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38.98% A Knight's Will. / Chapter 22: Negotiations

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Chapter 22: Negotiations

Alex looked at the person infront of him.

His features were both feminine and masculine. He was upside-down in a container full of an unknown liquid and hooked up with various tubes and wires. The man that was centuries old appeared to be very young.

Alex looked on as the man made an introduction. He merely smiled as he started to walk around the room.

It was a bit different than he was expecting.

He was expecting some empty lab-like setting with the man sitting in perpetual silence as he watched the outside world, but the superintendent was apparently more human than he initially thought.

The room was a bit cluttered. There were several tables around the area with various objects and experiments laid about. Some unfinished machines or experimental prototypes.

But that wasn't all, there was also somewhat of a personal touch around the area.

There were some pictures, some paintings of various landscapes that were hanging on some of the drearily white walls.

They didn't speak as Alex walked around the room and examined several objects.

Every so often he would glance at Aleister's direction to see if there was a response.

But no, every time he picked up and examined something, the man didn't seem phased in the least.

Even when he went around and slightly tilted all the paintings and pictures, the man never said a word. It was apparently hard to get a rise out of him.

"Angels." Alex said abruptly.

Aleister seemed to focus as Alex spoke for the first time.

"They are synonymous with good, righteousness, purity, perfection." He spoke again.

"And...they are so boring. They were made 'perfect', they are good because that is all they know."

"Compared to humans, I find such creatures lacking." Alex said as they stared at one another again.

"Can you know good without experiencing the bad?"

There was silence for another moment before he spoke again.

"I prefer humans. For all our flaws, all our mistakes that have been made over the countless years since our inception. We are imperfect. We have sunk to the lowest levels of depravity and have committed some of the most heinous deeds that could have made even the most vile of demons wince."

"And yet, we have the ability to reach beyond our station. When we do good, its because of a conscious choice, when we seek purity its because we know darkness, when we act with righteousness its because we know evil."

"I can understand the lvl 6 shift project. I do not condone what happened, I do not like what happened, but I can understand it. To push human potential to its upmost limit."

"So I'm curious of your motives....why would you want to make an Artificial Angel of all things?" Alex asked as he looked straight at the man in the container.

As he finished his words, he finally got a reaction out of the man. It was subtle, a small twitch, a very slightly frown.

Truthfully, Alex didn't understand the entirety of the plan. He knew the pieces that needed to come together for the 'Angel' to come into existence, but the science behind the thing was beyond him.

One of the requirements were the little sisters and the deployment of the Aim Diffusion field.

It was a weapon of mass destruction. It could be considered one of the Aces of Academy City in the case that they went to war.

One might look at the slaughter of the Little sisters and think that the whole lvl 6 shift project was counterproductive to the city's interests, until you realize that to produce one of the clones was exceedingly cheap and easy.

That was until all their samples were destroyed.

Now they are unable to produce more clones and quite a few plans have been put on hold or discontinued.

Alex smiled as he looked at Aleister who was deep in thought.

Aleister was silent as he was trying to contemplate.

He was weighing the options of speaking about what the anomaly had just brought up. He didn't know to the extent of which this man knew about his plans. Him even knowing about the 'angel' was already beyond his expectations.

"What do you wish to do with the clones?" Aleister finally spoke.

"That's not up for me to decide. That is for them and their older sister to figure out." Alex replied bluntly.

Aleister pondered for a moment before speaking again.

"Would you be willing to provide another DNA sample for the continued production of the clones?" He asked.

Yes, the superintendent of Academy city was asking. If any of the board of directors were here they would be shocked at the revelation.

Aleister rarely ever asked for anything. He schemed for things, he took what he wanted by force if necessary, rarely did he ever have to ask for something.

"I understand how important the little sisters are to your plans." Alex said as he watched Aleister's eyes narrow.

"You will not be receiving another sample of her DNA to create more clones." Alex said as he stared at the man.

It sounded more of a provocation than a negotiation.

Again, the room became silent as both individuals were deep in thought on how to respond.

"You have interrupted quite a few of my plans." Aleister stated bluntly, a bit of anger in his voice. He rarely got mad, he was somewhat angry at the moment. He was willing to negotiate and yet this anomaly was turning him down without a second thought.

"We both know that isn't true. You cannot produce any more clones, that doesn't mean the current ones will still not be of use." Alex replied.

"I'm aware of how you intend to use them. By not having the ability to replicate them endlessly, it just means you have to take care of the ones you currently have at your disposal." Alex said again.

