“I told you all I remember.” Mel's face showed frustration as he repeated his account of what happened in Haalm.
“There was some guy going insane in the middle of the Garden District. I had my sister with me, so I didn't have time to check the guy out. My first priority was her safety.”
Gibbons aged face showed some signs of anger as he pinched his slightly wrinkled nose. He stood across a small table from where Mel was sitting. He was a tall, lean man, His mustache danced as he exhaled sharply.
“Did you at least get a sense of his power level?”, he said in a drained voice.
Mel chuckled. “You didn't need to get a sense of his power to know that he's gonna be a problem.Anyone who saw the aftermath could tell you that guy was bad ass-” Mel paused as he examined Gibbons put his hands on the table between them. His wrinkled face showed more emotion.
“-but yea, I did,” Mel resumed, ending his laughter. Gibbons stood up straight, surprised my Mel's sudden seriousness.
“What exactly did you sense?” Gibbons asked folding his arms.
“Nothing we've seen before. The guy was definitely human. But the energy was anything but. It was dark. Evil. Contagious. Enraging even. They say that following the events in the Garden District, crime raised by twenty percent in the following hours. At first it seemed normal, considering the number of Bounded that were there for the fights.”
“Well yeah,” Gibbons interjected. ”Just like when riots take place, people take the opportunity to do what they wouldn't normally get away with. Not to mention the fact that the Bounded are forced into fighting for entertaining the masses, so of course, I'd be dishing out anger had I been in their position as well.”
Mel reached into a backpack on the ground next to him and pulled out a tablet.“I was thinking the same thing, but take a look at this.” He pressed a button and a projection of a report displayed on the wall to their right. It showed a series of line graphs depicting the crime rates in the past 8 hours. Gibbons examined for a minute and then spoke.
“I'm not quite sure what's on here that I haven't already said.” Mel pointed at the projection.
“Look at who's committing the crimes.”
Gibbons took a second look and noticed the problem Mel was pointing out.
“Civilians,” he said in sudden realization. Mel nodded his head and sat back.
“Exactly. The majority of the crimes came from civilians who had never even committed crimes, nor had any infractions. It was like everyone just went completely insane and started slaughtering each other. Men, women, children. It's almost as if a poison had been let into the air.”
Gibbons sat down in the empty chair next to him. He pondered to himself, trying to think of what to do with the information received. Just as he was beginning to speak, the door behind him swung open. He turned around to meet the dark green eyes of a Upratorean who stood with broad shoulders around 182 cm. He wore a long white coat that stretched down to his shins with a slit in the back to allow his tail to swing freely. Had it not been for his lavender skin color, he would have been perfectly camouflaged with the wall behind him.
“Well if it isn't my main man Sydicae,” Mel said sarcastically as he leaned back and propped his feet on the table. “Fancy seeing you out here in Brazia. What brings you to the Zula System?”
Sydicae spoke in a thunderous voice. “Well I heard that they dragged you here after the supposed explosion in Haalm. Thought I'd stop by and get a more in depth report from an eye witness instead of the rumor mill.”
“Well looks like you wasted your time in coming here then, cause I didn't see anything that hasn't already been reported,” Mel replied. A silvery voice spoke out from behind Sydicae.
“Sydicae, can you please move and get your damn tail out of my face.” Another being stepped from behind Sydicae with traces of aggravation in her face. She glanced up at Sydicae, who started murmuring an apology which she met by rolling her eyes and making an impatient gesture with her hand. Mel sat up and stared at her intrigued. He recognized that it was an Elzna immediately due to the effects of his mental state when he saw her. They were naturally appealing to every race, and had his mind been weaker he'd have easily fallen prey to their illusion tricks. She stood slim at about 178 cm with curvy hips and legs that belonged to lingerie models. She wore light brown shorts that came mid-way down her thighs and stood barefoot. She had on a purple tank top that matched her curly pony-tailed hair and complimented her sky blue toned skin. On her arms were what appeared to be tribal markings. They were a slightly different shade of blue, and they were mainly slanted stripes that stretched to her elbows. Mel's eyes wandered until he finally met her own, which awed him as they shifted between fluorescent shades of blue and green. She glared at him like she had just made up her mind to eradicate him from the galaxy.
“Something on your mind,” she asked, as if annoyed by his presence. Mel snickered as he hung his head for a moment before meeting her eyes again. She took the gesture as an insult, and put more force into her words. “If you have something to say then say it you drooling flaky haired mutt.”
Mel's interest vanished as he sat back to his relaxed position with his eyes now fixed again on Sydicae. “So who's the bitch?” he asked sarcastically. The Elzna's skin flickered to a slightly darker color as she stepped forward.
“Who are you calling a bitch you retarded pigeon toed flea bag?” Sydicae held up his hand.“That's enough. Both of you.”
Mel laughed as he spoke. “That's a fine piece of work you got there Sydicae. With a little more intelligence she might become a nice sparring dummy, assuming she grows a bit.”
The Elzna was outraged. She flashed in front of Mel with blinding speed, swinging her fists like she was trying to remove his head from his neck. Mel dodged two punches from his chair with relative ease, before standing. On the third he allowed himself to get hit. He slid across the floor, stopping just before hitting the wall and keeping his fighting stance in the process. Jess lept back to Sydicae's side. Mel snickered.
“I wouldn't insult women by saying you hit like them.” Jess gritted her teeth and was about to charge again when Sydicae put an arm across her chest. Gibbons cleared his throat and shifted so that he was now facing Sydicae. His face showed curiousity as he looked at the Elzna.
