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Thread: Shift

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    The Quiet One Shift Andromeda's Avatar
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    Shift

    (Author Notes: Alright I'm inserting the pilot at the beginning of the story for those that are looking at this thread. I am also making a new individual thread, but for completion sake a copy will be here. The pilot is more or less a retelling of the first sub-arc from a more condense and attention grabbing manner. It doesn't mean you can skip the first sub-arc since there a lot of details and explanations left out for the sake of length for the pilot. Not to mention it is a retelling and events got altered as an effect. Enjoy!)

    The castle was safe now; it had been defended well against the overwhelming numbers of enemy soldiers that laid siege to its walls. As the rising moon bathed its warm pale blue light over the field the victorious champion of the people stood up pulling his sword free from its bloody corpse of a sheath. The blood of those he had slain was coating his dulled battle-worn armor allowing a subtle glow in the moonlight to surround him. Through labored breathing and aching muscles he marched through the battlefield of death where the Lord Armuti waited for him.

    He knelt down at the lord’s feet saddened in the loss of so many, but relieved for the battle to be over. Lord Armuti lowered his hands on the champion’s shoulders displaying a proud smile for the miraculous victory achieved. The lord grabbed him then by the sides of his arms insisting that he no longer kneel. “Champion Yuki, your name shall ring from these halls ever more! All praise Champion Yuki!”

    The remaining soldiers gathered around the two shouting with Lord Armuti in honor of their champion. All cried out his name for him to hear echoing through fields. “Champion Yuki! Yuki! Yuki!” They repeated their chant clashing their swords against their shields building the champion to a smile.

    “Yuki! Yuki… Yuki! Yuki…Yuki…” Amongst the chanting there was another distinct voice that he could hear rising over the others in a different tone. He barely acknowledged it at first, but it was persistent refusing to give up calling to him. As each call to his name came the voice became clearer and clearer until he could tell that it was a woman’s voice mixed in with all of the men. The voice drew him away forcing his focus on it. “Yuki…time to wake up!”

    The entire world went black suddenly washing away as though it had all been freshly painted pealing way under the pressure of water. All that he could see was the black void around him and then a narrow line of light that slowly widened revealing his desk and the soft warm glow of Ayumi Nishimura’s green eyes shining in his blurring, not quite drooling yet face. “Morning Yuki!”

    Chapter 0 – Pilot

    “Huh? Oh…its homeroom…” he said pulling his head away from his arms to lean back in his chair. It was still early before the teacher arrived, but he already fallen asleep, though it was more that his imagination wandered than it was about the sleep.

    Ayumi smiled at him keeping from giggling too much know how much of a daily occurrence this was with Yuki. It happened nearly every day that she could remember that she would have to wake him up from his dreams. Though there were times that he woke up the class getting a little too involved in his dreams and starting to act them out in his sleep. “Don’t want Ms. Kuniyoshi catching you sleeping. You know how she is.”

    Yuki laughed weakly as his memory of the last time she caught him sleeping was still fresh in his mind (it was yesterday). The thought made him a little blue in the face, but he shook his head to get rid of the feeling. “Y-Yeah! Thanks, Ayumi!”

    “…Yuki…” Ayumi walked away from Yuki smiling at him.

    Yuki could not help but grin to himself before he was slapped on the back. “Hey, Yuki! Sweet talking with Ayumi again?” Hiroshi said with a mischievous grin on his face as he pulled up a chair from another desk to sit down at his side. Yuki and Hiroshi had only recently become friends, when they started attending Monou High School a month and half ago, however that did not stop Hiroshi from acting very familiar with him as though they had known each other forever. It was always that way with Hiroshi, forward and pleasant with a joke ready whenever the situation needed it (or when it didn’t).

    “W-What?! Hiroshi…” Yuki’s face became red as embarrassment took him over and he tried to deny Hiroshi’s claim. When his flush face became visible Hiroshi’s grin only increased making Yuki waving his hands trying to further deny it. “It’s not like that! I’ve known Ayumi since we were little. We’re just friends!”

    Hiroshi rested his arms on the back of the chair as he leaned in against the back resting his head on his arms. “Then why’re you denying it so much. Wish my friends would wake me up like that…”

    “What girl would want to wake up a pervert like you?” a girl said from behind the two of him that cast a heavy dark shadow with the glowing eyes of a demon that pierced down upon Hiroshi.

    Hiroshi turned blue in an instant as he pulled back away from Yuki. “S-Saki! How long you’ve been standing there?!”

    “Long enough, Hiroshi… Yuki’s not like you and your twisted mind…”

    “We were just joking, right? Yuki?” He looked over at Yuki for some assistance in calming down Saki.

    “Good morning, Saki!” Yuki said as though the entire conversation had not occurred. He smiled up to her with an innocent very absentminded glow in his face. Yuki was the weakness Saki had turning her back into a normal high school girl smiling (also ignoring the last minute).

    “Morning, Yuki!”

    “Practice again?”

    “Yeah…still getting used to the new coach…”

    Hiroshi peeled away from the chair seeing his opportunity to get away safely. It made him thankful that there was at least one person that could control the wild girl, Saki. The look in her eyes was enough to scare most boys away immediately and her other talents made the rest disappear as well. However, class was starting now that Ms. Kuniyoshi was entering the room making the stray students return to their seats.

    * * *

    Lunch had arrived for everyone. Many of the students stayed in the class to have their meals, but Yuki was disappearing out of the class with a look that said he had to do something, even if there was some confusion mixed in with it. Hiroshi had tried to stop him, but Yuki was too fast for him to catch leaving it be. Unfortunately, Yuki’s speed was not what he needed in the halls as he crashed into three boys that were looking unruly. The collision threw their food up into the air spilling it out across the floor, completely ruined.

    Yuki backed up away from them seeing the glaring glow of anger building in their eyes as they clinched their fists together leaning in towards him. “I’m sorry! I wasn’t looking!” He extended out his hands hoping to keep them back, but it did not seem to help as they pressed in making his hands fold up against his chest.

    “Oh ya hear that? He’s sorry!”

    The boy on the right laughed and snickered developing a mean smirk on his face. “Yea, if he’s sorry…”

    “Then we’ve got no problems!” said the boy in the middle before he threw his fist into Yuki’s stomach knocking the wind out of him. The punch set him off balance and against the wall for support. The follow-up brought him to the floor making him an easy target for them to kick. All three boys took their opportunity to take advantage of a good bag to kick (Yuki) and physically worked on getting their apology out.

    The suddenly everything came to a grinding halt as though each frame was by held out in a camera shutter to display each moment as a knee came into frame planted firmly in the cheek of the leader. When time returned to normal he was sent flying speedily across the hall with students making way for him until he came flat against the wall cracking it with his impression. The two remaining boy’s face turned blue even before this happened and were still reeling in shock trying to understand what was happening.

    The light pulled over the one with the flying knee strike as they stood up revealing it to be a female student with a darkened expression in her face as her eyes glowed once more like a demons. She spun around giving the two stunned boys the back of her foot and leg sending them flying down the hall to join their unconscious comrade in the wall. The students nearby the collision looked on a little frightened, but quickly went about their lunch. The girl turned around to face Yuki.

    This was Saki Furukawa and her other talent…martial artist. She quickly changed her demeanor as she offered her hand out for Yuki. “Bullies again, Yuki? You need to watch your surroundings!”

    “I’m sorry, Saki…” Yuki took the help up and dusted himself off. Most of the pain was already fading away, a trait that he was used to and developed. “You’re always saving me…” This too had become a nearly daily occurrence for Yuki to end up on the wrong side of a fist. He had the bad luck of always managing to find the roughest most violent students in school to bump into. Which meant that Saki, a long time childhood friend, would come to his rescue every time her radar went off.

    Saki sighed softly and pulled Yuki away from the wall back into the hall. “If you weren’t so absentminded all the time… What happened this time?”

    “I bumped into them on accident and ruined their lunch. I tried to apologize, but—“

    “They didn’t listen, of course. Where were you going?”

    “Huh? Oh! No! I’ve got to go!” Yuki jumped up alert and sped off down the hall in a panic leaving behind a trail of dust with a confused Saki staring on.

    ‘Hope I’m not late…’ he thought to himself as he finished running through the halls getting outside of the school. The school grounds were large surrounded mostly by a brick and iron bar fence wall. There were several sidewalks running through the grass connecting to the other doors and buildings as well as leading out to the track field. He slowed down his pace as he walked out towards the shed for the school that held most of the equipment for sports. When he reached the destination he pulled up his hand that held a small piece of paper. He read the contents once more just to confirm for himself.

    ‘Meet me behind the shed during lunch.’

    There was nothing further in the note and no name either. He did not know what was going on, but he had read enough manga to get a pretty good idea (delusions and fantasy had been playing through class in his mind). The back of the shed held no one making him figure that he was still early and so he waited.

    However, being Yuki he could not stand still for very long. His mind began to wander and his dream from the morning began to come back to him. It was playing from a different point, but he indulged himself. A rake was resting against the wall of the shed and it became an immediate target for him. He picked it up spinning it around his hands with surprising dexterity. It came to a stop as he rested it against his back pretending it to be a staff. He lunged forward with a thrust of the rake letting it pierce the air. Then he swiped through the air horizontally. It soon became a spear thrusting and poking it against the shed.

    A few thrusts later he pulled it back and carried it in two hands as though it was a claymore. He sailed the blade through the air hearing it sweep through sharply. He took the chance to swing at the pole in the ground near the shed for some feedback. It took a few hits from the rake. On his last swing he went through the pole leaving it to topple over as he sheathed his sword to the shed. He wiped his imagination of the battle scars that he left the shed not feeling as restless. He walked over to the pole when he realized that it was actually cut in two (thought it was his imagination). ‘What going on? I know sleep walk sometimes, but…’ Yuki reached out to touch the pole where it was cleanly cut through finding to be real to his touch. He knelt down to other half of the pole attempting to pick it up (hoping that it was his imagination). His hand grabbed it firmly picking it up and dragging to towards the other half (it’s real!). “Did I really do this? I just broke school property!” Yuki began to panic turning his head side to side to see if there was anyone that had seen him do it. “Whatta I do?! Momoko’ll kill me when she hears about this!”

    Yuki dropped pole backing away from it already getting freaked out by his own imagination. His back clashed with the shed making him jump in fright. He stumbled over his feet backing into the claymore that was resting against the shed. The metal scrapping against the shed into a clatter on the ground made Yuki’s hair stand straight up sending vibrations through his entire body. “What was that noise? That was…n’t…” He did not want to look fearing what he was going to see, but he could not resist it. It was as though his head had a mind of its own and turned itself to force him to see the claymore resting against the ground shining in the light reflecting his face in its polished blade.

    Yuki fell back on his butt catching himself with his hands as the sword stared back at him through is divided legs. “No! You aren’t real!” He kicked his foot out trying to push around the sword, but it only crawled an inch. “I didn’t use you to cut that pole! It wasn’t me! I didn’t mean to! Honest!” He looked around the field again checking for anyone. ‘What’s happening to me? Did I finally go off the deep end?’ He could feel his heart pounding in his chest from the racing thoughts in his mind. A moment later, he pulled himself up to crawl over to the sword wanting to test his imagination. “It’s just a really vivid dream, right?! Right?!” Yuki’s hand reached out for the hilt of the sword shaking profusely fearing what this would mean. It took forever for him to reach the sword, pulling himself back repeatedly, to take hold of the hilt. The feeling was same as the pole (it was real). He held the sword up to him feeling the blade calling to him seeing his reflection glowing in it. He touched the blade with his hand taking in the smooth pounded surface and the sharp looking edge. His finger slid down the edge, wanting to test his reality, only to slice his skin open making him drop the sword back to the ground as he held his finger in his mouth to stop the bleeding.

    He crawled away becoming even more unnerved by what was going on. ‘It can’t be!’ Yuki picked himself up barely with his legs shaking up through his body trying to get away from everything. The unsteadiness in his limbs carried through to his core knocking him off balance into the shed. He landed against the floor of the shed painfully receiving the blunt force of the cement flooring into his shoulder. The shaking did not stop and so he rolled over to his back giving a moment to pause. An exhausted breath later he was feeling a little better, but still uneasy. ‘Just in my head! My head…’ He pulled himself up sitting in the shed trying to shake off the weirdness. “Oh the track gear…” he said as he looked over at the nearby equipment in the shed (still hasn’t realized yet). Yuki smiled to himself feeling better as he stood up testing his legs. “Now I just have to get out of the shed!”

    A few seconds ticked by as he looked around the shed taking it in slowly (almost there…). “The shed…wasn’t I outside?” He could see that he was inside the shed and the doors were locked and no holes in the windows or anything (figured it out finally). “The shed… …What am I doing inside the shed?! How’d I get here?” Yuki could feel the shortness of breath coming back to him as panic rose up from his stomach. He approached the empty wall where he was certain he should have been trying to understand what was going on. However, as he approached the wall a part of it disappeared. “…What the…”

    First, it was just at the bottom like a mouse hole or something small, but as he pressed on it grew in size until it was clearly a semi-circle cut into the shed. He stood in what would be the wall staring left and right to the cross sections of the wall almost in awe. Since the hole was present he walked through and back outside, but as he stepped away the hole disappeared. “This is crazier than any dream I could have…” Yuki had to know if the hole was still there and approached the wall again finding the hole returning. He tried moving around starting to feel like it was a game almost and wherever he went it followed. It cut into anything it touched giving him cross sections of balls, vaults, rope, anything and everything in the shed. However, under the calm exterior Yuki was beginning to be freaked out.

    He looked down at where it began seeing everything being cut into a hemisphere that surrounded him with him at the center at all times. It was then that he noticed that at his feet were blades of grass, while he was in the shed. He jumped up and away thinking he could get way, but it just followed him revealing, rather than moving, more grass. “What’s going on?! Is this a dream?” So much information was running through his head that he had nearly reached his limit. Yuki ran out of the shed and around the corner before he was grabbed by Ayumi. “Ayumi?! I-I…”

    “Yuki?! What’s wrong? You’re sweating and… Yuki!?!” She could not even finish her words before Yuki collapsed passing out to the ground as everything following him disappeared. “Yuki!” Ayumi tried lift him up, but her panicked state could not hold anything as she ran off screaming for help.

    * * *

    ‘…Do you ever…’ said an unknown voice from a black void.

    Yuki shifted unable to move or open his eyes only feeling the emptiness that surrounded him. “Who’s there?”

    ‘…Have you ever…’

    “What?”

    ‘…alone… …different…’

    “What’s going on? Answer me!”

    ‘…Yuki, you…’

    The voice was beginning to fade away going further out of reach. He struggled to pull himself up to strain against the void that was holding him back. “Tell me what you want?!” Black hands stretched out grabbing him by the shoulders and arms holding him in place so he could not follow as the voice disappeared completely. “Come back!”

    “Yuki! Wake up!” Saki screamed slapping him across the face snapping him out of the world he was trapped in.

    Yuki looked around the room seeing that he was in the nurse’s office of the school with Hiroshi and Saki both holding him at the arms to keep him from getting out of the bed. When he realized that he was awake and it had just been a dream he relaxed falling back into the bed. He let out a long sigh feeling like he been living a nightmare for years that he was finally released from. His head ached like it had been split into and beat around with a hammer afterwards. “What happened…”

    “…Yuki…” said Ayumi from the foot of the bed that Yuki was resting in. She stared at him with swollen and longing eyes like she had been crying to herself for hours before.

    “Don’t you remember, man?” Hiroshi said leaning in from his side of the bed staring at Yuki. All he got in return was a shake of the head and a puzzled look that was unmistakable.

    Saki lowered her eyes taking it upon herself to get him caught up. “Ayumi found you collapsed out by the equipment shed. She panicked and came to get us so we could take you here.”

    None of that was making any sense to him. He could not remember much of anything apart from feeling run down and fatigued for a reason he could not explain. “Doesn’t ring a bell.”

    “What were you doing out there anyway?” Hiroshi said stepping back in once Saki had finished. “You missed lunch for it! You never miss lunch!”

    Yuki’s eyes widened in panic when he heard what Hiroshi said. “I missed lunch! How could I miss lunch…” He quickly sank into depression as he could feel his stomach starting to become angry with him.

    “Well he seems normal…” They could not help but smile and laugh at Yuki’s reaction, which was so typical of him. Things returned to normal for them dropping the tension and stress. Yuki was left to rest in the bed for the remainder of the school day given the unusual case of him fainting. When school ended he was released, late though, and could walk home with Ayumi as he did on most days.

    Yuki paused at his house looking up at it still trying sort through fuzziness in his head. It felt like he was missing or forgetting something important, but could not place it.

    “…Yuki? You feeling alright?” Ayumi said coming up behind him.

    He turned his head to look at her putting on a pleasant smile. “Yeah, just feel like I’m missing something. But I guess it must not be important.” Yuki stepped forward as the nagging poking in his head began to fade away. He stopped again just as Ayumi was walking away to her house. “Hey Ayumi? Want to come inside?”

    Ayumi’s face glowed bright red immediately when she heard Yuki’s invitation. She noticed that he was staring at him waiting an answer making her shake her head trying to push out the rush. “Wel-Wha-Um-I…B-But…”

    “It’s alright! Momoko likes it when you visit!” Yuki pulled back and stretched out his arm behind Ayumi’s back grabbing her by the shoulder to drag her into the house. She protested, but Yuki’s suddenly boisterous attitude and smile could not be stopped for long. “Hey Momoko! I’m home! And I brought Ayumi with me!”

    There were two stomping of feet down the stairs as Ken and Jun came to greet Yuki at the door. Ken kept a little more distance than Jun, who usually stuck to Yuki albeit always silent. Yuki’s little brothers smiled up to him grinning and greeting Ayumi before running off through the house. Out of the kitchen in a store uniform came Momoko, getting dinner ready before she had to leave for her job. Yuki’s older sister had a tired expression on her face that quickly changed the moment that she saw she had a guest in the house. “Ayumi! Welcome!” She held a large spoon in her hand coming to meet them at the door, Ayumi still rough around the edges. “Why don’t you relax on the couch, Ayumi,” she said for a pleasant smile. “I’m just going to speak to my little brother here.”

    “A-Alright…”

    Ayumi walked off feeling a little out of place and sensing the ill aura between the two siblings. Momoko smiled until Ayumi disappeared out of the hall and turned back towards Yuki. “Late and bringing Ayumi! Yuki, you know I have to work in twenty minutes. You need to be here to watch your brothers after school!” Yuki passed around Momoko as she was quickly souring his mood as she always managed to do every time she opened her mouth. She grabbed him by the wrist to keep him from running off before she was done. “I found them alone again when I got back from class. You need to be more responsible, it’s just us to keep an eye on them, Yuki. You can’t be slacking off on this anymore.” Yuki was tired of listening to her lecture and pulled away his arm walking into the hall leaving Momoko at the entrance. “You’re fifteen! Yuki!” Momoko pushed back her hair that had fallen around her face as she sighed to herself. “You need to quit living in the past…”

    Yuki stepped into the living room having heard the same speech from Momoko for longer than cared to remember. However, he felt some water drip on his forehead halting him. He rubbed it away with the sleeve of his school uniform and went back to walking around the area, but he was hit again. The sleeve cleaned himself again, but he was hit twice more before he looked up. “Blood? On the ceiling?” There was a red pool gathering on the ceiling that was quickly spreading across it. His eyes widened in shook as his iris shrank and he looked down at his sleeve checking to confirm it for blood.

    “It’s everywhere!” Ken said jumping up and down in an expanding pool of blood nearby them. He did not understand what it was only finding it to be a similar to water after it rained and just as fun.

    Momoko and Yuki looked around the house confirming for themselves that the house was being covered in blood for no apparent reason. Yuki could see panic slowly wash over Momoko as he looked over at Ayumi and watched Momoko run for Ken and Jun. Yuki watched paralyzed as every surface was slowly engulfed in blood. Once all was crimson the ceiling above him suddenly gave way filling them up to their knees in a pool of blood. It felt like it was crawling on him and soaking through his skin. His paralyzed body could not move and his mind was empty screaming through his mouth that would not budge. All that Yuki could do was shake in uncontrollable horror as his house was pulled part.

    “Yuki!?!” Ayumi screamed as she tried to get away from the blood that was surrounding them quickly. She tried to reach out to him only to watch everything around her begin to fall apart as they turned into blood and collapsed. The cloudy afternoon sky with thin rays from the sun poured down on him tinting the blood an eerie color. The house’s walls collapsed spilling out the countless gallons of blood that filled the house into the neighborhood. The sight was the same next to them as there was nothing, but a field of blood on everything. The neighbor’s house was falling apart in a bloodied mess accompanied by screaming.

    A heavy splash like the sound of a foot echoed through the area into Yuki’s ear. The paralysis ended, but he collapsed to the ground in fear as every muscle in his body that had been tensed relaxed letting him go free. His mind was empty, but his body understood all too well. All he could do was sweat and shake violently making ripples in the blood. “…Yuki Hayashi...”

    A man stepped forward towards Yuki. He was covered in blood it seemed while it had a silk like cloth appearance as well. Every corner or edge of the cloth dripped blood that the pool drank. This was only the clothes that he wore that the blood flowed; the skin remained untouched by the blood. The silk like material covered his large muscular chest as a solid piece and tied off firmly at the waist by a black belt. His pants seemed to continue on as though they were uninterrupted by the belt left a little lose around the legs. Leather boots covered in black and shining with crimson went up to his knees. His head and arms remained bare with only gauntlets covering his muscular arms. The man was as well built as he was tall and menacing, but none of the muscles were to excess simply being well defined. His entire presence breathed the sight of death.

    Ayumi’s mouth wavered as her eyes shrank in the horrors that she witnessed. She tried to scream for help, but fainted before anything could escape her lips. Yuki’s head jerked over to see her collapse in the pool of blood that ran out. Another foot step towards him pulled his head back. “Who are you?”

    The man turned a wicked smirk when he heard Yuki speak. “Who I am isn’t so important. What is however, is that I’m going to kill you.”

    “Kill me? Why? I don’t even know you! I didn’t do anything!”

    He pressed his hands together pushing down the gauntlets on his arms. “True, that is true. And you won’t be able to do anything once you’re dead.” As the man took another step forward the right gauntlet changed its shape stretching the metal on top into a simple blade.

    Yuki stumbled backwards crawling to get to his feet trying to keep his distance from the man that now stalked him with death in his eyes and on his blade. “What?! Aren’t you going to tell me why at least?” He did not understand what was going on hoping that if he delayed things that he would be able to hold out for the police to arrive in time to stop this nightmare.

    The man could not help but smirk at Yuki’s stalling easily recognizing what he was trying to do. “This doesn’t work like fiction. I’m not going to be revealing my reasons or motives to you. You’ll die and then I kill your family. And then anyone that saw anything as well. The dead don’t need to understand.” He had closed the distance to Yuki during the conversation bringing him in reach to strike. His arm came up bringing the blade to bare swiping at Yuki, who managed to dodge out of the way nearly slipping in the process. “Hmm…got some eyes on you…”

    “I don’t need good eyes to see you swinging at me!” Yuki said as he brought balance back to his body trying to keep his distance.

    “Oh? Don’t like the blade? How about something more personal then?” He lowered his arm down as the blade retracted back into the metal gauntlet seamlessly. Then suddenly the blood pool pulsed in a wave almost alive reaching out towards Momoko, who was guarding Jun and Ken. Countless ripples appeared in the blood around them as spikes of hardened blood shot out from the ground becoming more like tendrils reaching out for them in their escape. Jun was first ripped from Momoko’s hand followed by Ken a moment later tying them up with several of the tendrils that held him in the air. Momoko was the last to be captured and suspended in the air. “How’s that?” Once they were bound more spikes drew up this time piercing Momoko in the back making her cough up blood. Even more grew out cutting and slicing in his family forcing him to hear their screaming.

    “You bastard! Leave them out of this!” Yuki charged around the man to get to his brothers and sister, but two spikes from the blood shot up nearly taking off his arm if he had not stopped. Even stopping, they tore through his uniform grazing the skin. He looked down at his arm checking before looking back at the man with anger in his eyes developing.

    Soon more spikes grew up around the siblings making it impossible to get close. “Anger now rather than fear. It’s an improvement, but you’re still boring me.” The man stepped forward raising up his fists giving Yuki two punches across the face. Momoko strained against her bindings shouting for Yuki. Yuki slid against the ground tasting his blood from the cut on his lip. He narrowed his eyes charging for the guy seeing that his options we limited, but he was stopped by a punch to the stomach that knocked the wind out of him. The man pulled back his other hand as three spikes form along the gauntlet around the knuckles before he released his punch cutting him across the face. Yuki took three more punches to the stomach and chest as his uniform received more tears and his own blood seeped into the clothes. Momoko was frantic screaming and trying to get free from the restrains seeing the man transform his gauntlet back into the blade while Yuki stood helpless to defend himself.

    ‘I feel so empty…my vision’s blurry…’ Yuki became taken in by a black void with its inviting warmth. ‘Am I going to die?’ It felt like his heart was slowing; the life was draining away from him out of grasp. ‘They’re going to…die…’ He wrenched his eyes closed still hearing the dull echoing screams from them. ‘I can’t do…anything…’ The voices would not stop pounding through his ears. ‘…It’s my fault…’ His muscles turned away losing strength no longer having the will to move. ‘…I…killed…them… …it’s me… …alone…’

    Saki suddenly slapped Yuki across the face waking him up. She stared at him making it unable for him to look anywhere else. “Come on, Yuki!”

    “Saki?”

    “You going to let them keep bullying you?”

    “But Saki I can’t…this isn’t the same…”

    “You’re a man right?”

    “Huh?”

    “Stand up! You hear them shouting for you don’t you?”

    “Yuki!” Momoko and Ken’s voices rang out around him as though they had always been there calling for him.

    A heartbeat pounded stronger once more returning from its silence. ‘But what can I do?’ His heart shouted again this time cracks formed along the void he was in. ‘…I must…I need…’ The sound pounded out again growing the cracks as some of the world started to fall down into dust. ‘…I need to save them...’ The beat echoed around fiercer drawing cracks up to the top. ‘…I need power…I need the strength…’ Yuki closed his eyes hoping, looking for anything that would give him that strength to save his family. “Give me the power to protect my family!” His heart pounded excited sending out shockwaves that cracked the entire world until it crumbled to pieces.

    “AH! Give me power!” Yuki screamed through the plains of blood as his family were held to watch in horror as the man approached Yuki for the killing blow. ‘I don’t care what it is just allow me to save them!’ Blue waves continued to issue forth from Yuki violently responding to his desire. The walls had come crashing down. A bright light exploded from his body displaying an array of foreign letters wrapped in circles covering Yuki expanding outward. As the array expanded it reached the limit to which it could hold and shattered to pieces. Once the light came to fade away Yuki was standing staring down the man that tried to kill him and hurt his family. The man had been forced to stay his hand in the blinding display and stood waiting looking unimpressed.

    Yuki slowed his breathing closing his eyes. A moment later he opened his eyes quickly shooting out a wave from his feet throwing back the blood plains in a massive wave. Behind the wave was a blowing field of tall grass and flowers that spread for as far as the eye could see. When the blood ended Momoko, Ken and Jun were dropped from their restrains into the soft grass slowly dripping blood.

    The man’s face wrinkled in frustration knowing what had just happened. He looked down at his feet to see that the only area of blood that remained now was at his feet. It looked like his feet were emitting blood where he stepped. This changed everything now. “…Your powers have awakened...”

    “I shall protect my family!” Yuki shouted as he threw out his arm as though to grab something. The wind blew up around him dragging the grass. The grass was pulled free changing to green energy that gathered at his hand building in length until it shined as a whole. As the light from the energy faded away a massive sword appeared in Yuki’s hand far longer than he was. “I will end this now!”

    Yuki’s exposed face narrowed fighting emotions of anger and rage while barely being held back by the thin threads of reason. However, there was no time for reason with his family lying in the grass bleeding out. He could not wait any longer. He had to give in. Yuki screamed out loud charging forward with his sword held back preparing to swing. “This ends now!”

    The gigantic sword was released while he was still running forward swinging down at the man with surprising force. In a flash it was over and the man stumbled backwards staring at his gauntlets and forward. It had gone through his blood shield that had managed to summon from what little field control he had left. After that Yuki had even shattered his shield gauntlets. The metal of the guards fell to the ground dully in the grass fading out of sight in the tall plants. ‘He’s completely overpowered me. So this is the power…’

    The stranger barely summoned up a sword in time for the next assault, but it shattered to pieces taken over by the sheer power pouring out of Yuki. He had no room for control, but his own body. Yet that was not going to be enough for him. The sword came in for a third strike and he had nothing left to defend himself. He brought up his bare arms as the sword sliced up his chest and forearms spraying blood across his face. The man staggered backwards his arms at his side unable to lift them with his blood dripping quickly down his skin. The clothes that the man had been wearing suddenly evaporated revealing clothes of white underneath that were pants and a shirt that looked more like a cloth tossed over one shoulder and tied down at the waist.

    Yuki stepped forward hanging the huge sword over his shoulder. “…D-Die…” he said breathing heavily as he began to move his other hand to the hilt of the sword. This man would suffer for what he did to his family and he was the one that could do it. He nodded to himself as he had spoken to confirm that he was correct. ‘He must die…he must…Die!’ Yuki heaved the sword up bringing it over his head to swing down at the helpless man. He was justified. This was the right thing to do.

    The sword began to move while Yuki recited in his head the choice that had be made. His rage shouted violently in anger bringing the sword down with greater strength. This had to be done or else he would only come back again. It had to end here. He was certain of this. ‘Yuki!’ The sudden voice in his head jerked his hand opening his eyes to what was truly happening. However, the sword was already in motion and could not be stopped. The shining blade cleaved through hitting the firm ground behind coming to a stop.

    “Huh?” the stranger said in shock to having been spared by the kid. He stepped back not certain what this meant for him.

