The clear evening sky was filled with laughter of two
teenage girls. They were sitting on a blanket together, chatting away at
anything and everything that came into their minds. Anthea giggled as she took
another sip of coke, before laughing out loud at Alex’ impression of the Masked
Gentleman. The despair that was taking a hold of their beaufitul city had not
taken a hold of them yet.
“One, two, three, four, once more the drama queen enters
“ALEX STOP IT THE COKE WILL DRIP OUT OF MY NOSE IF YOU
“Oh my gosh is that possible? ANTHEA CAN YOU DO THAT?!”
“…I regret everything I’ve ever said.”
The two friends started laughing again. Anthea was laying on
her side while looking up at Alex, who was as energetic as ever. Over the past
few days the two had bonded quite well, and Alex had quickly managed to become
one of Anthea’s favorite persons in the world.
Alex looked down at the other; “Enjoying the view?”
“I am actually. You’re pretty.”
“Oh stop it, you’ll make me blush.”
“But that’s my goal!”
“Shut it you!” With that she grabbed a small piece of bread
and aimed it at Anthea’s head. Anthea managed to duck in time before throwing
it back at Alex. With another burst of laughter the two started a bread fight.
Before they knew it, they were running around on top of the hill, ducking and
jumping to dodge each other’s poorly aimed bread.
Because let’s be honest, who in the world would be able to
actually aim while laughing like it was the last thing they’d ever do.
Out of nowhere, Anthea jumped onto the other, making the two
fall onto the sand. It was surprisingly soft, making the landing much more
“Wha- Thea! What was that for?!”
“Alex if we keep this up we’ll end up dying from laughter.”
“As if we won’t anyway.”
“True. Plus, could you name a better way to choke?”
Alex chuckled and pushed the other off of her. She got up
and looked at the darkening sky above them. Anthea followed her example, and
together they sat in silence. After a while Alex broke that silence.
“Thea, can I talk to you?”
“You always can, and you know it.”
“Yes, but it’s something serious.”
That made her friend look up with worry visible in her eyes.
“Do you ever think about your biological parents?”
Anthea was silent before answering; “Yes. And honestly, most
of the time about my dad. Why?”
“Because I’ve never known mine. And I was wondering if it
was weird for me to think of people I have never even known.”
“It isn’t. I’ve known my dad until I was three years old, so
I haven’t really known him either. But we think most about people we know less
about, because we’re curious.”
“Do you have a picture of him?”
“I do. But it was years ago. I don’t think I would recognize
him if I saw him now.”
“That’s sad. Sorry for asking.”
Anthea smiled and turned to Alex. “I don’t mind talking
about it. Do you?”
Alex shook her head in return; “Not at all. I’m glad we can
“So am I.”
“Do you look like him? Your dad?”
“A bit. I have my mom’s eyes though. Why do you ask?”
Alex shrugged; “So I can imagine what it’s like to at least
know who your parents were.”
Anthea nodded. She looked back up at the sky and sighed; “I
have a feeling we’ll see them again some day. I don’t know, it’s intuition I
guess. But I just know my father, my biological one, isn’t dead. And I’ll find
him some day.”
Alex nodded and looked at her hands. “Yeah. Some day.”
“We should start with what we already know.” Alex said. She had to admit, despite knowing about how Targent used to work, it was now lead by someone else; someone she knew of, but not much about.
“Well,” Anthea said, “They seem to have particular groups, usually consisting of five to six people. They’re scouting the village for something, most likely the Azran ruins. They work at night, suggesting they have somewhere set up nearby where they hide out during the day, so we should try to find that. What do you know about Swift?”
Sycamore piped up, “He was Bronev’s right-hand man, often responsible for dispatching groups to Azran sites. He’s smart too, I discovered a few years ago that he had a degree in archaeology, so he knows what to do when he finds the ruins.”
This was the problem. Swift was most likely nearby, wanting to enter the ruins as soon as he found them. This meant the group had to act fast.
“I think I have an idea!” Anthea stated, her voice raised slightly, “We should have a few of us infiltrate their nearby base! We just need to ambush some of Targent’s men and steal the uniform!”
