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KINGSGUARD 2 YEAR SPECIAL: A Tale Of Two Heroes

Discussion in 'Kingsguard' started by Marco Polo, Jul 10, 2019.

  1. Marco Polo

    「MISTA TWELVE」
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    Time really does fly when you're having fun...

    It's a couple of days early just because I want to guarantee that it's out there for the actual anniversary (July 12th), but given that it's been about a month since the last chapter I guess that's okay...

    Part of me expected that either people would lose interest or that I'd stop at Chapter 50 because I didn't have plans beyond that for a long time, but I'm thrilled that I get to see Chirch and the gang's adventures through to the end. Thank you to all of you guys for reading along (I wouldn't write if nobody was interested) and hopefully I'll still be writing for you guys this time next year!

    This year's special is very different (and much longer) than last year's, and it's a story I've wanted to tell for a long time. @miss_SMP , I hope you don't mind me stealing a couple of things from Rosebud...

    Anyway, I hope you enjoy this special chapter! There's a little surprise for you guys at the end as well ;)

    *

    KINGSGUARD

    Two-Year Special: A Tale of Two Heroes

    February 2nd, 2245. A cemetery in a western village in Hiraeth. The burial of Rin Yukimura, Marko’s teacher. Amongst the attendees are Marko de Polaris (age: 15) and Rio Em Rose (age: 41).

    As Rin’s coffin met its final resting place in the ground, members of her family stepped forward to throw a flower into the grave. First her parents, then her older brother and sister-in-law, accompanied by their infant son, and finally her grandfather. As the family looked down at their daughter’s final resting place, they embraced each other tightly. After a tearful parting, Rin’s father walked over to Marko and handed him a dark crimson rose.

    “Go ahead, kid.”

    Marko took the rose from Rin’s father’s hand and walked towards her grave. As he stood over his teacher’s coffin, he felt as if he were waking from a dream; from the moment of her death, to the funeral in Adamine, and even during the burial this afternoon, he had been numb to it all. Part of him hoped that it had all been a dream up until now. However, the cold reality of it all hit him as he stared down at Rin’s coffin. Rin was dead. Gone forever. His hand began to tremble as he gently let the rose fall into the grave. After taking a moment to choke back his tears, he returned to his standing position, where Rin’s father was waiting for him.

    “Y’know… Rin thought of you as family, Marko. A little too small to be a kid brother, but not small enough to be her son. She never stopped talking about you.”

    Marko tried his best to look Rin’s father in the eye, however he couldn’t bring himself to do it. He felt responsible. Almost ashamed. The one person in his life that he couldn’t replace was dead because he had failed to protect her, and here her father stood saying that he was family? His heart felt heavy, weighed down by guilt. All he could muster was a nod to acknowledge Rin’s father’s words. Rin’s father could see the young soldier struggling with his emotions. In an effort to reassure him, he placed a hand on Marko’s shoulder.

    “Listen. We’ll be okay.”

    Marko looked up at Rin’s father. Despite the sadness that must have been consuming him, the look he gave Marko was one of resolve. Even though he was on the verge of breaking down, he was doing his utmost to stand tall; to be a pillar of strength for his family.

    “Thank you, sir.” Marko replied, his voice quivering slightly.

    After a brief moment, Rio tapped Marko on the shoulder.

    “Hey, it’s time to go.” Rio said quietly to Marko.

    “… Okay.”

    “Mr. Yukimura. On behalf of everyone at the Kingsguard, we’re deeply sorry for your loss. Rin was a popular character with a bright future ahead of her, and she will be dearly missed.” Rio said to Rin’s father, shaking his hand firmly.

    “Thank you for coming all this way, Commander Em Rose.” Rin’s father replied.

    Marko and Rio left the funeral grounds and climbed into the black limousine sent for them. As they set off back to Adamine, a melancholic air filled the car.

    “How’re you holding up, kid?” Rio asked Marko.

    “I… don’t know.” Marko answered.

    “Anything you need, you know where to find me. If you like, my apartment has a spare room that you can stay in if you don’t wish to be alone?”

    “I think I need some time to myself.” Marko answered.

    *​

    February 3rd, 2245. Rio’s Apartment. Rio is on the phone, talking to his family.


    “When will you be home, Daddy?” Shiira asked, “I miss you.”

    “I’ll be coming home this weekend, dear.” Rio answered, smiling.

    “Yaaaaay!” Shiira cheered. “Mama! Daddy’s coming home soon!”

    “That’s great dear. Now go to bed, please.” Aphelia replied, a gentle smile on her face.

