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November 15th, 2008 (7:29 PM).
Worrisome, but also Charming
behind that truck
It's been almost a month, but, finally, here it is. I'm sorry it took so long. Me and my
got caught in the worldwide conspiracy otherwise known to some as "
: I think I already warned you, my readers, that I like to write long. This chapter will be
words, as will be the next ones, but by Ch.4 the word count will lower to about 4K or so. I hope the length of the chapter does not intimidate any potential readers.
And, yes, my
, suffered a lot
! I apologize for the inconveniences, man, and I'm really glad you accepted to help me. He's taught me a lot and I hope further chapters won't be so much of a torture for him. At least in a figurative sense... I also have a BR offer pending from PostOfficeBuddy, but I had completely forgot about it... so, maybe we'll talk later.
But no more excuses. I present you
Chapter I: The Interview
Footsteps echoed in the corridor, its shape and depth eerily revealed, in various tones of blue, by the halogen lights hanging from the roof every ten meters or so. A group of four people were escorted by the nine Team Rocket members in their way to a secluded room. The four of them were tagged with an electronic device in their right ankle and had their faces covered by a mask, but they were no further restrained: they even were allowed one Poké Ball each.
After the group reached their destination and the huge metal doors closed behind them, the masks and the ankle rings were removed and taken away. One of the Rockets, wearing a brown coat and a matching color cap which covered some traces of grey hair, led the four young to a desk, showing them four packs labeled with one name each.
Darius took the case marked with his name and opened it, revealing his three Poké Balls. He proceeded to attach them to his belt, feeling safer now as he had his other three Pokémon with him.
He then followed the other trainers to a row of seats. As the four guests took their positions, most of the Rocket members left the room: the only ones remaining were the man in brown and two shady figures, leaning against the opposite side walls. Darius could hardly distinguish their silhouettes in the darkness, but the situation improved when a yellow light came from a special bulb behind them. Darius noticed one of the two figures was a young and tall woman, of sharp facial features, with long yellow hair parted sideways left and right from the back of her head; the other was a man with light blue hair and a relatively round face. Both of them were wearing a standard Team Rocket uniform.
The man in brown walked to the center of the room and addressed the guests.
“Welcome to Team Rocket's facilities. We apologize for the excess scrutiny, but it was necessary for yours and our safety.”
As he said this, he started walking left and right in front of a projector screen, never turning his sight away from the four guests.
“Call me Syd for the time being. I am one of Team Rocket's top talent scouts. These,” he stopped for a while, stretching his arms in opposite directions and pointing to the two members to his side, “are my assistants today. They will provide you with some important information.”
The two assistants stepped in and handed each one of the trainers a pack containing documents, maps, and a booklet that was titled “
History of Team Rocket – the Unauthorized Edition
”. Darius could only smirk to himself on the detail.
', if that was his name, stepped back, letting the yellow light from the bulb to reveal his entire body.
“Before continuing, congratulations are in order. All the time there are a lot of people wanting to become part of our glorious elite. But of the circle of trainers, the four of you are the only ones to reach this point. During your journey of the Kanto and Johto regions, you all have shown determination when chasing your goals, ruthlessness in battle, and a strong sense of self-preservation. You have worked hard to hone those skills. And now we present you with an ultimate test of character.”
The lights in the room dimmed for a moment as a video was projected on the front screen, displaying images of several references to Team Rocket in the Kanto television. Turning his head only a bit, Syd grinned and continued his exposition with a darker tone:
“The media may have fed you the image of 'Team Rocket' as that of a bunch of warmongers who use Pokémon as a tool for their own profit. That is not false, but is still a biased view of our mission. Team Rocket goes beyond the mere 'wealth' and 'profit' as defined by money and riches. We go far beyond, for the sake of mankind!”
Upon saying this, Syd turned towards the four trainers and pointed with his right hand to the case held by the trainer to Darius' left. He then assumed a very informal tone:
“It is unfortunate only the less law-abiding activities of our Elite get attention from the media. But those who do actually ask, can learn a lot about us. Like, for example, if you open now your booklets on page four...”
Darius and the other guests opened their booklets and enjoyed a very artistic performance by Syd, who after looking very formal and well behaved up to that point, turned into some kind of street preacher, gesticulating with his hands, frowning and scowling, and showing himself as a talented one-man theater company as he imparted a more holistic view of Team Rocket's goals. Not just the seek of profit, but essentially, the seek for superiority through the experimental confirmation that humans could, and should, muster the powers of the universe that were made available by the proxies known as Pokémon.
