Dirty, Rotten Thievery! -Part Seven–

“Now, isn’t this wonderful?” Chaos asks with an old-fashioned pat on the lap.

Order finds herself in Country Tower of all places: the cute retro farm-style decorum lending an unbelievable departure from Chaos’ usual taste in decorating with the skulls of fallen overlords.

She takes a seat at the quaint breakfast table as several minions of random authority also take seats. She looks over to admire the decorum, and spots a metal sign:

Be rootin’,

Be tootin’,

and By God be shootin’,

but most of all,

be kind.

She just sighs.

“Greed,” she starts bluntly to get them back on track.

Chaos glances over with intrigue. “Aha! Yes, you will have to share when the biscuits come out of the oven.” He looks over to a corner where a minion in a checkerboard apron is slapping something together in a bowl. “I appreciate you having us over,” he says with a cordial bow of the head.

A stocky, sassy minioness with a look that’s somehow both overwhelmed and perfectly cordial swings over with her bowl. “Absolutely, Mister Mayor! You and your kids and the missus just sit tight and we’ll have it over- GUNNY!” she shouts abruptly.

Order just leans onto the table, her face in her hands.

“It ain’t polite to put ya ‘bows on the tabah,” the minion seated next to her squeaks as if he were her brother.

She sighs into her palms – this is going about how she expected.

“GUNNY!” the aproned Hospitality Minion shouts up again.

Everyone hears stomping from above as a pair of boots descend the steps.

“NOW JUST WHAT THE HELL KINDA GREETIN IS THAT FOR A MAN THAT JUST CAME OFF SHIFT I’VE BEEN WORKING  FIFTY HOURS NON STOP FOR YOU AND THAT LITTLE OVEN A’ YOURS N’ I CAN’T RIGHTLY ACCEPT THAT YOU’D-“

The shouting minion stops. He’s a rather tall sort dressed up in 200’s low north period costume, though some dimensions would consider it to be 1800’s wild west instead – all depending on where one’s from.

His boots stop their clicking down the steps the moment he sees Chaos seated: unlimited patience for things like this.

“A-ah! Sheriff! Much obliged by your visitation. I do apologize for the racket, I just get a bit vindictive when the missus gets on my-“

Chaos raises a hand in peace. “All is well, my dear Gunfighter. I do hope things haven’t been too busy for you.”

There’s a silence as Gunfighter Minion approaches the table

“Also, that’s the mayor, not the sheriff,” Hospitality Minion corrects.

Gunfighter gives a terse, bent turn to Hospitality Minion, a full head shorter than he is. “Woman. I will not be instructed as to the sir’s appropriate titles when I am in my own damn home,” he snips back with waving, almost mesmerizing emphasis.

“Well I’m sure the sir isn’t very privy to you callin’ him something he ain’t-“

“If you please,” Chaos interrupts with a light smile. “I’ve come here to visit, not to spur argument. Let’s be gentle,” Chaos says with a short bow of the head.

The two arguing minions share a look of immediate acceptance: if he says it, then that’s that.

“Well, right to ya’, sir,” Gunfighter Minion says, dusting off his slacks.

“Well, of course. We appreciate you, Mayor,” Hospitality Minion says, making peace on her terms the way she does anything.

A little egg timer gives a sharp ding.

“Oh! They’re ready!” Hospitality Minion peeps before rushing over to the oven.

Chaos bows again and then looks over to Order. “Now then, we were… planning on… pardon, I suppose you were more made up than I was about it.”

Order shakes her head. Her hands draw back from her face with an accepting smile: ready to relish the humor of yet another stupid conversation. “No, I didn’t, actually. In fact you seemed quite confident as to your plan.”

“Ah,” he glances aside with a squint, “so we did… in fact have a pla-“

You had a plan, and I told you it was bad, and that you should take us to your new minion trying to find Greed’s hideout… but you took us here instead.”

Hospitality Minion pulls the biscuits from the oven. “And just what’s wrong with bein’ here?”

Order looks at Chaos, who just smiles back, leading her to sigh.

Nothing is wrong with being here, we simply have to be somewhere else,” she explains as wonderfully buttery, flaky biscuits are doled out to everyone’s plates.

“Well whatever it is, I’m sure it can wait. I slaved over this over for four hours to make you this breakfast, and-“

“I highly doubt that,” Order states lightly.

There’s a collective “ooooh” from all the little minions swarming around the table.

“Oh? And I suppose you just know this?”

“I mean, considering you didn’t know we would be here until ten minutes ago, I’d say that’s a reasonable guess.”

Hospitality Minion delivers a sharp, hurt glance to Chaos, who hums in turn.

“Well, dear Ranalie, perhaps… this was part of my plan all along!” he admits.

Everyone but Order smiles and nods at the thought: a true “gotcha” moment for the stupid loser that dared question the effort Hospitality Minion’s put into taking care of her guests.

Order sighs and admits defeat with a single nod.

“Of course, how could I have forgotten. So, the minion.”

Chaos leans forward. “Yes?

“That you sent to find Greed.”

The Overlord gives a sharp scoff. “Dear lady. You only need to look at a human child to see the roots of avarice taking hold on the souls of man. You know that it is ingrained in you peop-“

“The person Greed, Chaos. The dragon-kin.”

Oh,” Chaos notes, as if suddenly intrigued. “I did not know you considered them people.”

Order’s huff is punctuated by a drawn-out “ooooooh” from all of the minions except Gunfighter, who’s not about all that theatrics. “Are you kidding me?

“I mean, considering what you’ve done to them, yes? We both know Rayda the Dragonslayer was far worse, but you certainly downed your fair share.”

“I j-” she stops herself with a breath before restarting. “Chaos. You sent a minion to find Overlord Greed: the one responsible for stealing your sword.”

There’s a pause at the kitchen table.

“Now, don’t you think this is a bit of a political issue to be bringing up for breakfas-“

“I have been up dealing with your inane games for the past twenty hours, Chaos. The Republic is on the line.”

Chaos crosses his arms. “I don’t see what the Western Kingdoms have to gain from my lack of a blade.”

“Because if you don’t have it, you have no clue what to do,” she reiterates.

Rude,” a random minion snips.

“She’s just jealous cuz’ she’s ugly,” says another.

Chaos draws back at the thought, not in offense, but uncertainty. “I… don’t?”

“Yes! I don’t know how it works. Please, give me the credit. If I knew I would have used it to kill you long ago! It’s different now. We’re not actually nemeses.”

His antennae perk up. “Because we’re married!”

Order stifles a sharp breath as a bevy of the minions spool out an enthusiastic “ewww!