    “But I don’t wanna…”

    “Listen to your mother.” Rio instructed. “We’ll talk soon, okay?”

    “Okay. Bye Daddy!” Shiira gave the phone to her mother and ran upstairs to bed.

    “She’s livelier than ever…” Aphelia joked.

    Rio laughed. “I’m just glad she’s still listening to us.”

    “Listening to you, more like. She’s started giving me attitude lately.”

    “We’ll sort that out once I’m home.” Rio replied.

    “The burial was yesterday, wasn’t it? How’s the kid holding up?” Aphelia asked.

    “About as well as he could be.” Rio answered. “I’ve given him time off work, but right now what he really needs is a family to go back to. And based on his legal documents, he doesn’t have one.”

    “That’s awful.” Aphelia replied, her tone sympathetic. “If he ever needs to, he can come stay with us for a while. I’m sure Shiira would enjoy the company.”

    “I’m sure she’d end up causing him all kinds of trouble.” Rio joked. “He’s a quiet kid, and she’s… not.”

    Aphelia chuckled. “I suppose you’re right.” As she laughed, she began to have a coughing fit. Despite her best efforts to regain her composure, Rio almost lost his as he was reminded of his wife’s fragile condition.

    “How are you holding up?” Rio asked.

    “I’m doing well. The new medication I’m taking is helping things. I took Shiira for a walk today and I managed to survive. But… I’ll be feeling a lot better when you’re back.” Aphelia answered, smiling gently at her partner.

    “Only two more days until I’m home. Hang in there for me, okay?”

    “Of course.” Aphelia replied. As she spoke, she could hear commotion upstairs.

    “That’s our daughter. I need to deal with that.”

    Rio laughed. “Good luck.”

    “Thanks. Love you!” Aphelia replied, hanging up the phone to go and check on her daughter.

    *​

    April 9th, 2245. Evening. Marko’s apartment. Marko is sitting in the living room in the dark watching television when he hears a knock at the door.

    Marko trudged to the door and opened it. Rio stood on the other side, a look of concern on his face.

    “I haven’t heard from you for a while, so I thought I’d come and check on you.”

    “Thanks, but I’m fine.”

    “Just looking at you, I can tell you’ve lost weight. Have you been eating?”

    “Yeah.”

    “Do you mind if I come in for a minute?”

    “Sure.”

    As Rio walked in, he smelt a mixture of cigarette smoke and instant noodle seasoning. As they sat down, Rio took a deep breath.

    “Look. I understand how hard this must be for you. I really do. I don’t mind you taking time out, but when you go radio silent, I can’t help but worry.” Rio said, concerned.

    “I don’t know if I can do it, Commander.” Marko answered, looking at the floor.

    “Like I said, take all the time you need, just…”

    “I’m not talking about that.” Marko replied.

    “What’s the matter?”

    “I don’t think I can be in the Kingsguard any more.” Marko answered, his tone filled with doubt.

    “Marko…”

    “I… saw Rin die. The moment she got stabbed… I was there. And I couldn’t do anything. All I could do was sit and watch her final moments. It’s my fault she’s dead.”

    Rio’s head dropped, a wave of sadness hitting him. “Marko, listen. It’s not your fault that…”

    Before the Commander could finish, Marko cut him off, his voice a mixture of anger and sadness. “Are you about to say it’s not my fault? Don’t bother.”

    “Why would it ever be your fault?”

    “The bot that killed Rin… Was Bacchus of the Twelve.”

    Rio’s sadness quickly turned into confusion. “The Twelve?”

    “I should have been ready by now. Rin was as strong as me, if not stronger… but she was completely outclassed.” Marko continued. “I don’t know what more I can do. Maybe they’re just too strong.”

    “Hold on just a moment, boy. You’re saying you know about the bots we just faced?” Rio asked, frantically trying to work out the meaning behind the young soldier’s words.”

    Marko nodded. “Yes. I’ve known about them for a long time. I’m sorry for not saying anything. The only person I could talk to was Rin. I was scared nobody else would believe me.”

    “I see no reason you would lie about something like this.” Rio replied. “If it’ll help, I will listen to everything you have to say.”

    Marko exhaled, preparing himself to tell a story he had only told once before. “Okay. I guess I can tell you, Commander. My real name is… Apollo Marks.”

    Hearing this name triggered old memories to resurface in Rio’s mind. “So that makes your father…”

    Marko nodded. “Yeah. Dad always talked about you. Apparently, I met you when I was still less than a year old. Not that I’d remember.”

    “Tell me. Is Skivar still alive?” Rio asked.