The group stared at Anthea, and then at each other. Murmurs rose up from everyone at that point. Alex was skeptical about Anthea’s plan.
“Anthea, as much as your plan sounds like it could work, we’re dealing with Targent. It won’t be as easy as you might think” she said. Apparently, she was the only person to think this.
“It’s worth a shot, there’s enough of us here to take one group and infiltrate. I say we do it!” Randall exclaimed, clearly excited with the plan.
Six people were chosen to infiltrate. These people were Alex, Anthea, Randall, Emmy, Marcus, and Clive. Henry, Angela, and Flora were tasked with looking out for a group of six Targent men to appear. Everyone else was sent with Eric to find any information about the possible location of the ruins.
Alex was wearing her gauntlets, preparing to create a barrier of rock once Targent appeared. She was still unsure about the plan, but since no one could think of anything else, she had no choice but to go along with it.
Eventually, a group of six Targent men appeared on the road. Alex noticed the signal given by Flora, and motioned for the ambush group to get ready. She moved her hands, her gauntlets giving off a faint glow and a rock wall rose from the ground. The men stopped in their tracks, startled by the sudden roadblock. Alex’s gauntlets emmited another glow as a medium-sized flame appeared from one palm and a small jet of water from the other. Bringin her palms together, she created a huge cloud of steam, surrounding the men. She signalled for Emmy and Randall to head in, and not five minutes later the steam was gone and the men were unconscious.
Alex removed her gauntlets and climbed up the side of the building that Henry was in. He took the gauntlets from her, allowing her to jump down to change into Targent uniform.
The men were hidden in an alley, wearing nothing but their underwear. Anthea chuckled, it was amusing to see such intimidating people in such a state.
Marcus took the role of leader, appearing to be the most intimidating as he had an eyepatch. The others were ready to get going, and they moved out to find another group to tail. They found a place where multiple groups frequently appeared, and decided to wait there until they knew that Targent were heading back to their base. It would be a few hours, so they took turns to stay on watch from an alleyway looking onto the area. Randall and Clive stayed on watch first, allowing the others to sleep for a while.
What should’ve been a devastating accident was nothing of the sort. Araceli and her friends drifted to the floor of the cave without any damage whatsoever. This was no surprise to them, as they did it frequently. A boy no older than fourteen was the last to fall, landing somewhat unsteady compared to the others.
“You alright over there?” Araceli asked. The boy nodded back, making no sound, as usual. He was mute, after all.
“Abia, you should really come with us more often, it’ll mean you get used to this!” A girl said, in a slightly mocking tone.
“Give it a rest, Iines, he’s the youngest out of all of us…” Qi said, his voice shaking slightly. Iines looked at him and sighed.
“Come on guys,” a small voice spoke, “Remember why we’re here!”
“Pallav’s right,” said Araceli, “We all wanna see what Raakel has written today!”
The group moved through the cave, admiring themselves in the pools of water on their way. They didn’t speak, but stayed in comfortable silence for the duration of their walk. After a while, Pallav spoke again.
“We’re lucky that Lleweyn created the wind control, otherwise we’d never be able to get to Raakel…”
“Well, we would. Just not the way we do now.” replied Iines, stopping to fix her dark hair.
Abia tugged on Araceli’s dress, grabbing her attention. He pointed to the wall across from them, then making a writing motion with his hands.
“Good idea! Someone go on ahead and get Raakel, Abia says we should inscribe our names on the wall here!” Araceli said, her arms moving to Abia’s shoulders. He visibly tensed up at the touch, which made Araceli quickly pull away. “Sorry,” she said, “I forgot you didn’t like that!”
No one knew why Abia didn’t like to be touched, but no one ever asked. It never came up in conversation. Araceli knew he wasn’t on good terms with his family, so she expected it to be related to that.
’Abia never seemed upset though, so surely it couldn’t be too bad, right?’ thought Araceli.
Qi came back, followed by Raakel. The group each took out a protective knife, given to them by King Flavian. One by one, they etched their names into the wall, followed by a phrase they liked.
