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To the Summoner, the moment seemed to last forever, his body suspended midair as the pounding of his heart echoed through his brain.
Then, his hands meet with splintery wood, and he feels his entire body dragging along through the air.
All at once, the Summoner's senses returned, warm air rushing to meet his face as he zoomed across the thin metal wire along with the crate. His tie whips against his face, further awakening his senses to the current situation. The Summoner pants heavily, adrenaline coursing through his veins.
But there was no time for relief; danger was still very much present.
Getting a good grip on the crate with his right arm, the Summoner holds his breath as he releases his left hand from the crate. He swings his entire body underneath the cargo, and with a yell threw his left hand upwards to grasp the opposite edge of the wooden box.
Letting go his held breath, the Summoner allowed the crate to drag him along the makeshift zipline, the distance between him and his target closing fast. The Summoner's eyes are forced to squint as the rushing air quickly dried out the surface of his eyeballs.
Airborne ships and rusty steel beams zoomed past him during his flight. One eye still glowing blue, the Summoner kept track of his target as their distance began to close. The high-speed zipline weaved precariously in between steel supports and various other obstacles, its pace maintained by various boosters situated at locations where the speed of the crate would lessen.
In a few seconds, the Summoner had already covered more than a hundred feet. By now his knuckles had turned white from the intense grip he placed on the crate above his head. He grits his teeth as he feels his grasp on the cargo begin to slip, splinters of wood digging into his exposed flesh.
Come on…hold it together. Only a few yards more…
But this in turn wasn't the only predicament; the zipline the Summoner was traveling upon snaked its way two levels above his target. Once he caught up, the Summoner would have to find some way to actually get to the man amidst the labyrinth of steel walkways and airships.
The man was a mere two hundred yards away by now, running down a spiral staircase to descend to yet another level.
The Summoner's left hand suddenly slipped, his body being held up by only his right arm. He groans in pain as his left hand is embedded with several splinters of the crate. Instinctively, green arcane wisps of healing magic surround the wounds, immediately extracting the wooden slivers and patching up the grisly cuts in his fingers.
Wincing, the Summoner looked in dismay at his target, still several yards away.
Just a little more…
Unable to hold onto the crate any longer, the Summoner finally releases his grip, landing onto a steel platform with a painful roll. Not allowing himself to recuperate, he instantly breaks into a sprint, finally catching up to his target...two levels below him.
Seeing an opportunity to intercept the man up ahead, the Summoner dashes forward whilst extracting the Walther PPK from his blazer's inner pocket. His right eye finally extinguishes its blue flame, returning the Summoner's vision to normal; from this point on, no clairvoyance was required.
Running as fast as his legs could propel him, the Summoner finally reached the edge of the freestanding platform, and once again jumped into the air. The plummeting feeling again occupied his midriff as he freefell precariously close to an airborne hovercarrier. Time slowed as he plummeted, one, two levels until…
…his feet landed atop his target harshly, bringing both men to fall down onto the ground in a heap. Both of them yelled in pain at the sudden landing, with the Summoner's target winning the shouting contest by a landslide. After quickly gathering his senses, the Summoner realized his Walther PPK had been dropped a few feet away from him as a result of his plummet from two levels above. Once feeling the writing mass of muscle below his legs, the Summoner immediately went to work with his target, attempting to restrain and pin him down with his arms.
Groaning with effort, the Summoner fully realized the sheer strength of his target. The man's face was red from the effort exerted into the struggle, his once-hidden head now completely exposed as a result of his hat being thrown off by the Summoner's fall. His face is pinned down against the bronze walkway by one of the Summoner's hands as the struggle of strength continued.
His physical prowess proved to be too much for the Summoner to restrain, and after less than a minute of tousling about, the man rose up with a mighty yell to throw the Summoner off his back as a wild horse would do to an imprudent rider. The air is knocked out of the Summoner's lungs as he lands on his back…right next to his black Walther PPK.
Immediately grabbing his trusty firearm, the Summoner hastily scrambled to the nearest cover as his target began to fire his piston pistol with the silver suitcase firmly grasped in his left hand. High-pitched pangs screamed into the Summoner's ear as the bullets made contact with his cover.
Once he heard the rounds stop, the Summoner instantly arose from his defensive crouch, letting loose several rounds of his own at the man's exposed head. The loud gunshots resounded throughout the steel beams of the docking bay, accompanied by the shrill pangs of metal against metal as the target raised the silver suitcase to shield his face. He returned fire blindly, missing the Summoner's progressing body by several feet.
BANG! BANG! CHK. CHK. CHK.
The unholy sound of his pistol's cry for another loaded magazine caused the Summoner to groan. At the same time, his target's gun also ran out of shots, prompting the two men to begin yet another chase on foot. The men shared a look of understanding once the Summoner's target lowered the silver suitcase, and simultaneously loaded fresh mags into their handguns before dashing at a full-sprint.
This time, the chase required much more ducking and jumping as a result of their current location beneath the main docking bay. Underneath the steel labyrinth, their footfalls resounded much more strongly as the echoes bounced and duplicated among the steel beams and supports surrounding them. As they progressed further and further, the twisted metal foliage of the rusty jungle continued to grow denser, until finally all sunlight is diminished to small streams of light peeking through small slits above their heads.
Strong smells of gasoline and oil assault their noses, as they ran through the underbelly of the Zaunite airport where excess petroleum waste from airships was deposited. The surfaces of the rusty steel beams and arches utterly reeked of the strong-smelling fossil fuels, and occasionally the two men slipped on a stray pool of oil. On more than one occasion during the intense chase, the Summoner and his target nearly lost their heads to stray cargo swinging on rusty chains.
Every chance they had, the men would take turns shooting at each other through the murky gloom, the fire exiting their weapons' mouths illuminating the darkness encompassing their vision. This endless firefight continued as the target took turn after turn within the dark maze of rust and steel, his route seemingly planned.
Finally, both men stopped.
A dead end.
Turning round to face his pursuer, the man shook his head with a grin on his face, obviously impressed. His large visage is drenched in sweat, short brown hair sticking to his skin like scales on a fish. His gun was pointed at the ground, but the Summoner took no chances; his two arms connected at his PPK's grip, its nozzle aimed at the man's head.
"Impressive, Mr. 007. Very impressive. I must say, I myself have never had so much fun in my life. It is no wonder that our leader seeks you out to have the last laugh."
The Summoner raised a brow, his eye twitching at the droplet of sweat that trickled down his nose as a result. He kept his gun steady, careful to keep it aimed at the man before him.
"Your leader? Seeking out little old me? I feel honored."
"Oh, save the flattery Mr. ZeroZero. Just because our leader thinks you are entertaining does not mean you will succeed. The only thing it means is that she will kill you last," a grin crossed his face. "That is, if you even win this little game we have in store for you."
The Summoner grinned back, raising a brow in a comic fashion.
He blinked his eyes mockingly, as if in disbelief.
"Oh? 'She'? Mmm…a woman?"
At this small jest, the man straightened up considerably, chest puffing outward in a small bout of pride. He gritted his teeth in irritation as his voice bounced around the rusty steel interior of their current location. Large chains hooked to anchors wavered slightly beside the two men, the long links of metal leading upwards to daylight several feet above their heads.
"Yes, a woman. There is nothing wrong with a woman being a leader, sexist pig. You yourself should know that."
The Summoner shrugged.
"Ah, well. I guess it's fitting for a cowardly organization like yours to be led by a female."
