Oslo, Norway, Tuesday February 6th, 2035
The blazing fires of war and its opaque clouds of smoke mixed themselves with the snow of winter. A tempest was raging, blowing its small white dust in all directions as if to erase the horrible scenes that had just taken place. It was a reality that could not easily be forgotten by Erik however, as the boy marched through the layers of fragile ice, covering his eyes from the wind's anger.
"Mother... Father..." muttered the boy, recalling how his parents died to cover his escape from the invading French army.
In the space of a few hours, Erik Isaksen had become an orphan, a fate shared by many other children, all victims of this cruel war. He yearned for his parents' warmth, the icy cold of winter piercing through his long white coat, his warm mitts and beret, and his thick footwear.
Norway had become a prime target for the Coalition in their campaign against Queen Iseult Windsor because of its geographical position. The successful invasion of Norway would leave the United Kingdom vulnerable to a pincer attack from France and Germany to the south, and from mixed Coalition forces stationed at Norway to the north. Belgium and the Netherlands had already fallen a few months ago. The Coalition’s military campaign would be a quick and swift one, leaving Queen Iseult no choice but to abdicate the throne and respond favorably to the Coalition’s demands.
Looking around, Erik still could not believe the confusion that was taking place. French and Norwegian soldiers running around, gunshots being fired, houses being turned into rubble by tanks and other heavy machinery, all was happening so fast. As he crossed a small bridge, a tank came out of a narrow pathway to face Erik. Perhaps the boy had been mistaken for an enemy soldier, or perhaps it was indiscriminate slaughter; in any case, a shot had been fired, triggering a chain reaction.
The young man's vision was blinded as he anticipated the projectile to consume his life. In a matter of seconds, the necklace that hung around his neck shone brilliantly, its light piercing even through the boy's winter attire. The last thing Erik recalled seeing before slumbering into unconsciousness was a beautiful young woman clad in silver armor, her long silver hair blown back by the wind, standing resolutely in front of him as if to shield him from harm.
* * *
A slender young woman of incredible beauty was standing in the middle of a field of grass and roses, her long golden hair slightly tossed aside by a weak current of wind. With one hand, she was holding her other harm behind her back, biting her lips in deep reflexion.
"You gaze at these flowers as if they could ever equal your divine beauty," boomed a masculine voice behind her. The woman turned around to look at her interlocutor, recognizing the one person in this world that truly understood her, but soon after her eyes wandered away from him, to the ground.
"My mind is consumed by no such trivial thoughts," the woman said before kneeling to pick one rose.
She felt the man's shadow cover her graceful body completely as he approached her. She stood up, glanced at her life companion, then looked again at the flower she held between both hands.
"This world is filled with wonders," she stated with her light, crystalline voice. "I want to protect it, I want it to last forever..."
As she handled the flower, blood started dripping down her fingers; a thorn had penetrated her soft skin.
"But it is also filled with pain, it's not right!" she went on with a broken voice, closing her eyes to push back tears of anguish. Unable to contain them any further, she let these tears flow and opened her eyes to look at her lover, seeking his comfort. "What will become of this world?"
The young man stepped forward and slowly put a necklace around the young woman's tender neck, then lifted her hair and pushed it back, away from the jewel. The woman's golden hair returned to its original position like the smooth current of a river.
"Keep this necklace as a reminder that I will always be here to protect you," the man told his beloved before surrounding her bare body with his strong arms. "I promise you this, Eve: you will know no pain as long as our love endures."
After a moment, Eve returned her lover's embrace, closed her eyes and dried her tears on the man's bare shoulders. She then looked up to the sunset with eyes still full of doubt.
* * *
As Erik slowly opened his eyes, the blackness gave way to a blurry vision of his surroundings. He was lying on his back, atop a pile of rocks and mud.
"Ow... My head..." he muttered to himself, sitting up straight and caressing his forehead with his right hand. "And that dream... What was it about?"
He glanced around and noticed no snow nearby. Looking up, he understood why: he was under the bridge he tried to cross earlier. In the distance he saw nothing but ice and snow carried by violent gusts of wind. It was cold, but the boy was covered with a blanket, and a small campfire was burning in front of him. Beyond the campfire he noticed the same silver-haired woman he saw before fainting, kneeling with her hands on her knees, a benevolent smile complementing her exquisite facial traits. She was not clad in armor this time, but in fashionable clothing, mainly a white vest with black lines around the borders, black pants and white gloves.
