After hours of trying to sleep, I finally gave up. My body was exhausted but my mind was being an ass. I couldn't shut it down.

Without making any sound, I stood up and went outside, wary of all the defensive measurements that Nigel set up. A heavy sigh escaped my lips when Naia's words crossed my mind and the chilly night wasn't helping.

Dad would meet the other tribe leaders. This kind of move would surely rattle the members of each tribe. For the last century, the four tribes lived separately, with little to no communication at all, except for the green-eyed tribes, and this upcoming war might be the turning point of our race.

Bigla ko namang naalala ang nangyari kanina. The Nox Organization and Shinigami tribe probably made contact with each other and the Shinigamis might be one of the recipients of the weapons. Thinking about them possessing a lot of weapons sent shivers down my spine. I didn't want to think about it but it seemed like the war would become a terrifying reality few days from now.

"Why are you still awake?"

Nagulat naman ako nang makita ko si Cliff sa likuran ko. I didn't even notice his movements and presence. Was I that distracted?

Umupo naman siya sa tabi ko. "But yeah, a war seems unavoidable, especially now that the tension between the Senshins and Shinigamis reached its limit," he said while playing with his starknife.

"How did you know that?"
"It's quite predictable since Shinigamis are becoming more active in the black market."
"Aren't you troubled by this? I mean, having all the Erityian tribes in one place is just . . . unnerving."

I remembered the famous story about the separation of the Erityians. The Four Founders tried to unite all the colors but they were too contrasting and each of them believed in different principles. That meeting almost ended up as a war because the Founders got on each other's nerves. To Erityians, it was known as "The First and Last Council" since the four of them never assembled in the same place or at the same time again after that incident.

And after several centuries, the current leaders of the tribes were planning to meet again in the same place and at the same time.

Cliff didn't answer. He must be thinking about the same thing.

We were silent for a few minutes and the calmness of the night made my skin tingle.  Its silence eerily reminded me of the Nox.

"What do you think about that Pitch?" biglang tanong ni Cliff at mukhang pareho kami ng iniiisip.
"For a humdrum, he's quite a sight. I didn't expect a zweite to be intimidating."
"Well there are special cases and the zweites are definitely one of them."

He's right. The Nox is one of the most elusive organizations in the world, causing wars in different countries by selling them weapons, committing crimes without any recognizable evidences and controlling the black market. It has several bases around the world but Philippines might be one of their major bases. After getting into one of their bases here, I felt like we've just seen the surface. We weren't deep enough to know more about the inner circle members—the zweites and zuersts.

Even the drittes were hard to deal with so we really might give our all against the inner circle, especially against zuersts since all of them were Erityians to begin with.

"What should we do with Naia?" biglang tanong ni Cliff kaya napatingin ako. Right. We didn't expect Naia to come here.
"We need her to stay with Nigel. I don't want to risk her in battles because of her current situation. No matter what happens, we shouldn't let her fight. I don't want to see her suffer again just like the last time," sabi ko at naalala ko na naman ang nangyari two years ago.

Nanatili kami ro'n ng ilan pang minuto at nang dinalaw na kami ng antok ay pumasok kami sa loob.


"Did you get your positions?" tanong ni Naia habang nakatingin sa projection.
"Yeah," we answered in unison.

Naia, Nigel and Cliff planned the mission and they had determined our optimal positions and movements. We were going to disguise as administrative staffs to get inside and secure the information center.

We used Cliff's car since mine was a disaster. The three of us prepared our devices, setups and weapons until we arrived near the park. He parked his car near a deserted street and shrunk it afterwards. Cliff and I marched to the city hall with our new identities while Jett stationed himself at the building between the hall and park.

"We're here," I whispered to my mini-mic to inform the Keepers.

As usual, we wore our earrings serving as listening device of the Keepers, the uppermost button of our shirt as microphone, glasses as recorder and attached to our legs were our own weapons.

