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Shift - Chapter 21 - Promises

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The directions that Saki gave him were fairly vague, but he could not fault her since she had been trying to escape from the place. They had been able to figure it out between the two of them bringing them within sight of the warehouse where all of the people that had been kidnapped were being held. The entire area was quiet lacking much life at all with most of the building being abandoned or only used for storage. It made a perfect location for them to use their powers without being seen by the public. However, it could also be a perfect setup for a trap, a matter that Ayumi was attending to now.

Yuki watched from a distance and half distracted as Ayumi searched the area in advance. His mind was weighing heavily on Saki and what she had to go through from this assassin because of him. ‘I said I would make him pay, but that’s said so easily. Can I actually do it?’ The worry that he held was pulling and nagging at him filling his self-doubt. It had been a slow slope down for him once he left his house for the assassin, but the effect was piling up on him now that he faced the matter before him. He was no longer certain of his chances against the enemy. The anger in his heart was still strong, but it was no longer driving him forward like before.

Ayumi walked back to Yuki having completed her task. “Everything is clear now. There were a few traps, but they were poorly done. Let’s go.”

“Right...” Yuki pulled at his leg dragging it forward to follow up by Ayumi’s side as she marched onward. He could still feel the aching thump in his heart spreading through him like a spider laying a web. ‘…Saki…’

Chapter 21 – Promises

Hiroshi returned back to Yuki’s house knocking on the door expecting to see Yuki. However, when the door opened for him it was Jun standing vacant and distant as he usually did. “Hey, Jun! I’ve got some bandages and ointments for Saki’s injures.” He lifted up his bag of supplies to show Jun. Jun stepped out of the threshold to the side of the door nearly hiding behind it. Hiroshi walked through into the living room hearing the door shut behind him. When he searched the room there was no sign of Yuki or Ayumi anywhere in sight. He looked back at Jun seeing him walk around to him Saki’s side. “Hey… Where’s your brother Yuki?” Jun turned to look at Hiroshi and paused for a moment long enough to get a few words out and then turned back remaining silent the entire time.

He turned his head slightly away sweating a little not certain what the look was supposed to mean. ‘What’s with Yuki’s little brother. I don’t think I’ve heard him say a single word the entire time I’ve been here.’ Hiroshi scratched his head a little puzzled and tried again with only the same results. “…Hmm… This is getting me nowhere.”

“Jun doesn’t speak…” Saki said slowly as she opened her eyes. She pulled herself up from the couch looking a little better than she had before. ‘You won’t find Yuki, though.’

“Hey, should you be moving like that?” Hiroshi said dropping the bag and coming over to Saki’s aid.

Saki pulled the blanket off of her dropping it on to the couch as she stood up on her own feet. She was tired of being an invalid that needed to be tended. “I’m fine. I’m feeling a lot better now.”

“You don’t look it,” said Hiroshi commenting on her appearance of a torn and dirtied school uniform. All of the dirt on her face and body had been washed off, but it left the bruises and cuts that she had taken in order to get out. There was even blood soaked into her clothes from the glass.

She looked down at herself turning to look at everything she could so that she had a clear assessment. The movements were not slow or pained like she had remembered before. ‘Probably not perfect shape, but I can do what I must like this.’ Saki looked up at Hiroshi stepping a foot towards him. “I’m fine. I look worse than I am.”

“You need to lie down.” Hiroshi put his hands on her shoulders pushing back on her making her hit the edge of the couch with her legs. He searched around the room trying to figure out where Ayumi was, who was supposed to be keeping Saki from doing anything stupid. Hiroshi struggled with Saki in getting her to sit on the couch, but managed to succeed eventually. After panting from the effort, Hiroshi bent down and picked up the bag showing it to her. “See, I’ve got medicine for you. It’ll make you better.”

“I already told you that I’m fine. I don’t need it.” Saki looked at the bag quickly noting that there seemed to be an excessive amount of bandages. ‘I’m not that badly injured. Come on, Hiroshi. Use that small brain you got to think.’

