring the pilot academy really was,” said Virgo while nudging Bristol to agree.

“I wonder if it’s too late to turn back?” Bristol replied.

 

Rukaryo entered the hangar just as the ship had docked and saw as the three Arc teams began to walk off with their heads down in disappointment. Cid walked ahead of the others, being the first to greet Rukaryo.

“I take it the mission didn’t go so well,” Rukaryo asked.

“Lance was right there, but when the storm escalated, there was nothing we could do,” Cid replied, shame in his voice.

“Well he was obviously counting on it,” added Sneaux.

“Don’t worry,” replied Rukaryo, trying to reassure the Arc teams. “Remember the Eye of Eden was destroyed so there’s no way he’ll be able to raise Cassius, even if he does try to build another Gateway. Also, with Sabola under our control, he has no army. All he can do is run. It’s only a matter of time before we catch him.”

“You’re right.” Cid sighed. “But we still can’t continue to have failures like this one.”

“Have patience, Cid; tomorrow’s the gifting ceremony so all of you go get some rest.”

They all nodded before they continued to walk past Rukaryo, toward the hangar exit.

Traiven watched them from the back of the group, not feeling as upset as the others.

“Come on, guys!” he exclaimed. “We’re still alive, so that’s got to count for something, right?”

They all ignored him as they left the hangar.

“Traiven!” Rukaryo called. “Meet me in the canyon tomorrow at noon.”

Traiven slouched in disappointment. “Training?”

Rukaryo answered with a nod.

“But I thought we have tomorrow off, you know with the ceremony and all.”

“Once I begin training the new apprentices, I’ll hardly have time for you,” Rukaryo replied. “We need to get in as much training as we can when time is available. You still have a long way to go, and if by some miracle the Summoners do raise Cassius, being half Angel, you’ll be our only hope.”

“Yeah, but you just said there’s no way they can raise him without the Eye of Eden.”

“Traiven, anything is possible while in war.”

“But I still don’t know how I control my Angelic state. The first time was luck and I haven’t been able to use it again since my battle with Moth.”

Rukaryo sighed. “Don’t worry, Traiven. You are getting stronger; have faith. Now go get some rest.”

 

 

 

 

As the Federation prepared to start a new cycle, little did they realize an unlikely foe was scheming their downfall. Far from Vana, a small fleet of large ships hovered over the atmosphere of planet Robant. The dark blue planet reflected a dim glow upon the fleet, caused by the endless streams of light flowing around its surface. The command ship of the brown fleet sat in the center of its formation. Unlike the others, its spherical shape and bright blue color made it appear as a small metal moon.

On the bridge of the command ship sat five men, dressed in brown fur clothing. The large bridge was filled ample space with four of the five men sitting behind large computer screens and control panels in its front before a large screen. The fifth man sat in the center of the bridge behind the others.

He appeared as a middle-aged man, with thick brown hair and black eyes. He wore brown trousers with a brown fur vest, revealing his bare, muscular chest underneath. He sat in anticipation as the door in the back of the bridge finally slid open, allowing his guest to enter.

Hearing the coming footsteps of his visitor, the man in the center spun his chair to the mysterious man dressed in gray. His face was covered by a cloth mask, the only exposed part the upper right corner of his face and left eye. His exposed flesh was pale and partly decayed, as though his body was a fresh corpse.

“Welcome, Moth,” greeted the man in the chair with an over exaggerated smile.

“Wish I could say it’s a pleasure, Ganga,” replied the visitor.

Ganga simply laughed. “You always seem to amuse me,” he said. “I’m surprised you decided to hear me out. I was under the impression that you hated the Kaiju.”

“Don’t get me wrong, Ganga; I do hate your entire clan,” answered Moth, “but I figured that if someone of your stature needed my help then it must be worth my time.”

“I’ll let you decide.”

“Why are you hiring me?” Moth asked. “Don’t you have enough men to do your bidding? I thought the Kaiju pride in that.”

“Yes, but we’re wise,” answered Ganga. “If we tried to do this ourselves, it might send the wrong message, and a war isn’t something we need right now.”

“Since the Summoners don’t seem to trust anymore, I guess doing business with you should suffice.”

