thank you so much guys for sticking around until now. I've poured my heart and soul into this and I'm so glad that you all are enjoying it even now.
so I will say ahead sorry not sorry for the length of this chapter and how dialogue-heavy it is compared to the past or even the show. I wanted to keep it as one chapter because it all connects and it wouldn't seem right to split it.
To make up for it, the next chapter should have a lot action as we are reaching the ending of the story soon! Hope you guys stick around more and enjoy.
Layla and Luna sat in separate rooms, Layla looking confused while Luna was calm. However, both didn't seem too bothered by the fact they were in interrogation rooms and in different locations. Ace and Tech stood in front of the one-side windows observing them. "Zadavia had called me before I noticed that you guys were fighting bad guys. She gave me some useful information that both confused me and made everything connect more," Tech said as he handed Ace a holographic tablet with notes on what Zadavia told him as well as what he noticed in his own research.
Ace skimmed through it and took note of what he wrote. "I got some information from an outside source too that can help us," Ace said. He took out his phone and transferred the files his ex-boss gave him into the tablet to look at it later.
Tech raised a brow at this, though he didn't push it, knowing his leader was already tense. "So, who should we talk to first? Luna looks like she won't give in easily."
"You're right about that. Our encounter with the enemy made her true colors start to appear. Both of them. You should have seen how they were fighting. They knew too well which ones to let loose on and destroy and who was human." Ace shook his and skimmed a bit through the new files. "During training, they made it seem like they didn't know what they were doing. Out in a real battle, they fought like professionals. And not just any fighter." Ace turned to Tech. "They looked like killers."
Tech took a deep breath as it settled in. "I didn't get a chance to tell Zadavia what I found about the footage, but I'm hoping I'm not wrong, and we don't have killers and thieves as teammates."
Ace nodded before the sounds of arguing started getting closer to the door, Lexi and Rev appearing. Lexi looked furious, her eyes glowing while Rev was worried and trying to calm her down. She went up to Ace and punched his arm hard, making Ace flinch.
"I can't believe you two!" She glared between Tech and Ace while pointing her hand towards the girls in the rooms. "You guys were just pretending to be nice to them while they try to adjust to everything! Not only that, but you guys are accusing them of stuff that isn't true! Sure, they look alike. But that doesn't mean that they are some kind of criminals that are hiding stuff from us!" Tech winced a little at her words, knowing she was right.
"Lexi, calm down. It's not like that. There just happens to be hard evidence against them, and we want to clear it up with them. We want them to tell us the full truth. Nothing else, promise."
Lexi was still flaring in anger as she continued to glare at Ace, who hadn't said anything yet. Ace looked back at her, face blank of emotion while in thought. "Well? You haven't said anything yet, Ace. Tech, I'll believe since he never lied to us before. You've been doing stuff behind our backs, I know it. Don't tell me I don't know what I'm talking about. I noticed how you look at them like they're actually villains. The way you and Tech have been up late at night when everyone else is asleep, and you two talk about stuff you don't want the rest of us to know. Ace, we're a team! That means you can't keep things from us and suspect others of something that they haven't done."
His face softened a bit as he let her vent out what she had bottled inside. He let out a slow sigh before placing a hand on her shoulder gently.
Lexi pulled her shoulder away, stepping back as her anger turned to frustration while on the verge of crying.
Ace pulled his hand back and gave another sigh, his body relaxed and no longer looking as frightening and angry as he did before. "I'm sorry, Lex. I just found it odd when I first met them that we ended up with more questions than answers when we tried to find out about them. And while patrolling, it looked like the goils knew who they fighting against and weren't fighting like heroes themselves. I…I know it sounds like I'm prejudicing them, but I just want to help them too if the problem we thought dey were in before is actually a lot worse. We'll set them free afterward. I mean it."
Lexi stared into Ace's eyes, trying to tell if he was telling the truth, pleading that he was right. After a few seconds of silence, she calmed down, though the sadness in her eyes didn't leave. "Fine. But I'll be watching to see what you guys are doing."
Ace smiled softly. "Thank you."
Lexi looked away from him and looked at the girls.
"You're on thin ice, Ace."
Ace nodded as he turned to the girls in their rooms. On quick observation, Layla looked like she was just waiting patiently and playing with her hair lightly while waiting. Luna, however, was staring back at them, as if she could see where they all were. "We'll start with Layla. I think she'll be easier to talk to than Luna."
Tech nodded and headed over to Layla's interrogation room.
Layla sat in her room, having looked around. She started to play with the ends of her hair while pouting, making herself look confused and angry about being accused. 'Well, now they know a lot more than we hoped they would,' she thought.
'It can't be helped. We knew they were going to investigate us once we joined them,' a voice whispered in her brain.
'You'll be able to hear what they say through me. Should I let them in on smaller secrets before they find out about the heavier stuff? I'm sure they'll be questioning me first. I come off as less hardheaded than you.'
'If you think that'll help go ahead. I'll make sure to keep you from letting out too much. We still have to protect her. Besides, it seems that we're not the only ones with secrets. Based on what the guy said before, Ace could be one of us.'
'That's what I thought too. I think he might actually be the same guy as the one we met all those years ago, though we both doubted it at first. They both have the same name and voice. Not to mention his attitude as well. If he's connected with him, well…this'll be even more interesting.'
'They're on the move. Be sure to put on a good show.'
'I always do. You know that I could have been an actress if I wanted to.'
'Whatever,' sarcasm rolled off from that one word. The door opened, and Tech walked in with a digital pad in hand.