Hiroshi dropped the bag on Saki’s lap staring down at her giving her a completely serious stare, which was a little atypical coming from him. “Listen here. I’m not letting you go anywhere. This is the police’s job, not yours. And you’re injured, besides which. If I can beat you in a contest of strength then it’s clear that you’re in no condition to be moving.”

Saki stared down at the bag having listened, grudgingly, to Hiroshi argument and finding that he had a point. She narrowed her eyes becoming frustrated in her condition. “Fine…”

Yuki and Ayumi stared at the door of the warehouse. Yuki had been trying to open it and look a little more useful, but Ayumi standing behind him could only sweat in embarrassment at his struggling. She waited until he gave up and slid down the front of the large sliding door that was meant to let in trucks for unloading. “Done?”

Yuki glared back at Ayumi not liking the tone in her voice. “Looks like it locked from the inside,” he said trying not to look like a complete idiot for stating the obvious. Yuki stood up facing the door getting a few steps away while lifting up his hands straight at the door. “Guess it’ll have to be taken down. HA!!” He tried to summon up his Rasou-ryoku power thinking that he could blow apart the door.

Ayumi had come to her limits of humoring him and stepped forward knocking him on the head with a stick. “Stop your screaming. You need to stop reading that manga of yours. We’re trying to get in quietly and not alert the enemy to our presence.”

He had been cut off immediately by Ayumi and closed up his mouth looking a little bewildered and disappointed. The expression quickly changed to narrowed eyes and wrinkled brow. “But the door’s locked. We can’t get in. And wouldn’t he already know that we’re here with how long we’ve been standing around? Why do we need to be quiet?”

“Use your head for once. We don’t know where all of the people that he’s kidnapped are. Blowing up the door could get them injured or killed. And I don’t want to be broadcasting our entrance to him, even if he does know where we are. Being quiet is better.”

Yuki became annoyed and agitated by the condescending tone that was being delivered at him. He crossed his arms stepping back another few steps. “Well how do you plan to get in without making noise? You going to pick the lock?”

“Hardly.” Ayumi positioned herself in front of the door and closed her eyes. A blue wave pushed down her body and out of her feet issuing forth her Kino and her transformed clothes as well. The snow field expanded around her filling out into the grass covering it all in a two inch layer of snow as well as the door in front of her. The snow covered and went through the door finishing in an arc that equaled the range of her field. She pressed her hands up against the hardened snow and pushed it through what used to be a solid metal door. The snow cracked and crumbled around her arms that pierced the wall. Her arms pulled out with her hands taking some of the snow with it leaving a gaping hole. Soon after she placed her hands back at her side as the cracks in the snow grew from the weakness that she created causing it all to crumble into a pile on the ground producing a wide arch way into the warehouse.

Once it was over Yuki pulled his jaw back up closing his mouth and ran around to Ayumi’s side turning glossy eyed at her. “Wow, Ayumi! That’s so cool! Didn’t know you could do that!”

Ayumi sighed in disbelief at his reversal in attitude. “I told you about this before.” She stared at him for a moment realizing that little was getting through his head from being so excited by tearing down the door. “Come on. Let’s go. The enemy is somewhere inside.” Ayumi went on inside not waiting for him to follow. The warehouse interior was poorly lit and the sun from outside, coming through the hole she made, only produce so much. However, it was clear enough to her that the majority of the people that had been kidnapped where no longer in their cells. All of the cells on the far side of the warehouse were left with their doors open. ‘What’s going on here? Where are they?’

Yuki snapped out of his excitement when he caught up to the changing events. He rushed inside with Ayumi stopping well in front of her looking around the room. The view in the warehouse made it difficult for him to scan the room making it nearly impossible for him to find the assassin that was responsible for everything. “Ayumi, where’s the people that Saki talked about?”

“I don’t know.”

“I let them go,” a muffled smooth voice said from the far end of the warehouse. The man approached from the shadows protected by the darkness.

“What do you mean?” Yuki said not clear why a kidnapper would release the people he took. He would not have any leverage.

The man’s slow approach continued while he spoke to Yuki. “There’s no need for them when I found what I was searching for.”

“What were you searching for? You knew where-“ Yuki was suddenly cut off by a sudden blur in front of him that became Ayumi standing between the two of them.

“What were you doing with the people you took?”

