Mirror Shards - Chapter 28 - Cadeldance (2024)

Chapter Text

Make no mistake, Sonya tried.

He’s not the worst when it comes to hand-to-hand combat. Not the worst when it comes to avoiding attacks. But when you keep hitting steel or chains, it starts to hurt quick, made worse by the speed and strength of the nails they both wielded. Considering how Kromer fought, he could assume the two assassins(?) would fight similarly. When they stabbed at the perfect angle to hook his coat and pull him closer to beat him within an inch of his life, he recognized two things. One, a nail was a shockingly diverse weapon. Two, he brought fists to a knife fight. He delayed the inevitable, but it didn’t take long for the inevitable to catch up. He was restrained by one, and a single punch from the other knocked him out.

When it comes to waking up, of course he couldn’t tell how long it’d been (and he still had a killer headache), but he knew what to do when it came to kidnapping. They want to keep you fearful, keep you assuming your life is over, sharpen the ornamental guillotine of despair above your neck to show it could drop at any time, shining the surface yet dulling the blade…But what purpose do you have to show force to someone who’s out cold? He was being moved, his hands were restrained and far apart, but with closed eyes he could manage little else.

This also gives you time to learn motives, and the two folks whom he had been kidnapped by were luckily somewhat talkative. Unluckily, they didn’t take off their helmets, rendering most conversation inaudible. He could in particular pick out ‘still a sinner,’ ‘executed by the morrow,’ and ‘no prosthetics.’ Nothing that indicated survival.

“...Sisters have much to do tonight.” Were the final clear words heard. Whatever he was attached to was slammed onto the ground, then a sound he could best equate to that of a laptop being dropped on concrete. More mumbles by the two crusaders, then the sounds of walking away, then nothing.

After a while, the room was left empty. The smell of oil dominated the his nostrils as he opened his eyes. Metal body parts lay across the stone floor, candles littered the stone walls and wax seals dotted paper that clung to every surface across the room. He tried to wrestle his hands free, bound by chains on a crucifix, that wasn’t going to work. Adjacent to him, another crucifix that landed with its prisoner face down. This remained the only hope in the walls of this place.

“Hey, you in one piece?”

The voice that came out was…Light, kinda squeaky. “Gaaaaahhhhh! Damn it damn it damn it that’s not Bono!” He sat up best he could to see two cameras and a screen inch out from under the crucifix. The small monitor showed a circular emotive face that was…annoyed. “Who are you supposed to be?”

“Sonya.” He waved with a bound hand. The face on the screen got angrier. “I see that they didn’t let you fall on your face…Cool.” She responded. “Any idea who kidnapped you?”

“Afraid not. They had nails and they beat me senseless.”

“Similar story for me…You seen a guy who looks like a power ranger and a stop light?”

“Can’t say I have…Know why we’re stuck here?”

“Can’t say I do.” She replied, the face on the screen getting comical tears streaming the face. A camera moved to Sonya. “...Alright, you have bullets on you, that’s a start.”

He checked his belt. Indeed, a lucky break. “I guess they don’t have my sword, so they assumed giving me bullets they don’t use would be fine…”

Sounds of light struggle escaped the fallen crucifix. “The damn knight assholes tied up my wires or… something bad. I can’t move my hand equivalents very much, can’t worm my way out of this…”

“Keep trying, I guess…We’ll think of something.” Sonya tried to wrestle his own wrists free of the chains, with minimal success.

“Will we?” A question mark appeared on the screen.

“I’m confident.”


The stranger had been sitting on a dumpster in the alleyway for the past while. Half an hour, perhaps? The Third Red Nail Sister was commanded to wait, and she waited silently. On top of the roof of a building long since marked as decrepit and worthless, their home for the past while. The Fourth had insisted that she would be gone within the hour. The stranger's expression indicated a great boredom, and yet she remained. She remained for far, far too long. Nobody really came here, it was wonderful for…getting people out of the picture, so why was she staying? What business did she have?

The sky was a beautiful overcast scene dyed with the oranges of a setting sun. Rain started to sprinkle. The Fourth Sister gestured at the uninvited guest silently, grasping her head and turning it violently to the side. The message was understood, her presence had wasted too much time. The Fourth Sister silently stood up and hovered above The Rabbit, and with one motion, she dropped off the roof to crush her skull.

