Status: This is an old one, but I finally got the inspiration to write it.

Royal Blood

Chapter Four: Plan of Action

The vampire, the human, and his distant cousin stood before him. He stared into the black eyes of his bloodsucking minion.
"I have called the three of you here for a reason." He stated, his tone even and smooth. "What information do you have to present?"
He looked to his elfin cousin first, "Unfortunately, my partner and I have very little to report. We've gathered enough information to absolutely confirm that the girl was in the manner, but somehow, she has disappeared off of the radar completely." How disappointing.
"I, on the other hand, actually have something you might find helpful." The vampire boasted.
"Continue," Aro grumbled.
"After I did as you bade me and set the entire estate on fire, I was going to collect the girl." He said.
"And you're proud of your obvious failure?" He muttered irritably.
"No, but I know who—well, what pulled her out of my grip." A triumphant smirk spread across his lips.
He paused, considering the vampire's words, "Well...continue."
"Goldbrave seems to be important enough to score, not just one, but two familiars for his daughter."
A sneer set itself on his lips, "And you're sure of this?
"They reeked of that heavenly aura they hold so highly. Though, one of them didn't look like a normal familiar." The vampire's upper lip curled.
"Elaborate," Aro barked.
"I've killed familiars plenty of times before. They're all blonde, tall, ivory skinned—and annoying. The male looked exactly like those overrated annoyances I've taken out. I could smell it on him. But the girl, she had a similar scent but it wasn't the same." He reported, "She didn't have the same hair or righteous attitude."
"What should it matter if she isn't a familiar?" Aro's eyes narrowed incredulously.
"If she's a guardian then it will be even more difficult to...remove her. That's all." He said.
"Are you telling me that even if I ordered it, you wouldn't kill them?" He dared.
"That's not what it is," He said, "All I'm saying is that it'll attract more attention and it'll be a hassle."
"Well, that's too bad isn't it." Aro sneered, "I own you. You're life is mine to do with what I wish, and if you have a problem with that, I'll have your head." The vampire stayed silent, his dark gaze never wavering.
He looked to the other two, "As for the two of you, I want you to use whatever means necessary to track the brat. If you find her and bring her to me, you will get your money and you no longer be forced to remain under my employment."
"What about the bloodsucker?" The human sneered.
"The vampire has the same mission." His golden eyes shifted to the silver haired vamp, "You have access to all of your leech people. Use them however you deem necessary, and get out of my hair."
"So basically, whoever gets the girl first gets the money?" The human sent a look of distaste at the vampire.
"Was I unclear?" Aro challenged.
"Not at all, your shortness." Aro ignored the crack at his height.
"Just go."

The girl sat in the cock pit. It had only been a day and she was already starting to rub Kora the wrong way. Maybe she just didn't have any patience for children—though most guardians would consider Kora a child herself—but her stubborn attitude was driving her up the wall.
She didn't understand her angle. She seemed and acted like "daddy's little girl", but there were times where she could hear the tension or bitterness in her voice when she spoke about him. She was much too stubborn for just how naive she really was. She was...she was just...irritating.
Irritating as she was, Kora almost found it hard to believe that she was Goldbrave's daughter. She expected her to be whiny and spoiled with a rotten personality to match. Instead, she actually seemed like a decent person. Shocking. Kora had also noticed that she went through cycles of emotion. First, she was quiet. Then she would be snappy and sullen. Then suddenly it would change into a quiet grief, and the cycle would just continue on. What she was grieving over, she wouldn't say.
Kora glanced over her shoulder, just like yesterday, she was going through the cycles of emotion again. She was still in the quiet stage, so maybe she would just stay there today.
"Can't you activate autopilot," Kora sighed, her gaze shifting to Gageus, "I think we need to get her out of the cockpit. I'm sure she's hungry."
"Where are we heading?" He said nonchalantly.
"Not Goldbraven. That's the last place we need to be..." She muttered.
"Well, I think we can set up base in Tender town." He said. Kora considered his suggestion, "Relatively inexpensive housing, good market and an easy place to go low profile."
Kora nodded, he was right. They needed a place where they wouldn't stick out worse than they already would. Timber town was a rather large city with a maze-like set up. If they were found there, it would be a miracle. Even though both Goldbrave and Aro had companies within the city, the town itself was neutral.
"You're right," Kora said, "Set the course."
"Aye, Aye captain." Kora spun around to face the girl.
"Hey," A grunt was her reply, "Hungry?" She shook her head, "Well you need to eat."
