PART TEN: THE RAID
On the warm evening of 11th June 2021, Timeline Beta-3, in the quiet, sleepy Kalpa City as Vermont Novelty Bar and Restaurant finally prepared to shut its doors for the night, they were suddenly raided by a joint force consisting of the Protectors’ Agency, the local police faction; the Serjs (Blues) and unbeknownst to many, a member of the Golden Knights Agency, namely, Leal Grayson in disguise.
Spearheading the operation was Protector Avery Alison and no sooner had the raid began than the owner showed up to demand an explanation. Avery explained what had occasioned the joint raid on the establishment and Mr. Herman Hallman stared in absolute awe that he had somehow been figured out even as the force raided every corner of the premises, hastily clearing out areas, one after another. Meanwhile, Leal spearheaded the team going down to raid the mysterious cellar, sending down the latest in spy ware to ensure the coast was clear before they could safely navigate it themselves.
The cellar had an ominously dark aura to it and it chilled every team member to the core the further they descended into the room. It somehow felt dark despite the fact that the room was well illuminated and Leal could have sworn there was more than met the eye about it, therefore, he advised that they take the least amount of time to investigate it and head out immediately afterwards. He urged the team to remain vigilant because he was certain that the room was sure to be rigged with traps that even their advanced spyware couldn’t detect.
There was an eerie silence only briefly interrupted by the occasional buzzing or beeping of the machines they used to investigate the cellar and the trepidation only increased as each second passed by. The room itself seemed to contort itself and at times it felt as if the room was either expanding or contracting although nothing seemed amiss other than everyone’s skin crawling for being there at all. Leal did not spot the orchid blue butterfly for several moments before it suddenly burst into the scene, emerging from the barrel he had investigated some weeks back, encircling the barrel several times but then not settling on the barrel for some reason.
Leal walked up to the barrel and observed it curiously. He was cautious knowing that perhaps some kind of magic was protecting the barrel even though the spy-ware he used to scan the barrel did not reveal any hidden traps. They used readers on all the barrels as well and the results were all the same. Leal was still very nervous about opening the barrel and hesitated before one brave member of the team walked up to it and opened up the barrel.
They waited nervously for a few moments without anything happening before visibly relaxing. They managed to drain the contents of the barrel as well as some others that were nearby before the room began to contort in all directions, giving them all severe cases of motion sickness. In the ensuing chaos of the dark spell becoming activated, the members of the team were scattered, some being merged unnaturally to structures in the room as the structures solidified thus mortally and in some cases, fatally, wounding them.
Leal and the others retreated as quickly as they could but it was an uphill task and everything became a blur as the room continually contorted and scattered them. Help was halted from arriving by chaos emerging upstairs as security agents actively engaged Herman’s goons that had sprung a surprise attack while the investigations went on.
Among Herman’s strongest fighters was Lucerne, his personal bodyguard, the Ghorma woman who had held Leal and Acwulf back when Herman had confronted Leal for his illegal espionage. Lucerne was taking down several agents at a go, mortally wounding them and carving a path for Herman to escape through the backdoor.
“You have made a grave error in judgement, Mr. Hallman. Surrender now and things will be easier for you,” Avery warned him.
Herman turned behind, looking over his shoulders while smirking at her. “I will never come quietly, Protector Alison. It is you who made the error in judgement by confronting me like this. You have humiliated me and because of you, I no longer can show my face in public again. I am a man with nothing but my freedom left to lose. I shall not let you take even that little from me. Good evening!”
“Stop right there, Mr. Hallman. I don’t wish to harm you but I shall do so if you leave me with no other options,”
“If you are referring to using the Alison clan’s special little gift against me, I am well prepared for it so just try it. It will be a complete waste of time and effort on your part,”
He turned away to continue walking towards the backdoor but suddenly felt a searing pain in his head and he dropped to his knees, his eyes watering immediately.
“No! Impossible! I used very powerful mental wards to protect against such an attack… How could you get through my wards?” he screamed at her.