After an exposition that could have perfectly lasted for half an hour, the projector behind the trainers powered off the instant the lamps were turned on. It took the four guests, as well as the assistants, a brief time to adjust to the bright light, after which, the two assistants came to the trainers, this time with one electronic “tablet reader” for each.
“As one cannot simply knock on our door and ask to become a Rocket,” stated Syd with a grin smile, “Team Rocket has prepared four trials for you. Each one consisting of a special operation you must complete for our agents, by using the skills we admire in you.”
The yellow-haired woman positioned herself to Syd's right as she proceeded to explain the nature of the missions:
“Each operation is completely optional: you have the right to execute it or not. If you do proceed, however, there are rules you must follow. It essentially boils down to providing our agents with a service of the highest quality, while at the same time demonstrating your level of commitment with our offer, your resourcefulness in the open, and of course, your personal abilities.”
Syd walked to the leftmost trainer, a brunette girl wearing a hat and a long yellow dress, as well as some kind of wooden ornament covering the upper portion of her ears. He started to talk, as he walked from one trainer to the next.
“The details for each mission are available through the tablet readers. These missions range from
...”, he said, staring at the brunette girl and then walking away, “...
,” he continued, as he came in front of a man younger than Darius, with black, laid-back hair who was wearing a wool vest and a band strapped to his arm; “...
,” continued Syd, as he came in front of Darius, looking down at him with his eyes very open, halting for a moment before walking away, “... and
,” he concluded, staring at the person at Darius' right, a short, well built man with green eyes, dressing in what Darius believed to be mainland Johto attire.
The male assistant stepped forward and pointed to the wall, over which some generic instructions were projected as the room light were dimmed again. Then he began a short exposition:
“Your missions begin when you signals us so. Each mission has a specific deadline and has to be reported to a specific agent, the information available in the tablet.” He got closer to the trainers and leaned forward enough for his face to become predominant in the four people's field of vision: “Under no circumstances can you contact each other or search for Rockets' help, unless an unforeseen event strongly modifies the mission profile.”
“Like,” interrupted Syd, smiling, “a meteor strike. Anything short of that, you must handle on your own.”
The male assistant retreated to the screen again, and pointed to a message in the lower part of the screen, as he further detailed the conditions of the missions:
“If the mission is compromised but you still deem yourself capable of delivering your targets, you will contact this number...”, then he proceeded to read a videophone number on-screen, “and one of our Special Agents will arrive to clear you.”
The three Rockets stood motionless for a moment. Darius memorized the number he saw, guessing that the other trainers were doing the same.
Syd spoke again, motioning to indicate to the e-tablets: “Which brings me to the last point: failure is an option. But be warned about the consequences... Should you fail, you'll be retrieved and quarantined for some time to ensure your knowledge or Team Rocket's internals, albeit shallow and minute, does not leak to... um... 'outside forces'.” he explained, while slowly walking in circles in front of the screen. “You will be returned some time later, safely, to your previous lives, under the tacit
that you won't do anything to further hamper the... appreciation, we have of you. Is this understood?”
After what seemed a moment of hesitation, all four people nodded at unison.
“Fine then. Please step outside. Your designated contact agent will join you outside to deliver the specifics of your missions. If you truly want to be Rockets, I wish you a glorious beginning.”
The guests sat up and proceeded to leave the room, the well-built young from Johto heading first, then Darius, the woman third, and the boy wearing wool.
All the time, Darius was reading the e-tablet, checking its contents. A picture of the Indigo Plateau Stadium and a diagram of the preliminary competitions were part of the mission roundup, but there was no obvious indication of the target. He would have expected his trial to be something dirty and dangerous, like fiddling with the mechanism of the preliminaries seeding... But Syd mentioned the mission was threat assessment... "
assessment of what?
" remarked Darius in his mind. His folder seemed to contain only auxiliary information.
As he walked outside of the room, Darius noticed that there were only three officers and each one had already departed with one of the guests, all in different directions. He stared at the brick wall in front of him for a moment, his muscles tensed, in his mind the notion of an ambush casting black shadows, as his left hand instinctively reached for Rapidash's Ball; then he heard the lock of the door behind him and noticed Syd turning towards him as he guarded the key in his left pocket.