"What's the situation there?" Nigel asked.
"They're still working but the tension is high. You're right. They decided to hide their governor's disappearance," sabi naman ni Nigel.

It's been a day since their governor went missing yet there were no news about it. His executive staffs must be the ones who decided what to do and I think they made the right choice, especially this time since the rumors about his plans were circulating throughout the region.

"Guy on the left is your friend. Greet him," Naia ordered and I immediately waved at him. She could access the recorder of our glasses and communicate with us via the earpiece.

We passed several people and Naia instructed us to do specific actions to certain individuals, taking into consideration the relationship between them and the people we were posing as. After some minutes, we finally got to our cubicles which were, fortunately, side by side.

'Goddamn it, this one is a nasty neat-freak,' I said and Cliff glanced at my cubicle. All of this guy's things were organized to the point that even the folders and papers were color-coordinated and aligned properly.
'You should learn from him,' he remarked.
'Heck, no. That's too much work.'

I sat down and checked the files in front of me. Cliff did the same. We surveyed and examined the papers or any notes that might be related to the governor's plan or about hiring the Nox since this section was designated for people who do letters and reports.

'Do you see anything?' Cliff asked while checking the computer in his cubicle.
'Nothing yet.'

I was looking at a pile of folder but something caught my eye. Behind the pile was a folder marked with a red-colored paper. When I opened it, I saw a letter and realized that it was separated from the file because of its peculiarity. It wasn't that noticeable but the font size and spacing were larger than the standard layout and the type of paper wasn't the same. This guy is a neat-freak and I'm sure that he was bothered by the layout of the paper, causing him to sort it out from the pile.

'Until now,' I said.

The letter was addressed to the administrative department and it was sent by the accounting office.

This is to inform you that the financial report you submitted for this quarter was not in accordance with the line item budget of the project. Please see attached with Ref# 1130040040

Thank you.

"Naia, take a picture of this," I whispered while holding the paper and after a few seconds, she got herself a copy of it.
'Well, I think I also got some information,' Cliff added and he printed something.
'What's that?' tanong ko naman.
'The city map,' he said and I looked at him with furrowed brows.
'And? How is that an information?'
'You'll see later.'

Hinayaan ko na lang muna siya at naghanap pa kami ng clues tungkol kay Hortem at sa connection niya sa Blacks, pati na rin ang mga plano niya. Makalipas ang isang oras ay wala na kaming nakitang kahit ano bukod sa notice at city map.

'Shall we go to the information office?' I asked and he nodded.
'What did you find?' tanong naman niya.

Sabay kaming tumayo at binigay ko sa kanya ang notice pero bigla naman kaming hinarang ng isang babae. Ngumiti naman siya sa amin. Shit, what was her name again?

"She's Lorna." Napatigil naman ako nang marinig ko ang boses ni Nigel sa kabilang linya? Where's Naia? "She always fishes information and likes to spread rumors so be careful."

I smiled at the girl who was standing in front of us.

"Yes?" inosente kong tanong.
"Sa'n pala kayo pupunta?" tanong niya naman.
"Oh, wait. I have a new information," Nigel suddenly said. "She has a warning from the accounting office because of a missing file. You can use that against her."

After hearing that, I let out a mischievous smile and looked at her.

"Sa accounting office," sabay pakita ni Cliff sa notice. "Sasama ka ba?"

Her expression turned into fright and that made her step back. Sinabi niyang may gagawin pa pala siya kaya iniwan niya kami at nagsimula naman ulit kaming maglakad.

'What does this notice mean?' Cliff asked.
'I still don't know. I just thought it's odd because it's different from the other files.'

He just stared at it until we reached the information office. A guy left the room and when he looked at us, that made it easier. When he turned right, I immediately posed as him.

'Wait for me here,' sabi ko kay Cliff at tuluyan na akong pumasok.


The information office was busier than the administration office and some of them were running around, carrying a lot of papers, while the remaining were typing furiously on their keyboards.

