The pain in his shoulder had already faded to memory as Luke moved to counter Alice's next attack. Before his fist could reach her, she cried out in surprise. His hand stopped millimeters from her jaw as she looked at him anxiously. "I didn't mean to do that!" She said, her eyes on his shoulder.
"Next time I won't hold back so much," she called as she walked away, fidgeting with her hair. "I'm sorry about your arm!"
Luke stood and watched as she turned and left the courtyard, winded and confused. She actually thought his injury was enough to stop him? He gave his shoulder a quick test rotation and walked to a nearby cherry blossom tree to sit down. As he peeled off his borrowed gear, he reviewed the fight in his mind. She was skilled, no doubt. And if she was truly holding back--and Luke believed her--he decided he had no interest in ever fighting her for real. Well, not fairly, anyway.
As Luke leaned against the sun-warmed wood, he looked out over the courtyard. Alice had not done it justice; it was quite beautiful. The scent of the cherry blossoms filled his nose, and the wind danced along his skin. His jobs often took him all over the world, but so much of his work demanded the cover of night. Despite what his golden brown skin might have suggested, it was a rare thing for him to feel the touch of genuine sunlight. For several minutes Luke simply sat in the light, his eyes shut as he drank in the afternoon rays.
'OK. Now I'm bored.'
His eyes snapped open and he pushed his sunglasses back into place. He rose smoothly to his feet and walked back toward the house.
''Ana, how much longer on the signal?' 'Not long now. Maybe an hour? I could work a lot faster if I only had direct access; my wi-fi abilities are not powerful enough with only your implants to work through.'
Luke stepped inside and shut the door behind him, then leaned against the wall as he considered the problem. 'I think I may have a solution for that. Can you reprogram some of the medichines?' 'Well, it shouldn't be any problem. They're only nanobots, after all; a few quick alterations to their basic programming and they can do whatever you want. What are you thinking?'
A wicked grin blossomed on Luke's face. 'I'm thinking I might have to bleed for this job, after all...'
'Are you guys sure this is a good idea? Maybe we should have stayed with the plane.'
Mikiun trailed along after his siblings as they cruised the skies of Quantum Urbs at a leisurely 790 mph.
'It's fine, Mikiun. Uncle Luke ordered us to protect the plane. Well, we protected the plane perfectly, didn't we? Right up until it went and got blown up. So we're done.' Andiun replied as he whirled backward to face his reluctant brother as they flew.
'So what are we gonna do now? Should we try to find Uncle Luke?' Soriun scanned available broadcast frequencies for traces of Luke and Nirvana's transponders, but found nothing. Etriun busied himself calculating prime factors and performing barrel rolls as Andiun answered, 'Well, we do still have one other order to carry out. Uncle Luke gave us permission to kill every combatant we find, right?' 'Affirmative. But now the battle's over and all the combatants went home. How can we kill more combatants if there aren't any more?' 'Easy! Uncle Luke said to operate on Provoked Response protocols only, right? So, let's go find someone and get them to provoke us!' 'Hey, yeah! That sounds like fun!'
As one, the Cherubims regrouped and changed direction, headed for the center of the city, singing as they flew.
'Genocide, genocide, nobody gets left alive!'
Luke heard voices from the kitchen; Ureha and the princess must have been hungry. His own stomach rumbled at the thought of food, but he bypassed the kitchen and headed for the stairs. From her warning earlier, he suspected Alice would have implemented security measures to prevent unauthorized individuals from gaining access to the upstairs areas; it stood to reason that was where the suppression signal was coming from. He stopped at the foot of the stairs and leaned casually against the wall.
'Ready, 'Ana?' 'They're set, Luke. I have to say, this is definitely one of your better ideas.' Luke smiled as he withdrew a small penknife from one of his pockets and sliced his index finger open. A thick stream of blood spurted to the floor, and almost immediately his medichines sealed and repaired the damaged finger.
Nirvana reached out and assumed control of the smattering of nanobots that dripped onto the floor in Luke's blood; her perception split into hundreds of microscopic copies, and immediately she went to work. The nanobots consumed the molecules in the blood, the floor, the dust in the air, and began replicating. Within minutes, the hundreds turned to thousands, the thousands to millions. The Von Nuemann process drained Nirvana of her processing power, but Luke held her steady with his own brain as a parallel processor. Within a half hour, the nanobots' numbers grew large enough to form a tiny cloud of quasi-sentient dust. With Luke's help and patience, Nirvana at last became at ease with commanding so large a number of minds, and together they directed the cloud up the stairs.
Luke leaned against the wall once again, his head bowed. To anyone watching he appeared to be taking a nap, but in fact his mind was racing as the nanocloud fed him information. It took a few moments to adjust to seeing in millions of directions at once, but once Nirvana commanded them into a cohesive unit it felt just like piloting a camera drone.
The cloud slipped in and out of rooms with ease as the duo searched the upstairs. Before long, they came across a door different from the others they'd run across; this one was steel, thick and heavy. It formed an airtight seal, and allowed the nanocloud no access.
But the walls were not so durable.
The cloud spread out and smeared itself against the wall, the nanobots' operating limbs drilling through the wood and around the steel reinforcement beams. Seconds later, the dust cloud broke through without leaving more than a few micrograms of sawdust in their tracks. The view of the room proved they'd found the signal's point of origin.
The two worked in silence as they directed the cloud onto the small satellite box in the room's corner. Within moments, the cloud's programming was altered once again by Nirvana's remote control, and they nanobots formed a makeshift antenna. Nirvana locked onto the enhanced signal, and from that point it was a breeze to alter the signal's frequency. Nothing dramatic; just enough so that 'Ana's own broadcast and reception abilities would no longer be impeded without letting anyone monitoring the signal realize it had been hacked.
Their task completed, Nirvana sent the nanocloud a self-destruct signal, turning the machines into inert particles. They fell to the floor, an innocent coating of dust under the table.
Downstairs, Luke pushed away from the wall and stretched casually, an amiable smile on his face. 'Excellent. Now, to see what we have to work with.'
Nirvana called up one of the Grigori and located their position within seconds, a large mansion set on a sprawling swathe of land in the northwest of Nihon Urbs. Moments later the overlay appeared on Luke's shades, along with infra-red and spectroscopic views. The place seemed innocuous enough; if there were any underground structures, they were well concealed. As Luke studied the grounds, 'Ana recalled his earlier request for a Saint. She reconnected to the Command Center's mainframe and scanned through the logs. Luke had been right; there were three Saints currently assigned to Nihon Urbs. The closest was McKlisskey, an older man with extensive prosthetics. She informed Luke of the news, and his attention shifted.
'McKlisskey? Isn't he the one that mixed up the packages on the Dax-Aurels job?' 'That's the one. He sent his cover identity's fiancee's father a poisoned pen set, and the executive he was supposed to assassinate recieved a very tasteful tie and cufflinks.' 'Ana's holojection met Luke's eyes, and they shared an expression of doubt and discomfort. As one, they nodded in agreement and she returned to the logs. 'I'll find someone else...'
OOC: Whew! I'm gone for a few hours and I get left in the dust, lol.