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Chapter Ten

      It had been a normal day in the city of Yokohama. People went about their business as normal, never knowing their normal world was about to change.
      Flames flew through the city streets as an earthquake tore across the city in a wave of killing and destruction. Peoples screams pierced the deep bassy rumble, doing everything in their power to escape the danger. Even if that meant trampling one another to escape.
      A young man with long green hair pulled back into a ponytail runs with the crowd, yanking those that fell in front of him to their feet. He didn’t know what was going on, but he could tell by the crowds that there was going to be trouble.
      With a strength that seemed to contradict his wiry appearance, the young man breaks free of the crowd.
      "Shit..." the young man breathes, ducking into the protective cover that an alley offered. He tugs his jacket sleeves in a unconscious gesture to hide the scars from the old needle tracks that ran up and down his arm, then pats his pocket for the small handgun he always carried. "What the hell is going on?"
      Soon, the streets are empty save for the dead and dying. The young man named Shiranui Moto walks down the streets, the sights bring up an old nightmare he’d had.
      Over a year ago, he’d gone to sleep in a shelter in Toyama. Those days, he’d been a druggie and a street bum, living in the coma-like miasma of drugs. Then he had what most of the doctors had called a dream.
      Some evil being had captured the city and had taken everyone prisoner. People had died, and the city had all but been destroyed. Shiranui remembered trying to fight back first with a gun he’d stolen and then with his hands. His hand had been crushed, and he’d ended up with an inch long piece of shrapnel in his stomach from when his old gun had exploded. He remembered going into withdrawals and being sick. He remembered the demon soldiers that were fueled by the ghosts of those they’d killed and of something else he couldn’t remember.
      Funny thing was, that when Shiranui came to, he’d been scraped off the sidewalk by a big, friendly Chinese kid and his friends. They’d taken him to the emergency room where the doctors put him back together. They told him it was a drug-induced nightmare.
      The Rei-Faun family had taken him home from the hospital and had helped him get well. He found out that the big Chinese kid was Kento Xiu Rei-Faun, the oldest kid of the family. He’d told the big Chinese kid about what happened, he’d smiled and told him he was one of only ones who KNEW.
      Shiranui frowned. He didn’t know what Xiu meant by that, but this was quickly reminding him of what happened.
      He rounds a corner and immediately feels a sense of dread. The damage was getting worse the closer he got to the Rei-Faun place. Shiranui swallows and begins to run.

Netherworld...

      Kayura walks hurriedly down the corridor, her loyal handmaiden at he side. Behind her drifts the chaotic sounds of the council like the buzzing of a plague of insects. Earlier today, they had threatened her with a no-confidence vote if action was not met.
      Kayura blinked back fiery tears of outrage as she broke into a run, not caring for the flapping panels of silk that wrap and tangle about her legs as she runs.
      Dais had retired to his chambers early due to his sickness and Sekhmet was spending most of his time wallowing in his own guilt, leaving only Cale, Ayame, and herself to defend their position. There were times like this, where she almost longed for the thoughtless discipline of Talpa’s regime.
      "My lady, is this wise? Only the Ancient and Talpa were able to use that magic successfully!" Ayame yells, her hooded, red velvet robes flapping in the wake of her movement. Her footsteps barely made a sound as she ran at her heels.
      "I need him, Ayame! I can’t do this alone!!" Kayura answers, not breaking her pace as she hurries for her study. "He had a powerful influence over the them when they were just petty warlords!"
      "Kayura, let the poor man rest in peace!! He earned it!!" Ayame begs. She had to dissuade her mistress from this path. Not only was it perilous, but potentially deadly. "There has to be another way! A show of force perhaps?"
      "FINE," Kayura snaps, whirling about to face her. "YOU go in there and slaughter a few of them. It’ll only be looked on as another of the capricious whims of a Dessanin Death Angel!"
      Ayame sighs, and shoves her hood back to release the long red-violet tresses, revealing red eyes the colors of rubies, and tanned skin. "That’s my race, Milady; not my lot in life. I wasn’t raised one. I only follow their dictates to protect."
      Kayura looks down, guilty but unwilling to apologize. "I need him, Ayame! My hands are tied!!"
      Ayame bows her head. She knows that she’s done all she can. "All right, Lady Kayura..."

The Mortal World...