Myo turned around in not even a quarter of a second, kicking off the dumpster as the armored woman landed and grasping her helmet, slamming it as hard as she could into the adjacent concrete wall.

“GOD, finally! I thought that bitch didn’t have a clue what she was saying!" She locked in a magazine and held it up to the helmet’s breathing holes, firing a dozen through before The Third took action. Jumping down, she grasped onto The Rabbit’s head, trying to twist it to shatter her neck.

Her trigger finger halted and she leapt away with not another word, the second assassin having missed her chance.

Myo wiped the hair out of her eyes. The injuries the first sustained split the two perfectly: The red knight and the gray knight, the injured and the unscathed. Red was still stunned, Gray looked to Red for a moment as though seeing if she could check up on the injuries, but her eyes landed on Myo within a moment. From her side she pulled out a long, lance-like nail from her thigh.

“Ooh, a nail. I know someone who uses that, so you won’t be able to pull any new tricks against me.“

Gray tried. Wielding the nail with both hands she made a couple of hard, flawlessly spaced swings at Myo, a tactic that could easily slice ill-prepared citizens in half. Myo delicately dodged each strike attempted, and when she got used to the rhythm she kicked up the knife at her boot and caught the blade, dashing forward and going for the neck in a fluid and blindingly fast motion, barely seeing the red assailant out of the corner of her eye.

Red got up and made a leap with her own nail, Myo rolled under it and stabbed Gray in the leg, stealing a scream from the pain, the armor warping her agonized yell. Myo stood and uppercut Red’s helmet. With the speed of a wind storm, a knife was sent into Red’s dominant, sword-wielding left arm. Myo slid on the rain-slicked ground and got behind her, one arm holding her chainmail-covered neck attempting to choke her out, and the second re-equipping her rifle and firing at Gray. Plenty of bullets missed, a handful hit, and the final eight bullets in the magazine were emptied into Red’s neck to make sure she wouldn’t be getting up again. To Myo's shock, she kept moving.

“Gods DAMN you!” Red shouted, whipping her head back and sending Myo off balance. With a hefty swing of the nail, she was hit in the stomach and sent to the floor, putting her on the defensive. From the pain, Red's was shoddy at best, but Myo still had to move out of the way a couple times. Gray stepped in after a bit. She contorted her body to have Gray’s stab get deflected off her shoulder plate, striking exactly across where the Rabbit logo used to be. She held up her guarded forearms to block her head from taking the wide end of Red's nail. Gray tried again, met with a dodge, Red tried again, met with another block of the same arm.

Gray tried a third time, Myo kicked herself up and put her body weight against Gray's nail, wrenching it out of her hand and sending it to the alleyway floor. They were synchronized, which made their attacks predictable. Myo raised both hands to clutch Red’s nail, the two battled for it - But the combat expertise, implants, and training regime she didn't skip out on for years rendered it a guarantee as to who lost. With no hesitation, Myo stole Red's nail and drove it through her chest.

Gray was fast, faster than Myo gave her credit for. Within a moment, the nail was gotten back and she cut into her unguarded thigh, kevlar gave way and pain shot through her body. Myo rolled away and locked in another magazine, Gray landed another cut across her ribs and followed her, screaming in a bestial rage. she landed a third cut across her forehead as she took the nail from the heart of her ally…She mumbled something to her fallen sister before she charged forward at The Rabbit.

Gray dashed in and swung with both blades from the same direction, Myo took out her second knife. She met both blades with the knives flawlessly. She ran the edges along the nail to try and open her up, but she swept both nails downward, putting her leg in danger. Myo aborted the attack attempt and barely dodged out of the way. Gray flipped one of the nails, going for one stab and one broad-side hit. She blocked the blunt with her arm guards again and met the blade with her knife. She moved down again, Myo predicted it flawlessly, and finally she was allowed to close the distance. The moment of freedom she had as Gray recovered was seized, she stabbed one of her knives into Gray’s throat. Gray moved to block, one the knives was dropped and Myo pulled the sword out of her hand, that was stabbed into her neck too. She yelled, screamed something before she punched The Rabbit in the skull, sending her to the floor, right where her knife now was.

She deflected the predictable stab down, the blade of the sword barely hitting below her ear, reaching down to her thigh and drawing her gun.