Layla looked up and put her hands down on her lap, looking up with worry and confusion as she laid her eyes on him. "Tech, what's going on? Did I do something bad? I swear I was helping fight against the bad guys, and they looked funky when I was close up and didn't feel like actual people too."
Tech remained silent as he sat down across from her but still giving space for the team to see her for any clues she might give away. "Don't worry about that. We know you meant well."
Layla let out a relieved sigh and leaned back in her seat. "Okay. Then why am I here? Is this supposed to be kind of like a post-battle report?"
"Not exactly. However, I'll say this bluntly. We searched in your background and were left with many questions."
"What? That's it? I mean, it should be pretty simple. I worked at that cafe for almost a year now, live in a small apartment, and I have no family left. I thought about going to college, but it was costly, so I just graduated high school, and that's it."
"Yes, but that's just it. It's basic information. It's almost too basic and bland. You graduated with a high GPA and could have gotten scholarships to help you keep going, but you decided against it. You work a job where you would be barely acknowledged by people and don't have connections with your co-workers. We talked with your boss and asked them about you, and they said you were a great people-person and they offered you a promotion to manager because of your skills, but you refused. Not only that, but that you always call in sick once a month and take three days." Tech looked at her earnestly. "Doesn't all this sound a little wrong to you?"
"Um…that you looked into my background to make sure that I'm telling the truth? Everyone gets sick, and I feel like my co-workers are more qualified than me for that position in the job. It sounds more like you're suspicious of me for no reason."
"If your sick days happen to be exactly a month apart and happen to fall on the days of a robbery that happened not long ago and others made by the same person."
Layla looked at tech in shock, eyes bulging and mouth open. "…hold on… Are you accusing me of possibly being a robber? Because that's what it sounds like to me."
'Layla, are you serious?'
'Shut up,' Layla cut off the little voice.
"I'm not fully accusing you. It just happens to be a little too perfect," Tech said, trying to be calm.
"It's just a coincidence. I didn't do it. I really was at home sick. You can even ask my neighbors."
Tech sighed as he pulled up the image of their mystery thief alongside the picture of Layla beside it. "So, you're telling me that my computer was wrong when I ran the numbers and found a 92% match between you and this person?" Tech shifted the tablet so that Layla could see what he was talking about.
Layla looked at it carefully and shook her head. "That's bull. I didn't do it. There's no way that's me. First of all, that person has cat ears and a tail. I do not. Second, my eyes don't glow. Third, that person in that picture you're using as a reference is not me."
"Then who might it be? It's hard to come across a doppelganger as it is, and this picture was taken a couple of years ago. You also come off as someone who would hide their social status. For all we know, you could be rich and actually have incredible control over your powers. After all, it was hard to track you down after the meteor hit. Someone doesn't just disappear off our grid like that."
Layla looked between the pictures and Tech. "This is nuts. I can't be related to this person. There's no way I robbed the museum, and I can't be that person in the picture. I would never go to a charity gala dressed like that." She crossed her arms and sat back with a pout on her face.
Tech raised a brow and put down the tablet. "Who said this was from a charity gala?"
'This was what you decided to slip up in?' The little voice asked.
'It's better than looking stupid and faking the robbery,' Layla replied, freezing up at what Tech mentioned. "You…you didn't? I'm pretty sure you did." Layla put her arms down slowly.
"Never mentioned it. This was actually someone zoomed in from the background. You never would have guessed where the location was from that." Tech crossed his arms as he kept his eyes on her. "Who's the one being suspicious now?"
Layla looked around nervously, playing with her hair again.
"Layla, just tell us the truth. We really want you to be part of our team, but you can't until we can fully trust you." Tech spoke to her softly, his eyes almost pleading her to be truthful. Layla closed her eyes and looked down in silence, confirming what she was being accused of.
Tech sighed and took down the pictures from his tablet. "Why did you do it? There was no reason for you to risk jail time for something you wouldn't be able to use or sell." He leaned against the table with his hands resting on top, fingers interlaced.
Layla remained silent and guilt-ridden in her seat, holding herself together. Time seemed to stretch as Tech waited for her to respond before he gave a sigh, getting up from his chair.
Tech stopped midway and looked at her. He sat back down and waited for her to finish.
"I… I did do it," Layla confessed, not moving from her position.
"Why did you do it?" Tech sat at the edge of his seat in anticipation for the truth.
"You wouldn't understand, I…" Layla shook her head and looked down.
"Did someone force you to do it?"
"No, no one told me to…I did it on my own."
"Can you please tell me why you decided to steal jewelry and items that are valued millions and could keep you in prison for your entire life?" Tech tilted his head down to try to see Layla's face from below.
"It was…it was for the adrenaline." Layla's voice was firm and steady, no longer sounding hesitant or guilty.
Tech blinked a couple of times and leaned an inch. "Pardon?"
Layla turned to him with a smile, unlike the kind she had before. She looked defiant, her eyes opening to reveal them glowing a golden hue as the one the thief had.
"I did it for the adrenaline." She leaned comfortably inner seat, an arm draping on the back while her legs crossed underneath the table. Her free hand went up and took off her beanie to reveal cat ears, a tail uncoiling behind her.
Tech stared at her in awe and shock at how easily she revealed what was hard to hide. 'The others must be in shock too. It's almost like she flipped a switch,' he thought to himself.
Layla looked relaxed in her seat with a smug look and eyes that sought trouble, their glow diminishing. "Hard to believe what you see? This must be quite the trip right now. It was so fun keeping you guys from finding out the truth, though I felt bad at the same time. Must have had quite the number of sleepless nights in trying to solve the puzzle."
Tech leaned back in his seat as he tried processing it all.