    Yuki tilted his head up to the sky with his eyes pulled back in pain. ‘Mother?’ He let go of the hilt of the sword staring down at his blood stained hands almost choking on the thought that he had nearly killed someone. ‘I-I almost…I let it…control me…’ His hands tightened up as he realized how close he came to the edge. Yuki dropped to his knee falling between the tall blades of grass watching the blood drip down his arms crawling in horror at the sight.

    Before Yuki’s eyes a sword pierced through the back of the assassin and out the front releasing blood into the air as the final breaths of the man escaped his lips. He collapsed to the ground disappearing in the plant life when the sword was extracted. Standing over him was Ayumi with the cold dead expression on her face holding the sword thickly coated in the assassin’s blood. “Why did you hesitate?”

    Yuki’s eyes had widened in shock at seeing his childhood friend do something so terrible as to take a life. “What? Y-You killed him!” Yuki stood up on his legs barely feeling the strength in him from the devastating reaction of seeing someone so innocent covered in blood with a merciless stare. “A-Ayumi? Why? Ayumi?”

    “Because you didn’t. This man was sent to kill you.” She looked down at the dead man’s body, her sword held in her hand, while her school uniform dripped in blood. “He was going to kill your family!” She pointed to Momoko and his brothers, now safe, barely visible in the tall grass.

    “B-But…why Ayumi?! I’ve known you since were little! This isn’t you!”

    “That was a lie!”

    Yuki jerked back unable to accept her answer. “No! It can’t be!”

    “I create false memories of me in your mind, your family and your class. So I could get close to you and watch you.” She removed the sword from sight letting it disappear into the grass.

    Yuki could not believe what he was hearing from her. He shook his head unwilling to believe that the years of memories he had with Ayumi were just lies. ‘I remember…it was real…’ He looked at her seeing the tone in her eyes that were telling a truth he could not accept. “Why?! Why is this happening?”

    “It’s because of you. My people have lost their leader and we’re in chaos without an heir. Or so we thought until I discovered you. You’re the rightful heir and the power you displayed is proof of that. But some want control for themselves and you’re a threat to them. This won’t end here. There will be more assassins, because you hold the power to stop them!”

    “But I haven’t done anything! I don’t even know what you’re talking about.”

    “You’re the rightful heir to my people, your people, and the land of Atlantis.”

    To be continued…
    Last edited by Andromeda; 08-29-2009 at 09:30 PM.
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  2. #2
    The Quiet One Shift Andromeda's Avatar
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    Shift

    (Alright, new story up for me. So if you have a comments, critiques or whatever please use my comments thread that is available. Thanks. Note that this time it is in the style of a manga chapter rather than anime episode. Enjoy.)



    The castle was safe now; it had been defended well against the overwhelming numbers of enemy soldiers that laid siege to its walls. As the rising moon bathed its warm pale blue light over the field the victorious champion of the people stood up pulling his sword free from its bloody sheath. The blood of those he had slain were coating his dulled battle-worn armor allowing a subtle glow in the moonlight to surround him. Through labored breathing and aching muscles he marched through the battlefield of death where the Lord Armuti waiting for him.

    He knelt down at the lord’s feet saddened in the loss of so many, but relieved for the battle to be over. Lord Armuti lowered his hands on the champion’s shoulders displaying a proud smile for the miraculous victory achieved. The lord grabbed him then by the sides of his arms insisting that he no longer knee. “Champion Yuki, your name shall ring from these halls ever more! All praise Champion Yuki!”

    The remaining soldiers gathered around the two shouting with Lord Armuti in honor of their champion. All cried out his name for him to hear echoing through fields. “Champion Yuki! Yuki! Yuki!” They repeated their chant clashing their swords against their shields building the champion to a smile.

    “Yuki! Yuki… Yuki! Yuki…Yuki…” Amongst the chanting there was another distinct voice that he could hear rising over the others in a different tone. He barely acknowledged it at first, but it was persistent refusing to give up calling to him. As each call to his name the voice became clearer and clearer until he could tell that it was a woman’s voice mixed in with all of the men. The voice drew him away forcing his focus on it. “Yuki…time to wake up!”

    The entire world went black suddenly washing away as though it had all been freshly painted pealing way under the pressure of water. All that he could see was the black void around him and then a narrow line of light that slowly widened revealing his bedroom ceiling and his older sister, Momoko’s brown eyes staring over him.

    Chapter 1 – Daydreams

    “I see that you’re awake now, Yuki,” Momoko said with a warm smile that she always managed to have. Now that she was satisfied that she had breached through Yuki’s sleep she stood back up straight watching for another moment. She flipped back her ponytail of black hair that fell to the middle of her back just below the shoulder blades. Her short bangs adjusted themselves from leaning over.

    Yuki scanned his room quickly feeling a little disappointed that it was only a dream again. He was back in his bedroom normal and ordinary Yuki a fifteen year old high school student attending Monou High School in Konomoka near Tokyo. A slow drawn out yawn escaped his mouth leaving him to feel suddenly tired and his bed was still very warm and comfortable. His dream might still be there for him to grab before it was too late. Yuki’s eyes closed rolling over. “Just a few more minutes, Momoko,” Yuki mumbled through his pillow.

    Momoko rested her hands on her hips, not surprised by this, narrowing her eyes at him. “Come on, Yuki. You have to get up. I’m not going to be nice anymore.” She leaned in against his bed one more time staring at him to look for a change, but there was no movement. A faint sigh escaped her lips before she mounted Yuki’s bed and sat down on top of him.

    The sudden weight on his chest and air forced out made Yuki nearly yelp as he was sprung forward in surprise. His eyes were widened ready to fall out as he tried to recover himself. “Momoko?! What are you doing? I can hardly breathe.” He flailed his arms at his older sister in an attempt to force her off of him, but she was able to easily prevent him.

    She gave him a wicked smirk back pleased to see that she finally had his attention. “Gotta toughen you up a little,” Momoko said roughing Yuki’s hair up a little enjoying the moment.

    “Fine…fine! I’m awake. You can get off me now!” Yuki pushed at Momoko as she gave him some room to move. Once he was freed from her hold he dragged himself out of his bed quickly standing recovering himself fully.

    Momoko swiftly departed his room shouting back to him before she returned downstairs. “Get your brothers up before you go to the shower.” There was a momentary pause as Yuki was about to say something back. “Because I have to finish making your lunches and breakfast. You have responsibilities in this house too.” Once she was finished her presence was completely gone and Yuki narrowed his eyes slightly.

    ‘You were already up here. Why can’t you wake them up?’ Yuki reluctantly pulled his legs along to Ken and Jun, his two younger brothers, room where their door was left slightly ajar. He pushed the door open slowly, his eyes still half closed waking up, and walked into their room towards their beds that sat on opposite walls in the back of the room. The lumps in their beds told him that they were still asleep. However, he was suddenly attacked from behind by a small weight, but plenty to knock him over to the floor.

    “Good morning, Yuki!” Ken said cheerfully having mounted his back with a proud smile across his face. He rocked around to Yuki displeasure and pain, even if it did wake him up further. Ken, the older of the two, age ten was beaming his dark black eyes down at his older brother while his spiked black hair seemed to have even more excitement than him.

    Yuki reached his hand out to Jun seeing him stand near his own bed watching silently. Jun at age nine and youngest held a nearly blank silent look at Yuki with his dark blue eyes appear like a void that could drag you in. His black hair nearly matched Yuki’s in style, but was evenly cut across before touching the shoulders while Yuki had opted more for an uneven cut.

    “Can you get Ken off me, Jun?” There was a moment where nothing happened as though it was sinking in and then Jun moved towards him. Unfortunately, Jun took a hold of Yuki’s hand looking happy as well, if not distant. “No…Jun,” Yuki whined, “You’re suppose to help me.” Yuki let out a heavy sigh considering his misfortune and how he was going to get free. The pounding on his back was getting to the breaking point after already being assault by his sister only a short few minutes earlier.

    After a couple more bounces he had had enough from Ken and finally broke through his sleep fogged mind to realize that he could just stand up. Ken slid down looking very disappointed as Yuki walked out of their room. Ken ran up to Yuki grabbing at his leg giggling as though he was playing a game with him. Jun silently joined him on the other leg to Yuki’s exasperation.

    “I’ve got to get ready for school, as you do.” Yuki pulled on his legs trying to pull free, but only found heavy resistance that was too strong to break. “Guys, come on.” Neither of them seemed to be listening to him not wanting to let good. ‘This is too much energy for so early in the morning. I’m not ready to deal with this.’ He stopped trying to drag his legs free and quickly separate the two from him sharply and disappeared before anything more could happen.

    Yuki stepped into the bathroom staring in the mirror for a moment thinking about his dream. ‘And it was such a fun one too. Oh well... there’ll be another tonight. Can’t wait.’ He roughed up his hair a little still feeling a little tired. It was difficult to tell, but if closely stared it he actually had very dark blue hair rather than the typical black that most Japanese did. He never understood it, but seeing as no one noticed there was no problem. The contrasting light brown eyes he had blink more time before he stepped forward to wake up the rest of the way.

    A shower and a quick breakfast later Yuki was working his way out the door. Momoko called out to him before he was able to get too far. “Don’t forget your lunch! And remember you need to return home quickly since I’ll be at work late after class.”

    Yuki gladly took the wrapped lunch and tried to ignore the rest of it emptily nodding to Momoko as he opened the door. “Yeah…sure…”

    “I’m serious. You need to be here when Ken and Jun get home. I won’t be here and they can’t be alone.” Yuki disappeared out the door as Momoko finished her reminder that he had heard time again before. “Yuki!” she said not surprised, but still annoyed that he merely shrugged it off. ‘He never changes in that remark. He has to step up eventually.’

    His house finally behind him Yuki felt a little more relaxed and at ease now sliding his lunch into his school bag and strapping the flap back down. He tossed it over his shoulder letting it tap against his back and slide his free hand into his hand taking a short easy step to resume his walk to school. It was still a little early so he would not have the other students walk just yet leaving him to enjoy the street alone.

    ‘She’s always going on about that like I haven’t heard it countless times before. You’d think she’d get tired of repeating herself.’ As much as Yuki wanted to relax he was still distracted partly from Momoko’s bothersome reminder. He did not have any where better to go, that was true, but he did not want to always be watching his brothers. She was always leaning on him with them and he tried to crawl away as fast as he could. He did not want to be their parents, just a brother and one that wanted to have his own time not weighed down by so many responsibilities. He was still in high school after all. ‘Why does she get to me? I need to focus on something else.’

    Yuki looked forward down the street seeing the cars parked along intermittently narrowing his eyes for a moment. He pulled his arm up looking at his free hand stretching his arms out a little before tightened them slowly. As each finger slowly closed creating a fist as a sound escaped his lips attempting to mimic his knuckles cracking. There was a thin smile from his lips as a building excitement within him began. Once he was satisfied he thrust his hand out with his palm flat and opened. He continued to walk while focusing his mind on his palm allowing a blue glow to gather from the ambient air.

    Small tiny particles continued to gather in thin countless streams to his palm all the while he continued to smile. ‘Yes…this is it.’ He would not be normal, not for them. Once enough had been pulled together there was a small orb floating just away from his hands shining a bright blue that began to tint the environment around him a light blue. He lifted his hand up to stare at its beauty directly letting it wash it’s blue paint over his face. It made his excitement grow in his mind even more. His muscles tensed up along this arm holding it struggling to keep everything whole. The stress was tolerable for him. For this it was nothing to him. He began to pull at his fingers feeling the stretching along his forearm of the muscles against the pressure.

    Slowly the orb was surrounded by his fingers while it fought desperately lashing out with blue beams of light that pierced harmlessly through the sky. His fingers clashed with the orb as though it was a solid object that he was taking hold. It was cool to the touch even with the fierce light that he had drawn out. He pulled his arm back quickly and then thrust it straight crushing the orb in his palms just a suddenly. The particles were pulled into his hand making his fingers and then his entire hand glow blue. He could feel it coursing through his skin and bones with the cool touch to give him strength.

    As he continued to walk down the street he raised up his hand, as it glowed brighter, and pulled it down in an arc unleashing a stream of energy from his fingers that beat at the ground. He moved his hand around several times seeing it dig through the concrete of the street as he walked. A path of cuts along the ground trailed forward as he viewed the effects. He sliced his hand through the air in a flat horizontal arc as though striking at something invisible, but rather producing a blue arc of energy that cut through the tree bringing it down upon a car. Within his mind he could hear the sound of glass shattering and metal groaning under the weight.

    “Hmm…what’s that?” Yuki said detecting a slight presence as the tree came to a rest on the ground. He whipped around staring at the wrecked remains of the car and tree. The air was still with a strange feeling through the wind that made his hair stand on end. Yuki could taste it making his skin sweat a little for a reason that he could not understand. His body knew something that he did not. “Something’s not right. Who’s there?!” He moved his eyes over the ground and houses looking for anything that would narrow in on the ill feeling that was building up inside his body. It was churning his stomach drying his throat until it seemed like there was no water inside him. He attempted to moisten his lips, but they just stuck together. The very life seemed to be drained from him.

    ‘Who is this being to cause such a thing to me?’ All he could do was feel the tension in the air as he turned his body still seeking his opponent. His muscles tightened through his arms making his shoulders ache with stiffness. Even the end of his nerves was ringing at him shouting out through his body. ‘Got to calm down…I won’t find them like this.’

    Yuki attempted to breathe, but found it strain even his chest feeling the heavy pressure against him. He tried to walk forward grasping at the air as to take hold, but nearly fell forward. This sensation was unlike anything he had experienced before. He had never felt anyone like this before to be able to do this to him without even touching him. There was not going to be a chance for him like this. He was wide open.

    He heard a noise behind him of the enemy approaching, but he could not pull his body to turn. His eyes widened in surprise at his legs unwillingness to listen to him. He was going to be struck without even seeing who it was. “So I have found you!” a dark mysterious voice said to him. Yuki suddenly felt a hand on his shoulder roughly snapping all of the tension in two leaving his body weakened.

    “So I have found you!” a girl said to him.

    Yuki turned now that his body was his again to see that it was Saki Furukawa standing behind him smiling. He let out a sigh of relief letting the frightened look that he had the moment before fade away. “Oh, Saki it’s you. You scared me.” Yuki bent over feeling the aching of his body a little still from nearly jumping and the stress he had put on it.

    Saki changed her smiling expression to confusion before she understood, somehow. “You were daydreaming again weren’t you, Yuki?” She leaned in at him making sure that she had his attention looking like she was ready to scold him.

    “Daydreaming?” Yuki said looking a little sheepish. He knew what she was talking about. He gazed over her shoulder looking at the street that he had just been down it was normal unaltered by what he had done to it. It had simply been him making an otherwise boring walk more interesting. But he became serious for a moment thinking to himself. ‘There was something strange about it though. It was unusually real this time. A little frightening. Guess I don’t know the power of my mind.’

    “Are you listening to me, Yuki?” Saki said grabbing him by the arm and pulling him on track to school. “Honestly Yuki, I don’t know how you can tell reality from fantasy with how much you are daydreaming. You need to focus on reality and what’s in front of you.”

    Yuki rubbed the back of his head a little laughing innocently at Saki. “I’ll try, Saki.”

    “You can’t laugh it off, Yuki.” Saki turned her head looking back down the street seeing the school in the distance. She let go of him and jogged up ahead of him for a moment before looking back at him. The frame paused for Yuki for that moment as the wind blew up around them. Saki Furukawa, the same age as him, was his closest and longest friend that had stuck with him through everything that he had been through. She had shorter black hair now that stopped at her shoulders and a gym bag for his track team clothes.

    Yuki rushed up pulling her along forcing her to recover her balance to join him. “What you standing around for we’ve got school soon,” he said with a wide smile.

    “Hey! I’m going to fall! Yuki!”

    Once the two disappeared behind the slope of the street a tree finally after all of it’s struggling to stay up fell over hitting the car underneath it setting off the alarm. The passing students pulled back in fright not certain how the tree had just mysteriously fallen out of nowhere.

    To be continued…
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  3. #3
    The Quiet One Shift Andromeda's Avatar
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    The scene around the fallen tree continued to develop with more people gathering at the site drawn in by the curiosity and already large crowd formed. Most of the students began passing through to reach their school. Left a short distance away from the street a figure in the shadows of the tree watched carefully of the events. A slow grin pulled up on their lips as though they understood and were pleased. They faded into the shadows without drawing attention leaving the confused neighbors to figure out what to do next.

    Chapter 2 – Transfer Student

    “You can stop pulling my arm, Yuki,” Saki said before she ripped free from the Yuki’s hold easily and taking her wrist into her hand. She rubbed it a little feeling that it was no worse for wear.

    Yuki turned back a little surprised looking at his hand that had been holding on to Saki. “Sorry, Saki. Thought you want to get to school quickly.” He gave her slight smirk in his tease before walking again to let her catch up.

    She quickly sprinted forward to be at his side looking a little cross at him. “Says the one with his head in the clouds. Honestly Yuki, you can’t stay with one thing long enough.” Saki gave him a little shove as she put her hands behind her back walking with him to the school entrance. Yuki grinned back a little not losing his balance too long.

    The front gate of Monou High School had a large iron gate pulled in resting on the slide waiting for it to be moved. A brick wall ten feet in height covered the gate and spanned a short length of the school grounds before changing into iron fence. There was even spacing of brick columns that connected and fastened each section of fence. Behind the fence was the school itself with a long cement pathway leading to the front door surrounded by grass and trees for its yard. A narrow pathway forked at each side of the main path disappearing into the distance at the building’s boundaries. The building was three floors with a smaller fourth floor that was stopped at the building’s divide where it pulled in narrowing itself to expand further at length. Smaller buildings were hidden behind the main school used for clubs and the gym classes with the large field for track and sports.

    The school grounds were already filled with students when Saki and Yuki arrived. A few were milling around outside speaking to each other enjoying the late spring weather and looking forward to changing into their summer uniforms with the temperatures already getting warm. Most though packed the halls inside putting their shoes away speaking and generally crowding the entrance.

    Saki went to her side pulling out her loafers and leaving her street shoes inside to meet with Yuki on the other side wading through the sea of students. Yuki had pushed on ahead to get out of the heavy crowd unable to reach Saki waiting where he was. While he was walking through he bumped into a couple students accidentally causing them to losing what they were holding. Yuki apologized to them as he continued on.

    When Saki had finally managed to pull herself free of the mob she looked everywhere for Yuki, but he was nowhere in her sight. She had thought that he was close by, but she started to push students aside becoming a little worried. ‘I know I saw him go this way. Where is he?’ Saki continued to look and lift herself up on the tips of her toes trying to look over the crowd. “Yuki! Yuki?” There were no replies to her call forcing her through more. Once she made it out of the students into more breathable halls distant noise could finally be heard.

    Saki turned her head in the direction becoming alerted immediately to a gang of boys surrounding a frightened Yuki on the floor. The boys were staring at him looking like they were ready to hurt him and Yuki was doing nothing. Saki narrowed her face in anger and charged down the hall looking at the boy on the end bringing her elbow to bear on him unaware. She braced her outstretched elbow with other hand giving it a little extra strength as it connected with the back of the boy’s neck sending his body tumbling down the hall to crash into the hallway wall harshly cracking it. The charge attack left her standing over Yuki staring down the other three boys who were still agape by what just happen to their friend with Yuki included.

    “Saki! What are you-“ Yuki started to speak, but was immediately cut off with Saki arms spread out becoming a wall between them.

    “No, Yuki. They were bullying you.” Saki had her head turned partially to look down at Yuki from the corner of her eye. She refocused back to the boys staring at them. “You think just because he’s weaker you can pick on him. You aren’t touching him!” She watched the three remaining boys carefully to see what they would do next. Her body was prepared for them to try to go through her.

    The boy in the middle pushed his friends back a step meeting with Saki evenly. “Your friend down there knocked our things on the floor. He needs to respect the upperclassmen.” He pressed forward a little more not concerned with the girl that was trying to protect a helpless boy. It was more insulting to him than anything else at the moment.

    “I assume he apologized to you,” Saki said looking at them as the other two crossed looked with each other in silent recollection before they agreed with her. “Then you have no business bullying him. Go on to your class.”

    The other boys were content to leave it be feeling uncomfortable with the stance that Saki was taking with them. She was unaffected by being surrounded and the look in her eyes said that she was actually holding herself back from fighting. However, the middle upperclassman was not so easily swayed by her words and even less by her appearance. “This is between us, get out of our way!” He grabbed Saki at the shoulder throwing her aside to the floor a few feet away while he leaned down towards Yuki. “Now that your little girlfriend is out of the way…”

    The moments ticked away from that instant with a vein popping along Saki’s forehead in anger. It followed that the two boys noticed Saki rising from the floor in flaming anger for being toss aside. They quickly turned blue paralyzed with fear from seeing what was boiling from Saki with the other boy not taking notice. The two began to sweat and quickly back away from Yuki as Saki charged in at the remaining one with her knee raised in a mid-air leap from her well toned legs strong enough to run the hundred meters in less than eleven seconds. Her knee connected with the boy’s half turned body in the last seconds when he realized what was happening. While she had hoped for the face the chest settled well enough for her as he flew through the hall past students with girls holding down their skirts in surprise. The boy faded into the wall at the end as students nearby gathered in confusion.

    Saki came to a sliding rest on the floor watching with aggressive eyes at the three other boys fleeing from the hall to aid their probably unconscious friend. “Hrmph, weak boys.” She turned back to Yuki leaving the students to begin idle chatter again or whisper in awe of what had happened. “Yuki? You alright?” Saki offered a friendly hand to Yuki.

    Yuki looked down at the floor letting his hair slide in front a little over his face darkening his features. “I’m sorry, Saki.” He did not give any more of a reason to Saki beyond those short words.

    She left her hand out confused by Yuki words. There was an idea what he was meaning, but she still had to ask him. “Why are you apologizing to me? You have nothing to be sorry for. They were the ones in the wrong not you.” Saki knelt down to Yuki seeing that he was still not convinced to move. She worked to make their eyes meet preventing him from looking away. “Yuki…what’s wrong?”

    He tried to pull away from Saki, but she was stubborn and strong making it difficult for him. It left him to give up hiding away from her and confront what was bothering him. “You’re always saving me. I feel like a burden.”

    “Is that it?” Saki said with a smile grabbing Yuki by the hands at his wrist and forcing him up, which happened to be an easy task with the little resistance he was putting up now. Once Yuki was standing straight again she let him go and then looked him in the eye once more leaning in heavily to make her point. “We made a promise. You don’t need to feel sorry about it. End of discussion.”

    “Yeah…but Saki…”

    “No ‘but’s’.” She scowled at him for a moment immediately stopping anymore debates that he was going to have on the matter. Saki cheered up the moment later grabbing him by the arm and pulling him down the hall. “Good, class is starting soon.”

    “Saki…” he said softly while being nearly carried to his class. Yuki hung his head for a while thinking about it silently. ‘We made a promise,’ Saki said. It was a promise, but he still felt bad for it to be happening. He got into trouble so frequently from the students either in school or outside. They seemed to find him with no trouble and it was Saki that would show up. It had only been a couple months since starting high school, but the students were beginning to learn not to mess with her. She had developed a rather frightening reputation around school leaving even some girls afraid of her at times. ‘Why…why…’

    Saki flung the door to their class 3-A open hard letting it slam against the stopper in the tracks. She had an over-exaggerated smile on her face that was obviously compensating for something. When they looked at Yuki blue gloom it was pretty clear the reason. She plopped Yuki down in his seat taking her spot in front of him still trying to dispel Yuki’s mood.

    When she turned around to look at him he stared back at her with a surprisingly pleasant expression on his face. It made her façade crumble a little as she slid back into her seat completely. She often forgot how quickly Yuki’s moods seemed to change usually changing back to the happy pleasant expression he had now. It made it all the more unsettling for her knowing his past as she did. ‘Well at least he is over it now.’

    The classroom slowly filled in with the remaining students until Ms. Kuniyoshi, the teacher, arrived walking through the doorway taking her place at the front of the room with a freshly cleaned chalkboard behind her. As usual the class was still murmuring between each other while she took her place. She lined up her things by dropping them on their edge creating an even enough noise to echo through the room and be her traditional signal that homeroom was starting. The class came to a slow hush waiting to hear from the teacher. “Alright, listen up. Today we have a new student joining our class.” Hearing the word of a new student was enough to start everyone talking again speculating on everything that they could in the minute that the teacher allowed before she was tired of their interruption. “Quiet! I expect you to be welcoming and nice to her she comes from America, so she won’t be used to all of our customs.”

    Once more the students began speaking, this time Ms. Kuniyoshi was stepping out of the room so they were not going to get into trouble for being too loud. “A new student and a girl too.”

    “I know can you believe it.”

    “What’s so special about an American girl?”

    “I wonder what she likes?”

    “Oh come on, she’s a foreigner. You know all foreigners are hot.”

    “Shut up! Boys and their dirty minds.”

    “Really.”

    “Say that again!”

    Saki turned around to see what Yuki was thinking, but he seemed to already be in the clouds again. She pulled out her pencil case from her bag and whapped him on the head to clear his fantasies out. “Hey Yuki, welcome back to Japan. Don’t want to give the new student a bad impression on her first day.”

    Yuki closed his right eye feeling a little sting on his head while he rubbed his hair with his hand. “Hey, what you do that for? New student? When?” He looked around the class not seeing any faces that did not look familiar, but most of them were not common to him leaving it seem like a moot point for him. Yuki stood up out of his chair to try to get a better look of the classroom wondering if the student might be hiding out of sight or even possibly some really tall student was blocking them. “I don’t see them. Where are they?”

    Saki slid down in her seat a little slapping her forehead realizing that Yuki must have been already zoning out when the teacher first began speaking. ‘It’s amazing that he has decent grades with his lack of focus.’ When she saw him standing up embarrassing himself in front of the class a bit of sweat dropped from her head. Saki attempt to reach for Yuki before Ms. Kuniyoshi came back in, but it was too late for that.

    The new student walked in behind Ms. Kuniyoshi keeping a little to the back near the wall. Ms. Kuniyoshi looked narrowly at Yuki who was still too oblivious to realize what was going on. A small vein popped on her forehead before she restrained herself some to yell at Yuki. “Yuki Hayashi, sit down!”

    “I was just looking for the new student, Ms. Kuniyoshi,” Yuki said not affected or acknowledging the seriousness in her voice, which case it was difficult to tell. He continued to turn his head around the room seeking blindly still not picking up on the front of the classroom. The other students lightly laughed or giggled to themselves.

    Ms. Kuniyoshi cleared her throat working on keeping herself in check with Yuki. “I’m glad you’re concerned about your new classmate, but she is next to me. So you can sit down now.” She pointed behind her looking back to find that she was suddenly no longer there. Ms. Kuniyoshi turned around quickly searching the entire front of the room until she found the girl on her right now rather than her left when she entered. A sigh of relief was exhaled relieved that she was not losing it and she knocked her books against the table again to bring the class to attention.

    Yuki had finally sat down with it difficult to tell if he was embarrassed or not for being called out by the teacher and everyone laughing at him. Saki could only sink in her chair a little more fearing for how the rest of the day would go. Ms. Kuniyoshi pulled out chalk from the short shelf that ran at the bottom of the chalkboard writing the new student’s name up on the board while all of the students still worked to get a clear view of the new girl. When she was done it read “Ayumi Nishimura” making it clear to them that she was Japanese, in spite of being from America. “Don’t be afraid Nishimura. Introduce yourself.” She stepped out of the way of Ayumi leaving her to be exposed to the class.

    “She doesn’t look Japanese,” a student whispered.

    “Yeah, you sure that she is?”

    “But her name.”

    “Maybe she was in America too long.” The last comment, while quiet, made a few of them laugh. They were silently told by the teacher glaring over Ayumi at them causing the ones being disruptive to become very still.

    The new student seemed very quiet and shy holding her hands tightly together as she looked cautiously around the room. Ayumi turned her head back staring at Ms. Kuniyoshi for assistance to be freed from speaking, but found no comfort from her. She hung her head viewing the tiled floor at her feet. She pulled her head back up and pushed back the stray strands of her black hair to slide behind her ear and to just above the small of her back. Her green eyes open brightly signaling life in her. “My…name is…Ayumi Nishimura,” Ayumi said softly barely carrying her voice past the couple rows of students.

    Ms. Kuniyoshi waited long enough to see if Ayumi had anymore further to add, but Ayumi remained quiet. She stepped forward leaning over Ayumi to get a look at her face. “You have anymore to add?” Ayumi held her lips sealed simply shaking her head. “Well it seems that Ayumi is a little shy. You may take the empty seat behind Hayashi.” She pointed the desk out to her so that she would be clear. “And Hayashi don’t show her your weird side, got it?”

    Yuki rubbed the back of his head with his hand innocently laughing looking like he did not know what she meant. He understood well enough what the teacher was driving at, but did not want to acknowledge it openly. ‘Always picking on me. She never quits.’ Ayumi picked up her bag slowly walking down the aisle until crossing eyes with Yuki. He suddenly felt something through his body and under his skin like he had only experienced in his dreams. He could not place it, but her eyes seemed to be talking to him as though they were familiar. Yuki felt sweat building over his hands and arms as the feeling grew. But in the second Ayumi was continuing on politely smiling to him sending another message to him. This time it was contradicting the last. Yuki turned his head looking at her out of the corner of his eye confused. ’What was that look she gave me? And that smile… What’s going on?’

    To be continued…
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  4. #4
    The Quiet One Shift Andromeda's Avatar
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    The morning and remainder of the time in class that followed after the introduction of the new student Ayumi Nishimura was carried out normally for everyone, everyone but Yuki. He had become distracted by this new girl that was sitting behind him. Normally, it would have been easy enough for him to let his mind wonder through his fantasies during homeroom, since nothing of importance usually happened. ‘Ayumi Nishimura…why did she smile at me like that?’ However, he was not able to get his mind off of her for as much as he tried and none of it made any sense. There was something that was not sitting right with him and he did not know what to make of it.

