Heading towards Kia with a listless in hand was the Shepherd.
Though, based on his appearance, it was clear he had better days. His clothes were in tatters, blood flowed from his lips, bruises and injuries seemed to cover his entire body and he wore this perpetual scowl, well…more scowl-like than usual.
Some distance away, Takeshi and Lanzo could clearly see how Kia's enemy took a step back and flew off, apparently in defeat.
Realizing this, Takeshi's brow slightly rose as if in mild surprise. What could have happened to have had a Talium retreat in defeat if not in battle? This was the question on Takeshi's mind.
Meanwhile, Lanzo felt wronged. He took several explosions head-on and almost died in an idiot/talium induced explosion, where was his peaceful retreat?
While Lanzo was pondering his luck as compared to Kia, the Shepherd took two looks to the side before his scowl deepened.
Kia's expression turned to one of bewilderment and anxiousness, "I-I don't know, something like a shadow made off with him."
"A shadow?" Takeshi had no idea what that could mean.
There was one person in the Organization who fit that description but that person wouldn't make a move for anyone, much less chain idiot #2, right?
"We need to find him, and by the way, why did your opponent fly off like that?" Takeshi felt the need to ask.
Kia shrugged his shoulders as he answered, "He bet that I wasn't able to figure out how his construct…he lost the bet."
"He did huh? Well, whatever, I can't believe how far this place has fallen, that idiots like that could actually be in Beta team," the Shepherd stated.
"Well, then by that logic, isn't it unsightly that you had your butt handed to you by an old man within said fallen place." Ardum slowly descended under the watchful gaze of Kia horizontally and Lanzo vertically behind Takeshi.
"And after I suppressed the level of my realm to yours. You seem to be getting rusty Takeshi," Ardum stated playfully.
"Old man my ass!!" Takeshi spat. "You're one of the pillars of this place, one of the reasons why 'they' haven't dared to openly make a move as of yet."
As he said this, his gaze turned upwards, "Listen, old man, don't touch my bottom line, that's an iron-clad rule of mine that others must follow. Just give me Viz and I'll be on my way."
Ardum's playful expression slowly faded when he heard this. He placed both his hands behind him as his chest slightly rose.
It was a small change, yet it shattered the grandpa image he so aptly displayed before.
A graceful bearing wafted from his every action as he stared down Takeshi, the still vertical Lanzo and a thankfully horizontal Kia.
This was what Kia and Lanzo's senses were screaming! They could tell that this old man was on something of a different level, even more so than the Shepherd.
The feeling suddenly skyrocketed as beads of sweat trickled down the faces of both Kia and Lanzo. Their bodies began to tremble while Takeshi remained unmoved by it, not even making a move to stave the pressure being given off by the man before him.
Scarlet Fang and Gravis Gaunlet instantly made their ways to their hands and upon their hands.
This man wanted to kill them and though they could feel an overwhelming killing intent emanating from the man known as Leverous Ardum they faced it bravely and didn't back down.
Seeing this, Ardum's expression didn't change, he simply turned around and flew back to the top where Vizio was being held.
Breaking and disappearing into motes of light, both Kia and Lanzo deconstructed almost immediately after he left.
"The hell was that!? That old man, he was planning to kill us! Why, wha- I-"
Kia was flustered, no doubt about it. Lanzo handled it better, after all, being in embroiled in constant battles as he were, hardened him to a certain point, but even his hands were still trembling as he realized he never felt anything like that. It- that was exhilarating!
"He was," came the stern voice of Takeshi.
They both looked up at him in surprise. So just like that? They would've died?
Even though they raised their weapon in an effort to fight him, that was all they were able to do. If the old man before them truly made a move, they would have just stood there like sheep to the slaughter.
Takeshi flew off with Lanzo in tow and Kia trailing behind him as he spoke.
"You came here with me despite the status of my exile and broke into their metaphorical front yard, knocked and then kicked down their metaphorical front door, and if that wasn't enough, that idiot ended up killing a disappointment from the Beta team."
After thinking about it, it was somewhat understandable, but if that was the case, why didn't he kill them?
"The only reason why both you, #3 and I'm assuming #2, and unfortunately #3 are still ali-"
"W-Wait, why me twice!?" Lanzo interrupted in protest
"Unfortunately #3 is still alive," continued the stern Shepherd. "Is simply because there is value in keeping you alive. Then again, if there was no value to you, I wouldn't have bought you here to begin with or had you around me in the first place."
"Wait, my apologies on if I heard wrong, but did you just compliment us?" Kia asked in surprise.
"No you didn't hear wrong red hair, it looks like he found the perfect pieces of shit to compliment the ass that he is… Eh?"
"I don't think you threw him hard enough," Kia stated with a deadpan expression.
"No no, I believe I threw him hard enough just to kill him, but not to damage anything else." The Shepherd said after chucking Lanzo like the perfect airborne turd projectile.
A resounding crash echoed throughout the floor that contained the 2A cells, something that caused the higher Taliums watching through the orb, the now austere director, and the occupant of the glowing cell to all suck in a deep breath of cold air.
Shortly after Lanzo was found embedded in the wall, Kia and Takeshi landed upon the base floor of the cellblock where his condition was displayed clearly to them.
"To quote the words of Dr Frankenstein," started Kia to the bewilderment of the director and Shepherd. "It's alive."
"Well, we're going to ignore everything that you just said and reference it no further," stated Takeshi.
After a while, as he collected his thoughts, he pointed to the corner and said, "Go check on #2 for me, it looks like I was wrong."
There in the corner, lay a half-conscious Gero! He was being looked after by a shadowy ethereal-like figure. It wasn't necessarily see-through or anything like that, it was its movements that were dreamlike.
They moved in ways that made it seem as if it wasn't just moving from point A to point B, no it was more like the figure was existing from one phase to the next, and yet the whole thing appeared so lucid.
After he sent Kia away, Takeshi turned his gaze to the glowing cell that held 'her' and by extension, the old man with his hands clasped behind his back that stood before it.
He lightly breathed out and started to take large strides towards, intending to ignore Ardum while he was at it.
"Takeshi…" Ardum called out.
"Listen old man, I don't intend to apologize for what I did. You're gonna have to ask for something else, but I'm taking Vizio with me today."
The way he spoke, one wouldn't think that he quite expertly had his ass handed to him by the very same man he responded to.
Still, the old man stood there unfazed, his back to the approaching Takeshi. The next few words Ardum uttered would be one of the few things that incited the few moments that made the man known as Takeshi falter in his steps.
"Give them to me, give those children to the inner organization."
Sorry for the late upload, and the one for today is gonna be late as well, gonna have to go to work in this s**tstorm of a pandemic, but you gotta pay the bills that are still here regardless, such as the internet that went down *sighs* it ain't easy y'kno. In any case, hope you liked the chapter, vote for me and help me to climb up that ladder.
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