At that, the man spat.
"That's enough. You will not make light of us after we are through with Valoran. You will see firsthand our true power. And that" a sinister grin crossed the man's lips as he slowly began to walk to the edge of the platform. At the sudden movement, the Summoner cautiously stepped forward with him, aiming his gun intently. "is something I cannot wait to see."
In one deft motion, the man leaped onto one of the dangling chains a foot away from the oily platform. Just as quickly, he let loose a bullet from his pistol at a section of the chain below his feet. Sparks flew as the links broke and the chain began to propel the man upwards into a hidden exit in the ceiling.
His bellowing laughter echoed throughout the steel chamber as the Summoner shot round after round after the man, missing each shot as his target disappeared into darkness.
"It has been nice watching you lose, Double-O-Seven."
Glaring into the shadows, the Summoner lowered his gun as he heard the chain carrying his target clack and rattle upwards.
"On the contrary; I think this game's just begun."
At that, the Summoner dashed off the edge of the platform, jumping onto a chain, emulating the action of the man above him. The darkness is slightly scared off the by the sparks of the links being broken by his bullet before the Summoner feels his body being hurriedly dragged vertically by an unknown force.
Unbeknownst to the Summoner was that the chains beneath the private docking bay anchored down large helium blimps docking at the airport for short periods of time. Once the chain links had been broken, the blimps had nowhere to go but up (much to their owner's dismay).
The Summoner's eyes remained skyward as he gripped onto the rusty chain for dear life, his petit handgun still grasped in one hand. His eyes began to squint as light started to stream through the opening the chain rattled through. Then all at once he is forced to shut his eyes tight, the warm air of Zaun once again enveloping him. Instantly letting go of the chain, the Summoner landed atop a steel platform hiding beneath the shade of large helium blimps, one of the aircraft already drifting away into the sky as a result of his stunt.
But as his eyes dart around to search for his target, he jumps back as sparks fly from an inch before his feet, a bullet nearly grazing his hair. Following the shot, the Summoner's eyes are met with his target still grasping onto the chain, shooting round after round from his piston pistol. Strangely, instead of floating up into the air, the man and the chain he clung to remained hovering in the same spot, allowing him to let loose his rounds of ammunition at the Summoner without any hindrance.
Then, as his clothing flapped and his hair began to ruffle with an intense artificial wind, the Summoner knew why; instead of being hooked with a blimp, his target's chain was connected to a twin-propeller two passenger Pelican hovercopter, a rune-powered aircraft commonly used in air assaults by Noxus during the Rune Wars. Sacrificing durability and strength for speed and agility, the combat copter was deadly in the right hands, especially since it was equipped with a deadly M61 Vulcan rotary cannon protruding from its front cockpit…
…which at the moment was aimed straight at the Summoner's chest.
Eyes widening to the size of saucers, the Summoner instantly turned round and began to run faster than he had ever run before. Before his body could completely swivel around, his pupils reflected the fire beginning to spout from the mouth of the loud, rattling metal-spewing rotary cannon.
Sparks flew millimeters from his feet as the rotary cannon continued its barrage, barely missing the Summoner's running legs. Arms pumping furiously, the only thing occupying his mind is to run as fast as he could. His ears warn him of the closing distance between his body and the white-hot stream of incessant metal being spouted from the Pelican's mouth.
Desperate, and seeing no other option, the Summoner abruptly turned to his right and jumped, unknowing whether or not there would be a safe landing.
The Zaunite businessman sighed contently as he slowly navigated his newly renovated Jetstream ARV. Fitted with twin rune-encrusted jet propulsion propellers, the Jetstream perfectly suited the middle-aged man's holiday needs. Ever since the bombings in Zaun, the balding office worker had been filing paperwork at his insurance firm at a much more rapid pace; people were worried out of their wits. It seemed the work would never stop as the papers in his office began to stack above his head. Finally, after several weeks, he finally decided to use his hard-earned week of past holidays not spent.
The man planned to fly to the islands of Ionia with his new recreational vehicle; he had ordered the new expensive engine system to be installed into the Jetstream to allow him optimum speed on long-distance journeys, the flight over the sea to Ionia in mind. He had even equipped it with the latest in personal aircraft defensive systems ( just in case some rogue air pirates decided to provoke him).
The businessman grinned widely as he began to maneuver the Jetstream to exit the private docking bay. It was finally time for solitary peace and quiet, something that had eluded him for much too long. The sound of honking horns and the electrical whizzing of various airborne vehicles leaked its way into his cabin as he started to enter the main airway; his exit out of this tedious life into the relaxed week on the sandy white shores of Ionia.
Unlike his fellow Zaunites, the businessman didn't possess the hatred against the island neighbors of Ionia; he didn't see anything of the Ionians to hate them for. After all, as a result of Zaun's dislike of the 'peaceniks', Ionia's closest beaches were devoid of any tourists, empty for the businessman's pleasure.
Stopping at a red light, the man felt that nothing could stop him. What could go possibly wrong? A new engine, defensive systems, and not to mention that pricy paint job. Oh, he definitely splurged this time, but for good cause. It just didn't seem anything could get in the way between him and his perfect, relaxing time on that beach across the sea, with his ARV parked directly behind the retractable lawn chair he had bought at the Dick's outdoorsman outlet for half price with a scantily-clad Ionian woman gently rubbing his shoulders as the sound of the tide's gently lapping waves softly sing him a lulla-
THUD. The distant echo of a sound that resembled a typewriter. CRASH!
The man screamed as shards of glass pelted his head, causing him to curl up defensively in his seat. Sitting upwards cautiously, his eyes widen at the sight of a tousled man standing near his Jetstream's passenger door, the large plexiglass window nothing but a pile of shards at this man's feet.
"Wha-What are yo-"
"Sorry old chap, not much time to explain," the Summoner quickly said, grabbing the shivering businessman by the shoulders to throw him onto the passenger's seat behind the driver's wheel.
Quickly positioning himself, the Summoner took a few seconds to find his bearings with the controls of the ARV. He suddenly felt a hand on his shoulder, along with the enraged voice of the poor man he had just thrown into the passenger's seat.
"Hey! Just what do you think you're doing? YOU JUST BROKE ONE OF MY PLEXIGLASS WINDOWS."
The Summoner paid no mind to him, continuing to flip switches and test out pedals beneath his feet.
"Sorry sir, but there isn't much time-"
"Time for what, you *******? Do you know how much that window cost me? And who do you think you are, just coming in here and hijacking my Jetstream?"
"I'm uh….I'm a member of the Valoran ARV Self-Defense Committee," the Summoner absentmindedly lied; still engrossed in learning the ship's controls before his enemies' Pelican would make its appearance once more. "I was sent to examine your ship's newly installed," the Summoner prayed that his wild guess would be correct "defensive systems."
At this, the middle-aged businessman removed his hand from the Summoner's shoulder, surprisingly accepting his fib.
"Oh. But why did you burst in through my window? There wasn't any need for that was there?"
"Ah, but you see sir, you must blame your ship's defense systems for that," the Summoner secretly grinned, growing amused by his explanations. "If you had sufficient programming, I wouldn't even have made it to your roof."
The businessman was now seated beside the Summoner in the passenger's seat, intently nodding his head.
"Right, right. But what are you doing now at the controls?"
"I'm….checking your recreational vehicle's auxiliary propulsion system for deficiencies in its mana-fueled rune railing index," once again the Summoner quietly prayed his gibberish could convince the ship's owner.