    It all happened when he saw her walk by him. She smiled at him when he had been suddenly feeling immense stress. It was as though there were twenty pound weights chained to his arms and legs and he was struggling to just hold his position. He sweated heavily making his uniform stick to his skin and strain with his movements. Then she just smiled at him as though she seemed to understand doing it only to relieve him and release the chains around him. He could not make sense of it. ‘Such a strange look, but it was just a normal smile. But why am I feeling this strangely about it. What’s wrong with me?’

    Yuki turned around in his chair ninety degrees to look over his shoulder more comfortably at the new girl. She wore the school uniform of Monou High the typical sailor outfit that was worn by most students with certain variations. Being that it was the winter uniform still it had the long sleeves that went firmly around wrists for warmth and thicker material. The sleeves were part of the jacket that went over the white dress blouse underneath. The jacket worked with the two colors scheme white for the base and blue for highlights and contrast. The usual marking for the sailor outfit with a squared cloth hanging from the back of the shoulders was removed with the dress blouse collar coming up around the neck and the collar of the jacket folded down wide in length coming to an open ‘V’ shape that allowed the top few buttons of the blouse to be seen. The jacket finished in dark blue buttons holding it together covering over the waist strap of the skirt, that remained at a more conservative length closer to the knees. The pleated skirt held the matching blue color of the jacket as its base. Yuki’s uniform matched the blue through for jacket and slacks with his white dress shirt underneath. Both uniforms held the school’s seal in the right upper pocket location, if there was a pocket.

    Ayumi had her hair tied back with a match colored ribbon giving Yuki sudden images of a manga he had recently read. It had been the first distraction from Ayumi he had. He still wished to know what was wrong with him, but having been turned around staring at her for the prolonged period he had garnered him more attention that he thought he was going to get. She was staring at him looking a little closer to him than he was planning making him pull back putting his desk edge into his back painfully. “Hello!”

    Yuki put his hand on his back wincing a little in the pain striking at him. It took him a moment until he realized that the new girl had spoken to him making him become frantic almost needing to say something. “Uhh…I…” Sadly he could not form enough words immediately.

    “Oh dear, are you alright?” she said reaching her hand out to Yuki with a concerned, yet that shy expression from earlier, look on her face. She did not want be causing problems for the other students on her first day already.

    Yuki straightened himself up quickly having seen Ayumi trying to help him. “I-I’m fine. See no problem at all,” he said pounding on his back though still obviously feeling the sting forcing him to roughly cover it up. “No, it’s my fault. I was staring at you thinking that you looked like one of the characters from a manga I had just read last night.”

    Saki, who had been watching the exchange, slammed her head into her desk suddenly out of reaction from Yuki honest yet stupid answer that was no doubt going to get him into further trouble. ‘Yuki, you got to learn when to be quiet and not say everything that’s running through your mind. Not everyone will understand. In fact no one does, usually…’ She sighed to herself with her head resting sideways on the desk fearing the sort of response that will come from the transfer student.

    The other students around that heard Yuki were laughing at him knowing full well what was going to happen next. There were a few comments saying that it was typical of Yuki.

    Ayumi pulled her hands back and raising them to her face looking embarrassed. “Oh really? You think so? That’s so sweet,” she said to the utter surprise of the entire class some slipping a little and falling to the floor on their backs.

    Saki nearly rammed her head through her desk in surprise with everyone else. She could not believe that she was just going to accept that. It would have sounded almost creepy to any other girl that would have heard it. She was equally confused as rest of the students were about Ayumi. ‘No one’s accepted Yuki so easily…and to not even care about how weird he just sounded. Who is this girl?’

    After an awkward start by Yuki and most certainly strange answer from Ayumi the two were laughing lightly for an unknown reason since everyone else had missed what happened next still trying to recover from the shock. Yuki felt a little more comfort with Ayumi now that his mind seemed to have gotten over the issues it was having previously. “Oh, you probably heard from Ms. Kuniyoshi, but my name is Yuki Hayashi.”

    “Oh, Hayashi okay…” she said still feeling cautious.

    “You can call me Yuki, alright?”

    “Yuki?”

    “There you go,” Yuki said smiling back at her. He was greeted by a smile from her again, different from before feeling straightforward and honest. They continued to talk for a little while longer, but Yuki kept feeling a strange poking in his back and shoulder that he could not place. He rolling his left shoulder hoping that the feeling would disappear, but it seemed to only come back stronger.

    Over his left shoulder there was a glaring stare from Ms. Kuniyoshi holding a stick of chalk in her hand and a vein popping up once more. Though a little further down was Saki staring at the two of them getting along really well with not nearly the intensity of the teacher, but staring all the same and perhaps glaring, she was not certain herself.

    Chapter 3 – Unbelievable! The Transfer Student’s Story

    “Mr. Hayashi! I’ve had enough of you disrupting my class. You will be quiet now!” Ms. Kuniyoshi said starting to look a little exhausted from the morning already. The other students considered laughing again, but they could see how serious she was now that they did not dare to do anything more to make her angry.

    Yuki caught about half of what she said still looking back at Ayumi rather than the yelling teacher. Saki’s expression changed to embarrassment now that Yuki was making even more of a scene for himself. ‘He’s so clueless. Closing out the world to focus on one thing is not always a good thing…’ Though it had came to her surprise seeing a white beam run past her nose sucking in the air behind it pulling it towards its destination. Saki blinked to see if her eyes were play tricks on her when she saw Yuki laying face planted on Ayumi’s desk unconscious and a bump on his head. She looked down at the desk’s table to see a couple broken pieces of chalk rounding around to a rest. ‘Yuki…’

    “Oh my! Yuki!” Ayumi said scrambling to Yuki’s side trying to lift him up until she noticed the bump on his head. “Are you alright? Yuki?”

    “Miss Nishimura don’t let this delinquent rub off on you. Understood?” she said wanting to get her class under control finally before the time was over.

    “But what about Yuki? He could be hurt.”

    “I wouldn’t worry too much about him,” a student said helping pull Yuki back up and set him into his chair. He pushed his index finger at Yuki’s nose pointing his hanging head forward to pretend that he was paying attention. “I haven’t known Yuki long, but I’ve seen him on the wrong end of plenty of fists and he always manages to come out fine. So you don’t have to worry.”

    “But…” He placed a hand on her shoulder looking at her carefully letting her know he was being serious. It calmed her down letting her return to her seat. “I’m sorry, who are you?” asked Ayumi as she saw the student go back to his seat as well.

    “Oh, I’m Hiroshi Kuroda, one Yuki’s friends.” Hiroshi ended it there leaving with a polite nod knowing that he was getting stared at by the teacher as well. He could not leave Yuki there being the center of attention even unconscious. Yuki was already in enough trouble and it was not even past thirty minutes of the school day. Hiroshi gave back an amused smile before giving Ms. Kuniyoshi his focus as well.

    The morning continued on without Yuki needed to be among of the living; though he did eventually awake up to find that his homeroom class had become the English class and he was twenty minutes late to the class. Apart from the new student it was a normal day so far for him. Eventually the sun decided it would be noon and the students broke for lunch spread across the school grounds or classrooms depending on what their friends decided. For Yuki that meant getting together with Saki, Hiroshi and a couple other of his friends on the roof. However, none of them made it that far with a surprise visit by Ayumi.

    They were all standing at the edge of their classroom waiting on Yuki to get his lunch when Ayumi burst through the door looking around franticly for something or someone. Yuki’s friends exchanged glances with each other and Ayumi none of them certain what this about. But they all quickly understood when she spoke. “Yuki! I found you!” She rushed over to him as he had finally pulled out his lunch from his school bag. The fact she was actually interested in Yuki, again, made his friends face drop in awe. The truth hurt; fortunately Yuki was not aware of it.

    Yuki turned around finding Ayumi behind him looking a little down to meet with her face to face. It took him by surprised as well jumping back a step not certain what she wanted. “Ayumi?! Hey, did you need something? You get lost?”

    “Oh no. I-I was actually…wondering if we could have lunch together,” she said looking down a little towards her feet. It was enough to send another round of shocks through his friends listening from the sidelines.

    Yuki pulled himself back towards Ayumi recovered and seeing that it was just something normal. He was not sure what he was expecting, but he gave her a nod in agreement. “Sure, we were just going to head up to the roof for lunch. You can join us.” He pointed to his friends who were looking back at him like they suddenly wanted to be left out of the conversation.

    Ayumi held her head a little lower looking like she had become disappointed by something. “Oh…I see… I was wanting to eat alone with you…” She was beginning to fidget with her hands shifting around her body at each moment like there was something crawling over her that made her squirm.

    This naturally only further plastered his friends into shock as this day was turning out to be anything but normal. None of them knew who this new girl was and why she was so interested in Yuki. But Hiroshi finally spoke across the group to a girl staring on intently with her hands clutched tightly to her chest in pain. “Better act quickly, Yumi. Looks like this new girl is aggressive despite how shy she looks.”

    Yumi looked down suddenly at the floor with her face becoming red quickly. She could hardly put two words together only making what seemed more like noises than words. Saki sighed walking over to Yumi and hit Hiroshi in the stomach in passing. “Careful what you say, Hiroshi!”

    Hiroshi fell back forced to use the wall for support after taking a punch from Saki. He coughed a couple times trying to recover himself quickly remembering her strength. “Hey, what you do that for Saki! I’m just joking.”

    “Yumi?” Saki glared back at Hiroshi making him turn blue in fear for getting hit again. He backed up behind another body to keep some distance between them. Saki could see that Yumi was locked away in a distant world now with her head deeply flush with red. ‘Oh dear, poor girl is so embarrassed that she can’t function. That Hiroshi…’ She put her hands on Yumi’s shoulders hoping to get attention, but finding that it did nothing. “Yumi? Hey, it’s alright. Yuki’s going to be having lunch with us.” Saki looked back to find Yuki as assurance for the claim that she just made in hopes that Yumi would return to normal. However, Yuki’s space that he was occupying was flashing back as being clearly empty along with the new girl, Ayumi. “Where’s Yuki?

    Hiroshi looked out from around the person that he was using for protection to see what Saki saw, which was no Yuki. He had no more of an idea than Saki. They all jumped out into the hallway looking for Yuki while Yumi was left alone staring empty into space. “Yuki! Yuki?” None of them could find him after a short search and returned back to the classroom to check on Yumi.

    “Hey, what’s Yuki doing with the new girl?” a student said looking out the window. It did not take but a second for the unfortunate student to regret speaking aloud as Yuki’s friends charged the window leaving the poor student pressed against the glass as they looked out. Saki looked around with her eyes franticly until she finally found him walking under a tree with Ayumi.

    “When did he leave?” Hiroshi said surprised, though he was not sure if he was more surprised or disappointed that Yuki had found someone sort of normal, ‘sort of’ because she could not possibly be completely normal to have an interest in Yuki, before he did. The window was pushed open with several of them leaning out attempting to hear them. “Can you hear what they’re saying?”

    “They’re too far away,” Saki said straining at the window. She was not sure who this girl was, but Yuki was so trusting that he was going to end up following her anywhere.

    “So what did you want to talk about, Ayumi?” Yuki said when Ayumi finally stopped at the base of a tree. He thought back for a moment at what she said trying to figure out what this was all about.

    ‘Alone? I guess, you don’t want to meet my friends?’

    ‘No…it’s not that. I was hoping to be able to talk to you alone. So I thought lunch would be a good time.’

    ‘Oh? Sure.’

    There was nothing more than that. It was pretty vague for him, but he figured that she would tell him soon enough now. Ayumi turned around to him with a change in her usual expression. She looked far more serious and stood straight up losing any hint of meekness that she had before. “Ayumi?”

    “Yuki Hayashi…Ayumi Nishimura is not my real name. And everything the teacher told you about me is a lie.”

    Yuki checked her for a joke or something, but she seemed to be very serious about what she was saying. He was not sure what to make of it. This was contrary to what he had seen from her earlier. The girl had changed completely in front of him from a mere few words and stance. “What are you talking about Ayumi? Why would you lie to us?”

    “I had to lie. Because the truth is not meant for them, but for you.” She pointed to him as she spoke making Yuki pull back a little.

    “Huh? For me? What are you talking about?” Yuki head was starting to spin a little confused by what he was hearing and seeing. ‘Truth for me? What is she talking about? What truth? Who is she? This feeling…I’m getting it again.’ He felt the weights returning to him stronger than before. His entire body was beginning to sweat from the unsettling sense pouring through him now. ‘This is what I saw before from her…this was underneath that smile…it was covering it up…’ Yuki clutched his chest receiving a sharp pain. “What truth for me?”

    “The truth is that you are not like everyone else here and I don’t mean in the manner of goofing and acting weird that they see from you. This is something deeper inside you. You feel some of it now perhaps, such as this morning with that tree you cut.”

    Yuki’s eyes widened thinking back to that moment and the similar feeling that he had. She had been correct that this felt like that. But there was something distinctly different this time. However, he did not cut that tree it was unharmed when he looked. ‘What’s she getting at? I didn’t do anything. But how did she know that I cut that tree in my mind?’ He stared at her seeking an answer from her eyes, but it was like watching a brick wall. He was not getting anything out of her now. “How do you know about the tree?”

    “I know, because you cut it down.”

    “No I didn’t!”

    “Yes, you did. You used your power that you have had locked inside you trapped by your mind and it is starting to break free from its seal.”

    “Seal? Mind? You aren’t making any sense! I don’t understand what you’re saying.”

    “I’ve come for you, Yuki Hayashi. I need you to save my people and I need your power!”

    To be continued…
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  5. #5
    The Quiet One Shift Andromeda's Avatar
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    “I’ve come for you, Yuki Hayashi. I need you to save my people and I need your power!” Ayumi shouted at him sounding almost desperate, but pulled back quickly looking away gathering herself back. It was enough to make Yuki jump back a couple steps taken completely back by the change once more.

    He did not understand what was going on anymore. ‘Is this some joke that she is playing on me? Is Hiroshi near?’ Yuki looked around the school grounds trying to make some sense of what was happening hoping that there might be some student laughing behind him. But he saw no one like that and anyone he did see was enjoying their lunch. ‘Who is this girl? She sounds like something out of my manga? Did she talk to someone? Is this a joke from her?’ Yuki stared uncertain back at Ayumi thinking that he could read her for something, but she had already changed her stance and expression three times in the matter of a minute or two. He was not certain how good of an actor she actually was and what was the real her. ‘Gah! I can’t tell. What does she want?’

    Chapter 4 – A Troubled, Hopeful Mind

    “What’s wrong with Yuki? Why is he looking so scared of the Ayumi?” Saki said gripping the window seal tightly enough that the glass was rattling and cracking a little. They had been watching the silent exchange between the two making guesses between each other about what they were saying. Most were simply joking filling the gaps in with silly romantic drivel. But Saki had remained quiet until this sudden change from Yuki. ‘Something troubling him. I can tell. He looks scared or confused. What did she say?’

    Hiroshi was pulled away from his joking by Yumi, who had been equally quiet in her staring at the scene, to point out Saki’s increasing ‘Yuki Protection Meter’, which happened to be reading very close to a six (out of 10, it should be noted that she launches attacks at a mere four meaning that she was restraining herself quite a bit at moment). Yumi did not know what to do, as well as knowing full well that she could not hold her back. Hiroshi blended panic and fear together well seeing Saki putting her knee on the window looking ready to leap out of the building. He rushed to Saki grabbing her back to the waist using the room’s wall for support against her, she was stronger than even him and he knew it too well. “Saki! We’re on the second floor! You’ll get yourself hurt if you jump!”

    “Hiroshi? Let go of me…right now!” Saki said with that six turning into a seven now and a raging boil finally pouring out unleashing from Saki. Whether it was Yuki jumping back again or Hiroshi holding her down did not matter anymore, the trigger had been snapped. Hiroshi wrestled with her on the floor after his full weight had managed to pry her free of the window landing her on the floor in a very unladylike position with her skirt up close to her face. “Let me go, Hiroshi! This is your last warning!”

    “Oh my!” Yumi said shyly and blushing turning away.

    He struggled with her more on the floor with neither realizing the situation that she was in or how odd they looked at the moment. The other students needlessly were grinning to themselves before Yumi’s instincts kicked in. The boys were chased out by the change in Yumi to protect whatever dignity that Saki might actually have left, which was a good question at this point. “I’m not letting you jump out of the window, Saki! If you want to rescue Yuki so badly use the door and stairs like everyone else.”

    “Huh?” Saki came to a stop a little surprised that Hiroshi was willing to let her go. “Fine…” Her struggling came to a complete end and she stood up once Hiroshi let go. She pushed her skirt down completely and ran out of the classroom.

    Yumi watch the blur of Saki before turning back to Hiroshi confused now that she had returned from chasing off the immature boys. “Why did you let her go? Weren’t you trying to protect, Ayumi?”

    Hiroshi dusted off his shirt as he stood up looking out the window at Ayumi and Yuki still talking. He leaned down against the dented metal left from Saki. “I know she won’t kill the girl. Besides I care about my own life as well.” Hiroshi let out a shuddering sigh out loud as though he was thinking about something that scared him.

    Saki rushed down the stairs and towards the front of the school seeing the light from the noon sun blinding the outside. When she finally stepped outside looking around to get her bearings she found Yuki standing by the tree, but Ayumi was gone now. She looked franticly around for the new girl to give her a piece of her mind, but she had missed her chance. ‘I’ll see her in class. She’ll get what’s coming to her…’ Saki focused back on Yuki rushing over to him finding him staring, nearly devoid of life in his eyes, at the ground. “Yuki? Hey, Yuki!” She frowned looking a little frustrated, but this was nothing that she would not be able to break through, she did know Yuki forever since they were little kids. “Hey, Yuki its lunchtime!”

    She gave a sigh of disappointment that food was not snapping him out of it. ‘Must be a little more serious. What did she do to him? I’m going to make her pay for this…but I’ve got to get through to Yuki.’ A few attempts of shaking him and knocking or possibly pounding reality into him were not working as well. ‘He’s really out to lunch… guess I’ve got no other choice.’ Saki stepped around putting her mouth to his ear and whispered softly to him. “Yuki, those bullies are burning your manga you keep in your schoolbag.”

    “What?! My manga’s burning?” Yuki said suddenly shattering the barrier between him and the world. He turned over to Saki, who was looking a little embarrassing and sweating, grabbing her by the hands to plea to her. “Please stop them, Saki!”

    “One track mind…” she said under her breath not surprised by his reaction. It was actually what she was expecting from him. “It’s alright, Yuki.”

    “No, its not. They’re burning them! You’ve got to stop them!” he said with panicked words beginning to shake before her.

    ‘How many times have I used this on him and he never gets a clue…’ Saki pulled free from Yuki’s hold grabbing him by the shoulders to get him to stop shaking. “Hey, listen to me. It’s alright. They aren’t burning them.”

    Yuki stopped immediately staring at her confused. “But you said that they were.”

    “Get a clue, Yuki. You were spacing out again and I couldn’t get you to snap out of it. They never were. I just told you so that you will come back to reality. You’re so naïve sometimes.” Saki turned away crossing her arms either angry or disappointed, neither of which Yuki was going to figure out.

    “But why would you do that?” he said pulling on her arm to get her to look at him again.

    Saki refused to look at him now. “I found you staring at nothing after talking to that Ayumi girl.” She was not sure if she heard him say something, but it seemed to have triggered something in him pulling him back into that state he was before. Saki panicked not realizing that he was going to fall back in and turned around grabbing for Yuki before he was lost again. “Yuki! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean it. Come on, snap out it!” She shuck him violently making his head rattle around to bring him back, though it only seemed to daze him now. “What did she say to you? Tell me!”

    Yuki was left dizzy and barely able to stay conscious with Saki shaking him so hard. Once she finally stopped he could think straight, a little, on what Ayumi had told him. It had been difficult for him to believe and the story was even more unbelievable. He could not accept it no matter how much that he wanted. Yuki turned his head away while Saki still held his uniform by the cloth just below the collar. “Nothing…”

    “I’ve known too long to let you go at nothing. Tell me what’s wrong, Yuki!” Saki pulled him in closer to her so that he could not attempt to ignore her, though being held made that impossible anyway.

    Yuki did not want to talk about it. He was not even sure why he was told. Nothing made any sense about the whole thing. “I said its nothing! Leave me alone, Saki!” Yuki pushed her back into the wall breaking her grip from her stunned reaction. She stared at him confused uncertain what to say while Yuki was breathing heavily. He could see how worried she was about him, but he turned away anyway. “I’m sorry, Saki. I need to be alone right now.” Yuki ran off Saki not willing to follow him.

    “Yuki…”

    “Saki? What happened?” Hiroshi said arriving with Yumi and Yuki’s other friends. However, he did not get anything from Saki and Yuki was nowhere to be seen anymore. He looked down at Yumi confused and back at Saki.

    Yuki ran until his body was pounding too hard for him to continue any longer forcing him to drop to the grass. He found himself somewhere in the back of the school near the track and field section. He fell back into the grass letting the angled ground give him a reclined view of the clouds. Yuki closed his eyes trying to get the thoughts off his mind, but they only swirled around him refusing to allow him to forget. ‘Argh…I wish it could be true, but this is reality and those things can’t happen. The only place it can happen is in my mind. Even I know that. How could she tell me those things…’

    “I’ve come for you, Yuki Hayashi. I need you to save my people and I need your power!” Ayumi shouted at him sounding almost desperate, but pulled back quickly looking away gathering herself back. It was enough to make Yuki jump back a couple steps taken completely back by the change once more.

    “My power? I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t have any power. I’m just a normal person.” The thought of normal made even him hesitate for a moment knowing there was some irony to be had in that statement. ‘I guess some would probably disagree.’ However, his concern was on what she was talking about, a power that he did not know about.

    Ayumi had finally gathered herself and composed her stance once more looking at him deadly serious. It was this expression that made Yuki unsettled the most of anything she might have said. “You have a power inside you that you don’t understand yet. You saw what it is capable of this morning.”

    “The tree again? I don’t have the power to created spiritual energy gathered from the air and form it into an arc that can cut through a tree. That was just in my mind. But how could you even know about that?” He stepped forward demanding some explanation from the girl that actually would make some sense to him. All of this fantasy talk, while exciting to him, was not something that he could handle as a joke.

    “You’re correct in that you can’t do that. That is not the power that was talking about.”

    “Huh? Now you’ve lost me completely.” Yuki stepped back seeing that this was not going where he was expecting. Now there was even less that was clear to him. She had seen him this morning, but she saw something else as well. “You aren’t making any sense.”

    Ayumi seemed like she should have been aspirated by Yuki, but if she was she did not let it on keeping the stone walled face as before. She blinked was once prior to starting to explain in a more understandable manner, relatively. “The power that you possess is not limited to something so mundane. The power that you have is as limitless as your imagination.”

    Yuki still did not understand what she was getting at she was still speaking in abstracts that only seemed to make since to her. He scratched his head a little in frustration unable to wait for her to make real sense. “My power…my power. Limitless as my imagination? That’s all you talk about. When are you going to make sense?”

    “I was just about to explain that to you if you didn’t keep interrupting me.” She narrowed her eyes for a moment to get the point across making Yuki back down and remain quiet. Ayumi returned to her emotionless features and resumed her explanation. “As I said your power is limitless. What I mean by that is that you have the power to create anything with your mind and making become reality. Which is what you experience this morning. That was a sampling of your power which has been sealed away until recently.”

    “For real?! I have the power to create anything from my mind?” Yuki said suddenly glowing ecstatically with the thoughts of what he could do with such a power running wild through his mind. All of his dreams and fantasies could become reality and he would never be bored again. He jumped up taking hold of Ayumi leaving her a little uncertain by his change in reaction. “That’s so cool!” His cynicism seemed to have evaporated quickly with his change of heart about the story openly accepting. It was a dream come true after all for him. He started laughing out loud as thoughts were going through his mind. Then he turned down at Ayumi turning it all off staring at her. “Come on. You’d think I’d believe that story. At least it works, but that doesn’t mean just because it works it is the truth. I’m sorry, Ayumi, your people are going to have to be saved by someone else.” He turned away patting her on the head ready to walk away with his cynical attitude surfacing. ‘It is a shame it can’t be true. It’s a cruel joke to play on me, but I wouldn’t fall for that.’

    Ayumi grabbed his arm stopping him from leaving. “I’m not done.” She held his wrist firmly making it difficult for him to pull free and when he did attempt he found her grip to be strong, as strong as Saki. He turned his head back at her he looking a little surprised. “There is more to it. The reason I need you is because of your power, but not for what it is rather the strength of it.” She could see that she had his attention again even if he was looking confused further. “What I mean is this. I served the previous ruler of my people as one of his elite guard and I was close to him. But he is dead now and there is a power struggle for the throne since he had no heirs, or so we thought.”

    Yuki stopped struggling now hearing more of her story and turned back to face her once more. He could tell that she at least seemed to believe what she was saying or acting very well at it. He was going to have to go along with her until she was done or he would never be allowed to leave. “And what does that have to do with me? I already told you that I’m just a normal student.”

    “We thought there were no heirs, but I found that was not true. You are in fact the only true heir to the throne of my people.”

    “How can that be true? My parents…” Yuki paused for a moment having trouble with the words. “I know who my family is. Are you telling me that I’m adopted or something crazy like that?”

    “Exactly. The Hayashi adopted you from your true father for reasons that even I couldn’t find. All I know is that they knew each other somehow and you became part of their family instead never telling you the truth.”

    “Adopted? You can’t be serious. You are making even less sense now and I didn’t think that was possible.” Yuki turned away looking at the ground no longer certain what was wrong with this girl. He just wanted it to be over so that he could leave this farce behind and have his lunch. ‘I’m not going to think about her anymore. She’s crazy, than me…’

    “The only reason you didn’t accidentally discover your powers was because your father sealed them in your mind so you would be as you say a ‘normal student’. However, now that he is dead that seal is crumbling and you will learn that you have powers that you must control or you will be ruled by your imagination.”

    Yuki found his moment when she had loosened her grip on his wrist and broke free and walked away putting a distance between them so that she could not stop him. “I’ve heard enough fantasies today. It was interesting and would make a fun read, but it’s not real and I’m hungry. See ya!”

    Ayumi rush around him before he had the chance to realize that she had moved. ‘She’s fast…like Saki…’ She was staring at him intently like before saying through her eyes that she still had even more to say.

    Yuki had recovered enough from his run and tired of recalling memories. He stood up letting his cloths slide down in place as he walked back to the school to get his lunch. “I can’t believe that I even thought the she was…I don’t know what I thought. Well she’s crazy now. It’s a shame and she seemed so nice too.” Yuki dug his hands into his pants pockets still feeling exhausted from the experience. “Ugh…I’ve got to sit in front of her for the rest of the year...can this lunch get any worse?”

    On cue as though it had been waiting for the right moment Yuki saw a bright red light coming straight for him and he somehow he knew it was not safe. He dove into the grass as the sphere of light crashed into the ground setting off a sudden explosive that dug into the ground. Yuki was sent back even further rolling across the grass coming to a painful stop at a tree trunk. The explosion continued to persist making him wrap his arms around his head to protect him from debris sent flying. He could feel pieces of cement run across his skin digging in before passing on leaving blood to drip slowly.

    The light had faded away and the explosion soon after it allowing Yuki to release himself. He slowly pulled himself up against the tree holding his right upper arm that was bleeding more than the rest of his scraps. A large piece of cement had dug in harder leaving him stinging and heavy amounts of blood dripping down. He looked up from his injury at the smoking crater that had been a part of the sidewalk to the track and field grounds. But now he could only see a column of smoke rising and a person that was floating in the air near the third floor of the school. Yuki’s eyes had suddenly widened in shock having difficulty believing what he was seeing now. “Floating…he’s floating in the air as though he was standing on something. What’s going on now?” Yuki pushed himself off from the trunk stepping forward looking at the strangely clothed man looking down at him. “Who are you?”

    “I’m not important, Yuki Hayashi. All that you need know is that I’m here to kill you!”

    Yuki let out a gasp of surprise and pulled back falling against the tree once more. His memories went back to the last thing that Ayumi had told him before she left him alone. He could not believe it.

    “There’s one last thing I have to tell you. I’m not the only that knows about you. I tried to keep my search a secret, but I was discovered. Those struggling for power of the throne will not allow an heir to ever appear to take the throne. I’ve come here now because you’re in danger. Assassins have been sent to kill you before I can take you back to claim your birthright. Your life is in danger, but I will be here to protect you and keep you from harm.”

    Yuki could not believe it, but there was no denying the man above him. No matter how he wanted to think about it there was nothing holding him up. ‘That explosion just now…I would have been dead if I hadn’t moved. Is he really trying to kill me? Was she…was it all…the truth?!’


    To be continued…
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  6. #6
    The Quiet One Shift Andromeda's Avatar
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    Yuki could not believe it, but there was no denying the man above him. No matter how he wanted to think about it there was nothing holding him up. ‘That explosion just now…I would have been dead if I hadn’t moved. Is he really trying to kill me? Was she…was it all…the truth?!’ Yuki looked up after having been staring at the crater again still in shock about what happened. He could not explain it through any rational means. Yet in spite of that he could not ignore, it was real the injuries he took were proof enough of that.

    Yuki raised up his hand that he was holding his injured arm seeing the blood that was covering and it seeing the mysterious man between his fingers staring down at him. He was not sure why he was holding off if he could easy have killed him where he was. The pause had only worsened the tension for Yuki feeling weaker from the injury. The familiar taste of blood threatened to push him, but refused to unlock that door.

    The assassin lowered from the air gradually until his feet came to meet with the ground finally standing even with Yuki across the school grounds. He stood a few inches taller than him and much older in age with the strange clothes that Yuki had never seen before. The cloth itself seemed normal enough, but he was wearing white baggy pants that had a strip of blue cloth wrapped around at the ankles up several times around close to the mid section of the lower leg. There was more cloth wrapped around at the waist tucking in and keeping the shirt in place. The shirt was white as well with the ends of the shirt sleeve wrapped up and an open tan vest with heavy embroidering across the surface making arching lines and twists throughout.