Darius sighed as he turned towards the man: “Uh... excuse, sir?”
Syd stood in front of Darius, with no trace of surprise in his eyes. “Ah, you are the one designated to the Tournament.”
“Yes... my contact agent, where--?”
“It is me, of course. Already catching up on the mission?”
“Well, the target, and the... orders...”, answered Darius, his voice almost falling to a mumble, not sure how to continue. He did not want to give the impression he was stupid or something, but he felt the contents of the tablet device left him with no choice.
Syd frowned and leaned towards Darius; he seemed to understand the situation.
“Oh great... they brought the short version, didn't they?” Syd took the e-tablet in his hands and examined it, the frown clearly turning into an angered expression for a moment, before he handed the device back to Darius. “My Growlithes!” he exclaimed. “Follow me, please... How could they leave out so many details? After HQ ordered explicitly...”
Darius hastened his pace to reach the older man, puzzled. “The 'HQ'?”
“Oh, yes... Headquarters has requested this specific trial for you. Don't ask why: I don't know. But I know for sure your racing history is held in high regards among the Executives...”
Darius kept silent and turned his sight to the path he and Syd were walking. The two men continued their path in silence, only lightened by the blue halogen lamps.
As every minute crept by, Darius was feeling more uncomfortable. His left hand went constantly and carelessly to his belt, to handle the Poké Ball containing Rapidash. For the first time since the beginning of the interview, he actually felt unsure of what would happen next. He peered from behind as Syd produced a cellphone from his pocket and made a call, in a very low, grunting voice, ensuing in a not exactly friendly conversation with another person of apparently similar rank. He could only distinguish some words.
“...and no one confirmed...”
“...but I have the papers right here!”
“...to interview him personally?”
“...and despite the orders...”
“...was not the other one...”
After a couple of minutes wandering around, the pair crossed a metallic bridge and a thick wood gate that quickly closed behind. Darius noticed he was now in a large room, ornamented with old statues, armors and weapons, plus two bronze-made sconces, designed after a Nidoking and Nidoqueen, and a set of three paintings, each one in a different wall, and each one featuring a large bird Pokémon. The bird on the one to the left with yellow, spiky plumage and a brown beak as long as its wings were wide; the one to the right a light-blue bird with long and flat tail, a thick crest of blue feathers on its head, and a short, curved beak; and the painting in the far side of the room a bird of thick and bright orange plumage, with sharp, gigantic talons and distinctive flames surrounding its wings and tail.
Quickly leaving his astonishment, Darius resumed his step behind Syd who had entered a small door under the firebird picture. Darius found himself in the middle of a dark dome, with two metal barstools clamped to the ground, and a large screen in front of him. The faint sound of mechanic devices came from behind one of the walls of the room.
Syd turned right and raised his hand with his thumb up. From a speaker located somewhere in the room, came a womanly voice:
“Yes, Agent Zero-Four-Eight-Three. We've handing you the videolink now...”
The screen turned on, showing the partial image of a person. The bright white light emitting from the screen projected eerie shadows behind the stools and the form of Syd, who stood before whoever happened to be on the other end, in some kind of salutation. Darius only looked: from his position he could only see an exaggeratedly lightened plasma screen.
“I apologize for interrupting your meeting, Sir” started Syd.
“Do not,” answered a male voice. “I was debriefed about the misunderstanding.”
“Thanks you, Sir. I've brought the candidate to your presence.”
Syd signaled Darius to step forward, and he did, carefully, as he tried to look up to the screen. He could not identify the man--- more than he could identify anything in the image, due to the bright background light. Trying to get a better look, he stepped back, tilted his head and casted his left hand up, now holding the Rapidash Poké Ball, in front of his eyes trying to filter the light. All he could see was a dark figure dressed in an apparently purple formal suit, sitting in an office chair, and the ears of a silver tea cup in the leftmost part of the screen. The man's left hand could be prominently seen, stroking the golden fur and the black-coloured ears of a Pokémon. With the strong, pleasant purr and the barely visible red protrusion on its forehead, Darius could confirm the Pokémon was a Persian.
Syd turned to Darius and spoke with a tone of slight envy.
“Man you are lucky... It takes my C.O a week to get an interview with the
Leader of Team Rocket
Darius's sight deviated from the feline eyes watching from the bottom of the screen when he heard the voice from the other side call his family name.