A singular shot went right through the small black lines of the helmet to see through. She screamed out in agony, another moment captured as she stabbed her second knife into the chainmail of her neck. Then she took the helmet and started slamming the woman so hard into the wall that it created impact marks. Myo knew a blow like that’d leave you concussed and killed off for the Rabbits from the kill switch...So she did it again. And just in case, she did it again, and again, and again, until Gray's arms went limp.

Red and Gray, or Red and Red now, didn’t move. Myo was gonna get to the bottom of this before anyone else in Trylika, no matter how long the road of corpses stretched for. She ransacked the two bodies for anything important, getting a key. She steeled herself to start looking through every single door across the alleyways here, starting with the front door to this building, calling forth the luck that Dante had for getting the right car in one shot: The door to the building that made up the left of the alleyway.

She tried the key on the door. It didn’t open.

She tried the door to the building that made up the right of the alleyway. It did.

...Damn it.



Dante downed her coffee again. Three tries, three places, all of them dust bombs, all have revealed nothing. Everything they stole was flammable, the kidnappings may have had something to do with this…Dante held her head. The dust bombs are one group. Are they the same as the kidnapping organization? She didn’t know. She had so little to go off, this group was so meticulous in making sure they didn’t leave a hint. Who could do an operation at this size, who could manage it with the manpower, and the organization and…A wing? K. Corp itself? No, no no. Well, maybe. Maybe those hallways into large empty rooms held some purpose some while ago, maybe that was some Ampule testing or… something.

There was one thing. One last attempt, one thing she could try here.

“We’re going to the manor.”

“N-No.” Kromer replied.


“You…You can go. I won’t. It’s…They aren’t good memories for me. Every time I went there it…It just resulted in something I regret.”

“Fine!” Dante’s fuse had withered down through finding virtually nothing at every opportunity. “I’ll go and do it myself! Yuri, go get your damn surgery and I’ll be back with… whatever I find.”

She stormed off. Nobody followed her. Her walk to the manor was quieter than usual. It made something in her soul hurt.


Looking at the monolithic building was…Scary. It was like looking a grave in the eye, but the closest Dante could get was that they were burning it down. So many flammable materials would surely be used in something big. Unless the dust bombs were all distractions, all only a part of a grander plan…Dante didn’t have time to think about that, nor any clues to imply such a thing.

She waltzed up to the door, and with no hesitation, slammed it open...It was even unlocked, which she assumed would imply someone living here.

The manor was empty.

It was well maintained. It was silent.

There was nothing.

Dante grit her teeth. She was missing something. She had to be. She walked through the rooms. A dining room, empty pardoning ill-maintained furniture. A kitchen, rusted and ruined. Anyone whodidlive here didn't make their meals in the kitchen. No lights were on. The top floor, empty. Master bedroom, empty. Bathrooms, empty.

…Why… WHY?! What was she missing?! Calw had captured her attention, and it wasn’t. Letting. Go. There were too many idiosyncrasies to be a coincidence, right? She knocked on doors and walls and moved over bookcases. She did a second sweep of the place. Nothing. She did a third. Nothing. She flipped open doors, she moved furniture…The only thing that she could grasp at was this place having the same sense of...emptiness that the dust bombs had.

Everything was going wrong. She opened her phone, she tried to call Iori, she had to get some level of help.

Call failed. Must have ditched the phone number she gave first chance she got, Dante supposed. Iori wasn’t in the cards. She decided to call Sonya, to see if he’d obtained anything new.

Call failed. Again.


She called Myo. Call failed. Tried to call Yuri, call failed…Another idea. A light in the darkness. Something to put together…Anything, about the mysteries of Calw. She had another pipe dream to hold on to...But she had no other ideas.


“I have an idea. The phone service has been out the entire time we’ve been here…Think someone sabotaged it?”

“Mm? I guess that thought hadn’t crossed my mind.” Yae replied.

“After some…After some thought, this was the best that I can come up with.”

“So all those questions mean nothing?” All of the insipid walking to nowhere, all of the blowing away flour, all of the nothing she’d found, hit Dante’s stressed mind, and she did her best not to snap at Yae.