    There was one step forward from the assassin and once the black shoe firmly contacted the grass a red wave burst out from him. Behind the wave everything was suddenly being transformed into sand until it reached Yuki and the tree that he was resting against. The bark of the trunk slipped and continued to fall apart as it was changed to sand, but rather than the tree collapsing with no support it seemed to only emit sand keeping it covered.

    “What’s going on? Where did all of this sand come from? How can the tree be sand?!’ Yuki stumbled around trying to his footing in the changing surface underneath him no longer grass. Everywhere that he looked within a ten foot radius of the man was a sand dune. ‘How is this possible?’

    Chapter 5 – Monou Sand Dunes

    ‘What I mean by that is that you have the power to create anything with your mind and make it become reality,’ Ayumi said to him in his thoughts as he tried to comprehend what was happening to him. Yuki fought to get footing in the lose sand trying to get to somewhere flat, but the incline of the sand made it difficult and he slipped falling down the slope until he came to the feet of the assassin that stared down at him. Yuki pushed on his hands in the sand attempting to stand, but only slid through unable to get a hold.

    He could not believe what he was seeing. ‘Power to create anything. This is what she was talking about. I’m going to die here!’

    From the sand a column of sand poured up towards the assassin’s hand. Once it was too high to hold together the sand broke revealing the hilt of a sword. He grabbed the sword up pulling it free from the ground and threw off the sand in a clean arc to his side. The sand blew in the wind away from them leaving the gleaming double edged blade held flat horizontally. He looked upon Yuki slowly bringing it back ready to strike at him.

    ‘I’m going to die! Thinking isn’t helping me any. Think Yuki! I’m going to die!’ Yuki mind was blank with fear. There was nothing else in him anymore and nowhere to run. The sand was preventing him from moving all his feet could do was slide repeatedly with no traction. All he was doing was kicking up sand. ‘I’m going to die!’

    The sword finally was readied no longer hesitating in its draw. The sunlight played across the sharpened steel swinging down to slice him from the shoulder through across the chest. Yuki’s feet panicked moving even faster hoping to find a holding as he closed his eyes knowing that he was trapped. The blade hit the sand before his body dividing it into a forceful wave missing the target. At the last moment his left leg found enough of a solid hold that it pushed him into a rotation barely avoiding the strike in time, but his back was not so fortunate. As he rolled over the sand the blade caught the back of him cutting through his school jacket and dress shirt allowing the tip of the blade to taste his blood ever so lightly.

    Yuki came to a stop no further away from the assassin, but now on his left looking a little frustrated that he had missed. He turned around to face him again, but Yuki was ready for him thinking a little clearly. Once he had a view of him his hand that had been digging into the sand for fear pulled out throwing the sand it held at the assassin. The sand cloud hung around him digging in to the man’s eyes making him drop his sword and disappear into the sand.

    ‘What should I do? The sword…he tried to kill me…can I?’ Yuki looked around for the sword that dropped knowing that he could at the very least use it for protection. However, it was nowhere to be found like it had vanished the moment the man dropped it. ‘I can’t stay here long…if I run…’ He tripped a little as stood up fully in the sand and dragged through the sand. Eventually, he made it back to the top of the dune that surrounded the center and rolled over. He rolled a short distance before he suddenly dropped in the air to the hard cement.

    “What the? Where’s the sand…” Yuki could not finish his sentence as he stood up on firm ground once more staring back at the sand. It was simply cut off suddenly smoothly not moving as though it was being held back by an invisible barrier. “What is this? Why did it stop?” He stepped forward pushing his finger into the sand finding that there was nothing between it and him. It was normal sand, as normal as it could be for being created from nothing and existing profoundly enough to declare itself. Yuki put his entire hand in grabbing some of the sand and pulled out to look at it more closely. But when he opened his hand it was empty. “Huh? It’s gone, but how? I know I was holding sand.”

    The sand suddenly began to advance on him, but not as though it was moving rather it seemed like the barrier that was holding it was moving revealing sand that was not seen before. Yuki attempted to back away, but there was not enough time and he was buried up to his waist in sand. An angry scream from where he assumed the assassin to be drilled through the sand letting him know that he must be on the move again. ‘So much for that. Got to…get out…’

    While Yuki struggled haplessly in the sand digging to his legs the man wishing him to die appeared up in the air looking for his target. The sand prevented any escape for Yuki making it an easy search for the assassin. Yuki pulled at his legs stretching out to the open air where the sand stopped abruptly. It was just out of reach. If he could just make it free the grass would give him time to run. Unfortunately for Yuki, the sand suddenly grew out again like before and he turned around finding that the assassin was closer to him standing effortlessly on the top of the dune.

    Yuki’s heart sank once more feeling the heavy cold air of death staring down at him. He tried to keep his heart from pounding out of control, but it could not be helped. This was unlike anything he had ever experience. His life was nearly in the hands of this stranger. It was only by chance and luck he survived these extra minutes. ‘Why does it have to be me?’

    The words of Ayumi called to him silently from their meeting again. ‘Those struggling for power of the throne will not allow an heir to ever appear to take the throne. I’ve come here now because you’re in danger. Assassins have been sent to kill you before I can take you back to claim your birthright.’

    He has dismissed it all out of hand, but how could have done anything else. This was all too crazy to believe. ‘You can’t be serious. I’m dying because some crazy girl’s story is actually true. What have you gotten yourself into Yuki?’

    His escape to the grass disappeared from his grasp with even more sand between him now. The assassin began to step forward drawing out his sword from the sand once more. Yuki could plainly read the intent to kill that was colored over his face. It made him sweat knowing that he did not want anymore interruptions from his task. Yuki flailed his arms around in the sand hoping to kick sand back up at him to get free and blind him. However, the assassin was not affected this time standing looking almost disappointed at the same trick being attempted.

    “This is my sand. I can control it and when it ceases. You can’t blind me again. Now end this struggling Yuki Hayashi!” The assassin charged down the dune using the slope for more speed holding the sword firmly in his right hand angled down as though to go for a decapitation.

    Yuki tried franticly to free himself, but could only get one leg free before the charge began. He kicked up more sand just at the moment that the assassin had closed the distance creating enough of a cloud to make it impossible to see. The blade sliced through the cloud making a dreadful sound filled with uncertainly. There was blood sprayed across the sand’s surface and the blade had drunk more. The assassin stared at the cloud seeing it fade away upon command.

    There was blood brushed in drops and puddles where Yuki lay, but he was still breathing, heavily. He had pulled himself back in the sand enough for the sword to miss his neck, but it had gone through the front of his uniform now much deeper. The blood that he was losing was being to affect his head making everything fuzzy, but he fought to keep himself focused as the assassin brought down the sword once more. This time out of force of will to live Yuki pulled his entrapped leg from the sand free and rolled away in the sand just in time.

    Yuki pushed himself up feeling the adrenaline kick in for him and the pain pass. It gave him the extra strength to press on into a full run for the edge of the sand and the grass he could see in sight. He did not look behind him, but the assassin was not moving leaving the sword in the sand. On his left a long column of sand burst up quickly to be taken in his left hand revealing it to be a lance with a wooden shaft. His left arm tensed back quickly and released it immediately aimed straight his back. The lance sailed through the air quickly closing the distance between them with Yuki only a step away from the grass once more.

    Misfortunate struck again for Yuki, his ankle twisted in the sand tripping him and throwing off his run causing him to rotate as he fell in motion. He suddenly was granted a view of the lance coming straight for him. The lance met him before the edge running through his chest and disappearing into him not to appear on the other side as though his body had eaten it. Yuki collapsed to the grass dropping blood on the grass. He could not feel the lance anymore, but was certain that it struck him. He lifted himself up quickly painfully drawing in his injured arm to pat down his chest finding that he actually did not have a new hole through his chest. “What happened? I know it hit me.”

    The assassin stepped forward and the sand returned to Yuki’s feet drawing out the dunes. Yuki pulled himself away and ran to his feet scrabbling for the storage shed that kept the sports equipment mainly. He hid behind the corner looking around seeing the man in white charging forward with the sand out in front until it met the shed. All of the brick suddenly poured sand out from the surface covering Yuki’s hand making him draw back in surprise. ‘It’s all sand now! This isn’t going to protect me. He’ll be able to knock it over easy. I’ve got to find somewhere else.’ Yuki looked around quickly, but he was in the worst possible spot with this being the track and field section. There was no cover just open grass or track ground.

    Once more Yuki was ducking from an attack by the assassin as the lance he was using now sliced through the air. Yuki backed up dropping blood at his feet from the stress he was placing on his body to move and function. A horizontal swing caught his uniform and then stopped suddenly in the brick wall of the shed to Yuki’s surprise. He used the moment to back away and get to the grass for safety. ‘I thought it was all sand, but I heard the metal hit brick. Does that mean he can’t transform existing objects into his sand? But how does that help me?’

    His moment was over and on the defensive again fleeing from the encroaching sand, but losing ground. ‘He’s faster than me. I can’t out run him and his sand seems to move with him everywhere. What is it?’ The thoughts going through slowed him down even more bringing the assassin within striking distance. Yuki danced around awkward leaving blood on the sand as he narrowly avoid the swings. ‘He is slowing down? Something doesn’t feel right, it’s almost…’

    The assassin looked like he was becoming enraged upon frustrated that this was drawn out for so long. He thrust in at Yuki with the lance to pierce him through the heart, but Yuki avoided it and clamped his still good left arm on shaft of the lance ripping it free from the surprised assassin. Yuki, a little surprised himself, stared at his good fortunes, finally. After eying the lance he turned it on the assassin pointing down at him narrowing his eyes. ‘I can’t let it…it has to remained locked. I promised…’ Yuki shuck his head fighting between thoughts trying to control him. “I have your lance now. Now why are you trying to kill me?”

    Yuki stared down the assassin defiantly, but the man seemed unimpressed by the reversal. The momentary surprise had faded away and he was walking towards Yuki once more. There was a smirk drawn up on his mouth like he still had more secrets to play. “Why should I tell you when you don’t have a weapon?”

    “What are you talking about? Stay back!” said Yuki thrusting the lance forward a little to make his point, but there was nothing in his hand anymore. He looked down bringing his hands into clear view. The lance was gone and now back in the hands of the assassin. “Huh?! But I had your weapon! How did you…”

    “I told you before I control the sand, but that is not all. I control these weapons as well. You can’t use them against me. I’ll just make them fade away before you can even swing.” He stepped forward raising the lance up high catching the sunlight on his blade. Yuki’s eyes had widened in shock unable to react to the coming strike. A deer caught in the headlights; Yuki stood as the lance came down slicing through his shoulder and across his chest digging up blood sending him flying across the sand landing at the outer edge his head limply knocking against the drop off of sand. “Now it ends.” The assassin let the lance fade away into the air and stretched out his palm until it began to glow red.

    Yuki could barely feel anything and his body would not move. He could not even lift his head from the ninety degree angle it sat at now. His head began to lose focus making him think he could hear a crackling sound. The red glow from the man grew to fill the entire area of sand around him drawing together to become an orb. The energy pulled together sparked and fought against each other clashing angrily to be let free. Time passed slowly drawn out with Yuki unable to perceive what was happening. ‘This is it? I’m going to die now…Saki…she always protected me…can’t believe I’m thinking about her now…’

    ‘Your life is in danger, but I will be here to protect you and keep you from harm,’ Ayumi said to him from their meeting. She looked serious, but there was no one here to save him.

    Yuki could almost laugh if it was not impossible for him. ‘No one’s going to save me. This is the real world. It doesn’t work like that…I-I…don’t want to die…’ Yuki suddenly felt something warm near him and then he fell over in the sand sliding to the grass at the moment he felt a scorching pain all over his legs. When he opened his eyes to see what was happening there was a red glowing explosion at the perimeter of the sand throwing sand everywhere. Yuki felt his body return to him making him pull away in shock and fear for being caught in the explosion, but as time passed nothing happened to him. He cautiously looked back to see that the explosion was cut off immediately at the edge where the sand stopped as well. Yuki pulled himself back up leaning heavily against the pole for the high jump practice.

    He wrapped his blood stained left hand over his injured arm again breathing heavily while watching the red explosion finally subside away. The explosion now and the lance before that did not run him through made him think back. He remembered the sand that he tried to pull out and saw nothing. ‘Is that his limit? Can he not maintain his reality beyond the point? Is that his weakness?’ Now that the explosion was gone it meant that the assassin could see him again. ‘Weakness or not, I can’t use that to my advantage. He is faster than me and I’m about to pass out. I can’t survive anymore.’

    The man charged in with his sand surrounding the high jump mat and pole quickly staring down Yuki. Yuki did not try to flee. The man seemed to understand that he had given into his fate now. He drew up his sword from the sand once more pulling it back with both hands to thrust through Yuki for the final blow.

    ‘Saki…Momoko…Ken…Jun…I’m sorry…’ Yuki closed his eyes waiting for the blade to strike. Time paused for him seeing his family smiling at him one at a time. ‘I couldn’t…’ It was over. The blade came in for the kill and time passed on. Yuki winced in pain, but he then looked around to see someone in front of him. Someone had actually come to save him. It took him a moment for him to stare at the person’s back to realize who it actually was. “You?!”

    To be continued…
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  7. #7
    The Quiet One Shift Andromeda's Avatar
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    “You?!” Yuki eyes widened in surprised to see that it was her to come to save him. He did not think that there was anyone near that saw them. It took him a moment to catch himself when he remembered what she had told him.

    ‘Your life is in danger, but I will be here to protect you and keep you from harm.’

    He thought that she was just saying that as part of her story. But here she was standing between him and the assassin protecting his life now. “Ayumi…why?” He was not even sure why he was questioning what was happening anymore, but it was the only thing that he could manage to think at that moment.

    Ayumi struggled with the assassin’s strength using a sword of her own to hold back the attack that would have kill Yuki. While she held her ground against the attacker she divided some of her attention to Yuki. “I told you before that I will be here to protect you. While I’m here no more harm will come to you.”

    Yuki took a step back suddenly feeling like he had saw Saki in her for a moment. It confused him making him shake his head to try to clear out his thoughts, but there was something else in his mind. There was a voice that he did not recognize speaking to him.

    ‘While I’m at your side I won’t l anyone hurt you.’

    “Ayumi…I-I…”

    Chapter 6 – Snow Shield

    “Stand back, Yuki. I will handle this!” Ayumi spun around on her feet forcing the assassin back making him slide across his sand kicking up a cloud. He came to rest with his sword dug into the ground to stop. As she rotated around to look at Yuki her leg was up hitting him in the stomach with enough force to knock him back through the sand until he fell out of the field of sand into the arms of Saki.

    Yuki could feel that he was stopped by someone, but did not know it was Saki until he turned his head painfully. “Saki…Saki?!” He suddenly forgot his pain seeing Saki holding him looking down at him deeply worried nearly looking like she was going to cry. “W-what…w-what are you doing here, Saki?” Yuki stood up with a red face seeing a look from Saki that he could not remember seeing from her before.

    Saki grabbed Yuki in spite of his protesting and held him close to her while she looked on at Ayumi. “Ayumi found me and told me you were trouble. Yuki…I’ll keep you safe.” She exchanged glances with Ayumi before Ayumi nodded and turned back to her opponent.

    “He’s yours,” Ayumi said as she walked forward a step speaking towards Saki. She focused everything then on the assassin summoning up her strength. The sword that she was holding was thrust into the ground glowing bright blue from the center expanding outwards beyond her until she disappeared in a white cloud. A blue ring burst out from Ayumi changing all of the ground and even some of the sand into pure white snow. The snow reached to Saki and Yuki making him shiver suddenly. Everything that it touched became covered in snow, even the tree nearby them lost all of its leaves and became covered in snow that slowly fell off when the weight became too much.

    The white cloud that was spinning tightly around Ayumi began to thin out revealing her, but she was no longer wearing her school uniform. Neither of them could see her very well through all of the cloud surrounding her, but eventually it cleared away expanding from her and vanishing into vapor. Ayumi was certainly different from when they had seen her a minute before. She was now wearing what appeared like a yukata but it stopped just after the waist and split at each side. The fabric was a white base with faint blue shapes that looked in part geometric and part snowflakes. Below was a skin tight white shorts that came down only to the middle of her thighs followed up with white laced up boots that ended just before the knee with a small heel. Her hair was tied up away from her neck in a blue ribbon neatly wrapping around the hair down to the end with the obi matching the color.

    Yuki stared at this transformation that Ayumi had undergone seeing that it was just like the assassin’s power except the effects were different. His eyes widened again as it only took him a moment to realize what it meant. “Ayumi…you too?”

    “What’s going on here? Where’d this snow come from? And what happened to Ayumi?” Saki said with the same confused face that Yuki remembered having when he saw this for the first time. She tightened her hold on Yuki with uncertainty about what this change meant and how it would affect Yuki’s already weakened state.

    The firm, yet draining, hold that Saki had on him made him wince remembering all of his pain and bleeding through her uniform now as well. He struggled to stay awake feeling the blood loss getting to him. His eyes were fixed on Ayumi fiercely intent to watch what she would do; something down inside called him, beckoned him forcibly. “I-It’s her power…Ayumi…”

    “Power? What are you talking about, Yuki?” Saki asked trying to get an answer from him, but there was no response. She stared at him seeing that he was transfixed on Ayumi unable to pull away. ‘What’s going on with Yuki and her? How does he know what’s happening? What is this strange power she’s using?’ All that was left to do now was watch and wait to hope that Ayumi would be able to stop the man trying to kill Yuki. ‘And why was he trying to kill Yuki?’

    The assassin stood up from his knelt position recovered from the surprise of being blocked and countered. He pulled his sword up out of the sand letting the beads fall to the ground staring out at Ayumi. His eyebrows pulled down in anger seeing that part of his field of sand was being invaded by Ayumi’s field of snow. It was almost a complete arc of a circle that cut into with the edge being blurred by a corruption of snow and sand where it came together. “Don’t interfere with my prey.”

    “He’s no longer your prey.” Ayumi slid down into an attacking stance with her short sword held up over her head in her right hand standing between the assassin and Yuki. “You’re mine now!” She sprinted forward against the assassin making their swords clash echoing against the school building. The two exchanged blows with their swords keeping things even for the moment. At their feet sand and snow were kicked up and blowing around him as though they were fighting as well for dominance. Ayumi bore down on him with two violent swings bringing the assassin to the defensive.

    He stepped back to gather himself still holding his sword defiantly unwilling to accept defeat. Ayumi jumped back eying the distance and analyzing her opponent. She had been testing his strength before to see what she was going to have to do. ‘He is strong and well trained, but I can’t let this continue. I must hurry.’ Her stance suddenly changed bringing her sword down in front of her being held with both hands. Her left hand lower on the hilt slid down until it was no longer on the sword at all, but it still looked like it held something. She lifted her empty hand up opening it in front of her face suddenly revealing a chakram that her hand now grasped.

    No time was wasted in throwing the disc at the enemy aiming for a quick kill to bring this to an end. The assassin eyes widened for a moment from the surprise, but recovered quickly dropping to his knees throwing his hands into the sand. The sunlit blade of the chakram flew over the snow until it passed over the sand dominated by the assassin. A wave in the sand lurched backwards until it became larger and leapt into the air over the body of the assassin hardening just as the disc’s blade dug into the sand. It penetrated halfway before it was forced to a stop unable to touch the assassin.

    “Hmm…” Ayumi narrowed her expression disappointed by the resistance that he was putting up. ‘This should have been over already.’ She placed her left hand on the hilt again revealing a chain that connected to the chakram. A quick pull dislodged it from the sand returned it to her hand with the coil of finely linked chain held against the hilt with her right hand. ‘Field manipulation…if he wants to play that way.’

    Ayumi took a few steps forward to the recovering assassin bringing the snow in closer to him taking over the sand. However, this time there was no fighting between the elements. The snow was washing over the sand unchallenged and the assassin was quick to realize this change. ‘The strength of the field changed…’ He backed away letting his sand hold the best he could. Ayumi charged in allowing the snow to quickly over take it all and leap up over the assassin’s body as though it had an animal’s claw that latched down on him. He was unable to move being completely overpowered by Ayumi. She raised up her left arm throwing the chakram once more at the frozen body of the assassin.

    The chakram shattered the frozen snow into shards of ice leaving nothing behind of the assassin as the pieces fell down to the snow. A trail of blood sprayed through the air. Yuki and Saki blinded in surprise not certain what had happened, but Ayumi was injured somehow. Behind Ayumi was the assassin standing with his sword dripping lightly with blood. She spun around bringing her chakram back with the chain wrapping around the sword’s blade and the chakram spiraling around his arm slicing it up like a screw to the shoulder. Ayumi faced the assassin with her right arm covered by a shield with her sword missing.

    “Ayumi! What happened? A shield?” Saki said confused by the strange events that had somehow transpired in front of them unknown. She looked at Yuki who held equal confusion trying to understand what had happened.

    ‘He’s more persistent than I expected.’ Ayumi pulled the chain tight gripping the blade firmly and the entire arm squeezing it drawing more blood from the wound. The assassin winced in pain unable to move. ‘The lance was only a distraction…’ Her mind went back through the moments visualizing what had occurred in the few seconds.

    The chakram had just left her hands when the assassin had released his sword. At the same moment he summoned up his lance letting it go from his left hand just after Ayumi had made her strike. She had been able to see the attack, but there was not enough time for her evade and keep her full concentration. Doing the only thing she had left, she converted her sword into a shield to deflect the lance. However, she had lost only a partial concentration on the snow cage on the assassin that he was able to assert field dominance long enough to break free and make an attempt with his sword. She did not see the attack coming until it was too late to do anything, but move enough to make the wound less deep than it would have been.

    “It’s over now.” Ayumi pulled up her sword and tugged on the chain positioning the man right so that she had a clear shot. He struggled against his arm trying to break free, but only made the bleeding worse. She stood in front of him holding him place and using the snow as well to prevent any sort of escape. The sword ran through his chest exposing the tip out the back to Saki and Yuki surprise. The assassin coughed up blood from the wound spraying Ayumi’s face. His sand field and weapons disappeared in an instant leaving only Ayumi’s snow. She released her field as well letting him drop to the school’s ground dripping blood across grass.

    Saki looked on in disbelief that the new student had just killed a man in cold blood and seemed completely unaffected. Ayumi turned her eyes up at the two of them with a dark expression serious and cold covered in the blood of the one she had just killed. When she began to approach them Saki pulled Yuki back becoming frightened of what happened. “A-Ayumi…stay back!”

    Ayumi stopped in her step as her clothes evaporated into the air returning her back to her school uniform. She was back to the way she had been, but there was still blood on her. It was no longer the same person that they knew. “You don’t need to be afraid of me. I’m here to protect him.”

    “Don’t come any closer! You killed someone! Y-you didn’t-“

    “If I hadn’t he would have come back to try to kill Yuki again. This is beyond anything you understand. Only I can protect him.”

    “NO!” Saki was shaking profusely holding Yuki. She did not know how long she could keep herself together. ‘I have to be strong. I have to be strong for him.’ The ground started to rotate slightly in front of Saki forcing her to catch her breath holding back the heavily panicked breathing. “I-I will. I will p-protect him. I-I will…”

    Ayumi pulled one side of her lips up in annoyance of the frightened school girl. “You’re barely holding yourself up in front of me. What you expect to do against the next assassin that comes for him?” She started walking forward again toward them.

    It did not matter to her that she looked unarmed and like any other girl at her school. Saki knew differently from what she saw that there was more underneath the girl than just weird fantastic powers. The expression she had was something that had seen death before, far too many times. Saki could tell that she was not like them in anyway. She could not trust Yuki in her care no matter what. “I-I said stay away from us!”

    ‘She’s going to fall apart any minute. But I…’ Ayumi ignored the demands of Saki pressing on towards them. Saki pulled back more until she had run herself against the shed of the sports equipment. Yuki’s pale face grunted going unnoticed by both girls. “You can’t get away from me with him. And you saw what I can do.”

    “Now you’re threatening us. What do you want with him? Who are you?”

    “I already told him. He’s the only one that needs to know.”

    “How you expect us to trust you?”

    “I’m not looking for your trust. I don’t need you. I need him.” Ayumi closed the distance between them quickly and holding Yuki Saki could do nothing to prevent it. She took Saki’s arm to prevent her from going anywhere. “Leave him to me. You’re no longer required.”

    “I already told you. NO!” Saki shifted Yuki to her right that was being held down by Ayumi to free up her left hand. She quickly tightened her fist and ran it through Ayumi’s face connecting to her surprise in her chin and mouth. It was enough to break her free from the hold and pull Yuki away to a safer distance.

    Ayumi brushed the back of her hand against her lip to wipe away the blood. “I see you’re stronger than you look. But that’s not enough.”

    ‘So I can hurt her. Is it because she doesn’t have her powers?’ Saki continued to back away slowly making her way further from the school and into the track grounds. She watched Ayumi cautiously not certain if she would use her powers to take Yuki from her now that she saw that it was not going to be so easy.

    “You’re serious huh? Well if you are…” Ayumi began to shift her body, but was stopped in mid motion by an unexpected voice.

    Yuki coughed from Saki’s arm spilling some blood from his lips alerting the two of them. “I-I think…I’m bleeding…” He suddenly went limp in Saki’s arm losing consciousness dropping to the ground. His blood slowly dripped onto the grass.

    Ayumi rushed over to him with Saki kneeling down panic covering her face thickly. “Yuki? Yuki!”

    To be continued…
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  8. #8
    The Quiet One Shift Andromeda's Avatar
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    “Yuki!” Saki screamed as she lost hold of him to the ground. She had been so caught up with Ayumi and what had been happening with the assassin that she had completed forgotten how injured Yuki truly was. The mistake was hers thinking that this was just another bully looking to hurt and push Yuki into the ground. This was much worse than that. It was a life and death struggle between them and Yuki had lost, but against the fanatic powers Saki had seen it did not seem like he even stood a chance.

    Yuki was lying on the ground bleeding out into the grass faster now than before as though something had been holding him back before. Saki dropped to the ground next to him panicking quickly over all of the different injures that he had not sure where she should begin. ‘He’s bleeding too fast and too much. I don’t know what to do. I need to do something, but what? What do I do?’ She grabbed his tattered uniform in her arms leaning over him starting to cry a little. “Yuki! What do I do? I was…I was…”

    A supportive hand came down on Saki’s shoulder breaking her away for a moment to bring her stare up. Saki could feel a calming strength coming from her that seemed to stop her tears for the time being. However, Ayumi then pushed Saki off Yuki looking stern at her. “You’re in the way.” Ayumi placed her hand on Yuki’s chest, but was interrupted by Saki.

    “In the way?! Now listen to me. I don’t care who you are and if you have crazy powers that just saved him. You aren’t touching him. We have to take him to a hospital immediately!” Saki pushed Ayumi away from Yuki and started to slide her arms underneath Yuki to carry him away, but Ayumi grabbed both of her arms before much could be done. “What do you think you’re doing? Yuki’s going to die if nothing is done!”

    “Exactly. If you stop the hysterics and let me heal him that won’t happen.”

    “Heal him? How? What are you talking about?”

    “This is an emergency, but I can create what I need to heal him.” Ayumi let go of Saki seeing that she had her attention for the moment. She folded up her legs underneath her and closed her eyes.

    ‘Heal? Create? What is going on? Can she really help, Yuki?’ Saki held off from doing anything seeing something from Ayumi’s eyes that spoke to her. She could not understand it anymore than the rest of the things that were happening. So many things were beyond her right now. She had been brought here by Ayumi when she was out searching for Yuki. Now she was dragged into some strange world that she knew nothing of.

    Chapter 7 – Death’s First Taste

    Saki knew that there was something wrong with him ever since Ayumi had talked to Yuki. She could not hear what they had said and Yuki was too out of it to give her anything when she had reached him. Then he had just run off when Hiroshi arrived distracting her. ‘I’m not leaving it at that.’ She glared at Hiroshi in frustration for making her lose Yuki before she could really talk to him. “Hiroshi!”

    She pulled Hiroshi in by his uniform once more looking down at him with a burning anger that was making Hiroshi cry like a baby not to be hurt again. “Hey, hey, HEY! S-Saki!” He did not know what had gotten into her and only hoped to be saved from the pain. “Saki?! What did I do?”

    “Isn’t it obvious?” Saki raised up her free hand preparing to run her fist through his face only making Hiroshi turn blue again. She could not think or restrain herself anymore needing to let go of raging emotions inside her. Hiroshi was the perfect target and her fist was going to be so happy when it reached his face. Her arm let go of the tensed muscles and the fist flew through the air with Hiroshi closing his eyes to avoid seeing it.

    Next to Saki, Yumi stepped up quietly looking around the grounds lost and worried. “Where’s Yuki? Wasn’t he with you, Saki?” she said up to Saki in mid swing.

    “Huh?” Saki stopped her fist only a split second before hitting Hiroshi and let him go. Her mind finally started to be activate again thinking about what it was she needed to be at that moment. “Yuki!” She looked down at the whimpering ball of jelly called Hiroshi and turned away uninterested. Saki dashed off in the direction that she believed Yuki had gone disappearing before her friends knew what happened.

    “Hey, you alright, man?”

    Hiroshi could not put together two words leaving his friends a little pale as well. “That’s Saki goes overboard whenever it’s about Yuki. Poor Hiroshi how many times does this make?” One of his friends looked over at the other uncertain what to do with Hiroshi coming to the conclusion that it was best to leave him be.

    “I don’t keep track of those things. If she’s so into him she should say something and quit hiding behind her fists.”

    “I don’t think it is so straightforward as that.”

    “You know something? Those two have been like that since the beginning of the school year.”

    “I don’t really know much. Just that they have some history from their last school.”