Araceli, wanting to be more than what she was born as, wrote ‘Do more than just exist’. Iines, being well known as a beautiful woman, wrote 'Confidence breeds beauty’. Qi was the Great Artist, writing 'I was created to create’, and underneath that was Abia’s phrase, 'Most of the things you worry about never happen’. Raakel was a natural writer, so she wrote 'Writing is the painting of the voice’. Finally, Pallav was the positivity of the group, writing 'Difficult roads often lead to beautiful locations’.
The group looked at their work, and then smiled at one another. They looked forward to the day people would find this.
Alex awoke to Anthea shaking her awake. They had to move, and fast. Adjusting her uniformed cap, Alex jumped up and was ready to go. The six had found a group to tail back to Targent’s base, but they had to be as natural as possible. For some, this was fine. Emmy had been a part of Targent before, Alex had spied on them before, and Clive was fairly good at acting. Marcus was intimidating enough to fit in, however both Randall and Anthea were slightly out of place. luckily, this wasn’t the biggest problem, as both Alex and Emmy could cover for them if necessary.
They matched the pace of the group in front of them, a fast-paced walk. Within minutes of leaving the village, they arrived at a makeshift building that looked as though it extended underground. Anthea noticed a few small cabins dotted around, most likely sleeping areas or external labs. She didn’t want to know what they did if they were labs.
They got inside, preparing to investigate the building as much as possible, when they realized the mistake they had made. Looking around, the noticed the other members of Targent talking to each other about various things. The group needed to avoid conversation, as it could give away their identities.
They were doing well, up until the lift heading below ground. They entered, as did various Targent members. They remained quiet, as to appear intimidating. It would’ve worked, if one of the other people in the lift hadn’t started speaking to Randall.
“I tell ya, once we find these ruins, we’ll probably find the other thing too… What was it again?” he asked.
“Um… I-I don’t recall…” Randall replied, sweat beginning to form on his forehead. Alex was begging for the lift to hurry up, otherwise something would go horribly wrong.
“Hey… I don’t recognize you… You just get here?” The man asked, clearly getting suspicious of the group of infiltrators.
“Yes! Arrived earlier today!” Marcus said, panic obvious in his voice. By this point, Emmy, Alex, and Clive noticed the Targent members reaching for weapons. There was no easy way out of this.
Anthea was wandering throught the streets of Monte D’Or, probably her favorite place on earth. The music, the people, everything was amazing, and she couldn’t help but enjoy herself. While looking around, she spotted a girl around her age, looking kind of lost. Things like that happened quite often, but Anthea still felt bad for the other. So she decided to strike up a conversation. How bad could it be, right?
“Hiya. Are you new here?”
The girl looked up in surprise, before returning Anthea’s smile; “Yeah. Was it obvious?”
The girls chuckled before Anthea extended a hand; “I’m Anthea. What’s your name?”
They shook hands, before relaxing back into their previous position.
“Are you waiting for someone?”
“I guess? I’m sorry, I’d rather not talk about this.”
“Oh, that’s alright. Sorry.”
“Don’t worry. Do you live here?”
“Practically. My mom travels a lot, and during those times she leaves me here with a couple of her friends.”
Alex let out a soft hum; “Must be nice to be here a lot. Seems like a nice place to me.”
“Oh it is!” Anthea started grinning, the streetlights reflecting in her eyes. “The people are always nice and welcoming. That’s why I noticed you were an outsider, other people always strike up a conversation.”
“I see, that’s so cool!”
Anthea laughed softly, before looking up at the sky.
“Anthea, where’s your mother traveling to?”
“Right now? I thought it was called Hoogland, or something. It’s supposed to be pretty, but very windy. She’d bring me a souvenir.”
“She sounds like a nice mom.”
“I guess she does…” She looked at Alex; “Sorry, that wasn’t supposed to be said out loud!”
Alex made a small waving motion; “Don’t worry about it.”
The two shared some stories and laughs underneath the neon-lit sky of Monte D’Or.
After a while, Anthea asked; “You seem really nice. Would you like to stay in touch?”
Right when Alex was about to answer, her eyes focussed on something in the distance. She let out a silent “Oh” before turning to the other girl. “I’m sorry, I have to go. Maybe we’ll see each other again sometime?”