"By the way, I'm pretty sure we met many years ago. Right before the meteor hit. It was only for a moment, but I'm sure sparks flew." Layla smiled, but onto longer had as much innocence as it did before.
"You're telling me that you committed the robbery at several museums, just for the fun of it?!"
"It was better than looking for life and death situations. I already had enough of those, and let me tell you, this is nothing compared to what I did before. I prefer being a thief than what I was forced to be."
Tech processed it and took apart what she said. "What were you forced to do before that you're so ashamed of?"
Layla shrugged and placed her lazy hand on her arm. "That I won't tell you. I wouldn't be a good actress or storyteller if I gave you all the clues."
Tech shook his head, leaning forward. "Then what about the footage? How were you able to make it so that we couldn't even decipher your gender? You used fake footage, didn't you? I was able to find that in the system."
"That was easy. I used a device to hack in and bring down part of the security system. The fun part is leaving the cops like chickens with their head chopped off when I tease the cameras. For that, I used my powers." Layla shifted in her seat as she spoke, so her hands were on the table and sat perfectly normal.
"And what powers would that be? We weren't able to find it in your DNA when we got it."
"That's because when the meteor hit, my powers evolved. I can make illusions seem real to as many people as I want. I can make it seem like we're actually at the beach or bugs crawling out of your skin. I can affect the five senses to make you look crazy in front of others. However, before I couldn't use it against technology. But after the strike, it changed so that I could. Crazy how it works, huh?"
Tech took note of what she said in mind and stood up. "Then I guess that explains why we couldn't find you before. You knew how to hide your powers from the beginning. How does this explain about what the leader of the attack said earlier? How are you connected?"
"For that, you'll have to talk to someone else. I have to get my fun somehow after so many things have numbed me of joy." Layla leaned back once more, placing a hand against her cheek while her other was used to prop up her elbow. She continued to look at Tech with mischief and a sassy smile. "I'm just one small piece to the puzzle. There are others in this building that will make all the answers easier to understand. Watching you guys run around in confusion is fun."
He stared at her, her comprehension dawning as picked up his tablet and walked to the door.
"Oh, and Tech?"
Tech turned back while standing at the door.
"I really enjoy being here. Don't let my words and attitude make you think I'm a supervillain. I like spending time with you guys and shopping with Lexi."
Tech examined her, taking note that her features softened as did her tone, giving sincerity to her statement. He gave her a silent nod before leaving the room to meet with the team.
Ace, Lexi, and Rev watched the whole interrogation, too shocked to even react. It had been so easy to crack her, and yet, there was another layer to the mystery and lies. The one who seemed more trustworthy turned out to be an adrenaline junkie and a con.
"I…I can't believe she would say that…I can't believe she's actually," Lexi trailed off, unsure of how to finish it.
"A-liar-a-con-artist-a-criminal-the-list-can-go-on-right-now-who-knew-we-had-the-thief-in-the-tower-this-whole-time-and-we-didn't-even-realize-it-isn't-that-insane? It-means-she's-really-good-at-her-job-or-she-really-wanted-us-not-to-figure-out-it-was-her-either-way-she-made-sure-that-we-didn't-suspect-her-in-the-first-place," Rev explained.
Duck and Slam walked into the room as the other three talked.
"Well, I wasn't surprised they ended up in those cells. I always knew something was off about them," Duck commented as he walked over to the group.
"Abed geba doda twins?" Slam asked, looking between the two rooms.
"No, Slam. It's not because they're twins, though that's a possible truth. But it's not why they're in there," Ace explained.
"It's because they didn't respect me, and they are spies from the enemy," Duck suggested confidently.
"That's what we're trying to figure out."
Duck's eyes widened in surprise and turned to Ace. "Wait, are you serious? I was right again? Ha!" He puffed out his chest and pounded it lightly with a fist. "I'm getting better at this."
"So far, Layla confessed to being the thief from the museum. We just have to figure out what her connection is with Luna and the ones who attacked Ace and Rev earlier," Lexi added. "l really hoped they weren't part of any crime. I really like them. They didn't pretend when we spend girl time together."
"Don't trust women. That's what I believe. They are just full of lies," Duck added. He looked back at the cells and stepped back a little. "Is it just me, or does it look like Luna can see us through the glass? It's really creepy."
The others turned to see what Duck was talking about and immediately noticed that he wasn't lying. Luna was looking directly at them, sitting calmly in her seat with her hands on the table. Ace moved closer to the glass to see for sure if she could, her eyes following him closely. He stood across from her on his side of the glass, crossing his arms and watched her close. Luna did the same and leaned back in her chair, raising a brow in challenge. Ace mimicked her and continued to stare back, both being perfectly still for what felt like forever before Luna closed her eyes. The edge of her lips twitched, repressing a smile behind her peaceful look.
"Jaofbjeba creepy," Slam commented.
"It-really-is-kind-of-creepy-how-she-was-able-to-do-that-do-you-think-she-was-trying-to mess-with-us?" Rev added.
"I think she's trying to scare us so we can just let her go. Well, that ain't happening on my watch!" Duck announced, waving a hand in the air.
"Sure, Duck. Let's go with that," Lexi brushed him off. She turned to Ace, seeing he was still severe. "What are you thinking, Ace?"
"I think she knows more than they're letting on," he responded. "I'm going to brush through what I'm going to ask her before I go in. Tech's almost done with Layla." Ace started to walk away and flip through the file that his ex-boss gave him.
Lexi watched him leave and sighed softly. 'Hope nothing bad happens through all this,' she thought.