“And at such a critical point where Lance needs all the allies they can get,” Ganga added.

“Their days are numbered.”

“Not until they raise their dark lord,” he objected.

“How are you so sure they will?”

“You forgot who you’re talking to.”

Moth returned a cynical smirk. “Of course,” he spoke, a hint of suspicion in his voice. “You pride yourself on knowing all that’s going on in the planetary system…which is odd for someone who claims to be neutral. Unless you have ulterior motives.”

“And are you, of all people, trying to talk to me about secrets?” Ganga said defensively. “I do make it a point to know what’s going on, but that’s only for the benefit of my clan. We may not get involved, but whatever happens affects us all same. So yes, I do know what’s going on with the Summoners, with the Federation, and with all of the planets.”

Ganga boastfully crossed his hands, taking notice of the irritation in Moth’s eyes as he continued to speak.

“All but one thing: you, Moth. Your mystery is the only one that seems to elude me time and time again.”

Moth remained silent, squeezing his fist in anger.

“Who are you really Moth?” Ganga added. “Who’s pulling your strings? You say you were once an Arc but there are no records of any Arc that’s ever gone unaccounted for. And why do you keep your face hidden? What is it you’re trying to hide under that mask of yours?”

“ENOUGH!” exclaimed Moth, tired of Ganga’s interrogation. “Do you have a job for me or not?”

A victorious grin grew across Ganga’s face as he pressed a button on his chair. An image of a beautiful young woman appeared on the bridge’s front screen. She wore a tan dress and had golden brown hair that reached down to her sides. Her eyes were bright and brown, reflecting the light from a sparkling blue gemstone that hung around her neck.

“I’m sure you already know who this is.” Ganga motioned toward the portrait.

“Katelyn Black,” answered Moth in disbelief of his task. “You want me to assassinate the Princess of Sarazetty?”

“I want you to bring me the gemstone on her neck.”

“Blue really isn’t your color, Ganga,” joked Moth. “What importance is that gem to you?”

“What happened to your no questions asked policy?”

“I’m an assassin, not a delivery boy.”

“Then kill her if it’ll make you happy, just bring me that gem.”

Moth stared up at the image for a second in thought, trying to decide whether or not he should accept Ganga’s request. It was odd indeed, not just the request but the fact that Ganga was the one requesting it. An act such as this was definitely out of character for the Kaiju, who’d up until now been maintaining neutrality.

Noting his silence, Ganga pulled up another image on the screen. This image was of a man dressed in the Federation’s Arc uniform. The pin over his heart had three stars, along with a small pin that hung from a chain, connected to the long handle of a large sword on his back.

“This is Mardican,” explained Ganga. “He is the princess’ loyal guardian. He never leaves her side, so you may have to deal with him before you can get to her.”

“Why would an Arc be guarding her?”

“Don’t know and don’t care,” answered Ganga. “Just get the gemstone and bring it back.”

Moth turned back toward Ganga, still unsure as to what he wanted to do. “I need to think about this,” he said. “I do have other offers at the moment. I’ll get back to you once I’ve met with my other potential clients.”

“Don’t take too long,” replied Ganga. “If you do decide to help me, I promise to make it more than worth your while.”

Moth gave a slight nod before walking back out of the bridge.

h1={color:#000;}.

4

The morning sun was shining brightly over Vana’s Phantom base. In the east corner, General Jonathan Shinnle accompanied a Robant scientist, Bryan Wilson, into the simulation room’s control station. The two were standing behind a wide control panel behind a long glass window, overlooking a large dome-shaped room built with gray metal walls.

“I would like thank you for allowing us to use your base to help progress our research,” spoke Bryan.

“This new technology will be the future of transportation,” replied the general. “Especially if you can open a link from one planet to the another.”

Bryan directed General Jonathan Shinnle’s attention to the control panel before them.

“As a token of our gratitude, we have built a new model of training robots for your Arcs. Unlike the others, these are programmed with a type of AI that allows them to learn during a training session and adjust its skill accordingly to the Arc’s fighting strategy to allow a more realistic simulation. We call them Sim5 bots.”

“Sounds useful,” replied General Shinnle. “Can I see a demonstration?”