    Saki ran around the school almost completely before she came to a stop to look around. She was breathing lightly still with only her uncertainty speeding up her heart at this point. ‘Yuki’s nowhere in sight. He couldn’t be this far away. But he could be anywhere.’ The school was big and lunch would be ending quickly if she did not find him soon. She had to find out what had happened to Yuki to have him so troubled. “Yuki! Where are you?” It seemed like a futile effort since he did not want to be found, but she could not think of anything else.

    “Saki Furukawa!” a voice from behind Saki clearly announced. It was difficult to tell if it was a declaration or a shout for attention. Either way Saki had no choice but to turn and find out what the person wanted.

    The moment their eyes met Saki’s features narrowed severely. “Ayumi Nishimura…” she said softly not directing it towards the girl, but more acknowledging her to herself. ‘The new girl. The girl that spoke to Yuki. What did she say to him? I’ll make her speak…’ Saki stepped forward to close the distance between the two slowly not to alarm the girl. At her side Saki’s fist was tightening held back by the need to know what had happened.

    Ayumi remained unmoved from her original space looking a little different somehow from what Saki remembered from class and her introduction. It might have only been a few hours, but there was something that was leaving her unsettled. “Saki Furukawa, do you wish to protect him?”

    “Protect him? What are you talking?” Saki could not hold her composure any longer now that the new girl had spoken. She stopped walking almost leaning in toward Ayumi from the distance. “What did you say to Yuki?”

    “It’s a simply question. Do you wish to protect him?”

    “What’s that have to do with anything right now? Answer me! What did you say to him?”

    “He’s in danger right now.”

    That single sentence was enough to bring a halt to every motion in Saki’s body. Saki did not know what was wrong with Yuki, but there was something else that seemed to be conveyed through to her that gave her sense of dread. It was like she could feel the words. None of it made any sense to her least of all was the heavy weight that suddenly pressed on her, a pressure that pulled at her skin and slowed her movements. There was blood in the air painted with a thick brush almost like death was wrapped around her. ‘Why am I getting this strange feeling from her? It’s almost like I can sense death in the air. It doesn’t make sense.’ Saki pulled back slightly still feeling the cold blade of death at her throat laughing to itself in twisted pleasure. “Where’s Yuki? Who’s hurting him?”

    “Follow me…”

    Ayumi’s body glowed once more like before releasing a blue wave from where she sat, but there was no snow this time. It seemed that Ayumi was ready opening her eyes once more and lifted up her hands from her lap. As her hands rose up there were glowing specks in the air that gathered together at the over turned palms. Ayumi continued gather these blue particles waiting over Yuki’s body until there had been enough brought together.

    The sight before Saki made any reservations that she had disappear in an instant. She could not understand what Ayumi was doing, but it was like before that she had seen. ‘What is this power that she has?’

    The blue glowing from Ayumi’s hand passed from her to Yuki’s body surrounding him in a blue aura that ran through every pore on his body. Soon the wounds that he had sustained from the fighting began to glow brightly emitting the same particles that Ayumi had been gathering. Threads of the mysterious energy spun and weaved together becoming visible connected to her fingers. The thin strains played in the wind and turned about diving back inside as the wounds disappeared becoming only swallow pools of blood replacing the dark crimson of the wounds.

    Saki did not know what to say at the sight that she saw performed by Ayumi, but she could tell that Yuki was no longer in danger of dying. Once Ayumi pulled back and the blue energy was fading away Saki tempted her right hand to feel Yuki. She placed her hand on his chest where the wound had looked fatal and rubbed the blood away checking the wound. However, all she could do was keep wiping the blood no longer finding any sign that he had even been cut let alone in danger. She looked up to Ayumi who was letting go of a fatigued breath. Saki worked up a relieved smile for her. “Thank you, Ayumi.”

    “This isn’t a perfect fix. He’ll still feel tired from the loss of blood and weakness from the mending, but otherwise he’ll be fine in a few days.” Ayumi started to stand up, but was held in place by a hand. The two girls looked down in surprise to see that Yuki had awakened.

    “Yuki!” Saki said glad to see him moving again.

    “What happened?” he said slowly looking to Ayumi for answers. His mouth felt dry and rough for some reason and his body was stiff, but everything else in his mind seemed a little hazy. He kept a tight hold on her unknowingly.

    “You had me worried.”

    Yuki looked over finally feeling someone else touching him and seeing that it was Saki’s hand against his chest and her leaning in closely at him. ‘Saki!’ He would have leapt up in surprise if he could get his body to move. “What are you doing here, Saki?”

    Relieved or not, it was an insulted to her and Saki could not hold herself back as her left hand moved on its own to punch Yuki in the head.

    “What was that for?” Yuki said in shock holding the top of his head in pain feeling like he was suddenly forgetting something important. He looked inquisitively at both girls wanting some answers that were apparently missing.

    Saki stood up leaning down over top of him nearly shouting through his ear. “What do you mean ‘What was that for’? What do you mean ‘What are you doing here, Saki?’?” She was breathing heavily after her little tirade on a still confused and puzzled Yuki. It seemed to fall in deaf ears and she dropped to the ground resigning. “You feel alright?”

    “Huh?” He pulled up his hand from rubbing his pained head to look at it. Yuki was not completed certain what they were talking about, but it was covered in blood as was the rest of him and the ground. ‘This is mine…what happened here? What am I not remembering?’ Then there was a flash in his mind as the blood seemed to trigger something inside him. ‘I-I was attacked…’ He looked over across the ground to see a body lying in the grass sitting in its own pool of blood. ‘I-I…did I die?’ Yuki pulled himself up letting go of Ayumi, but almost fell over if Saki had not caught him.

    “Yuki? You need to take it easy.” Saki pulled his arm over her shoulder to give him support so that he could walk with her. There was a look in his eyes that she could see through telling her that he needed something. “What is it?” She looked back forward seeing where his gaze was held. Saki put her arm around his waist lifting him up a little and began walking forward. Eventually, they came to a stop in front of the body of the assassin that had been trying to kill Yuki.

    Yuki remembered everything that he happened with the final piece put in front of him. It had all blurred in his mind with the blood loss and adrenaline that was pumping through him. However, he did not look like that same man that had been attacking him before. The face was the same, but his clothes were not same. The man before them was almost formal looking with what appeared to be fine pressed white dress slacks and a white cloth that tied at the waist on the front and back held at the right shoulder. The cloth at the right shoulder was tied close by a copper clasp with a flat circular disc that looked like an insignia or badge with an outer ring divided into five segments. There were two segments colored red while the remaining three held the plain copper material of the clasp. “Who was he this assassin?” Yuki looked back to Ayumi who finally decided catch up with them.

    “An assassin from those that wish you dead.” Ayumi knelt down to look at the body pulling the clasp off the bloodied clothes. She showed it to the two of them. “This was a low ranking soldier from his uniform. Just out of the academy.”

    “Low ranking? How do you know just from that?”

    Ayumi pointed at the man’s clothes and then back to the clasp that she held. “This is our military uniform. So I know he is from my homeland and this may look like nothing to you, but this metal shows rank. The first red bar means that he would be in the academy and the second you get after graduation. He probably got pulled up quickly for having some talent and sent on this mission. Probably didn’t even know why. So they are sending the pawns first.” Ayumi seemed to get distracted by internal thoughts leaving the others to look at each other still feeling confused.

    “Pawns?” Yuki looked down at the body thinking back to the struggle that he had. It was so intense at that moment that he was certain he would die. The man seemed to be so strong and powerful beyond anything that he could even possible hold up against. ‘But this was just a pawn…someone out of the academy…that means there are others even stronger than him. And they all want me dead…’ Yuki could feel a black empty void forming around him as he slowly let the thought sink into him. This was nothing like his manga; this was real. His entire body began to shake and sweat from the fear.

    Saki had begun to pick up on Yuki and tried to redirect the focus away from what was troubling him. “Ayumi. What happened to his clothes from before? He wasn’t wearing this when I saw you fighting him.” It seemed to have worked a little on Yuki.

    Ayumi looked up at Saki still looking partially somewhere else. “Oh, this is what he was actually wearing the entire time. But when he used this power it altered their appearance to what he wanted. Since he is dead that power is gone and the illusion is as well.”

    “Oh I see. I remember seeing you do that too. Is that the same thing?”

    “Correct.”

    “What is this power?”

    At the top of the school a dark figure looked down at the three students gathered around a dead body. The sunlight at their back kept their features blinded from view, but they remained knelt down keeping mostly out of sight. “Hmm…he failed. A guardian, huh? This will be more challenging. I’ll have to wait until the guardian is separated…”

    To be continued…
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  9. #9
    The Quiet One Shift Andromeda's Avatar
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    Countless thoughts were spinning around Yuki’s head. He had been on the verge of death, told that he was an heir to some land that he did not know existed, had sealed powers like what he saw displayed before and brought back to life with no scratches. Even with Saki’s attempts at distraction was not enough to pull Yuki up from his deep pensive expression pulling him away from reality. He was pretty sure that he heard Ayumi speaking, but all he could hear any more was a dull noise as though he was underwater. Reality was fantasy and fantasy was reality now and nothing made any sense to him. Yuki began to walk forward leaving the two girls behind making it to the other corner of the school before they realized.

    “Hey, Yuki!” Saki said interrupting Ayumi in an explanation that was meant for Yuki. The two of them rushed after Yuki catching up to him quickly, but it was hardly that difficult seeing as he was barely walking. “Yuki? Ayumi saying something important I think.” Saki stood in front of him putting her hands on his shoulders to stop him seeing that he was not listening to her from behind. “You need to listen. I don’t understand everything going on right now, but this sounds serious.” Yuki turned his head away darkening the shadow over his eyes making Saki pull her head back a little confused. She would have thought this would be exactly what he would want with how much his head was in the clouds about his manga.

    Yuki lifted up his left arm pushing her arm away with his and stepped around her. “We’ve got class soon. Lunch is almost over.” His voice was almost too quiet to hear as he started walking again.

    ‘What’s wrong with him? He looks so depressed, but why?’ Worry was transmuted to frustration and Saki turned around to yell at his back. “What’s wrong with you, Yuki?! Isn’t this what you wanted? Isn’t this what you dreamed about?” The quiet back of Yuki was enough to make her leap forward to roughly take Yuki’s wrist so that he was forced to stay. She was not going to let him go. “Answer me!”

    His arm was shaking up through his shoulder and back for a reason that could not be clearly understood, even by Yuki. He angled his head over his shoulder in a quick snap narrowly looking at Saki. “What wrong with you, Saki? How can you accept this unquestioningly? You see one magic trick and suddenly you believe!”

    Saki leaned back in surprise dropping her mouth open, but retained her tight grip on him. ‘Yuki…this isn’t like you…’ She did not want to believe it, but she could not lie to her eyes. “How can you not?! That man tried to KILL YOU!”

    “I won’t! This has nothing to do with me. Leave me alone!”

    “Yuki!”

    “Shut up!” Yuki shouted loud enough to petrify the two girls. He ripped his hand free from Saki still iron locked hand and marched off leaving the two girls dazed for a moment. Yuki disappeared into the school with a solitude wind brushing by the two in silence.

    Chapter 8 – Shouting Silence

    “Oh that Yuki! I’m going to kill him for treating this like its nothing!” Saki tried to go after him, but found that Ayumi was holding her back.

    Ayumi looked a little embarrassing and sweating at the thought. “I don’t think killing him is going to make him listen to the danger he is in.”

    “Grrrr…I guess you’re right.” Saki sighed out loud and stopped pressing forward to lean against the school wall. She looked down at her feet hearing Yuki’s words echo through her mind. ‘What’s going on? There is something else that is nagging at him. But what?’ The ground did not offer any answers for her, but she was not ready to return to class yet with what she saw from Yuki.

    “Hey, finally found you, Saki!” Hiroshi said running up accompanied by Yumi and their other friends. “You found Ayumi I see. What did you say to Yuki?” There was little transition for him with only the turning of his head into Ayumi’s face with a frighteningly looking face. Ayumi was startled by Hiroshi falling backwards landing on her butt nearly looking like she was ready to cry as Hiroshi leaned. She pulled back drawing her arms in around her chest and face frightened by the silence interrogation from Hiroshi. “Well?”

    “I-I…um…” The scary face was suddenly disfigured by a sneaker across Hiroshi’s cheek sending him flying into the iron fence leaving lined bruises along his back. Hiroshi was left twitching and stuttering as their friends went to check on him. “Oh dear! I-Is he going to be alright?” Ayumi said with her hand up close to her mouth staring in surprise at Hiroshi.

    Saki leaned down offering a hand up for the new girl. “Don’t worry about him. He might not be a resilient as Yuki, but I’ve toughened him up.” She flexed her free arm tightening her fist to illustrate her point.

    “Toughened me up?! Is that what you call this abuse?!” Hiroshi charged Saki’s position glaring into her face as they began to press foreheads together and growling at the other.

    While they were fighting Yumi stepped forward fidgeting with her hands looking like she was trying to say something. Ayumi had nearly a mirrored stance though appearing to be worried about what was happening behind Yumi. Hiroshi and Saki continued to bark and yell pulling at the other with whatever happened to be close. The two shy girls remained unable to speak more than two letters for an entire minute.

    Eventually, the lack of progress by Ayumi and Yumi to actually make a line of conversation had finally gotten through to Saki and Hiroshi that they broke their fighting to yell of the both of them. “If you got something to say speak up!” Yelling sadly did not improve their speech only making them clam up even tighter and cling on to other in panic.

    “Hey, Hiroshi there’s a crater back here!” one of their friends said looking around the school building and waving the others to look. Saki and Ayumi looked at the other with wide eyes and panic. Minutes of plans ran through their minds in the seconds that poured out as Hiroshi was being pulled away.

    ‘I’ve got to think of something or they will have even more questions. Need a plan. Something else.’ However, Saki heard Yumi suddenly scream with a flushed face and fall to the ground. She looked up to Ayumi getting a confirmation that this was a part of her plan. It made sense to her that it was going to have to be Ayumi that cleaned things up. “Hiroshi! Yumi fainted help me get her to the nurse’s office.”

    “What?! Alright. What’s wrong?”

    Hiroshi rushed up to Saki with him pulling in their friends. Saki began to pull up Yumi with Hiroshi’s aid. Ayumi disappeared on them in the confusion and Saki guided them away. She looked over her shoulder once seeing some light behind them knowing that Ayumi must be fixing things back up. ‘I nearly forgot who she was. She changes so quickly from being serious and confident to being shy and weak. Amazing…’

    Lunch was finally over and Yumi returned back to class later with the nurse unable to figure out a reason for her fainting other than stress. Yumi could not answer clearly what happened and when Saki inquired from Ayumi about what she did Ayumi was mysterious. Saki could only let it go at this point knowing that it managed to fix matters so complaining was not going to help. Throughout the rest of class Yuki had remained silent, but attentive to the teachers. Which was an odd occurrence for the number one daydream of class 3-A. Saki continued to watch him throughout the day trying to understand what was going on in his mind.

    Class was over with the sounding bell and students were quickly pushing their way out of the class to their after school clubs or activities. Yuki was given special exception to the requirement of being a part of club due to his family situation. Saki had track today and was not going to be able to talk to Yuki any further. She walked over to his desk as he was putting his books away in his bag. Her head was hanging low on her with the ground in view rather than Yuki. “Umm…about-“

    Yuki stood up abruptly from his desk with the noise being enough to interrupt Saki. He turned away from her and walked to the back door of the classroom leaving without a word. Saki had her hand out trying to grab him, but he was out of reach the entire time. She did not know what she was going to do with Yuki. This entire incident must have been weighing on him, this she knew, but she had not seen him act like this for nearly six month. ‘It’s almost like back then…I hope he’s not regressing.’

    “Hey Saki! Senpai is calling for us. Better hurry!” one of her track teammates said from the hall through the doorway.

    It was barely enough to break her free from her thought. “Oh? I’m coming. Sorry!” She ran back for the rest of her things and ran out of the classroom with the fog in her head still hanging thickly around.

    The walk back for Yuki was somewhat quiet as other students passed by him in his slow paced walk. Everyone seemed to be cheerful laughing at jokes, but it only made Yuki feel a heavier weight on his shoulders. He could not think about anything it felt like he was empty inside with nothing more than a shell of a body that moved. It had been like that through class. He knew that there were more than enough things for him to be thinking about, but none of it wished to be considered. Nothing made any sense to him and he needed to understand, but it was not allowing him the time. ‘It’s so quiet inside. It’s driving me crazy that I can’t think. Not even dream…’ He roughed up his hair in frustration restraining him from screaming out loud and looking like an idiot.

    He suddenly turned his head over his shoulder getting the strange sense that there was someone behind him. It was Ayumi to his pain rather than a stranger. He pulled himself around, reluctantly, to face her. “Following me home? Protecting me?” Yuki crossed his arms with his bag still in hand.

    “Yes, I am protecting you. That’s not all. I have-“

    “Shut up! You’re just a stalker. Go away.” Yuki turned away from Ayumi and resumed walking up the side of the street. Unfortunately, Ayumi was still following behind him at his pace and he was quick to pick up on it. “Leave me alone, Stalker.”

    “I live in this direction as well.” She closed the distance between them coming up along his side, but looked forward. The mood that he was in made it clear to her that he did want to see her, but she figured that the nagging feeling behind was more annoying than being at the side.

    Yuki stopped and turned to her only getting more annoyed by her presence. “You’ve got to be kidding me! Why do you think I would possibly believe that? I know for a fact that there are no houses that are open on my street, except for the Kitayama’s and no one wants to buy it because of all the strange stories about them being involved with the Yazuka or the Triad or whatever.”

    “The neighbors said something about that. I didn’t know what they meant.”

    “What?! You can’t be serious…” Yuki said as his voice trailed off at the end as he remembered his sister saying something about movers last night over dinner. He began to slouch over nearly dragging his bag along the street. ‘Why does she have to torment me?’

    “Well I can’t very well keep an eye on you if I’m not nearby.”

    “You really are a stalker…” He marched on with a heavy blue gloom hanging over him until he ran into street barricade that knocked him flat on his back. Yuki blinked in confusion until the pain in his stomach from the barricade finally spoke up. His hands held him with one eye closed trying to get through the stinging.

    Ayumi walked over to him leaning over him checking to see how he was feeling. “You alright?”

    “Huh?” Yuki pushed himself up sitting on the ground looking at the barricade in front of him. “When did get placed here? It wasn’t here this morning.”

    “Looks like something happened.”

    Yuki stood up dusting himself off and walked around the blocked off area of the street. There were piles of a tree’s trunk cut up in the street along with a lot of sawdust. He came to a slowed pace as he stared longer at the tree. The tree was old, but it was in no means weak from what he remembered. It looked like they had cut it down for some reason. Around the edge of the street was broken glass and on the opposite side of the street the grass was filled with branches and leaves as though the tree has been resting there. Yuki walked over closer to see that the ground was pushed down a little from the impact of the tree. “This tree fell…this tree…”

    “Yes, this was the tree that you-“

    “Shut up!” Yuki ran up the street not stopping until he was on the sidewalk in front of his house. He was bent over breathing heavily. Ayumi had arrived soon after him standing next to him with that same cold expression that she wore outside of the view of the public. “Leave me alone, Stalker. This is my house. Yours is further up.”

    “Indeed it is.” Ayumi walked on past Yuki quietly not further pressing the matter. Her body had disappeared into the distance and passing students.

    Yuki remained standing in front of his house for several minutes as his mind finally began to accept thoughts to flow. The quiet void had been replaced with a loud train station. It was almost deafening making him wish for the void nearly. There were too many questions and thoughts passing through him that he could not keep anything straight in his mind for longer than a second. He did not know what he was going to do. Finally, he took a step and reached his house eventually. “I’m home!” he said subconsciously.

    “Yuki!” Jun and Ken said in unison as they arrived at the door to greet him. “Welcome home!” They attempted to latch on to him but found that he was slippery today and only collided into each other falling amongst the shoes. Yuki disappeared upstairs before they realized their mistake and closed the door quietly.

    The room felt noisy even though he knew that it was only his head. He dropped his school bag on the ground and fell down on his bed burying his face in his pillow. The events of lunch played through his mind and the story from Ayumi. ‘Heir…assassins…power…none of it makes any sense…but even still…’ Every image spiraled around him refusing to let him ignore. All his concentration was focused inward on this. He had nearly died today and was unable to do anything about it. There was something larger than him pulling him into a world that he did not understand and he was not sure if he wanted to accept it.

    Saki seemed to have quickly taken it all in without a single question of it. Yuki did not understand why she did not freak out about what happened. She acted like it was an everyday occurrence and yet he was one that dreamed of these things happened. It was him that could not accept it. ‘Am I so ground in fantasy that I can’t believe it to be reality? What is it?’ His thoughts spun around trying to think about it from different angles, but the more that he focused on it the more he was starting to realize that there was something else holding him back even deeper.

    “Hey, Yuki!” Momoko shouted from the side of Yuki’s bed nearly in his ear.

    It was enough to throw him to the ceiling and drop him back down on his bed face up frizzled. “Why you yelling?”

    “Because you fell asleep. Now get moving downstairs and help me with dinner.”

    “Asleep?” Yuki looked around his room and then the window seeing that it was dark out. He stretched out his arms and back realizing quickly that she was correct. “Why you need my help?”

    “I had to stay late for class and I have work in thirty minutes. So you need to help if we’re going to have a meal in time. Now out of bed!” Momoko grabbed Yuki by his ear in his protests and brought him to his feet. She waited until he was in front of him and moving to the stairs before she started out of his room.

    “I can’t believe I have to help with dinner…” Yuki said slouching over again a little. He could see his little brothers running around the first floor of the house playing some game. All he wanted to do was sit in a corner and do nothing, but his sister was not going to let him. She began to drag him by the arm into the kitchen when he suddenly slipped on a pool of water bringing Momoko down with him.

    Momoko crashed against the wall of the stairs alerting Jun and Ken. Yuki was still stunned by what happened, but Momoko was already getting to her feet. “Yuki…watch your step…next time…” Her voice trailed off almost not finishing her sentence.

    Yuki rubbed his head in pain feeling his back crawl in needles as well. “Well make sure you clean up Ken’s messes then.” He slowly pulled himself up shaking his head still feeling uneasy from lunch. His hand was pressed in the pool of cold water and when he realized this he brushed it against his school uniform to dry it. When he looked at his hand to check if it was not any worse he saw that it was stained red. From above him a red drop fell into his palm drawing his head and gaze up. His eyes drew out wide and his pupil’s shrank in horror and surprise. “Blood? On the ceiling?”

    “It’s everywhere!” Ken said jumping up and down in an expanding pool of blood nearby them. He did not understand what it was only finding it to be a similar to water after it rained and just as fun.

    Momoko and Yuki looked around the house confirming for themselves that the house was being covered in blood for no apparent reason. Yuki could see panic slowly wash over Momoko as he stood up and watched her run for Ken and Jun. Yuki watched paralyzed as every surface was slowly engulfed in blood. Once all was crimson the ceiling above him suddenly gave way filling them up to their knees in a pool of blood. It felt like it was crawling on him and soaking through his skin. His paralyzed body could not move and his mind was empty screaming through his mouth that would not budge. All that Yuki could do was shake in uncontrollable horror as his house was pulled part.

    All that remained in their house was the first floor walls now as all of the furniture had fallen apart as well anything above them. The cloudy night sky with thin rays from the moon poured down on him tinting the blood an eerie color. Blood filled up to their necks finally gave out with the walls collapsing spilling countless gallons of blood into the yard and street. The sight was the same next to them as there was nothing, but a field of blood on everything. The neighbor’s house was falling apart in a bloodied mess accompanied by screaming.

    A heavy splash like the sound of a foot echoed through the area into Yuki’s ear. The paralysis ended, but he collapsed to the ground in fear as every muscle in his body that had been tensed relaxed letting him go free. His mind was empty, but his body understood all too well. All he could do was sweat and shake violently making ripples in the blood. “Yuki Hayashi, I’ve found you.”

    To be continued…
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  10. #10
    The Quiet One Shift Andromeda's Avatar
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    “Yuki Hayashi, I’ve found you.” The words echoed through Yuki’s head repeated pounding on his insides taking advantage of his weakened state to induce mental injures. He could not get the voice out of his head and all he could think of was the past in his mind. The assassin from earlier played through his memories slicing through his strength and will. This was far beyond anything that he could hope to survive.

    ‘Another assassin so soon…I’m still so weak from before.’ Yuki’s eyes darted around the blood plain to see his sister and brothers huddled together. They still did not seem to have the danger sunk into them, but Momoko knew all too well how dangerous this man was just by the display he made thus far. She had seen her home fall apart into a pool of blood. It was a horrific sight for her. Yuki was surprised that she had even managed to move. His body had been frozen since this began and now he was too weak to even move now that he could feel his body. ‘Ayumi is not even here to save me. She probably doesn’t even know. I’m all alone here. I’m going to die this time. I-I’m dead…’

    Chapter 9 – Crimson Dance

    The assassin stepped forward towards Yuki. Light from the moon had given a small look at the man’s appearance. He was covered in blood it seemed while it had a silk like cloth appearance as well. Every corner or edge of the cloth dripped blood that the pool drank. This was only the clothes that he wore that the blood flowed; the skin remained untouched by the blood. The silk like material covered his large muscular chest as a solid piece and tied off firmly at the waist by a black belt. His pants seemed to continue on as though they were uninterrupted by the belt left a little lose around the legs. Leather boots covered in black and shining with crimson went up to his knees. His head and arms remained bare with only gauntlets covering his muscular arms. The man was as well built as he was tall and menacing, but none of the muscles were to excess simply being well defined. His entire presence breathed the sight of death.

    ‘Die…die…die…I-I’m…’ Yuki’s mind was stuck stuttering not even aware of his surroundings anymore. The shaking from his body continued to formed ripples through the pool of blood to the feet of the assassin. He could not hear the steps of the assassin moving closer to him. The words that the man spoke rang empty on his ears. When the darkened figure in the moonlight stood over him he did not even feeling the slight tinge of his presence. Yuki did not know there was a world around him. Fear was all he knew tying him down. ‘Is there someone to save me?’

    The man grabbed Yuki by the collar of his school uniform putting him face to face with him and nearly a foot off the ground. It was an effortless motion that still did not make Yuki respond to the man. The assassin’s dark blue eyes attempted to pierce Yuki, but Yuki’s head tilted at an angle away with his own eyes distant almost empty of life. “Such a worthless kid. So paralyzed by fear that you can’t even see the world around you. I thought you might actually be interesting for a few minutes from watching you at lunch.” He narrowed his eyes in annoyance rather than anger.

    His free right hand pulled back a little as the gauntlet on his forearm suddenly changed its shape. It had been a simple metal guard that covered only the front of the forearm with a leather and bronze clasp holding it in place just below the wrist. The metal was altered growing up around his tightened fist as three pointed spikes along the knuckles formed solidifying in polished steel. The armored right hand was released from its tensed position digging into Yuki’s stomach pulling at his body ripping his collar and shredding the threads where the spikes penetrated.

    Yuki coughed out of reflex from his body, but still remained clocked out from the world. It was then that his brothers understood very clearly what was happening. All Momoko could do was hold them back and gasp in pain for Yuki.

    “Sis! Yuki’s getting hurt!” shouted Ken through panicked lips that struggled against Momoko’s arms. He did not understand why she was stopping him.

    The man punched Yuki again this time drawing blood from him staining his uniform. Ken watched his sister turn away with tears in her eyes. Momoko had wanted to move from the beginning, but her body was acting on its own to protect Ken and Jun. It knew that they would try to attack the man to stop him from hurting Yuki. “K-Ken…don’t look…please…”

    “Let me go, sis! I’ve got to stop that man!”

    “No, Ken. You mustn’t…”

    “But why is he hurting Yuki! He didn’t do anything wrong. We have to stop him!”

    The man turned his face to the three children to the side of him after he finished placing another punch into Yuki. “I’ve got to break through his fear. Or how else can he see me killing his family!” He landed another punch into his chest making Yuki cough up blood and rip through his collar completely. Yuki flew back in the blood soaking through the back of his uniform. He coughed repeated from the ground lying on his back slowly moving legs. “Ah. Looks like I finally woke him up.”

    ‘Kill us!?’ Momoko thought in fear as she looked into the man’s eyes when he had said it. The cold empty eyes of a killer had stared back at her and burned into her memory. She could not see anything else but the man eyes surrounding her. She did not know what Yuki had gotten himself into, but she could not believe he would have been so stupid to be making some street gang angry. However, the strange things that had already happened made her wonder what exact had Yuki gotten into. This was not some angry bully from school. This man wanted more than just blood. ‘Yuki…why does this man want to kill us? What’s going on? I wish you were here, father.’

    The man raised his hand up at Yuki’s direction. “Now that I have your attention…” All around Yuki the blood began to bubble suddenly like it was boiling, but he could not feel any heat. He attempted to move away, but he could only manage to roll over still feeling the deep stinging pain from being punched repeatedly. A solid wall of blood rose out from the pool reaching to a height greater than even the assassin. When Yuki began to move again tentacles burst from the wall out towards Yuki. They were too fast for him to escape, even if he was not injured. The tentacles wrapped around his wrists and ankles pulling him up against the wall holding his arms around horizontally. “You can watch while I kill your family.”

    Yuki, now aware, pulled at the bindings as his eyes widened in panic. ‘He’s getting them involved now!’ He struggled against the bindings that held his arms nearly getting his arm to move a few inches before it was slammed back against the wall. “NO! Leave them out of this! It’s me you want. Not them. Kill me and leave them alone.”

    “I had considered it. Perhaps leaving them alone. However, they’ve seen me and I can’t allow them to live. Once they are dead I will have to kill you and then your neighbors. Anyone that saw can’t be allowed to live.”

    “Leave them…alone please…”

    “Begging now? You aren’t a challenge for me. So I might as well watch your heart being shattered.” The tall man in crimson began walking towards Momoko and the two she was protected. There was an eager desire to kill and lust for it burning within his eyes.