“Chaos, no. It’s because the public image requires a reason for why you’re still around. I know you’ll forget this right away but in the slim chance you remember this conversation when you get Kingdom Slayer back, it’s because when you have your sword, you’re sharp, when you’re sharp, you’re on the lookout and not wasting your time with… stupid fucking breakfasts-

Hey!” Hospitality Minion shouts roughly.

Order continues. “When you’re on the lookout, the Librarium would never touch you, and when they would never touch you-“

“They would never touch the Aernan continent,” Gunfighter Minion states coldly, as if in a grim realization.

Order’s eyes flash a quick, gratifying gold. “Thank you,” she says before turning back to Chaos. “So we need to get your sword back. Do you understand so far? No fun and games, no strolling around arm-in-arm, no coloring in pictures of flowers. We are going to find Greed, and then we are going to kill him, okay?”

Chaos is quiet a moment as an entire parade of emotion crosses over his face. As the birds sing outside and minions munch on their biscuits, Chaos’ face reflects confusion, dread, indignancy, humor, and joy, but he never quite goes all the way with one. After a moment, that infamous grin reforms on his face. “So,” he starts with a tone a bone-chilling as it is alluring. “I suppose we also need to get the Planar Sphere.”

Order sharply claps her hands. “Yes! He remembers. About time. Yes, the Planar Sphere that Greed took from you, and then you gave up Kingdom Slayer for some reason.”

“I don’t remember,” Chaos answers.

“I know you don’t,” Order adds with a glass-like sharpness. “What I need from you right now, is just to focus on what I ask you, okay? Actually.” She turns to look at Gunfighter Minion. “I need your help to keep him on track. It’s impossible for me to do it alone.”

Gunfighter glances aside. “Well… I don’t reckon that’d really be the polite thing to do to the sheriff. He’s a sharp tack, that on-“

Order gives him a look.

In her thousands of years dealing with the most utterly pig-headed human specimens with only the thinnest of social contracts keeping her from using ceremancy on them and just blanking them out into mindless drones, she has had to develop a passable level of personal tact. She tends to not be the expressive sort, but it’s not for inability, more so it’s kept waiting as a weapon; waiting to be unsheathed. Order knows that a sword means less when it’s left out in the hand all day – it loses its sting. Just so, when it comes to social expression, it’s the scorn that’s hidden until the perfect time that hits the hardest. Her irises go from gold to a pure, murderous crimson.

From Order’s cold, pale face comes a warning of such overreaching magnitude that Gunfighter: a simple, considerate man, cannot even question the motive. If he rejects her, she will destroy him, and it will be at a time when he least expects it. It is at once a response to her power as an individual, the unexpected nature of the gaze, and her striking, switchblade-like femininity – a glance that beckons “Who are you to say no to me?”

He clears his throat.

“With that in mind, I’d imagine an extra pair’a hands couldn’t hurt,” Gunfighter admits tersely. “For er… additional perspective, n’ all that.”

Her glare subsides, and the dutiful gold has returned.

“Then it’s settled,” she says to Chaos. “Take us to the scout.”

A small minion perks up from Order’s side. “Ain’t cha gonna finish breakfa-“

“It’s not breakfast for me. Breakfast is the first meal of the day, so neither I nor any of you would eat it more than once a week.”

There’s an uncomfortable pause: it’s obvious that Hospitality Minion is fuming from Order’s cold upheaval of the hospitality way.

Chaos grins. “Well, it’s never too late to enjoy a meal made with love – I’d say that makes things more breakfasty than anything else, wouldn’t you agree?”

Order smirks. “On task. The longer we wait the more chances he gets to manipulate the situation, or do you all not want Spa Tower running again?”

There’s a sudden shock among the group, gasps and frantic jolts.

“That’s right!”

“That’s way more important than breakfast!”

“Give me back my hot tub!” exclaim three minions all at once.

Chaos nods in resignation. “Well, I see no reason to hold us back with a purpose like that.” He stands up and tears a portal. “To… uh, Jungle Towe-“

Central,” Order corrects. “You said Central Tower is the one you sent them to.”

The High Overlord grins, pauses, and then closes the portal before tearing a new one. “You have passed the test.”

“Sure,” she says.

“Excuse me!” the zern, that enormous elephant panther creature from an unknown world shouts to Baseball Analogy Minion.

“No thanks. Box penalty for obstruction,” he says as he passes her by.

She rushes over to another. “Excuse me!”

Cakes and Pies Minion flinches aside with a high stack of pies. “You’ll excuse me as I deliver these masterpieces, thank you,” she says busily.

The zern sighs with exasperation. She spots another passing minion, and it’s perhaps the most fitting person to randomly approach in the Omniverse.

Excuse me!” she bleats desperately.

Random Passerby Minion adjusts his business-gray fedora. “Well, good morning! What seems to be the matter, young lady?” he asks, his heel turning to face her squarely.

The zern rears up in shock, her ears jolting back with surprise that someone’s actually sticking around. “I… uh, I was wondering if you knew where Greed was,” she explains, her furtive tone a long departure from the ultra-powerful, fearless creature that matched wits against Chaos just hours earlier.

Random Passerby Minion crosses his arms and gains a parental smile. “Young lady, where are your parents? I have no clue what in the world you are talking about.”

“I… I…” she stops, realizing that the super badass deep black overlord dude that saved her explained the situation to her very, very poorly. “Well… I think it’s… a person?

“Greed… so the overlord, Greed?” the minion asks as he crouches down patronizingly to make level eye contact to the telekinetic elephant panther.

“I mean… I guess so?”

Random Passerby Minion takes a deep breath. The smile on his face is knowing. “Well then, I think I know what’s going on. You’re one of Chaos’ new minions, right? folks usually don’t get to Central unless they’re let in,” he explains with a warm tone.

The zern looks aside pitifully. “I don’t even… know that. I think that’s the right word? This is just all so new!”

“Well, if you’re looking to find Greed, I can help you out. In fact we have a bunch of folks whose job it is to find people for Chaos when he… you know.”

“When he what?

He chuckles as he outstretches his hand. “Nevermind it. Come on and I’ll show you.” She offers her trunk to his hand, and the two walk side by side to somewhere.

Minutes later, a characteristically-fast portal tears into the general plaza. Out from it Chaos pokes out with a ready grin, followed shortly behind Order and Gunfighter Minion.

“Now… if memory serves it was about here,” he explains, stepping out from the rift and taking a look around.