To his great surprise, the man seated beside him merely nodded his head again, pretending to understand.
Silence ensues, the Pelican still nowhere to be seen.
"Well, everything's in order. Now the last thing I need to check is your ship's defensive system controls. Would you mind pointing out which panel it is located in, sir?"
"Right. It's underneath the fuel gage; you just push that little red button and-"
Suddenly the sound of loud rattling is hard in the ship's cabin, sparks showering down the windshield. The Pelican had rounded around the corner like a cat stalking its dinner, the front-mounted rotary canon instantly spitting out its fiery hot rounds.
The businessman yelled out in surprise as the Summoner pulled back on the controls, forcing the somewhat bulky ship to point its nose upwards. The jet propulsion propellers pushed the Jetstream, propelling the ship and its two passengers to safety as its hull deflects the Pelican's gunfire with a shower of sparks.
The Summoner grinned as he maneuvered the Jetstream through the docking bay, barely scathing with passing airships. He could hear the agile Pelican following suit, pangs of metal ringing throughout the cabin as his pursuers continued firing their rotary canon with the ARV in their sights.
"I suggest you strap yourself in old chap," the Summoner addressed the pale-faced businessman, who by now was clutching to his passenger seat for dear life, his chest heaving for air as a cold sweat trickled down his face. The Summoner chuckled, his eyes still focusing with maneuvering the ship through the rusty steel jungle.
"I am about to commence a test of your ship's maneuvering capability in a cramped urban setting."
The Summoner could hear the fumbled clicking of a seatbelt.
"Damn it all, I knew I shouldn't have installed those godsdamned guns."
RATATATATA- PTING! PTING! PTING!
The Pelican continued to its target with constant rounds from their rotary cannon, long, yellow strings of ammunition curving through the air from the mouth of their Vulcan to kiss the tail-end of the Jetstream.
Luckily for the Summoner and his involuntary passenger, the Jetstream's hull was comprised of thick, Zaunite-produced steel of the highest quality (which was a steal, considering the whole ARV was only purchased for fifteen thousand Valoranite gold).
The Summoner winced, his eardrums throbbing at the white-knuckled businessman's shrills screams assaulting his hearing. A high-pitched oscillating hum resounds through the cabin, the sound originating from the twin rune-encrusted jet propulsion propellers encased within two cylinders on the side of the Jetstream. Along with this constant hum, the Summoner could hear the shrill scream of the Pelican's rotary engine, its large propellers thrusting the agile aircraft dangerously close to his tail.
The Summoner tried his best to ignore the resonating typewriter-like screams of the Vulcan rotary canon.
In the meanwhile, the businessman seated beside the Summoner begins an endless string of profanities thrown at his direction as a result of his precarious maneuvering of the man's precious ARV.
"****! **** you and your self-defense committee, you bull****ting son of a bi-WHAAAAAAA!"
The Summoner shuts him up unintentionally as they both feel their innards swirl, the Jetstream revolving through the air in a full circle. Streaks of bullets flash past the front windshield as the ARV flips and revolves around the fiery rounds of ammunition. Gritting his teeth, the Summoner suddenly pulls back on the control wheel, propelling the entire ship to skyrocket upwards through a small, predicted opening within the mangled webs of Zaunite metalwork.
WHOOOSH, VMMM- RATATATA!
Darkness encompasses the ARV, steel walls closing in on all sides. The echo of the twin jet propulsion propellers echoed with an increased potency within the cramped quarters to join the pursuing Pelican in a chorus of mechanical screams, the sound almost overwhelmed by the unremitting whooshing of passing steelworks.
Unbeknownst to both parties, they were currently zooming through a large ventilation tower for a Zaunite drug producer, just in time for the hourly steam vent.
Intricate pipework and openings within the web-like steel cave around them proceeded to vomit plumes of white steam and smoke, vapor immediately enclosing the dashing ships in a thick veil, reducing visibility to nil. The aforementioned gasses rushed into the cabin of the Jetstream, encompassing the two men in a hot, choking cloud. Both of them instinctively begin to cough, but the Summoner somehow still kept control of the ship, increasing the Jetstream to its maximum speed in order to escape the steamy trap.
All sound becomes more muffled, the Summoner's eyes forced to squint through the white as he struggled g to catch sight of the tower's exit. He couldn't use clairvoyance, not with his already-low mana supply; catching sight of the circular opening into Zaun's open air would be enough.
The rattling of the rotary canon continued to follow the Jetstream, though now the speeding bullets make less contact with its battered steel hull. Suddenly red lights began to flash in the Jetstream's cockpit, their muffled glow filling the cabin. Accompanying these flashes of red, a shrill alarm begins to sound, supplemented with a feminine electronic voice.
BING! BING!BING! CAUTION, ENGINE STALL IMMINENT. CEASE VERTICAL FLIGHT IMMEDIATELY. BING! BING! BING! CAUTION, ENGINE STALL IMMINENT…
Sure enough, the Summoner could feel the Jetstream's propellers beginning to sputter, their blue arcane glow spewing in a faltering fashion.
"Dammit," the Summoner muttered, still unmindful of the businessman's loud yelling.
Pressing the pedal controlling the ship's speed to its maximum capability, the Summoner's mind raced to find a solution to their current predicament. The light of the outside world crept closer and closer as the two ships began to finally exit the titanic ventilation tower, their sight still shrouded by the thick conjoined columns of hot steam.
Desperate for a lifesaver, the Summoner activated the ship's defense mechanisms, his finger pushing the red button beneath the fuel gauge. Instantaneously, a screen that had remained black suddenly lit up with a blue hue, displaying a large single-burst autolock arcane burst cannon. Simultaneously, the Summoner could feel a small jolt underneath his seat as the burst cannon rose out of its burrow within the hull of the ship.
The Summoner grinned at this new development. He was familiar with the arcane burst cannon and its specifications. Of course, he had to be; the Institute developed the technology for extra revenue. The arcane burst cannon was designed with an internal scheme that was not dissimilar to the sentry turrets situated on the Fields of Justice. Shooting out large, concentrated balls ofarcane energy, the burst cannon autolocks with the nearest hostile ship to disable and short-circuit its electronic components for a short period of time. Though the burst canon wasn't terminal in its performance, it could grant its user the perfect amount of time to escape, or dispatch its hostile target with a finishing blow.
The Summoner's eyes suddenly widened as a plan finally formulated within his brain, one that required yet another fall, but would ensure the termination of his target and the acquirement of the intel.
Yelling above the loud din, the Summoner dropped his act to the businessman, his voice barely heard over the incessant sirens and the loud hum of the engines.
"WHERE IS YOUR SHIP'S TOWING CABLE?"
The businessman takes a moment to respond, still frightened at the current situation. Finally he yelled back somewhat scathingly,
"OUTSIDE, UNDERNEATH THE WINDOW THAT YOU BROKE."
At that, the Summoner unbuckled his seat belt, allowing the Jetstream to continue its vertical progress on autopilot. Jumping out of his seat, quickly threw his hands onto the headrest of the passenger seat, his body dangling behind him. The businessman looked back into the Summoner's eyes with fear, disbelief tracing the corners of his pupils.
The Summoner grinned. At the close proximity between their two heads, the Summoner's voice needed not to be raised as he quickly enlightened his plan to the seated Zaunite before him.