"You're finally awake, master," she said with relief, her smile still shining brightly while looking at him affectionately.
"Who... are you?" he asked, bewildered by everything that was happening.
"My name is Tara, your humble servant. I am what you would call an Organic Being," she said with a mature voice. "You summoned me using the Protection Organic that hung around your neck, and I answered your call."
"An Organic?!" Erik exclaimed, looking at Tara with disgust and anger. Soon thereafter, his expression changed to one of profound sadness. "This is the reason why they are fighting this war! The reason why my parents... My parents..." His voice broke with emotion. He closed his eyes as he felt tears moistening his pupils. "Why did they have to start this war...?" he asked with a meek voice.
"My only purpose is to protect you. As such, I do not know about or care for these mundane matters," she stated, looking very serious. "However, if I may offer a bit of insight, every Organic Being, while endowed with a fair amount of magical energy, also possesses the ability to briefly tap into an infinite amount of power to perform its duty. We call this ability a Mugen."
"Mu... Gen?" the young man repeated, trying to take in all this new information.
"Correct," Tara continued. "If Organics were the cause of a war as you say, master, it must be because the ones who instigated this war are afraid of our Mugen."
Tara rose to her feet and looked at the horizon, trying to discern buildings and other objects from the chunks of ice and snow.
"My Mugen is nothing to be concerned about," she said after pausing for a bit, "but you have to consider that there are a wide variety of Organics out there. Take the Destruction Organic, for example... Its Mugen could cause irreparable damage to this planet."
"I see..." Erik said while rising to his feet and walking towards Tara. A few seconds later, he came out from under the bridge and looked around. He saw smoke and the wreckage of vehicles all around; there no longer was any military activity in the area. Tara walked up to the young man.
"Did... you do this?" Erik asked his feminine protector.
"Yes," she answered casually, with no hint of emotion. "In order to ensure your safety, I secured the perimeter."
"There you are!" an authoritative female voice yelled behind them, her French accent readily apparent.
Erik and Tara turned around and saw a young redhead clad in a beige trenchcoat, looking at them resolutely as a predator would gaze at its prey. The stranger expressed her politeness by bowing to her two interlocutors.
"I finally found the only surviving individuals in this area. It seems our reports were correct," the red-haired woman said. "Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Geneviève Renard..." The young woman stared at the boy and woman in front of her and displayed a self-confident smile, savoring the moment before continuing, "an Organic Slayer."
"Organic Slayer?" Tara asked with a tone of deep surprise; she wasn’t really expecting an answer from a person who had just declared herself to be a potential enemy, however.
"What do you mean, your reports were correct?" Erik asked the red-haired stranger. "What’s going on?"
"Are you deaf? Or simply stupid..." Geneviève went on with her usual arrogant demeanor. "Very well, I suppose I shall oblige you and explain to you the current situation." She fiddled with a lock of her red hair in a gesture of conceit. "Although I don’t suppose it will do you any good, since you will most probably die here by my hand in a few minutes."
Tara’s facial expression became very solemn, reflecting the gravity of the situation. She jumped in front of her young master and spread her arms out as to signify that she would be protecting him at all costs.
"I won’t allow it!" Tara yelled at the stranger. In response, the French officer grabbed a gun from inside her trenchcoat, which she then pointed at the silver-haired maiden.
"As you may or may not know, she is a magical being known as an Organic Being, and she was summoned by you, little boy," Geneviève started to explain. "I don’t know who precisely she is or what triggered the summon, but we Organic Slayers are trained to sense magical energy, and she exudes quite an enormous amount of it. Her appearance cannot possibly go unnoticed."
Tara grit her teeth, bracing herself for when the French woman would take action against her master.
"Right after her appearance, this entire area was leveled with what we can term reality distortion magic, and all soldiers, whether French or Norwegian, simply disappeared, leaving only unmanned vehicles and heavy machinery behind," Geneviève continued to explain with haughtiness permeating her every words.
"Any and all source of danger was simply teleported out of the area, do you understand?" The French officer said while pointing her gun at the empty battlefield. "The intent of the intervention and the type of magical energy emanating from this girl means she must be the Organic Being associated with the Protection Organic."
"You do like to prattle on for someone who was disinclined to speak," Tara noticed, still on her guard.