“Are you sure of that?” Order asks, glancing about the gloriously-beautiful architecture of central, of a style she hates to admit as much as anyone as being outstandingly and lovingly Reinish in design. The use of plants everywhere intertwining with continual posting boards and quaint food stalls brings back memories that the four kingdoms of the Republic simply cannot touch on. The only issue is that these aren’t humans walking about, but reminders of her nemesis. “I’ve seen you forget yourself minutes down the line, you know.”

Chaos hums. “If only there was a magic for that,” he mumbles.

She scoffs. “You have such specific selective memory. It drives me insane.”

“Oh, as insane as I am?” he asks with a squint.

“Hush,” she notes softly. She looks around, and smells the air. “Something that wasn’t an etheriae has been here recently.”

Gunfighter Minion nods wide eyed as Chaos hovers over. “How is it that she knows that? A bit suspect if I were the one giving such an opinion.”

“Pretty sure that’s called ‘smell’ sheriff,” Gunfighter returns with a smile.

Chaos squints as Order waves them forward to follow her. “Is that… something parasites do?”

“Most animals can do it, I reckon, but I’d expect she’s a little better at it.”

“Oh? Why is that, dearest gunminion?”

Gunfighter adjusts his stetson, “She’s uh… you know, one’a them night creatures.”

Chaos draws back in immediate recollection. “Of course! They are good at hunting, aren’t the-“

“I can hear you,” Order says with an already defeated tone. She knows it doesn’t matter.

Chaos regards her with his gaze a moment as before looking right back to Gunfighter. “And an excellent sense of hearing to match. We best exercise grave caution.”

Gunfighter and Order exchange a rare, humored glance. “Course, sheriff. I’ll keep an eye on ‘er,” he says, winning a short smile from Order, who really is just a meter from the two as she leads the way.

She follows the scent down into the depths of Central Tower, where the pleasantly warm Reinish aesthetic devolves into more severe, serious architecture the further down they go.

“This all looks so familiar,” Chaos says with a mild smirk as the lab coat-wearing Statistical Analytics Minion passes them in the hall.

“Ahh, sir! I think Dimensionomancy Infrastructure Minion wanted to see you. He’s in the control room,” he says with a nod down the right-side corridor.

Chaos draws back with immediate enlightenment. “A-ah! Most excellent, is that where the puppet show i-” he’s interrupted as Order directly grasps and leads him by the hand.

“Puppet show, sir?” the science minion asks, pausing in the hallway to look back.

Gunfighter Minion just waves politely with a smile as Order ushers Chaos along.

“This is where it’s held, isn’t it?” Chaos asks.

What in tarnation…” Gunfighter mutters incredulously as they head down to the control room.

Order sighs. “Relatively new to the minionry?”

He shrugs. “If you’d call fifty years new.”

“I would. When he’s separated from Kingdom Slayer his mind degenerates.”

“D-degenerates?”

“That is what I said, isn’t it?” she says as they immediately slap the double doors into the central control room.

Standing with his hands behind his back, Dimensionomancy Infrastructure Minion glances over, spots Order leading Chaos by the hand, and immediately understands the situation.

“Sir,” he begins as dozens of other minions around him work on consoles and interfaces to collect and process data. “We were all-rays-pointed at Overlord Space during the trial. We got a beat on Greed’s movement.”

Towerne Ops Minion, just a step away from D.I.M., gives his partner a pat before looking to the High Overlord. “We have the reaction retinue ready. Say the word and we’ll shift in.”

Chaos’ gaze doesn’t sharpen with focus, but rather widens as if overwhelmed.

“…Pardon me?” Chaos asks.

There’s an awkward silence.

“The Crawling Amnesia,” D.I.M. starts, “looks like Offworld Minion wasn’t exaggerating when she said it was bad. You seemed off today, but now that you don’t even have Kingdom Slayer you’re totally falling off the deep end,” he explains with a disinterested sigh. “Well, I suppose it’s good we have you here to assist, then,” he notes as he glances to Order.

“Ahh, of course you would be the brains around here,” she says with a mild frown.

“I’d like to apologize about that time-” he says.

“Which one?” she asks.

They both scoff: him because he realizes she remembers more than he thought, and she because of how irritating it is to have chemistry with a minion of Chaos.

“Right, so you are here to help, yes?” Dimensionomancy Infrastructure Minion says with a slant brow.

Order gives a gentle nod. “That I am,” she says, giving the confused Chaos a pat on the shoulder as if a lost cow that wandered from his field.

“Pardon me?” Chaos asks, glancing away from a screen that had an exceptional number of blinking lights.

D.I.M. smiles gently, professionally. “Well, I suppose we’re only cutting into our time. I’ve had the coalescence pre-charged. It should put you within a kilometer.”

Order nods. “That’ll do. Hold it a second so I get dropped away from Chaos.”

“Worried of being seen?”

“Not politically, not anymore, at least. I just expect Greed’ll get tunnel vision as usual and focus everything on him.”

“On who?” Chaos asks.

Now even the other minions are exchanging humored glances.

“Don’t worry about it,” Order says. “We’re going on a trip to find Greed and kill him.”

Chaos squints. “Well… that doesn’t sound very pheasant.”

“Pleasant.”

“Ah, pleasant. Birds aside, why would we do such a thing, my dear?”

Order sighs, and looks over to Dimensionomancy Infrastructure Minion, who just shrugs. “We’ll go… get barbecue.”

Chaos crosses his arms tersely. “But don’t you think this Greed… gentleman would want some as well? If I’m not mistaken, killing something removes their ability to enjoy barbe-“

“I’m so sick of this,” Order mumbles under her breath. She turns to D.I.M. “Do it.”

The minion easily flips a switch, and instantly the interior gate forms in the center of the room.

“Wow,” Order sighs.

“Fast, isn’t it?” the smirking minion says.

She shakes her head from the topic. “Let’s go,” she says, pushing Chaos forward and giving Gunfighter Minion a firm, entrusting glance. “Watch him,” she says.

“Damn straight, ma’am,” Gunfighter says with a short cough before leading the Dimensional Master in.

The second they’re both inside, Order flicks back to D.I.M., who smiles knowingly.

“No, I didn’t do anything already,” he says.

“Somehow I doubt that.”

“I may have let a couple of the other minions through a minute ago, though.”

Order sighs. “That explains why the coalescence was so fast,” she notes, looking back to the faint black portal, nervously awaiting her entry. “Why?”

“The elephant… thing said it was given a mission from Head Director himself, so I’m not one to argue with that.”

She shakes her head at that, this time out of distaste. “This is going to be such a mess.”

“It is, but I don’t suppose I need to remind you how Chaos would react should harm come to any of-“

I should be the one saying that.”

He readjusts his glasses on his face. “If you say so… you should be good to insert. I’d say the divergence is about three hundred meters now.”