    Marko nodded. “He has to be. Without him, they… can’t make the Twelve.”

    “You keep mentioning this “Twelve”. What is it?”

    Marko then explained to Rio the history of the Twelve and his own past with Dreamcorp.

    “Ever since that day, I… I guess I’ve known that the Twelve would eventually show up. Even though they aren’t in the form that Dream originally wanted, I recognised that name the moment I saw it. Every time I trained with Rin, it was to prepare for the moment they arrived. But… it was all pointless. Rin’s dead. No amount of hard work can change that.”

    “Marko, I… didn’t realise the burden you’d been carrying with you all this time. I’m sorry.” Rio replied.

    “Commander. I know that she would have wanted me to continue. And I know that I don’t have any choice but to keep going. But, I…”

    “Marko.” Rio interjected. “You’re not alone. I know with all of this on your shoulders, it must feel that way. And losing the only other person who knows about this must make that worse. But just know that everyone at the Kingsguard is with you. Whether they know your secret or not, they’ll be fighting alongside you against whatever threat may come. On and off the battlefield, they’re your friends… your family, even. No matter how heavy the weight you carry, we’ll always be there to share the load. I won’t tell anyone else what you’ve told me, either.”

    Marko smiled, although his gaze was still somewhere far away from Rio. “Thank you, Commander.”

    *​

    April 9th, 2245. Rio has just returned to his apartment after talking with Marko. His phone is ringing.

    “…Hello?”

    “Mr. Em Rose. It’s Dr. Cain.”

    “Ah, yes. I thought you sounded familiar. To what do I owe this call?”

    “It’s about your wife. She’s come down with a fever, and her condition is weakening. We’ve managed to stabilise her for the time being, and she’ll likely recover within five days. However, she will be bed bound until then.”

    “Thank you for the update, Doctor. I’ll come to visit tomorrow.”

    Rio hung up the phone. Sighing heavily, he poured himself a drink from the bar. Today had been a stressful one.

    *​

    April 10th, 2245. Kingsguard Training Facility. In an attempt to get back on his feet, Marko has decided to train. As he enters the facility, he is greeted by two senior soldiers: Katsurou Yamamoto (age: 34) and Eustace Swann (age: 29).

    “Hey, Swann. Looks like the boy wonder’s finally decided to show himself.” Katsurou said, pointing at Marko. As Marko walked past him, Katsurou threw a few taunts at the young soldier.

    “Where’ve you been, huh? Been at day care?”

    Swann placed his arm in front of Katsurou’s chest, keeping him away from Marko. “Come on Katsu, leave it out.”

    Katsurou pushed Swann’s arm away and headed straight for Marko, who was doing his best to keep his distance. “While you’ve been busy playing with Lego and making macaroni sculptures, the real men have been here training.”

    Marko remained silent and kept walking.

    “I said it before the battle back then and I’ll say it again. You’re just some spoilt little runt playing soldier. Just because Rio seems to like you for some reason, you think you’re hot shit. But compared to a real soldier… you’re nothing.”

    Marko continued onward, doing his best to ignore Katsurou’s taunts. However, the veteran soldier persisted.

    “Oh? Now your teacher isn’t here, you aren’t so tough, are you?”

    Hearing this comment, Marko gritted his teeth and clenched his fist, channelling all his resolve into remaining calm. Sensing he was about to get a reaction, Katsurou went for the killer blow.

    “Come on, kid. Don’t be glum. She was weak anyway. It’s probably a good thing she…”

    Before Katsurou could finish his sentence, Marko looked him dead in the eye, his face contorted in rage. Not giving his senior any more time to taunt him, Marko hit him with a powerful left jab to the side of the face that sent him flying through a wall into an empty training room. As Katsurou picked himself up, his face throbbing, Marko walked slowly over to him, his aura menacing. Sensing he was in for a fight, Katsurou grinned to himself as he assumed a guard position.

    “That’s more like it, kid. Let all that anger out.”

    Almost instantaneously, Marko appeared in front of Katsurou. The veteran soldier threw a wild left, hoping to catch his opponent off guard. Marko reacted quickly, grabbing his wrist and squeezing it hard enough for Katsurou’s bones to make a sickening crunching sound. As Katsurou screamed out in pain, Marko uttered seven words in a voice threatening enough to make any man freeze.

    “I’ll make you regret what you said.”

