"Smart ass," Hernandez's hoarse voice crackles from the earpiece, "have any good news for me? If we can't find golden boy after all that happened, the whole operation was a complete waste."
I stretch myself out on the sleeping bag placed in the back of the SUV and savor the gentle rocking of the car as it cruises down the highway. Well, the adventure might have been a waste for you Commander, but I got exactly what I wanted out of it. I toss the Codex up into the air before deftly catching it again and smirk to myself. What the hell, I'm in a good mood right now. Might as well throw Hernandez a bone to buy some goodwill for the future.
"The Heath, Commander." I reply, "That's where you'll find Tensei. Or at the very least, its the last place we managed to trace Tensei to be at." Should I tell Hernandez that the Hero and the Idol are rutting like a pair of wild monkeys in heat right now? Nah. His men will find out soon enough anyway.
"Tell the Commander to send an ambulance when he picks up the Hero." The Voice rasps before Hernandez can respond.
"The Heath." Hernandez confirms, "Alright, I'll send a team there to investigate. Mind telling me how Tensei suddenly grew a pair of black wings and flew off carrying a girl after kicking everyone's ass back at the Tower?"
"Tensei's half angel." I shrug, "Part of his inherited power set?"
"Kicking the combined asses of an army's worth of police and guards." Hernandez scoffs, "Really?"
"Maybe?" I spin the codex on the surface of the sleeping bag like a top, "I was too busy being chased by the giant snake to pay much notice."
Hernandez barks with laughter, "And losing your trousers in the bargain. My daughter showed me a viral video of a flying man in his underpants that's all the rage over the net right now. Thought that guy looked familiar."
"Cute." I grumble, "Anyway you might want to send an ambulance when you go pick up Tensei. Beating up all those people can't have been very healthy for him."
"Right. Right." Hernandez replies before hanging up, "Talk to you later, Gallant."
As the line between Hernandez and I goes dead, the laptop beside me begins booting up and shows the live footage being streamed from one of The Voice's aerial drones hanging out above the Heath. Not that there is much to see. Just trees and more trees. The camera switches to infrared mode and against the cold backdrop of the snow is a pair of figures frantically grinding against each other as they roll about in the dirt under the cover of the trees.
"We have a problem." The Voice flatly states.
"You don't say." I deadpan in return, "You're the only porn cameraman who could make sex look totally unsexy. Got to admit, that's a pretty big problem."
"Not that." The Voice rasps impatiently, "I am monitoring the Hero's vitals right now. There's a problem. A serious one."
The Voice closes the window screening the porn show and replaces it with what I assume to be a real time display of the Hero's current condition. There's a picture of the Hero right in the center of the screen flanked by colored meters under headings such as strength, dexterity, constitution and so on. Underneath the stat bars is a paragraph of text marked as 'Objectives'. Full marks for the user friendly interface Voice.
Might as well take a gander at how well the Hero is doing at fulfilling his destiny since The Voice had taken the trouble to show me Tensei's current status. Let's see, it says here that the Hero still has to claim his the princedom of Europe. Number of Heroines impregnated stands at two out of three though. Progress is being made, slowly and surely. Unfortunately, there's also the big 'ERROR' message flashing across the objectives box in angry red capitals.
To my dismay, the screen does not provide any actual details about what this error is. Just as I am about to ask The Voice about what's going on, I notice that the Hero's score under the Strength tab drop ever so slightly. The drop is so tiny that its barely noticeable, but it certainly happened.
"The Hero is getting weaker?" I ask The Voice.
"Yes." The Voice rumbles, "With the contest for the princedom of Europe approaching, you can see why this is a problem." As The Voice speaks, it happens again. This time the Hero's dexterity rating drops a tiny notch. From the visual representation of the Hero's stats, I assume that they are all currently top tier, worthy of this world's eventual savior. But that might no longer be the case if the stats keep dropping on their own accord.
"How?" I query.
"This is the reason why I asked Commander Hernandez to bring an ambulance with him when retrieving the Hero." The Voice says, "Its the fastest way I can get data on the Hero's spirit core."
"You already have made a guess as to what happened though." I point out, "There's no other reason for you to be getting so antsy, especially if the drops in the Hero's power level are so minor that they could be written off as caused by his injuries."
The Voice is silent at my comment, taking a few moments to gather its thoughts. It finally responds, "Castiel had successfully suborned Heroine Majima. While not in the fashion he originally intended, it has nevertheless caused a serious complication in our plans."
"You sure about that?" I grunt with an eyebrow raised, "That porn show you were screening just now seems to be saying something different."
The Voice reflects contemplatively, "It is precisely the 'porn show', as you put it, that has gotten me so worried. I fear that the Hero's termination protocol has been inadvertently triggered."
"Once activated, the termination protocol will gradually restrict the Hero's power, aiding in Heroine Majima's task to eliminate him." The Voice continues, "It will also prevent the Hero from entering his awakened state, so that he cannot simply brute force his way out from any attack by Heroine Majima."
"Why now though?" I ruminate, "What could have caused the termination protocol to activate? Unless you are saying that sex with the Idol is the cause?"
"Timing." The Voice explains, "Heroine Majima under Castiel's influence probably unconsciously signaled her intention to carry out the Hero's assassination early and the Hero, picking up on the message during sexual intercourse, deployed the termination protocol to expedite her mission. That is most likely the reason why I am receiving error messages from the Hero. The directives I supplied him with are being triggered out of their required order."
Now that's a problem. I sit back up and begin rubbing my chin in thought. I need the Hero dead, but there wouldn't be any point to the whole thing if he gets himself killed in the contest itself.
"Then we need to get the contest going early." I announce, "Before the Hero becomes completely impotent."
The laptop then cycles to a photo of the Loli vampire as The Voice answers in a vexed tone, "Our earlier choices have returned to haunt us, Transmigrator. The skills the Hero has acquired from training under Inspector Scott are of little use against Marshal St Clair. Even at the Hero's peak strength with his current ability set, I expect the battle to be decided in the Marshal's favor. It would not matter if the Hero could awaken, but -"
"But we can't count on that now." I finish unhappily. Damn it. I thought it would be smooth sailing as far as the duel between Loli Vampire and the Hero was concerned. He could just flip out and stun lock the vampire into oblivion. But if that's off the table, the situation becomes far grimmer.
"Which is the reason why I want an analysis done on the Hero's spirit core." The Voice concludes, "Once we have confirmation either way, we can draft the appropriate plans and move forward."
"Speaking about moving forward," I quickly cut in, "there's something we really need to talk about."
"Yes." The Voice agrees, "I was wondering when you would bring it up. The codex right?"
I nod, "Its time to discuss future prospects, boss man."