“That should do.”

“Scared of being seen with them?”

“Only tactically. My reputation ended in Overlord Court.”

Dimensionomancy Infrastructure Minion gains a grin – not the mercilessly powerful sort that Chaos broadcasts, but handsome, sly, and knowing; as if he’s always one punchline ahead of the joke.

“Well, I suppose you best be on your way, then. Wouldn’t want your reputation catching cold,” he says.

She nods, and turns in without another word.

“They’re coming in, sir,” a woman covered in defensive spell slips and ornate regalia notes as she looks up from a small sphere.

She, along with a bevy of others, are laxing about in a mountain lodge.

Greed, reclining villainously with a glass of wine, glances over to her. “Fetch.”

She nods, and with a battery of other mages, takes up her equipment and exit the cabin.

Greed looks over to the thief, arms crossed and simmering with disdain. “You alright over there?”

The young man, fetchingly handsome with his hood down, glances over. “I could be asking you the same thing. Do you really think we can get through this?”

A mirthless grin forms along the half-lizard’s face, cuing Lust, wrapped warm in a long fur coat, sips into its tea. “Think about it this way,” it notes after pulling the cup down from under its mask, “either we do it, or it won’t be our problem for much longer.”

“Ha, good one,” Scout Minion, chained up along with Greed’s own clutch of minions, snips in her usual crassness. “Poppi’s gonna chase down y’alls souls n’ kill ya’ in hell. Then you’ll go to super hell, and then he’ll go there and kill you losers again, sending you to mega hell-

“Were you really able to put up with this one all this time, Wez’?” Greed asks to the thief.

The so-called “Wez” gives an uneasy nod. “She’s… not been easy.”

“Of course I’m not easy. I am a lady with standards and a proud minion of the High Overlord! You losers ha-“

“We get it,” Wez says with a blink-fast kick to her face.

“Wh-rude!” Underwater Explorer Minion shouts.

“Shut up,” Wez says, his tone steadily increasing alongside another kick into the general group of bound minions.

“Your foot bags smell horrible!” Bag Minion blurts out.

“I said: shut up!” the thief shouts with another kick.

“Getting angry ain’t gonna save you,” Martial Arts says the second the foot strikes him as well. 

SHUT.

“I’m going to enjoy wearing your skin as my underwear,” Ultra Slaughter Minion sighs out.

“Oh, gods.

Shut up, Ultra!

“Holy shit.”

“You’re my kinda guy…”

“Wow,” emit several different minions and Lust, who’s chuckling light-heartedly into the rim of its teacup.

Wez draws back with a sigh. “Your master’s going to answer for his crimes. No one’s going to help hi-“

Suddenly, Greed’s chat stone alights. He raises it to his ear. “M’yes?”

Everyone in the cabin focuses in on the dragon-kin’s expression as it readily shrivels with disgust.

“…Thank you for telling me,” he understates with a kingly poise. The chat stone loses its glow, Greed clears his throat, looks over to Lust, and then nods.

“Well, looks like I’ve won our little wager,” Lust muses. “But I suppose the real question is how are we getting out of here?”

Greed smiles. “I have one of those nice slips on me, as well as spares down in the basement. We can leave any time.”

Rather than sigh with relief, Lust just hums, as if it hardly mattered. “This really is tiring.”

He is tiring, my dear,” he says, sliding a hand into his outstanding blazer to retrieve an exceptionally-understated pistol. Some dimensions would call the design “the Ferhaltz”, while others demand it is the “Lethann Dolphin” in reference to the popular film, but most realms that use it have come to cherish the term “1911” due to it being invented at almost exactly that year for the primary calendar of almost every world that has one: this itself has led to the rather tongue-in-cheek label of the “twenty century gun” in reference to most societies having to maintain a historical record to get the technology to create them, though this of course is just wishful thinking dabbled with extraverse humor.

“What’s that for?” Scout snips, “You think you’re just gonna shoot us and leave?”

Greed says nothing, but he does expend just enough effort to stretch over from his recliner and give Scout Minion a single, damning gaze – the 1911 in his hand as it leans over the arm rest.

Yes, that’s exactly what he’s going to do.

“Well, we’ve found ourselves in a bit of a pickle then, haven’t we?” Passerby Minion notes, tied up alongside the zern, her upperside flopping over awkwardly as if it were a natural sitting position for her.

“Wh- I mean that’s the guy, isn’t it?”

Passerby Minion smiles good-naturedly as the other minions release a collective, exhausted sigh.

Chaos emerges from the stellar darkness of the rift with a plop, while Gunfighter executes an easy, stuck landing.

They’re at the base of a mountain range, scarce for trees or concealment of any kind. The High Overlord just sort of wanders about aimlessly as Gunfighter immediately ducks low under the largest rock he can vault to.

“Now just where is this, I’m wonderin’?” Gunfighter thinks aloud as he raises his pistol at the ready along with his antennae to get a sense of the situation.

Chaos glances around, and spreads his arms wide in joyous declaration. “What a wonderful place!” he says the second a bolt of magic artillery smashes through the sparse woodland next to them. The impact was enchanted, yet the object fired was physical, so Chaos is peppered with cuts, some of which actually do go deep and secret enough into his body to hurt the true him.

Sheriff!” Gunfighter shouts, getting out of cover to help him.

But Chaos is quite alright.

“Oh! Hello there!” he says to Gunfighter, who he literally just saw seconds ago. “I suppose you’re one of the charming denizens of this challenging mountain terrain!

“I…I…” Gunfighter mutters in stupefaction a moment before he spots a flash up from the mountain top: another bolt. “No time for your games, sir. Let’s go!” he exclaims, taking up Chaos’ hand and tugging forward to storm the battery of mages.

“How very forward of you!” Chaos notes with a hint of excitement mixed in insult. “Wherever could you be taking me?”

“To the hill! We’ve gotta send these kids home!” Gunfighter shouts amidst not just one, but an array of explosions.

“Oh, home? But they seem to be enjoying themselves so much! It would be a shame for someone to miss out on this weather!”

Gunfighter scoffs sharply as he leads Chaos up the hill at an hawk-dive’s pace. “Miss out on targeted artillery?!

Chaos laughs. “Well it does have ‘art’ in the name, after all!” he explains just as a massive explosion levels a rock formation.

The minion pushes out an incredulous, already weary sigh as he continues tugging Chaos along up the hill.

“What’s the matter?” Chaos asks.

“These…” Gunfighter stops himself with a hum. “These horrible… metaphorical principles firing this horrible metaphorical artillery at us! If only there was someone that could stop it!”