      The city of Yokohama is silent, save for the booming of cooling rock and the rumble of settling debris.
      The Rei-Faun house is mostly standing, with only minor damage to the upstairs and a great hole where the restaurants front had been. However, great slabs of what had once been part of a nearby office building have fallen partially into the place, crushing anything in its path.
      From underneath comes the muffled sounds of voices, faintly at first but growing a little louder.
      "All right, kid, here’s where you prove who your dad was."
      "Kay. Whenever you’re ready."
      "Ready? On three: One. Two. THREE!"
      The slab impossibly rises, supported by two teenage boys. The larger in bright orange armor, the other in a bluish-gray armor with a black and yellow silk overcoat.
      "You... have... it... ’Lex?" Kento grunts, staggering under it’s weight. His back felt as if he’d gone up against Alex’s late father in hand to hand combat; which boded no good. If he’d wounded his back, that would pose a problem in battle.
      "(Barely, same as you. What do we do with it?)" Alex asks telepathically as he struggles to keep the slab aloft. The only reason why his end was staying up was due to supplementing his physical strength with his telekinesis.
      "Anyone... on... the street?" Kento grunts, shifting his grip.
      "(It’s uhhh... sorta clear,)" Alex says, taking a quick glance.
      "Define: ‘sorta’. Are we... gonna kill... anything... if we... toss this... S.O.B?" Kento grunts, his knees shaking as he tries to walk.
      ("Nothing but our backs,") Alex answers, slightly in awe of the older boy. He was holding his end up with brute strength alone, while he had to depend on his nearly inexhaustible mental skills. Alex wonders briefly if he’ll be that strong once his body and mind matures further.
      "Toss it!" Kento grunts loudly as his muscles fail him, dropping to his knees.
      Alex lets go and hurls the slab with his telekinesis. It crashes to the ground with crash that shakes the ground, sending up clouds of dust and smaller rocks.
      With the slab gone, the others and Kento’s parents are able to emerge from their cover. They gape openly even as White Blaze slinks past; bearing both Saen and Theorn on his broad back.
      Theorn looks around curiously, never having seen damage this bad in his life. In front of Theorn, Saen’s lip quivers as he looks up at Cye but otherwise remains silent. His mind was filled with the mental screams of the dying and the empty holes of those gone.
      "Don’t be scared, kitty!" Theorn tells the tiny ball of fur in his arms. The kitten shudders once again and buries its head deeper in the crook of the child’s arm.
      Alex reaches up and gently soothes his cat’s terror as the Ronin slowly look around, not straying far from the cover of the restaurant. He then does the best he can with shaping his little brother’s mental powers into a shield.
      He finally looks at Theorn and grins, "Can you be a big boy and take care of her for me, Theorn?"
      Theorn smiles and nods proudly. "Yeah!! I like kitties!"
      "Thanks," Alex says, smiling as big and reassuring a smile as he can as he pats the boy’s shoulder. He then wanders over to Ryo who’s looking around.
      Alex reaches up and rests a hand on Ryo’s shoulder guard. He would have spoken so Wildfire knew who he was to avoid a sword in the gut, but the armor told Ryo of his presence long ago.
      "My God..." Ryo whispers, his right arm extended over his shoulder, his fingers resting on the grip of one sword. "Please tell me everyone’s okay, kid..."
      "You know everyone with us is. It’s others..." the red-head says with a shake of the head. He looks back to see Kento’s little brother and sister running after their big brother as he wanders about the area. "It isn’t safe here, Ry."
      "I know. But where can they go?" Ryo mutters, crossing his arms over his chest with a few soft clicks from his armor. "There’s no place safe in the city right now."
      "Hey guys! Over here!" Cye calls from over by the rest of the Rei-Faun family. Beside him, sitting on a rock, Rahne shudders and fingers the hilt of her sword.
      "This is creepy..." Sage mutters as he passes them as they make their way over.
      Cye and Rahne stand as they near, both looking like they’d much rather get the hell away from there instead of standing around this death trap.
      "We have to search for survivors..." Cye says softly as everyone presses in close, holding Saen’s small hand in his own. "It’s our duty..."
      "Right," Sage says in his usual voice, his face betraying little emotion as he shoulders his blade.
      Cye nods then continues. "Everyone, stay close. Look around, but don’t go far. Split in teams." He pauses, licking his lips to restore moisture before continuing. "Be careful."
      Alex casts a look over his should uncertainly as Ryo leads him around to the back of the restaurant. The others, except for the two little boys and Kento’s family were already out of sight.
      The young man shudders and hurries a few steps to catch back up with the older boy. All around him, the anguish, pain, and darkness rose from the city in waves. Alex swallows and resists the urge to run light a frightened child.
      They begin to cautiously make their way around the piles of debris, avoiding the rendered ends of girders that shine at them like unsheathed swords.
      A woman’s kneeling in the street ahead of them, her head cradled in her lap.
      "Are you okay?" Anubis’s son vaults over a pile of debris, running.
      But why does it feel so WRONG? Ryo wonders mentally. She’s a survivor. Alex doesn’t feel anything...
      A glint of a dagger catches Wildfire’s eye. Ryo curses and runs after Alex.
      A trap! Alex, it’s a trap!
      DANGER
      Alex halts just before he reaches her, finally sensing the danger. Too late. A shadowed form seems to shoot from the pavement at his feet, burying a dagger deep in Alex’s side. The young red-head cries in agony, dropping to one knee; trying to pull the dagger from his side.
      "ALEX!!" Ryo screams, unsheathing his katanas. He drives for the kill, now realizing the trap.
      The shadowed form of a woman blocks his downswing as the woman who had been kneeling slashes across Ryo’s chestplate, raising small crimson sparks.
      Ryo ignores the pain and the shock of finally meeting up with some mortal weapon capable of slicing mystical armor. He seizes Alex’s arm and drags him after him.
      "THEY’RE HERE!! GUYS, THEY’RE HERE!!" Ryo screams, blocking as the woman in black comes after him yet again.
      "ATTACK!!" comes a male voice.
      A gout of fire explodes in front of Ryo. He drops Alex to the pavement and breaks into a run. Not hesitating, Ryo drives into it knowing it to be a trap, but knowing it’ll work to his advantage.
      A thing that looked vaguely human, armed with a staff is coming for him. It smiles and moves closer.
      A high-pitched scream comes from above. The thing is driven back by a small Ronin in violet and a larger one in bright green. Rahne and Sage cut and slash, using each other’s height to their advantage.
      The others pour in, trying to take out the fight. As Ryo pivots and lashes with his twin blades, he sees Kento haul Alex off the ground and dump him in a safe place.
      "GET TO SAFETY!!" Kento bellows to his family. "RUN!! SAEN, THEORN: RUN, HIDE!!"
      Waves of solders seem to leap out of every shadow and explode from the ground itself. Ryo curses and drives in to join the others.