“Of course.”

Bryan directed General Shinnle’s attention to the window that viewed the large dome. In its center, Traiven stood with sword in hand, swinging it around in boredom.

Bryan pressed a button on the control panel and began to speak. “Thank you for volunteering, Traiven,” he said. His voice projected in the dome.

“NO PROBLEM!” shouted Traiven. “BUT CAN WE HURRY THIS UP, I GOTTA MEET UP WITH RUKARYO SOON!”

Bryan pressed another button on the panel and a section of the wall opened, letting in a large mechanical creature. Its body was round in shape, with two large legs and two thick arms. Its head appeared as a gray metal helmet with two spikes diagonally protruding from its top. On the back of its left hand was a cannon and on the back of its right was a shiny blade that it could extend or recreate from its fist.

Excited, Traiven stared at the robot, gripping the handle of his sword as the robot made its way toward him with one loud thump after the next.

“Okay, Traiven,” spoke Bryan. “Whenever you’re ready, I want you to attack.”

“My pleasure.”

Traiven began to race toward the robot. Sensing the imminent danger, the robot’s defenses activated. It lifted its left arm, aiming the cannon toward its target. As Traiven got close, the robot fired a blast of blue energy, but missed as Traiven jumped up, dodging the attack.

While flipping his body in mid air, Traiven simultaneously swung his sword, hitting the robot’s helmet-like head. He allowed himself to fall down behind the robot and he swung his body to unleash a powerful kick that knocked his opponent down.

The robot quickly stood, swinging its right arm while extending the blade, but Traiven immediately strayed back, sliding several feet away and dodging the attack.

“Good” came the voice of Bryan. “Now Traiven, I want you to go at it in the exact same way you just did.”

“WHAT KIND OF STRATEGY IS THAT?” shouted Traiven.

“This is just a demonstration, remember.”

“Oh right,” Traiven mumbled. He got back into his stance.

Traiven again rushed toward the robot and it again lifted its canon, unleashing a blast of energy while Traiven jumped up, dodging the attack. This time as Traiven swung his sword, the Robot lifted its blade and blocked the attack. As Traiven came down, again swinging his leg, the robot threw its cannon forward and blasted Traiven, causing him to fly backward several feet and crash to the floor.

 

“As you can see,” Bryan said, turning to General Shinnle. “The Sim5 remembered the negative outcome of its previous strategy and tried a different one.”

The general scratched his chin in thought. “It’s very impressive, Dr. Bryan,” he said. “But only apprentices train with robots. Our more advanced Arcs train by sparring, and these robots seem a bit advanced for the apprentices.”

“Well, that’s not a problem, sir, I can easily reprogram them at a lower fighting level.”

“Please, and I appreciate your gift.”

“As I said, it’s the least we can do for all that the Federation has done for us. We’ve given you a total of five Sim5 bots and we’ll get that reprogramming done by the time the new apprentices begin to use this room.”

“Thank you.” General Shinnle nodded his head. “And I’d would like a demonstration as well.”

“Of course.”

They were suddenly distracted by the voice of Traiven, yelling to them from within the dome. “SO CAN I LEAVE NOW? I’M ALREADY LATE.”

Bryan pressed a button on the panel and spoke. “Of course, Traiven, and thank you for your assistance.”

“ANYTIME!” Traiven shouted as he ran off.

 

 

Moments later, Traiven ran out onto an immense rocky canyon, noticing Rukaryo leaning on a large rock, gazing into the distance in deep thought. Traiven immediately slowed his pace and began to walk the remaining distance so as not to disturb Rukaryo. As he reached Rukaryo, he dropped his sword and joined him, gazing into the distance over the large open canyon. It was polluted with colossal rocks, clustered high and close, making it difficult to see the bottom.

Rukaryo took a deep breath. “You know I was stationed on Croft whenever your father and brother were living there,” he said. “I was one of the Arcs who were, as they called it, assistants to Lord Krisstan.”

“Did you train my brother?” asked Traiven.