Chaos’ antennae perk up. “You need someone to stop it?” he asks as another barrage blasts up from the mountaintop.

“Uh, yes?!” Gunfighter blurts out.

“Ahh, well, why not?” Chaos notes with a wide, helpful grin.

He waves his hand, and nothing happens, then he speaks a magic word, and nothing happens, and then he points accusingly at the incoming bolts, and still nothing happens.

“How interesting,” Chaos muses, stopping flat to look at his hands.

“Sir, run!” Gunfighter shouts, his body jerking forward to get his overlord to move out of the way of the incoming doom.

As if from a random jolt of eureka, Chaos flicks out his fingers and spins one up at the artillery.

Instantly, and with a speed ten times greater than they were traveling with, the bolts send straight back up into the battery of mages.

An enormous explosion overtakes the peak’s ridge, causing red-blue fire to flutter in the wind from the massive impact.

“How… hmm. Now how did that work out?” Chaos asks with a squint.

“Nevermind it, let’s go!” Gunfighter exclaims again, leaning Chaos forward with several maximum effort tugs forward.

The two race up the mountain side, and Gunfighter’s antennae rise.

“Who… Order’s here, but more… a lotta folks,” Gunfighter reports out loud.

Chaos grins. “Oh, yes, I felt it. I think she’s also going to the tea party.”

Tea par… sure, roger that,” Gunfighter sighs out with resignation.

The duo reaches the peak after hardly a minute of running, where they find the quaint cabin, along with what once was six high-class, outstandingly-equipped mages. Chaos would have had difficulty recognizing them as corpses even if he were in his normal state of mind.

“Get ready, sheriff,” Gunfighter alerts, his tone suddenly severe as he heads for the door.

Chaos looks a head down to his minion, his expression good-humored with confusion. “Get ready… for the tea party? I cannot say I understand why you’re deciding to take this so seriou-” Chaos stops himself as he finally pays attention to what he’s seeing on the inside of the cabin. “Oh! look at that?”

“Look at what?”

“It seems like we’re early! There’s only one person in here, and look! The uh… the thingy, and the other thing?” Chaos points out as if it were a question rather than a statement.

Gunfighter squints through the cabin walls using his ether-powered gaze. “I… one mana signature, the Kingdom Slayer, and that sphere thing y’alls been all on about… somethin’ don’t feel right.”

“How so, my dearest rugged gentleman?” Chaos asks as if he were still on a world tour with his cool and handsome tour guide.

Gunfighter’s intense expression only darkens further – reminds Chaos a bit of SOF Minion the moment before he died. “It’s wrong, sheriff. It’s a trap.”

“A trap, like for crab fishing?”

“For you, sir. This signature’s faked. There’s no way in hell it cou-“

“Come in,” a firm voice says from within. “I don’t suppose I really need to the element of surprise.”

Chaos looks to Gunfighter, whose gaze livens with adrenaline.

“We best raise ’em to it, I ‘spose,” he says, drawing his revolvers up at the ready.

“Oh, jolly ho, then!” Chaos notes with a grin as he opens the door.

It’s a tense scene.

Greed is standing at the side of the room, using his comfy chair as a sort of pathetic barrier between himself and the High Overlord. His arm’s poised towards the group of minions, aiming to the very center of the group. The smoke trail of his cigar spins upwards to the ceiling, masking the intensity of the room in a pleasant screen of warm tobacco.

Standing cold with a gaze to match, the sphere thief has an equally unexciting handgun, which is also trained on the group of bound-up minions.

Lust is leaning against a chair at the opposite edge of the room. Chaos would be smart to watch them too, if he even remembered who they were in the first place.

“Well, you found me,” Greed says raised, scaled brows. “I suppose this is the part where you’re going to say something poetic. Use some austere language like ‘you shall visit the stellar twilight’ or something comparatively inane. Go ahead,” Greed says, knowing better than to move his pistol’s aim even to gesture.

Chaos looks around, his gaze growing incredulous. “Well… this is a bit of a… strange scene for a tea party, don’t you think?” he asks with a smile.

Greed re-clicks the hammer back on his pistol. “You’re kidding me.”

“Poppi! Crush these losers and get us outta here!” Scout Minion shouts with a manic writhe.

Chaos just clutches one hand onto the elbow of another, as the free hand meets his chin in thought. “Losers? Are we playing a game? And what are all of these funny devices you two are holding onto? Party favors, right?” he asks, eying over the pistols.

Greed’s expression is completely humorless. “What in the living fuck are you on? I knew it was bad, but this is ridiculous. There’s no way you’re serious.”

Chaos’ antennae perk up. “Serious about what?”

Greed’s gaze strays for a split second to Wez, who just shakes his head. Greed reiterates his aim at the minions. “You’re just going to forget about all of this, aren’t you? I’m going to shoot these little bastards dead and all you’ll be prancing around rainbows tomorrow, won’t you?”

“He deserves to be hurt, even a little,” Wez says with a cold tone, as if Chaos weren’t even there. “Any time he remembers, he’ll know what he brought on them.”

Greed shrugs. “Good point. Now drop ’em,” he instructs, glancing over to Gunfighter Minion.

Gunfighter looks to Chaos, who waves back with a grin.

“Go ahead, I think it’s a rule of the house,” the Galactic Terminator explains pleasantly.

Gunfighter doesn’t drop the guns.

“…Sheriff. I really think I could take ’em if you just gave me the go-on,” Gunfighter says with a terse focus, his antennae pointed high in alert.

Chaos brushes his hand through the air in a shooing motion. “Oh, please. They can’t be all that bad! Play along! They won’t hurt you! Marc’s one of my best friends, after all!”

The reptilian slits in Greed’s eyes open a bit hearing this, but he doesn’t know how to process the statement.

Gunfighter gives a single, damning breath, and tosses down his shooters. “I ain’t gonna say no t’ you, sheriff,” he says, his eyes already dimming.

Greed grins, and to everyone but Lust’s surprise, immediately shoots Gunfighter in the neck – he was aiming for the head, but he can’t be expected to stay calm.

The duster-clad minion grips his neck as the bound up bundle of minions roar and gasp in shock. The bullet was enchanted, so not only the white infusia spurts out, but the crimson – the real blood of the real man. He immediately falls to his knees, his gaze staring in weak defiance to Greed before trending over to Chaos, who looks like he’s looking at something confusing.

“Pardon, are you quite alright?” Chaos asks with a squint. “That little stone flew into you and you… oh my, you don’t look too happy about that. Are you quite alright?” Without a single ounce of pretension, Chaos squats down to help stabilize Gunfighter, who just leans into him. “Sir, are you okay? Sir?”