“The grandson of Rhemis Mezze, it's a pleasure to meet you,” greeted the commanding voice of the Leader.
Darius did not respond. He did not think he was being disrespectful, he was simply taken aback by surprise: apparently his family line was known by this man who seemed to be the head of Team Rocket.
“My people have made fortunes by placing bets on your family.”
Darius felt his heart stop, his body become stiff. For how long had he been under surveillance...? Not only he, but his family, too?
A bleak notion crossed his mind – “
My life, my success... the Rockets' doing? Have I earned anything by myself?
” He shifted to a more defensive posture, lowering the hand that still held Rapidash's Poké Ball, and leaving the other arm behind, barely visible. Just in case.
“I assume then that is his Rapidash' daughter in your hand. A beautiful and persistent girl.”
“Thanks,” was all that Darius could mutter.
“And the question that now fills your mind? The answer is that you have nothing to worry about.”
“Question?” inquired Darius, trying to pretend naïve. “What... what do you mean?”
“You wouldn't be before me if you had to be guided by our hand all the way. You wouldn't be worthy.”
“So... my family? My career?”
“Yours by merit, of course. If you wanted more proof, then I expect the man by your side to have already introduced himself.”
Darius leaned his head to the left, to where Syd was standing. Only now did he notice Syd was actually an old man, probably in his late sixties. His face, however, showed the joy of a thirty years old man who has just met his childhood friends again.
“Syd is our best talent scout. He has been so for almost fifteen years. Every time you hear in the news the incredible feats of a Team Rocket member, it's one of the talents he brought to me. And every time you hear a Rocket was caught or killed, it's one Syd did not approve of.”
Darius felt slightly more comfortable, but still threatened. His sweating hand could barely hold Rapidash's Ball. He could swear he felt the object shaking a bit, as if she was trying to assure him she would be there.
“But let's leave the stories for another time,” said the voice of the Leader, “maybe when all this is over, and the three of us can enjoy a coffee in my office. Let's talk about why are you here.”
Syd stepped forward and addressed the Leader directly: “I'm sorry to say, Sir, that the target profile was not included in our mission chart. Neither Mr. Mezze or myself have been briefed about the nature of his particular mission.”
“Very well...”, answered the Leader, as the hand petting Persian lifted away and vanished from the screen. “Let me be the one to brief you, then.”
Syd poked Darius' arm and nodded back, directing his attention to the barstools. With a stinging feel of uncertainness, Darius took his seat. Then the screen emitted a brief screech, and the image turned into a split screen, in one side the hideous shape of the Leader and the Persian, and the other side a set of profiles for the upcoming Indigo Tournament.
“You are to participate in the Indigo Tournament this year. Again: all you've achieved is completely legit. So feel free to do your best in there.”
“But,” inquired Darius, “my mission has something to do with the Tournament, right?”
“In a way, yes,” answered the Leader. “The Indigo Stadium is the perfect environment for a test we need, a test you will perform for us.” The voice from the screen changed tone slightly and Darius perceived the figure of the man leaning back in his chair. “Now, Syd, I'm sending you some information we have collected about a trainer. He is the actual target of this mission. You'll make sure both our Target and Mr. Mezze make it to the weeding phase of the Tournament, and then it will be your turn to work, Mr. Mezze.”
“I guess then, Sir,” asked Syd while writing down some notes, “that the mission consists in a Tournament Battle between this Target and the young Darius here. Is my job, then, to...
, both Trainers meet each other in the battlefield?”
Darius turned to Syd and then back to the screen, to face the Leader. He was about to voice his objections on the matter, but a low mumbling from the other side of the screen stopped him.
“No... I'm sorry, Syd, but as I said before, Mr. Mezze has reached this far by himself, and he will continue to make his way to success completely legit. No scrambling the seeding procedure, no bribing the referees, and
no 'trainer accidents'.”
“Wait...” asked Darius, leaning forwards on his seat, “what happens if Team Rocket doesn't intervene the seeding process, and I can't face this trainer? Am I going to be penalized if, let's say, he loses his match before we can meet?”
“Of course not,” answered the Leader, almost smiling, “we may consider such a case a non-event, if you want. But I truly hope you two get to meet, in the battlefield, that is.”
“Well, then... where is the trick? What is the 'threat' I'm supposed to evaluate?”
