Nightmoon was bigger than Rei had expected. Although there were only small building, they were all spaced out. All of the metal buildings pulsed with whitish-yellow neon around the the tops and sides, and were designed to resemble huts. Bard let out a sigh.
"Ahh, Nightmoon Village. Rumor has it, this is the oldest settlement on the planet."
Keena spoke after. "It's just as quiet and peaceful as I remember. Only thing that's changed is the population."
Rei's transparent map closed itself. "I don't see this place anywhere on my map. And was it smaller last time you visited?"
"No. It's about the same size. Why?"
"You mentioned a change in population. If it's the same then what did you mean?"
Keena opened her mouth to say something, but swiftly closed it. "Nothing. I was thinking of somewhere else. The library is in the center, largest building here. Can't miss it. I'll find us some lodging."
Rei looked up at Bard. "She's been acting strangely ever since we decided to come here. What's up with her?"
"Childhood memories, perhaps? A town where she grew up. I wouldn't have any other clue. After all, she knew where the library was without even having to look or ask."
Rei remained expressionless. "Understandable. But what about you? How did you know about this place if it doesn't exist according to my map?"
"I'm a traveling bard. I've been to almost every corner of this planet. The best GPS you have is right in front of you." His grin widened a bit.
Rei rolled her eyes. "In any case, I'll check out the library."
"May I aid you?"
"Do what you want."
Bard followed Rei into the library. It was completely empty.
"Hmm. No librarian or director?"
Bard shrugged. "Nightmoon is a very peaceful village. There has never been any form of fighting, war, or bullying here. Everyone gets along. No one has any reason not to trust another."
Rei looked through shelf after shelf of books, data drives, and other documents. All she found on Magnum Chaos was what she already knew.
"Wait, Rei! Look at this."
Bard was on a desktop with a few files pulled up. "These wouldn't happen to be the men you saw, would they?"
Rei stared at the computer monitor. "It looks like it. The uniforms match."
"It's not giving much more information than what you've already managed to find out, but it mentions here that after being discharged, they fled south to avoid imprisonment."
"South? That's definitely a new lead. Does it say south from where?"
"South of Olympia City, where the main base is."
Rei sighed. "Well we can't just retrace our steps. The law and this Ladon guy is looking for me. We'd have to go around."
"If you think that's best. I'm just along for the ride."
"I'm not running right into them. I don't have time to deal with authorities right now."
"Sorry Rei, but it's all I could find."
"No matter. It's better than nothing."
"Time for rest then?"
"…what else can you tell me about this village?"
"What do you want to know?"
"Why is it kept secret?"
"Rumor has it that this village used to belong to another race of human like beings."
"Really? What did they look like?"
"Just like you. Not much to distinguish them from normal human beings in terms of appearances. There was some minor hostility, when humans first landed on this planet."
"Wait. Humans…aren't native to this planet?"
"No. Humans come from a distant planet in the Milky Way galaxy. It's called Erf."
"Erf? What kind of name is that?"
"That's what I think it was called anyway. Something like that."
Rei began clicking on the computer. "It's called 'Earth' you dumbass."
Bard shrugged. "I'm not a library myself."
"What did the natives call the planet? Surely it's not the gibberish we call it."
"Rock. Ball. Planet. Never really was known by a name."
"I was wondering. Because these terminals have no information on Nightmoon. And there are no books about it either."
"Nope. Never will find any."
"Then keep talking."
"Well to make a long story short, Earth people and UBW people made peace. Ever since the race of this planet has gone extinct, humans that knew about it inhabited. And to honor the natives, they kept the village secret, as they did."
"Extinct? If there was never any conflict here, then how?"
Bard's expression darkened suddenly. "There was one exception. The worst war in recorded history. Wasn't many years after 'them', the aliens, landed on the planet themselves. All over this 'mithril' substance. It just happened to carry over into this town. Aliens of all shapes and sizes razed the village. The native population was small to begin with. They weren't strong enough to repel the enemy. And they perished. Once the humans pressed them back, it was too late. The few Earth descended humans whom the knowledge of Nightmoon was passed down to, rebuilt and took up residence here. Then that knowledge was passed down to their kids, then their kids, and so on. The village has still been kept secret since."
"I see. That's quite a story. I still don't see how you keep a whole village like this a secret from the world."
"Well now tell yourself, Rei. How large are the trees that surround it?"