Gunfighter cannot speak, but instead just keeps spitting up more and more blood- a slow, pathetic process that silences the victim in their final moments.

Now it’s Wez’s expression that falters. He said it himself that he wanted to make Chaos suffer, but there’s something about this that he wasn’t expecting.

“Please, speak, we’ll miss the party!” Chaos says, his tone growing with sympathy toward Gunfighter, who’s now desperately clinging for the Overlord.

“Poppi, stop,” Scout Minion, quiet for once, finally speaks up at the sight of their master showing an emotion that isn’t overtly, obviously positive.

“Stop what, miss?!” Chaos asks with a steadily-growing concern. “This man… he cannot speak! I think he’s in danger, but I… I don’t understand what’s wrong!”

“He’s bleeding to death, you idiot!” Wez shouts at the black and white ruler. “Stupid fucking thing. What’s wrong with you?!

“No sir,” Chaos addresses as he cradles Gunfighter. “Not with me. With this man here! He’s hurt! I need… we need help! Please! What’s wrong with him!”

“I-“

“Surely you know! Please, come over here and look!” Chaos demands over Wez’s weak attempt at a reply.

The next minute has everyone, even Greed, locked aghast at what’s transpiring in front of them. Everyone that can move is frozen in place.

“Please, hey, hey, it’s okay! It’s okay!” Chaos says with a clearly shaken tone, despite trying to sound encouraging despite no one coming to help. Gunfighter begins convulsing in spasms as Chaos rests the minion’s head on his lap, the blood and infusia coating the two of them. “How about a story? It’s about all I know to do!” he notes with a sad sigh.

Gunfighter Minion reaches up with a blanking gaze, and grasps Chaos by the wrist.

Chaos nods at the gesture and begins. “There once was a small rodent. His name was Oino, and he loved to eat-“

He doesn’t stop the story as Order busts through the door.

“Great, looks like you can’t be trusted to have any grace about this at all,” Order snips, marching up to Greed. She has nothing drawn, but she doesn’t need to.

Greed immediately points the pistol at the minions and attempts to fire.

Order’s holding the hammer at bay, and continues forward. Wez also attempts to fire, this time at her, but his trigger doesn’t pull either.

“What the fu-“

Wez is stopped short by Greed pulling the escape slip from his jacket, surging the inked form with mana to activate it.

In the same second, the slip bursts into flame, not from its proper use, but by intercepting magic.

Order lowers her hand from the cast, but her march forward continues.

Greed leaps over to Wez as he shouts to Lust. “Help me!

“I told you this was stupid,” they say, needing only to take a few preemptive steps to be next to them.

Wez’s pupils widen, taking everything in.

“Goodbye,” he says as he conducts a spell using a secret hand-only method.

Greed opens his mouth to blurt out something confused and stupid, but he immediately falls through the floor with Lust. Using his thief arts, Wez was able to send them through the floor and into the basement the very second Order’s hand, bare and soft, comes in with debilitating speed. Having aimed the strike for Greed, the man still catches most of the hit, his common human frame immediately shattered from the weight of her punch. He’s sent across the room and into a table with his spine acute.

As the minions shout and Chaos rocks Gunfighter Minion, Order wastes no time to kick a hole into the floor of the cabin. She sees Greed activating one of the backup slips and crossing through with Lust, the two escaping in a blink-fast second – the very moment she descends into the basement.

Order’s quiet a moment, processing what happened with an expert speed despite all the noise upstairs.

She looks behind her to a sealed box, designed so to conceal their presence from the common magic-enhanced gaze. It’s the only one of its kind in the cabin, however, and finding the box to her is as simple as looking for a large hole in a piece of paper. Order lets down her foot into the front side of the chest, shearing out the lock and collapsing the face to reveal the contents.

The Kingdom Slayer and The Planar Sphere.

Now it takes her a moment.

It’s difficult, at times, knowing that you deserve something, and yet for the good of everyone else, you must give it to someone less worthy.

She picks up the objects, hopping up to the ground floor to greet Chaos, now holding Gunfighter completely in his arms and rocking him softly.

Then, just as fate would have it, Oino found a loaf of bread in the roa-“

Holding the legendary blade by its cutting edge, she waves the sword’s handle in Chaos’ face. He looks up to her as he continues the bedtime story, he doesn’t even know what it is he’s looking at, as if the object’s purpose were completely alien to him, and not the one thing he’s always had on his side for thousands of years.

Chaos peels a hand from under the drifting Gunfighter to take the handle, and the very second he touches it, his glowing crescent eyes widen to become wide full moons.

“What is this? I’m afraid I’m a bit preoccupied with this stor-“

“Draw mana from it,” Order suggests firmly.

Chaos squints “Ahh, but I have no pencil.”

Without another word, Order clutches Chaos’ hand, sets Kingdom Slayer into it, and draws mana from the sword through his hand, making contact with the font of the blade.”

“I…” but he stops. He doesn’t even have the time to complete a full thought as everything else, well, at least half of everything else comes flooding back. He’s never quite there, but it’s better than misunderstanding all he sees.

Chaos looks down at Gunfighter, and sighs before laying him down to inspect the injury. “You do not have the right to die so early in my service,” he says with a light smile, the healing light already pouring from his hands as his command over the minion’s ether causes it to shift at his will.

Order’s already stepped over to Wez, convulsing as a broken man.

“You’ve ruined… everything,”  he barks out between wheezes.

She squats down next to the thief, towering over him now that he’s crumpled like paper. “You already had it coming,” she states coldly. “No one gets what they want from him.”

“I almost did,” he scoffs.

Order glances over to Chaos rhetorically just to look at him. “A minute ago he was completely delirious.”

“And when he came to, he would have lost all of his little-“

“And he would then kill more families like I’m sure he killed yours.”

Wez is silent with the exception for the occasional gasp for breath. “He is not a person to regular people. He’s like me: a force of nature. Don’t open doors you’re not ready for.”

Wez convulses with rage, but his speech is failing him.

“It would usually be a slow death with the injuries you have, but I also don’t like loose ends these days. I hope you find the people you lost. It’s more than I could ask for. Goodbye.”

Just as she says this, she flicks her fingers out, easily breaking through the man’s magic defenses to cast upon him. She draws her index finger diagonally across his forehead, and that’s it. Wez is a specialist at one kind of magic, and it is most certainly not the kind for resisting neuromancy.

Without a single response, his eyes dull out, no more words spoken: just instant, wonderful death. For her, it’s not difficult at all to simply stop all signals being passed within the brain at once – her target can’t even think or feel anything about it, because it all shuts down at once – a truly instant death.