“No,” answered Rukaryo, standing. “Your father was the one who taught your brother to use his Angelic state at an early age. By the time he was thirteen, he was a full-fledged Arc.” Rukaryo reached down and picked up a long silver spear lying on the ground next to him. “His mentor, however, was an Arc named Darrion. He was a good friend of mine.”

Traiven followed Rukaryo’s actions and picked up his sword.

“Darrion and I both received the gift together; he was a great man,” Rukaryo went on. “If he was still alive, he’d be sitting on one of the Masters thrones with me.”

The two began to walk away from the rock, positioning themselves in front of the canyon’s edge, several feet from each other.

“What happened to him?” asked Traiven.

Rukaryo gave a sigh. He dropped his head. “He was one of the Arcs who fell at the hands of Sanit. Sanit killed a lot of good people, including your father.” Rukaryo shook his head before looking up into Traiven’s eyes. “Sanit was a horrible foe,” he continued. “Yet he was so confused. In the end, he was just a lost Angel, trying to find his purpose. Cassius, on the other hand, knows his purpose. He knows exactly what he wants and believes that being who he is gives him the right to take it. He’s selfish, he’s ruthless, and he would kill every single being in Eden without a hint of hesitation. What makes him so deadly is the army of Demons he has at his disposal, and his loyal Overlords who will fight for him without fear or conscience. This time we won’t have the power of the four horsemen to stop him. Right now things are calm, but until all the Summoners are defeated, there will always be a possibility that he can rise. If that happens…you, being a Nephilim, will be our only hope.”

Traiven nodded. “I understand and I’m trying to accept that. I don’t want people to suffer, but I’m worried that I’ll never be able to use my Angelic state at will.”

“The key to unlocking your power is learning to control your emotions,” replied Rukaryo. “Being half human makes it difficult because our emotions drive us. Angels have a smaller emotional capacity than humans, which makes it easier for them to control their power. You must let go of your anger, your doubt, and your fear. Focus only on what needs to get done.”

“I remember my battle with Moth.” Traiven gazed into the sky, allowing his memories to flow. “He was about to kill me and I didn’t see a way out. In that moment I let go of everything and was ready to accept my fate. That’s when it happened.” He turned back toward Rukaryo. “How does it work for you other Arcs?”

“The power we’re gifted with is specially tailored to work as an extension of our senses and muscles. The more we use it, the easier it gets and the more powerful we become. But of course, our bodies do have their limits.”

Traiven gave a determined nod. “Okay, I’m ready.” Traiven gripped his sword and bent into an attack stance.

“You are getting better, Traiven,” Rukaryo said. He lifted his spear and prepared to attack. “You’re at the level of any other one-star Arc, but our goal for you is to surpass the Masters, and to do it quick.”

“THEN LET’S GO!”

Traiven lunged toward Rukaryo, swinging his sword with all his might.

h1={color:#000;}.

5

Just outside of the planetary system lay a single planet with no name. It was small and green, sitting in space without a system of its own. Although it had no sun, constant light shined upon it from the distant suns of three systems, keeping it from ever going into complete darkness.

A small, gray, triangular ship broke through its atmosphere and landed on its forested surface alongside a group of gray rectangular buildings made of dull metal plating. The buildings hid under large trees and green vines, preventing their view from above.

As soon as the ship touched the forest ground, three metal legs extended from below and held the ship up. A tiny hatch immediately opened from the bottom of its hull, allowing the assassin Moth to step off and rush into one of the gray buildings before him.

 

Moth walked into a dimly lit room where at its center, a strange man sat upon the soft floor. A light from above shined on him. Before him was a small circular platform, with a holographic surveillance feed of various sections of the Federation’s Phantom base on Vana.

Moth took a seat on the floor, across from the platform. He didn’t hesitate to report.

“My meeting was with the Kaiju leader, Ganga,” he said.

“Kaiju?” the man replied, puzzled by the information. “What about the Summoners?”

“Lance doesn’t seem to trust me anymore,” answered Moth. “But Ganga gave such an odd request I thought it would be worth looking in to.”

“What is it?”

“He wants me to steal the gemstone from the princess of Sarazetty. He didn’t say why.”

The man sat in a silent thought for a second, before finally answering.

“The mere fact that Ganga has requested your services is odd in itself.”

