Chapter Two - The Generals

Pearz laughed.
She must have found herself very amusing, as her heaving breaths threaten to burst her breasts from that shame of a dress.

Rho: "You call me a snake when you can barely keep your own forked tongue in your mouth."

Pearz hissed playfully.

Pearz: "And what brings you to my fair city?"

Powers to be.

Rho reached forward, gently placing her fingertips on Pearz' Aegis. Pearz understood.

Few friendships are worth risking your position and your life for; this was one of those. Time and time again, they have called upon each others' talents.

Pearz: "Have you eaten?"

Rho: "Not since I left Arcadia."

Pearz: "Good. I know a place. It's close to home. It's a sit-down; you'll like it."

Wading through the crowds, they arrived at the place: Asian Legend; funny name. The bell rang as Pearz pushed open the door. A heavy scent of meat and soy sauce ran about.

A waiter looked over, and then followed with a traditional greeting. Pearz raised two fingers. They sat down by the window.

It was always the people of a city that got to you, darting here and there, busy with their own ends and rounds. People had always fascinated Rho.

A thick puff of steam knocked Rho out of her daydream; there was food on the table. Pearz gestured to eat.

Pearz: "I suppose you being here has no correlation with what happened to Ogami?"

Rho: "Of course not."

Pearz: "Then you obviously wouldn't care to know this name: Setsu."

Rho: "Setsu?"

Pearz: "Don't repeat names you don't care about."


Pearz: "Something to do with the Rebirth of Tokyo. I'm sure there's more in the church's records than what we have."

Before Rho could even reach for her Macca, Pearz had already placed a note in the waiter's hands.

Pearz: "Not here you won't."

As they existed the shop, the waiters called out the traditional goodbye.

Rho: "Thanks."

She bowed lightly; such formalities were more for stray eyes than each other. After all, Pearz is still the Beast of Babel.

Rho: "It's good seeing you."

Pearz: "Yeah. Oh by the way: Yamamoto wants to see you."


Rho: "So that's why you paid for the food."

She was still glaring at Pearz.

Pearz laughed, holding out her hands like she was fishing for a hug.

Rho: "Apology not accepted."

They shared a quick hug; soon after, Rho disappeared down the Terminal steps.

It was good to see her again.

Although the Central Control Room was always busy and brightly lit, it was the flickering of the monitors and the constant droning of keys being struck that gave feeling to the place.

The ominous glow of the screens created an eerie outline of Yamamoto; coupled with those beady black eyes, one wondered if he was human or demon.

Yamamoto: "Good Evening, Rho of Arcadia."


Yamamoto: "When such an important guest comes to my city, I am obligated to greet them."

Rho: "I'm honoured to be considered important."

Yamamoto: "I am also obligated to ask the purpose for which you are here."

None of your business, old man.

Rho: "My business here is personal, not official. However, you will here from us for the latter purpose soon enough."

Yamamoto: "Oh? And what would that be about?"

Rho: "Recently your Busters partook on a mission to stop Ogami."

Yamamoto: "To my knowledge, that mission was a success."

Rho: "Letting that heretic live does not entitle a success! You, standing at the centre of it all, should know just how delicate of a balancing act we do every day! You sent one of your best Busters for the job, so am I to believe that the result was on purpose?! For what goddamn reaso-"

Calm down! Breathe.

Rho: "Excuse my outburst. I'm just a knife, not a pen; I cannot hope to draw webs like you. I will excuse myself before I insult myself further."

Yamamoto: "You are still young. Although you have been allowed to witness a great deal of things, you do not yet understand the consequences of them."

Rho bowed slightly and turned towards the door.

Yamamoto: "Ogami is but a piece of the puzzle. The balance would will not tip because of her alone, nor will it stop tipping with her gone. There are far more reckless powers at work."

Rho: "Thank you for your wisdom."

Rho exited the Central Control room, and a cold evening breeze cleared her mind.

20:30. Just in time.

If there was ever a place of true neutrality, then it would be the shops of the magic dealers. They collected and sold all items of magical value. They were an essential part of a Buster's life.

In addition to stones and beads, some - for a select few customers - also dealt in information.

Robed Man: "Are you a customer?"

Rho: "Of course. だけど物を要らない。" *

The owner pulled out a pocket watch and placed it on the table, face down.

Robe Man: "君が早いですね。" *

Rho: "ワインじゃない!教えって。売るか?それとも売らないか?" *

The owner opened a drawer behind him, and from it he produced a small wooden tablet.

Robed Man: "これがOgamiの・・・" *

Rho reached for the tablet.

Robed Man: "Don't touch it!"

Rho jerked her hand back.

Robed man: "只一人がこの招牌に君を与えます。" *

Rho: "Who?"

Robed man: "Doukan."

Rho placed a couple of Macca notes on the counter, along with the folded paper.

Rho: "Thank you."

Next stop. Souhonzan.

Gaian Priest: "You are now entering Ueno."

Rho showed him her acknowledgement.

No shit.

Everywhere she went, she just got more questions - or answers, for which she had no question.

What is so important about Ogami?
What is Yamamoto hiding; what is he planning?
What is Doukan's goal in all this?
Who is Setsu?

Souhonzan was the City of Chaos - though a poor excuse for one, at that. The dusty air only settled at night, revealing a crispy clean panorama of stars.

The markets of Souhonzan were as you would imagine it to be: filled with tonnes and tonnes of junk, of every purpose you could imagine. Stall after stall, it filled the tables and lined the walls - but there was always room to haggle.

The castle of Souhonzan rested atop a hill at the back of the city; a castle is a bit of an understatement because it was more like a armed fortress.

That was for good reason: Chaos had many enemies, most of whom had been made on purpose.

Doukan, the Messiah of Chaos, Master of House Souhonzan.

Rho: "Master Doukan. Thank you for allowing an audience with me."

Make no mistake: the ease of being granted gain audience with Doukan was because he had nothing and no one to fear; there was no other reason.

Touching the floor with knee and hand was common courtesy to show the Master of House Souhonzan.

Doukan: "This is about Ogami."

It was not a question.

Rho: "You are correct."

Doukan: "Last I remember, I don't answer to the church."

Doukan looked amused.

Rho did not rise from her courtesy pose; there was much purpose behind this. Different people required different tactics for harvesting information.

Rho: "Although I am here for my own gains, I am here to deliver information rather than request it."

Rho: "Ogami had something in her possession belonging to you. In fact, it was something that could only be given by you. I worry for your good name, Master Doukan. I feel it is imperative that you knew of this the moment I confirmed it to be true."

Doukan continued to look amused. That was a good sign; tempting his patience was a dangerous game.

Doukan: "I've heard a great deal about you, Assassin of Arcadia. You do not disappoint me in person."

Rho bowed slightly. Praise was good.

Doukan: "I will give you answers, but there are things even I do not know. After all, an uneasy alliance is still an alliance, and we help our allies."

Rho: "I could not ask for more."

Doukan tossed a shiny piece across the floor, and it slid to a stop in front of Rho.

Doukan: "I've given nothing to Ogami - however, what she had was indeed mine. I'm sure everyone else you've spoken to said the same things about her. I will instead tell you something you don't know: Ogami is one of many who share the same goal. They are harbingers of a coming storm. Don't lose that."

Rho pocketed the trinket.

Doukan: "You already know more than you should. You may leave now."

Rising to her feet, Rho bowed one more time to the Master of House Souhonzan before leaving.

Who would share Ogami's goals?

~ End of chapter two
* Aaro Note: Fledgling multilinguals with Beginner Japanese knowledge are bound to make mistakes.

~*+ Rho