"If you're going to make me eat any way, why ask?" Kora's eye twitched.
"I was aiming for considerate." Kora grumbled.
"Well, I'm not hungry, so don't bother." She said shortly.
A flash of fresh irritation struck her, "I let you slide yesterday-"
"We know you've been through a lot, but you need sustenance." Gageus interrupted her. Kora sent him a brief glare.
"Not if I'm not hungry." She muttered, shifting so that her hair blocked her face from view.
"You are eating." Kora said, "Even if I have to shove the food down your throat..."
At this, a pair of jade eyes glared daggers at her, "What do you want from me?"
"I want you to cooperate with us." Kora stood and crossed her arms, "Like I told you before, you're stuck with us. We're here to protect you and take care of you, so whether we like it or not, we're stuck together. We aren't getting away from each other, we can't run from each other... You can't run home to daddy, I can't go back to my duties, so we're going to have to deal with it."
She barked out a curt laugh, "Run back to daddy...that's a good one."
"You're eating something, and I'm not giving in." Kora sauntered out of the cockpit, motioning for Rosenne to get up and walk out. Defiance sparked in her eyes, but she stood any way and stormed past her.
"The kitchen is to the right," This earned Kora a sour look as Rosenne rounded the corner.

William pinched the bridge of his nose. He and Alexander were alone on his airship, and silent tension flowed between them. He just wouldn't listen to him.
"Do you realize that you just declared war on Aro corp.?" William asked. The stress ran rampant in his voice and tone.
"Yes." One word smoothly stated.
"And you intended to do so?"
"Yes," Slightly tinged with pride.
"What on Terra would ever possess you to do that?"
"Vaden Aro has been allowed to run rampant for too long, William." Alexander's fist softly pounded on the table beside the chair in which he sat, "He threatened my daughter, and now I don't even know where she is. He burned down that home along with my wife's belongings, William. What kind of man does that!?"
"You have no proof, Alexander." William knew that he wasn't going to listen. He didn't know what else to do. Nothing he said made any difference. He was just too thick-headed.
"Tell me, who else would do this?" His old friend pressed.
"Why do you assume that the fire wasn't an accident? There very well could have been a grease fire in the kitchen." William pressed back.
"I've never seen a grease fire spread so rapidly, have you?"
William shook his head, "No, I haven't, but you still have no proof."
"Proof or no proof, Aro wants war and I intend to give it to him." The determination in his voice worried William deeply.
"Shouldn't you be focused on finding and mending your relationship with your daughter?" Alexander's determined expression dropped as if he hadn't been expecting that. Surely he would have known that William would have reminded him about Rosenne.
"I don't know where she is..." He muttered.
"That's why-"
"I don't know where she is, but I know she's safe for now." He amended.
"You know?" Skepticism layered his tone.
"Yes.." Alexander gazed out the window, his eyes distant and detached.
William studied his old friend's face for a few long minutes. Soon, it began to dawn on him. He and Alexander had spoken about it briefly, so it would have never crossed is mind otherwise. Did he really resort to that...When did he resort to that...
"Alexander." He answered with a hmm, "Do you know for a fact that she is with the familiar?"
"No, but I can feel it." He said.
William scrubbed his hand over his beard, "Confirm it. I want you to keep me updated, and, since you obviously have such a death wish, when she is found and she is safe, she is coming home with me." Alexander's head whipped around and his lips parted to protest, "No. You are a madman. You openly declared war on your enemy. If your daughter was with you, she wouldn't be safe."
"Do you suddenly have such little faith in me?"
"Don't you see, Alexander," William slammed his fist on the table beside them, "If Vaden Aro is such a coward, do you really think he will target you directly? Do you really think he's going to come straight at you, knowing you'll be expecting him? No. He'll go for your weakness, your Achilles' heel. You do understand what that means, don't you?"
He shook his head, "No...he's not stupid enough to try it again."
"There is no stupidity behind his motives, and there never has been." William slammed his fist on the metal table again, "I'm still not completely convinced that this fire was purposely orchestrated by Aro himself, but if he is as conniving as you say, he won't settle for taking you out directly. He will want you to suffer."
Alexander's hands tightened into fists, "I'm aware of this."
"You know exactly where he'll start." William said, "He'll start by stealing your minor businesses from beneath you. Then, as you're falling, he will target sister companies. Then when he is done with those, he will go after the main headquarters of Goldbrave corp,. Then, he'll go after you, and that's if you're lucky."
"That's not where he started, William." Alexander prodded.
"I have already told you," He retorted dryly, "I don't completely believe that fire wasn't an accident. There isn't enough proof."