Ace stood before the door that led to Luna's interrogation room, hesitating as he held open the file. "Most of it is blacked out, but I can imagine what it all says," he mumbled to himself. He took a deep breath before opening the door and stepping inside, walking straight to the chair across from her. Luna kept her eyes closed as he sat down, remaining in her calm and relaxed pose. Ace ignored her posture and went down to business.
"Luna. We need to talk," he started off.
"I thought that's what we were going to do when you asked Tech to set up the rooms," Luna intervened, opening her eyes sluggishly.
"Yes, but I mean it seriously. I need you to tell me the whole truth. Who were those guys, and why were they after you and Layla."
Luna looked at Ace and tilted her head to the other side slowly. "…I thought you would have had an idea by now. You and Tech were doing your best to figure us out, right? To the point where you even took my sword to find out more about it."
Ace blinked a couple of times, trying to find out how it was she knew. "I did no such thing. I would never invade a goil's room for that," Ace lied.
"Yet I could still tell you did it. I could tell it was moved from its hiding spot and that someone had been in my room. I doubt Tech would do such a thing based on how innocent he is, but you are another story."
Luna sat up straight and gave her full attention to him. "You must have already searched up our background and found something funny about it, that it all didn't add up. When you continued to snoop around, things started to become more complicated and confusing. You decided to try a different curve and got my sword to see how it could connect with my background after many failed attempts, and found that it necessarily didn't. After a while, you and Tech stepped back a little to make Layla and I lower our guard, which also seemed to have worked for our surprise villain so that we would end up here. Have I gotten it right so far, chief?"
Ace kept his composure as he realized that Luna knew exactly what they had been doing behind everyone's back. He took a deep breath and thought of his next move. "If you know all this, then why not explain what went on earlier instead of making us go around in circles. It'll make everything much easier."
"That's because there's one piece of the puzzle that needs to be solved."
"Oh yeah? And what would that piece be?" Ace leaned a little forward with his hands clasped together on the table.
"I can tell you, but I need you to answer me one question."
"Now isn't the time for games like that, Luna. You need to be fully honest with me."
Luna looked into his eyes before slowly uncrossing her arms. "Was your name always 'Ace Bunny?'"
Ace was taken back by her question, especially since it was so personal. "It has. I return the question. Has your name always been 'Luna Kane?'"
Luna looked over him slowly, thinking of her answer carefully. "Yes...and no."
"Enough with the riddles, Luna. This is getting us nowhere." Frustration started to seep into Ace's voice, Luna leaning forward slightly.
"If you want the truth, then you have to be honest too, Ace. Weren't you told to not keep secrets from your team? I ask you again. Is your name 'Ace Bunny?'"
"And I'm being honest. It's really my name." He rubbed the back of his head in irritation. 'This is going nowhere.' He pulled up an image of her sword and put it in front of her. "Tell me about the sword. You told us it was a family heirloom. We found you were half right about that."
Luna looked down at the tablet and relaxed with a slight smile on her lips. "I was right. You did look through my stuff."
Ace didn't smile, crossing his arms across his chest.
"You're right about it. It is a family heirloom, and I'm sure you looked into it and found it really is AN heirloom, but not sure if it's really MY heirloom. To answer that, it is. Not specifically to my family, but I'm the only one who can properly use it. Think of it as your own sword. It looks like any other sword, but it has potent properties to it that enemies would want. Mine just happens to be more…demonic. And responds only to me."
"Are you admitting that you are not normal like us? Or even human?" Ace smiled slightly, finally getting somewhere.
Luna lazily put her hands up in surrender. "You got me there, chief. I am human, but not completely."
"Then, let's get over this charade and show us who you really are."
Luna shrugged her shoulders and reached a hand up to her hair. He was sure she was just going to brush aside hair to reveal ears like Layla. What he didn't expect was that she would pull her hair to show she had been wearing a wig the entire time. Her hair was longer now, just below the shoulder, and dark brown color like Layla's. Exact cat-ears appeared along with the tiger-striped tail from behind. Luna tossed the wig onto the table and ruffled her hair to make it wavy and more voluminous. When she was done, she turned her attention back to Ace.
"Satisfied?" she asked.
Ace composed himself when he saw her natural transformation. 'These two really are trouble,' he thought. He turned back to his tablet and looked through it until he pulled up a file with crescent moons back-to-back with an arrow throw the middle horizontally, turning it so that the tablet faced her. "I need you to tell me about this symbol. We already got a confession out of Layla. You need to fess up too on your side," he ordered calmly.
Luna looked down at the tablet, taking a deep, slow breath. "What is it?" she asked curiously.
"You know damn well. Layla used it in her calling card."
"Oh, that one. Still don't know what it is. Mind explaining what it looks like?"
"The picture is right here on the screen and bigger. How can you not see it?"
Luna stared at Ace, her face devoid of emotion. "I. Can't. See it."
Ace looked at her carefully, looking for any details that she was lying. Her face didn't give away much. Her eyes, however, had a glassy, distant look to them. She was looking at him, but not focused on him at the same time. He searched her over and realized something. "What was Lexi wearing when you found Layla?"
"…A green t-shirt with jeans."
Ace turned to the single window, not able to see his team on the other side, but make sure to look at them before turning back. "That's incorrect. That's what you were wearing. She was wearing a pink tank top with leggings and a sweater at the waist."
"Skirt was going to be my next guess." Luna shrugged her shoulders nonchalantly. "If you always have been Ace, then you must know who I am and what's going on. This isn't our first one-on-one talk, and us meeting each other here isn't the first time. Better rack your brain to remember the answers to this confusing riddle. That is if you're still the 'Ace' I remember."