An explanation wasn’t needed. Alex showed no anger, only relief. Her father was finally back!
The crowd around the two was slowly separating into odd people dotted around the room in small groups, clearly linked in some way or another. Alex stayed close to Desmond, not wanting to lose him again, despite knowing it couldn’t happen in this situation.
Marcus was ready to begin talking about something, but seeing how everyone else was busy to catch up with one another after years of being apart, he decided it could wait until morning. Nothing major was going to happen tonight anyway, so there was nothing to lose.
Alex was focused on her father, five years was a long time, especially when you believe someone to be dead. She remembered it clearly, then shivered. She didn’t care about that now.
Desmond looked slightly different than how he was back then. His hair looked less like a loaf of bread due to the fact that it was shorter. Other than that, most thigs were the same. He had a warm smile due to seeing his close friends and family again, something he had craved for many years now. He looked over at Marcus, who nodded at him. They weren’t in a rush, the Sycamores had plenty of time to catch up with each other.
They stayed on a sofa, with Alex’s head resting in Desmond’s lap. They were at peace, talking every now and then about what they’d been up to in the years they had been apart. When they were silent, there was nothing to suggest discomfort.
“What was mum like?” Alex asked, after a rather long pause. She didn’t want to ask so soon, but she felt like it may have been the easiest way to do it.
“Lucia? Ah, well… We met when she found out that I studied the Azran; she told me that she was related to an important figure in the civilisation, the Oracle…” Desmond replied, staring off into empty space. He was wearing a bittersweet smile, yet the memory appeared to relax his heartbeat.
They continued to ask questions about various people and topics, mostly involving Clive, Layton, Alex’s other parents, and the village they were currently in. Desmond stated that he wanted to explore the ruins underneath the village, but has been unable to as of yet. Alex could tell that there was a rather important reason as to why this was, but she knew that asking would give no answers right now. She decided it could wait until morning.
Suddenly bolting upright, almost headbutting her father’s chin, Alex remembered her gauntlets.
“Stay right there!” She said, aiming the comment at anyone in the room who she thought would be interested, “I have something to show you!”
Desmond looked over at Layton and shrugged. Clive smirked, knowing what was about to happen.
Alex came back, running into the room with the excitement of a five year old with a sugar rush. She was wearing her gauntlets, which she had apparently finished. They were long enough to cover her forearm, a blue-grey colour with what looked like a thin tube connecting the palm to the very edge. The palms each had separate symbols on them; Azran symbols that translated to ‘fire’ and 'wind’.
She enthusiastically gestured for whoever wanted to watch to come outside, where she would demonstrate the function of the gauntlets. There was a small crowd, consisting of Desmond, Layton, Clive, Luke, Randall, and Eric. They were on a patio, the best place for the demonstration.
“Okay… I’ll need you all to stand back a bit…” Alex said, he face contorting with concentration, “I can’t let anyone get hurt!”
She directed her palms towards the sky, her eyes closed as if she was picturing something coming out of them. She slowly opened her eyes, and to people’s surprise they were faintly glowing with a green hue, with faint blue and gold markings appearing across her upper face.
A moment later, a noise could be heard coming from the gauntlets. Suddenly, flames were coming out of one palm and a visable spiral of wind from the other. She brought her wrists together, bringing the two elements with her. The flame, which had been impressive in itself, grew taller as it was combined with the wind, reaching higher and higher as the seconds went by.
Everyone was impressed, to say the least. Randall dubbed it as an archaeological breakthrough, as he somehow knew what it was. Aside from him and Clive, everyone else was asking how it was possible for her to do such a thing.
“I managed to find some blueprints that appeared to be written by the Azran,” Alex explained, her eyes returning to normal as she removed her gauntlets, “Once I realised that the metal used was still being found quite frequently in dig sites, I thought I’d try and make these!”
She explained that while it seemed like magic, it was actually advanced technology that could measure brainwaves and create a physical form of various elements, as long as there was a symbol for it. Alex was in her element, showing off her own work to anyone and everyone who would listen; the best part about it was that people were fascinated by it.