    Punching Katsurou square in the face, Marko felt the veteran’s nose crumble under his fist. Launching a vicious beatdown in which Katsurou was completely incapable of fighting back, Marko managed to inflict a degree of pain so severe that his once cocky opponent begged for him to stop. Marko refused, only stopping his beating when Swann stepped in to restrain him. As Marko raised his fist at him as well, Swann could only raise his hands to show that he had no intention of fighting him.

    “Kid… I think you’ve proved your point.”

    *
    An hour later. Rio’s Office.

    “Marko… What the hell happened?” Rio asked, his head in his hands.

    “I’m sorry… he was saying all this stuff and I got mad and-”

    “Look. I know what Yamamoto’s like. He’s like that with everyone. I don’t blame you for doing what you did. But the report from the medical department is damning. A broken nose, right tibia and fibula, several broken ribs, a punctured lung and a left arm so heavily damaged they briefly considered amputation… A more neutral party would consider it assault.”

    “I’m sorry, Commander.”

    Rio sighed. “I’m glad you felt motivated after we talked yesterday, but maybe coming in today was a bad idea. There’s no need to force anything.”

    A moment’s silence followed.

    “It may be best if you don’t come in for a while.” Rio decided. “I don’t want this incident to escalate further, and you’d probably benefit from a little time off.”

    “Understood. Thank you, Commander.”

    Marko quietly took his leave from Rio’s office. As Marko walked out, Rio hit his head against the desk. It seemed he couldn’t catch a break, after all.

    *​

    April 11th, 2245. Em Rose Manor. Aphelia’s Room.

    “Oh, Rio… I didn’t expect you to be back so soon.” Aphelia said weakly, looking over at her husband.

    “Dr. Cain told me you were unwell.” Rio replied, rushing to his wife’s bedside.

    “I’ll be okay. It’s just a little cold.” Aphelia said, coughing to punctuate the end of her sentence.

    Rio smiled. Throughout the course of his wife’s illness, he had been worrying over her constantly whenever he was out of town. The thought of something happening to her while he was gone scared him more than anything. But through it all, Aphelia herself had been his source of strength. Somehow, her presence alone was enough to burst through the worry in his heart, like a ray of sun on a cloudy day. As he took his wife’s hand in his, he felt himself welling up with tears.

    “What are you crying for? We’re together, aren’t we?”

    Rio wiped his eyes. “You’re right. I’m sorry. I’ve just been so worried about you…”

    “I’ve missed you.” Aphelia replied, smiling.

    “I’ve missed you too.” Rio squeezed her hand tighter.

    Aphelia looked up at her husband. Noticing the bags under his eyes, her face began to fill with worry. “You haven’t been sleeping lately, have you?”

    “It’s been a stressful few days.” Rio answered.

    “Tell me everything.” Aphelia replied, smiling. “I worry about you too, you know.”

    Rio began to unload the stress that recent events had put him under, his wife listening intently to every word.

    “… I just feel responsible. I know he wasn’t ready to come back, but I…”

    Aphelia shook her head. “No. You didn’t force him to do anything, Rio. Marko made that decision for himself. If anything, it’s Yamamoto you should be looking at. He’s been a problem child for a while now, hasn’t he?”

    “You’re right.” Rio answered. “Because of his abilities, he’s been given a lot of second chances. Hopefully this teaches him a lesson. If not, I’ll deal with him.”

    “My, my. How responsible of you.” Aphelia joked. “But you know… you and Marko are very alike. Both of you are weighed down by your feelings of responsibility. You voluntarily place the weight of the world on your shoulders, all the while living in constant fear of letting others down.”

    “Someone has to do it.” Rio replied. “The people need a symbol of hope.”

    “I know it must be tough being Hiraeth’s Mightiest Hero.” Aphelia answered, giggling. “But Rio… you need to stop overfilling your plate. I hate to see you looking so worn out.”

    Rio kissed his wife on the forehead. “I’ll do my best for you.”

    Aphelia looked at him, her expression doubtful. “Rio… promise me.”

    “Okay. I promise.” Rio replied.

    “Good.” Aphelia sat up to kiss her husband. As they shared their first kiss in what felt like forever, Shiira walked in to the room.

    “Daddy?”

    Rio and Aphelia turned to Shiira, both smiling.

    “I thought I’d come and surprise my two favourite girls.” Rio said, grinning.

    Shiira ran over to hug her father. Sitting on his lap, the three of them shared a rare moment together as a family. As they talked and laughed, Rio felt the weight on his shoulders slowly lift off.

    *
    April 19th, 2245. Marko’s Apartment. Shino (age: 16) and her mother have come to Adamine to visit Marko. As Shino’s mother sleeps, Marko is standing on the balcony, deep in thought. Shino comes out to talk to him.

