Hansel's Lover - Chapter NineteenAs Milkov comes into the picture, Daniel and Anna find themselves preparing for a war, they never thought they would lead.
Daniel opened the windows to let the cool, early morning breeze enter the house.
His watch revealed that it was five in the morning, but neither he nor Anna slept at all. He walked to the kitchen to make coffee, carefully blowing through the steam before handing it to the young woman who sat eerily still on the edge of the couch.
Although, it had been days since he took Anna back from Andestris, he never really had the chance to pay much attention to the little changes in her appearance. For instance, she had cut her hair short, with the length barely touching the nape of her neck. Her collarbones, in his opinion, looked too delicate, as it was sticking out more than, it had before.
She looks so delicate, like a rare and expensive china, that one push with a finger might cause her to topple over. But he knew that wasn't true. After all, this is Anna Elixon - the woman he would fight wars for.
She's a woman capable enough to move mountains at will. She's a woman capable of moving his heart.
"You're staring too hard," she commented.
"Could you blame me?" He said as he handed her his coffee.
"Don't fall too hard," she said weakly. "I'm the human weapon, after all."
Daniel didn't reply to Anna. Instead, he walked towards a small table, where a single picture frame stood proudly on the middle. It was a picture of Anna, standing side by side with her father, wearing the exact uniform Daniel wore.
"As soldiers, we fight until the war's won," he said. "But sometimes, when we find ourselves minutes away from death, we start to question what it is we are truly fighting for."
"What answers have you come up with?"
Daniel cracked a small smile. "The usual. I fight because I'm a soldier, the one people rely on to fight for their cause. A member of the National Guards." He looked down on the floor. "But that isn't entirely true. In those moments where I look at death in the eyes, I hope to think about the people I would come home to. Back then I had nobody, but now..." he paused.
"Now I have you."
Anna couldn't help but blush at his comment. She was never the girl to blush at all. She turned her head away to hide her expression, but she knew he could tell what she was doing.
"You shouldn't be saying that, Captain."
"Before I am a captain, I am a man." Daniel grabbed the picture frame, and he took it to her. "I want to protect my lover the same way her father protected her."
He held her hand. "Captain Elixon had those records in his possession before turning it to the Alliance. If my suspicions are correct, your mother..."
Anna remembers very well the contents in her mother's journal. The things her mother had written were consistent with Daniel's words, and she understood right away, that the possibility where Anna might actually be the human weapon, is very high.
"My mother frequented the hospital because of her fragile body, so she could easily have been given doses of their..." she closed her eyes, "experimental drugs. She stopped writing after announcing in those pages that she was pregnant with me. That leaves nine months," she paused. "Nine months where they could have kept her in the hospital to be tested on. Like an animal."
Daniel sat beside Anna.
"Captain Elixon found those records in a recon operation in the outskirts of the Union Republic. What I don't understand, is how your father knew it was your mother, while General Romero has no clue. Perhaps," said Daniel, "he tampered with the records by removing pages that displays your mother's identity.
"Then I must contact Milkov, after all."
"Milkov?" He asked. "Why?"
"Because he is my biological father, Daniel. He left a promising career here in Siho, as well as my mother, who was pregnant with me at the time, and moved to Andestris without any explanation. For him to suddenly leave like that, perhaps he might know where those missing pages went."
Perhaps, he took those pages with him.
Daniel's eyes widened after her sudden revelation. "Milkov... is your real father?"
Sighing, Anna let her head fall to Daniel's shoulder. "Oh, Daniel. At this point, I can be the Prime Minister's long-lost cousin."
He cleared his throat. "You know what, I wouldn't be surprised."
As they relaxed on the couch, Daniel heard a buzzing sound coming from his phone, so he excused himself. A few minutes later, he went back inside the room, and he stood in front of Anna.
"What's going on?"
"Looks like you don't have to look for Milkov after all," said Daniel as he pointed to the front door. "He called me to say he's here."
Anna ran quickly and opened the door. The first thing she noticed were his gray eyes.