Ace pondered for a moment, thinking back to when they could have met and why she was so familiar. Luna stretched her arms a bit before letting her arms fall with one outstretched hand to shake. He looked at her in confusion and looked at her carefully.
"Luna Story. Though, you must have known my name if you were able to find my room," she spoke softly. It finally clicked in his mind, his eyes widening.
"You're…you're that 'Luna'?" he asked in disbelief. Luna pulled her hand back and smiled slightly.
"You finally remember. Guess you haven't forgotten about me at all. Though, it really is quite the small world after all."
"Ace, what do you mean she's 'that Luna?'" Tech's voice echoed through the intercom. Ace rubbed his eyes and turned slightly to face the window.
"We've met before. Luna's blind." Ace stood up and stared at her. "What happened to you? I wasn't sure if you were going to continue working on the cruise or not considering the accident."
"Well, I did try to play it off like there still wasn't anything wrong with me, but I couldn't pretend for much longer, and I was let go. After that, I continued working odd jobs and got used to my new sight before I decided to pretend to be a college student. Good to always refresh on what they teach nowadays." Luna sounded so calm about it, it was hard to realize that she wasn't affected at all by her predicament. "I can still function. And as you saw earlier, still able to fight."
"Then does that mean Layla is," Ace cut himself off.
"Yup. The same one in the other room. Again, such a small world we live in."
"Why were you two acting like you didn't know each other at all? Who's after you guys? You guys must have an idea who it could be," he asked gently, his tone and attitude now of concern and confusion for her. Luna pointed toward the tablet.
"Who gave you that file? I can't see, but I know what you were talking about."
He picked up the tablet and closed the file, shaking his head a bit. "No one you need concern yourself with. The majority of it is blacked out anyways. And mostly, it has the names of the moon phases, so I doubt it has much importance."
"How do you know that? Didn't the person who gave it to you tell you to confront us about it, 'Agent Bunny?' Why else would you have believed them and looked through it." He turned back to her and eyes her slowly.
"It's not your concern. Forget about calling me 'agent' like that guy did back there."
"Why? What is there to hide if you worked for the government. It just shows you were more than capable of being the leader. Or is it...that the rest of the team didn't know of this."
Ace froze for a second, silence speaking for him as he headed to the door. "Oh, and Ace? Tell the one who gave you the files to give you the uncensored version. It's time to end his bull." Ace nodded slightly before leaving the room altogether.
Lexi was the first to stand in front of Ace with her arms crossed when he reached the other side, looking calm yet with anger exuding out of her. "I thought no more secrets, Ace," she said.
"How did you realize Luna was blind?" Tech intervened.
"We had met before the meteor hit. She got involved in an accident that made her partially blind," Ace explained to both, stepping around them. "Her eyes look distant and unfocused when looking at you. Why I didn't recognize her at first, I have no idea. I probably thought I would never have seen her again. Even if it was my fault, she ended up like that."
"It's-crazy-how-we-didn't-realize-she-was-blind-before-I-do-remember-her-bumping-into-a-lot-of-things-that-others-would-have-gone-around-or-small-things-you-can-walk-over-but-she-would-trip-on-that-stuff-and-sometimes-look-distant-but-she-would-say-she-was-a-klutz-is-all-maybe-she-was-hiding-her-blindness-by-saying-she-was-a-klutz-but-then-how-would-that-explain-how-she-would-get-around-new-places-without-having-a-problem," Rev thought aloud.
"She can 'see' even when blindfolded. She can see the auras of objects and people. On record, she only had that power. My guess is that the other ones appeared the same way ours did."
"What about Layla being the same one as before? You also met her in the past?" Lexi asked.
"These two are sisters. Twins to be exact," Ace responded.
"I knew it! It was too much of a coincidence for them to look alike," Duck declared. "More importantly, what did Luna mean when she kept calling you 'agent' and that you worked for the government? Zadavia never mentioned that."
The team turned to Ace with some suspicion. "He's got a point there, chief. I may have stepped out of line, but...while you were interrogating Luna and she mentioned that little tidbit, I looked into your background and never found anything about you being an agent or working for the government. What were two talking about that led to this? How is it also connected to the fight earlier? Everything has become more confusing once we started getting answers," Tech analyzed.
Ace looked at each one of his teammates, some giving him confusion while Duck and Lexi were looking at him suspiciously. "I'll explain everything later. I need to make a call to get this straightened out," he responded in defeat.
"That's it? No explanation? Well, I guess that means you're just as guilty of dirty secrets as those cats we have caged up," Duck accused as he crossed his arms across his chest. Ace glared daggers at Duck.
"That's not it. My connection said that these two were connected to this file, but it makes no sense since I've met these girls before, and the only crime we can get them for is robbery and keeping their identities a secret for their own safety. I can only guess what happened after the accident, but everything else doesn't connect. I'm only going to confront them and get the truth out of them," he explained as calmly as he could.
"And who, exactly, is this connection you are talking about that we never knew of before?" Lexi asked.
Ace turned and started to leave them. "Someone I hope you guys never meet," he murmured, Lexi hearing him. She was left confused and scoffed.
"He makes no absolute sense. How are we supposed to clear up all this drama if he just feeds more fuel to the fire?"
"It's probably something he doesn't like talking about. If he was part of the government before, he probably wants to make sure they never interfere with us. Sure, we technically work for them in the form of how we're allowed to do our job, but maybe he's not proud of his past job before he ended up as a stunt double. That will be quite the humiliation if you think about it. Kind of like how Duck was a pool-boy before becoming a hero," Tech countered. "What you were saying was a low blow, Duck. Just because we don't know everything about him doesn't give us the right to be accusatory like that."
