Adversary Chapter 15

By Triad

Midgar, Sector 5, 0004 N.C.E.

The cold early November air blew back the tail of his long gray raincoat as he walked briskly down the platform to the Sector Six bound train. Stepping across the ravine into the doorway, he paused briefly to stomp his boots and brush the moisture from his hair. He flashed his ticket at the guard with a smile that barely held back a chuckle. The soldier looked at him strangely, but then shrugged and turned to the next person in line. He’d dealt with a lot of oddballs in his day. Inside, the young man took his seat next to the window, propping his leg up on the opposite knee.

The train whistled and the conductor hollered as the car began to lurch forward along the track and then gradually accelerate. He watched halfheartedly as the train left the dank station, the gray morning sky filling his field of view. Sector Six wasn’t very far, in fact it was well within walking distance, but he just really wasn’t in the mood to mingle with the street folk. Besides, he had to maintain a professional appearance, one he couldn’t risk compromising in the muddy streets of the city still under immense renovations. Sometimes he wondered what it would have been like to be alive to see the city at its height as a metropolis, the glorious wealthy class well established above the poorer slums, his father the most feared and respected man on the planet. Surely he would have been viewed in a similar way.

“Alexander the Great.” He laughed softly to himself. What it would be like to live up to the standard of the name that was given to him. It was a name of power. It was a name of courage. It was a name of great conquerors in the past, in other worlds. Sometimes his father would tell him about them. It was some of the little time they ever spent together, doing anything other than training. It almost felt like he was always being prepared for some immense battle that would rock the world and leave everything in ashes. Sometimes his father frightened him.

Sometimes he wished it were true.

Maybe the day would come when the heavens and hells of ancient mythoi would send their strongest warriors into battle, the whole universe a melee of horrific creatures, and he, Alexander, would be at the core of it all, proving to the very Gods that he was greater than their champions, that he too could conquer like his father. Proving to his father that he too was competent, that he could relate to him on an equal level, that he wasn’t a boy anymore.

Maybe successfully fulfilling a directive he gave me would be a good place to start…

At six foot two, the silver-haired young man was taller than most of the people he passed as he walked from the train down the streets of Sector Six. He sighed. It got him some small form of respect from the commoners he supposed. Although back at home, he felt like an insect compared to his giant of a father. Even that moron Crono was bigger than him, but it didn’t bother him much anymore, the guy was stiff on a cold slab. Maybe it was that god-awful hair of his…

Why the fuck am I thinking about this?

City Hall was a grand building, gold and brightly lit, although somewhat garish in its décor. He remembered briefly hearing something about it being the former home of some wealthy prostitute monger who was shot up by some gang.

How…uh…fitting…hell, did they clean it at least? Shit…hope there aren’t any metal detectors or searches or anything…

He worried as he plodded into the brightly lit, golden lobby. He always walked around armed, or at least lightly armed. Not that he feared he couldn’t defend himself without a weapon, but drawing out a flashing sword to settle an argument held a certain charisma to it that he definitely enjoyed. Just last week he had insulted and mocked his way into a heated confrontation with a group of Guardian townsfolk, his talent for playing with people’s tempers truly revealed…

- - -

“You there! Yah! You! Come over here!” He heard someone shout over his shoulder as he studied the label on the wine bottle. The midday sun hindered his vision, forcing him to bring a hand to his forehead, creating a makeshift visor as he turned and lackadaisically glanced over his shoulder. In the middle of the square stood a gathering of coarse looking men, some were quite inebriated, especially the one who had hollered across the street. Sighing disinterestedly, he turned back to the brewer and resumed looking over the beverages.

“Hey you! Ya deef’re somthin’? I said come o’er here!” The callous voice rumbled once again, and Alex banged the bottle down on the table in annoyance, nearly breaking the casing. He turned around with his usual disdainful smirk, and casually strolled across the cobblestone without uttering a word to them. They did their best to straighten themselves up, but their drunkenness was apparent, and this brought a laugh from the silver-haired young man.

“May I help you? I believe the Chardonnay is half price today, but then again, you knew that, didn’t you? Of course you did.” The staggering ruffian raised an eyebrow, and looked to either side, meeting the eyes of his “comrades.”

“Yeah…you’re one of them new people from the city over the hill, aren’t you? One of them people that’re supposed to kill the old boy with the red hair, right?” He accused, somewhat slovenly. Alex yawned.

“Excuse me.” He said. “But that’s old news, my intoxicated friend. You see, Crono’s already dead. We’re just helping secure the land. Crono and his convict friends did waste a few of our guards, after all. Besides, your king’s military system is hideous. I believe this sad place needs some organization. Badly.” Another man spoke up, shorter and stouter.

