There was a certain irony with the situation that Alexander found himself in, he had always found a way to stay ahead of the game to the point that he was able to tell others how to do the same, but now he didn’t have a single Cra-i with how much he had. “Welp,” he said in finality “this sucks.” he said looking over at the. ‘Ok don’t freak out, you’ve been here before, you can crawl your way back up. Although, having ten Branchs to your name was great… when it lasted.’ Alexander thought to himself, ‘You know how to leverage this, just need to get through today.’
Checking how much money he had, Alex was surprised to find that he had more than expected, ‘Ok I have enough to last the week, the money is still good for at least another five years going by how degraded it looks’ Alex thought. “Food…” he said after a pause, “I need food and to think this through, after all I have enough for me to get everything, they took, back. I just need to plan out my next few moves.”
Buying himself a meal, Alex started to think quietly out loud as he ate, “Ok, so this costs two Bran and now I have thirteen Bran and three Bron, what do I have to, I could do that. I could still sell my grandfather’s field plate that he fought in the war with. That would put me up about seven additional Cra-i. I need to get my disks and take back my company. Yeah, that I would need to find some way to get all the pieces of the Plate Armor back when I sell it, even if that meant having to bring in The Collectors to inspect The Armor.
“Time would not be on my side this time around.” Alex thought for a moment “Twenty days? Before I wouldn’t be able to get anything back, and if I messed up once then I would get crucified, no more do overs.” Finishing his food, Alex started to head back to his home and make the preparations to move the heavy armor for The Collectors so that they could buy it off him, and with all of his old connections he knew how to get The Collectors attention.
The evening chill of late fall came in with a vengeance as the Collectors made their way up to Alex’s house. He had everything that the Collectors wanted to see to make sure that the negotiations could be made. Alex figured that there would be some bodyguards, or something akin to that, but The Collectors that did come up were short, maybe five feet for the tallest put him on edge. Nervous that the plan would fail, Alex opened the door and greeted The Collectors nervously, “Good evening, how-”
“Where is it?” The lead Collector butted in with a fast and enthusiastic tone. He had pitch black hair and bright silver eyes with a pale and pointy complexion as if he had been starved of light and food for weeks. It was a complete contrast to Alex’s full blonde hair and vibrant dark brown eyes.
“Jerim.” One of the other Collectors coughed.
“Hm, yes, sorry… uh sorry about that. Just, do you really have one of The Grand Legions Field Plate’s?” Jerim stated regaining his composure.
“Yes, I do, follow me. I made sure that you all would be able to move it safely out to your wagon.”
“Field Plate, should be able to come apart if you know the right sequence.”
“There was only one who knew the sequence, and he took it to the grave when he died after he got out of The Armor for medical treatment.”
“And are you sure that The Armor was really from The War, the frequencies that The Armor produces can be quite difficult to get right, but we have found fakes out there.”
That unsettled Alex, for all that he knew, he knew that trying to fake armor like that would more than likely result in a lot of death on the battlefield if it landed in a merchant’s possession, “How would you even-”
“Do that? That… that is a good question, we aren’t… to sure, but one of our researchers found a discrepancy in the documentation which led to us finding out that The Armor was trapped with…” Jerim shuddered, I’ve seen a lot, but I could go the rest of my life without seeing that again. So, this must be it.” They had gone through a pair of double doors, leading to the foyer.
“Yes, I was never able to figure out which unit the symbol over the upper chest piece belonged to, but it did mention in his journal that he was a part of a special unit.” Alex watched the three Collectors closely, taking note that the other two didn’t lower their dark gray hoods when they entered, now in the light of the large foyer only their mouths could be vaguely seen.
“Is that?” one of them said.
“Caton, Cro-th’n enough, not another word.” After further inspection of The Suit of Armor, Jerim turned to Alex. “And the papers?”
“Here, I also marked the part of my grandfather’s journal where he mentions that he was put into a special unit and got The Armor, but no one that knew him said what they did, just that after he came home from his first battle-”
“That he was messed up.” One of the other Collectors finished.