The man came to stop at the edge of the light only letting the sun’s ray travel up to his waist turning the white pants bright. “Hmm? Oh its you, Ayumi is it? Changing your name, huh? What do you care anyway?” He caught the thin glaring eyes of Ayumi nearly letting out an amused laugh. “Alright. You took out the advanced scouting team before they could report back on their location. So I was sent out to find you and let them know.”

“What?!” Yuki said having heard all of this being directed at him. Ayumi had been standing in front of him protecting it from him, but he knew who he was talking to. ‘Advanced scouting team? Does he mean those two assassins?’ Yuki thought back to the assassin that tried to kill him at the school and his house.

“Seems giving them the orders to kill and report back if impossible, proved to be a mistake on the higher-ups part. You proved to be more trouble than we planned for.”

“Enough wasting time, what were you doing with those people?” Ayumi said stepping into the conversation not wanting to be ignored. The angered expression on her face was something new unseen before by Yuki.

“I was getting to that. So impatient…Ayumi…” said the man getting an amused tone again by saying her name. “I interrogated them for information.”

“You raped their minds!”

“Tsk…such a crass word. Memories don’t lie like people do. It is the most certain way of learn the truth. I let her escape when I found her memories. Seems like I calculated correctly. She ran back to you and brought you to me without needing to leave.”

“You let Saki go?!” Yuki said surprised that it was planned out. He was starting to become angered by the casual manner that the man was talking about what he had done to Saki and the others.

The man turned a smile at seeing the reactions that he was getting. “Of course. You think I would be that easily escaped if I wanted to keep her. I just had to make it look convincing enough and here you are now.”

“So there’s no one but us in here?” Ayumi said. She had been holding herself back the whole time, but could not stand to listen to the self-important man anymore.

“Most of them at least. Some of them were too afraid to leave.”

‘Damn…it’ll have to do.’ Ayumi stepped forward bringing her field into contact with the man seeing that it was bending around his feet. ‘His field’s already up.’ She knew that she had to end this quickly, but his powers were unknown to her and yet he seemed to be familiar with her. She could not remember the voice to know if she had met him in the homeland or not. The disadvantage that she was at made her arm twitch in caution. Distance between them was still great with him being at the edge of her influence. Anything that she used would be weakened greatly at the range, but she could not risk getting close knowing that he controlled plants. ‘I need to see his mental strength.’

Ayumi raised up her hand as the snow under it was suddenly drawn up to her palm floating just under it. The snow gathered quickly stretching out to the length of her arm and hardening becoming ice. The ice sharpened to a point that launched itself as a projectile towards the man.

The man did not move to avoid the attack from Ayumi. He seemed to be confident in it not affecting him. A vine came up from the ground grabbing the spear like ice just before it hit the man. The shard was wrapped up completely by the plant coiling around it like a snake and tightening its grip until it shattered to pieces.

“Hrmph. Testing me are you? Glad to see you aren’t underestimating me.” He stepped out of the shade into the light from Ayumi’s hole revealing his vine covered face that Saki had described during her story. He raised his right hand up as a signal that released several vines from the ground that shot out at Ayumi.

The speed of the attack took Ayumi a little by surprise as she pulled her hand back forcing up snow into a thick wall. Vines slammed into the solid with an unseen thud to signal her safety. She exhaled a warm breath in the cold air as she prepared for her next attack. Her hands clasped together bringing her focus, but was stopped suddenly when cracks could be heard in her wall. Ayumi drew her attention down to the ice seeing green plants crawling over interior of the ice and piercing through slowly. She had to dodge out of the way as one of the exposed vines shot out at her unable to hit her.

“Ayumi!” Yuki shouted running to her side seeing the attack. He tried to help her up to her feet, but she pushed him away with her arm. “Ayumi?”

Ayumi stood up with her back turned to Yuki. “Go be useless somewhere else if you aren’t going to really help!” She walked forward breaking down the ice that she had made to protect her seeing the vines retreated back to close proximity of the man. They hovered at his feet awaiting a command to strike. “I won’t let you touch him!”