“The threat, Mr. Mezze, is the limit.”
“The limit?” asked Darius, his eyes wide open, trying to ascertain the meaning of those words.
“Tournament rules are very strict about what can and cannot be done. Skilled trainers with powerful Pokémon have to refrain from instructing the creatures to unleash their true power.”
Darius raised an eyebrow. He had pondered, sometimes, when his mind drifted: “
Rapidash's got a lot of training, and she sure us strong, but she is not a fighter... what is a Pokémon trained for battle, truly capable to do?
” Now it seemed he was being offered the chance to find the answer firsthand. But there were still some things that made no sense.
“If you want an all-out battle, then why don't just summon him here, and I'll battle him? Why in the Tournament?”
“Because,” answered the Leader, “it's only when we're conscious of the punishment that awaits at the other side, that we can freely choose to cross the Rubicon, and thus can we be free to hold nothing back, as we are unlikely to return.”
“So... you are telling me this trainer is too ruthless to handle outside of the Tournament?”
“That, Mr. Mezze, is what we want to find out... Push the battle to the limit... And if it is you who returns safe and sound, the position of
will be yours.”
Darius prepared to ask one final question. He hesitated for a moment, waiting for the correct words to form in his mind.
“So, we meet... we battle... and mayhem ensues. Pushing too strong, one of us may be disqualified. Maybe, one of us will die. How will I know when is it enough mayhem for you? How will I know when to return?”
“You will know, because you already know what to expect from him. It's part of the reason you are here, the reason it is you and no other who he has to face.”
Upon those words, Darius swallowed hard and tried to calm himself. “
Someone I know? For very long, apparently.
” He ran an assortment of people he knew in his mind.
“Here, let the name refresh your memory. Your target is Lou Varan from Trikeria Town.”
. Darius felt time stop, his body became stone heavy upon hearing that name. It took some effort for him to raise his sight and examine the right side of the screen, now displaying a face he knew far too well.
Lou? So you are still alive?
On the right side of the screen, the profile appeared. Darius was hearing Syd's voice, but he was not paying attention to him, his mind was focused on the picture on screen. A young man, probably 20 years or so, with wide chin, brown hair combed to the left, revealing some patches of grey, and wearing a black jacket over a green t-shirt, ducking alongside a grown and apparently upset Nidorino. Behind and to the left of the man, the green legs and the blade-like arms of a Scyther could be distinguished. And by the man's right side, a green quadrupedal creature sporting a pink bulb on its back. An Ivysaur.
So it evolved? I bet that would have been something impressive to see.
Alongside the picture, some numbers and statistics were running down, but Darius paid no attention to them. He did not want to. His mind raised an instinctive alarm as it was flooded with the memories of the last time the two met. Darius' mind spiraled into the dark, deep cave in his mind reserved for secrets that should be kept for a lifetime.
Somewhere in the Suocé Region, three years ago...
As the ferny-odoured veil of the morning downpour slowly became a soft rain, the sun fighting to warm the Race Stadium with its light,a younger Darius, his clothes damp and loosen, walked towards a wide patch of scorched soil in the race track, and fell to his knees, alongside his companion Rapidash. The horse Pokémon was laying in the ground, panting heavily, her legs trembling and her eyes showing a tremendous fear. Her abdomen was badly hurt, her fiery mane waving eerily as she was slowly soaked by the soft rain. Her flanks were branded with what seemed to be the marks of a belt. Blood was pouring from small needle-like punctures across the marks, and several minor bruises ran from one side of her torso to the other.
Darius stretched his hand and petted Rapidash's soft head fur. She neighed with dramatic effort, and her eyes turned to meet his, turning the expression of fear to one of calmness as she identified the human that was now shedding tears over her muzzle. A small, bipedal alligator-like creature, with blue-coloured scales, muscular body and triangular spikes along its spine, was staying close to Darius, who looked back to meet his Croconaw, and to examine its beaten body, its jaw and arms burned, its left arm fractured and bleeding.
Smiling, Darius turned his face to Rapidash, and sank his head in its flaming mane, speaking softly:
“See? You'll be fine, girl... Soon you will be as lively as before.”