"Alright old chap, the ship's all yours. Now listen carefully. When I jump out of the Jetstream, keep her steady. I've set your ship's defensive turret on autolock. Once our pursuer is visible, immediately press the firing button. Finally, the engines will stall, and it'll be a long way down before they come back online, but you have got to keep her steady. Once they come back online pull up with all you can, got it?"
"But, wait what do you-"
"There's no time damn it," the Summoner spat, the light of the outside world looming closer and closer through the gloom. "Just follow my instructions if you want to survive. Those men are coming to kill us. Understand? Now do what I've told you to do before I kill you myself."
The last comment sprung the Zaunite into action, his body clumsily repositioning itself into the driver's seat, his fingers buckling the seatbelt with nervousness. He heard a thud as the Summoner let go of his grip, landing in the back of the vertical cockpit. Then the businessman could hear a grunt and a slight ruffle of fabric. Taking a quick look back, the Zaunite's eyes widened at the absence of the man that had been driving his ARV mere seconds before. Returning his gaze to the windshield in front of him, the businessman gulped.
"Wait…did he say jump?"
The ventilation tower continued to spew steam and smoke from its mouth, tall columns of the white plumes spreading out to conjoin with the thick layer of pollutants hanging idly in the air above Zaun. Even with the hindrance of vision, the blue of the sky still somehow manages to make itself visible through the gloom.
VWOO-SPUT, SPUT, SPUT- VWOOOM!
Shooting out of the ventilation tower's opening, sunlight gleams off of the Jetstream's battered metal hull as its propellers begin to sputter and stall. The Zaunite behind the wheel gritted his teeth as his ARV does a complete rotation in the air, its vertical progress beginning to slow. He could feel his ship's twin propellers sputter, the constant speed that had been graced upon the Jetstream quickly beginning to ebb away. The alarm in the cockpit continues to scream, the ship's digital voice continuing to warn the Zaunite of the forthcoming engine stall. Then all at once, the ship's engines finally stopped completely, the propellers ceasing their rotations. The Jetstream stops in midair for the briefest second, the Zaunite's insides doing cartwheels. Then, the nose of the ARV looks towards the ground as it begins its rapid freefall.
Gripping onto the steering wheel with all the strength he could muster, the businessman held his finger steady over the button that would shoot out a blue burst of arcane energy from his ship's burst cannon. All he had to do now was trust that the Summoner's plan would go through.
The Summoner hoped just as much, his clothes flapping in the wind as he held onto the side of the ship for dear life. In his right hand he held the clip for the ship's towing cable, a long steel wire capable of dragging along a ship just as big as the Jetstream once the clip was harnessed onto the desired aircraft.
The Summoner kept his eyes glued onto the steaming gloom of the ventilation tower, his feet inching closer and closer to the front of the ship.
He had to have perfect timing, or else this plan would fail.
And both he and the businessman knew that death would be eagerly waiting for them if the plan didn't go through.
The Pelican shot out of the ventilation tower, its passengers' eyes squinting at the sudden onslaught of daylight. Unlike the Jetstream, the Pelican had no threat to have its engines stall; its twin propellers were large in their circumference and were capable of swiveling in 360 degrees, enabling the ship to remain vertical progress at a steady rate dissimilar to a helicopter.
Finger pressing against the trigger of the Pelican's Vulcan rotary cannon, the pilot of the agile aircraft was more than ready to let loose more rounds of ammunition once their target made his appearance.
But suddenly, once the steam of the ventilation tower had cleared out, a blue churning ball of light flew at their faces. Before the pilot could dodge the sphere of arcane energy, it made contact with the ship, a static electric crackle resounding through the cockpit. All at once, sirens and alarms begin to shrilly scream, every available piece of machinery ceasing their ministrations. The pilot frantically flips switches, pushes buttons, pulls levers, trying anything he could to get the ship's engines back online.
It was no use.
The men's eyes are suddenly diverted to the left of the ship, where they catch sight of the Jetstream plummeting past them to the ground below. Though their ship's engines had been disabled, their propellers still desperately spun on reserve energy, keeping them afloat above the ventilation tower with their ship paralyzed from doing anything other than hover.
Amidst the confusion, the men didn't see the figure jump off the side of the Jetstream, landing atop the Pelican.
The Summoner went to work hastily, crouching cautiously as his hands latched the Jetstream's towing cable to the closest steel loophole.
The steel cable continued to grind against the side of the Pelican, galvanizing the Summoner hasten his movements; the towing cable was running out of length.
The Summoner let loose a sigh of relief as he removed his hands from the fastened towing cable. But just as soon as the relief flooded his system, it quickly fled as a new concern made itself clear to him; where was he going to hang on to? In his mind's eye he could see the Jetstream plummeting several yards below the Pelican, its towing line beginning to stretch to its maximum length…
Instantly the line went taut, the Summoner now frantic; the roof of the Pelican was surprisingly scarce of bars or any other means for his hands to find a firm grip. Seeing no other option, the Summoner gripped onto the towing line itself, doing so a millisecond before the Pelican suddenly fell out of its position, its metal body dragged through the air by the plummeting Jetstream.
The men inside the Pelican look at each other helplessly as their disabled ship is violently tugged out of its comfortable hovering position above the ventilation tower. They hold onto their seats tightly, the Jetstream's mighty weight pulling them down through the air as an anchor would tow along a corpse thrown into the ocean.
Outside the comfort of the ship, the Summoner's body flails about in the air, his hair whipping in the intense wind of the freefall.
The ventilation tower whooshes past the two plummeting airships, its steel webwork nothing but a long splotch of brown and grey as the Jetstream continues to fall towards the ground, its engines still offline.
Tears begin to roll out of the Summoner's eyes as the rushing air dries out his eyes in a matter of seconds. His grip on the steel cable remains steady; a difficult task considering his entire weight is being dragged along behind him with only his fingers' grip to keep him attached to his target's ship.
Still the Summoner strained his vision to keep track of the Jetstream's progress, its propellers beginning to sputter to life, short trails of blue spluttering out from their cylinders erratically.
Come on, old chap…pull up….there isn't much air left.
A high-pitched wheezing rings in the Summoner's ears as the two ships in front of his body continue to plummet towards the ground, gravity pulling them to increase their velocity. Taking a cursory glance at his watch, the Summoner takes note of his mana supply, a crucial element of his plan that he didn't check before. Much to his relief, the blue bar fortunately just had enough for his intentions.
The two ships continued to rush towards the ground at a dangerous pace, the tall spires of short skyscrapers already threatening to impale the aircraft into a fiery doom. If the Jetstream didn't pull up soon, this fate would soon come into fruition.
Suddenly the Summoner's eyes are met with two constant blue streams trailing behind the Jetstream.
The engines were online.
Just as soon as this occurs, the ARV gives off a high-pitched hum as it smoothly curves upward, its nose slowly reverting its course to a horizontal line. Eyes widening at this development, the Summoner braced himself for the inevitable, the taut towing cable continuing to drag along the disabled Pelican through the air.
Consuming the remainder of his mana supply, with a bright yellow flash of arcane light, the Summoner erects a globular barrier of energy around his body just as the Pelican violently crashes through layers of rusty steelwork. Sparks fly through the air as the ship continued to plummet until finally stopping at an abandoned factory floor.