“Caton!” Jerim stated with a curt tone.
“What does the symbol mean? I need to know.”
Jerim grumbled something to himself, “Cro-th’n, tell him.”
“They were known as The Star Hunters, we… we don’t entirely know what that means, but we do know that there was about fifty of them in the whole of the Grand Legions.” Cro-th’n stated in a tone far cheerier than it had any right to be. The body language of Cro-th’n was more statuesque.
‘What the hell, is this guy’s problem?’ Alex thought
“Don’t worry about him,” Caton said, stepping in between them both causing Alex to refocus, “and if it means anything, we don’t know what his deal is either.”
“Regardless, you are still willing to give us This Armor?” Jerim asked, glancing through the journal.
“Sell, yes. I was hoping to be able to get some good disks off of it-”
“Two Cra-o” Alex’s heart skipped a beat ‘That was not the amount I wanted to say. Ok stay calm.’
“Too much, one Cra-o”
“One Cra-o and five Cra-i” ‘The hell is this guy’s deal? This much for some old armor there has to be more to this than what they just told me.’
Jerim looked back at the armor and the paperwork that was presented, “One Cra-o two Cra-i, final offer.”
“Zip it, Cro-th’n” Jerim snapped at him, causing Cro-th’n to take an involuntary step back before bowing his head.
“Deal,” Alex said wondering if he was the one who got short changed in the deal, “the armor and the documents linking the armor to the Grand Legions are yours, and only the official documents from the Grand Legon. The journal is going to stay with me, despite it talking about the armor.” Alex taking the journal.
“I have no intention of keeping such a thing.” Jerim said, much to Alex’s relief.
‘The plan worked. I really need to air out this room and cool it down.’ Alex thought “Just being thorough,” ‘C’mon get the hell out of my house, freaks.’ Alex could feel his heart rate start to beat faster as the Collector, Caton, handed him the two large disks as the armor and documents were taken out to the transport wagon.
Alex suddenly realized that there were a lot more Collectors then when he previously saw the wagon, they all had spears and crossbows pointed outwards towards the woods. A sharp whistling sound came from Cro-th’n and four Collectors ran over and struggled to take The Armor and load it in the back of the wagon, The Armor, that, Cro-th’n effortlessly carried out. ‘That Armor weighs close to five hundred pounds!’
“What?” Jerim’s voice was cold and calculating, as if this wasn’t part of some plan.
One of the other Collectors that were guarding the wagon, walked up to Jerim, “It’s Heliox, she’s here.”
This made the three Collectors stop, “Are you sure?” Jerim asked looking around
“Yes, she took out ten of us before we caught the shadows moving on their own.”
‘Must be a Shaded Blade.’ Alex thought ‘try to keep a calm composure, ‘The hell is one of the Empire’s Assassin’s doing here?’
“We need to get moving, Alexander, I do hope that you have a pleasant evening.”
“To you as well, sir.” Alex watched as they all moved as one with the wagon away from his Mansion. After they were out of sight, Alex closed the door and locked it. He already knew that the Shaded Blade would make a visit to him. “Maybe it would be a quick death… hopefully…”
“That entirely depends on what you told them.” A heavily muffled female voice called out from somewhere out in the darkness.
“You know we can have this conversation out of my front hallway and in the foyer or how about the library, where I can explain everything to you, ma’am.” Alex’s heart was thundering in his chest
‘Oh, thank everything, I might actually survive.’ Making his way to the Library, Alex sat on one of the couches, after pulling the curtain on all of the windows and grabbing a few books. Placing the four books on a desk between him and another couch.
“No offense, but I might break that couch.” The muffled voice said stepping into the light of the main reading area of the Library, she was clad in as much armor as one the Grand Legion Specialist Armor, ‘That Armor must have had some sort of sound dampening effect on it, and the shadows seem to cling to the armor even in the light.’ Alex thought, looking over the armor.
“I’m sure it can take your weight, that chair was owned by, and used by my grandfather while he was in his Armor that he wore in the Grand Legion. And I assume that your name is Heliox, right?” Alex asked, a bit skeptical. ‘There is no way that it’s that Heliox.’
