Apologies for the late release. We were in transition over a new editor, so that’s why it took us so long to publish. Moving forward, iepie122 will be the featured as the editor.
When she arrived home after the first combat training she gave, Kasumi went straight for a shower and bath. As she relaxed in her bathtub, she touched her lips and smiled as she savored the moment where her lips met with Gale’s. Kasumi thought it was adorable that Gale was perplexed when she kissed him.
“That’s so like you, Gale! You probably forgot the details of our mission.”
Kasumi then reached for her phone and looked through her photo gallery. She paused when she saw a photo that featured a squad posing after a successful rescue mission of three years ago.
As she looked at the photo, she remembered the day when she first met Gale.
“What’s that shrimp doing here, Athena?”
“You mean Gale? You shouldn’t underestimate him. He might be stronger than you and I if he gets serious, Kasumi! It’s a pity that we are in a different group, so we may not be able to see him in action very often.”
Kasumi looked unimpressed because Gale looked like a twelve-year-old boy.
“What are his abilities? You are the strongest among this rescue squad, and for you to praise that boy, he must be something else.”
“He is something else. He started helping us out with our missions at five years old, and usually his aunt will come along with us to supervise him, but lately, he has been coming alone, and I’m pretty impressed by his level of efficiency and professionalism so far.”
Kasumi was shocked! She thought she was pretty young when she started carrying out missions as a freelance agent for Agatha Sigrun, but to start at five years old was mind-boggling!
“You can’t be serious?! How does a five-year-old have enough strength to go on missions?! He shouldn’t even have enough muscles to hold a rifle properly!”
Athena looked at Kasumi and smiled.
“You will be even more surprised if you hear what sort of training he underwent before. However, my Mom told me to keep it a secret. Just observe him during this mission, and you will see how impressive he is.”
At that moment, Agatha walked into the briefing room, and everyone was alerted by her presence. There were fifteen agents in the room, including Athena, Kasumi, and Gale. They gathered in a submarine to start their briefing for an operation.
“We are currently pressed for time, so I would like to keep this meeting concise. The Lumeria government in the west has sought us for intelligence regarding a terrorist group which has infiltrated their country for some time. We have been providing them with information and exposed the terrorists’ secrets to the Lumeria government. Thus the Lumeria armed forces crushed their headquarters recently.
However, the survivors regrouped and, in revenge, kidnapped their Princess including four of her maids, and sabotaged some of their key installations as a decoy. They are skilled in guerrilla tactics and individual close combat. Some of them have the strength to dodge sub-machine gun and rifle bullets outside a fifty meters radius. You can be sure that every one of them is a trained assassin.
Unfortunately, they have escaped on a ship and have moved away from Lumeria’s territorial waters into Crescendo’s territorial waters. Both countries have poor relations with each other, and if Lumeria sends their special forces for a rescue mission, a war might be triggered. That is why the King of Lumeria has sought my help to gather an in lieu mercenary group to perform the rescue mission.
They have docked on an offshore island which is an abandoned military base in Crescendo. Crescendo seems to be providing unofficial help by granting a base and supplies to these terrorists, so we will have to consider them as enemies if we happen to encounter their soldiers. However, I doubt they will take any actions to hinder us in our rescue operation since it will tarnish their image if they were found helping terrorists in their country.”
Kasumi raised her hand.
“Do we know who these terrorists are and what their objectives are?”
“We are dealing with ‘The Shining Path,’ who wants to steal Lumeria’s technological secrets in warfare and grow their army. Their ultimate goal is to overthrow the Lumeria monarchy and establish their government over the kingdom of Lumeria.
The kidnapping of Princess Luna is nothing more than pure revenge for the death of their comrades. I’m sure ‘The Shining Path’ knew that they could not use the Princess for a ransom as King Eshawn is not the type that would give in to enemies. They are probably looking to broadcast her humiliation to the whole world by tomorrow morning, and that is why we must finish our rescue operation by daybreak. Moreover, the people of Lumeria love the Princess, and it will cause a lot of chaos if the terrorists succeed.”
