It is night time in No Man’s Landing. The full moon is high in the clear night sky, but it is hard to tell for the blanket of sickeningly green fog laying heavily upon the town. Everything is quiet and the streets are clear, the curfew has taken care of that. Not even a breeze stirs the thick foggy air.
Wait, did you hear that? Listen, there it is again. A clapping sound. A steady even paced clap, clap, clap. It seems to be getting louder. Suddenly, out of the thick fog, emerges a figure. As it gets closer we see that it is a boy. He is tall and lean, he has white hair and dark skin. His clear blue eyes radiate with determination. On his right arm and shoulder he wears a bronze and silver colored gauntlet. The metal is unique; like nothing you have ever seen before. As he walks with his steady gait, his scarlet cloak blows open a bit, revealing two pistols strapped to his legs. On his back is a boe staff, made of the same metal as his gauntlet.
As he continues to walk down the street, suddenly a second figure emerges from an alleyway. It’s a girl, wearing a similar outfit, with a few variations. Without missing a beat, she steps in beside the boy and continues to march down the street with him. Suddenly a second boy, with a Mohawk and katana, leaps off of the roof. He lands, rolls onto his feet, and falls in on the other side of the scarlet clad figure. The trio marches down the street, there boots ringing out in unison on the cobblestones, as several more figures emerge from the shadows to join the small band. Soon they are a fairly large force, all in similar outfits, marching up the street. You can almost feel it in the air, the grim realization of what they are about to face, along with the strong determination that practically emits from their very pores.
Up ahead, in the town square, the moonlight glints of off metal. As they reach the town square, the party begins to slow as the scene unfolds before them. Automations, troubleshooters, pacifiers, bombardiers, filling the square. A hooded figure stands at the front of the army. The first two buttons of his coat are unbuttoned, revealing the Imperial crest along with another symbol emblazoned on his uniform.
The two armies face each other, one side staring straight ahead, fog boilers glowing green in the semi-darkness, the other side tensed and ready for the battle to come. Suddenly the white haired boy’s voice cuts through the stillness, “I’m only going to say this once,” slowly he pulls back his cloak, making his pistols easily accessible, “get out of Aethasia!”
There is deathly silence, then the hooded man begins to chuckle. His chuckle soon turns into a roar of laughter. “Indeed,” he says, once he has stopped laughing, “and who is going to make me? You? Ha! No one can stop me, not even the infamous C.L.O.A.K.! The boy’s fists tighten and there is the scrapping of metal as the boy with the Mohawk draws his Katana. “We’ll see about that.” The hooded figure begins to retreat towards the back of the army. “Yes we shall!” He presses a few buttons on his gauntlet and, pointing to the force of warriors, yells, “Automations, attack!”
“This is going to end well.” The girl mutters as the scarlet cloaked boy pulls his staff out of its sheath. Raising it high in the air the boy faces the oncoming automations. “Aethasia forever!” He yells. And, with this battle cry upon their lips and their Aether charged weapons in their hand, the Knights of C.L.O.A.K. charge…
But wait, I do apologize. I tend to get carried away in the excitement. You look confused, perhaps it would make more sense if I started back at the beginning, several months before the battle just depicted. This is the story of what brought them to that infamous showdown that fateful night. This is the story of C.L.O.A.K.
It is still night time in No Man’s Landing, but this time there is no moon. Dark angry clouds cover the sky, splattering the already drenched streets with cold rain. All is still except for the sound of mechanical footsteps marching down a side street. The pacifier stops, scanning the darkness for signs of life. Detecting nothing, it turns and disappears around the corner, the sound of its clattering gears fading into the night. All is quiet for a moment. Suddenly there is movement in the shadows of a building as the edge of dark cloth is lowered revealing the white hair and blue eyes of Zerek Ironblast, the scarlet clad boy from the earlier account. Only this time he wears a dark gray trench coat and black leather gloves. He lingers for a second, glancing around just to be sure. Then, pulling his turned up collar tighter around his neck, he starts off, keeping to the side of the buildings. He weaves through the streets turning this way and that. Suddenly he ducks into an alley just as a troubleshooter comes into view. Pressing himself against the wall, he pulls his coat over his face, practically blending in with the darkness around him. He listens silently as the auto marches past. He lowers the coat. Automations weren’t known for their keen eyesight, but there was too much at stake to risk being spotted.