The commotion died down, and people began to realise that it was quite late. Every guest was back in the main room of the town hall, ready to discuss sleeping arrangements. Clark and Brenda had decided to check into a nearby hotel and were ready to head over. Flora took over that room, asking if anyone minded her having a room for herself. Nobody objected, much to her relief. Emmy was in the same room as Alex, meaning they could catch up overnight, as neither of them were particularly tired. Luke was sharing a room with Layton, much like old times. Henry now had his own room, as Clive was offered to stay with Marcus and Eric in their home. This caused Alex to raise her eyebrows in a knowing way, earning a middle finger from Clive. Randall and Angela were in the same room as before, nothing changing from the previous night. Desmond was in a hotel a few blocks away. Raymond was in the same hotel, insisting he didn’t need the luxury, only to be talked into it by both Sycamores.
Alex looked out of the bedroom window, Emmy was on the other bed, going through her notebook to summarise the events of that day. There was a peaceful silence for a while, but something was occuring outside shortly afterwards.
Uniformed men were running about, attempting to stay hidden but doing a poor job of it. Alex knew that something was very, very wrong.
wait, is it just a coincidence that two separate antagonists from your fics are named alex clayton (neverland) and alex layton (successors)? or are they based on the same person?
omfg… not even joking, I had literally 100% forgotten the name of that guy in Successors (I haven’t looked back at that fic since I posted it) so it is indeed a coincidence LMAO
The current Clayton had the name picked deliberately, but I must’ve subconsciously remembered the first name Alex from that other fic since he had a similar surname! I’m laughing at that now because I’d actually completely forgotten that other character wtf
Alex beckoned Emmy over to the window, knowing that if the uniformed men were who she thought they were, Emmy would recognize them. Either way, the two women knew that this was the reason that the locals don’t go out at night.
“The uniform is different, but… This certainly looks like Targent…” murmured Emmy. She moved her hand so that her chin was resting on it, her eyes had a glint of confusion in them, “I was sure they’d disband after Bronev’s arrest…”
“So did I, maybe someone else took over? But who?” said Alex, closing her eyes and tilting her head, a sign that she was thinking intently.
Neither of them could think of who would’ve taken over, but both of them knew that something had to be done. They stayed at the window for a few more minutes, noticing the obvious movements from Targent, but also a small figure moving around in one of the buildings opposite. The figure appeared to be female, but neither Emmy or Alex could be certain. Whoever this person was, they were urgently writing something down, stopping occasionally to observe Targent’s movements. It was obvious that they were keeping notes on Targent, so Alex made sure to find her the next day.
Somehow, the two women had managed to fall asleep, despite the events occurring outside. They knew that there would be a lot to discuss the next morning.
Alex awoke in a body that wasn’t hers. She made no sound, as she wasn’t aware that she was Alex.
“Araceli? Are you awake?” a voice called. A woman entered the bedroom, which was decorated with a calming blue colour on the walls and white furniture consisting of a wardrobe, vanity, chair, and bed. There was a silver mirror on the wall and the floor was an elaborate mosaic.
The woman wore a pale pink dress, holding another one out for Araceli. Araceli’s was a pastel lilac hue, bringing out her pale green eyes. The two stood in front of the mirror, Araceli’s ginger hair being delicately styled by the other woman.
“Aquila?” Araceli said, her voice soft and calming, “What does today bring?”
“Well, your mother and father are hosting an event for you! I believe they wish for you to find your partner to continue the bloodline!”
Araceli was less than impressed. She was seventeen, almost eighteen; she didn’t want to continue the bloodline yet. Eventually, yes, as it was only her who could, but at her current age? Why would she, when she was perfectly happy as herself with her friends to have fun with.
Nevertheless, the event was inevitable. Her parents were the rulers of the county, and therefore their word was final. Araceli finished her morning routine and made her way towards the kitchen. She preferred to make her own food, leaving the chef golems to make food for the other residents of the villa.