Agatha then showed the photos of Princess Luna and her maids to the squad. Princess Luna was a young and pretty girl astound the age of 12 with long drill curls.
“The Princess is the priority, even though the maids’ lives are important as well. For the dignity of Lumeria, we do not want the humiliation of the Princess to be broadcasted throughout the world.
This is the 3D hologram with the layout of the base which you will infiltrate. All of you will infiltrate through the sewers located at the bottom of the island. Expect traps, sensors, and all kinds of tracking equipment as you search the base. Gale will go ahead of you all to remove traps and warn you of sentries and patrols until you all reach ground level.
We believe that the Princess is held at the Command Center, thus head straight there when you are within the base. There are two teams of seven among you, with Gale having a free role. So each team will infiltrate the Command Center from different entrances while Gale will stealthily look for the Princess by himself. There will be snipers on elevated areas so keep yourself out of sight.”
A guy raised his hand to ask a question.
“Why does Gale have a free role in this mission? This is a dangerous mission, and I’m questioning his role in our squad because I think he’s too young to fight!”
Agatha smiled as she countered his argument.
“I believe you are one of the recruits, aren’t you? , but Gale has been helping us in our missions with a perfect record ever since he was five. It is not often that we have a team as large as fifteen members so you probably never met him.
If you can hear footsteps and even heartbeats from a distance as well as he can, and if you can use ninja arts as well, perhaps you can be a candidate for his role.”
After having shut the recruit down, she goes on with her explanation.
“The terrorists are expecting a rescue mission from the kingdom of Lumeria so they will be on high alert tonight. I suspect you all have less than twenty percent of not being detected as a team or as individuals, but Gale by himself has a ninety percent success rate.
Those of you who have worked with Gale before, raise your hands if you are confident of Gale’s abilities.”
Ten hands arose from different individuals, and Kasumi was surprised that Gale had so much experience working with other agents when he is only twelve. Robert didn’t look convinced, but he eventually gave up.
“I also have a wildcard agent that isn’t here with us now. She will be dressed in dark purple in a similar black suit like yours. She will be there to observe and bail you guys out if this proves too much for you all.
Any further questions?”
There were no more questions from the squad and Agatha gave them fifteen minutes to get ready for deployment. Athena and Kasumi headed straight to the equipment room to grab their oxygen tanks when Robert introduced himself to Kasumi.
“Hey, you look new here. I’m Robert Kisaragi from team ‘B,’ nice to meet you!”
“I’m Kasumi Mizushima from Athena’s team, nice to meet you!”
“Oh, you are from the famous line of swordsmen?”
Robert tried to strike a conversation with Kasumi, but Athena stopped him.
“Fifteen minutes isn’t a very long time, Robert. Have you prepared your gear for the dive yet?”
“Come on, Athena, don’t be such a wet blanket! It’s no wonder that you look so beautiful yet you’re single. Look at Gale over there; he isn’t even wearing his oxygen tank yet!”
“He doesn’t need an oxygen tank, you know?”
“Who goes for a dive without an oxygen tank?!”
“He can hold his breath for well over eight hours. Why would he need an oxygen tank?”
Robert and Kasumi instinctively stared at Gale, who was equipping himself with all sorts of small daggers and shurikens over his body. He seemed ready with a sword on his back.
Robert exclaimed. “That is not possible! Also, he’s not going to fight without a gun, is he?!”
“Oh yes, what for? He will be throwing those daggers at the enemies. We need guns because we are not as good at throwing knives like him.”
Kasumi was so intrigued by Gale that she went up to him to introduce herself.
“Hi Gale, my name is Kasumi Mizushima. Call me Kasumi.”
“Hi, Kasumi, nice to meet you.”
Gale shook her hand promptly, gave a last look around him to see if he missed anything, and walked away. Athena joined Kasumi from behind and remarked.
“He’s pretty cool, eh? Not like other boys we have seen.”