    Momoko had been shaking the entire time, but once he had begun to move she felt her body return to her. She stood up pulling Ken and Jun behind her. “Run now! Get away and don’t look back.”

    “But Sis!” Ken said with Jun staring mutely at her.

    Momoko refused to turn her head stepping backwards in line with the man. “Don’t argue with me! Run!”

    Jun took a hold of Ken’s hand and pulled him roughly until he started to run on his own drawing him away from Momoko. “Jun! Stop, we got to protect, Sis!” However, Jun’s stubborn eyes, that seemed to understand better than Ken, stared at him slowly convincing him to run together. They could see the end of the blood pool in the distance running for that as safety.

    The blood bubbled and shot up several walls too high to see over in front of Jun’s path bringing them to a halt. “I didn’t say that you could leave.”

    “Ken! Jun!” Yuki shouted straining at his bindings feeling helpless and desperate to do anything. ‘They’re going to die because of me…this is all…my fault…’

    Momoko turned part way from facing down the assassin to see what had happened. They were trapped from leaving and every time they moved there were even more obstacles in their way. ‘What do I do? I have to protect them, but this man seems to control this area. I-I’ve…I’ve got to look forward.’ She turned back to the assassin charging towards him not certain what she was going to do. “Leave children out this!”

    “Well at least you have more of a spine than him,” he said with Yuki over his right shoulder hanging helpless. Momoko slid down in the blood soaking her clothes as the man took a swing at her with his bare hands. She attempted to rise up to hit him from behind, but he was already taking his evaded swing completely around as he rotated his body to face her again.

    Momoko did not see the change fast enough to react. The man’s fist connected with her face as she was coming in for her strike knocking her to the ground a few feet away. Her lip was cut starting to bleed down her chin with a deep red bruise starting to appear. She pulled herself up halfway sitting in the pool staring back while she wiped away the blood. ‘He’s fast and strong. The little amount of martial arts I have is not going to help me. I have to keep him distracted long enough to allow Ken and Jun to find a way out.’ A moment later she stood up to her feet feeling the blood that she was soaked in dripping from her clothes. She stared back at the man trying to push away the fear and shaking in her legs.

    “Not bad. However…”

    Momoko body arched forward as her eyes widened in shock. There was a wet dull sound from behind her that left Yuki shaking violently to break free. Ken and Jun turned to Momoko seeing her slowly fall down face first into the pool of blood. Behind her several spikes of blood from the pool that had been hardened retracted back into the pool. “K-Ken…” she said slowly stretching her arm out towards them. Her body would not move for her. “J-Jun…” Momoko gasped for air breathing desperately for one more minute to come. “Yuki…save…your…broth-“ Her eyes faded away as the last movements of her body came to a sharp stop. The last ripples from her body pushed out.

    “Momoko!!” cried Yuki as tears poured from his eyes. His head dropped down only held in place by his shoulders. The world was fading from his view leaving only his ears to visualize what was happening. He saw the echoed of the assassin’s feet marching towards his brothers. His heart was beating harder and louder nearly over everything else. It was pounding in his head. It felt like there was a shutter on his mind only giving him brief glimpses of what was happening around him. His brothers screamed for him. There was the sound of blood being released into the air from a cut. A sinister laugh echoed across the plains of blood. ‘He’s killing them. Momoko…Momoko…Momoko…’ Ken cried out for Jun as another echo of blood rang out stabbing Yuki.

    ‘They’re dying because of me…’ The void of black sorrow wrapped its warmth around him turning his eyes dark. ‘It’s my fault. I can’t do anything. I’m worthless.’ His arms stopped struggling in futility against the chains that held him. ‘I-I watched them die. Momoko…Ken…Jun…’ His body went limp on the wall with the last of the echoes of the world fading from his ear’s sight. ‘I killed them…it was me…I couldn’t…’

    His heart pounded in his chest echoing its beat through his mind as he passed into the abyss. ‘I couldn’t save them…’ He collapsed to the ground crying unable to hold back his tears. ‘I’m worthless…’ A beat pounded through his mind again. ‘If only Saki was here…’ The beat pounded again. ‘She would have saved me.’ The beat pounded again breaking him into a paused hesitation. ‘No…she couldn’t…’ A thump came through his head echoing in the empty world. ‘Shouldn’t…shouldn’t save me…but…’ The world grew darker losing what little color it had becoming a gray toned plain. ‘Always saving…’ Shadows disappeared leaving any definition remaining flat. ‘Me…’

    The beat pounded, but faded away quickly. ‘Useless…I can’t do anything…’ The sound became softer no longer fighting with fierce determination. ‘I should…just die…’ Gray faded away from the plains leaving only darkness to surround him. ‘I should…death should just come…’ The void began to swallow him.

    “Yuki! Yuki!” Saki’s voice said suddenly in his mind.

    Yuki lifted his head up from his hands that had been holding them soaking in his tears. “Saki?! What are you…”

    “You going to let them keep bullying you?”

    “But Saki I can’t…”

    “You’re a man right?”

    “Huh?”

    “Stand up! You hear them shouting for you don’t you?”

    “Yuki!” Momoko and Ken’s voices rang out around him as though they had always been there calling for him.

    The beat pounded stronger once more returning from its silence. ‘But what can I do?’ His heart shouted again this time cracks formed along the world he was in. ‘I must…I need…’ The sound pounded out again growing the cracks as some of the world started to fall down into dust. ‘I need to save them.’ The beat echoed around fiercer drawing cracks up to the top. ‘I need power…I need the strength…’ Yuki blinked his eyes cutting off the tears and stood up turning his head above him. “Give me the power to protect my family!” His heart pounded excited sending out shockwaves that cracked the entire world until it crumbled to pieces.

    “AH! Give me power!” Yuki screamed through the plains of blood where his family lay helpless at the mercy of the assassin. The assassin turned in surprise to see Yuki suddenly awake again. He was screaming as loud as his lungs could withstand sending waves of vibrations through the wall that he was mounted to and the field of blood. The assassin stared on in full attention in awe of what he was bearing witness to now.

    ‘I don’t care what it is just allow me to save them!’ Blue waves continued to issue forth from Yuki violently responding to his desire. The walls had come crashing down and the seal was scattered to pieces. Everything that was bound within was being released. The blood wall that shackled him shattered to pieces dropping him to the ground. A bright light exploded from his body as an array of sealing that bound around several times fell to pieces. Once the light had came to pass Yuki stood in the blood pool no longer wearing his school uniform, but a strange gold armor that covered him completely except for his head. He slowed his breathing closing his eyes. A moment later he opened his eyes quickly shooting out a wave from his feet throwing back the blood plains in a massive wave. Behind the wave was a blowing field of tall grass and flowers that spread for as far as the eye could see.

    The assassin’s face wrinkled in frustration knowing what had just happened. He looked down at his feet to see that the only area of blood that remained now was at his feet. It looked like his feet were emitting blood where he stepped. This changed everything now. “Your powers have awakened.”

    “Yes, I shall protect my family!” Yuki shouted as he threw out his arm as though to grab something. The wind blew up around him dragging his cape and the grass. The grass was pulled free changing to green energy that gathered at his hand building in length until it shined as a whole. As the light faded away a massive sword appeared in Yuki’s hand far longer than he was. “I will end this now!”

    To be continued…
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  11. #11
    The Quiet One Shift Andromeda's Avatar
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    The blowing fields of grass and flowers covered the entire neighborhood dropping people suddenly from their homes into a bizarre unsettling new reality while still feeling a warmth that comforted them knowing that they were safe. In the stark night sky morning clouds appeared painting over the moon and shining dawn over the field. Glowing armor stood off against blood soaked crimson waiting for a move. The massive sword held out with ease gleamed in the light eager to be swung.

    Yuki’s exposed face narrowed fighting emotions of anger and rage while barely being held back by the thin threads of reason. However, there was no time for reason with his family lying in the grass bleeding out. He could not wait any longer. He had to give in. Yuki screamed out loud charging forward with his sword held back preparing to swing. “This ends now!”

    Chapter 10 – Screaming Awake

    The gigantic sword was released while he was still running forward swinging down at the assassin with surprising force. In a flash it was over and the assassin stumbled backwards staring at his gauntlets and forward. It had gone through his blood shield that had managed to summon from what little field control he had left. After that he had even shattered his shield gauntlets. The metal of the guards fell to the ground dully in the grass fading out of sight in the tall plants. ‘He’s completely overpowered me. So this is the power…’

    The assassin barely summoned up a sword in time for the next assault, but it shattered to pieces taken over by the sheer power pouring out of Yuki. He had no room for control, but his own body. Yet that was not going to be enough for him. The sword came in for a third strike and he had nothing left to defend himself. He brought up his bare arms as the sword sliced up his chest and forearms spraying blood across his face. The assassin staggered backwards his arms at his side unable to lift them with his blood dripping quickly down his skin. The little control over his own body evaporated revealing the same military uniform that the last assassin had, but with a blue strip in the white cloth across the chest.

    Yuki stepped forward hanging the huge sword over his shoulder. “D-Die…” he said breathing heavily as he began to move his other hand to the hilt of the sword. This man would suffer for hurting his family and he was the one that could do it. He nodded to himself as he had spoken to confirm that he was correct. ‘He must die…he must…Die!’ Yuki heaved the sword up bringing it over his head to swing down at the helpless man. He was justified. This was the right thing to do.

    The sword began to move while Yuki recited in his head the choice that had be made. His rage shouted violently in anger bringing the sword down with greater strength. This had to be done or else he would only come back again. It had to end here. He was certain of this. ‘Yuki!’ The sudden voice in his head jerked his hand opening his eyes to what was truly happening. However, the sword was already in motion and could not be stopped. The shining blade cleaved through hitting the firm ground behind coming to a stop.

    “Huh?” the assassin said in shock to having been spared by the kid. He stepped back not certain what this meant for him.

    Yuki tilted his head up to the sky with his eyes pulled back in pain. ‘Mother?’ He let go of the hilt of the sword staring down at his blood stained hands almost choking on the thought that he had nearly killed someone. ‘I-I almost…I let it…control me…’ His hands tightened up as he realized how close he came to the edge. Yuki dropped to his knee falling between the tall blades of grass watching the blood drip down his arms crawling in horror at the sight.

    Before Yuki’s eyes a sword pierced through the back of the assassin and out the front releasing blood into the air as the final breaths of the man escaped his lips. He collapsed to the ground disappearing in the plant life when the sword was extracted. Standing over him was Ayumi with the cold dead expression on her face holding the sword thickly coated in the assassin’s blood. “Why did you hesitate?”

    “What? Y-You killed him!” Yuki stood up finding his strength again and grabbed Ayumi by her yukata of her transformed appearance. “You killed him! He’s dead! You understand what that means?”

    “Do you understand?” Ayumi stared back at him unaffected by him holding her or his passions about life. “He was going to kill your family and then you. He didn’t show you mercy. Don’t show him any or you’ll die. I’m a soldier. It is my job to kill the enemies.” She pulled his hands free of him pushing him back from her a short distance.

    He turned his head away seeing the images of Momoko bleeding and in pain crying out to him. Jun and Ken were crawling soaked in blood reaching out imploring to be saved. Yuki clamped his eyes shut trying to get rid of the thoughts that were conflicting with him. “I know what he was doing, but I-I…I can’t…”

    Ayumi grabbed Yuki up this time pulling him in towards her. “Listen! This is life and death. There is no middle ground!”

    Yuki turned his head away from her not wanting to look at her. He could not accept her words as truth. He still could not believe how close had come actually murdering someone. The thought hung in his mind unwilling to be forgotten or ignored. He could not close it out. “I-I…”

    “You know I’m dying here right?” Momoko said suddenly entering their argument showing her bloodied face between the two of them. She had accented it with a horrific expression of death that made both Ayumi and Yuki leap back and yelp in surprise. Momoko collapsed to the ground soon afterwards bringing Yuki’s attention back to his family.

    “Momoko!” Yuki screamed as he grabbed her up out of the grass. He looked back at Ayumi pleading for help from her. “Ayumi you got to help them!”

    “Bring your brothers over here. I’ll tend to them after her.” Ayumi knelt down having already been prepared for this and started immediately. Yuki ran around the field searching for his brothers and carrying the back feeling the heavy weight that was not their body, but something else. He dropped down next to Momoko when he was finished staring at her. Yuki watched in wondered at the skills that Ayumi had thinking that this had to be how it was when she had healed him at school. She worked quietly getting through all of his family in a few minutes. They slowly were coming around, but Momoko was the first one to wake up.

    “Yuki?” said Momoko weakly as he helped her to sit up. She looked around trying to take in her surroundings not remember there being grass for their home. Everything that happened was slowly coming back to her and she checked her body seeing the blood and holes, but no wounds. “How? What’s going on Yuki?”

    “Ayumi healed you.” He pointed to the girl sitting next to him. She had gone back into her school persona looking innocent and devoid of the serious sharp expression from before. It made him do a double take just to make sure he was seeing what he thought he had.

    Ayumi bowed politely to Momoko having changed back into the white and pink dress that she had been wearing before this had all started. She had dropped all of her field after she had finished. “Nice to meet you, Miss Hayashi!”

    Momoko became flustered feeling as though she had forgotten her manners. She quickly lowered her head in respect back to the new girl still feeling lost by everything that was happening. “Y-Yeah…you healed me?” she said not certain what Yuki meant when he had said it.

    “Oh Yuki is simply exaggerating. I just did a little first aid.” She elbowed Yuki in the rib while she smiling and laughed to try to smooth things over. “Are you feeling better?”

    Momoko looked around again touching the flowers that were surrounding her trying to check to see if it was real. The flowers swayed and were soft to her touch. When the wind blew through they all bent over and back. “Hmm? Oh yeah…I thought it as a lot worse. What’s with all of these flowers?”

    “Oh?!” Ayumi said jumping up in surprise as though she had just remembered something that she forgot to get. “Just someone’s imagination going crazy.” She waved her hands around trying to deny what she was seeing and forcibly whacked Yuki in the head during her excitement. Yuki’s eyes grew big for a moment and then glazed over as the field of grass evaporated into the brick, cement and wood of their house. The armor on Yuki and the sword faded away returning them all to their living room with their house completely unaffected. “Oh my! Yuki! Are you alright?”

    “Yuki?” Momoko said joining Ayumi to lean over him and lift him back up.

    When Yuki finally returned back to the realm of the living he pulled himself up from the couch in the living room to the sound of his sister laughing with someone else. The someone else happened to be Ayumi who rushed over to his side looking apologetic. He rubbed his head trying to figure out what had happened and why his house was back to normal. “I’m sorry, Yuki!”

    “Huh? What’s going on? Why am I on the couch and why is our house-“

    Ayumi immediately jumped on to the couched shaking Yuki a little and interrupting him sharply as she pulled up his hands apologizing further. “I’m sorry, Yuki! I got a little excited. Hope your aren’t hurt.”

    “Huh? I’m confused. What happened?” Yuki continued scratch his head until he suddenly felt a bump and a dull pain when he touched it. “Hey, you hit me!” The moment that it happened came back to him as though attached to the pain. He jumped up grabbing her by the upper arms annoyed.

    “I’m so sorry!” Ayumi said starting to cry holding her hands up against her chest while Yuki frightened her. “I’m so sorry, Yuki!”

    Suddenly from behind Ayumi a long wooden stick grew over her and whacked Yuki in the head making him drop her to hold his head. “Hey! Yuki stop scaring our guest!”

    “Guest?! What? But she…” Momoko slapped Yuki again with the stick before he relented and sat back down on the couch tending to his new bumps that accompanied his old one. Ayumi rushed back over to the opposite side of the table in the living room sitting back down next to Momoko. Once he was satisfied with his new injures he met the two of them with his eyes wanting answers now. “So what have you been doing, sis?”

    “I’ve been getting to know your friend here. She tells me that she transferred into your school today and is living up the block in the old Kitayama house. We’ve just been talking about this and that.” The two smiled between each other as though they had become the best of friends in the short amount of time that he had been unconscious. “I decided to let her stay for dinner. She just moved in so I figured that she probably didn’t have much at home.”

    “Wha-wha-what?!”

    “What are you getting all worked up about?” Momoko stood up walking out of the room into the kitchen where she had restarted their dinner. It had been burned from the disruption that happened earlier.

    Ayumi turned around on the couch not wanting to impose herself on her hosts. “You sure there’s nothing I can help you?”

    “You’re our guest. I can’t make our guest work. I wouldn’t be a very good hostess would I?”

    “What about work?” Yuki said narrowly changing the subject and hoping to get his sister out of the house. He had fortunately not seen Ken and Jun yet, but he was afraid of when they would show up to cause him more troubles.

    Momoko turned her head not leaving the oven to shout back to Yuki. “I called them and told them that I would be running a little late due to a family emergency. It’s so heartwarming to know that you worry about me and our finances.”

    “I didn’t say that!” Yuki crossed his armed already getting tired from dealing with his sister. Only his family knew all of the buttons to push on him to get into a sour mood so easily. “So what’s really going on?” he said quietly to Ayumi across the table as he leaned in.

    Ayumi kept her innocent features, but deepened her voice a little returning part of her back to her other self. “Wrapping up loose ends.”

    He looked around the house trying to figure out what she meant by those words. The entire house was normal from what he could see. There was not a single sign that there had even been a fight here let alone that their house had been filled with blood and destroyed. He did not understand how she could rebuild their house so effortlessly. “Where’s the body and blood?”

    “I’m hiding them in my field while slowly cleaning it up. When I leave the work will be done and they won’t even know the difference. It might even be cleaner than before.”

    Yuki was amazed at what Ayumi was able to do. She had such control over her powers and could do so many things with them. All he had been able to do was make things that killed. He turned his head away from Ayumi feeling the heavy weight of the images from what happened coming back to him. However, the pain of sorrow did not last long when he felt a real heavy weight on his leg. Yuki looked down to see Ken grinning up at him. Ken quickly jumped off of him and landed in the other couch next to Ayumi who leapt back in surprise. “Ken! You’re scaring her…” Yuki paused as he was speaking realizing how he was so easily drawn into Ayumi’s façade like everyone else.

    “Hey, Yuki is she your girlfriend?” he said leaning staring at Ayumi intently. His head tilted around as he watched her as though he was trying to find something on her.

    Yuki had been reaching for Ken, but nearly collapsed to the coffee table when he spoke. It was the most random and yet piercing question that made Yuki hesitate. “No! She’s just a friend from school. Now leave her alone.” He managed to recover himself and pulled Ken back dropping him into the chair adjacent to them. Yuki fought with Ken when he suddenly felt yet another weight on his free arm. “Jun…” he said looking back at his little brother mutely holding on to him.

    Ayumi had pulled herself back together after Ken’s intrusion and caught her eye on Jun. “Who’s this? Your other brother?” She stood up walking over to Yuki staring down at Jun with the softest kindest eyes one could find.

    Yuki felt Jun tightening his hold on his arm while he looked back at Ayumi. Jun looked like he wanted to say something, but his mouth remained closed. Yuki looked down at him and then up at Ayumi. “He said ‘Hello’. He’s a little quiet. This is my youngest brother, Jun.”

    “Oh Jun! He’s so cute!”

    Ken coughed roughly from his chair watching them. “A little quiet? Try he’s never spoken in four years and the only one that seems to know what he says is Yuki for some strange reason.”

    Ayumi pulled back her hand that she was trying to give to Jun as a sign of safety. She turned sharply to Ken not certain what he had meant what he said. “Four years? What happened then?” However, when she asked all three of them fell silent becoming a little darker in the face as those something had grabbed all of the light out of them.

    “Dinner’s…ready…” Momoko said as she walked in immediately feeling the heavy mood that was hanging in the air. She did not know what had happened, but the look that was on Yuki’s face matching Jun and Ken gave a pretty clear idea. A subject that they tried to avoid had been brought up. “Ayumi! Can you help me?”

    “Huh?” Ayumi said snapped out of the awkward trance that she was left in by being surrounding by the sudden bout of depression. She could tell that she had quickly killed the atmosphere. “But…” Her eyes flipped over their faces reading the sadness that was building up inside them. She had to do something, but she did not know what. Ayumi leaned in for Yuki, but Momoko stepped in.

    “Come on. I need your assistance.” She dragged Ayumi out of the living room into the kitchen handing her several plates. “Glasses are in that cupboard after you set the plates out.” Momoko went back to the stove turning off the fire and gathering up the food to take to the table. Ayumi set out the plates, but as she was pulling down the glasses she looked over at Momoko pausing with her hand in the cupboard. It did not take much for Momoko to know what was going on in her mind. “I take it you asked about our parents or something related.”

    “Huh? No, I just asked about what happened four years ago.”

    “Yeah…four years ago our father died and a year ago our mother.” Ayumi’s hand shook knocking over the glass in the cupboard. She pulled back retreating her hands close up to her chest with countless thoughts running through her freezing her body.

    To be continued…
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  12. #12
    The Quiet One Shift Andromeda's Avatar
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    “Yeah…four years ago our father died and a year ago our mother.” Ayumi’s hand shook knocking over the glass in the cupboard. She pulled back retreating her hands close up to her chest with countless thoughts running through her freezing her body.

    The rattling of the glasses broke her state drawing her away. Ayumi fumbled to keep the glasses from falling out of the cupboard, but the shaking in her hand was making it difficult to hold still. Momoko walked over placing her hand on Ayumi’s wrist for support as she took her other hand to bring down the glasses gently to the counter surface. Ayumi looked up at Momoko surprised to find such a solid woman who had been through such tragedies. She would have expected her to have a similar reaction as her brothers. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to pry into some so private and so painful.”

    Momoko returned with a reassuring smile focusing on the glasses and taking them to the table. It was difficult to see, but there was a hint of something hidden behind her eyes. Ayumi nearly missed it buried so well underneath the layers that appeared to be necessary. “Don’t worry about it. It’s not a secret.” She went back to the stove bringing over the food no missing a beat.

    Ayumi rushed over to Momoko’s side with the aim to carry something over, but found her hands not to be of need. “But still…I shouldn’t have…” Her head hung down finding that she was not of use. She realized that she had only been pulled away to speak out of the company of the brothers, but she wanted to do something.

    The serving spoon in Momoko’s hand began to fill out portions to the plates keeping the rhythm going. “You didn’t know. You don’t need to apologize for something that’s not your fault. Yuki, Ken and Jun are younger and their memories are still recent in their minds. It is only natural that they are still silently grieving.”

    “But Yuki is so happy and full of life at school. I can’t believe he has that weight on him the way he acts.”

    Momoko came around to the last plate filling it before placing the leftovers on the stove to keep warm. She turned with a pensive look in her eyes towards Yuki, while he remained oblivious. “Yeah, I still don’t know about him. He worries me sometimes, especially with the changes that happened to him after our mother died. It’s a mystery to me why he is that way now. It’s almost a contradiction. And he never talks to me about anything important, so I don’t know what’s going on in his head.”

    Ayumi could read the tension in Momoko easily seeing that talking about him was difficult for her. She was not sure if talking would help her or make matters worse. The facts were few and the subject deeply sorrowful for everyone. “What do you mean a contradiction? Was he different from now?”

    “Different?” Momoko stared off towards the ceiling forgetting where she was for the moment. She was snapped back suddenly by something internal and met eyes with Ayumi briefly. “Different would be an understatement,” she said starting to smile again nearly laughing as memories flooded back to her. “You’d be surprised. Anyway, we better call them before the dinner gets cold.”

    The dodging of the subject and purposely leaving it vague spoke enough to Ayumi that she knew there was more that she did not understand about this family. They had many secrets and she was going to have to take things slowly if she expected to understand. “I’m sorry for pressing the subject.”

    Momoko gave the best reassuring smile to Ayumi to let her know that this was not her fault. It was a painful area to touch and it had been a while since she had to explain it to someone. Everyone that knew already had been around when it had happened. Since then it was simply known, but not spoken out loud. She placed her hands on Ayumi’s shoulders to combine with her smile for comforting support. “I already told you this is not your fault. I’m just thankful that Saki stuck by his side through it all. I don’t know if he would have the strength without her.”

    Chapter 11 Floating in the Sky

    ‘Saki is important to him… I figured that much from lunch, but it seems to be something deeper…’ Ayumi quietly ate her meal with the Hayashi family with things not quite returning to normal. The tension that had been created from her questions had made it difficult to even look at each other. Everyone was awkwardly stepping around what had been brought up earlier.

    After minutes of silence Momoko acted to change the mood. She cut into Yuki’s plate of food stealing some of his meat that he had been ignoring. It dangled from her teeth teasing him as she had displayed a wicked grin and daring eyes.

    “Hey! What you think you’re doing? That’s mine!” The food that he had been attempting to eat stopped before it reached his mouth as he stared in protest at his sister.

    She continued to dangle and wiggle the meat in front of him taunting to come after her. “It’s not anymore. You’ve been ignoring it this time. You’re loss. Survival of the fittest, you know.”

    “Survival of the fittest? More like piggiest.” He stuffed his food in his mouth that he had been holding out leaving a large lump against his cheek, not chewing it. Once freed of food he attacked Momoko’s plate stealing from her with a retaliatory glare.

    Ken and Jun were soon caught in the excitement leaving Ayumi staring blankly at the surprising reversal in the entire mood of dinner. She was not sure what to make of this other than being relieved to see things changing. ‘Strange family… They might be still in mourning, but they’re strong…’ Ayumi stared at Yuki trying to look through the layers that were covering him up, but it was not until now that she even knew there were layers. It almost seemed like it was not an act. She was not sure what to make of him. ‘He might be the strongest of them all…’

    Dinner had been finished and the excitement fell back down to a normal level. Ken and Jun disappeared up stairs at the insistence of Momoko to do their homework. Yuki was left behind being forced to clean the dishes for having lost in their battle at dinner. Momoko pulled Ayumi aside to the front of the house as she was putting on her jacket. “Ayumi, please stay nearby for him.”

    Ayumi gave her a firm nod of her head along with a determined smile. She had a lot to go through and was not planning on going anywhere until she succeeded. She was going to have to learn who Yuki was with everything peeled away. This could be more challenging than she was planning.

    Momoko began to open the door and stood in the threshold looking back towards the kitchen. “I’m going to work!” Yuki appeared around the corner of the kitchen with his hands dripping from the dishwater. “Oh and remember your brothers are upstairs. You two can’t make that much noise.” She gave the two of them a sly wink.

    Yuki’s face turned red and then he exploded not caring if his sister was joking or not. “I just met her! How could you think I would even… I can’t believe you! She’s our guest!” He continued on muttering even after he finished yelling at her. Over at the side near Momoko, Ayumi could only blush remaining quiet completely at the loss for words.

    “You two are so easy. Well mind the house. I’ll be back late.” Momoko was still laughing to herself as the door closed behind her.

    Yuki stared at the door still feeling anger at her and then it hit him that Momoko was gone. The mood faded away as he saw Ayumi in the corner recovering. “Sorry about my sister. She can be pretty embarrassing when she tries,” Yuki said walking back to the remainder of the dishes running his hand through his hair still feeling uneasy from Momoko’s words. It was not until after he had been rubbing his head that he remembered that he had wet soapy hands. “Momoko!” Yuki had sighed softly alone and slouched back to the sink to finish his chore.

    Ayumi stepped into the kitchen sitting at the table watching him. She remained quiet developing a distant dullness in her eyes. When Yuki had finished with the dishes he turned around surprised to find her behind him. “She didn’t embarrass you too much did she?”

    A few second had passed before Ayumi looked clearly at Yuki. “No, I wouldn’t be embarrassed by that,” she said with her deeper more serious tone.

    He took a step back taken off guard by the immediate change, still not used to her doing it. The degree of acting that she was putting into the different personality made him easily forget how different the real girl underneath it all was truly. “No, I guess it wouldn’t. Now that we’re alone I wanted to thank you for saving my family.”

    “Hmm? Oh…you shouldn’t be thanking me. They got hurt because of you.”

    Yuki was unbalanced suddenly from the blunt remark. His eyes widened with the realization hitting him having forgot what had happened before. “I-I know… I know it was me. You don’t have to remind me.” He turned his head away not wanting to look the truth in the eye. The memories were something that he wanted to bury and leave behind. Everything that happened to anyone was his fault for them simply knowing him. “You think I wanted them to be involved? You don’t think I wanted to save them? I couldn’t do anything. Next time it will be different.”

    Ayumi grabbed him by the arm pulling back to face him. She looked into his eyes staring down him with her cold green eyes. “Will it? Be different. You hesitated this time. They mean to kill you, if you don’t intend to do that same it will happen again.”

    Yuki stared back through her eyes forcing up determination to be displayed within his own. ‘I have to do something.’ He ripped his wrist free from Ayumi and grabbed both her wrists to back up and emphasis his stance. “It will.”

    She was not ready to believe him just yet still seeing doubt hanging like a thin fog around him. Ayumi responded to his physical attempt by quickly rotating her wrists breaking his hold and returning the act. “Can you use your power on command?” This was a test that she needed to see succeed before she could even begin to think that he would be able to do something on his own.

    The question that she gave him was one that he could not answer. When it first happened it was something that he did not understand it seemed to be doing almost unconsciously. He did not know how it worked or even why he had what he did at the time. It seemed like an instinct and he just assumed that it would come back to him when he needed it again.

    Ayumi could easily read the confused and pensive look of gears turning without any clue. “Then it won’t be any different. The seal on your powers may be completely destroyed, but that doesn’t mean you can control them. You used so much power that everyone in your neighborhood was affected by your field. Most people will think nothing of it, but what you have right now is reckless uncontrollable power. You’ll be in more danger of hurting yourself than your enemy.”

    Yuki felt like he was a child being scolded for having knocked over vase breaking it. ‘I know I don’t know anything about this. You don’t have to keep reminding me about it. Until an hour or two ago I was still not believing everything. Things are different now.’ He pulled his hands down forcing his wrists out of Ayumi’s grip roughly leaving marks behind. Yuki stepped forward staring at her intently beginning to get angry with her for her attitude towards him. “I know! You don’t have to remind me. If I’m such a danger then why don’t you teach me how to use this power.”