"That doesn't mean I can't hang him out to dry." an ambitious tone crept into his words that made William shake his head.

The girl's spoon poked at the food on her plate. Oatmeal with bananas and toast. Not exactly a feast fit for a king, but it would do.
She still hadn't eaten anything. Kora knew her stomach had to be gnawing on her backbone by now, she jsut didn't understand why she refused to eat. Was it grief? Was she just so upset that it was affecting her appetite? What exactly was she upset about? She passed out just after they saved her. Was the thick smoke working its way out of her? No, Kora doubted that, but what on Terra was this child's problem.
"Pushing the food around, won't make it disappear." Kora said. When she got no reply, not even a curt grunt or a glare, she spoke again. "It'll taste better warm..." She prompted. Still no answer.
Kora sighed and shook her head. Gageus cleared his throat in the doorway. Rosenne didn't bother to acknowledge her as the two of them left the room. They stepped out into the metal corridor.
"We'll reach Timber town within the hour..." She nodded, not really knowing what to say. The two of them hadn't been alone together since just before they rescued the girl, then they didn't really talk much.
She didn't know what to say to him. What was there to talk about? There was the mission, but—so far—the mission had barely been successful. They didn't know much about one another. She knew he was from house Doxin, but other than the bare essentials, she didn't really bother to get to know her partner very well. Most guardians don't know very much about the familiars. Usually, they were just told to limit their interactions with them, for the fear of becoming weak. Was that really true? Would she be weak for working with a familiar?
"So...Has she eaten yet?" It was an attempt at conversation. A decent one, but an attempt none-the-less.
"No," Kora sighed, "She's just pushing the food around with the depressed look on her face. It's like she just found out that her puppy was put to sleep."
"Maybe, in a way, she did." Gageus shrugged.
Kora's brow rose to her hair line, "What...?"
"We don't really know anything about the estate she was at." He muttered, "Maybe there was something special about it. We found her at the edge of that garden. Maybe it was made just for her."
Something struck her. Something she recalled from the garden. The statue was charring and cracking, but the resemblance to Rosenne was almost uncanny. She had her fathers hair and eyes, but facially, she was nearly the spitting image of the female bust. Could it have been her mother?
Guardians didn't know their families. They weren't given time to attach; therefore, they wouldn't have any deep connections if they died. It was both cruel and merciful. It gave guardians a sort of resolve. A resolve that told them that their family wouldn't mourn them for too long after their death. Being a guardian—and a familiar—was a dangerous duty. It was a duty assigned to them from birth...
"What are you thinking?" Gageus asked thoughtfully.
"Humans make it a habit of growing close to their families." Kora nearly whispered.
"Yes," He said slowly, "It presents a sort of unity, I guess."
"It was a habit you and I could never afford..."
"Yes...where is this going?" His lips were slightly pursed in curiosity.
"Do you think, maybe, that estate belonged to her mother?" Kora said, her face softening slightly.
Gageus looked thoughtful for a few moments, weighing her words. "There is every possibility."
"If it was, that could be why she seems to be taking it so hard." Her voice was just above a whisper.
"If I recall our briefing on our charge, her mother isn't exactly in the picture." He said quietly, "As far as I know, she's deceased."
A small pang flashed through Kora's heart. She may not have known her mother, but she wasn't heartless. She knew what the love of a family was like. She felt that with her commander and her teammates. She's had plenty of them die before, and it wasn't a pleasant experience. But in this field of work, they had to steel themselves.
A guardian was given very little time to mourn. A tiny ceremony was given, and a few immediate family members were invited. The ceremony was always painful. Their teammates were the only ones that they were allowed to be close to, and the accusations in the eyes of their families were even worse. If enough of their teammates died, a guardian was hardened. A protective skin was grown and put on during the ceremonies, so then, they couldn't feel that hurt. They couldn't afford to.
"I saw a bust of a woman in the garden." Kora muttered, her expression softening.
"Was it her?"
"It had to be." A grimace pulled down the corners of her lips.
"Do you think that is why she seems to be grieving?"
"Yes," Kora nodded.
"I guess we're just going to have to be a little more understanding." The statement was pointed at her.
"I am understanding." She protested.
Gageus gave her a raised brow, "Whatever you say." He started back to the cockpit and Kora's temper flared for a few seconds. Once she calmed herself down, she smoothed out her face and walked back into the kitchen.