The Jetstream continued to drag the lightweight aircraft through steel pillars and architecture, battering the hull of the craft with each and every contact. A trail of sparks flew behind the dragged ship as it proceeded to burst through tangled steelwork and masonry. The Summoner clung tightly onto a nearby rung atop the Pelican, struggling to unclip the Jetstream's towing cable from the Pelican's roof. If he didn't do so soon, he knew that he would perish alongside the passengers of the ship. The golden, translucent barrier continued to shield the Summoner from the onslaught of rusty steel that the Pelican was being dragged through, but soon the shield began to weaken, the Summoner's mana supply diminishing by the second.
Unhook dammit. Unhook!
His right hand desperately tried to unclasp the towing line from the Pelican, but to no avail; it was impossible to accomplish with only one hand. Seeing no other alternative, the Summoner released his grasp from the Pelican's roof and with one deft motion unclipped the steel clip from the aircraft's roof.
Instantaneously the steel cable flew away to join the Jetstream's flight. Because of his released grasp, the Summoner flew off the roof of the Pelican, his body rolling on the steel ground as the barrier around him spluttered out to nothing but air.
The Pelican screeched to a halt a few meters away. By now the airship is a battered chunk of steel, its twin propellers ripped off its hull as wings to a bird. Its shape is unrecognizable; the only evidence that it was a pilotable ship is the two-passenger cockpit, which still remained intact. The dark green paint that had covered its body during its initial flight is completely scathed off, the silver steel skin of its frame reflecting dimly in the sunlight. Smoke begins to drift through the ship's miniscule crevices as the Pelican sighed its last breath.
Emulating the Pelican's progress, the Summoner rolled to a stop, his body lying on the ground to face the sky. His chest heaves for air as the physical punishment finally ceased. The Summoner lay in this manner for several minutes, the smoking remains of the Pelican continuing to smolder a few feet to his right.
The Summoner slowly got to his feet, groaning in pain at the various bruises and small cuts his body had received during the length of his chase. Despite all of the physical pain, the Summoner grinned as his eyes are met with the Pelican and its cockpit.
His mission was almost complete. All that he needed now was the intel.
Limping toward the Pelican, the Summoner drew his Walther PPK; he couldn't afford to take any chances this close to the goal.
The cockpit of the Pelican consisted of two seats, with one reserved for the pilot. A hard, sturdy bullet-proof and airtight windshield was the only barrier that protected the passengers from the elements. Luckily for the Summoner, the large sheet of indestructible glass swiveled open for him with a strong tug of his arms.
As the cockpit swiveled open, he pocketed his handgun at the sight of the two men within the Pelican limp and unconscious, a trickle of blood drizzling out of the pilot's mouth onto his shirt. Light caught on the silver suitcase still grasped in one of the men's hands, much to the Summoner's relief. Seeing that the pilot sat directly in his way, the Summoner dragged the corpse out of its seat and tossed it to the steel ground. The body fell on its face with a loud whump. Before he could enter the felled ship, the Summoner's gaze suddenly turned skyward to the top of the ventilation tower.
The tower reached at least forty stories. Not taking into account the height the two ships had reached above the structure, the Summoner had just survived a four hundred foot plummet to Zaun's ground level.
He shook his head slightly before glancing at the body lying at his feet.
"Zaun is just gorgeous in the fall, isn't it?"
At a repair shop, the Zaunite businessman sat on a stool, watching his ARV being hoisted up by hydraulics. Luckily for him, the repair shop was famed for its same-day repairs, a result of its advanced robotic technology.
Shaking his head, the businessman sighed.
"Thank gods the insurance covers hijackings."
The Summoner proceeded to enter the cockpit, one leg remaining outside. He took a moment to glance at his target's face, an action that was driven more by impulse than anything else. Then without another moment's hesitation, the Summoner began to pry the fingers off of the suitcase's handle. The digits were still surprisingly warm, but it didn't matter.
Just as the Summoner pried the last finger off the steel grip, the hand suddenly closed in on itself, grasping onto the suitcase with a tighter grip than before.
Looking upwards in shock, the Summoner's gaze was met with the man's face, a sinister grin splayed across his visage.
Before the Summoner could react, the man deftly lifted the heavy suitcase and swung it against his outstretched leg. Yelling out in pain, the Summoner collapsed into the pilot's seat. Struggling to a sitting position, his progress is stopped as his target pounced on his lap. He struggled, trying to escape the man's pinioning weight to no avail. His arms attempted to push the man off his torso, his face turning red from the energy exerted in this desperate effort.
But it was no use. The man continued to smile down at the Summoner as a mischievous fox would grin at its captured prey.
Panting, the Summoner looked up at the man helplessly, his arms limp at his sides. There was no possible way he could move under the man's weight. His target proceeded to extract the piston pistol from the back of his trousers, making a show of loading the magazine into the pistol and pointing it at the Summoner's face. The Summoner's eyes cross to meet the mouth of the gun at the bridge of his nose.
"And again…it's been fun watching you lose."
The Summoner turned his gaze at the man's face, glaring at him defiantly with the ever-present grin on his face.
"Please. The pleasure is all mine."
The man began to laugh, his right thumb pushing down on the pistol's hammer.
The Summoner closed his eyes, ready to accept his fate.
Suddenly, the man's laughter is interrupted with a violent croak.
Opening his eyes, the Summoner felt the steely tip of the pistol run along the bridge of his nose before separating the contact with his skin. Furrowing his brow in bemusement, his gaze turned to his assailant's face.
The man's eyes were wide as saucers, his pupils looking down at the Summoner in a lost daze. His mouth was agape, and after a few moments the man coughed up a ball of blood, the crimson substance oozing down his chin.
With that, he crumpled atop the Summoner, dead.
The Summoner's breath is quickly snatched from his lungs as the man's full weight pinioned him down onto the seat. But concern quickly fled when his eyes caught sight of a crescent-shaped steel shuriken lodged into the back of his target's neck. Then, the Summoner's gaze turned to look over the corpse's shoulder to be met with a tall figure walking toward his direction.
His eyes squinted at this new sight, his body abandoning its attempts to escape the weight trapping him in the cockpit.
The figure walking toward the Pelican was female, evident by the distinct curves running along her body. Black covered the woman from head to toe, save for the creamy skin exposed at her arms and the top-half of her face. She was masked, emphasizing the emerald green eyes that burned beneath a silver-played headband. Long, silky white hair flowed behind her, its length reaching past her waist. At her sides, light glinted off two twin-bladed instruments, long, black handles leading to their curved tips. Several shuriken and other deadly instruments were strapped around her thighs, light steel armoring her vulnerable body parts.
Then, the Summoner blinked. The second after his eyelids opened again, the woman was now crouching at the nose of the Pelican, her eyes glaring into his own. The Summoner grinned, his gaze softening.
"Well, well. I suppose I am now in your debt."
The woman remained silent, her eyes fixated with his as she remained in a crouching position less than a foot above him. The corpse that was crumpled in the Summoner's lap remained to act as a barrier between the two.
Maybe this was the woman's intention.
Silence ensues, but the Summoner remained to maintain his suave grin.
"Not one for talking, are you? Well I do suppose actions speak louder than words."
"You can turn off your charm around me," the woman finally said, her tone serious and cold. "I'm immune."
"So it seems."
Her glare maintained its intensity.
"This isn't anything personal. It's my job."
"Oh? And what job is that?"
"If I told you," she finally said coldly as her hands proceeded to dislodge the shuriken from the corpse's neck with flawless execution, barely a drop of blood exiting the small wound despite its deepness. "I would have to kill you."
The Summoner chuckled.
"That's supposed to be my line."