Kasumi realized it as well. Gale was cool, professional and didn’t put up airs. His eyes were serious, and he looked like he could handle anything.
Robert was left alone, and he looked pretty upset at being ignored.
Every squad member had an oxygen tank, a pistol, a submachine gun and their custom weapon. Gale looked like he didn’t carry anything else except the sword on his back, throwing knives, daggers, and shurikens.
The squad was divided into two teams, seven members each. Athena and Kasumi were in Team ‘A,’ and they were the only girls on their team. Robert was in Team ‘B’ with six other members.
The rescue squad plunged into the depths of the sea as the submarine opened the hatch to release them into the water. As soon as Gale was in the water, he swam so quickly in front of everyone else that he disappeared within moments. Kasumi couldn’t believe what she was seeing as she kicked her flippers frantically to try to keep up with him.
They were not allowed to use any motorized vehicles to quicken their pace because they were afraid of sensors that might detect them.
The rest of the squad swam through a sewage hole and emerged in an underground canal. The squad arrived at the underground sewers of the military base, and they found Gale looking at a device that was hidden in a wall.
“These are laser and vibration based sensors. They send signals back to the base if they are tampered with, so try not to disturb these sensors whenever possible. Further down the canal, I saw a couple of sound based sensors and removed them. They don’t have them here because of the tides that rise and fall, which may create false positives for their sensors when they pick up sounds from the waves, but from here on out we will need to be very silent and light-footed.”
Kasumi stared at Gale in amazement. You went ahead and came back already?!
“In the middle of the canal, I have tied black ribbons on two ladders. Team ‘A’ will emerge from the first ladder and Team ‘B’ will emerge from the second ladder. Both ladders lead to the different entrances of the Command Center.
After I guide Team ‘B’ to their ladder, all of you will be on your own, and I will be looking for the Princess as a free-role agent.”
The team leaders nodded in agreement at Gale, and the squad swiftly proceeded into the canal. With Gale’s help, the squad encountered no difficulties, and the squad saw unconscious tied-up guards along the walls of the canal.
Athena’s team reached their ladder first and team ‘B’ separated themselves from team ‘A.’ Using a wired scope through a utility hole cover, Athena looked at the surroundings to see if there were any guards or sensors. As there seemed to be no threat in the vicinity, Athena promptly removed the utility hole cover, and the team swiftly secured the area.
The whole base had a deserted feeling, and the buildings looked old. Broken glass and debris were everywhere, and only the Command Center looked somewhat decent with lights in the building. Athena motioned the team towards a door, and the team swiftly infiltrated the room and secured the area.
It was so quiet and eerie; one could hear a pin drop. As the team cautiously walked towards the next room, a grenade was suddenly lobbed in their midst, and one of the teammates immediately shouted, “Take cover!”
Athena took her brush, which was as long as a sword, and used her [Cursed Ink Technique] to wrap the grenade with her [Cursed Ink] which was oozing out of her brush. The grenade exploded but the [Cursed Ink] contained the blast, and only ink splattered everywhere.
Several grenades were then thrown towards the team from the other room, but this time Athena contained all those grenades with her [Cursed Ink], and because the [Cursed Ink] was like a sticky gum, she threw it back into the room where it came from. Screams could be heard, and explosions that shook the building erupted in that room.
Suddenly the wall separating the two rooms exploded as one of the terrorists fired a bazooka to destroy the wall! Concrete bricks flew towards the team, and all of them were thrown back by the impact. Athena and Kasumi suffered bruises and cuts from the flying debris as they used their arms in an attempt to shield their faces.
As the dust began to settle, the team looked up and saw a big room that had a collapsed ceiling. Above the collapsed roof, it was an open area with stairs and corridors on the side, encircling the area beneath and they were an additional two floors above where Team ‘A’ was standing. Terrorists on the second and third floors were aiming their guns at the team while the terrorists on the ground floor laughed at the sight of the shocked team.
“Did you think we were not prepared for you? I must say that all of you did pretty well, escaping our traps in the sewers.