"So large that the foliage hangs over most of the village. Even with glowing neon, it can't be seen from the air or the sea. And you don't remember any roads cutting through the village, do you?"
"No. The last road we were on was miles back."
"Exactly. No one would ever suspect a whole village thriving here. Any who try to come through the wood usually gets lost. And there's nowhere to land an aircraft, unless you can drop it in the middle of the sea about a mile out. And speaking of landing ships at sea…"
The table began to rattle a bit. Out of the window, a large flagship could be seen in the distance. It began to lower itself, and disappeared behind the trees.
Rei looked back at Bard in alarm. "What was that? Has the village been compromised? The military wouldn't have sent a whole flagship out here just for me, would they?"
"No need for panic. They know of this place. They aren't here for trouble. It's not a military vessel."
"But it's MASSIVE!"
"Well they come by often from what I hear for Nightmoon ale. I know you probably have no knowledge when it comes to drinking…you don't drink, do you?"
"No…but if liquor tastes as bad as it smells, I'll pass."
"Stuff's got quite the kick. The crew on that ship drops by for drinks and relaxation. They're non-profit mercenaries who carry that Robin Hood mentality."
"Steal from the rich and give to the poor?"
"Not quite like that obviously, but they usually dock in places that need aid with many different things, be it reconstruction, fighting off aliens, etcetera. Pretty much sailors who are looking a reason to help people out. They're a rowdy bunch, but they're good people."
There was a scream outside. It was unusual to see Bard frown, but he did.
"Well now that there is out of the ordinary."
Rei got up swiftly. "Then let's go check it out!"
A woman was standing frightened. Keena stood in front of her with her dagger drawn. She was facing a figure in jet black armor. Blue neon radiated from several places on the armor. It brandished two Windblades, one in each hand.
"You aren't welcome here. Take your threats of violence elsewhere." Keena barked.
"Response not accepted. Where is the girl? Input response." It stuck one of its blades in the ground and held out a Wanted poster, with Rei's face enclosed within her Phoenix armor.
"You think I know your answer? This is a peaceful village. You won't find a criminal here. Leave at once."
"Invalid input. She has been tracked to this location. Every minute that passes without a revelation, an innocent will die. Input response."
"If you touch anyone, I'll take off your head."
"Invalid input. Reasoning with woman is getting nowhere. Pinpointing subject…please wait…subject found."
The armored individual pointed a blade toward Rei right as she was proceeding toward them. She was already wearing her own armor with her bow drawn.
"What the Hell are you?" She yelled.
"I am BH3294 Model G. I am under orders to bring you in."
"Orders? Who's orders? Are you with the military?"
"Military? Does not compute. The Marshal has given me the task to capture you. Surrender and come peacefully."
"Surrender? I think you and I both know that ain't happening."
"Then commence combat procedure? Input response."
Bard folded his arms. "This guy is certainly the weirdest individual I've ever met."
"Invalid input. Input response."
Rei pulled her bow back at full draw. "Get out of our way, or I'll skewer you."
"Response accepted. Commence combat procedure."
Model G slashed downward, even though at a distance. Rei wasn't expecting throw blades to fly from the sword itself. She took a direct hit, and her arrow flew off into the night sky. Keena yelled at the resident before running toward Rei.
"Go! Seek cover!"
She jumped at the attacker and hit it with a flying kick. Model G rushed Keena, but it was countered with a knife to the side. The attacker was no serious match for her reflexes. Knowing it was at a disadvantage, Model G began launching off waves of charged energy from both swords at once. Although Keena could easily dodge them, she couldn't get close enough for attack. Rei took advantage of the distraction by firing upon Model G with her bow. It wasn't long before it began firing at her as well. Even with two targets to keep at bay, Model G succeeded in keeping Keena from getting close and Rei from getting a chance at a shot all at the same time. Bard however created a problem. Model G has seen him coming and swept a wave at him. Bard thrusted his staff within the ground and pole vaulted over it, flipped in midair and brought his staff down.
"That ought to even the odds a little." He smiled.
"Cranium damage critical. Mission failure is not an option!"
Model G made a reckless dash toward Rei as she was standing up from another wind blade hit. Keena threw her knife in a desperate attempt to stop it. It lodged itself in its back, but it didn't slow the enemy down.
By the time she noticed, it was too late. Model G stabbed forward, and Rei's vision fell black…