December 8, 1995
Fuyuki City, Japan
7 years after ‘The Dirge’.
There was a starlit night sky above Fuyuki city. Only the lights of countless construction machinery constituted what remained of its population. The workers here were solemnly quiet, and only the machines made any real, continuous noise. Perhaps it was born out of respect for all who had died in the Dirge.
For some, it was born from a superstitious fear of the mysterious event that had transpired here.
“Old man Graham really did a number on the people here, didn’t he?”
A distinctly american voice, speaking in english. The man who spoke looked like he was in his early 20s, with swept back blond hair and a clean face with striking blue eyes. He was wearing a loose polo shirt with a gaudy, floral design. He had sunglasses and torn jeans as well. It would have made one look like an inconspicuous, if not obvious, tourist; but Fuyuki isn’t exactly known for its tropical climate.
“It wasn’t him, son. It was… that Salahudeen fellow, remember?”
Another, gravelly, older voice.
He didn’t even try to pretend he was something else. The older man wore a black suit and had graying hair, neatly combed to hide the slight balding spot on the top of his head. He looked like a grim old veteran. To punctuate on that, his jowls looked like they were ready to tear off and fall to the ground.
The two americans were standing in a crater, in a sealed off area marked by countless police line tape. The older man had an open briefcase, with ziplock bags containing dirt samples.
“Oh, right, the dead guy. The 700 years or so dead guy.” The younger one added. “Right.”
“Listen up, kid. That’s the story I’m given by upper management, and well, if THAT is THEIR story, it just might actually be it.” the older one said again, kneeling on the ground and shovelling more dirt into zip lock bags.
The younger man behind him looked on with disgust. He didn’t wanna end up like that down the line. He thought being in the agency was cool, y’know? Like James Bond and all.
“So uh, Patrickson… sir.” the younger one said, looking off in the distance.
“What is it, Higgins?” The old man said, gruffly setting the last of the ziplock dirtbags into the briefcase.
“What’s her story?” He pointed at the third person in the crater.
She was a fair-skinned, intelligent looking sort, wearing a long skirt and a cardigan vest over a long-sleeved white blouse. You could describe her as a Librarian. She even had glasses, but her auburn hair was immaculately tied in a bun.
“She’s our lab crew.” Patrickson said without looking up.
“Er, she? Crews are usually like, teams…” The younger man said.
“Upper Management’s words. Stop asking and do some working.” Patrickson said, closing the briefcase.
Such young upstarts and lazy bums nowadays don’t know the meaning of ‘duty’. It’s a wonder how this slacker got in the service. He’ll be getting a whole lot of flak in my report, Patrickson thought to himself.
Meanwhile, Maya Sterling felt this familiar earth for the first time after 2 years. She knelt down, and took off her glove, to feel the earth. She opened her ‘true eyes’ by removing her glasses.
‘His’ presence was gone.
All trace of the ritual was gone.
The magic was completely used up.
Her dreams were dashed.
“It can’t be remade… I’ll never see you again.” She said to no one in particular.
A tear fell from her eye.
“Ma’am? I’m supposed to ask if these samples are ‘negatives’ or ‘positives’.” The young agent Higgins said, walking up behind her with a pen and clipboard in hand.
Maya answered, without looking at him. “Negative. They’re all negative.”
“Oooookay. That’s an Op Bee clear, then.” Higgins mused while writing a bright red ‘Negative’ on his clipboard.
He then flipped the page. The next document was sealed in a plastic envelope, marked with various warnings in red ink.
On it were the words, “Operation: H, variant B”.
Higgins tore open the envelope.
15 years later.
June 12, 2011
“Manny’s Bar and Resto”
The bar was a bit empty, save for 2 guests, the bartender, a cook and a waitress. Several chairs were already placed on the tables.
The bartender was Manny, the owner of the place. A stout, warm and jovial middle-aged Filipino-american who enjoyed both eating and serving good food. His staff actually consisted of family members (mostly extended) and close friends, so this was popularly known as a place for Filipinos to come together in Draketown.
“… In Japan, Survivors and their Families pay homage in memory of the victims of the ‘Fuyuki Dirge’ that occured 22 years ago…”
His 2 guests did not share that heritage, but they were related to the motherland. They were having a heated discussion in hushed tones, hoping that the droning of the Television would drown their voices out.
“… a terrorist chemical gas attack that reportedly caused mass hallucinations, as well as the detonation of a nuclear device on japanese soil…”
The older man wore a loose hawaiian shirt, and his blonde hair was swept back. He had sunglasses on his forehead. On his rugged, unshaven face, he was scarred along his lower left lip going up to his left cheekbone. The mark ended right below his eye.
“… Caused by the machinations of a renegade ex-KGB operative named ‘Kirov’ and his various accomplices. Among which are a false catholic Priest named Okabe, A young japanese gangster – Loden Hassanein – primary suspect in the wrecking of national heritage sites…”
The younger man was wearing a business suit, and angrily making hand gestures at his counterpart. He seemed to be of Asian origin, with brownish skin and small, almond shaped eyes. He possessed a small and well-trimmed mustache.
“… all of which are dead. But several other suspects still remain at large – such as the street magician ‘Magic Man’, the renegade bio-engineer Flanders, and a martial artist known popularly as ‘Eye of Twilight’.”
The two resumed their talk. On the table were several photographs and documents in folders. There was only one man in each of these photographs. He looked to be of asian descent as well, with small almond-shaped eyes and a short build. He possessed many southeast asian features.
“… Luckily, further damage was prevented with the heroic sacrifice of ex-CIA Director Graham Smith in tandem with several brave men and women of the JSDF. They gave their lives to prevent what could have become a worse crisis for Japan.”
The older man was laughing and pointing at the television. His counterpart, the asian man, put his face in his hand.
“Higgins, that’s not funny.” The younger David Chun chided him.
“Bah, he wasn’t even alive to save anyone by that point. I dunno why we even have to cover his dead ass.” The now-older Higgins blurted out. “Fuckin’ crazy old men and their wars.”
There was silence between them as they pondered on the last word.
“We need to watch out for this guy. He’s the missing link, Higgins.” Chun pointed at the pictures on the table. “He can undermine our entire operation. We kept this as secret as we could from London and ATLAS, but he’s coming here and we don’t know what he’s bringing.”
“He’s the ‘unknown Master’ huh? Flanders and our japanese informant have told us quite a bit about him.” Higgins muttered, reading the file.
“Filipino.” He shot a glance at Manny and the other staff members. “Huh.”
“I got someone who can tail him.” Chun said. “But he needs some things in return.”
On a piece of notebook paper, written in black, were the words ‘A.K.’
“He better deliver.” Higgins answered. “We got some pretty troublesome fellas in this upcoming event.”
One year later.
In the night sky, a large cross cast an unseen shadow over the slumbering city. 3 combatants enter the battlefield.
A bus stops near a gas station, depositing a man who had naught but the clothes on his back and a suitcase in his hands.
In an opulent manor, a dark wizard broods, and a deceptive woman plots with him.
In a dark room, a young man takes rocks and breaks them for the mystic nutrients they provide.
A gunman cocks his rifle while his unseen guardian watches him from afar.
A magus sees the glint of two swords as he studies the vagaries of his family’s magical crest.
The sea roils with a surge of chaotic power and the smell of gunpowder.
Operation Horizon Breaker has begun.