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Welcome. You have one (1) new mission:
Operation: Save Rome
Objectives: Go to Whitesand and stop the fire.
Briefing: Informants in the area of the capital city of Whitesand believe that the city is about to be burned by Plasma. Your extended mission will be to reach Whitesand (25 creds), uncover the secret Plasma base (75 creds), and prevent the fire if possible (100 creds).
Deadline: 1 d:12 hr:15 min:58 sec
Mission Reward: 300 Credits
Accept this mission? (Y/N) Y
Mission accepted. Good luck, Agent Bronzewing.
I snapped the handheld shut and continued walking on the path, now with a goal. Granted, I may have been the most skilled operative working for the Delta Force, but in reality, the reason I took on the mission was not because I was good. It was for the high credit payout.
I was flat broke. Even though Darwin and I were the top agents at Delta, we were still not paid very well. Well, I guess that was the price that we had to pay to keep our country from falling apart.
I live on the planet Cyrre. It has one continent-country called Lylan. Earth humans discovered it in the year 6130 H.E. after a successful communication from Cyrre reached Earth, and within a few decades began to travel there. Now it is 7043, and humans are the dominant species. There were two more humanoid species on the planet previously, but one went extinct in 6998, and one is a minority.
I contemplated for a moment as I walked in the forest, my path illuminated by an eerie green light. Humans had basically existed here for only 1000 years, and had nearly conquered the entire world, just as they had their own.
I was told that I was human, but I disagreed. I didn’t think I was Astentian or even Marnolian. I was something much worse. That’s the reason that I wear my trademark black leather mask.
Darwin hooted. I extended my leather falconry glove to let the beautiful great-horned owl land. He turned his head and hooted a few more times, as if to warn me that I was being approached.
I scanned the area around me carefully. I couldn’t see anything through the trees. I decided to stray from the path, stepping lightly over the brush, to avoid being seen or heard.
I stopped and listened. Just barely over the birdsong and the wind lightly rustling the leaves, I could hear footfalls. I froze in place; moving could give away my position to what I suspected were enemy forces.
I caught sight of the two enemy agents, wearing electric blue hoods. I could see the animal partners beside them; these were special ops units, like myself. A hawk was perched on the shoulder of one agent, and a wolf walked along with the other, sniffing the ground.
Oh, no. It had picked up my scent.
The wolf began to bark, and the two agents, finally catching sight of me, rushed to ambush me. Darwin immediately took off to engage the hawk. I drew my sword to defend against the wolf that charged me at the command of the other agent. It grabbed the blade between its teeth and began to shake it, but I slipped it back out and, with a single movement, cut its tail in two. It ran back whining to its unarmed master.
Meanwhile, Darwin had caught the talons of the hawk and swung it into a tree to knock it out. Suddenly, though, I saw the hawk’s owner pull back and release an arrow from his bow.
I made a split second decision. I wouldn’t have been able to dodge it, so instead I used my magic. “Da’ar!“
I am a sho mage. Sho magic is used by naming a command. Using the magic consumes the user’s quantifiable magic energy, which is also called sho. Sho naturally regenerates over time. Every human has some amount of sho. Most who would call themselves mages have around eight. I have a maximum of fifteen sho, of which the da’ar command uses two.
The arrow glanced off an invisible barrier and fell to the ground. This display of ability was enough for the archer to decide not to waste more arrows, as he didn’t know how much sho I had left to use, or whether I would use a more hostile command.
“Handhelds out. Now.”
The agents looked at each other, then defiantly took stances against me.
“Fine,” I grinned. “Mear-ze! Give your handhelds to me.”
With the mear-ze command I can make any weak-minded being that hears my voice obey any single command I give them. It’s a powerful attack, using nine sho, which means that the majority of people can never use it for lack of sho energy. My owl, Darwin, was immune from the spell because he is extremely strong-willed and has had longer exposure to it.
Hearing my demand, they reluctantly but obediently pulled out their handhelds. As I had expected, they had the same symbol on the backs, which I recognized as Plasma’s logo, a phoenix carrying a ribbon in its beak, inscribed with the phrase We will rise in Astentian.
It has been said that the handheld device is very similar to what ancient Earth humans called “smartphones”. It functions as a tiny computer, but the Lylani handheld does so much more. A person’s handheld defines them. Because their main feature is to store credits, one would find that all citizens of Lylan own one. They range in price from one credit (the absolute bare minimum, consisting of a simple credit transaction chip) to upwards of five hundred. My handheld was standard-issue (yet high-quality) from the Delta Force, but I had paid to retrofit a few custom features, such as a sho scanner, an extra battery pack, and a radio receiver.
I accepted the handhelds, typed a couple lines of code into the interface, and transferred all of their credits to my own handheld. I scanned through the files inside, but they had no useful information. Then I held them out with my leather falconry glove. Darwin snatched them out of my hand and crushed them in his talons, much to the distress of the agents. In the long run, though, it wouldn’t matter to them; they’d probably get another standard-issue at Plasma headquarters. Still, it was fascinating just to watch their faces as the shards of the destroyed electronics fell in the dirt.
“Sorry,” I apologized in a sadistic, sing-song tone. “You could have sent my location or signaled reinforcements, and we can’t have that, now can we?”
The agents glanced sideways at each other, knowing that I meant business. One made himself busy bandaging the wolf’s tail.
I examined both of the agents, but they appeared equipped as no more than simple grunts. I was finished here. “You may bandage your wounds, but then you must leave, and you must head east until you are no longer in my sight. After that you may go and do as you wish.”
After the one agent finished helping the wolf, the second agent picked up his hawk, and they both continued on their way to the east. When their blue hoods were out of sight, I looked back to the northward path and started the last part of the trek to Whitesand.
On the way, I imagined what those agents would report once they reached their base. We were defeated, I could almost hear them say, by a masked girl with an owl.
Then the higher-ranking Plasmas would remember me. They knew I was one of the most dangerous agents that threatened them. Every agent had once feared the mysterious, deadly rogue of a Delta agent with the trademark mask and glove. They called me Revenant. In the ancient times of Earth, Revenant meant “the one who returns”.
And I had returned.