“So the only reason I’m not bound and gagged right now is because it wouldn't work?” Colette replied to Galahad as she removed the cap from her head. Before the protest could begin she took her hair and brought it up into a simple if sloppy knot so that it fit more easily underneath the cap. The roll of her eyes suggesting a little less subtly that you could've just given it to me ass.”That’s real comforting, truly.”
“Least we’re honest with ya.” Setzer remarked as she shifted over in his squat to give Galahad an easier view past his frame. He nodded his head as he traced a finger along the route that would bring them to the Archives. He was right though, from what Setzer remembered, which wasn’t much at the best of times, there was somewhat of a military presence at the Archives. It used to be directly adjacent to Zyphfra Air Force Station, but it was more or less abandoned in favor of better equipped and larger airfields, last seeing actual service when dirigibles still existed. A small garrison was still stationed there though severely limited in its scope and size.
Scratching at his temple he nodded as Daryll voiced his concerns. “We are going to report in. We are just debating on how quickly, we report in. Going to the Archives only adds like another day or two to the trip.” Setzer replied. “And as a wise man once told me, if you don’t get caught, you don’t have to worry about gettin’ caught.”
“And I’m assuming that wise man was you?” Colette fired back.
Before Setzer could answer the challenge Gideon had returned. Out of all of them, Gideon was probably the one that Setzer respected the most in this situation. In the simplest of causalities it was probably due to common interests and an understanding. Beneath that though it was something a little bit more. Setzer for all intents and purposes was good at combat. You give him an opposition, or an objective to take and he will be able to make up a plan and get the job done. Gideon was good at the more delicate things. Back on the farm they’d call him an ‘egg man’ cause he had to touch needed to handle the eggs without breaking em.
“Burn phone could work. I mean if we are looking for urban centers we gotta head towards the Archives anyway. Driving round the boondocks out here ain’t gonna do us much in that regard.”
Trent begin to deposit his newly acquired drinks around the group as Lee offered his own take on the situation, reflecting upon the dismal mood that most of them felt but really didn’t want to talk about. Setzer begrudgingly nodded his head in agreement over Lee’s offering of treatment. Figuring that he best just bite the bullet and take the help now, than be of less use latter. Colette give Trent, a small thank you as she took the small styrofoam cup from his hands. She tried not to think about all the people that were going to die because of her fuck up as she carefully hit the black liquid with a splash of creamer, watching as black turned to light brown.
As Gideon fired off his next series of questions Colette’s face began to scrunch up as she thought hard about her previous mission. With all the robots and the almost dying it was relatively easy to forget about it. Yet now with the relative calm of peace it was getting harder to shove the thoughts out of her head.
“Well I mean everybody knew about the peace talks. But in regards to explicit details not that many. Communication and transfer of the Imperial Family is kept very hush-hush, lots of potential enemies you know. My retinue of the Imperial Dragoons would’ve of been the only one’s to know everything save for my Father of course.”
To those among them that were more familiar with Vangar military structure this would make sense. The Imperial Dragoons were for all intents and purposes, the Imperial Honor Guard. It was one of the most prestigious positions within the Vangar military complex and one of the hardest to join. Men and women picked not only for their combat skill which was ample, a trained Dragoon could even fight a WARDEN to a standstill, but their fanatical levels of devotion to the Imperial family. Each member of the main line of House Skymning have a retinue assigned to them at birth and those soldiers would stay with that member until they died.
“And most of them got robot-murdered.” Setzer added in.
“They did their duty.” Colette reaffirmed with something of sigh. “But no, from my own knowledge those machines and that ship? There is nothing like that in the entirety of the Empire. I don’t know much about your Archives but if they give us any clue on whatever the hell that thing is, as Trent suggests well it seems like a good idea.”
As Zimmy spoke up Colette sighed with a roll of her eyes as she stood up coffee in hand and walked away. Not far mind you, sitting plopping upon the curb not far from them but just far enough to be out of earshot.
“Just tell me when you guys are done talking bout your super secret stuff.”
Setzer scratched the side of his head, making a face that wouldn't be hard to imagine steam rushing out of his ears as he listened to Zimmy. From what he understood, other folks talking or even associating with WARDEN wasn’t something done on a regular bases. Hell, he wasn’t even sure that by even associating with an outside force, that Zimmy wasn’t breaking some old archaic rules or something. Not the Setzer was one to really care about rules mind you.
“The Rassvet Collections Institution? You sure you wouldn't hired on by a tax collection agency Zimmy?” Setzer asked with a shake of his head. “Cause they don’t sound like any government group that I know of.”
“Cause they aren’t.” A familiar voice sounded next to Setzer who jumped back flailing his arms as he did, sword manifesting. There was the slight shimmer of air as Colette reappeared next to him hands in the air. The sword vanished as Setzer looked up at her accusingly, his head turned to where the other Colette still sat sipping the cup of coffee and playing with her hair.
“Wait? How are there two of-?”
“You watched me catch friggin condensed plasma out of the air and throw it at a giant robot ship. Are you really that surprised?” The other Colette responded as she snapped her fingers and the illusionary sitting Colette vanished from sight. “Kinda the only benefit of being a constantly generating source of Mist, people don’t notice when you're using it.”
“Listen, I understand if you guys want some level of confidentiality around here, but it seems we are all in this shit together and if you expect me to tell you jackshit about Vangar while keeping me in the dark? Well I might as well just go back to the fucking robots.” Colette asserted with a surprising level of authority, the typically subdued tones of her Vanagar inflections upon the Rassvet dialect becoming pronounced. “So as I was saying. The Rassvet Collections Institution was the code name of the extension of the Vangar spy network in well Rassvet. Problem is it was 'disbanded', fuck before even I was born. They kinda went from a spy network to an extremist paramilitary cult." Colette explained with a level of surprisings ease given the fact that she was currently spilling classified Vangar military secrets, sore military secrets at that. Secrets mind you that she only learned because she had a habit of breaking into her father's study when she was younger. She continued.
"They renamed themselves as the Institution for Higher Existence. Something about visions of the end of the world and their ordained role in bringing the apocalypse. Those gas bombings in the Orestia subway? The one your investigation linked back to some man living in his mother's basement? That was them. Our special forces went in and killed every last one of them. There was that big old 'wild fire' like thirty years back? That was caused by an incendiary device meant to destroy any evidence of their existence. And since nobody survived the extermination, and with all our Information networks being disbanded and then centralized under one command to stop anything like that from happening again.... "
“So wait.” Setzer cut her off as he beginning counting with his fingers. “We have Rassvet, Vangar, Robot dudes, and now what creepy conspiracy maybe cult guys?”
“Who the fuck knows? Who the fuck knows anything anymore? Yesterday I was hopefully going to help end a useless war. Today? Today I’m eating eggs off parking lot asphalt and constantly looking over my shoulder for robots.” Colette replied the agitation that had been kept admittedly well continued up to this point seeping through bit by bit.
“Well the saying goes when shit happens you deal with it. So let's deal with it! All in favor of going to the Archives say Yes!” Setzer already making his way to the truck. “Wait doesn’t matter cause I stole the keys to the truck and that is where I’m going. Let’s move!”
“Protein shake has a point. If you wanna interrogate me some more let’s just do it in the truck.” Colette responded with a wink as she walked over, the sound of the truck's engine revving to life as rattling metal began to fill the air. She disappeared into the back of the truck, as the horn blared obnoxiously.