"I-think-we-all-need-to-calm-down-and-not-start-pointing-fingers-at-each-ther-okay-maybe-that-could-be-what-whoever-the-mastermind-of-all-this-is-hoping-for," Rev interrupted.
"Uh-huh uh-huh," Slam agreed.
Duck and Tech stared at each other before Duck turned away. "Whatever. You're all despicable."
Tech rolled his eyes and turned to Lexi, placing a hand on her shoulder gently. "Have a bit of faith in Ace. He's been our trusted leader and friend for years now. If he's keeping this a secret, he must have a good reason for it. You know that better than anyone."
Lexi nodded pensively, giving a weak smile in return. "Right…hopefully, he does explain everything to us. I don't want us to be left in the dark is all."
In an empty room not far from the team, Ace pulled out his phone and punched in the same number as before with the same code. He didn't care if he could possibly be overheard or the fact that he was doing this in the tower. He had enough playing these confusing mind games he was forced to play. After the third ring, there was a click from the other side.
"Quite rash to call from your own phone, don't you think? Your team will be able to find out about you more," A familiar deep voice boomed.
"Cut the bull, boss. What's really going on. You said you would help figure out how the goils are connected to the organization after them and the files you sent are mostly blacked out. You're doing this on purpose, and based on how Luna was acting, there's more to the story that you aren't telling me," Ace shot. "And let's not forget to mention that these two were also connected to my last mission with you and that Luna is blind so what would be the purpose of 'showing her that symbol.'"
Silence rang loudly from the other end before there was a sigh from the other side. "It was so much easier when you were more obedient. Giving you your freedom was a bad decision in the first place, though I felt pity for you."
"Answer me, boss. What's your real connection to them. Are you the one who's actually after them?"
"How is your team? Are they still trusting you even though you have lied about your life to them?" The boss fired back.
Ace took a beat longer to answer. "My team still trusts me very much. And I won't let you destroy my team because of your meddling."
"Ah, you took longer to answer. Ace, is your team starting to doubt you? You wouldn't really want to lose them since they are more than just a 'team' to you, am I right? Think carefully about what you're doing before I make it all crumble. I warned you before. You may have left, but we're always watching. We are where you least expect us to be. If you go against us, we'll make sure you lose everything, come back to us on your knees, and receive punishment," he threatened.
"Try me. I'm getting to the bottom of this without your help or interference. I'll make sure you're the one regretting contacting me again." Ace hung up the phone and exasperated. "This is all spiraling out of control. Can't believe this stuff is coming back to haunt me." He lifted up the tablet once more and started to go through all the files he had as he sat. Focusing his all into figuring out the pieces of information he could gather, he didn't realize he had company in the room.
Lexi quietly walked over to Ace, trying not to spook him as she had also calmed down from her earlier fury. She sat next to him and looked over what he was doing. "…what was that all about?"
"What do you mean?" he asked, unbothered that she was looking at his work or that she had been quiet the whole time.
"That phone call just now…I've never heard you so angry before." He turned to her in surprise.
"Um…did you hear what the conversation was? I thought you had stayed with the others."
"I was, but I came to check on you, and I heard the last parts. Not a lot." Lexi shrugged nonchalantly as she looked up at him. "So. What was that all about? Sounded like you two were threatening each other."
Ace blinked a couple times before shaking his head a little. "Well, we kind of were. I'll explain about him to all of you soon. I just wanted to properly cut ties that would throw off everything we're getting out of the goils and what we have. He's acting like he's innocent and generous, but I know better. He's the kind of guy who expects something in return. Basically, he'll want a favor from me. But with everything we have, it all doesn't add up. What he says is one thing, the documents seem to say the opposite, and everything we learned on our own is also completely different. It's like they're all just throwing us in loops to make sure we never find out the truth." He unconsciously leaned his head against hers gently while closing his eyes, defeat all over his face.
Lexi blushed under her fur, surprised by the vulnerability Ace was showing her. 'He must be drained if he's showing this side of himself. He never shows his vulnerable side to anyone,' Lexi thought. She leaned her own head against his softly and patted his head gently. "We're here to help you, Ace. We're a team. You shouldn't carry everything on your shoulders just because you're our leader. We care and worry about you."
"Even Duck?" Ace teased, opening an eye and looking up at her. Lexi giggled and straightened up her head.
"He usually cares for himself, but I'm sure a tiny part of him actually cares for you. Why else do you think he comes to you when he's in trouble and wants to use you as a scapegoat?"
Both laughed at their jokes, lightening up the mood until Ace was able to relax.
"Thanks, Lex. What would I do without you around." Ace straightened up and smiled at her appreciatively.
Lexi smiled back. "You'd probably be moping around and driving yourself mad." She gestured the tablet and retook a peak. "Think some fresh eyes might help with your mess?"
"If you put it that way, I think it might help. We did agree to no more secrets between us." Ace handed her the tablet, watching as she started to bring everything up holographically to look through it quickly. Calming silence fell over them as both looked for any information that could make it easy to understand the web of deception and lies entangled with the truth. Minutes passed, and before they knew it, almost an hour had passed as they discussed details they found.
"I think it's weird how in the files, it says that these moon phases 'died' instead of 'passed' like regular researchers would say," Lexi pointed out.
"Not just that. I noticed before how it keeps saying there were 'successes and failures in different areas," Ace added. "I don't know about you, but this is definitely not talking about actual moon phases. Sounds more like code words." Ace pondered as he looked over it before something popped out to him. "Look at this." He pointed to a small part of one of the pages. "Says here 'Waxing Crescent confirmed to using lightning.' 'First Quarter confirmed to using fire.' 'Waxing Crescent confirmed to ice.'"