If all of you surrender right now, I promise I will spare your lives.”
A guy with short hair, wearing army pants and a tank top, stood at the other end of the room where Team ‘A’ was threatening the terrorists to surrender, so Athena assumed that he must be one of the leaders of the terrorist group. She picked herself up and commanded her team immediately.
“Team ‘A,’ we are to stand our ground this very moment. I will shield you from the bullets, and the rest of you try to take out the shooters from the second and third levels.
Kasumi, stand by me to fight with them when they come close.”
Athena released her energy and her [Cursed Ink] oozed out of her brush and filled the ground. The terrorists then started shooting at the team but with a stroke from her brush, the ink covered and shielded the entire team. With another stroke, she sent all those bullets back to the terrorists, and a few of them dropped from the second and third levels as the bullets impaled their bodies.
Upon seeing their team leader shielding them from bullets, the rest of the team used their guns and fired a barrage of bullets back at the terrorists who were shooting from an elevated position. Bullets that were fired from Athena’s team could pass through her barrier of [Cursed Ink] easily, but the barrier blocked bullets that were fired by the terrorists without any difficulty.
“You must be the ‘Gatekeeper of Sigrun’, Miss Athena Sigrun. Your [Cursed Ink Technique] is indeed formidable.
Let’s see how you fare against rockets!”
At that instance, a couple of terrorists took out their rocket launchers and fired a couple of highly explosive shells at Athena. The rest of the squad dodged to the sides while Athena blocked the shells with a wall of [Cursed Ink] and attempted to throw these shells right back, but the terrorist leader stretched out his arm and was able to push the shells further into the wall of [Cursed Ink]!
“T-That is a psychic power! Telekinesis!”
The shells exploded as it crumbled by the pressure from the [Cursed Ink] and the terrorist leader’s psychic power, and its explosion threw Athena off the ground from the impact, and she crashed onto the wall behind her.
The terrorist leader used his telekinesis and lifted up huge debris from the ground. He then pushed all the debris towards Athena, but Kasumi immediately stood in front and cut each debris to the ground. She counterattacked by unleashing her [Mizushima Waterfall Slash] in response, and a wave of sword energy came crashing towards the terrorist leader. The terrorist leader countered with an uppercut that emitted an energy projectile, and it canceled Kasumi’s slash with an explosion. The ground shook a little from the impact.
“That’s quite a decent slash you have there, young lady!”
The rest of the squad had jumped and climbed onto the second and third levels of the building in an attempt to get rid of shooters from elevated places, leaving Athena and Kasumi facing off with the terrorist leader and a few of his henchmen on the ground. Athena was struggling a little to pick herself up from crashing into a wall, and Kasumi knew she could not hold the terrorist leader for long.
The terrorist leader ignored the rest of the squad that targeted his men on the upper levels and ran straight towards Kasumi to fight her in close combat. Suddenly a dagger shot through one of his legs and the terrorist leader fell on the floor.
“Who the hell was that?!”
Nobody could see who threw the dagger, but Kasumi recognized the dagger as she saw Gale preparing them before the start of this mission. She looked around to find him, but he was nowhere to be found.
Gale’s stealthiness is amazing!
The terrorist leader was writhing in pain due to his injured leg, and his henchmen ran forward to protect him, but Kasumi was more skilled than the henchmen, and she cut through them. In a desperate attempt, the terrorist leader lifted his hand toward Kasumi and threw her backward using telekinesis, but a wall of [Cursed Ink] cushioned the impact, and Kasumi was unharmed.
“…Just my luck. Fighting the Gatekeeper of Sigrun is bad enough, but that unknown fighter in the shadows is something else.”
Athena had picked herself up and walked to the terrorist leader. She took out a specialized chain that could seal psychic powers and tied the leader up. She then informed one of the team members to take care of the terrorist leader.
“…Who knew that you worked for the authorities before. That’s how you were trying to steal Lumeria’s technology secrets in the first place.”