Her gaze softened when it landed on the girl. Her depressed face hadn't changed; she might as well have been a statue herself. The only thing moving was the spoon, and even that was barely budging. The epiphony that came to she and Gageus in the hall—true or not—had changed the way she came to see this child's attitude. Clearly, she was having problems with her father. Goldbrave was difficult. Hell, part of her wondered if he hadn't been at the familiar headquarters because he hadn't been wanted there...Now, her mother's preferred summer home had been destroyed. She was mourning. Lashing out like any human being would.
She walked forward and sat at the opposite end of the table. The pair of jade eyes, almost hidden by thick lashes, didn't even flicker.
"Are you going to tell me what's on your mind, or do I have to guess?" This caught her attention. Her sad jade eyes tightened a tad as Kora stared into them softly. The green orbs probed Kora's, looking for the trick. The joke...but there wasn't one. It was an honest attempt, and maybe she realized that when her gaze dropped.
"Alright...guessing it is..." Kora said evenly, "You're having problems with your father...?" A quick glance was her answer. Close, but not quite. "You aren't speaking with him?" Rosenne's mouth dropped into a grimace, "He sent you away?" It was a stab in the dark, and the uncertainty in Kora's voice showed it. It was a seemingly good guess because she reacted. A flash of hurt and anger rolled across her eyes.
"So he did." She muttered softly. She could relate at least a little, "Was it your summer home that was on fire." Her lashes seemed to wet around the corners, "Your father's?" A stray tear trickled down her face, but her finger moved quickly to retrieve it. "Your mother's..."
"You don't know me. Stop trying to," Her voice was sharper than Kora had been expecting.
"It's part of my job to know you, Rosenne." Her mouth popped open to argue, but she didn't allow it. "I am here to keep you safe, provide you with whatever you need, even if it is a friend. If I am to do so, then I need some effort on your part because I won't go to war with you over something like this. As I said before, we are stuck together. I can't go home. You can't go home. He can't go home." Kora pointed toward the general direction of the cockpit, "That means we're going to with each other for a while—probably a long time. I have one simple request: Don't fight us, Rosenne. Because fighting us will only make it harder to keep you safe."
"From what?" She frowned.
"Anything and everything that will try to hurt you." Kora said bluntly.
"Will? You say it like you know it'll happen." Rosenne returned to pushing around her food, her voice a murmur.
"Quit pushing around your food and eat it." It sounded slightly harsher than it was meant.
"Stop trying to be my mother." Rosenne's glare was pointed directly at her now. It wasn't hidden by her lashes, so the full force of the glower was aimed her way.
"I am trying to take care of you. I know you're upset but you need to eat." Kora said, a forceful undertone creeping through her words.
"You can't make me!" Rosenne snapped.
Kora leaned toward her, bracing against the table, "Just eat it."
"I'll eat when I'm ready to eat." Rosenne growled between her teeth.
Kora's jaw tensed, "Eat the damn food, Rosenne."
Rosenne glared at her, "I told you-"
"I don't care what you 'told' me. You are going to eat your food, and you are going to like it. This isn't going to be like your pampered little rich girl life in your mansions." Kora growled back, "You won't be pampered, babied or catered to. Got it?"
"Kora," Gageus's mellow voice sounded sharp, like he was giving her a warning.
"What!?" She barked. Gageus gave her a look, and she stormed back to the cockpit. She plopped down in the co-pilot's chair and glared out the windshield. That girl was going to get under her skin. She knew it...
After about ten minutes, Gageus came back into the cockpit. He sighed and slumped into the pilot's chair. He ran his hands through his light blonde hair before he spoke, "I got her to eat." His mellow voice was strained.
Kora turned to him, her brows knitting together, "How'd you manage that!?"
"I was nice to her." He said, "You should try it." He gave her a sharp look.
"I tried!" She threw her hands up, "She's already made up her mind. She doesn't like me!"
Gageus suddenly sat erect, his pale honey eyes staring out the window. They shifted to the console, and back up, "I didn't realize we were so close..."
"Wha-" Gageus cut her off by pointing her to the window.
Kora knew Timber town was big, but from the air, it seemed to never end. The buildings and sectors of the city seemed to create a maze-like pattern. The streets cut between the buildings, and the entire city was themed a muted, stony grey color that made it seem darker than it should. On one side of the city, sat a gigantic green and gold colored company. Goldbrave Corp. On the opposite side, sat a rather large black and red themed company. Aro Corp.
"We're here." Gageus muttered.
♠ ♠ ♠
I had BAD writer's block on this chapter, but I think I like how it turned out. It explains a little about the Guardian society and how they're almost militaristic and harsh. I like it.