“The Kaiju have been inoperative for years, so I think whatever reason they’ve decided to act is worth our attention,” stated Moth.

“Since we still don’t know the whereabouts of the Summoners, continue on with the Kaiju for now,” the man instructed. “We need to know exactly what they’re planning. Follow through on this job, but make sure Princess Katelyn stays safe.”

Moth replied with a silent bow before standing and walking out.

 

As Moth approached his ship, he noticed a tiny figure sitting on the very top of its hull. He looked up, seeing a little girl with a long black ponytail waving in the breeze. As she noticed Moth approaching, she donned an excited smile, hopping from the high ship and landing safely on the ground.

“MOTH! MOTH! MOTH!” she said with excitement, jumping up and down. “Are you leaving?”

“Sorry, Amelia,” he answered. “I don’t have a lot of time right now.”

The young girl immediately grew an angry pout as she crossed her arms in disapproval. “You don’t spend time with me anymore.”

Moth sighed as he dropped down to one knee, matching her level. “I’m so sorry, but you know how busy I am.”

“Then I wanna go with you!” She turned her back to him, still holding her angry frown.

“You can’t…it’s too dangerous,” Moth answered.

The two were interrupted by an older female voice calling out. “Moth, is that you?”

A young woman in her early twenties stepped out from one of the gray building’s doors. The faded, worn-out clothing, a long green tunic and brown pants, accented her curves. Her golden brown hair swayed in the breeze as she stared with radiant gray eyes, which only seemed to enhance her attractiveness.

“Anya,” Moth gasped. “You should be getting some rest. You haven’t had a single minute of peaceful sleep since I’ve brought you here.”

“I’m fine,” she answered coldly. “I’m not as fragile as you constantly assume.”

Moth awkwardly dropped his head, showing regret for his statement. “You’re right. Sorry.”

“Besides, how can I rest after everything that’s happened?” Anya stated. “My father is still out there, and I could only imagine what Traiven has been going through. I at least want him to know that I’m safe.”

“He knows that your Demon is dead, and your soul is free,” answered Moth. “That’s all that matters right now.”

Anya gave a moan of despair; all she could do was imagine how guilty Traiven must feel for thinking that he’d killed her, especially after his promise to free her.

Moth noticed Anya’s uneasy look and tried to lighten the mood. “Don’t worry; you will see him again soon.”

Anya returned a fake smile, trying to accept things for now. “I feel so distant here,” she said. “It’s no better than my prison on Vana.”

“In all fairness, you did have it pretty nice there,” Moth added.

“I couldn’t even leave the planet,” Anya shot back, squinting in annoyance. “It’s no different from here.”

“We’re trying to protect you,” Moth responded in defense. “The Federation believes you’re dead and it’s best to keep it that way.”

Anya lifted an eyebrow in an attempt to pry into Moth’s hidden motives. “Is that the only reason?” she said. “Or you don’t really plan to use Traiven’s guilt against him.”

Moth sneered. “With your father on the verge of raising Cassius, Traiven’s the only chance we’ll have,” he said before beginning to walk up the ramp into his ship. He stopped as he reached the top and turned back toward Anya. “If playing on his emotions is the only way to get him to cooperate, that’s what we’ll do.”

Anya crossed her arms. Disapproval seethed from her face. “Is that you talking,” she said, motioning back toward the small hut, “or him?”

Moth replied with an annoyed sigh before the ramp closed behind him.

The two girls watched in disappointment as his ship slowly lifted from the ground and took off into space.

 

Evening was approaching on Vana. Traiven was pacing himself through the command fortress of the base, exhausted from his day of training, the words of Rukaryo stuck in his head. After everything he’d heard about Cassius, he wasn’t sure he would be up for the task of defeating him if it came down to it.

Continuing on through the halls, Traiven was taken by a familiar grinding sound echoing from up ahead. With the fortress all but deserted, and with most of the Federation members on the base, preparing for the ball, there would only be one person who’d he expect to find still at work.

He reached the armory. Just as he expected, Shawn sat on a rectangular bench, sharpening the blade of his scythe with a black stone.

“Hey,” called Traiven as he approached, putting his sword down. “You do realize you’re off today, right?”