The Summoner paused briefly, his eyes roaming along the woman's well-defined figure. He could feel her eyes burn into the top of his skull.
"You must be some kind of mercenary, I take it."
The woman arose from her crouch, the bloodied shuriken hastily pocketed inside a belt.
"You will be surprised to discover that what I am is closer to home."
With that, the woman leapt above the Summoner's head, disappearing from his sight. He could hear her running footfalls echo through the dark of the mangled steel jungle.
"Could have at least given me a name," the Summoner muttered.
Curiosity began to flood his psyche after the woman's departure, coupled with an onslaught of questions.
But even this was undermined by the importance of his mission completion; he could always do his research at a later time.
Gathering all of his strength, the Summoner shoved his target's corpse off his body, his eyes following it as it rolled off the front of the Pelican. He gave a satisfied sigh once he heard it crumple onto the ground with a loud thud.
Then, the Summoner eagerly grabbed the silver suitcase nestled into the seat beside him. Settling the intel onto his lap, he took a deep breath. All the work and physical exertion that had been put forth that day was all spent for this.
His thumbs grasping the metal latches of the case, the Summoner quickly flipped them open.
He opened the case with a slow urgency, the small fear of nothing being inside tugging at his expectations.
The Summoner released a breath he didn't know he had been holding when his eyes beheld the sought-after black box nestled within a foam mold. The sluggishness of his actions immediately fled, his fingers quickly grasping the wooden box.
He rotated it around his fingers for a few moments, thumb rubbing over the intricate engravings running along its surface. A golden latch kept the lid shut. With a small flick of his thumb, the Summoner opened the box, its small hinges creaking softly.
A small parchment of paper rose up from its knees, dark, bold letters inscribed onto its surface.
The Summoner took the small three-fold letter, delicately opening it with his fingers. His eyes move swiftly as they read the words written on it:
You have won a small victory.
A step that brings you nearer.
But lies are what you see
in a game of smoke and mirrors.
Within a Stem I will wait
Until we meet once more.
I know you won't be late
for pleasure lies in store.
Beneath the letter, a black rose is embossed onto the paper. During the course of his brief reading, the Summoner's expression had changed, phasing through several emotions until finally settling on realization.
As if on cue, the Summoner's earpiece began to buzz to life.
M spoke cautiously, her voice almost a whisper. Though it was definitely not apparent to the subordinates standing around her desk, the elderly woman was worried.
Dreadfully, sincerely worried.
She always lapsed into this mental state whenever she sent her best, and favorite, agent out on field assignments. Though she knew she had to stay professional, M couldn't restrain her maternal instincts from slightly revealing itself in her psyche.
After all, 007 was the only son she had, regardless of whether or not their ties were because of adoption.
Silence on the comlink seemed to extend its length, static mocking M's concealed worry.
"Intel acquired ma'am. Two casualties and one downed aircraft. Requesting immediate extraction and medical aid," the Summoner finally responded, a blue light beginning to flicker a tracking beacon within his watch causing a blue light to flicker.
M had to stifle a loud sigh of relief. In its place she cleared her throat, raising a closed fist close to her mouth.
"Request granted, Double-O-Seven," she snapped her fingers in the air, silently ordering subordinates to hurriedly order their subordinates, triggering a chain reaction that resounded through the entire command chamber. The legion of personnel gradually began to buzz to activity around her, fingers behind kiosks typing faster, decibels of voices escalating in intensity as orders were barked, small insults thrown.
Amidst this instant cacophony of activity, M flicked a switch, disconnecting her comline to the main input line, creating a private comlink to her and the Summoner.
Now, across the hundreds of miles that lay between them, M could talk to the Summoner alone.
On the other end, the Summoner waited for the ending statement, the final word from a teacher for dismissal. This triggered something within his psyche, hardening his heart. Yes, though M was his superior and surrogate mother, their relationship had taken a wrong turn once he had decided to live without her protection; the only contact they had now was during work at LSMI6. Her voice frazzled through the comlink after a small bout of silence.
"Are you hurt?"
The Summoner grunted.
"Merely a scratch, ma'am."
M waited for him to say more, something she always did but never gained anything from.
The elongated hush finally prompted her to cut the conversation short, much to the Summoner's indifference.
"Good work, Double-O-Seven. I expect your mission report to be as explanatory as to be expected."
"Will do, ma'am."
Before the Summoner could remove his earpiece, M's fuzzy voice made him stop.
"One more thing."
"…when are you going to tell your spouse?"
The sudden question struck him as a wild beast encountered in the wild. Guilt poked at his heart.
Secrets began to churn within their vaults, making their presence all the more vivid.
Before this could continue, the Summoner grunted, shaking his head of these petty emotions before they worsened.
With that, the Summoner removed the earpiece, ending the verbal connection to headquarters.
He heaved a sigh, his body relaxing in the surprisingly soft seat of the open cockpit. His eyes drifted back to the letter in his fingers, reading the poem repeatedly within his mind.
The petit metal case within his blazer's inner pocket began to call for him, middle and index fingers beginning to itch for the familiar papery texture of a hot gold-banded cigarette.
In no time at all the Summoner had already set aside the intel, the steel suitcase seated beside him safely. One of his favorite cigarettes was already lodged between his middle and index fingers, his trusty Ronson oxidized lighter poised at its head.
A small flame met the cigarette's tip, igniting the flammable treat with a minute crackle. Setting cigarette between his lips, the Summoner pocketed his lighter and took his first inhale of the smoke instantaneously. Instantly his nerves calmed as the flavored smoke flooded his lungs. He tilted his head back in relaxation, letting out the breath with calmed precision. The smoke drifted outward from his mouth and nostrils to drift upward.
The Summoner's mind is a loud unorchestrated mess of newly developed information, questions and exhaustion. Each inhale of smoke seemed to keep his senses from getting mangled into a cluster of burnt-out circuitry.
He took another inhale.
Who was that woman?
What was she doing here? How was she a part of this?
What about the letter?
A game? The Black Rose? The Deceiver.
When was he going to tell Sona?
His future wife. The love of his life?
Should he resign? What was the point? Why?
Finally the Summoner shut his eyes, clearing mind of all obsolete thoughts. Though the current mission was accomplished, he knew that the near future had much work left in store. His eyes glanced over to the shut briefcase, the words written on its contents instantly reemerging in his psyche.
The Summoner decided to tilt his head back again, cigarette in his hand continuing to smolder. His gaze followed the twirling, dancing wisps of smoke produced from his lips as they slowly ascended before receding away into the sky.
Despite it all, the Summoner found Zaun to be quite peaceful during this particular time of day. The sun had crossed the threshold of noon, passing through the period of the late afternoon, its piercing rays already orange and beginning to dim. The dilapidated steelworks of towering skyscrapers and unfinished construction sites shone beautifully amidst the smog and arcane pollution, tidbits of light sprinkled amongst every surface capable of reflection.
In the cockpit of the Pelican, the scene was comforting and tranquil. Even the two corpses that lay outside on the steel ground seemed to be comforted by the serenity of the atmosphere.
The Summoner's brows rose quite suddenly as one name spontaneously burst amidst the sea of his thoughts, pushing aside all other concerns that he might have had. Another exhale of smoke clouded his view of a particularly burnished skyscraper.
The name in his mind continued to make its presence known, memories and recollections of past experiences beginning to also make their ascent.
The edges of his teeth slightly grinded against each other, as if attempting to restrain the name that bulged at his throat like an overgrown Adam's apple. Another inhale, another exhale.