She takes a deep breath, looking over the man. She thinks of a dozen other faces, splitting through her mind as fast as frames in the cinema. Order shakes her head, gets up, and looks back to Chaos.

The grin is back, and Gunfighter is already regaining infusia.

“Are you quite alright? I must admit, I was worried there for a moment!” Chaos exclaims, as if they had just sled down a mountain.

Chaos doesn’t recognize that Gunfighter is, and will be, unconscious for several hours at least, but it won’t be more than a few seconds before he remembers this as well.

Order shakes her head as she rends the mana chains containing all the minions.

“Thanks, bitch,” Scout Minion snips before sprinting forward for Chaos. “Poppiiiiiii! I was so scareeeeed!” she cries as she takes up a spot next to his leg to cling onto with magnetic closeness.

“That was a close one!” Underwater Explorer Minion says with a gurgle through her massive dive helmet.

“Yup. Thought we were all gonna die,” Martial Arts Minion says.

“What the heck is going on here?!” the zern toots out telepathically.

“Don’t worry. This happens from time to time,” Passerby Minion says with a stretch. “Just… not with this many people dying, usually.”

The zern gives a deflated trumpet from her trunk as Taco Minion clears his throat. “Gee, some tacos would sure hit the spot at a time like this!”

There’s an elevated silence. “Can Taco Minion ever get his mind off tacos?” they ponder. Even so, he is bringing it up at a time where everyone’s barrier of taco resistance is at an exceptional low.

“Yeah.”

“Alright.”

“What’s a taco?”

“You got me.”

“Better than staying here.”

“I actually really like tacos – you can fit a lot of them in bags,” several minions respond in unison.

Everyone turns to the one person that could deliver them anywhere, instantly and easily. Chaos has taken back to his feet, carrying the Kingdom Slayer, The Planar Sphere, and the resting Gunfighter Minion all in his broad arms. “tacos, then?” he asks with a smile.

“I guess you’re just going to let them go?” Order asks.

Chaos looks over with a grin. “Who?”

Her eyes flicker a short-tempered pink before switching back to gold. “Never you mind it. Go get your tacos.”

“Oh, aren’t you coming with us?” Chaos says, mastering his balance to tear a portal using one of his blacker-than-pitch feet rather than a hand.

Ewwww, no, not her!” says one.

“Spare us that gross skank,” says another.

“She’s scary,”says one more.

Chaos shakes his head. “My mind is quite made up, or do you not want to thank her for being such an outstanding guest?”

There’s confusion passed around the general minionry.

“Guest?” Scout Minion finally asks.

Chaos chuckles. “You know, for the dinner show. That’s what this was, right?”

Everyone’s quiet.

It’s about half an hour later, and Order is walking down the street of Frau. In her hand rests a little drake-steak taco, layered on with pickled cabbage, salsa, and coarse mustard- an outstandingly unladylike treat, but she gave up on fretting over that impression the first time she slammed a dragon’s skull in and rolled in its cranial matter some thousands of years ago when she was but a few centuries old.

She lifts the taco, takes a bite, and of course she has to pull up her free hand to rescue the ungraceful portion of salsa that clumps over. You can kill a person by brushing your finger across their brow, but you can’t keep a taco from spilling its bullshit all over the ground.

Order sighs, does her best to recover what’s left, and then stops at the doorstep of a manor – her manor. Gaudily large in comparison to the lavish but small homes dotting along the town boulevards, she ponders if this is the last time she’ll see it. In fact, she’s surprised that she wasn’t approached the second she stepped out from the random torn portal in the middle of the town plaza. No one’s looking at her strangely, at least, not in the “traitor of the country” sort of way, and more-so in the “why are you walking around with a messy taco in the morning” manner of fashion.

The door opens, and Knight Justice pokes his head out.

“Heya, Ranalie!” he says with a smile.

She looks around, her mouth full of the last bite of taco. She breaks from her pause to finish chewing what she has in her mouth, at the same time realizing that she got some of the mustard on her Reinish regalia.

“Oh, uh, hey Aen,” Order notes, ascending the steps and bowing inside as he holds the door open for her. “So I guess they sent you to take me in? Sorta dirty,” she mumbles, walking down the hall over to her nice big kitchen.

“And just why would I do that?” he asks with a goofy, knowing smile.

Order wipes herself down as she fires a surprised glance his way. She gulps down her food to talk like a normal person, let alone someone of her stature. “You’re kidding.”

He shakes his head. “There was no broadcast. At the time I was expected to see it on Greed’s networks, every single kingdom, city and town had some kind of broadcast attack. Instead every channel on the planet showed something called the ‘Puppet Minion Puppet Pals Puppet Show’,” he explains.

The white-haired masteress’ eyes sharpen with recollection. That smile on Dimensionomancy Infrastructure Minion’s face was his usual, as he is usually always ahead of the curve.

Her tongue searches between her teeth for stray food as she muses about the situation. Having her reputation saved by one of that maniac’s minions was one of the very last things she imagined she’d have to endure. “Well. I think I know what happened.”

“Yeah?”

“Chaos… for all he does, has an excellent group of people around him.”

“You mean his minions? Those guys are horrible.”

Her brow shoots up. “In the best way, I think.”

Aen shrugs. “So I guess things are back to normal. Is everything… okay on the-“

“Yeah. Greed and Lust got away, again. I’m sure we won’t see them around Whihelmish any time soon. I’ll definitely be checking from time to time. Greed’s gone completely off the deep end. Found some guy with a magic I’ve never seen steal the Planar Sphere.”

Aen clears his throat as he leans against the charming white stucco wall of the kitchen. “So… so they’re definitely using it as a-“

“Jacuzzi battery, yeah.”

Knight Justice sighs. “Bunch of freaks won’t ever appreciate what they’ve taken from us.”

She grins, taking up a glass from one of her cabinets to fill with water from the tap. “I’m pretty sure they appreciate it plenty. We may laugh at them using it for a hot tub tower, but they’re also using it to maintain their way of life, just like us.”

Justice sighs, his striking gaze hovering aside. “Right.”

“So no word at all from anyone?” Order asks.

He nods. “A Whihelmishian newspaper ran a story about you.”

“The same one that hosts that Eastern guy’s comics.”

He sighs again, and nods. “I mean, I assume you’re talking about that Empire Blade gu-“

“Yeah, we both know the guy. Thought he would have died of old age by now,” Order notes.

“Maybe he’s a mage,” Justice suggests, stretching up to lean on one of the chair backs.

“So committed to his craft of drawing knights banging it out that he mastered longevity magic,” she muses. “Inspiring.”