“Hey! Crono was a fine lad! He saved us, y’know! I think yer just trying to take over, aren’t ya?” He bawled, a small crowd beginning to gather. Alex opened his eyes and mouth wide in mock horror.

“Me? Take over you’re land? Are you serious? Why…I couldn’t do that to you! It’s just so beautiful, and so full of…filthy drunkards. Lovely.” The first man ground his teeth down, and balled his fists, stepping forward.

“I think yer a liar. You couldn’t kill Crono. You couldn’t hurt an imp, ya pretty boy.” He challenged. Alex looked down his nose at him.

“People lose limbs talking like that. Heads, even.” They laughed at him, starting to close in on all sides.

“Right, right! I’m sure that’s how Crono ended up. Dead at yer fierce hands, right?” He shoved Alexander back, dismissively, the men behind him pushing him in the opposite direction, almost causing him to lose his balance. He glared at the man who had initially pushed him.

“I wonder how much money I could get for the skull of a drunken idiot…” he hissed, his hand moving to the hilt of his thin katana, a message to the men that clearly stated “back off.” He didn’t intimidate them, apparently.

“Fancy clothes don’t make a fighter, do they?” They produced a variety of crude weapons from their belts and tunics, ranging from short swords to brass knuckles and knives, brandishing them in a most imposing manner. Alex smiled. This was his big chance.

“No, but they serve not to repel the opposite sex, hence I am courting the princess, and you…well…you’re most likely married to some troll of a woman, so, I rest my case.” Now he certainly wasn’t courting the princess, but it sure seemed like a witty retort at the time. Besides, he could lie whenever he felt like it. He drew his blade in a sweeping motion, and whipped it around in front of him, a pleasant sword song filling the air as the katana danced. For a moment, the townsfolk stared in awe at his display, but then once again began to close in.

Alexander jerked as he felt two sets of arms grab his from behind, the lead attacker swaggering forward, slapping a cudgel against his palm with a wicked grin. He struggled to free his sword arm, but to no avail. The men had him in a compromising position. The barbarian sheer feet from him now, he pushed off the ground, both legs snapping out in two lightning-fast kicks, the first knocking his head back, and the second landing directly in the center of his throat. He fell back, almost croaking, as his club rolled lazily from his hand. Seizing initiative over the rest of the men who were in no position to attack him directly, he twirled his sword around with his hand, and lightly jabbed backward with a flick of the wrist. The strike was met with a satisfying resistance, and a surprised scream from behind. He felt the rightmost holder’s grip dramatically weaken.

Swirling out of the hold, Alexander jumped back and turned, slashing in an arc, light wounds appearing on the torsos of the other four men. With a smile, he stood up tall, one foot resting upon the opposite shin like a stork. He held out his open hand, and beckoned them to come forward. Wiping a bit of nervous sweat of their brows, they stormed in, mustering their courage after his shocking display. He walked backward with long sweeping strides, his hand still outstretched and antagonizing. Their pace quickened as he appeared to retreat, until at last, they charged messily, swinging their weapons in fury. Alex sprang upward, arms spread like a grandiose eagle, and somersaulted over the group, twisting and slashing out behind him. Once again, thin lines of blood were drawn on their soiled clothing, some of them dropping downward in frustration and clumsiness. The two that remained on their feet turned around and hacked at him with their short blades. He danced backward, his blade flashing in and out of theirs, parrying each one of their strikes that came remotely close to him.

As he neared the vendors across the street, still jovially holding off the two brutes, he heard the shopkeepers shout and demand that they stop immediately, for someone would surely be injured.

You mean you’re stuff might get broken. Of course you care now…

He snickered, leaping back up onto the table of the wine merchant, sending some glasses off the table and crashing to the ground. The brewer moaned and fled, taking his treasury box with him. Alexander sheathed his blade, and lifted two flasks of ale up into the air, and poured two streams of liquor into his open mouth. He paused after a moment, and looked down at the approaching duo, swallowing with a pensive look on his face.

“Hmm…a bit dry…what do you think?” He poised, arching his body inward to avoid their swings, and he slammed down on both heads with the bottles, the glass and alcohol exploding outward in all directions. They cried out in pain and tumbled to the ground, bloody faced, eyes burning with fermented ale. He crowed in triumphant laughter, the three others gathering themselves up and looking on in disgust as their comrades writhed at his feet.

“We’ll teach you ta fuckin’ come into our town!” The brown haired, thick bearded leader roared, hurling his club at Alex, who was caught completely off guard and knocked clear off the table as the wood hit him squarely in the face. The mob cheered as it barreled forward toward the vending area, the rest of the shoppers and merchants fleeing in terror. Street fights were not common in Guardia.