Then, the Summoner shook his head slowly, a dark grin crossing his face.
"After this whole time…" the Summoner extracted another cigarette, lighting it absentmindedly as he kept his gaze glued to the smoke that continued to waver above his head. "…you've finally decided to make an appearance…"
A short period to cycle through a myriad of revelations and emotions ensued, a large inhale of smoke cascading down his throat. The name shot out from his lips, riding alongside the concentrated bout of smoke exhaled from his lungs.
As if on cue, the ground rumbled. The Summoner's eyes followed the burnished skyscraper as it propelled itself through the air on a pillar of white, the dim, orange sunlight reflecting off of its shining exterior. His vision shook, the smoke that had been drifting off tranquilly suddenly overpowered as a large wall of steam advanced towards the Summoner from the vertically-advancing spacecraft. In a matter of seconds the bright orange hues of rusted metal is engulfed in a thick veil of smoke, effectively interrupting the moment of solace.
The Summoner continued to casually smoke his cigarette, unmindful of his vision's blockage from the cloud of rocket exhaust. Several minutes later, the veil of rocket exhaust slowly drifted away. With the Summoner's vision returned, the burnished skyscraper had disappeared.
Sunlight continued to shine, the sky gradually combusting into an inferno of crimson reds, the sun beginning to dip into the Conqueror's Sea.
Zaun continued to have its surprises.
A few days pass.
The extraction team had done their usual work; drop in, clean up, leave.
Efficient, clean and unnoticed.
In the meanwhile, M had ordered that the Summoner stay in a secure location, which at the current time was the Leningrand Hotel, a luxurious gem in the center of the city-state accommodating only the richest and most influential figures visiting from across Valoran.
The Summoner sat at the edge of his bed in a bathrobe, a cigarette in one hand, a half-filled glass of deep red wine in the other. Smoke snaked its way from his cigarette to make contact with the ceiling as it smoldered slowly. He took another sip of the wine after swirling the concoction absentmindedly, eyes cold and fogged.
Inactivity for the past few days was beneficial (though the dullness and boredom that nagged at his mind told him otherwise). By now his body was physically restored; the cuts and bruises sustained from the chase through Zaun's interior healed. Lethargy had invaded the small one-bed hotel room, and the Summoner was longing for a change of scheme. If only M would send orders sooner.
He took another drag from the cigarette, its tip lighting up with the inhale. Then , the Summoner arose, stubbing out the cigarette on a nearby ashtray, simultaneously finishing off the remnants of his drink. Setting aside the empty glass next to the ashtray, he walked over slowly to the windows. Cold encompassed his body, his skin naked save for white bathrobe.
He stood with his arms crossed, eyes looking out the windows. His room lay near the top floor, granting him a panoramic view of the smoggy city-state below, the tall white spires of Piltover peeking slightly over the horizon. The setting sun illuminated the surface of the nearby strait with fiery orange, distinct ripples of cresting waves obscured by the permanent veil of smog. Tall spires of skyscrapers glinted the last rays of the sun. Airships zoomed and maneuvered their way within the dark valleys of steel, small headlights beginning to flicker to life as darkness called for light.
The Summoner's eyes surveyed this scene with a calm adamancy until finally the sun completely submersed itself into the Conqueror's Sea, diamonds jutting out from the newly unveiled obsidian sky. Then, one by one, small lights began to glimmer; small dots of contrasting brightness shining out from the darkness. Soon the entire city-state is aglow with light.
A sudden series of knocks jarred the Summoner from his observation of the city.
Apprehension instantly gripped him as he walked towards the door, the knocks continuing to escalate in volume. Instinctively, his hand gripped the Walther PPK he had placed on a table beside the entrance to the hotel room.
"Who is it?" he asked gruffly.
"Room service…" a feminine voice replied. Despite being muffled by the door, its sensuous tone could still be acknowledged.
The Summoner's defenses were torn down in an instant.
Recognition instantly gripped his psyche, a small sort of grin crossing his face. Still, he kept the gun gripped in his hand.
Cautiously, he opened the door a crack, keeping his gun-wielding hand concealed behind the door.
Light from the hallway met his vision, along with a most-welcome sight. The wary grin on his face instantly widened, his handgun quickly placed on a table within arm's reach.
"Well, well…I don't recall ordering dessert."
The woman in the hallway returned the smile, her golden eyes giving him their usual sultry glare.
"Hello to you too, Summoner," Ahri said, her voice playful and mischievous.
The Summoner's eyes looked her over with the knowledge that she wouldn't pay any mind.
Ahri was dressed in somewhat modest clothing; a long, brown overcoat reached to her knees, keeping all of her skin covered save for the bottom of her legs. The tails that were usually splayed out behind her were tucked tightly within her constraining jacket, their tips curled slightly upwards to prevent them from being dragged along the ground. The only other notable piece of attire she wore was the pair of black heels.
"If you don't mind hun," she said, interrupting the Summoner's observations with a look of amusement. "I'd like to come in."
"Oh! Of course, of course."
The Summoner hurriedly opened the door, his gaze glued with hers as she walked inside his room with her signature strut.
Ahri turned around to allow their eyes to maintain their contact. The Summoner absentmindedly closed the hotel room door.
And locked it.
"So…for what do I owe the pleasure?"
Ahri merely handed her playful sneer, fingers slowly unbuttoning the overcoat that the Summoner assumed covered her usual office garb.
Though he asked the woman the reason for her sudden arrival, he already knew that she was sent by M to retrieve him.
Despite her free, playful nature, the nine-tailed fox was employed by LSMI6 as M's secretary. Actually, when one would look back at her history, her nature was the reason why she was employed to such a tedious, restrictive position.
During her initiation into the Institute of War, Ahri's rambunctious antics had have become disruptive to order within the League. The Institute tried to restrain her, even sending her off to Ionia for rehabilitation. But even after receiving training and guidance from the Kinkou, her spirit remained loose and unconfined.
Catching wind of the League's minor predicament, LSMI6 finally stepped in to resolve the matter with their skilled tactics. Though at first, the solution seemed obsolete, almost ridiculous, the proposal of hiring Ahri as a secretary and field messenger for the underground organization proved to be the best move for all sides; during her work in the "office" between matches, she could be restrained (at least somewhat), her rowdy activities halted, and to satisfy her free-roaming spirit, when sent into the field as a messenger, she had extra time for personal activities after her messages were delivered.
The Summoner and Ahri were well-acquainted. But strangely enough, the two had not met because of their occupations (or technically, side-occupations).
In fact, they had met before Ahri had even been sent to rehabilitation in Ionia.
Ahri finally slipped the last button of her overcoat through its respective hole, the brown fabric proceeding to slip over her shoulders, revealing the previously hidden attire. Maintaining her playful gaze with the Summoner, who was standing with his hands stuffed inside his bathrobe's pockets (somewhat close to his assets…, she allowed the coat to slip off her shoulders, the heavy fabric revealing her hidden curves with intent slowness.
The Summoner raised his eyebrows approvingly when the coat finally came to a rest at her wrists, prompting the fox to throw the overcoat aside onto a coatrack. Her essence orb immediately leaped out from its hiding at the same time her nine tails fanned out with a flourish. As expected, Ahri wore standard, headquarters office attire. Her flowing midnight hair seemed to glow with an elegant ambiance, the long silky strands cascading behind her head in straight, perfect lines.
Given the large amount of nonactivity during her "work" in the office of M, it was no surprise how meticulously the fox groomed herself.