“Haven't seen you in awhile Jess.” Mel winced as he heard the name and his smile faded. Jess kept her intense gaze on Mel.
“Yeah, long time no see old man.” Mel relaxed from his stance. He glanced at Sydicae, recalling the name that came up in conversation he overheard between him and another leader of The Guild.
“This wouldn't by any chance have anything to do with that replacement crap you were discussing would it?”
Sydicae was surprised by the question. “What are you-”
“Don't act surprised," Mel said, interrupting him. "I know that you've had a team shadowing me for the past two weeks. Just thought I'd return the favor is all.”
Sydicae scowled at him, realizing that the reports that he had been receiving from the spies he had placed on him were inaccurate. Annoyance lingered in the back of his mind, however, he dismissed it, unsurprised that this was coming from one of his elite, and instead he wondered just how much Mel knew. Now wasn't the time to press for it. A city had been attacked, and a threat was on the loose. He needed Mel's ability on his side.
“This is an effort, to make sure your recklessness doesn't get you killed,” Sydicae said after a long moment of silence.
“My recklessness?” Mel's look intensified. He could hardly believe that it was a word used to describe him. “What the hell do you mean recklessness?”
“I'm talking about your high risk-low reward method of approach.”
Mel shook his head in disbelief. “What the hell does that even mean?”
“It means that in your assignments, you've lead your team into a number of high risk situations where their lives are put on the edge.”
Mel's annoyance level rose further. He was in Wolf Prime, one of three elite squads of the Specialist Branch inside The Guild. No mission came without it's risks, and every mission tested your life.
“I'd love for you to explain which part of infiltrating the main outpost of a bandit clan with only 6 people equipped with bare minimum weaponry in order to assassinate the leader and prevent communication with other clans is low risk and high reward.” Mel paused for a moment, and then continued. “Oh you can't name any? Exactly. This isn't a goddamn practice exercise. You can know as much as you want and unexpected shit still happens. There's no such thing as low risk, and you know that. The only thing that matters is results. And I've given absolute results one time after another. You can't question my ability or my leadership.”
Sydicae took a step forward. “Really? Because I can give you six unnecessary risks you took in your last mission alone.”
Jess gazed back and forth between them, now sensing that the tension between the two started long before two weeks ago when Mel's last mission was assigned.
Mel's voice raised, “First off, the results of that mission ended with the bandits vanquished, and no casualties on my side. I saw an opportunity, and I took it. Secondly, I didn't order my squad to stay there, they chose to do so.”
“That's because had they not you would have gotten your ass killed.” Sydicae was shouting in a booming voice. “You didn't give them a choice. It was either let their leader die from his own damn temper, or keep fighting to pull him out. You risked the lives of everyone on your team when you didn't have to. We had more than enough manpower and intel to destroy them with out the risk. You can try to justify it however you want, but that's the bottom line. It's not always just about results. In fact, this has nothing to do with results. This is about you making everything personal every damn mission. This isn't the first time your damn temper has gotten the better of you. Ever since Mii's death you've been a loose cannon Mel.”
Mel banged his fist against the wall behind him, leaving a small crack in the process. “Leave my sister out of this!” He was losing his cool little by little. A single tear escaped and streaked down his face from his now bloodshot eyes.
“Your team is the only reason you haven't been pulled yet. Because they vouched for you when the trial to replace you came up, you'll still be leader, however Jess will be your second in command and she has the authority to step in if she sees you start to lose control.”
“And what the hell is she going to do? Lead a squad she's never been with? Woo the enemy with her looks. This is a goddamn joke.”
Jess chuckled. Her gaze had returned to Mel. “I'm two ranks above you pretty boy. The real joke here that I have to be put in a squad because their leader is some pathetic crying piece of shit who has temper issues because his sister isn't here to control him.”
Mel erupted at the words. He flashed in front of her and swung with his full force. She would have gotten smashed had Sydicae not pushed her to the ground across the room. Instead Mel hit the wall behind her and destroyed it and part of the ceiling. The debris smashed into the hallway, opening up a plethora of unwanted gaps through the offices of other members as it shattered through walls. Jess pulled a knife and casted a shell technique, which made her skin glossy as it hardened like steel armor. She propped herself up on her hands, holding the knife outward from her chest. Mel flashed and appeared in front of her again, and this time she was ready. She dodged the next swing and turned to counterattack. Too slow. By the time she turned around, Mel had gotten behind her, clutching her shirt to him with his left hand as his right hand formed a claw. His muscles tightened and a white radiating globe of energy appeared in his hand. White marks glowed and wove like circuits from his palm and finger tips to his biceps where the disappeared inside the sleeve of his black shirt. Sydicae flashed behind him and grabbed his arm, restraining him from casting down his attack. Mel gritted his teeth and exhaled sharply. His eyes were fixed on Jess. She now examined Mel in more detail. He had a lean, muscular figure. He wore a fitted black t-shirt with camouflaged pants and combat boots. His orange eyes glared down on her like the fires of hell. She found herself overcome by intimidation and unable to hold his intense gaze.
“Calm yourself Mel,” Gibbons said. Contempt, Mel released his energy, yet his gaze was fixed on Jess and his tattoos were still glowing. Though her body showed sternness, he could hear her heart pounding, and her eyes showed fear beneath them. Sydicae let go of his hand, and he stepped back. He flashed a look at Gibbons, and instead of Gibbons returning the gaze, his eyes looked elsewhere, signaling that he knew exactly how this would go and gave no indication. He turned and headed towards the big hole that he'd just made. A small crowd of onlookers scattered as he exited.
“I'll be in my quarters.”