"His place is at the right wing, third seat," Nigel said.

This is why Keepers are critical in a team and in missions like this. With just a photo or information about someone, they can provide the frontliners and specialists with sufficient and valuable data which is crucial in situations like this.

Umupo ako sa sinabing pwesto ni Nigel at mukhang naka-lock ang computer niya.

"O, ang bilis mo yata," sabi ng katabi ko kaya napatingin ako sa kanya.
"Don't speak with him. You're a reserved guy who rarely talks," Nigel ordered so I just ignored him and stared at the computer.
"Yeah, right. As usual," he said and went back to his work.

After that, I surveyed the vicinity if anyone was looking and put a chip on the computer. A dialog box appeared to configure the password and I immediately typed a new one. Soon enough, I successfully logged in and searched the files.

"Hey! Hey!" biglang sigaw ng isang officer. "Someone is hacking the main computer!"
"It's true! He's accessing the encrypted folders!"
"Catch him!"

Suddenly, a chatbox appeared on my screen, and I think to all of them, too.

Hi. I'm Redhat. Nice to meet you. And no, you won't be able to catch me.

Pagkabasa ko no'n ay napangiti ako. That guy. I told him to wait for me yet he went to his laptop and hacked the system of this department. Within a minute, another box appeared on my screen.

Place the second chip and transfer its files in this box. I can't access one of the folders.

Sinunod ko naman ang sinabi niya habang naguguluhan pa ang lahat sa ginagawa niya sa system at pagkatapos no'n ay biglang may nag-pop up na image. The city map he was looking at earlier came into view and when I clicked the command, another map appeared. I stared at the superimposed map and something finally made sense. And it wasn't a laughing matter.

"Holy shit. Cliff, I'm going to send this to you."
"Okay, then get out of there."

I sent the photo to our chatbox and recovered the chips afterward. The officers were still busy trying to catch Cliff and protect the system at the same time so I easily got out of the office. I quickly walked toward the exit to discuss what we discovered. Now I know why the Blacks wanted to kill Hortem.

"I knew it," he said on the other side of the line.

That was why he sent me the map he got earlier. Hortem wasn't just planning on building his own infrastructures. It was because the park is the center of the city . . . and everything. All of the other government agencies and private institutions in the province would be within his eyes and he could observe them any time. But what he did not know was one of the Black's base would also be exposed. Several kilometers away from it, their base would be open to observation. That made them unsure of Hortem's offer but they must have realized that they could use his plans for their benefits. If they managed to acquire the building, then they could use it as their own observation tower.

"Hey, guys!" Bigla ko namang narinig si Naia pero parang may halong takot ang boses niya.
"Why? What's the pro—"
"We have no time! Go to the park, now!"
"Wait, why? What's happening, Naia?" Jett asked and I remembered that he was the nearest to the park.
"Nel, the notice you discovered was a message from Nox. It's the time and locations of the bombs!"

Nanlaki naman ang mga mata ko sa sinabi niya at nilabas ni Cliff ang notice na binigay ko sa kanya kanina.

"Shit. Now that you mentioned it," Cliff muttered while looking at the letter. "Then, Ref# 1130040040 means . . ."
"Yes. At exactly 11:30 AM, three bombs will explode. Since the park is circular, the remaining numbers are like the hands of the clock—04:00:40, the hands would be set at numbers 4, 12 and 8. Those are the locations."
"Damn it. Only forty five minutes left. I'll go ahead," Jett suggested but I suddenly heard a sharp gasp from him.
"Jett? What's wr—!"
"Nel! Get away!" Cliff yelled but before I could even ask him why, something heavy hit my head. My vision turned black but I managed to turn around and saw the figure behind me before I fell to the ground.
"I knew there would be at least one Red here," the woman said while smiling at me. "As the assigned zweite, I won't allow you to interfere. Sleep for a long time, Red," she whispered and then everything went black.