Yuki staggered back from hearing her harsh words. He turned his head down looking at his hands hearing in the background Ayumi charging towards the man. The battle between the two had begun and he was left out. ‘Go be useless somewhere else if you aren’t going to really help!’ Her words pounded against his head knocking him again. ‘Useless? Ayumi’s out there protecting me from that man trying to kill me. I-I…’ His hands were shaking knowing already without needing to be said. ‘I’ve already tried! I want to help, but I can’t! It won’t work!’

A pained groan from Ayumi snapped Yuki out of his internal dilemma. He looked up seeing Ayumi bleeding from her right arm slightly taking a shallow hit from a vine that she had been unable to cut down with her sword. It did not seem to be slowing her down as she charged forward again using the ice to block vines coming at her as she cut away those she could not.

“Ayumi…” Yuki stepped forward a little, but held himself back when he realized that he could not do anything to aid her. ‘She would only scold me again. Ayumi’s in there fighting and getting hurt because of me.’ He tightened his hands into fists frustrated by his inability to control his power. ‘I don’t want to be helpless. I have to do something!’ Yuki closed his eyes trying to remember the feeling that he had before when he had his power and clear out his mind of thoughts. ‘I must. I’m sorry, but I have to break my promise mother.’ He focused on when he was desperate before, when his family was in danger. The feeling was familiar that was coming to him warming up through his body. ‘This is it. I can feel it! Come on. I’ve got to help, Ayumi! I need power!’ Yuki shouted up to the ceiling in blind desperation.

“Hey! What do you think you’re doing screaming? It’s killing my ears!” a high pitched voice to Yuki’s left said before it kicked him in the face.

Yuki was rudely snapped out of his trance and blinked his eyes looking over to what had hit him. “What?!” When his eyes finally focused together the fairy, from before that he had summoned accidently with Saki, was floating in front of him looking very annoyed. “What are you doing here?”

“I don’t know you called me.”

“What?!” Yuki shouted widening his eyes and stepping back in disbelief. “No I didn’t! I was trying to use my Kasou-ryoku!”

“Don’t shout at me, mister!” the fairy said kicking him in the face again leaving a second red mark.

“Stop kicking me! If I summoned you, don’t kick me!” he shouted leaning in on the fairly losing any manners of decency that he had before.

The fairy pressed up into his face not pleased by the loud obnoxious treatment that she was receiving from Yuki. “You can’t order me around. I’ll kick you as much as I want!” Upon which, she kicked him again to prove her point to him.

Yuki held his sore cheeks in his hand glaring at the annoying little fly. “Get back in my mind now!” He grabbed the fairy in his hand and threatened to do exactly that. However, before he was able to do anything Ayumi shouted to him.

“Yuki lookout!”

Yuki turned his head catching that the attacks had suddenly changed from Ayumi to him. There was several vines flying straight at him and Ayumi was caught up by some other vines keeping her from being able to intervene. His eyes widened in shock as he knew that he was not going to be able get out of way in time. All he could do was protect himself with his arms bringing them up to take the hits with the fairy flailing in his hand panicking.

Blood and the slicing of flesh echoed around Yuki’s ears as he was knocked to the ground losing his hold on the fairy, which flew away to safety in the rafters. Yuki took a moment, but realized quickly that he was not hurting. He opened his eyes seeing Saki in front of him with her arms bleeding from being hit by the vines. “Saki!?” Yuki leapt to his feet to get to Saki in time, but she put her arm out stopping him. He was taken aback by her endurance to be standing still.

“Yuki… I made you a promise. I’m not about to break it now!” Saki narrowed her face staring down at the man in vines ready to challenge him. She was not going to let him hurt Yuki anymore.

To be continued…

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  1. Leon's Avatar
    And we're left on a cliffhanger here. Despite what's happened, Saki has showed she's brave enough to fight and take on the plant assassin. A pretty good chapter.
  2. Andromeda's Avatar
    Saki is always a tough character. Once she sets her mind to something she won't stop. She actually more stubborn than Seiji and that's saying something. She is brave enough to fight, but also hates fighting as well. She only does it because it is to protect Yuki. The interesting thing is that right now I'm writing a fight with Saki currently and the flashbacks from here are being expanded and given more depth to show off Saki's character.