Justice chuckles awkwardly. “Well, on the bright side, we’re all way more popular with peopl-“

“Not in the way I’m interested in. So they ran a story?”

“Yeah, it had an actual picture of you in the courtroom.”

She nods. “And I bet no one in their right mind believes it.”

Justice nods back with a smile. “Yup. Greed runs the tabloids, so I guess that was his only avenue. Turns out if you always publish stories that crazy people tend to turn a blind eye.”

Order sighs, not with exhaustion, but with genuine relief. “…That was hard, Aen,” she says before taking a sip of her water.

He pauses a moment before responding. “I bet it was. I guess the opinion of the people matter at least a little to you.”

“I’d be lying if I said it didn’t mean anything. I mean, if I have riots at my house all the time I won’t get any sleep. The L.I. would show up at my door and ask me politely to come with them.”

Justice laughs. “Yeah, I guess they’re not really equipped to handle people like us, are they?”

“Nope, but I’m not going to get too comfortable. Some camera in the omniverse has that footage of me defending Chaos in court, and that holds a little more weight if submitted to a court here.”

“We’ll have to keep a look ou-” Justice stops himself.

With a seemingly preternatural awareness, both Knights of Reinen look over to Order’s mail slot in her front door. Within the next few seconds, a scooter motor can be heard by common ears. A small envelope is pressed through the slot by tiny blacker-than-pitch hands, and then the scooter picks up again, heading off into the distance.

Order raises a brow, and shares an intrigued glance with Justice.

“Looks like our nemesis wants to share a word with you.”

The two walk over, inspect the letter to ensure there’s no enchantments or general managraphy to betray trap magic, and the two sit together at the coffee table in the living room. Order flicks open the letter by simply brushing the softest part of her finger across the top edge of the packed envelope: it slices off as if drawn by an invisible knife.

Order takes out a dense set of austere-looking, jasmine-scented stationary, and begins reading:

“Dearest Knightess-Slayer,

What-ho to you!

You have done me a considerable service, assisting me in regaining my blade. Why, I haven’t the slightest clue what came over me when I parted with it. That Dimensionomancy Lab-coat fellow explained I was probably sort of worried about losing one of my minions, but ha, who dares have petty feelings such as those?! You, as a fellow Overlord (Overlady?) must agree that these sluglings are simply pawns to our outstanding schemes of avarice and ambition! The fools!

Oh, but then I patted him on the head and gave him one of those little antennae rubbies they like so much. I love them so.

Where was I?

Why was I writing this letter?

Oh way, that’s right – a poem:

White Hair,

Never Scare,

For I am.

Whoa, that is horrible.

One second, let me get with Poetry Minion.

Okay try this one:

Order, Order, Order

Grateful, Grateful, Gratefu

Wait, what even pentameter is that?!

Sorry, Knightess. I have just discovered that I had found Slam Poetry Minion instead of the actual Poetry Minion. Slam Poetry Minion has been sent to eat a dozen hot dogs as per his request. I think that was supposed to be a punishment, but we like to keep things fluid around here, you understand. Also Hot Dog Minion came by asking us if we wanted some.

My my, take a look at this crazy animal!”

Following is a shockingly-good sketch of the zern, that elephant panther thing Order barely recalls seeing at the cabin.

“She is so neat! I think she might be cursed, though, which is actually really cool! I keep thinking thoughts like ‘sir, please stop playing dress up with me!’ or ‘sir, I’m not a trumpet, stop giving me sheet music!’ as if it were her own thoughts! How strange! Anyway, I’ve got up with Naming Minion, who laughed at the idea of her now being Pretty Ballerina Trumpeter Minion, so that’s her name now. She was so happy she played me a trumpet solo with her trunk, and then stuff started flying all over the place! We are still repairing the damages. I know it’s been a while but you should be seeing some notable improvements around Towerne the next time you visit. Did you know that if you tickle one of these creatures they laugh with their trunk?! ! I can’t stop myself! It’s so funny!

Wait, no. You were here just fifteen minutes ago! Wow! I am so excited to send you this letter! Thanks again for helping me put an end to all that dirty, rotten thievery. Plea-“

Order folds the letter down and stands up with it.

“I think that’s quite enough for today,” she says with a sigh. “Sounds like he’ll need a day or so to recover his sense of propriety as well,” she remarks.

Justice hums as he gets up with her. “A letter from Chaos. How queer of him.”

Order shakes her head listlessly as she steps over to a wonderfully-big book case with several organization cabinets at the sides.

“That was pretty long for a simple letter… wait, does that happen often?” he adds.

She pulls open a drawer. Outside of Justice’s view are dozens upon dozens of identical stationary sheets, with the precise same handwriting. “Not at all. He just gets lonely from time to time and doesn’t know who else to send his ranting to,” she explains, covertly stacking it along the piles of what must be hundreds of letters from the High Overlord.

Justice shrugs. “Weird. So I guess his memories weren’t all quite back, yet?”

She shrugs. “I can’t tell anymore. He never remembers the important stuff.”

“Yeah? Like what?”

She closes the drawer. “Who he was before he became Chaos – if there ever was such a person,” she says. “But I suppose I’ll never really know.”

Justice crosses his arms with a hum. “Really? So if he is an infusiac like his minions, then who do you think he is? I assume he’s a minion of that Oidiche guy Rayda kept talking about.”

Order glances out the window, noting the tracks of a small scooter. “…I don’t know, but I feel like everything I still have rides on who he is.”

With a rare, savvy hum, Aen looks over to Order. He ensures he’s caught eye contact. “Who do you want him to be under all of that ether?”

Order holds contact with Justice’s cool eyes for a moment, and then looks back to the window with a shake of the head. He caught her off guard. “Want is the wrong word… I need him to not be someone specific, but again, I don’t think I’ll ever have the answer to that question unless I kill him, and then it’ll be too late. I’m always hanging by a rope, Aen.”

Justice takes a deep breath, and nods. “I don’t understand, but I can respect that… how was the taco?” he asks, his tone turning from interrogatory to comforting.

She smirks. “It was pretty good. They know how to eat over there.”

“You uh… want to swing by Ragnivan? I hear a new place opened and it’s pretty outstanding. That new I.D. food is awesome,” he says, using the slang for “interdimensional” that’s getting popular around this time.

She stares out the window – the forest to the right side of her home, where the scooter trail leads off to, is the same as it’s always been. “That sounds nice. Let’s hope we don’t have to worry about any more dirty, rotten thievery,” she says, with just a hint of humor.

-Fin-

One thought on “Dirty, Rotten Thievery! -Part Seven–

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