When she first encountered Milkov, he appeared nonchalant. The few times after that were no different.
A farce, Anna thought to herself. That nonchalant expression was nowhere to be found today.
"You're here," she said, letting him into her home. He sat on the couch, and his eyes roamed around, eventually stopping at the picture of Anna and Captain Elixon, taken the day of her high school graduation.
"He took good care of you," he said. "I knew he would."
"What are you doing here?" She asked. "Surely you aren't here to frolic around".
Milkov shrugged his shoulders. "I went by Carson's clinic to drop an antitoxin that might just help a patient of his. It uses ingredients only found in our side of the kingdom. Took me 5 hours to pick those plants."
Milkov nodded. "Your father."
Daniel attempted to leave in order to give them some time alone, but Anna signaled him to stay. Seeing this, Milkov took out something from his breast pocket - two folded pieces of paper.
The paper itself looked old and beat up, yet Anna knew it held such a high value.
"How much do you two know about Mission E?" Milkov asked them. "you two surely have some ideas."
"What makes you think that?" Anna asked.
"Because you look like you have some questions for me now," he replied. "I stopped by Romero's office and he told me he finally revealed to the new Recon Captain about this operation." He looked at Daniel sternly. "I'm sure he would have said something to you."
"I'm sorry-" said Daniel, but Milkov held his hand up.
"I'm glad you did. It means I won't have to."
Daniel nodded. "The Alliance know about the remaining weapon, the one implanted to a young woman with an unborn child. And..." paused Daniel.
"We know they took advantage of her weak body by exposing her to chemicals that would make her exhibit abilities beyond any normal human comprehension. The alliance suspects that the researchers were not aiming to make a human weapon out of the mother, but of the child insider her belly. They were trying to expose the child to these chemicals before it could even open its eyes."
Anna folded her fingers into a tight fist. "They never intended for her to get better. They simply used her as a vessel, to house the monster they were trying to create."
Daniel held Anna's hand. Then he looked at Milkov.
"Please tell us the truth."
Nodding, Milkov spread open the papers in front of them and at the very top, were words that confirmed their suspicion.
Case file 0001: Emilia Nielson
"These are the missing papers from the journal that Captain Elixon presented to the Alliance. It came from the same journal that exposed the human experiment regarding a very young mother and her unborn child - these papers identify Emilia as the mother."
"Then that means..." Daniel looked at Anna, who can only stare at the man across them.
"It's true. Anna is Emilia's daughter... and mine."
Milkov turned his head towards the window. With its wood flaps open, he could hear the chirping of the birds and the laughter of children from across the river. He could hear the pleasant water gushing down, and the mooing of cows and barking of the dogs. He could hear life in the territory, the very territory he was once a part of.
"That idiotic man used to know nothing but guns," said Milkov as he pointed his finger at the picture of Captain Elixon. "But he raised you well."
"Don't call my father an idiot," retorted Anna. "He will always be more of a father than you ever will be."
Daniel tried to calm Anna down, but he could see Milkov chuckle at her remark.
"You're right," answered Milkov. "I can never call myself your father."
When he stood up from his seat, Daniel was afraid that he would leave. Instead, Milkov leaned his back beside the window, and he closed his eyes as if he was about to sleep. "Give me a bed. I haven't slept since yesterday."
"Is this guy a bat?" thought Daniel in his head.
"There's a bed inside the room to your left," signaled Anna. "You may as well go to sleep if you're done talking." She turned to Daniel. "Please lead him to father's room."
Daniel nodded, and he tapped Milkov in the shoulder so they could leave the room. With both men gone, she sighed in relief.
Her ears tingled, and she turned her head.
She looked around and found nobody in sight. Anna laid her head down on the kitchen table. "I must be so tired if I'm hearing things..."
Gently slapping her cheeks, she stood up and started to stretch. But before she could lean down to stretch her back, Anna felt a cool breeze run past her shoulders. She looked up and noticed that just a few feet away from where she stood, a window was open.
She began to walk forward, but a thought came up in her head and she stopped.