"Sounds more like they're either talking about machines than the actual moon."
"Right. If we keep going further, it keeps saying stuff similar to that. But here's the kicker. If we go to the last pages, it says 'Third Quarter and Waning Crescent remain.' Afterward, it seems to indicate they no longer have these two, and the program was shut down."
Lexi thought about his words before turning to him quickly, something clicking on her mind. "Ace. What if they weren't talking about moon phases or machines. What if…"
Catching onto her hint, he stood up quickly and rushed over to the interrogating cells. Tech and Rev were still there watching over the girls as Ace went to Luna's cell, the closest one.
"Ace, what's going-"
"There were more of you, weren't there," he cut Tech off, entering the cell.
Luna looked up at him, examining him closely before a hint of a sad smile appeared. "Yes. There were."
Ace walked over as he continued to speak. "Those files. It's not completely uncensored, but we were able to get a small idea of what it's about. The backstory you told me all those years ago was a cover story, right? Just to hide your true identity?" He leaned against the table, looking directly at her with resolve.
"Yes. Sappy one, but rehearsed in case of an emergency like then."
"Since the paperwork doesn't tell us everything, what's your connection to Hana Shimura?"
Her smile faltered as she turned away and looked ahead at the glass. "Our mother. She was the one who was used to create us."
Ace lifted a brow. "'Used to create you?' That's insinuated you aren't 'half-demon.'"
"Tech must have done a lot of research. If not him, I'm guessing Zadavia since she has more connections. But yes. Not entirely 'half-demon.' My great grandfather sent her to the facility to be used as a guinea pig since he was racist or 'species-ist' if you will. In the facility, they didn't treat her too bad since she was still a noble, but they used her blood, her DNA, to make us."
"You see," Layla appeared in Luna's cell, leaning against the wall like she was there the whole time. Ace stepped back and turned to the glass for any kind of sign of what was going on.
"Ace, it's an illusion. Layla is still in her cell, and her door hasn't opened. After she told us her powers, I adjusted the instruments in the room immediately to keep her from faking and escaping," Tech said over the intercom.
"Don't worry. There's no need for me to escape if we're spilling the details. Besides, it's better if I'm in this room too. Makes explaining more interesting," Layla explained with a smile. "As I was saying. You see, the reason they took her blood was to experiment on it. And it wasn't exactly humane."
"They used her blood and another of unknown origin to create monstrosities they could test and experiment on until they broke and get rid of like broken toys," Luna added.
Tech stepped into the room, now that he was interested and knew that Layla wasn't gone. "You're saying they created clones? How is that possible?"
"Clones? Like with the ship?" Ace asked.
"Yes to clones, no to the ship," Layla replied.
"What happened on the ship was specifically designed to fit the situation. I'm guessing that the robots were from a group of villains, and the captain had paid you guys to protect his jewel. The funny thing was that we were going after it at that time too, though we decided against it, in the end, to keep it safe," Luna explained.
"We worked together in making these heists before that time and decided to go our separate ways when we discovered HE was involved."
"Who is this 'he' you've been mentioning? Many of us are in the dark about this," Tech interjected.
"Oh, that. Would you like us to explain our share of the story first, or should you, Ace?" All three looked at Ace curiously, him being calmer and more in control of himself than he did earlier.
"I'd like to hear your version first. Maybe it'll make more sense that way. Especially since it looks like we'll be talking about the same person," Ace replied. The twins nodded, Layla walking over to stand beside Luna.
"The person we're talking about is the leader of this organization called 'Legacy.' It's run by a man named Azusa Hiyorimi, a man of science who has no real morals when it comes to living things. Under him, there are many more scientists who don't really see you as anything other than objects to test theories on. Though after so many years and loss of funds, I imagine he doesn't really do that kind of thing anymore, right?"
"Yeah. I never heard of them making clones, but I did hear that things were more 'liberal' in the glory days."
"Right. That was back when we were created. When they made us, there was a total of 8 clones. One passed away when she was being released from her incubation fluid. We weren't given any names, just numbers and moon phases to identify us," Luna informed.
"I'm number 6, and Luna is 7. If you take the one who passed away as number 8, 'new moon,' you'll figure out the rest," Layla expanded. Ace thought back to what he and Lexi noticed and made the connection.
"That would make you Third Quarter and Waning Crescent correspondingly," Tech beat him to the punch.
"Righty-o, Tech. Now, mother still had to stay there despite her job basically already done, but great grandfather didn't want her around, so grandmother found it safer for her to stay. She was the one who gave us our names and raised us along with her maid for three years. We lived a pretty peaceful life for experiments, learning to read and write and let our personalities appear since we were basically babies in the bodies of 6-year-olds. After that, she was summoned away."
"Why do you say you were in the bodies of 6-year-olds when clones are supposed to look exactly like the original even in age?"
"That's the basic version. Complete cloning has never been successful, so what they did was make us in her younger form so we can last longer as well as for a higher success rate since it was also with the blood that had many unknown factors to it. At least according to theory. There were still many flaws, an example being that I am defective and that the last one died due to many issues that caused her death, but they made sure we were perfectly fine. After mother left was when things started getting ugly," Luna continued.
"Exactly how ugly did it get?" Ace asked cautiously.
"To the point where one or two of us died during their little experimentations. I almost lost my sight when they tried to figure out how my aura vision worked," she replied grimly.
"Azusa didn't care how we felt or if we survived. All that mattered was results. And since we had to 'earn our keep' for just having a roof over our heads, we had to do his dirty work for him," venom stung Layla's words. "You were lucky you didn't get the jobs we did since it seems he wanted to keep his true nature a secret. Or at least the job offers on a minimum scale."