Shawn answered without taking his eyes from his task. “And what do you suppose that means for me, Traiven? Spend time with family like everyone else. What family? They were all murdered, remember?” He looked up, taking notice of Traiven’s exhausted state. “But you’re the last person I expected to see in uniform today.”

Traiven let out a hopeless sigh. “Tell that to Rukaryo,” he said, sitting down. “He has this idea that I’m supposed to be the most powerful Arc alive.”

“You’re a Nephilim,” stated Shawn. “And after seeing Raven’s potential, everyone is expecting that from you. Especially since your battle with Moth.”

“Yeah, I kinda screwed myself over with that one.”

“If I had your power, Traiven, the Summoners would have all been dead years ago.”

Traiven shrugged. “Well, enough about work,” he said, changing the subject. “What’s the deal with this ball tonight anyway?”

“It’s somewhat of a recreation event to welcome the new Arcs into our ranks.”

“So, it’s only for Arcs?”

“No, anyone in the Federation is welcomed.”

Traiven gave a sigh of relief, overexerting his point. “Oh good, for second there I was worried that I wouldn’t have fun. Being so elite, I bet we Arcs get a lot of female attention, right?” He nudged Shawn’s shoulder. “Last time I went out, I met a girl pretty quick. Of course she did try to kill me, but that’s beside the point.”

Shawn shook his head, annoyed by Traiven’s immaturity.

“But of course you’re not worried about meeting a girl,” continued Traiven. “You know, with the whole thing between you and Joker’s daughter.”

“Cayli and I are just friends,” objected Shawn in a stubborn tone. “I don’t have time for that kind of stuff.”

“Come on Shawn, you really need to loosen up.” Traiven gave Shawn another shove. “I understand that you wanna succeed in life, but if you don’t take a break every now and then, you’re going to burn yourself out.”

“Traiven, one of the reasons Arcs are picked is because of the fact that we put our main focus on the job at hand, no matter what,” replied Shawn, stopping his task again to better prove his point. “We can’t put our duties aside, not even for a second. Of course, you wouldn’t know that, because you became an Arc under different circumstances than the rest of us.”

Traiven’s brow furrowed. “Exactly—I didn’t choose this, so I think that gives me a right to take a break whenever I want.”

“Well, I don’t care what you do, Traiven.” Shawn went back to his task, trying to ignore Traiven for good. “Your concerns are not mine.”

Traiven grunted before turning away to mutter, “Hmm, my only concern right now is getting laid.”

“What does that mean?” asked Shawn.

Traiven snickered. “Oh, ah, it’s something we say on Earth. It means to have a good time.”

“Oh, well you do have a point. I can’t completely put my duties aside, but I do need to take a break every now and then.”

“And there’s no time better than the present!” Traiven added with a thumb’s up.

Shawn finally stood, hanging his scythe on a wall next to the other weapons. “The ceremony will be starting soon,” he said.

“Great, let’s seize the day…or evening, because the day’s almost over. “

 

 

The moment Traiven and Shawn entered the fortress halls, they ran into a familiar old man dressed in the typical Arc attire, but the pin over his heart held a single ten-point star.

“Hello, boys,” he greeted.

“General Shinnle,” replied Traiven, in an attempt to suck up. “Always a pleasure.”

“Glad to see you’re keeping up with your training, even on your day off.”

“Well, we want to make sure we’re ready next time we encounter Lance,” Traiven said.

“Will you two be making an appearance at the ball tonight?”

“Wouldn’t miss it.” Traiven grinned.

Shawn thought for a second, remembering how Traiven had suggested he relax. He turned toward General Shinnle and answered, using Traiven’s very words, “Ah, Traiven and I are planning to get laid.”

Traiven turned away and grunted as he tried his best to keep from bursting into laughter.

“Well I hope you two you enjoy yourselves,” General Shinnle replied with a smile before walking off.

“Will do, sir,” stated Traiven, as he and Shawn continued to walk away.

“By the way,” Traiven said after putting distance between them and the general, “I have something to show you.”

“What?”

“Follow me.” Traiven ran ahead, and Shawn struggled to catch up.