    “I intend to now that you have awakened your power.” She had slowly begun to grow a smile, but it was more like a smirk or grin with darker, less friendly intentions implied behind it. “I had to wait until you awoke before I could do anything more for you.”

    “You mean…”

    “Starting tomorrow you will be going through my training regime until you can control your powers at will. You’re of no use to me or your people if you can’t use them. And there are people far more talented and skilled than me in your homeland that will kill you if returned now.” Ayumi turned away looking towards the living room. “However, it is getting late. There shouldn’t be another assassin for a little while after these two were defeated. But don’t think it will get any easier.”

    Yuki followed her to his door to see her out. He was feeling a little better to know that she was not leaving him alone with this power to understand on his own. The sort of training that he would be going through made him curious. ‘I wonder what training you do for a power that is controlled by the mind?’ Ideas were running wild through his mind imagining all varieties of training that he had read about nearly becoming excited. A thoughtful grin was developing on his face before he snapped himself back to reality. “Good night, Ayumi. See you at school!” She waved to him while she walked away with a nonchalant expression. ‘Wait a minute… why am I being so friendly to her? She’s been nothing but rude to me.’ He turned his back away closing the door and leaning on it. ‘It’s that other personality. When she’s not looking at me it’s like she is actually the other girl. That girl is complicated…’

    “Saying good night to your girlfriend?” Ken said slyly from one side of Yuki surprising him by his ninja like appearance.

    Yuki raised up his arms part way in shock pulling away from Ken. “She’s not my girlfriend!” Jun pulled on his pants dragging his eyes down. “No, Jun. She isn’t. Don’t listen to what Ken’s saying.” It did not take much for Yuki to know what Jun was saying; he did not need his odd ability to understand Jun intentions to answer him. “Now go back to your room. You’ve got homework, don’t you?” Yuki released himself from Jun and walked to his room closing the door behind him. The long day was finally coming to an end. Even with his nap earlier he felt exhausted, though he did not realize it until he collapsed on his bed.

    “Master Yuki…Master Yuki…” a soft voice whispered into his ear.

    Yuki nodded his head feeling the tickling of the breath, but rolling over to keep sleeping. “Just a little longer, Sis…” he mumbled as he pulled his sheets over his head.

    “Master Yuki…” The voice persisted in his ear making it twitch. When it was clear that talking was not doing anything to change the situation there was a sudden weight on top of him. “Master Yuki…”

    “Momoko…it’s too early…” He attempted to move around, but found it to be difficult. While it was not a painful pressing that he was used to it refused to budge as well. The covers were suddenly pulled down exposing his face to the cool air of the morning and a strange sweet smell too. Yuki wiggled his nose confused and slowly opened his eyes still not seeing well. “Sis? When you start wearing perfume in the morning?”

    “Master, you’re awake.”

    “And why are you calling me ‘Master’?” He stared through his blurry eyes at a face that he could only tell was a woman from the voice and long hair. He blinked once and wiped his hands over his eyes to clear his vision. Once sight had been returned, before him was a beautiful young woman in a maid costume straddling him staring only a few inches away from his face with a warm pleasing smile on her face. “Oh a maid…” Yuki dropped back down to his bed closing his eyes satisfied with what he saw. The moments ticked by for him until it finally sank in to his mind. “What?! A Maid?!” He jumped back up nearly crashing into the woman before pulling back breathing heavily. ‘What’s a maid doing in my room?’

    “Master?”

    “Y-Yes?” he said nervously trying to work through what was going on. ‘I’m still dreaming. This is just a dream. Y-Yeah and I just need to wake up.’ Yuki pinched himself and looked up to find the results to be no different. He slapped his face and punched himself thinking he needed more pain to wake up, but nothing had changed.

    “Master?”

    “AH!” Yuki pulled back in his bed trying to put some distance between her and him. She continued to follow him until he fell out of his bed dropping his back painfully. The fall was not enough though as she was still straddling him only becoming more uneasy for him. He was coughing up hair at a loss to what was happening.

    A long clean blade suddenly beamed over him touching his neck. The point of it was very real making him cough cautiously. “Yuki. As a samurai of honor I challenge you to a duel.”

    Yuki turned his head over slowly looking through the woman’s hair that hung over him to see a man standing before him standing in full samurai armor from the Edo Period. He began to sweat at the sight, as well as the katana at his throat. ‘What’s going on here?’ The man pulled back his sword looking like he was waiting for a reply. Yuki took the opportunity to leap away from the woman and crawl into a corner away from both of them. His eyes darted quickly between the two of them watching what they did carefully. ‘What’s a samurai and a maid doing in my room?’

    ‘You’ll be in more danger of hurting yourself than your enemy,’ said Ayumi’s voice in Yuki’s head suddenly like he was remembering something. The words from the night before were coming back to him and he began to piece things together.

    ‘Danger to me? You telling me this is my power going off on its own?’ The maid started to approach him again looking like she wanted to do something. The samurai was standing getting impatience for a response still holding out his katana. ‘What am I suppose to do? How do I turn it off?’ Yuki closed his eyes hoping that it would disappear, but when he opened them again they were still before him. He shut his eyes once more. ‘Turn off. Turn off. It’s not working. What do I do?’ Yuki began to become panicked again seeing the maid get closer to him with the samurai taking a frightening stance against him.

    He tried to think back to the night when he could not get rid of it. ‘How did I do it before? It all went away immediately.’ A flash of Ayumi came to his vision spurring a thought. ‘She did it, but how? What was it?’ He looked around dragging himself across his room against the wall and his furniture to keep his distance from them while he bought his time. ‘It was something. That’s it!’ He remembered immediately and not thinking further grabbed the nearest thing he could, which happened to be his lamp. A loud crash followed next with a thud. Yuki lay partially unconscious on his bed eyes turning into spirals dazed.

    His door opened showing Momoko into his room. “Yuki, it’s time…to get up.” She looked around to see him already out of his bed, but in a strange state. “Oh, already up. Turning over a new leaf?”

    “Yeah…sure…” His sister left shortly afterwards leaving an exhausted Yuki to still catch his breath. ‘I’m going to end up dead from my own mind. Never thought I’d hear myself say that…’ Yuki turned over on his bed waiting until he was ready to test his legs again before going to the shower. His morning was started early and more eventful than he wished.

    In a darkened alley of the early morning hours a young girl screamed trying to escape being chased. The girl had been fleeing away from her normal routine judging by her school uniform and sports bag over her shoulder. Her speed was the only thing giving her room. Suddenly the opening of the alley closed up tripping her in a dead end. She screamed again hoping that someone would hear her as she could feel someone coming up behind her.

    To be continued…
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  13. #13
    The Quiet One Shift Andromeda's Avatar
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    An early morning for Yuki only meant that he would be even more tired and unable to deal with his family at breakfast. Today was certainly no different for him. His mind was still buzzed and spinning from what happened in his room. He lowered his head a little while waiting for Momoko to give him his breakfast. ‘Ugh… I can’t believe that my powers could activate subconsciously. I wonder how Ayumi deals with it?’ Yuki planted his hand over his face feeling the stress starting to build up already. He brushed his hair out of his face and looked up. “What?” he said finding Momoko staring at him.

    Momoko pointed her large cooking spoon at Yuki. “What did Jun say?” She quickly went back to the stove top stirring the food to keep it from burning.

    Yuki took a minute to figure out the spoon was not aimed at him, but Jun who was silently standing next to him looking like he wanted something. Yuki had been distracted by his own problems that he did not even know that Jun had been by his side. ‘Wish he would talk again. I don’t want to be his translator for the rest of my life.’ He gave a reluctant sigh and then tried to put on a better face for Jun. “What is it, Jun?”

    Jun had been looking at him for a while even before Yuki acknowledged him. His hand was firmly held to the sleeve of Yuki’s uniform. All Yuki had to do was look at him to know immediately, a weird feeling that he never completely got used to. He had more or less just accepted it against his will as Momoko would press on him if he ignored Jun. “He says that he wants toast.”

    “Toast huh? It’ll be an extra minute then.” Momoko walked over to the cabinets to pull out some bread setting it on the counter. She looked back at Jun as her hand pulled out a slice of bread. “Alright, Jun?”

    Jun gave her a meek nod while keeping close to Yuki. Ken sat in his chair swaying back and forth unable to contain the energy that he had woken up with. “That’s some strange ability you have. I can only pick up the simple things. How you do it?”

    Yuki pushed the plate in front of him around feeling his mind beginning to wander around. He rested his head on his hand, which was not busy, against the table top. “If I knew I’d teach you all,” he said in a tired voice.

    “It’s his way of helping around the house,” Momoko said cheerfully while she ran between pots on the stove. “You’ve got to take some responsibilities.” She turned off the heat just as the toast popped; breakfast was ready.

    The responsibility speech was played again for Yuki to hear. He leaned back in his chair not wanting to listen to Momoko going on about what he had to do in the family. It was always the same thing every time. ‘I’m not their father. Don’t try to make me.’

    Chapter 12 Wings for the Troubled Joy

    Breakfast was over and Yuki rushed out of the door wanting to get out of the house. There was more than one reason that he had today, besides the usual lectures from Momoko. He was feeling that his mind was going to explode with all of the ideas that were flowing around. If he was not careful he would show them what he actually was and they would not just ignore the strange things that happened last night. He worried how long he was going to be able to keep it from them without them accidentally finding out.

    However, when he began to walk into the street turning towards his school there was a heavy weight on both of his arms. He looked down and jumped back in surprise to find that both Ken and Jun had followed him. Once he regained his breath and heart he focused himself back on the matter at hand. “What are you two doing?”

    Jun remained quiet as Ken stepped forward as their voice. “Jun wanted to walk with you. So we decided to go to school with you.” The absurd nature of the idea seemed to be completely lost on them. However, they could not be faulted for an innocent request to be with their brother (well not faulted by anyone else that was not Yuki).

    Yuki collapsed his back forward hanging his arms in disbelief not certain which sounded more impossible to him. He fought between the conflicting statements to which he was going to address. “What?! You can’t come with me. Your school is in the other direction. And plus how can you know what Jun wanted, he doesn’t speak.” The choice ended up being both in the end.

    “Jun can answer yes or no to questions,” Ken said looking a little too proud about the statement that defied Yuki’s reasoning.

    Yuki’s eyes lowered in disbelief. “So you’re saying that you wanted to follow me and knowing how Jun likes to follow in my shadow asked him a loaded question to place it on him knowing that I would be more willing to agree,” Yuki said lowly not quite meant to be heard, but to get it out of him. A heavy sigh escaped his mouth before he felt ready. “You can come with me as far as the intersection. Momoko will yell at me if you two are late.”

    Ken ran back to Jun jumping together with him. There seemed to be a slight change in the blank expression of Jun that Yuki could pick up as being excitement. Ken expressed his joy with enough enthusiasm to make up for Jun. Yuki was not going to wait for them. He began to walk towards them and then past them flinging his school bag over his back supported loosely by his right hand. The missing brother and sound of the school bag hitting his back was enough of a signal for Jun to tug on Ken’s shirt. It took a few tries, but Jun was finally able to get through to Ken allowing them to catch up to Yuki.

    “Morning Yuki!” Saki said from behind him as they met at the usual spot in the path. When she came closer she saw his brothers with him as well. “Oh, Ken and Jun are with you today!” She bent down pulling her skirt in as she lowered herself to their eye level. Saki gave Jun a pat on the head and a warm smile. “Still as cute as ever, Jun.” A snappy turn had her facing Ken giving him a mischievous grin to match the one that was on his lips already. “Tagging along with your brother, huh?”

    “Yup!” Ken said raising his left arm in earnest.

    “Yeah…” said Yuki trying to turn away knowing that now that Saki was here it would only become more difficult for him to get rid of them. She was very accepting of them, which might have been because she knew everything that they had gone through or that she did not have any brothers of her own. She might have seen them as her own little brothers. The reasons were never clear.

    The four continued down the street around the road block keeping going. Ken’s energy was too much for Yuki to handle, but Saki seemed to be enjoying herself. She kept him busy leaving Jun at Yuki’s side who seemed to be content with that status alone. The time for them to part came sooner than Ken was expecting (too long for Yuki, but that was apparent). Yuki had to debate the issue and yell at him for a minute before Saki stepped in.

    “You can walk with us again whenever you want, you know,” said Saki with a smile.

    “Really? Hear that Jun?” Ken rose up both of his hands cheering and ran off down the other street with Jun running after him. They disappeared around the turn of the street leaving Yuki and Saki alone to resume the rest of their walk.

    Yuki sighed once more and then stretched his arms and back. His depressed attitude was suddenly wiped away as he let out a loud cheer or cry. He turned back to Saki with his usual cheerful expression returned to his face. “Good morning, Saki!”

    “M-Morning. What’s wrong Yuki? You feeling alright?” Saki leaned away set back by the shouting he had done only a moment before.

    He lifted up his arm bending it and patting his other hand on his upper arm. “Yup! I’m feeling great! Just another beautiful day!”

    ‘What’s with this? He was depressed yesterday and now he’s back to normal?’ Saki smiled back to him trying not to let her uncertainly show through to him. It was difficult for her to know if he was still suffering from what happened at lunch or if he had truly dealt with it. She was never certain with him since he hid everything behind such a pleasant expression. “I’m glad!” Whichever it was she would not press the subject if he wanted to move on.

    “How was practice?” Yuki began to walk on trying to keep his mind away from stray thoughts that he was having. It was a wearing on his mind though keeping everything tightly locked up. ‘I nearly tried to imagine playing with lightning to keep from losing it with Ken and Jun. But it’ll happen again like with the tree…’ The amount of effort that it was taking to keep his imagination in check was making it difficult to walk almost.

    Saki rushed over to catch up to him knowing that they could not waste any time getting to school. “Oh, yesterday after school. Just the same thing as always. The coach keeps making me run the 100 meter over and over again. He’s a lot stricter than it was when I was in middle school.” She looked over at Yuki to see how much he was paying attention or spacing out. Though it had came to her surprise that he was actually looking at her with his full attention. “Oh-uh… I guess the level of competition is higher. It’s only been a month since we started so I’m still getting used to his training.”

    The focus that she was receiving made her a little uncomfortable. She had not known Yuki to be so attentive to what she was saying. It made it difficult for her to talk knowing that she had to be boring him if he was actually listening to her. “But they ended up calling off practice a little early when all of the equipment suddenly disappeared into waist high grass. Everyone thought they were dreaming and then it was gone. I bet it was Ayumi doing something. I’ll talk to her before class to tell her to watch herself. Though thinking about it, she doesn’t seem like the type to be careless like that. Huh, I wonder what it was all about.” She thought adding in something strange might give him the little boost of weird to make him happy so it was not all completely boring.

    “Oh. Well at least it was gone quickly.” Yuki smiled a little harder knowing what Saki was talking about. ‘I didn’t think it went that far away. Is that normal? Ayumi and the others were small.’ He kept on moving trying to not stay on it for too long for fear of what might happen.

    “Yeah…uh-huh…” Saki eyes grew small suddenly when she saw something next to Yuki that she could not explain. Her words were failing her at the moment as shock was overpowering anything that she was attempting to do. She could barely step back from him. “Y-Yuki… What’s that?” Her arm raised up as her finger extended to point to something behind him floating in the air.

    “Huh? What’s gotten into you, Saki?” He could see that he was not going to get anymore out of her. It seemed like it was a miracle that she managed those words before she lost the ability to speak. Yuki turned around curious to know what had gotten to her. “It’s a fairy!” he said matter-of-factly. Then a bell dinged in his head and he jumped back behind Saki in shock as well. “What is that?!”

    “A fairy? But those aren’t real. It can’t be!” Saki had found her voice, but only through the disbelief in Yuki’s reaction after stating it so cheerfully. ‘He’s as freaked out as me. What’s going on?’ She looked back at Yuki pulling him off of her seeing the ‘Protect me Saki’ fear in his eyes. It was harder than she was expecting this time to pull him free, but once he was set at her side she straightened out her messed up uniform. Saki took a breath to calm her nerves still uneasy with a fairy floating in front of her. “So um… Yuki?”

    “Y-Yeah?”

    “Is this your doing? Ayumi said you’re supposed to have powers like hers, right?” Saki had not seen if he actually had powers like Ayumi, but she knew that she could not discount anything of what she had told her. She did not fully understand what these powers of the mind were supposed to be, but she just thought of it as if you think of something it comes into existence.

    Yuki stepped away from Saki a little surprised that she was accusing him of this. However, when he thought back to the morning it became clear to him that Saki was probably close to the answer. “I don’t know. I don’t remember thinking about a fairy.”

    “I thought your power affected just you like with Ayumi.”

    “I don’t know. I don’t understand any of this. I just know that I awoke last night.”

    “Awoke?”

    “Ayumi said the seal on my powers was completely destroyed now and so my powers are accessible for me now. But why is there a fairy?”

    “What happened last night?”

    “Who are you?” Yuki said stepping around Saki to the fairy that had remained silently watching the two awkward human’s reactions to its presence. He could not believe that he was talking to a fairy. It was a fantasy creature that he saw in so many stories and games, but to really have one in front of him. The notion was making him excited.

    “Who are you?” said the fairy abruptly with an annoyed toned in her voice, “Introduce yourself first.”

    “Huh? What? Oh r-right. I’m sorry. I’m Yuki Hayashi. Pleased to meet you.”

    “Yuki Hayashi huh? I guess that’s an alright now. Though sounds a little girly. And who are you?”

    Saki could not believe that Yuki was acting so formal and polite to a figment of his imagination. It was even worse that the little sprite had an attitude as well that only made her grate on her nerves. “Who are you?”

    “I asked first.”

    “Shouldn’t you introduce yourself first if you’re asking?” Saki walked over to the fairy putting her hands on her hips starting to get annoyed at the attitude of the little thing. ‘The thing’s acting like she’s in charge or something. She’s going to walk all over Yuki with how doe eyed he is right now.’

    “Have you no manners?”

    “No more than you apparently.” The fairy was starting to buzz around her head using her small size to her advantage. Saki was not fast enough to grab the fairy continuously slipping out of her hold before she close on it. ‘Now she’s starting to tick me off. I don’t care if this is Yuki’s creation.’ The Yuki Protection Meter was hitting a three and Saki took action for what needed to be done. She pulled out a fly swatter from behind her and caught the creature off guard, as well as surprise at seeing it being mysterious granted to Saki. “I’ve had enough of your attitude. Take this!” The fly swatter hit the fairy squarely in the center sending her to ground with her wings broken and jagged.

    “Saki! Why’d you do that?” Yuki dropped to the ground immediately carefully picking her up and letting her rest in his palms. “Apologize to her!”

    “Never! She needs to first.”

    “Hrmph! Let go of me! I didn’t ask for your help!” The fairy tried to get out of Yuki’s open hands, but she could not manage to move a wing without tremendous pain. She collapsed to her hands and knees coughing from the pain.

    “But!”

    “Get a hold of yourself, Yuki!” said Saki as she whacked him in the head to get him to start seeing clearly. Though to her surprise, the fairy disappeared from his hand. She looked up to Yuki for an answer, but he was nursing his head now that he had yet another bump on it.

    Yuki rubbed his head for a moment until he realized that the fairy was gone now. He looked around and at his hands thinking that he had dropped her accidentally when Saki hit him. “Look at what you made me do! I dropped her. I might have even stepped on her! Don’t move, Saki!” Yuki got down on his hands and knees carefully to not unintentionally crush her. He turned his head back and forth scanning the ground for any signs of her. However, there was no sign of her no matter how much he looked.

    “She’s gone. Disappeared,” she said kneeling down to Yuki. She offered him a hand up. None of it made any sense to her, but neither did his powers. If he was going to be creating things randomly it could become a very long day.

    “Gone… Like before…” Yuki stood back up with the aid of Saki, who was giving him a strange look for his last comment. The image of the maid straddling him suddenly made his face red and he waved her off. “Nothing! We’ve got school!” Yuki started marched awkwardly down the street towards the school hoping that Saki would be following him soon.

    When they reached their homeroom class Yuki took his seat not finding Ayumi to be present yet. Saki was coming up to the entrance, but another student in the hall called out to her. “Saki!” The girl rushed to Saki out of breath coming to a stop in front of her bent over recovering her breath.

    “What’s wrong, Hitomi?”

    Hitomi was one of the track members that ran in the relay race. She had only barely gotten to know the girl since she came from a different middle school, but they trained together after school. The coach said that they had different running styles and hoped that they would rub off on each other to improve overall. “It’s Takako. She didn’t show up for morning practice. The coach was really angry, but her friends said that she had left already. Do you know anything?”

    “Takako? No, I don’t. She’s always early to practice though.”

    “Yeah. I think something happened to her.”

    “Like what? A car hit her?”

    “Maybe…” Hitomi said her head turning away as though the idea of a car hitting her was something that she was seriously considering as a reason. She then looked back up at Saki quickly with a panicked worry wrinkled brow. “We need to do something!”

    Saki could see how worried Hitomi was about Takako. She remembered that Hitomi and Takako would often talk together during their breaks in practice. She had seemed a little unapproachable with the other track members, but Saki had managed to talk to her a few times with Hitomi. It certainly did not make any sense to her for her to miss a practice. ‘Something must have happened, but what?’

    To be continued…
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  14. #14
    The Quiet One Shift Andromeda's Avatar
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    Saki doubted that it was a car accident that was the cause for Takako’s absence from practice. She did not have many morning practices so she did not know much about the girls that only went in the morning. However, it was strange for Takako to be gone. There were still a few minutes before the final bell would be ringing for homeroom. “Let’s go check her homeroom, Hitomi,” Saki said, “She might have skipped for some reason.”

    Hitomi rushed up to Saki unable to shake the panicked expression on her face. “The first big meet is coming up. What reason would she have?”

    It was pretty clear that Saki did not have an answer. If Hitomi had been thinking straight it would have been obvious, but Saki felt like she was being requested to answer. “I don’t know. We’ll ask her reasons when we find her.” Saki stepped forward around the girl and grabbed her wrist taking her away from her class.

    Chapter 13 – Short One

    Her class, 3-A, was left behind at the end of the hall of the third floor. Along the floor were all of the first year classes with many of the students still hanging around outside of their classrooms. The classes went down to 3-D, before coming to the widened part of the school coming to the end at 3-J. Takako was in class 3-H near the opposite end of the building and through the crowded hall.

    Saki arrived at the front door for 3-H and Hitomi continued on to the back door. Hitomi went into the class not fearing the students. Saki had remained outside looking in staying cautious about the number of students that she did not know. There were only half of the seats filled and several standing up talking. It made it difficult to look around and in addition Saki barely knew Takako, the girl was not going to stand out to her immediately. Unfortunately, she could not see her in the room and Hitomi returned shortly afterwards. “Any luck?”

    “No…I couldn’t find her and no one has seen her. I’m worried.”

    “Well class is starting soon. Everyone misses classes once and a while. After school we can check on her at her house. There’s probably a reasonable explanation for it.” Saki began to walk back for her own class, but was stopped by a shaking hand on her arm. She looked around seeing Hitomi’s face wrinkled in worry still not satisfied by the brief look that they had made for Takako. “Hitomi, we…”

    “We can’t give up!”

    Saki face turned a little to frustration and pensive still confused by the whole situation. She had been helping Hitomi out, because she was worried. However, this seemed to be going beyond just normal concern even for simple friends. ‘There is something strange about the whole thing, but why is Hitomi so caught up by Takako missing one day?’ There was not going to be any reasoning with Hitomi as Saki realized as time passed slowly. If she did nothing she was going to be late for class and if she did something she was probably going to be late for class. “Let’s talk to the teachers. Maybe they know something.”

    The new idea seemed to calm down Hitomi some from the uncontrollable fear that was gripping her. “Alright.” Saki helped Hitomi through the hall and downstairs to the teacher’s office. Here all of the teachers stayed before classes would begin in the morning or if they did not have a class for a period of the day. It was normally a place that students would avoid and stay out from without permission, but Saki needed something that would settle Hitomi down. This was the last chance that they had. “Will it be alright to go in?” Hitomi said staring at the door of the teacher’s office as an ominous creature that would attack if she so much as touched the door handle.

    “It’ll be fine. We’re just asking about a student.” Saki was not going to able to get Hitomi to make the effort. This was quite realized and rather than debate the issue Saki pushed her aside. She grabbed a hold of the door’s indented handle pausing for a second while she felt the wave of dread wash over her from knowing that this was not a place that she belonged. The moment passed quickly for her and she tightened her hand against the handle and pulled it open. The sliding of the door alerted a couple of the teachers towards them bringing them over to Saki.

    “Is there something you need?” said one of the male teachers approaching Saki with a couple notebooks in hand. It was a teacher that she had not seen before, no doubt for one of the upperclassmen.

    Saki swallowed roughly suddenly feeling more out of place than she would have thought. She tried to bow politely in apology even in failing. “U-Uh…I’m sorry! We’re looking for class 3-H’s homeroom teacher.”

    The teacher pulled back giving Saki a comforting smile to try to not make her feel nervous. “Oh, you’re looking for Mr. Akutagawa. He’s still here, but class is starting soon, you know.” Saki and Hitomi nodded quietly to the teacher, but remained at the doorway not wanting to enter any further. “Well I’ll go get him for you. What is it about?”

    “Oh! It’s about Takako Yamazaki. She hasn’t showed up today and we were concern she might be sick or something.” Saki tried to keep things sounding fairly normal, since she knew that Hitomi was on the edge of reason. If she had said that Hitomi was afraid that Takako was in a car accident it would only start up panic and questions that would lead to misunderstandings.

    “Alright.” The teacher walked back through the aisles of desks towards one of the teachers whispering to him. Saki remained watchful while still trying to hold back the uneasy feeling that she was getting from being in a place that she did not belong. A minute later Mr. Akutagawa approached them.

    The class 3-H homeroom teacher was a young man in his late twenties wearing the usual suit that most male teacher’s did. He seemed kind from his warm expression. “Hello. Mr. Shimomura was telling me that you were worried about Miss Yamazaki.”

    “Yes, we haven’t seen her today and didn’t know what happened. Have you heard anything?”

    “I actually had just gotten off the phone with her mother. She is staying home today having come down with something. I’m told it shouldn’t be too bad. Just keeping her out of school for a couple of days.”

    “Oh, thank you very much. That’s very relieving. Are you okay, Hitomi?” said Saki looking behind her to see what reaction that she was having from the news. It was nothing to be worried about, just a normal flu or something. There did seem to be some calm brought to Hitomi, but her face was still heavily covered in concern.

    Mr. Akutagawa picked up on this quickly and stepped forward looking towards Hitomi. “If you want, she’ll need her homework taken to her. I would normally have someone from her class do it, but…”

    “T-Thank you,” Hitomi said slowly beginning to finally come to ease.

    “Well then, you can stop by here at the end of school and I’ll give you her assignments. You should be getting back to your class though. The last bell is about to ring.”

    “Right! Come on, Hitomi!” Saki said glad to leave the teacher’s office. She pulled Hitomi along until she was able to walk on her own. Saki left Hitomi when they reached the third floor letting her go to her classroom. She ran back to her own room hearing the bell ringing for her. The halls were empty for her, but that only signaled a deeper panic for her knowing how late she was going to be.

    She softly attempted to slide the back door open to not pull attention to herself, but that turned out to be a futile effort. Saki narrowly dodged a pencil across her nose that embedded itself into the wall next to her. She cautiously drew her eyes forward seeing the cross expression of Ms. Kuniyoshi staring her down. The attempt at a sheepish innocent look had failed her just as quickly leaving her cornered. “You’re late, Miss Furukawa…”

    “I’m sorry, Ms. Kuniyoshi!” Saki fled to her seat trying not to pull in any more attention to her than she had already drawn. The teacher glared a little longer at her and then continued on with roll call for the class, the reason that Saki had failed so miserably. She dropped her head down on the table exhausted from the morning already.

    Yuki leaned forward from his seat having watched the whole thing unfold and tapped Saki on her shoulder. “What happened?”

    “I’ll tell you at lunch.”

    He leaned back a little confused by Saki’s response, who was normally more than willing to talk to him, even if it was during class. The fact that she was late when she had come with him seemed a little strange, but he knew that she had gotten dragged away by someone that she knew. ‘Guess I’ll wait then…’

    The lunch period came for everyone, a normal one this time (relatively, of course). Yuki and his friends walked up to the roof of the school that was being shared by a couple other groups when they arrived. The warm air and cool breeze made it enjoying to be outside, while eating something, freeing after being in class all morning. They still had time before they could change to their summer uniforms as well, so it made things more bearable as well.

    Yuki unbuttoned the top of his collar and pulling at his dress shirt’s collar underneath. Hiroshi sat down next to Yuki undoing all of the buttons on his coat and placed his lunch in his lap looking eager. On his other side the other two friends that followed around with Hiroshi more often sat down. They were Kazuhiro Nanase and Tatsuya Mori.

    Kazuhiro sat next to Yuki opposite Hiroshi sitting down slowly with Tatsuya following up behind him forming a semi-circle now. They both knew Yuki through Hiroshi and in part become like friends. However, their first obligations were towards Hiroshi since they were not certain about Yuki. They had known Hiroshi from middle school and Yuki was someone new to them. It had left them a little puzzled how quickly Hiroshi had become friends with Yuki. Hiroshi was always looking for the next exciting thing to do and quick to act for a joke. While Yuki was reserved most times, but when he was acting out in class he usually played the fool for his odd manner and constant dreaming. The two personalities did not end up being as far apart as they would have thought.

    Opposite of them was the girls this time it was only Saki and Ayumi. Yuki had invited Ayumi to the group and Saki did not object like Hiroshi was expecting her to do. Since there were not arguments about the addition lunch began, though in an uneasy mood. The previous day was not easily forgotten.