"Well I do find it very boring to kill a person who has no clue as to what is going on around him!" the red-haired woman said with a certain hauteur, elevating her voice in anger at being interrupted. "We Organic Slayers came into existence after seeing what these creatures were capable of!" she continued, emphasizing the word 'creature'. "A little girl in Belgium destroyed an entire Coalition battalion all to herself using an Organic!"
"She must have used her Mugen," Erik said, finally breaking out of his silence.
"That’s correct, and now you know why this war can’t possibly continue with these things running around," Geneviève concluded. "The Organic Slayers were created to find and destroy Organic Beings or Organic holders."
"I do hate to kill children, but you are an Organic holder, and consequently your life must be terminated!" Geneviève yelled with resolve and authority, finally pointing her gun at the young boy and shooting a bullet towards his right side.
"I said I won’t allow it!" Tara exclaimed, distressed at the boldness of the attacker.
The goddess concentrated a vast amount of magical energy in her right fist and deflected the bullet towards the ground with the back of her hand; the projectile simply penetrated a layer of ice once it reached its final destination. Not long after, Tara felt some pain on the surface of the hand she used for the deflection. She looked at the source of her pain and saw a small and peculiar green dust cloud surrounding her white glove.
"What’s this?" Tara asked herself before snapping out of her moment of inattention.
It was too late however; Geneviève had already jumped to the ground to get a better angle of her real target and shot Erik to his left side. The young boy was too scared to say anything and just grit his teeth, his eyes widened with terror, awaiting the bullet to claim his life. However, it was not his chest that the projectile pierced through, but Tara’s. She had rushed to his left side and shielded him with her body. The French officer, lying on the ground and supporting her upper body with one hand, appeared a little surprised.
"You really know no fear..." Geneviève noted with a hint of awe in her voice before regaining her scornful composure. "Surely you realized, these are not normal bullets!"
Tara was kneeling in front of Erik, a hand on her wound. It was not blood that transpired from her body but raw magical energy.
"Tara!" Erik yelled in earnest concern before kneeling and looking at the chest wound. Tara stared at the red-haired officer, who had swiftly lept to her feet.
"Tell me, human, what do you seek by destroying either me or my master?" Tara asked Geneviève. "Can you not see? I am not Kali, goddess of destruction, and I mean no one any harm."
"We are unsure of your abilities or real intentions," Geneviève responded casually. "We will not take any chances."
Tara rose to her feet. Erik looked at his savior, worried that her wound might cause her to falter. Suddenly, the air around the area did not seem to follow its regular patterns. Gusts of wind converged towards Tara’s chest, forearms and legs, as if responding to the vast amount of magical power being gathered by the goddess from her surroundings. Geneviève became very wary of Tara’s transformation.
A silver armor appeared and covered the Organic Being’s entire body. Her pupils dilated and became expressionless. She started to float above the ground, her hair meekly carried to the side by the surrounding wind current.
"Very well human, do your worst," Tara said with a very low and mature tone of voice, displaying no hint of emotion.
Geneviève could not conceal her anger after being challenged in that manner. She fired a gunshot towards Tara, but the bullet simply disappeared when it came a few inches from the target. To the French woman’s bitter surprise, the bullet reappeared right in front of Geneviève and did not lose its velocity as it pierced her chest. She groaned in pain and let go of her weapon as she crashed against the floor.
"Consider yourself lucky I did not see fit to kill you, human," Tara told her victim mockingly as the red-haired woman landed flat on her back. The magical being then looked at Erik. "My master, let us leave this place in haste before more of her kind appear."
"Understood," Erik said before vanishing in thin air with his guardian angel as Tara used a teleportation spell.
Geneviève simply lied on her back, looking at the sky and at the falling snow. The white dust gently covered her body and the blood dripping out of her wound.
"I did not think..." she managed to mutter to herself after a minute of silence, still looking at the white sky. A concerned masculine voice could be heard coming out of the small bluetooth device on her left ear.
"Geneviève, is everything well? Did you find them?" asked the male voice in French to Geneviève.
"I... did..." she responded through the device with a broken voice, the pain from her encounter still very fresh. "But I... failed..." She turned her face to the side, breathless.
"You engaged them without me, didn’t you?" the mysterious man asked, a little exasperated with her self-confidence. "Geneviève!" he exclaimed, trying to get an answer from her, since she wasn’t responding.
"Tristan..." she finally said before slumbering into unconsciousness.
Oslo, Norway, Tuesday February 6th, 2035
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