He starts off again, obviously heading somewhere in particular, but twisting and turning as if he has no idea where he is going. That was the sixth auto patrol he had had to avoid tonight. It was very unusual for there to be so many patrolling the streets. He frowned. He really shouldn’t be out here at all. There were many agents far more suited for this mission, but he had had to come himself. He had a feeling… He shook his head, no he was probably just being paranoid. Of course that’s what people always say right before something terrible happens.
After a bit he stops at an alley way. Casually looking around, he walks over and leans against a post, his back to the entrance of the alley. After scrutinizing the shadows of the alley across from him, he lets out a soft, low whistle. Four notes, F, A, B, G. He repeats it once more. There is a rustle behind him. His muscles tense, but he doesn’t turn around. There is a click and a metal object is pressed into his back, as a voice whispers into his ear, “just for security, you understand.” “Of course, you can never be too careful.” Zerek whispers back, fingering the tip of the knife hidden in his right sleeve. “No you can’t. Speaking of careful, please don’t turn around. I don’t want to see your face any more than you want to see mine.” Zerek nods. “Now enough with the pleasantries. I believe you have some information for me?”
He feels a hand slip into his coat pocket. “Yep, it’s all there.” Zerek smiles. “C.L.O.A.K. is indebted to you for this.” “Huh,” the man is frowning, “how would you know? Just do your job an’ I’ll do mine.”
Suddenly a bright light flicks on, casting their shadows out on the ground, and a gruff human voice yells, “halt!” “Run!” Zerek yells, ducking a bullet that slams into the wall above him. The two dash into the street, dodging through alleyways and byways. The can hear shots and angry shouts behind them, but they soon fade into the distance as they outrun their pursuers. Finally, they collapse behind a stack of boxes, breathing heavily. After they catch their breath the spy speaks. “What happened back there?” Zerek shakes his head. “I don’t know. That wasn’t any auto patrol though, there was an auto-officer with them. Which means-“ “Which means they knew we were coming.” Zerek frowns. “Exactly.” The spy gets to his feet. “How?” He begins pacing. Zerek sighs and stands up also. “That’s what I’m trying to find out. But however they found out, you have been compromised. You are in danger of being discovered. We are pulling you out now.” The spy shakes his head violently. “You can’t! I have to go back! I am so close!” “I’m sorry,” Zerek says firmly, “You’re life is in danger, we have to get you out.” The spy turns and walks toward Zerek. “Yeah? Well how do I know I can trust you? Where is the official order? You know you can only pull me out with an official order!” Zerek sighs grimly. “Okay, you want to know if you can trust me?” Reaching into his pocket he pulls out a match and strikes it. Holding up the match he opens his hand and extends it towards the spy. “Ever heard of this before?” The spy looks down and then freezes. He stares wide eyed at the pendant in Zerek’s gloved hand. It is metal, about the size of Zerek’s palm. It is shaped like a crescent moon, but what really stopped him cold was the two letters engraved on it. K and R, with a sword acting as the back for the R. He looks from first the pendent to Zerek, then back and forth. “You’re the… you’re the Knight Raider!?” Zerek smiles. “That’s right.” Suddenly the spy snaps to attention, saluting in the C.L.O.A.K. fashion. “I’m sorry, sir, for my conduct. I was not aware-“ “At ease.” Zerek interrupts him. “That’s perfectly fine. In fact, I would have been worried if you hadn’t distrusted me like you did. After all, you can never be too careful.” The spy smirks. “No, sir, you can’t.”
“Now,” Zerek put out the match and dropped the pendant back into his pocket, “what do you say we get out of here?” “Yes, sir.” They set out again until they come to a certain store. Zerek walks up the steps as the spy keeps watch. Zerek knocks on the door, four times, in the formation of a Z. The door is almost immediately opened and the pair enter...
To be continued