The Shaded Blade hesitated a moment before slowly sitting down on the couch, “It’s… not often that something can support my weight. Usually, they are made of metal or stone.” The Shaded Blade looked curiously around the library.
“I assumed so, my grandfather wrote about it in his actual journal.” Alex said, lifting one of the books.
“You didn’t give the Collectors the actual Journal that he wrote?”
“I’m not about to trust a bunch of… whatever they are, even seeing something like it. So, I needed to make sure that enough of the journal was in the fake to make it believable.”
“I needed disks. My company got swept out from under me and in about nineteen-twenty days or so, I’m a dead man walking.”
“You marked The Armor, so that you can find it again, didn’t you?”
‘…that was fast of her.’ Alex thought, noting that she never confirmed her name, “Yes, I did.”
“Did The Armor have this symbol on it?” The Shaded Blade held up a piece of paper on it displaying the same unit symbol as on The Armor.
“Yes, it did, what is so important about that unit?”
“I’m assuming that the other two books are for references.”
“They are, yes, ma’am.”
“I don’t need them, I already know the history behind the fifty different groups of the Grand Legion and that the material of the Armor from the special unit is not exactly from a normal or natural source.”
“Yes, do you know where it comes from? And why is it about five times as heavy as steel?”
“They’re made of…” The pause and change of tone made Alex uncomfortable, “if I do tell you then you have to help me.”
“Help you with what?” The Shaded Blades were infamously known for working alone or with their own in small groups, Alex’s brain was trying to figure out what the end game was.
“Stopping the Collectors. I don’t know why but they have been getting all fifty of the Grand Legion Special Forces Armor for something, and I don’t like it. Nobody is supposed to be able to see any of the Shaded Blades when we are in the dark, but-”
“But they can.” Alex finished.
“Yes, they all can. I was able to confuse them on where I was, but those three that were in here, they are different. They almost seem to have a supernatural sense on where I am once they know that I am near them. And you were able to lie to them…” The air both chilled and started to burn up.
Alex didn’t know why, maybe it was the way the Shaded Bladed tilted her head slowly, but he had a sinking suspicion that he was about to die if he didn’t talk. “My grandfather was Captain Stormbreaker.”
“Prove” The tone told Alex that if she didn’t believe him then he would be killed right there on the spot.
Running over to the section of the library that contained the map of his lineage, and opening it, Alex’s heart was thundering in his chest. ‘She is right behind me not to move until she gives me some sort of signal.’
“You have a very powerful family tree,” she breathed in astonishment, Alex glanced over to her, she was looking through all the names on the list intently, “This… this is amazing, I didn’t know that so many of them survived. It would seem that the Nexus of Destiny have brought the two of us together once again. This time however we are on the back foot.”
“Wait, you are that Heliox?” Alex nervously stammered.
“Heliox the First Shadow was my direct ancestor that saved one of yours, I was just named after him.” She said waving it off, “The Collectors have forty-five out of fifty of The Suits of Armor, the Armor is said to have been mined from a hunk of space rock that fell to earth long ago, my armor is made out of the same material.”
Heliox reached up and took off her helmet, letting dark brown hair fall to her shoulders, piercing blue eyes stared at the family tree with a combat vet’s intensity. Various scars lined her tanned face, a complexion that would fool anyone that didn’t know she was more a creature of the night then someone who goes out during the day. “Still, I can't believe that they survived.” She muttered.
“What do we do now?”
“Now, we rest, we will go after them at a later date, and when you have the full might of your company’s power house at our back, a full on assault from anybody would be a suicide mission… But your family has a habit of surviving those types of missions anyway.”
“Well, tomorrow it is, Heliox? Right?” Alex desperately wished that this was a dream, Alex had lost his company, had to sell his armor passed down to him, met Collectors and a member of The Shaded Blade, and now… ‘Knowing my luck right now, this isn’t a dream.’
“Yes… Alexander,” Heliox said after looking at the bottom of the paper where Alex’s picture and name was, “Tomorrow it is.”