218 Doubting the General
As Zoey took off, Saigo and Ssaul quickly took control of their tasks and set about getting things done. Saigo, who was going to be leading the second team was about to select who he would take with him on his mission when Baiken and Taigen approached him with determined looks on their faces.
"We're coming with you General," Taigen said bluntly.
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Saigo immediately shook his head and said, "Taigen, we need you here with the clan, that is your position as leader… You understand that, right?"
Taigen sighed. He knew he had responsibilities to fulfill, and Saigo was right, his job was first to keep his people safe. "At least take Baiken and one of the lieutenants with you, to watch your back?" he implored the General. Saigo was like a father to him and Baiken, and he wanted to make sure that he returned safely.
"I already plan on taking Azai with me, his talent will be useful out there. As for Baiken…" Saigo paused as he looked at the young woman who was standing ready. "I suppose your mind is made up?"
Baiken grinned and rested her makeshift club on her shoulder, her attitude and intent clear. Saigo knew she could handle herself in combat, and to be honest, having Baiken with him would be reassuring. She may be a healer by choice, but her Heritage and innate talent was definitely combat oriented. When they had been on their way up here from where the woman had activated the city, they encountered quite a few of the machines fresh off the assembly line, but with Baiken and Lieutenant Azai's strengths, he could be reasonably confident of completing his mission despite the numerous machines in their way.
With Baiken, Saigo, and Azai on the team, they could easily handle anything on the way, but then General Saigo suddenly said, "Rellen boy, you're coming too."
This statement drew shocked looks from everyone there, including Markus! Taigen instantly protested, and Ssaul was rather vocal about his displeasure as well.
"What the hell will that accomplish Saigo?" the reptilian asked with an angry snap of his tail. "Leave him here where he can do the least damage, he will only slow you down!"
But the General only smiled mysteriously, waving at Ssaul and Taigen to be quiet. He had his reasons, and though nobody agreed with him, he had become interested in this particular noble. Saigo remembered vividly the Rellen house colors on the dreadnought that had bombed their clan home into rubble so long ago, and by all rights he should be seeking revenge against the Rellen family, but what he had seen of Markus so far had made him curious. The reason he wanted to take him with on this mission was to test the young man's character. His many years had made him an excellent judge of character, and he saw something in this young man. With some polish, there may yet be a worthy blade under that marred exterior.
Though not everyone was in agreement with Saigo's plan, Markus, Saigo, Baiken, and Lieutenant Azai quickly prepared to head out. The distance they had to cover was about a kilometer or two away, and they had to get moving if they wanted to make it on time. With help from some of the other warriors, the four of them went over the wall of the building where the android presence was least, then they quickly headed off in the direction on the control node that Zoey had pointed them in.
The reason that Saigo had selected the fresh-faced Lieutenant Azai for this mission was that the young Lieutenant had an innate talent that helped avoid detection. It was not true concealment, but when active it would divert attention from Azai and those near him through magical interference. It was not very useful on humans or highly intelligent creatures, but on animals and the machines on this city, it had proved to be effective.
Thanks to the Lieutenant, they were able to move rather smoothly through the city towards their destination while avoiding the androids shambling aimlessly around. Baiken stayed in the back of the group, her eyes watching Markus carefully. She had spent the most time with him so far out of all of them, but she still had her reservations about him. Whatever the General hoped to accomplish with him here was beyond her. He couldn't even use his magic, making him dead weight for the party.
In front of Markus, Lieutenant Azai focused on using his innate talent to shield them from detection as they progressed, and in front of him Saigo led them all through the clamoring alleyways of the machine-city. Despite the interference that Azai was putting up, some androids did manage to spot them on the way, leading to some tense moments as they tried to break line-of-sight before more were alerted.
They managed to escape safely each time, with one exception leading to an android getting its head crushed by Baiken's wrench as it tried to tackle her. Thankfully, by the time the nearby androids came to check on the disturbance, the four of them were long gone.
With their steady progress, the team made good time and reached their destination in just under an hour. They climbed on top of a nearby structure and surveyed the area while they waited for instructions from Zoey. Aside from knowing they were here to shut something down, none of them knew anything more, so they had to wait. They could see the target building though, a strange structure with a dome-shaped roof and one entrance in the front. Luckily there were no androids guarding it, so when the time came they should be able to waltz right in and complete the mission.
So with tension in the air and their nerves on end, they hid and waited to hear from Zoey, who at that moment was high in the sky as Viridi carried her to her target. It was almost time to get to work.