 

 

The moment Shawn passed the entrance of the fortress, he was struck silent to the sight before him. At the bottom of a short, wide staircase was Traiven, leaning against a shiny red craft , smirking. The craft, with a rectangular shaped body and curved edges, hovered inches over the ground. It was a craft quite similar to the one he and Rukaryo drove through the base on his first day on Vana. One Traiven always thought would be nice he had back on Earth.

 

 

“Where did you get this?” Shawn asked, making his way toward Traiven and the aircraft.

“I bought it,” answered Traiven. “Apparently we get paid for this Arc gig.”

“Wait,” said Shawn in confusion as he attention was now directed toward Traiven. “You didn’t know?”

Traiven shook his head.

“Traiven, how did you think we made our living?”

“Well I never really thought about it, before. Until Joker told me about a bonus in my credit account the other day.”

Shawn blinked. “Wow, after all this time you must a lot saved up.”

“Well, I did.”

“What do you mean?”

Traiven smiled as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small pair of binoculars. “Have a look.” He handed the binoculars off to Shawn and pointed up toward the sky.

Shawn lifted the binoculars to his eyes and stared up into darkening sky above them. All he could see were dozens of ships passing back and forth through the skies above. “Traiven, what am I supposed to see?”

 

Traiven reached over and pressed a button on the top of the binoculars. As he did, the view instantly zoomed farther into space, stopping as a large metal figure came into focus. It had a large rectangular body, with two pairs of thick short wings, one pair on its front and another on its back. Its front section was shaped like a square that connected to its rectangular-shaped fuselage. A hump on top of the ship’s hull served as a long window. At its very back were four large boosters. Three rows of five large canons were positioned on the top with two rows of five underneath it. There were gun turrets on its side facing outward, and in the front were two large cannons bigger than the rest. The last thing Shawn noticed were words poorly carved into the side of its hull: T M S Awesome.

Shawn stared at the massive ship in shock, trying to process what Traiven had done. He slowly lowered the binoculars and turned toward Traiven with a dropped jaw.

Traiven grinned. “Pretty epic, eh? I carved the name on myself.”

Shawn shamefully shook his head. “Are you completely out of your mind!”

 

“Come on, Shawn. Who doesn’t want to own their own battle cruiser?”

“You can’t even fly a ship.”

“Hey, one step at a time, Shawn.”

“Of all the stupid things you’ve done,” Shawn added. “That’s not just any battle cruiser! That’s a Robant Mammoth class battle cruiser—they’re obsolete! Where did you even buy something like that?”

“Some guy I met on Robant,” Traiven answered in thought. “Gave me a great deal on it to. Even let me use his giant laser to write the name.”

“Traiven, you need an entire crew to fly that ship.”

“Then I guess I have recruiting to do.” He gave Shawn a playful bump on his shoulder. “Wanna be my Spock?” he asked. “You’ve definitely got the personality for it.”

Shawn sighed, put his hand on his head, and walked away.

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6

Moth was crouched on the long branch of a tall tree, staring at a distant fortress that appeared as if seven large towers had shot up from the ground simultaneously. Above him, a bright crescent moon shined down upon the planet’s massive fortress.

Well that might explain why Ganga doesn’t want to come down here himself, he thought, staring up into the night sky.

He was suddenly taken by a voice calling to him from the ground.

***

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Phantom: Red Moon

This book picks up nearly a year after the fall of Sabola. With his army defeated, Lance can do nothing but run while the Federation slowly closes in on his location. With a new cycle emerging, the Federation welcomes a new batch of Arcs into their ranks. Bristol Trammell, a Federation medical student who’s future is looking grim, gets a chance to turn his life around by accepting the responsibility of becoming an Arc, but by doing so he must face the reality of leaving behind all that he knows and loves. Shawn finally decides to make it a priority to learn the mysteries of his past and the true fate of his family. Meanwhile Traiven must face the consequences of his previous actions in the form of a new threat with the power to destroy the Federation completely. He is forced to make an unlikely alliance in order to destroy this threat and save planet Vana from total destruction.

  • Author: Gabriel Common
  • Published: 2016-11-14 19:05:10
  • Words: 64488
Phantom: Red Moon Phantom: Red Moon