"What did you two have to do? More thievery?" Tech asked curiously.
"That would be tame compared to back then. No, what we had to do was get our hands bloody. I can still smell it even if we've stopped doing that the moment we escaped." The room fell silent as Tech, Ace, and Lexi let this all sink in.
"…you guys are killers?"
"'Were.' And we were more assassins, which just sounds fancier, but we were hired to do that. When we managed to finally escape, we brought our mother with us to keep her safe from being used as a hostage against us. But because of that, we haven't seen or talked with her in years," Layla sighed. "We took on those missions against our will and since we were still young. We made mistakes…and some of us died because of it…in the end, just Luna and I remain." Silence spoke volumes between them before Ace spoke up.
"Why didn't you go against him? You two are much stronger and had more experience, didn't you?"
"Yes and no. We were strong. Still are, but he's on another level. We don't know what he is, and during our time there, we were controlled by a chip on our spinal cord to make sure we followed orders. If we were out of line, they would zap us straight into the spinal cord and paralyze. The strength always varied so that we wouldn't get used to it, including the amount of time we remain paralyzed."
"Do you…still have the chips?" Tech asked.
"Yup. Somehow we were able to destroy them so that he wouldn't find us. However, he has other ways. We only managed to bide our time," Luna replied.
"And now he knows where you are and hoped to get you guys by even involving me and coming up with lies to hand you over," Ace summarized.
"Exactly." Layla walked over to stand behind Luna, placing her hands on the back of her seat.
"And you're telling us this is all true? This is the real story, and what's actually on the documents?" Ace asked, looking between the two girls, wanting to know if they were honest. The twins replied in unison with a serious look on their faces.
Ace continued to watch them in silence for seconds that stretched before he sighed and stood back. "Alright. I believe you."
"So easily?" Tech walked closer to Ace. "I know they look like they're telling the truth, but why believe them without solid evidence?"
"Why would they lie to us when they did outlandish things to grab our attention and seek refuge?" Ace countered with his own question. "I believe them because Azusa revealed his true colors when I called him. It all makes sense now. He was a cautious man, but he's also a brutal one." He turned to the girls. "Do you know where your mother is? We can bring her here and keep her safe."
The girls shook their heads.
"It's better we don't. If he sees us bringing her here or try to contact her, I'm sure he'll intercept and actually grab her. He has lots of sources despite how far the lab has fallen," Luna warned. "When all this is over, then we can go see her. Or you can also send us to jail for fraud, stealing, and murder."
Layla shrugged as if it wasn't that big of a deal. "It'll be understandable if you do. We just want to take this guy down once and for all."
"Though 'murder' would be something hard to get evidence for. Since we stopped doing that when we migrated to Acmetropolis," Luna added.
"Ace. Can we talk separately?" Tech motioned to step out of the cell. Ace nodded and followed him out, Lexi meeting with them. "Do you seriously believe them? I don't want to condemn them or anything, but their story is very far-fetched even for our standards considering what we've come across."
"I don't doubt them. The thing is, this same man was the one who was my boss as well as one of the people who raised me," Ace explained.
"Hold on. You're saying this crazy man that's after them is the same one you worked for and not only that, but he's your father?" Lexi asked, exasperated.
"He wasn't my father. I was an orphan, like Duck, but he took me in as my guardian. I had no real connection to anything, so it made sense I would become the perfect pawn. I would also go through some strict tests and training, but I never went to the extreme level as them. Since he never really treated me as his son and had many others he took in like me, I would just call him 'Boss.' Still do sometimes. The jobs he would make us do was just take information from other places, spy, bodyguard jobs, simple stuff mercenaries would do. All but actually kill people. My last mission was where I first met Luna. I had run information on her as well as all the staff to see how I could use to help me with my mission back then. Her background seemed fine and did register her aura power as just a talent or rare ability in her health records. During the mission, things went wrong, and she got severely hurt. She ended up with a small concussion and possibly hit the part of her brain that affects her sight. I explained myself a bit when I went to check on her. Honestly, I didn't think much about our meeting then or the fact that she had cat ears and a tail though she looked more human. But with what she told us this time, the cover-up story she told me, and with what I remember of my time there, it makes more sense."
Tech had a hand on his chin in deep thought. "If this guy is so dangerous…why not just take him down and have him arrested along with anyone involved? That way, we can put an end to his reign, and nothing like them ever happens again?" Tech suggested.
"He's not wrong there. We can try to tackle down his schemes and save anyone else who is still being forced to deal with his torture," Lexi supported.
"It'll be hard to do since we don't know his numbers and full operation. It could take us years before we finally get everyone," Ace warned again. "We'll just have to do our best. We agreed to be heroes to help those in need. This is one of those times where we really need to help." Lexi looked at Ace with confidence, no longer doubting her leader and his decisions.
"Besides, maybe their expertise could help us in the future, along with their powers. They are powerful, no doubt about it," Tech added. Ace thought about this carefully before nodding. All three of them walked back into the room and saw Luna and Layla waiting patiently for them.
"What did you guys agree on?" Layla asked.
"We'll work together to take down Legacy once and for all. It might take a while, but we promise that through the whole thing, we'll get rid of them all." Ace crossed his arms.
"What will you do after the whole operation is done?" Luna asked cautiously.
"For now, we'll talk it through with Zadavia. You can tell us where you left your hoard of stolen items, and we'll see from there." He took out his hand toward the two girls. "Do we have a deal?"
Luna and Layla looked at each other silently before taking his hand, Layla's image disappearing.