He pulled himself up, peering over the table, only to be met with the ferocious strikes of his opponents that pounded at the table, attempting to knock his head from his shoulders. Before he became completely overborne, he slipped underneath the table, planting his legs upon the underside. Grimacing as he felt a foot kick him sharply in the side, he let out a yell, pushing the wine stand upward and forward. They grunted, and did their best to catch the unwieldy piece of “furniture” before it collapsed on one of them. Dodging another kick from the same person, he rushed forward into the teetering bar, and threw his full weight against it, knocking the resistance clear over, and rolling off the other side.

Caught in a mess of cumbersome wood, tapestry and broken, wet glass, the three drunks howled and cursed as they did their best to tear out of the wreckage. Unsheathing his katana, he walked slowly forward, up to the “leader” who was pinned under the brunt of the stand, his head and shoulders sticking out of the clutter. His groggy eyes looked up at Alex as he neared, the sunbeams glinting off the metal edges of his weapon, the blade rising up into the air.

“Oh…I’m terribly sorry, are you…stuck?” He asked, the green jewel encased in the hilt of the katana beginning to emanate a glow around the entire sword, and then around his body as well. “Let’s just get you out of there then.” The light fled from his body onto and around the heap of struggling bodies and debris, the wreckage beginning to tremble. With a droning sound and the chorus of screams from the remaining onlookers, the pile surged up into the air, the men gawking as they floated above the heads of the stunned crowd. Alexander watched them thoughtfully as they levitated for a moment, and then slid his sword back into its sheath, and turned his back, walking away. Behind him he heard the wails and crashes he knew would surely follow.

“Give this to the brewer, next time you see him. Tell him I apologize for the inconvenience.” He said to a young boy who stood frozen in fear before him, handing him a small cloth bag of gold coins. The youth nodded frantically, backing away. Alex smiled, leaving the square.

That oughta make a local legend outta me…

- - -

“Sir?” The attendant repeated for the fourth time, popping the metaphorical daydream bubble that floated above Alexander’s head.

“Hmm?” He looked over at her, somewhat disoriented.

“Do you have an appointment or specific destination?”

“Um…oh yes. I’m here to apply for a corporate license.”

“Ah. All right, that will be the Licenses and Permits department, room six, second floor.” She stated.

“Thanks.” He said with a wink, making her blush slightly. He chuckled to himself.

You devil you…lead ‘em on and break their hearts…at least she was cute…nice accent there, kid…

He rapped on the door marked with the bright metallic numeral “six”, only to be met with a gruff “come in” from the other side. The inside of the office was a bit disheveled, and certainly not very official looking. Nevertheless, it was an office, and it was where he needed to be.

“You here for an inspection warrant there, son?” A corpulent, middle-aged man in a cheap brown suit asked him from behind a cluttered desk.

“Uh…no.” He said, confused. The man looked at him awkwardly.

“Well then why are you in the warrant office, then?” Alexander stared, blankly.

“Warrant…office?” He clarified. The man nodded, wondering what wasn’t clear about it. “Funny, I was told it was the licensing and permit department in room six on the uh…second floor. Could you, eh, by any chance get me a corporate license anyway?” He asked.

“What are you trying to do? Start a business? When I was your age, son, I was still in-”

“Can you or can you not get me or direct me to a corporate license?” He interrupted, impatiently. Why did people need to ask so many questions? Did they really care what he was doing or just feel like blowing off steam?

“Well, what kind of business are you looking to incorporate? Heh heh.” He chuckled. He received a brief pause and another blank stare.

“I’m interested in starting an insurance agency, these are my records, my collateral, my finances, my associates.” He strew a mess of papers upon the desk, fully prepared that this might take a while…

Two hours, three background checks, and four triplicate forms later…

“Well, there, Mr. Gainsborough…I can’t think of anything else we haven’t covered, so if you’ll just sign down here, I’ll fax this over to the Kipling offices, and you’re license and deeds to TradeStar Insurance should be in the mail within a week.” Alex stood up, shaking his hand proudly.

“Thank you, sir. Pleasure doing business with you.” He was clearly impressed by the professional attitude of such a young entrepreneur.

“Not at all. Best of luck to you and your associates. It’s good to see such ambitious youths for a change.”

“Oh yes, very ambitious indeed.” Alex grinned, taking his coat and walking out of the office. He descended the staircase, shielding his eyes from the shock of the change from the dim office to the bright lobby below.