    “Couldn’t sleep either, huh?”

    Marko quickly stubbed out his cigarette, flicking it off the balcony. “I didn’t realise you were awake…”

    Shino walked over to Marko, picking the box of cigarettes up off the glass table. “And why are these out again?”

    “Sorry.” Marko answered. “I’ve just been stressed out.”

    Shino tutted. “You know, you could just talk to me about it…”

    “I know that.” Marko replied.

    “So why don’t you? We’re friends, aren’t we?”

    “I don’t want to burden you.”

    Shino walked over to Marko, tapping his forehead. “Idiot. It’s worse for me seeing you like this and not knowing what’s going on.” Her eyes suddenly avoiding Marko’s, Shino began to blush. “You know I worry about you.”

    Marko felt his cheeks heat up. “O-oh. I’m sorry for making you worry, then.”

    “I’d worry a lot less if you talked.” Shino replied.

    “I guess I don’t have a choice now.” Marko answered. Looking out at the stars, he began to unload.

    “I’m scared. Scared that I won’t live up to the expectations people have set for me. Scared that I won’t be able to protect the people that matter the most when they need me the most. That my own weakness will cost other people the same way it cost me Rin. I can’t afford to let anyone down… but right now, I don’t have the will to fight.”

    “That’s natural.” Shino replied. “Everyone feels that way at some point. As for living up to people’s expectations… forget what they think. Right now, the only person you should be focusing on is yourself. Take your time to recover from everything, and don’t force yourself into doing things because you think you should. Stay true to who you are, because the you I know can do anything.”

    “Shino… thank you.”

    Shino walked up to Marko and gave him a peck on the cheek, before turning inside to go to bed. As she walked away, Marko put his hand to his cheek, his face bright red.

    “You’d better play a song for me tomorrow morning, okay?”

    *​

    June 2nd, 2245. Marko’s 16th Birthday. Rio knocks on Marko’s door.

    “Commander. I didn’t expect to see you today.” Marko said as he opened the door.

    “Ha ha! I couldn’t head out of town without wishing you a happy birthday.” Rio answered cheerfully.

    “Thank you.” Marko replied, inviting Rio in to the apartment. As Rio sat down, Marko went to fetch a jug of water. As Marko poured Rio a glass of water, the Commander commented on the piano set up in the living room.

    “I didn’t realise you were a musician, Marko.”

    “I like to play every now and then.” Marko replied. “I’m not that good, though.”

    “What have you been learning lately? Put on a show for me, boy!”

    Marko shuffled nervously. “This is a little embarrassing…”

    “Nonsense! I’m sure you play well.”

    “It’s not that… it’s more about the song I’ve been learning lately.”

    “Ha ha! Are you listening to that teen pop stuff? There’s no shame in it. You are a teen, after all.”

    Marko shook his head. “It’s one of Aphelia’s… one of your wife’s songs. I don’t want to mess it up.”

    “Nonsense.” Rio replied. “There’s no need to be hesitant.”

    Marko sighed. “Okay, I guess I’ll show you.”

    As Marko played, Rio felt himself moving back in time. In his mind, the sound of the piano’s melody morphed in to his lover’s voice. He was sitting in a dark, musty bar nursing a glass of malt whiskey. As he looked up to the stage, the spotlight shone brightly on a woman whose beauty was unrivalled anywhere else in the world. He could almost feel the butterflies he felt as he approached her after her set finished. Her smile, her eyes and even the dress she wore that night were ingrained into his memory, and he relived each moment as the song continued. As the melody’s last note rang out, Rio felt himself return to the real world once again.

    “The way you played the melody… that’s exactly the way she sang it the night we first met.” Rio commented.

    “I watched a few of her live videos. Her voice has a different quality live to how it is on the record.” Marko replied.

    “You should come visit us some time. I’m sure you could bring out the best qualities in Aphelia’s voice. Maybe you can even inspire my daughter to do her piano practice as well!”

    “How is Aphelia? I heard she was on hiatus because of health issues, but the news has been very quiet about it.” Marko asked.

    “We’ve been trying to keep things away from the media.” Rio replied. Marko noticed that his previously calm expression had changed into a much more sombre look.

    “Sorry… I shouldn’t have asked.” Marko replied.

    “No, no. It’s fine.” Rio answered. “You’ve talked to me about your worries, I suppose I can trust you with mine. I rarely get to talk honestly about Aphelia, anyway.”

    “Honestly?” Marko said, confused.