The Summoner's eyes wandered across her curvaceous form, a white, short-sleeved blouse accentuating top half of her body, the top three buttons undone to allow a generous amount of a lacy bra to be visible, as well as the succulent uppermost arcs of her breasts straining themselves to burst from their tight confines. The black-hued lingerie matched the pleated short skirt that was girded below her hips, its bottom ending several inches above her kneecaps. The rest of her legs were covered in black pantyhose stockings, only the area between the top hem of the stockings and the end of the skirt leaving her legs bare. Her thigh-highs clutched onto her silky legs tightly, much to the Summoner's consent. Her feet were housed within a pair of black, stiletto heels.
By the time the Summoner looked up again to meet her eyes, arousal had already begun to seep into fog his mental processes.
Ahri acknowledged the Summoner's brief inspection with a knowing grin, one of the ears atop her head twitching in amusement.
Seeing that the Summoner was satisfied with his observations, she turned around slowly with her head slightly tilted in his direction. She raised a hand to begin twirling several strands of her hair around a finger. Breaking eye contact from the Summoner, she slowly strutted to the window, silently indicating him to follow.
"We met here for the first time, didn't we?" Ahri asked, completely disregarding the Summoner's previous inquiry.
He grinned as he came to a stop beside her, his hands clasped behind his back. He felt Ahri's eyes look up at his face, but his gaze remained upon the Zaunite activity outside the soundproof windows of his room.
"Formally, yes. I believe it was in the main Zaunite airport, on a-"
"Zeppelin docking bay," she finished. "The Axiom, wasn't it?"
The Summoner finally turned his gaze toward the woman beside him, only to find that she had fixed her gaze outside.
"Even so, my question still stands."
"My purpose for being here?"
Ahri turned her eyes slightly to meet the Summoner's. A smirk was curved across her lips.
The Summoner smirked back.
"You certainly couldn't have come here on leave."
The fox turned her gaze away again, another ear twitching. She loved playing with him.
Silence ensued before Ahri finally responded seriously. She knew oblique games couldn't drag on for too long. She turned her body to completely face the Summoner, her golden eyes peering up at his with the innocent quality that he could never resist. A light blue illuminated each whiskered cheek of her face periodically as a result of her essence orb being thrown about from side to side atop her tails.
"M sent me to fetch you. She requested that we return to the Institute immediately."
The Summoner raised his eyebrows and walked away from her toward his bed. He measured his steps as if in deep thought until he sat himself down on the edge of the mattress.
"Immediately…" he said with a faux-concerned tone, his hand reaching for the bottle of Petrus Pomerol resting within a silver wine cooler.
He heard Ahri's steps and continued to furrow his brow while keeping his gaze on the floor in front of him, until finally her feet interrupted the staring contest he had initiated with the carpet.
Looking up at her with concern, he hoisted the bottle of fine wine as if it were an ill infant in need of medical care.
"Then we won't have time for a glass of wine!"
Ahri's grin remained constant. She reached down and removed the chilled bottle from his grasp, placing it back at the cooler. She proceeded to reach down and take the Summoner's hands with hers, pulling slightly to make him stand.
"We can always have a glass of wine back at my place."
The Summoner pouted as much as his personality allowed, his demeanor not dissimilar to a male child complaining to his mother.
Ahri pressed a finger against his lips, silencing him instantly. Her touch triggered a spark within the Summoner's mind, and his eyes softened.
"No buts. Now let's go."
The couple stared into each other's eyes for several moments, and by now it was apparent that they both didn't want to leave.
But staying true to her word, Ahri slid her finger teasingly across the Summoner's lips as she walked away to retrieve her overcoat. The Summoner slowly let out a breath. He knew she was bluffing. He could see it in her eyes. The game was afoot, and all that he needed to do was ensure he participated.
A grin once again made its appearance.
Ahri's slow walk to the coatrack was perceptibly staged, much to her intention. Her golden eyes couldn't help but look back slightly with every step.
Right before she could get within arm's reach of her over coat, her progress is stopped by the Summoner's hand clasping her own. Quickly tucking away her grin, she turned around with a stern visage, her expression surprisingly convincing.
But the Summoner could see through easily, no clairvoyance required.
"Just one drink," the Summoner said with the smoothest voice he could muster, his eyes clearly expressing their want.
Ahri's fake defenses were quickly torn down in an instant.
Immediately taking notice of this, the Summoner began to slightly tug on her arm, intending to guide her feet to the nearby bed. She complied, her steps slowly progressing backward as the Summoner took her other hand, their footfalls careful and precise as their eyes remained locked.
"Only one drink?"
The Summoner slid a hand up her arm, tucking a stray lock of hair behind her ear. Ahri couldn't help but blush at the action.
Their steps continued in a variation of a synchronized dance.
Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot…
Ahri closed her eyes as the Summoner's hand gently slid down her cheek before clasping her neck gently. She rolled her head around and purred, her next words coming out as a whisper.
She was his.
"You always did know how to treat a woman."
"Oh, you flatter me." the Summoner said playfully, his footsteps still pushing Ahri away from him, guiding them both to the mattress behind them.
"What you did at the hot springs still makes me blush," Ahri said as her eyes opened with a sultry flourish.
The couple's slow, trotting progress finally stopped as Ahri's legs made contact with the edge of the bed, allowing the Summoner to advance a final footfall, his hands eagerly making contact with her skin. They start at her hands before smoothing across her arms, finally taking her cheeks within their palms. Ahri looks back at the Summoner with a grin, her canines biting onto her bottom lip with playful anticipation.
The Summoner's eyebrows rose as if he just remembered the event.
"I'm glad to have granted such…notable events within your memory…" the Summoner's voice seemed preoccupied, his tone slipping away to a whisper as his fingers teasing her as he brushed his skilled fingertips across her face teasingly. He smiles at her increased breaths, her eyes already at half-mast and fogged with arousal. Slowly his eyelids began to lower, his face slowly closing in to hers, the distance between their lips closing fast.
"Let's just hope that I didn't forget how to treat you the way I did in that hot pool of water hm?" the Summoner whispered, before finally his mouth pushed against hers.
The Summoner could feel Ahri's grin press against his lips, a miniscule moan brushing against his cheek. Before their osculation could escalate, the Summoner separated, her taste still strong on his tongue. They share a small breath, his gaze wandering southward. He could already feel the lust mutually flowing between them. He knew that once the ball started rolling with this woman, nothing could stop it.
"So...how soon did you say we needed to leave?" the Summoner inquired again, his fingers moving down her blouse to begin undoing its buttons. He brought his gaze to her face as his hands continued to reveal more and more of her chest. She blinked enticingly, her teeth gritting themselves with desire. Her golden pupils were alight with that flame the Summoner was all too familiar with; he knew that at that second, she wanted him.
"...immediately," Ahri finally uttered, her visage expressing a twinge of regret. The Summoner closed the distance between their faces once more, a small squeak escaping Ahri's nose. Her hands instinctively slipping inside the Summoner's bathrobe to run over the solid curves of his pectorals, her breaths deep and laced with longing. Finally the Summoner separated once more with a gasp, both of their chests heaving with deep breaths. He gives her a grin.
"How soon again?"
Ahri gave in, her hands still clutching onto the Summoner's body, her own acing for his touch.
At that, their lips meet once more, bodies beginning to engage in a dance of lust.
It wasn't their first, and from that point on it definitely was not going to be their last.
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