“Hey you, there.” He said, leaning over the front desk. The secretary looked up, ready to assist in her usual helpful way, and then smiled, recognizing him, brushing some of her black hair from her face.

“Yes? Can I help you?”

”Yeah, uh…” He paused, looking down at her nameplate, “…Angelique. I was just, y’know, wondering…” He trailed off, somewhat shyly. She removed her headset, and put her pen down, giving him her full attention.

“Yes?” He swallowed, rather obviously, and looked back at her.

“I was just wondering if you were doing anything after work tonight. I just got a big break. I kinda need somebody to celebrate with. If you were interested, we could go have dinner somewhere, later.” He poised. She opened her eyes wide and laughed in astonishment somewhat.

“I…sure! Yes! I…uh…oh, I still have another half-hour, then I have to close the place down…but…”

“Great! I’ll stick around.”

- - -

“Just about done…” Angelique murmured, finishing up a cover letter, her last task of the long day. Alex emerged from the break room, carrying two drinking mugs.

“Hey, if we’re gonna go out, ya need to be awake, right? Stop and smell the coffee.” She accepted his gesture.

“Eh, just give me a second. I’ll only be five minutes or so…” She said, setting the cup down and typing away.

“ Nah, we got all the time in the world. You deserve a coffee break right away.” He said with a plastic smile, holding up his coffee, mimicking the popular television commercials. She laughed.

“Oh alright, you’ve convinced me.” And with that, she turned her chair to face him, and imbibed her drink. He watched her carefully, as she noticeably relaxed not half a minute later. He knew he had to help further the process before she caught on.

“So where do you want to go? Green Dragon? Seventh Heaven? Don Tybalte’s? You know, I’ve been to Green Dragon, and their Wutaise cuisine is superb, but then again, the Seventh Heaven is a much more laid back, festive kind of place. Then again, if you really want to live it up, we could go to Tybalte’s. Their food is amazing. I mean, like, wow. I went there last year when Junon flounder was in season, and seriously, it was incredible. But did you want to go dancing? ‘Cause that would be Seventh Heaven all the way. But if you do pay and extra fee at the Dragon, they do some awesome food preparation show for you. That’s always a lot of fun.”

Her spiked drink combined with his disconnected droning and her fatigue spiraled her mind into unconsciousness, as she let out a sigh and gently fell back into her chair. He observed her as she sank into a deep sleep, her breathing soft and long. Carefully, he walked around behind the desk, and moved her just enough for him to gain access to her computer. Minimizing the document she had been typing, he quickly brought up a new page, and set to work.

Kipling Offices
Midgar, Sector Six

ATTN: Mr. Kipling

Dear Sir,

After inspecting several up-and-coming corporations during our annual review, a new company, TradeStar Insurance has appeared the most promising of all our prospects. Seeing as though we’ve been relying on Bastion Inc. for such purposes, we thought it would be wise to inform you of our findings, for a newer and more contemporary organization might benefit us. If it is workable into your schedule, we highly recommend you meet with their company president, Alexander Gainsborough sometime in the near future. A full report of their policies and rates has been attached. Mr. Gainsborough may be contacted at this number: 786-656-9343.

City hall, Sector Six

He sent the letter, and reopened her document. She was still out, sleeping like a baby. Xanacil would have her out only for a short while, and she would wake up with a very clouded memory. He knocked her drink and then, careful not to hit her into anything, tipped her chair over, crashing her over. She groaned, and awakened with the impact, somewhat stunned. He pretended to rush to her side.

“Angelique, are you okay? You…oh, well, you look all right. Guess they tell your not to lean back in your chair for a reason, eh? Come on, let’s get you up.” He helped her to her feet.

“I…fell out of my chair?” He laughed, softly.

“Yeah, you were drinking and talking to me and then I guess you slipped. At least you didn’t spill your coffee on yourself.”

“Oh…sorry…guess I’ve been working too hard.” He nodded, steadying her.

“Hey, if you don’t want to go anywhere tonight that’s all right, if you just want to go home and rest.” She shook her head.

“No, I still want to go, I just need to…ugh…I spilled it everywhere down here…”

“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it here. You go get some water or something, maybe lay down for a bit. I’ll just finish copying this letter for you.” He said, with all earnest.

“Okay. Thanks…thanks so much for you help…I really don’t know what got into me…” He smiled.

“That’s all right.” He stated, watching walk clumsily into the back, still feeling the slight aftereffects of the drug.

Poor girl…sorry about that…

He sighed. He hated to do that to a pretty, naive young woman, but he had to. He was on a mission, and whatever steps he needed to take to complete it, he would definitely take.

Besides…I’ll make it up to her…

Chapter 16

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