As she wandered the building, she was greeted with many good mornings, from people and golems alike. She disliked her life of luxury, because she knew what it was for. She was of oracle bloodline, where only females are born and only one can be born. Her mother, Queen Alastrine, embraced the luxury with open arms, marrying a noble man who soon became King Flavian. The family were loved by everyone, despite the danger of having royalty as such an important figure in the Azran civilization.
Alastrine had been having visions of the future since she was three, and she had hoped that Araceli would be the same. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. Araceli still hadn’t received any visions. She was sure that she would, but it was unheard of for an oracle to go this long without a single vision. Because of this, Araceli was just… Normal.
She left the villa and met her friends, heading down towards the coast. It was warm, yet the breeze was steady thanks to the work of the Great Mechanic, Lleweyn. The Azran were in a Golden Age, beginning with the birth of the Great Philosopher. Many Great People were born, including mechanics, generals, artists, musicians, and medics. The Golden Age had been going on for 60 years so far, and showed no signs of stopping. In fact, Araceli’s close friend, Qi, was a Great Artist.
Araceli and her friends approached the cliff looking over the bay. Closing their eyes, they ran to the edge, and jumped.
Alex awoke, bolting upright in her bed. It was daytime, probably mid-morning, and Emmy was already gone. She looked out the window to the building opposite, the pink curtains were open, and sitting by the window was a woman. Alex waved at her, grabbing the woman’s attention. She waved back, somewhat shyly, hiding her face with her free hand. Alex got the impression that she could be useful to investigating Targent.
She went downstairs to the main room of the town hall, finding most people there. She grabbed a pain au chocolat from the table near the door, and sat next to Flora. Sycamore entered the room, a mug of tea in his hands and a glazed look in his eyes. He wasn’t a morning person.
He sat next to Layton, and began discussing various details of the village that linked it to the Azran. Alex was listening in, but was more focused on what her strange dream was. Araceli wasn’t a name she’d ever heard before, she wasn’t sure it even existed in the first place. Yet the dream felt so real. She shook her head. She had realistic dreams all the time, with varying degrees of joy in them.
Marcus showed up after about five minutes and politely asked for quiet. He had someone else with him, a woman. The very same woman from across the street from Alex’s window.
“Everyone, I’d like to introduce Anthea Allen, she’s here as a student for educational science but she’s offered to help us with our… um… problem…” He said, his words trailing off into a murmur at the end.
“H-hi everyone, I’m glad to help!” Anthea said, enthusiasm filling her voice.
‘Anthea Allen?’ Alex thought. The surname sounded familiar, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. It was only when Clive mentioned it that she remembered.
“Ah, Anthea… You wouldn’t happen to be the daughter of Dimitri Allen, would you?” He said. Then it clicked, not just in Alex, but in Layton, Luke, and Flora too.
Anthea looked shocked, “You know my father?” she asked, glancing around. Clive wished he could take that back. Did he really have to admit to her that he manipulated her father to do what he did?
Luckily, Alex jumped in, “Yeah, we used to live near him, we had no idea he had a daughter!”
The group sat in various places around the room, some eating the various breakfast foods on the tables. Marcus began explaining the reason why they were all there.
“So, as you can see, there’s a lot of us here, and one thing that we have in common is a link to the Azran. This is why you’re all here. I believe that an organisation known as Targent is acting at night, attempting to find the entrance to the ruins below our village. If they come across it, the consequences may prove to be extraordinarily dangerous.” He explained.
“Do we know who took over Targent since Bronev’s arrest?” asked Alex. Clearly, knowing this could prove useful.
“No idea. We hoped that you might be able to find out.” replied Marcus.
Alex was stumped. Who could it be? Bloom was under arrest, so it couldn’t be him, so who? Tilting her head again, she went through all her memories of Targent. Nobody in particular stood out, except…
“Swift… Swift! It has to be Swift!” She exclaimed. Emmy agreed, he was the one thought to be the most competent. This knowledge meant that they could attempt to figure out the movements before they begin. The group was prepared to do everything to protect the ruins, hopefully finding them before Targent.
It was obvious who was leading. Alex stood up, turning to face the others.
Professor Layton allows one puzzle per semester to take the place of a homework assignment, quiz, or test. The final is not included, but a student may give one on the back for a tiny bit of extra credit.