“…Nothing.” She replied with a forced smile. She drank the rest of her coffee, one of the few things she could grasp at, before walking away, before checking the paper map in her pocket and trying to find a communications office. After finding a name, after finding a building, she walked for twenty minutes with the group behind her again. She found the building, she opened the door, she marched to the woman and with a calm, cold voice inquired a simple question:

“Why is there an outage today?”

The woman at the front, wearing a prosthetic circular head, spoke surprised yet calm.“It’s a scheduled outage, ma’am. It’s been on our calendar for a few months now, it shouldn’t be anything grandiose.” The woman at the desk said.

…An epiphany came to Dante, at that moment. One that she dreaded more than anything.

Maybe she was looking at patterns where there were none. Her overly analytical mind trying to put together impossible things that were never meant to be seen as anything tangential.

Dante was alone. Dante had no clue what to do, Dante was dry on clues, Dante had nothing.

What good is a detective that has nothing?


Garbage, was her answer. She drank down the coffee, and cut her losses, staring at the circles she had drawn on the map with an emptiness in her eyes.

“We’re splitting off, Yae. I can’t get anything off a map and no information. We have a surgery to get Yuri to anyway.”

“So all those questions mean nothing?”

“Guess so. Let’s go, you two.”

Duke took one last good look at the map, and seemed to take notes for his own. In that case, maybe him and Yae would come to the same conclusion, there was nothing to be found anywhere she outlined. She pocketed it after Duke had seemingly gotten his fill.

Yuri met Dante’s eyes. It was difficult to explain the ways that Dante shifted, Yuri thought. Something about that watch… got to her. Her voice lost life or got more serious every time she took a look at it. She wasn’t sure what it was, she should ask about that at some point. She still trusted her manager, though, and with nothing to say…She stood up.

“Alright. Um, thanks Dante.”

“I said we’d get around to it…Sorry that we wasted a while.” Yuri shrugged. The girl didn't have a hating bone in her body.


Another two crusaders broke open a door, they entered a darkened hallway with each bulb cracked, pardoning a solitary few at the ends of the hall. A lithe woman with a rifle was silhouetted against the light on the other side of the tunnel, not paying the two any mind. Blood ran from the darkness, she stood on top of a barely discernible pile of ironclad corpses.

“While I was sitting here, I was thinking about something…Nobody except the guards can so much as land a hit on me, why is that?”

“Put down your arms, fool. Why have you shown up?” The larger crusader inquired.

“I’m not done talking, f*ckface. Now if you answer me this question, there’s a chance you’ll get out only missing your arm, sound like a deal? Wonderful. How many civilians have you killed?”

The man who entered thought for a minute, before shrugging. “None undeserving of their fate.”

“Where’s the contract?”

The larger inquisitor sighed, holding a hammer in both hands. “What are-”

“I was permitted to kill people who got in my way back in L. Corp. You could follow a paper trail and see that I was doing it for BS safety concerns…But you two… I don’t imagine you can get something like that…Undeserving of their fate you say?” A lone red eye peered over a barely silhouetted shoulder. Prosthetics, or implants at least, he thought. “I’m the biggest P.O.S. this side of The City… I deserve my fate…So let’s see you give it to the deserving.”

His hammer held high, the taller crusader dashed in. The prosthetic was one he’d seen a bit. Something to help see in the dark, nothing important and nothing grandiose. He wound up to slam the hammer into her ribs and make her vomit blood. One moment she was there, the next he felt the most horrible sensation across his spine and stomach. Two knives were crossed along his armor, through his armor. Two red hot lines of agonizing pain ran through him. He tried to whip the hammer around, and the arm he tried it with was stabbed with the same two knives, as though she knew exactly what he would do.

The shorter of the two watched as the person they ran in with was dispatched in the span of two seconds, added to the pile of corpses. He held his hammer high as well. This woman was a Sinner, and she’d hit the ground along with the rest…The fury that he should have felt was replaced with adrenaline-fueled fight or flight instinct...And he decided to fight.

You would think that would make him fare better, but as Myo dashed at him and pulled the helmet up to stab directly into his carotid artery, the confidence vanished. He was knocked down a moment later, and with no further words, he joined the pile of corpses the woman had made.

Myo sighed…Happy to have finally found an armor suit that fit her, but if they were all gonna be like this…Maybe it wasn’t needed.

Maybe they deserved to see who killed them.

Mirror Shards - Chapter 28 - Cadeldance (2024)
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