"Fix their lifespans. Let them live their lives and offer them protection as they travel about and never restart the experiment. In return your plans only shift slightly instead of breaking." He finished.

Aleister stared at the man infront of him. He wasn't unaware of the emotions he threw away. He understood how people cared for one another and made choices based on that. While illogical he could atleast understand the mentality behind such decisions, so it didn't throw him off when this anomaly was worried about the continued existence of the clones.

If anything, it shed some light on this man's disposition. His willingness to help those in need and thus allowed Aleister to paint a better picture of him all around.

"You ask for much without offering anything in return." Aleister stated.

While Aleister did some-what fear the mans power, he wasn't helplessly at his mercy. Even if Aleister could do nothing to hurt the man physically, he still had people he was protecting, people he cared about.

If a fight did break out, Academy City would probably be destroyed in the process which would shatter Aleister's plans, but at the same time all the people Alex came to care about in the city would die as well.

It was mutually assured destruction.

Alex thought for a moment before finally responding.

"I will not actively go against your plans." He replied bluntly.

Aleister held back a small smile. It was what he wanted.

Realistically, his plans barely changed and what the man asked of him was hardly an issue and required very little work on his end.

What he wanted was an assurance. A promise of non-intervention.

It may seem odd that a man of Aleister's authority would place so much weight on another's words, but beings in their realm of power tended to stick to their words than those cockroaches on the board.

It was a vague statement that left loopholes for interference, but it was enough to conducts more plans and redesign previous ones to avoid this man and his interests.

The question now though...could he get something else that was nagging at the back of his mind?

Did this anomaly know how important his non-interference was to his plans? He could attempt to pry some information, if only a little.

The atmosphere was a bit tense as both of them stared down one another.

"Who are you?" Aleister finally asked.

Alex weighed the options of answering his question.

Aleister knew that the kids were currently being protected by him and he had taken a vested interest in their wellbeing.

He was still worried about the ramifications once he left this world and didn't know if his previous threats and presence would provide enough security to allow them to fully grow.

His other name had weight behind it.

He didn't know how the world would react to it, but he could guess Aleister would be very cautious. He couldn't see the future, he didn't know when he would leave or what would be in store once he left, so he could only make as many preparations as possible.

If his other name could provide some protection for them, then he was willing to deal with the potential fallout if it got out from Aleister, though he doubted the man would go around blabbing about it, he tended to play his cards very close to the chest.

So Alex smiled.

And he spoke.

Not a hint of hesitation in his voice.

A secret amount of amusement when he finally got a decent reaction out of the stoic individual.

He saw the man's eyes widen in disbelief, mouth slightly agape.

He left the shocked man to his own machinations. Their negotiations had come to an end and he was confidant that they would not become enemies easily.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Alex walked back into the apartment complex and arrived at the floor where both he and Touma lived.

He heard shouting and apologies coming from the end of the hallway where Touma's apartment lay.

Standing out in the open was both Touma and Index in a little spat.

"STUPID STUPID STUPID STUPID STUPID STUPID STUPID" The little nun kept shouting as she swung her tiny fists at the boy.

"Did she finally find out what Touma had been up to these past several days?" Alex asked as Kaori and Stiyl walked towards him.

"Kinda hard to hide when your body is almost entirely wrapped in bandages and you have a hard time moving." Stiyl replied.

"Where have you been?" Kaori asked abruptly.

It was rare for him to just up and disappear without a word. Even when he had been going out previously due to the kids running around, he had been sure to stay in touch as his main objective was still to protect Index.

"I went to speak with Aliester." Alex replied.

They both looked at him with a little shock.

"And the city is still in tact, I'm surprised." Stiyl said with a bit of sarcasm.

"What happened?" Kaori asked.

"Negotiated for the release of all the little sisters and the stop for the experiment." He stated. Truthfully, the little sisters would probably be released regardless and he didn't think the experiment would have started back up again, but it was good to make sure.

"If you were able to do that, why not just do it in the first place?" Stiyl asked this time.

"I can only hold their hands so much. I won't be here forever. I needed them to find the resolve to fight, they will be drawn to danger regardless of my presence, but I want them to be ready." He replied with a smile.

He looked back towards the two kids who stopped their bickering.

Index was now clutching Touma as she cried into his chest. She was clearly worried about him and after seeing him return in such a state left her emotional.

"It seems that Touma has progressed on the Index Route." Alex said with a cheeky smile.

"Oi, what is that supposed to mean?" Stiyl turned to face him.

"You haven't noticed how he seems to be surrounded by girls?" Alex asked, raising an eyebrow.

Stiyl's eyes widened in realization.


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