    Rio paused for a moment before speaking. “When people ask me how Aphelia is doing, I usually smile and shrug it off, saying that she’s fine and she’s working on getting better. But unfortunately, she isn’t. She’s suffering a pain worse than I could ever imagine. Every day that goes by, her body eats away at itself, making her weaker and weaker. Medication is slowing the process down, but… we know that she doesn’t have long. I haven’t told Shiira… but I’m sure she’ll catch on eventually.”

    “I’m sorry to hear that.” Marko replied. “I didn’t realise you were going through something so difficult.”

    “Every moment I’m away from her I’m sick with worry, but I’m hanging in there.” Rio said. “Knowing she’s there waiting for me gives me strength. But when she’s gone, I… don’t know if I’ll be able to cope. Will I be able to put on a brave face for my daughter? Or will I break down?”

    “… I know how that feels.” Marko said, his tone reassuring.

    “I know. That’s why I felt I could tell you.” Rio replied, a distant smile on his face. Pausing for a moment, he then pulled out his phone.

    “Could you play that again? I’m going to call Aphelia so she can listen.”

    *​

    February 18th, 2246. Burgundy – a town in the North of Hiraeth. At the Em Rose Manor, family and close friends of Aphelia Em Rose gathered in the aftermath of her funeral. As the funeral-goers slowly file out, Rio heads to the main lounge, where Marko has just finished providing entertainment for the guests.

    “Thank you for doing this, Marko.” Rio said. “Having her music in the background all day was fitting.”

    “I’m honoured you chose me.” Marko replied. “Your piano sounds amazing.”

    Rio laughed. “It only sounds as good as whoever’s playing it.”

    “How’s Shiira?” Marko asked.

    “She’s been in her room since the service ended.” Rio answered. “It’s been a lot for her to take in. I’m going to go talk with her again soon.”

    “How are you doing, Commander?” Marko asked.

    “I’ll survive.” Rio replied. “I’ve been busy preparing the funeral since she died so I haven’t had time to process yet. But I think after this I’m going to take some time off.”

    “I’m sure the newly-promoted Commander Kyros and friends will look after things just fine while you recover.” Marko commented.

    “You know, Marko… I’m thinking of retiring soon.”

    “So suddenly?” Marko replied, shocked.

    “I’ve been thinking about it for a while.” Rio answered. “The year you joined was going to be my last. With Aphelia sick and Shiira being so young, I had to put them first. I’d even picked out my successor… but unfortunately, she passed away before I had the chance to promote her.”

    “You chose Rin?”

    Rio nodded. “We both know how strong she was.”

    “I’m surprised, but I also understand your decision. I think you’re doing the right thing.” Marko replied.

    “Now Aphelia’s gone, I have to give my everything to protect the one thing I have left. Besides, I’m not worried about leaving.” Rio replied. “Kyros, Noah and Sprazi are all highly capable soldiers. And then there’s you, Marko.”

    “Me?”

    Rio nodded. “Even some of the most seasoned veterans have been blown away by your ability. Without question, you’ll be the strongest soldier in the history of the Kingsguard. I know this might be a lot to ask of you, but… I want you to take Rin’s place.”

    “Take her place?” Marko asked.

    “As my successor.” Rio replied. “You might still be too young right now, but once I’m gone, the Kingsguard will need a new “Mightiest Hero”. When the time comes, I’m sure you’ll be more than ready to take up that mantle.”

    “I’ll do my best to live up to your expectations.” Marko replied, bowing his head.

    Rio chuckled. “No need to be so formal. Just have faith in yourself, and you’ll no doubt surpass my expectations.”

    *​

    May 25th, 2253. 2:45am. Peace Village – Marko’s house. Marko (age: 23) and Rio (age: 49) are having a drink on Marko’s balcony in the aftermath of the Poseidon battle.

    “So that was one of the Twelve, huh… I’m glad I chose to retire! That thing was tough! Ha ha!” Rio joked.

    “For someone who’s not been on the front lines in years… you’ve still got it, Commander.” Marko replied.

    “I was lucky to be alongside such capable fighters, that’s all.” Rio said modestly. “You especially, Marko.”

    “Thank you.” Marko replied.

    “But still… the potential of Chirch and Shiira is truly something.” Rio continued. “They’re so young, but they’re already at a level that most soldiers could only dream of. You’ve trained a pair of monsters, boy.”

    “I haven’t done much.” Marko replied. “Their growth is the result of their own hard work. I’m just there to iron out the creases.”

    “You sell yourself short, Captain.” Rio answered. “To take two early graduates and turn them into soldiers capable of facing the country’s greatest threat on even ground. I’m sure as others arrive, they’ll be more than ready for each of them.”