Darius's hand reached to a Poké Ball in his belt, and as he retrieved it, he dared to raise his sight. Some meters away, a green lizard like creature walking in all fours and sporting a small green bulb on its back, was using its two vines to lift a big, grey plastic case, as it walked away to reach its master, already parting away. Of the man, Darius could only see his back, fading away behind the curtain of the rain, but that was enough for him. A dark leather jacket covering a long, green t-shirt. Brown, loosen hair waved with the wind, showing some traces of grey here and there. The man walked away carrying his backpack, Bulbasaur and the case in the follow. He never looked back; he just vanished into the rain.
Darius only became conscious of what he was saying when Syd repeated his words back to him.
“So you haven't seen him for three years?”
Darius' mind forced itself back to reality. Back to the old man standing next to him, and the giant plasma screen emitting a very bright light and a purring sound. He looked up and then left, to meet Syd's stare.
“Yeah... I haven't. I only heard he was somewhere in northern Hoenn. But that was pretty much all.”
“That's a shame,” Syd pointed out. “It would have been too good if you happened to have more information.”
Darius kept silent, wondering what interest could Team Rocket have in his old friend. After all, he had stayed away from his family and friends for almost three years. Syd was flipping the pages of a report on his hand. He stopped for a moment and then addressed both Darius and the Leader.
“He was seen eight weeks ago in Vermillion City. Inquired the local police about a Grimer rampage. He took the Pokémon League Association Exam three weeks ago... having collected four Kanto Badges.”
“Only four?” asked the Leader. “He must have done well in the Exam if he ranked for the Pokémon League.”
“Yes, Sir. He got the Soul Badge. That means a lot.”
Darius remembered his battle against the keeper of the Soul Badge, a very skilled ninja by the name of Koga. The battle had been a fierce four-on-four brawl in a very closed space filled with traps, and it was only thanks to his Linoone's ability to carry objects in its mouth that Darius turned out victorious.
Darius bit his lip, remembering some things about Lou's personality, his family, and his past. He had never been into Tournaments and he had never had a reason to come to Kanto, except when he was first sent to return a Bulbasaur to the wild. Which he didn't. And that had been too long ago... Beyond that, the only event that Darius thought it could link Lou to the Kanto region was a certain occasion Lou was trying to get a job: he ended up opting for the position of assistant to an eccentric scientist, living somewhere north of Cerulean City.
His musings were stopped by another voice coming from the other end of the videolink.
Sorry, Sir, but we have one of our agents from Silph's Tiksi branch, she says it's something very important.
A click was heard and the Persian disappeared from sight as the Leader could be seen pushing some buttons. All the while, Syd was offering the documents he had reviewed to Darius, but he did not notice.
“My apologies, Mr. Mezze, but there is an issue that requires my immediate attention. Are you willing to take this trial, then?”
Darius sighed. His mind was already set. He wanted to find out too many things, yet he only had to answer two questions: Why me? Why Lou?
“I am,” answered Darius. “I'll find out what is he doing here and how good has he become. But what do I do with that information, I'll decide that myself.”
As a response, a faint smile could be seen drawn in the face of the Leader, but it was quickly covered by the Persian, who leapt up his Masters' chest, purring and looking for some more petting.
“Fine then. Syd, you will be his contact agent.”
“Thank you, Sir. I will.”
“And remember to call again when you have time for a coffee.”
“Will be a pleasure, Sir.”
“Mr. Mezze. Best of luck in this trial. I'll be following your performance with enthusiasm.”
With that, the screen blinked again, and the next instant it was turned off.
After a moment of silence, Darius noticed Syd was handing him a case folder. And he knew exactly what he was to find inside: profiles, tactics, breeding and training information about Lou and his Pokémon, a lot of information Team Rocket believed it could be useful to have about him.
How little they know...
With a demeaning motion, Darius ripped off the first pages, stashing them in his pocket. He turned heels and approached a trash can, close to the door. He produced a match and, before an astonished Syd could do anything, the case folder was burning in the trash can. The smoke quickly activated the fire detection system and before soon, the alarm sound and the soft rain filled the room.
Darius said nothing and exited the room. Syd stood behind, motionless, a hard expression in his face, while covering his head with his left arm, watching as Darius left the room. He had absolutely no idea what had just happened.
~~End of Chapter I~~
Hope you liked it.
feel free to review, constructively
. With all the effort behind this work there should not be severe grammar or plot errors, but some other things may have slipped by. After enough errors are spotted, I'll collect the corrections and apply them in a pack, as I did with the introductory chapter.
Well... no more words. I hope you continue to enjoy this work.
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