      Saen shudders and runs as fast as his little legs can carry him. White Blaze had left them to go protect the others. They had to hide; Kento said to hide.
      The ground shakes and trembles beneath their feet as the sounds of metal on metal scream through the air.
      "Do you really know the way?" Theorn asks, looking terrified for the first time as he hugs the kitten to his chest.
      Saen stops and turns. "No..."
      "Oh really?" a voice asks from the darkness.
      A tall man with white hair steps out, his red eyes rimmed by black lines. He smiles at the two boys, revealing a bright red mouth with two pronounced fangs.
      "...Vampire!" Saen whispers, backing up. Somehow he KNEW this was bad news.. "You’re... I’than."
      "Why, how right you are... now, let’s get on with this..."
      "GET AWAY FROM THOSE KIDS!!" a young man with long, green hair screams, leaping out into the street. He pulls a gun from his pocket and levels it at the man. "RUN, KIDS!!"
      Saen and Theorn stare at him for a moment, their small faces afraid.
      "GO, DAMNIT!!" he screams again, facing the demon. Finally the children get over their fright and run once more.
      "You..." the man-shaped thing hisses. Then it begins to laugh and licks its lips. "You’re a half-breed... delicious. I’m going to enjoy this..."
      "SHUT UP!!" the young man named Shiranui screams, squeezing the trigger. Fire leaps from the barrel of the gun, shattering the air around him.
      The thing gasps as the bullet finds its stomach, but then laughs. "Nice try..."
      "SHIT!" Shiranui curses, pumping the trigger; emptying the round into the vampire.
      I’than only laughs, showing bright white teeth. "I so do love you pathetic mortals... you never know when it’s truly over."
      "Yeah, well some of us refuse to quit when it’s only fucking losers like you," Shiranui pants, getting ready to fight for his life.
      I’than hisses, gesturing with one taloned hard. A fierce blast of wind comes out of nowhere and everywhere at once; bashing Shiranui up against the side of a building. He slides down it, feeling lightheaded from the force of the blow; his vision blurred. A trickle of hot, coppery blood runs out of his mouth as he looks up.
      The vampire warlord smiles in triumph. "Oh, believe me: it’s over."

To be continued...