    “I hope so.” Marko replied. Finishing his rum, he looked out towards the sea.

    “How much time do you have left?” Rio asked.

    “I don’t know… but I don’t have long.” Marko answered. “The moment the right opportunity comes, Dreamcorp will come for me again.”

    “What happens then?” Rio asked.

    “Beats me.” Marko replied. “But whatever it is, it’s something I have to face alone. If Dream wants me, I have to shut him down myself.”

    “Do you think you can win?” Rio asked.

    “I’m almost certain that I can’t.” Marko replied. “Knowing Dream, he’ll engineer a situation where he simply can’t lose.”

    “Marko…”

    “It’s fine. If I die, I know that there’ll be people there to take my place. Nobody’s irreplaceable, after all.” Marko replied. Despite his very fate looming over his head, he remained calm, almost welcoming whatever may come.

    “My, my. How you’ve grown, Captain.” Rio commented. “You’ve truly become a man. Even in the face of death, your resolve is unwavering. If only the you of eight years ago could see you now…”

    “I wouldn’t be this calm if I didn’t have hope.” Marko answered. “Part of that is down to you.”

    “I only wish I could help you in the battle with Dream.” Rio replied.

    “Ah, that’s right. Rio. I have something to ask of you.” Marko said.

    “Go ahead.” Rio replied.

    “After I die… I want you to watch over Chirch and Rose in my place. Make sure they don’t lose their way.”

    Rio breathed a sigh of relief. “Phew! I thought you were going to ask me to come out of retirement there for a second! Ha ha!”

    “If the situation calls for it… please consider that as an option.” Marko added. Rio paused for a moment to see whether the young Captain was joking, however he soon realised he was deadly serious.

    “… Very well.” Rio answered. “I’ll do my best to live up to your expectations.”

    Marko chuckled. “I’m sure you’ll exceed them. You are the Kingsguard’s legendary undefeated soldier, after all.”

    “Only because you let me win that fight.” Rio joked.

    *
    August 19th, 2247. Rio Em Rose (age: 44) is retiring from Kingsguard duty after 27 years of distinguished service. On his final day, he challenges Marko de Polaris (age: 18) to a duel, which is taking place in the Facility’s amphitheatre. In the crowd are several well-known Kingsguard soldiers.

    “Who’re you bettin’ on, Sprazi?” asked Commander Rowan Noah.

    Commander Enrico Sprazi fiddled with his moustache. “It’s tough to call. The Commander is the Commander, but the kid’s battle sense is ridiculous. I heard he beat you and Kyros in a 2-v-1.”

    Noah’s face turned beet red. “I was just having an off day, that’s all…”

    “Pfft. You’re always having an off day.” Sprazi retorted.

    In the back row of the crowd, Arthur Grinnington shook his fist at Marko, who was warming up before his big match.

    “That Marko, belittling me once again! He rejected my weekly challenge for this? Fool!”

    “Calm down, Arthur,” said Amanda, lowering her friend’s arm. “I’m sure he’ll fight with you another time.”

    “Ho ho ho… he must be scared.” Grinnington cackled. “He must be using this as training.”

    “I wonder which way this one will go…” added Ragnar Rayleigh. “What do you think, Ronda?”

    “Gee, I dunno, Raggy…” replied Ronda, Rayleigh’s plus one, “They’re both real strong like.”

    “How insightful.” Amanda joked.

    “Marko’s never lost a fight… but then again, neither has the Commander.” Maruna Deva said, weighing up the battle. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a double KO!”

    “Why would the Commander call out Marko, anyway?” Rayleigh added. “From what I’ve heard, this is the first time in years that he’s challenged anyone…”

    Down on the battlefield, Rio and Marko walked towards each other. Squaring up, the two heroes had their final war of words.

    “Let’s see if you’re as strong as the other soldiers have made you look.” Rio taunted jokingly.

    “Just because you’re an old man doesn’t mean I’ll hold back.” Marko retorted.

    “Just so you know, Marko, my daughter’s in the crowd today. I don’t intend on losing in front of her.”

    “Heh. Maybe I’ll let you get a few shots in, so she doesn’t go home crying.”

    Commander Kyros, who was officiating the match, separated the two men. “Fighters. Are you ready?”

    Both men nodded.

    Kyros pointed to the bell ringer, instructing him to ring the bell.

    “And… FIGHT!”

    END
     
  2. Marco Polo

    「MISTA TWELVE」
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    As promised in the OP, here's the surprise I was talking about.