Lucerne suddenly turned her attention towards Avery and lunged at her. However, she was suddenly incapacitated by the same telekinetic attack Avery had used on Herman, rolling on the floor in agony as she clutched her temples.
“You shouldn’t be able to attack both of us with that power! How are you doing that?” Herman screamed at Avery while still writhing in pain.
“Mr. Herman, how I do what I do is none of your concern. Surrender peacefully or continue to suffer,”
Avery upped the intensity of her telekinetic attack as she spoke but Herman would not surrender, eventually passing out from the pain. He was whisked away and out of sight by an ambulance and shortly afterwards, his personal bodyguard followed suit, Avery knocking her out because of the commotion she had began to cause. Once both Herman and his bodyguard were taken away, their goons lost their motivation and willingly surrendered to agents on site. Two of the Protector Agency’s strongest curse breakers were then sent down to the cellar and were able to unravel the complex curse magic that was protecting the cellar.
The injured and deceased members of the team were taken away while the remaining barrels were completely drained and the enchanted fairy jars were retrieved- a grand total of five jars. Leal followed the instructions his daughter’s doppelganger had given him to the letter, making sure the enchanted jars were wide open as he drew the runes in enchanted chalk and chanted the spell to break the jars and safely retrieve the victims trapped within.
Mariposa Esposito was the first successfully retrieved victim and she burst out of the jar, her eyes scanning the room and settling on Leal, visibly relaxing before falling deliriously into his arms. She was greatly emaciated after everything she had endured. Leal wrapped her up in the coat he had on and handed her over to the medical staff on site…
The moment she was safely in an ambulance, Leal breathed a huge sigh of relief. He helped retrieve the other victims that had been trapped and once the finer details were taken care of by Avery, he and the others were taken back to Timeline D-1 for debriefings attended by the top brass of each respective Agency from both Timeline D-1 and B-3. Miss Edouard, the esteemed leader of the Golden Knights Agency, was notably in attendance for the debriefings.
Following the debriefings and a released joint statement to the press regarding the high profile case and its successful conclusion with minimal causalities, Leal and Acwulf’s relegation was immediately suspended and the Golden Knights Agency issued a formal apology and subsequently promoted them both for their role in the case. (Leal moved from being a Golden Knights, Second class to being a First Class Knight Officer while Acwulf earned the title of Commander, 2nd Class; Companion).
In the weeks that followed the successful operation that saw Mariposa Esposito and four others successfully retrieved, similar operations were conducted that uncovered even more trafficking victims. Timeline D-1 was able to successfully retrieve the memories of Herman Hallman who proved to be a believer in the secret cult of enlightenment.
Herman Hallman and several other high profile members of society in B-3 were exposed for their connection to a large trafficking ring that abducted witches like Mariposa and either sold them off to slavery or sacrificed them in their dark rituals as had been the unfortunate fate that Mariposa’s boyfriend, Ned Awaya, had faced. It was later discovered that Mariposa had been kept alive in the hopes that she would be sold off as a bride to a dark dryad but she had not been moved in weeks due to the Golden Knights Agency and the Serjs keeping a close eye on the Vermont for the fear of her abductors being discovered. Herman had been using his reputable establishment to lure in unsuspecting victims in the guise of being offered employment and a long list of trafficking victims were linked to him.
The dark future that lay in store for Mariposa Esposito had been averted and Leal was glad that he had not given up on her. Her mother would remain eternally grateful to him and the team that had saved her daughter and she would reveal that she was glad her “butterfly” had been freed at last to spread her wings once more.
Leal asked Mariposa’s mother what she had meant by refering to Mariposa as her butterfly and the response had been that Mariposa was actually the word for butterfly in their native tongue. Leal would think deeper about the symbolism of the Orchid butterfly that had led him on his journey to rescuing Mariposa in the days that followed.
TO BE CONTINUED…
At long last, the elusive butterfly caught in the insidious spider’s web of her abductors has been freed to soar once more. Are you all caught up with her thrilling tale? Find previous entries in the ensuing saga listed below for your convenience. Enjoy!