“…It’s not over yet, Miss Sigrun. My commander should be waiting for you all at the top level.”
Team ‘A’ swiftly took care of all the terrorists around the area once their leader was caught and tied up. However, the danger was not over yet, and they quickly headed toward the top of the building.
As they approached the top floor by stairs, they could hear a commotion and a lady yelling at the top of her voice!
“Y-You! You better take responsibility for what you did to me!”
“That’s exactly what I was trying to do by nursing you into health! You were poisoned by a scent called [The Crippling Fragrance], so I was transferring energy to you to counter the poison!”
Kasumi saw the Princess and her four maids sitting in a straight horizontal row in front of her, with Gale resting his palms on the back of one of the maids. Princess Luna had pale green hair and wore a light bluish corset gown, and the maids were wearing traditional maid costumes. In an earlier briefing, it was stated that Princess Luna was the same age as Gale, but somehow she had a nicely formed set of breasts already.
Princess Luna and her maid’s faces were blushing red as Gale finished treating the last maid with his energy. From the looks of it, Gale only rested his palms on the back of these ladies to transfer energy to them, but these ladies were red with embarrassment for no apparent reason.
A lady with a dark purple suit was trying to hold her laughter at a corner, and Athena immediately approached her to ask what had happened.
“Aunt May! Did you see the commander?”
“Ah Athena, finally your team is here! The commander escaped as Gale defeated him, but he couldn’t leave these girls behind to chase after the commander. They were poisoned by a scent called [The Crippling Fragrance] and were unable to move, so Gale used his energy to treat them.
However, they are still unable to move at this point so we must hurry and carry them to the submarine. The commander plans to detonate the entire place and kill everyone on this island. Can some of you carry the ladies on your backs?”
The maids climbed onto the guys who offered to carry them obediently. One of the guys from team ‘A’ offered to carry the Princess, but she refused.
“Only Gale is allowed to carry me.”
“Err… Princess, we are going to die if we tarry around here — “
“Only Gale is allowed to carry me!”
Princess Luna was adamant that Gale must be the one carrying her, so Gale sighed and relented. Princess Luna beamed radiantly as she rested her body on Gale’s.
“You will take responsibility for me, will you not?”
“I am right now doing that by saving you, aren’t I?!”
“No, not that! You must marry me!”
The team could not believe their ears while Aunt May turned away to giggle.
“Princess, if I have to marry every girl whom I saved, I will have many wives!”
Upon hearing that, Princess Luna flew into a rage and bit Gale’s neck!
“So how many girls have you saved already?! Did you have to transfer your energy to them?!”
“I merely rest my palms on your backs to transfer energy… surely I’m not indecent by doing that, am I?”
The ladies who were treated by Gale flushed red on their faces and looked downward.
“No… never mind! I don’t understand it fully either. Just take responsibility and marry me!”
The ground began to shake, and everyone knew they didn’t have much time left. Athena turned to Aunt May to ask about team ‘B.’
“They were held up by another group of terrorists, but they should be done by now. We will meet them along the way.”
Everyone rushed down to the ground floor and escaped the building. Despite carrying the terrorist leader, who was tied up by anti-psychic chains, Aunt May was ran ahead over the rest of the group. As they were running towards the pier, bullets started to spray around them. Gale unsheathed his sword and deflected many of the bullets away from the team while Princess Luna looked drunk on ecstasy as her eyes glistened at the awesomeness of Gale.
“Just keep running, team! I will take care of them!”
Aunt May disappeared from the group, and subsequently, the bullets stopped while yells of agony could be heard all over the place. Team ‘A’ and Team ‘B’ met each other along the way and they hurried toward the pier.
The submarine was waiting for them, and everyone boarded the submarine in haste before the abandoned military base exploded into a sea of flames.
Kasumi placed her phone on the side and relaxed in her bath after recalling this event. She didn’t have the opportunity to interact with Gale ever since that mission and that photo was the only evidence that she had worked with Gale before.
“I am so looking forward to our date!”
Author: Lemuel Moo