    Kingsguard Chapter 60 will be titled "Invitation". Release Date: TBA

    Preview:


     
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  3. Kia

    Kia
    All about amare, anima, and anime.
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    We find out who Katsu is... with a father like that, is it any wonder Yamamoto has so many personality issues? And can we talk about how much I’m loving this story? I wanna read more but it’s all done... I guess I could always read it again. Rio might come out of retirement? Shiira didn’t give Marko nearly as much trouble as Chirch did, methinks. So many great hidden moments brought to light. Thanks for the special! ^_^
     
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  4. Deathbloke

    voi-bloody-la
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    That was a great prequel chapter, giving a lot of details, especially on Rio's backstory. Saw a lot of characters, it's definitely been a while!
    Although I'd like to see more of the supporting cast in little side-stories, but I suppose there was no room for that. Anyway, thanks for the special!! :)

    P.S. Wait, when did Swann retire?
     
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  5. miss_SMP

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    Love it. @Marco Polo

    It was a roller coaster of emotions there and super awesome. Happy when I got the notifications, then read the first part, made myself sad, then saw Aphelia's name, made myself sadder, interactions and friendship of Marko and Rio, made me super happy, then remembered Marko's "gone" sad again. Last part though, lifted me up quite a bit. Hahaha. Now I'm wondering how it really went down with that fight.

    Looking forward to chapter 60. Imma play that song when I read it.

    PS. Speaking of new chapter, I'll send you the short story cont soon. Hahaha. TBD though.
     
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  6. Marco Polo

    「MISTA TWELVE」
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    I’m glad you remember Katsu, lol
    He’s had an effect on Shishio for sure, but how much?

    Probably late 2249/early 2250?

    Rio won
     
  7. miss_SMP

    Kahel
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    So they say, Rio seems to think otherwise. Hahaha

    Forgot to mention earlier:

    HAPPY ANNIVERSARY KG WORLD!!! Hope to see more of this beautiful universe. :D
     
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  8. Pacquiao8

    62-7-2 (39 KO)
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    Awesome! Centered around KG's bests. Happy 2nd!

    P.S.: I hope we'll have a chapter about the fight itself.
     
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  9. Kia

    Kia
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    Exactly. There seems to be some contention on whether or not this was a legitimate win. That cliffhanger though. Since Marko knew he was going to die and Rio was going to be left behind to be the remaining hope, it stands to reason that he would’ve or could’ve thrown the fight in order to protect the future. Just saying. I still wanna see it though.

    That remains to be seen, doesn’t it? I’d imagine it’s a combination of the way he behaved at home plus his reputation within the KG itself that’s caused her warped personality, frankly. It seems like she’s struggling with daddy didn’t love me enough/didn’t approve of me issues plus being in the shadow of him being a royal f*ckup. That’s a serious mix to work through. So her complex is understandable but it doesn’t make me like her any better because she’s endangering others in the process. You work out your own stuff without harming others when your job is literally life and death or you get a different job. *shrug* Just my thoughts on it though. I could be way off base. ^_^

    And we know why the others never challenged Marko. That Katsu beat down was no joke. Swann watched it happen and learned right then probably that he needed a leg up to get anywhere. That’s why he ran off to wherever and came back shady, with perfect timing, lying in wait to strike for kills and whatnot. Again, just my thoughts. ^_^
     
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  10. Marco Polo

    「MISTA TWELVE」
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    I thought about writing the fight but I prefer to leave the outcome (and reasons for the outcome) open to interpretation

    The question is, did Rio overestimate Marko and underestimate himself, or did Marko want Rio to retire on top? The fight was also six years before the KG arc, so Marko may have gotten stronger since then? Lots of variables to consider...



    She’s certainly a character that needs developing. I wonder if Author-san has plans for her or not...

    I’d wanted to write a proper Marko beatdown for so long so I’m just happy I got to do it, lol. He rarely fought out of anger but if you piss him off he’s more than capable of killing you, very dangerous

    Seeing his buddy get beaten within an inch of his life certainly had an effect on Swann (he mentions it when he talks to Moss in Chapter 57, I believe). Did it change his fighting style? We’ll have to see him fight properly to find out...
     
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  11. Dreamer

    I'm more like a stone than a snowflake
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    Belated congratulations for Kingsguard Second Anniversary!

    I almost cried when I read the scene about Rin's funeral but I'm happy that Marko got eventually over his sadness and that Rio was there to support him. I'm also happy because that Yamamoto guy got what he deserved.

    This was very nice story. Well done again :).
     
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