"Could I..." she paused. "No. It's impossible". She took another step, but she stopped once again. "This is a stupid idea".
A stupid idea I'll try anyway.
With her eyes set on the window, she spoke.
"Of course, nothing will happen", she scoffed. "I knew it was a stupid idea."
Anna began laughing at herself for actually thinking she could close the window with her mind. "I knew it," she repeated, "I knew I'm not..." she stopped.
I'm not a human weapon.
She looked at the window again. "One more time," she said to herself. "I'll try one more time, and if still doesn't move, I'll tell Daniel that I can't possibly be a human weapon."
Because human weapons should at least be able to close a silly little window.
With her eyes set on her target, she focused.
With raging force, the window slammed itself shut, with the force great enough to topple the flower vase beside it. Daniel came running down, and he found Anna standing idly still in the corner of the room.
"Daniel...I..." Anna swallowed, her eyes staring at her hands with fear. "I..."
"It's started, hasn't it?" Milkov said from behind them. "I knew this was going to happen soon."
With eyes barely open, Anna found herself launching to Milkov with fists up in the air. Before Daniel could stop her, Anna pounded on Milkov's chest.
"How dare you!?" she yelped. "All this time, it was jut my father and I. And now, you show up out of nowhere and say these things... why didn't you show up earlier!?"
Anna was filled with hatred towards the man in front of her. She expected him to ignore her words and push her away, but then she found her trembling fists being wrapped around by his hands.
"I'm sorry I haven't shown myself earlier, Anna," he whispered. "But I assure you, I've been around this whole time."
"Impossible," she hissed. "I would have remembered you, had I seen you before. But the first time we met was in Andestris."
He nodded. "You're right. The first time I've shown myself to you was in Andestris. But you see..."
"You've been protecting her this entire time, haven't you?" Interrupted Daniel as his index finger pointed to a tattoo that peeped out from Milkov's t-shirt. Milkov had always been wearing a jacket before, so neither of the two had ever noticed that in his right arm lied an image of an eagle, inked many years before. What made Milkov so different from other Eagle- tattooed men, was that his bird only had one feet instead of two.
"Those men who chased after Anna in Ezterdelle, those men from Black Cross, have told us that they've been looking for a mythical man with a tattoo as distinct as yours, who have been eradicating the kingdom's most influential players for years. When the General pieced together what could possibly connect these people together - two things came to his mind: their possible involvement with the Morgan virus, and with Captain Elixon's abduction in Sonddor."
Anna's eyes widened with disbelief. "What are you talking about?"
"General Romero told me today that the Ezterdelle's Recon team had reasons to believe it was not the Sonddor army who placed Captain Elixon in prison, but someone else entirely. No matter how unreasonable the Sonddor territory is, they would not simply imprison a Captain unless they have been ordered to. A Sonddor official reported to them that Captain Elixon was imprisoned in the South because a Union Republic official had accused him of treason - of gathering important Sonddor intel to be shared with the rest of the kingdom. When we searched for the Union Republic official in this claim, we found no official existed in the records." Daniel looked at Anna momentarily, before turning his attention to Miskov.
"Someone is turning the territories against each other, and maybe Black Cross may not be our real opponent after all. Is that why you chose to leave Siho? In order to investigate from the outside?"
Miskov looked up, and a smile crept on his face. "I never thought I would be found out so easily."
Soon, the smile disappeared from his face, and he turned himself on the other side of the room, perhaps to hide an expression he was not ready to show them.
"Twenty-three years ago, I left Siho to execute a confidential mission - to investigate an Andestris official being accused of money laundering and the murder of multiple individuals. It was a long investigation, and the nature of the job prevented me from telling anyone anything, not even to Emilia. A few months later, I found out about her death. I came back to Siho in secret, and Elixon told me what he found in that journal. We decided that night, that I would leave Siho and investigate from behind, while he takes cares of Anna. That's why for more than twenty years, we did just that."
"Well, have you made any progress?" Asked Daniel.
"Yes," replied Miskov. " I found out they are much closer that I first believed, and that they might know much more than we want them to."