    Yuki slowly ate through his lunch before looking up at Ayumi and then to Saki. He remembered then that he had wanted to talk to her about in the morning. “Hey, Saki! You said that you would explain why you were late this morning to homeroom.”

    “Oh, yeah that was unusual for you since you’re usually attached so closely to Yuki,” Hiroshi said with a mischievous grin that looked like he was asking for trouble.

    Saki nearly choked on her lunch pounding on her chest to get the food down. She grabbed a sip of her juice to push down the rest of way. The look from Hiroshi knowing that he hit a nerve on her made her cross her brow. “I was helping out someone from track. I ended up losing track of time.” She went back to eating leaving her explanation to go no further.

    “Oh I see. Makes sense.” Yuki continued to eat his meal as well watching Ayumi sitting quietly minding her own business looking innocent and lost. ‘I guess for being a foreigner she knows Japanese culture pretty well. The food all looks pretty normal. Though I don’t know what I was expecting to see.’ The thought of having lunch with her made him think if he was going to regret doing it. She was new and it could be blamed on her being a foreigner and transfer student, but the whole thing still made him worry. However, as lunch passed he came the realization that he was probably worrying unnecessarily since she seemed to have a grasp of everything.

    When the end of school came for them Saki was pulled away by Hitomi leaving Yuki to watch her leave. He had not planned on walking with her anyway, since Saki had practice. It just made him wonder further about what was going on that she was being pulled away. Saki was something that he could not concentrate on now with Ayumi in front of him. He had questions for her. “We need to talk,” he said to Ayumi before leaving the classroom without her.

    He did not know what he was expecting or why he had even said it to her like that and left, but he was walking away. When he came to a stop he was in the middle of the school grounds with the noise of the track members practicing at his back. He sat down in the grass leaving his school bag at his side separated. And he waited.

    “You know telling people where to meet you is important.” When he looked up it was Ayumi standing over him with her hands on her hips looking a little bothered by the situation.

    Yuki stared up at her with the shade of the building blocking out the sun behind her. “What you can’t find me by sensing my power?”

    “You read too much of that stuff you call ‘Manga’. It doesn’t work the same way in the real world.”

    “…real world…”

    Saki had thought that she was going to be going to practice, but that seemed not to be the case today. Hitomi dragged her in front of the coach and beg for them to get the day off. She explained to him that she wanted to deliver Takako’s assignments to her immediately before it was night and she would be out too late. The coach was not nearly as understanding as Mr. Akutagawa was about her concerns, but he ended up giving in eventually.

    That was how Saki found herself being dragged along with Hitomi to another part of the city to find Takako’s house. The city was not unfamiliar to her, but it was still unsettling traveling on the train to someone’s house that she barely knew. Hitomi seemed to have gained her strength back, though her face was still thick with worry. It was no longer slowing her down from doing what she wanted.

    “You sure it is this way? These houses are pretty expensive looking. I don’t think she lives here.” Saki was feeling even more out of place in this neighbor knowing that there were gates and large lawns of grass before even the house. She did not know if Takako was rich, but it never seemed to come up.

    Hitomi was not listening very well to Saki marching on looking at the paper that showed the address. “This way.” She disappeared around the corner leaving Saki to catch up quickly before she lost sight of her. When Saki was behind Hitomi she had already stopped staring up at the gate before them. “This must be her house.”

    “You haven’t been here before. Did you know she lived her?”

    “Takako never mentioned it before, but she was usually pretty quiet about her family. I’m going to ring the bell.” Hitomi leaned in pushing the button on the panel that was built into the brick wall that fenced off their property. An annoying buzz came from the button that sounded off until Hitomi released it.

    A minute later of waiting a reply over the speaker came. “Yes? We aren’t interested in anything you’re selling.” The voice was deep and old with a little crack in the speech. It made the two girls step back expecting that they would see someone rather than a voice.

    “U-Uh…I’m sorry,” Hitomi said finding the courage to speak while Saki kept a placid face trying to look like she belonged. “We aren’t selling anything. We’re classmates of Takako.”

    “I see. Well Miss Takako is not here currently.”

    Hitomi looked back at Saki as though she was expecting an answer to explain what she was just told. It was plainly clear to her that the instant glance at Saki told her that she had no answers. She turned back to the speaker. “What? But we were told that she was sick. We have her assignments for her.”

    “You may leave her things in the box. I’ll inform her of your visit. Thank you.” The voice ended and a clicking sound that seemed to tell them silently to leave.

    “What does this mean? The school says she’s sick and her family says she’s out.” Hitomi looked back at Saki wanting something from her this time. She was at a loss as to what was going on, but there was something being hidden by someone.

    Saki had no more of a clue to what was going on that Hitomi, but it had been made clear to them that someone was lying. She did not know why they were doing it, but this was not going to be as simple as she thought anymore. ‘What’s going on?’

    To be continued…
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  15. #15
    The Quiet One Shift Andromeda's Avatar
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    “…real world…” said Yuki softly while he was still staring at Ayumi. The thought had almost made him laugh knowing how much of a strange and ironic statement that was to be said. ‘Most wouldn’t see it as a real world and until yesterday it was just a fake world to me. Strange to think my fantasies could be in the real world.’ He stood up from the grass looking straight at Ayumi smoothing out his uniform. There were questions that needed to be answered and he did not have a lot of free time. “We need to talk.”

    “Yeah, you said that already. What is it you want to talk about?” Ayumi had dropped all of her facades that she wore for the public. She was not in the mood for wasting time.

    Yuki knew that he had countless questions for her, but he had to pace himself. There were things that he needed to know more than anything else. Those things were not something that he could not ask before when his family was around him. “Why can’t my family remember the assassin and what happened last night?”

    Chapter 14 – Kasou-ryoku

    Ayumi began to walk around Yuki coming to the edge of a tree in the school grounds. She leaned back against the tree while keeping her eyes on him. “This is an easy answer. I did it. It would be rather difficult if your family learned about your problems.”

    He turned around completely to face her not completely satisfied with the answer. “What do you mean you did it? I already figured that much out. How did you do it?”

    “That is more complicated than you can understand.” Ayumi was going to leave it at that, but she could see how frustrated it was making Yuki. “I did it while I was cleaning your house. I made them forget what happened through a special chemical I created in the air.”

    “Made them forget? You’re talking about your power. Your Kasou-ryoku.”

    Ayumi tilted her head up suddenly at the strange word that Yuki had just used. “Kasou-ryoku? What is that?”

    “Well I’m always just saying ‘this power’ ‘your power’ ‘my power’ I felt that it needed a name. What you think?” Yuki had been very excited about the idea. He had wanted to tell her sooner, but there was not a good time during class. Most of the time at night had been spent thinking about it and he was very proud of it.

    Ayumi was left without words feeling that she was sweating a little by his reaction. She could see the barely contained excitement. “Kasou-ryoku…I prefer Meso Prosecho.”

    “M-Meso Proshesho?” he said roughly having trouble speaking it seeing as it was not Japanese and not even English. “What is that? Sounds like Latin or something.”

    She looked back at him suddenly angry for reasons that he would not understand. “It’s not Latin, it’s Greek. And it means way of the mind. It’s what we’ve called it since ancient times.”

    “Well I’m not Greek and it sounds hard to say. I’m sticking with Japanese, besides it sounds cooler in Japanese.” Yuki was still looking very proud from the statement ignoring or, perhaps, not noticing the frustration that was developing as a pulsing vein in Ayumi’s forehead. He went on leaving the issue behind as he had other things he wished to know. “Did you use your Kasou-ryoku at school too to make them forget?”

    “Are you going to keep saying that?” she said flinching her eyebrow at the word. She was not certain if he was saying it just to annoy her or because he liked the word.

    “Yes, it needs a name.”

    “Fine…and no I didn’t do that here. No one else saw us and apparently most of the students were oblivious the whole matter.”

    “Really? All of the noise. I would’ve thought someone would have seen something.” It was a relieving thought for Yuki to know what he was safe. None of his friends had asked about it once he started to think more about the matter. It all seemed rather strange to him, but if no one found out then it did not really need him to press the issue further. However, he then thought about something that did not fit in. “What about Saki? She knows and you haven’t erased her memories. Won’t she be a problem?”

    Ayumi leaned away from the tree before pulling herself from its support walking to Yuki. The matter of Saki was certainly a problem for her, but this was a calculated risk at this point. It was unavoidable seeing how close the two were. “It would have happened eventually. Better now than lying to her and then having more problems later.”

    “I guess you’re right. You thought this out pretty far, huh?”

    “Of course, I planned on taking you back. I wouldn’t have gotten very far without planning ahead.” She began to walk away from Yuki. Their time was coming to an end as she was satisfied with the number of questions that he asked. It was not time for him to understand everything. He would not have been able to comprehend it all yet.

    Yuki turned around rushing after Ayumi taking her wrist in his hand to stop her. “I’m not done! I have more questions. You keep saying that you need me, but why is it so important that it is me? I know nothing of your people or what to do to save them.” He could tell that she was pulling to get free while making it look like she was not struggling. This was important to him; he needed to understand completely what she was trying to get him to do. It was all still so fantastic to him. He felt so small in what seemed larger than he could deal with.

    Ayumi found Yuki’s grip to be surprisingly strong. She had thought that he was just some weak child that stared too long in front of the TV screen and read all the time. ‘Why can’t I get free?’ She looked back to Yuki seeing his determination in his eyes. ‘There’s more to him that I haven’t seen yet.’ This was a point that she wanted to deal with at a later time. She knew that the longer she stayed the sooner it would come up and she had not chosen her words as carefully as she liked. The casual conversation had distracted her. “Let me go.”

    “Not till you answer my question.” He tightened his hold on her wrist to enforce his point.

    She grew tired of Yuki’s thinking that he was in control of the situation. Ayumi drew back towards him and took her other hand to grab the arm that Yuki was holding her with pulling him over her in a single fluid motion. When she was finished he was laying on his back staring up at her confused at what happened. “Just because I’m not using my powers doesn’t mean I’m weak. Come to my house tonight so we can begin your training immediately.” Ayumi walked off leaving Yuki to stare at the clouds in silence.

    Yuki blinked slowly staring up at the blue sky barely acknowledging that Ayumi had left. The moment eventually caught up to him and he stood up dusting off his uniform. Once he finished he raised up his fist to the air with the annoyed angry vein popping out of his forehead. “You don’t answer my questions. Ayumi, I’m going to…”

    When he released his anger to the void and grew tired of nothing but the wind replying back to him he lowered his fist. School was over for him and he was late getting back. If it was another day Momoko might have yelled at him for being late, but those days were far between. Jun and Ken were waiting for him to make them a snack. However, Yuki was not in the mood with how Ayumi left him. ‘Why didn’t they just do it themselves when they came home. They don’t need me.’ There would be no amount of pulling on Yuki that would convince him otherwise, much to the disappointment of his younger brothers.

    Ken stuck his tongue out at Yuki’s back before running way. He disappeared into the kitchen starting to make a worrisome noise. Jun walked around Yuki looked up at him as though he could tell that there was something off from his brother’s usual anti-social personality around his family.

    Yuki tried not to look at his brother, but Jun made it difficult to be ignored. He gave into Jun after some frustration and looked down at him. “I’ll be fine. It’s just been a long day.” The reassurance did not seem to give Jun comfort as he still hung around Yuki keeping a firm hold on his uniform in his hands. Yuki let out a small sigh and knelt down to look at Jun closer. “You don’t need to worry…” He took a pause trying to figure out what he should say to get Jun to release him. Yuki knew too well that if Jun was concerned about someone he followed them around silently in their shadow until their mood changed (he knew that because it was generally himself that was caught). “How ‘bout this. We’ll see what noise Ken is making and fix up some snacks before Momoko comes home?”

    Jun gave him an eager nod adding a little leap in his excitement. Yuki grabbed up Jun quickly with little effort and placed him on his shoulders. The house was tall enough and the two of them short of enough that they fit through without troubles. He knew how much Jun liked riding around on his back when he was younger and though he was getting older Jun was still very much a child at times. When they came to the kitchen doorway Yuki had to bend down a little to get through, but Jun seemed to be in a better mood now as well as Yuki. The mood had lasted until he saw the mess that Ken was starting to make. “Ken! Momoko’s going to kill you if she sees this mess.”

    “Well I wouldn’t be making a mess if you had decided to help,” Ken said as he spilled out rice across the cooking table. It looked more like he was trying to make a point with the mess rather than doing it innocently.

    Yuki gasped a little seeing him wasting the food and picturing Momoko’s reaction in his head. The thought made him turn blue for a moment feeling fear throughout his body. “I’m here now. Jun and I will help you clean this up and make something to eat.” Yuki let Jun down on the countertop and walked over to Ken in order to halt his progress.

    Ken did not want to move out of the way, but Yuki found that it took very little convincing as he handed everything over to him. While Yuki began to clean up the spilled rice and other bits of food that Ken brought out Ken went over to Jun. He helped Jun down off the table and gave him a mischievous grin nodding to him. Jun returned with a silent half vacant conspiratorial nod back to Ken. The two children darted around the kitchen pulling out things for a snack.

    Yuki had finally finished with the food clean up when he saw a whole new group of things in front of him along with eager eyes staring up at him. “You planned this didn’t you…” There was no use fighting the two. He gave into their plotting and between the three of them managed to put together something that would hold them over until Momoko came home.

    When the snack was over Yuki left them going to his room to think quietly. A long morning proved itself to be a perfect prediction of what rest of the day was going to be like for him. ‘Maids and fairies…samurai too. And there’s things that Ayumi aren’t telling me. But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. There are a lot of things she hasn’t told me, but why doesn’t she want to talk about it?’ Yuki closed his eyes while resting on his bed. He still had a while before Momoko was back from classes at college.

    ‘She said that she’d teach me how to use my power, but what does she want me to do with it?’ There were still too many things that Yuki did not understand. The power that he had was the worst of them. He had been safe during school for no outbreaks, but he did not know how long he could keep it up. It was exhausting for him to keep his mind as empty of thoughts as possible. ‘I don’t know if I can keep this up. Maybe I should stay out of school, just in case.’ He could feel the black void of fear surrounding him leaving him alone and scared. This was more than he wanted. The power was beyond what he could control.

    He felt his leg slip on his bed suddenly, but pulled it back thinking that it had somehow wandered off his bed. Once again his leg fell away and he pulled on it. A third time made him lift his head and open his eyes to find that there was a large dark vortex in his bed that his body was slowly sinking into. His body jumped around struggling against the darkness that was like quicksand and holding like tar. He grabbed his legs with his hands when found that his muscles in his legs were not doing enough. “What’s going on?”

    The circle expanded further encompassing more than half of his bed preventing his escape and leaving little room for him to hold on. His futile struggle with his legs only made them be devoured faster losing everything below his hips to the black that was threatening to eat him whole. He quickly retreated his hands back out while he still had him to take a hold of the nearest solid object, the frame of his bed. Soon after he found his anchor he lost his waist bringing him firmly against his bed and the vortex. His head and chin rested against the edge of his mattress as his back up line of defense to support his hands. “Did I…create this too? What is this?” Yuki fought against what felt like inevitability dragging him down. His eyes darted around the room looking for something that would save him.

    The edge of the expanding black circle had something written on it clearly labeling it for what it truly was. It had caught Yuki’s eye as he searched. He read it out to himself, “Black Void of Fear, trademark…really? You’ve got to be joking.” The almost ridiculous nature of what was eating him laid out in a nearly comedic manner would have made him laugh if it was not him being swallowed. “My own worries are literally trying to eat me.” Yuki found a little extra strength to begin pulling back some of his body, but the substance of the void was clinging tightly on this uniform not willing to let him be free. ‘Can my own power really kill me? I’ve got to get…free…’

    Yuki’s hands were sweating badly and tiring out from the constant strain to keep himself from behind taken while pulling himself free. He could feel his fingers starting to slip free from his hold and pressure being placed on his chin as the void took back what he had freed and some extra. ‘Is it really going to eat me?’ Yuki’s mind was starting to spin around trying to think about what was going to happen to him. The fear was setting in no longer panic. His strength was failing him and time was not lasting for him. Yuki closed his eyes struggling to keep his hands from coming free against the increasingly eager void. ‘What do I do? I can’t stop it. Am I going to die?’ His fingers were coming free suddenly as the pull against him rapidly increased.

    He could not keep his hold any longer as his right hand lost its hold quickly followed by his left hand. Yuki scrapped the bed to hold on longer, but his fingers could not take hold. His face slid roughly across his comforter making it burn. ‘I can’t let it…’ A last futile effort from Yuki stopped his progress for a moment. He dug his teeth into his bed covers barely keeping from ripping the threads. However, his covers were not tightly held to the bed and he cursed his failure as the void won shortly. His chest was swallowed up quickly dragging in his head and arms.

    “Yuki! Yuki, are you asleep again?!”

    “Momoko?! She’s home and going to see everything! She can’t know. But…” The door to his room was already being turned and panic returned to him pushing away the fear and the void that had been eating him. He need to hide it all from her, but knew that he could not. There was nothing that he could do to prevent her and the door was opening. He closed his eyes not certain how long he had left before it ate him accepting what was coming and the screams to follow.

    “Hey Yuki! You got to help me with the dinner.” Momoko grabbed Yuki’s arm up to get his attention seeing that he looked half dead on his bed.

    Yuki pulled back taking his arm from her in shock that his secret was found out. He drew across his bed sitting up quickly staring at her. “Momoko I-I…can…wait…it’s gone.” In the panic of Momoko coming into his room he did not realize that he had been freed from the void that was eating him. It had disappeared oblivious to him during the moments just as quickly as it had come. He did not know what to think, but sigh heavily against his wall.

    “Gone? What’s gone? You lose something again?”

    “Huh? N-No. Everything’s fine. Anyway, you needed help with dinner?” Yuki jumped up from his bed and went to his door leaving it behind quickly. The terror that he had created would keep him up all night. He needed to get some distance between what he did. He ran down stairs heading to the kitchen leaving Momoko staring blankly at his empty room.

    “Hmm…”

    After dinner was over Yuki went to the closet in the living room. He pulled out his white jacket with blue stripes down the sleeves and put it on. Momoko called out to him before he made it to the door. “Where are you going? I’m leaving to the bookstore soon.”

    “I’m just going out for some air.” Yuki grabbed the door knob quickly and opened it trying to get out of the house before anymore questions were asked. He knew that Momoko was suspicious of his actions, since it was rare for him to leave the house at any time.

    “Where are you going?”

    “You sound like a broken record. I’m going out!” He rushed out of the house closing the door behind him and ran into the street. He did not stop until he made it down in front of a house, the old Kitayama’s house. Yuki took a breath from the running and stood up straight. He stared down the house not knowing what he was going to be getting into. ‘I must do this. I can’t worry about trusting her. I need to learn how to control my power.’

    To be continued…
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  16. #16
    The Quiet One Shift Andromeda's Avatar
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    “Hello? Good evening! …It’s you…” Ayumi greeted the door in her usual cheerful manner, but quickly changed it when she saw that it was only Yuki. She moved out of the way allowing him into the house. “Come in.” Tonight she was wearing a long simple, light green, dress that tied itself in at the waist with her hair down.

    The invitation had come from Ayumi, but Yuki still did not feel comfortable about going into another girl’s house alone. He knew Ayumi and there would not be a problem (so he thought), but that was not going to ease his mind. “T-Thank you…” Yuki cautiously entered the house trying to ignore the thoughts of the all of the rumors that he knew about the house. There were stories that the previous owners were connected to Yazuka or some street gangs. They always had trouble, but no one ever managed to see anything. Most people tried to avoid the house as though it was cursed (a monk hired by a neighbor had come to purify the ground five months ago, but met with failure). ‘Do the ghosts of the Yazuka slain here really haunt the grounds?’

    Yuki was starting to sweat thinking about unfortunately vivid images of what might have happened to people in the house. He could not stop picturing one wild scene after another of shoot outs and brawls with explosions. It was making his body shaking twitching at each sound made, like he was in a haunted house. Yuki turned around quickly hearing the door closing behind him, but found himself face to face with a gun wielding Yazuka ghost with his gun aimed directly at him. “Ghost! …I-It-Its true…” He collapsed to the ground quickly afterwards allowing the ghost to fade away as well.

    Ayumi looked down at the dazed Yuki and sighed heavily unable to hold back from sweating in embarrassment. “This is going to be more challenging than I planned…” She walked over to him lifting him up off the ground taking him further into the house.

    Chapter 15 – Don’t Think

    “…Ugh…” Yuki was slowly returning back to his senses and rose up from the floor that he was resting on. He looked around briefly not taking in the scene, but not remembering it as well. “W-What’s going… the ghost! Where is it? I saw it!” The moments before falling asleep were coming back to him making his body shaking again and his hair vibrate in fear. He started looking around in his attempt to find the ghost, but it was not around nor was the house that he thought he had entered. “Huh?”

    “There was no ghost to begin with,” Ayumi said resting in a wooden chair opposite of Yuki in the room. “You made the ghost with your mind. I told you before that have reckless uncontrollable power, this is proof of that fact.”

    “Again?” said Yuki with disappointment laced through a sigh upon his realization. ‘Should have figured…’ He stood up starting to look around the room that he was in finding it not to appear very much like the house that he remembered seeing before he fainted. All of the walls were covered in metal with strange patterns carved deeply into the surface forming intersecting circles and arcs. The floor seemed to be made from hardwood panels in direct contrast to the metal. The ceiling matched with the walls along with a massive array of intersecting and concentric circles and a strange language that looked like Latin (Greek!). All of the lights from the room came from the floor cut out of the wood with plastic covers. Yuki tried to judge the size feeling to be like a cube, but knew it was not nearly as tall as it was long. The scale was thrown off by the carvings making it feel smaller than it truly was. All he could tell was that he was certain it was larger than the house making it impossible to fit inside. “Where am I?”

    “A room below the house.”

    “You mean the basement.”

    “No, it is a room below the house. This is not a basement. We are below that.”

    “How is that possible?”

    “I made this room for the purpose of training you.”

    Yuki was still having difficulty grasping the full impact of what that meant. ‘How far underground are we?’ He looked around the room again understanding the scale was probably necessary for what they would possibly be doing during training. “So you’re using your Kasou-ryoku right now then?”

    “No, this is not my field. This is space I created with my…power.” The word that Yuki had invented still grated against her making her unwilling to acknowledge it.

    Yuki stared back at Ayumi not comprehending what that was supposed to mean. ‘If she’s not using her power, but she created it how does it exist?’ He walked over to the wall reaching it a little sooner than he was expecting. The surface was smooth and polished to his hand as he rubbed the metal. “It’s real, but you created it with your Kasou-ryoku. Does that mean you can make things permanent?”

    “No, that is not possible. Everything we create is only an illusion made real. However, what we make can affect the world and alter it permanently. It is only through this method that we can make lasting change.”

    Yuki continued to stare at the wall feeling drawn in by it almost. He was amazed by the level of detail that went into her creation for being a simple wall. The carvings seemed to be nothing, but decoration to the metal. “So…you made something…that made this room for you?”

    Ayumi walked over to Yuki closing the gap that was between them. She touched the wall as well running her fingers through the carved lines. “Approximately… I created machines to do the work. They made it while I moved in. This room is real and meant only for the purpose of teaching you how to control your powers.”

    The explanation still was not sitting with him completely as the illusionary concepts of making something exist through indirect fake means seemed like a contradiction. “Sounds like a loophole to me.”

    “In a way. Remember that as long as you find a way within the bounds of the power you can exceed those bounds.”

    “That’s pretty cool. This Kasou-ryoku is pretty impressive.”

    “In the right hands, however you have a long way to go.”

    Yuki turned quickly to look at Ayumi a little annoyed by her continual berating of his inabilities to use his power. She seemed to enjoy reminding him of that fact. He did not know how much longer he could take the picking at him.

    Ayumi walked down the edge of the floor dragging her hand against the wall tracing the carvings with her fingers. She came to a stop near the corner turning her gaze down towards Yuki. The distance between them made the size of the room clear for the first time. “Such as the ghost you produced earlier. It’s clear from that you have no control over your power allowing it to manifest at any time. It’s important you learn to control your power to keep it a secret.”

    “That’s why I’m here.” Yuki walked away from the wall and towards Ayumi meeting face to face with her. “I’m not here because you told me to come. I’m here because I need to control this power inside me. I’m waking up to dreams made real and fantasies while I’m walking.” He was holding his fist steady at his side recalling what had happened throughout the day to him. He was bringing to life dangerous things and it could be even worse time. He could create a black hole that ate the entire Earth before he could stop it. The possibilities seemed endless making him wonder why something as serious had not happened before to others. Yuki did not know the limits of the power, if there were even any.

    The room was silent for a time left only with stares between the two. There was uncertainty, fear and urgency in his eyes and cold, calculating and judging eyes from her. They were trying to read each other and one had a greater amount of success than the other. Ayumi stepped away from Yuki leaving her back to his eyes until she made it to the center of the room. “Over here.” She turned around facing back to him motioning with her hand to come closer.

    ‘Is she about to begin teaching me something finally?’ Yuki tried to hold back his eagerness with caution as he walked towards Ayumi. The girl was his only chance at understanding what was happening to him and bringing it under control. He knew that he had little choice, but to deal with her verbal attacks on him (they were accurate as much as he didn’t like admitting it). ‘What she got planned in this underground room?’

    “Close enough,” she said needing him to stop where he stepped. They were now a few footsteps away from each other near the center of the room completely devoid of anything aside from the chair she had before. “Lesson 1, the Apati Agros is the most basic-“

    “Wa-wait a sec. What? Alpaca’s are gross?”

    A vein popped up on Ayumi’s head at Yuki’s comment. She kept her facial features under control, but it was difficult when he was insulting her native language. “It’s Greek. Apati Agros means Illusion Field.”

    “Why didn’t you say that before? Why you have to be difficult speaking in a foreign language?”

    “I’m giving you proper training. You must understand the basics first and that means knowing the terms.” Ayumi was fighting her building annoyance developed from Yuki inconsiderate words. She knew that this was going to be a trying process from her brief time with him, but he seemed to be purposely doing things to make trouble.

    Yuki narrowed his eyes in confusion and frustration finding the idea of learning Greek to be a waste of time. The words sounded weird to him, not even like English which he hardly knew. ‘I hope that she doesn’t make me learn the entire language just for training. I don’t need the words to be able to control this power.’

    “I’ll demonstrate to you what the Illusion Field is.” Ayumi closed her eyes and exhaled a breath that suddenly became visible with the drop in temperature around her body. The outline of her body began to glow blue like Yuki had seen before when she was facing down the assassin in the school grounds. A moment later all of the light around her body pushed into the floor and expanded outward beyond her feet. All of the wood floor was replaced by snow ending a large circle around her.

    Yuki stepped back in the snow a little surprised hearing it crunch underneath his feet. He was in his shoes still as he realized in the moment and was thankful for that to be the case. He bent down in the snow touching it with his hand and taking some in his hand. It was very cold to touch, but warmed up in his palm until it became liquid. “It’s so real.”

    “Yes, this is our power. We make an illusion into reality or a lie into truth. What you see around me is the Illusion Field. When our power is activated an Illusion Field is created as either a reflection of the person’s subconscious or as an intention. Most will allow it to remain subconscious in order to save on mental concentration, but it can be anything you want as well.” Ayumi closed her eyes letting the snow field disappear and the cold air changed immediately to dry scorching heat making Yuki back away until he felt comfortable. When Yuki was out of the field the wood floor erupted into tall flames.

    Yuki stared in panic, possibly fear, at the solid column of fire in front of him that glowed brightly in his eyes. He knew that Ayumi was inside and had to be hurting from this. “Ayumi! Ayumi!” There was no reply back to him, but the fire suddenly surrounded him. The heat was in his throat burning the water from his body and scratching his skin. He patted his clothes franticly trying to keep the fire from spreading on him. It felt like the very sweat was being burned from his pores in the heat. It would suck him dry.

    The fire had surprisingly disappeared before him leaving only the wood floor again and Ayumi standing in front of him unaffected. Yuki stood straight up while looking around feeling off balance from the experience. “I can make it fire as well if I so wish, but most importantly I can make it real or an illusion. As you can see the snow you could touch and melt, but the fire had all of the properties of fire without any of the physical properties. It was just a very vivid illusion. That is important to remember. The strength of the Illusion Field will depend greatly on your mental state, concentration and strength.”

    She turned her field back on bringing the snow back to the ground surrounding her. “As you can see from my Illusion Field it is a complete circle around me. This is the second thing to remember about the fields. It will always be projected around the person at the same distance from all sides. If you look at the field’s size you can estimate the strength of the person. The larger it is the more powerful and skilled they are. Also remember that the closer the distance to the owner of the field the stronger the effects will become while the further way the weaker the effects become. The change can be so much that an attack made close up is lethal while the edge may only scratch you.”

    Ayumi stepped away from Yuki making the snow disappear from around him and be revealed behind her. “The last thing to note is that the field remains with you where you move and where it ends is the end of your field of influence. Using my field as an example I can create a sword within this area for me to use.” She raised up her hand and on command a simple weak sword appeared out of the snow held up by the snow. Ayumi picked it up showing it to Yuki. “However, anything I create can’t exist beyond my field, where the snow ends.” She threw the sword straight at Yuki making him panic and dodge out of the way.

    He had closed his eyes reacting instinctively to someone throwing a weapon at him. However, when time passed for him and he was not bleeding or in pain from the wound that it would have caused he opened his eyes. He looked around seeing that the sword was gone. “Hey! Ayumi, don’t scare me like that!”

    “Hrmph…I was making a point. You were outside my field and thus can’t be affected by my powers. That is the limit we all have. As we move the area we can affect will change and the field is a physical marker of that area. Understand?”

    Yuki stared silently for a while taking it all in trying to comprehend all that she had said. Most of what she had told him was close to what he had figured out during his first two battles with the assassins. ‘Hearing it from her is a nice confirmation.’ It meant that he had a long way to go before he could even think about working at the same level as her if this was just the basics. “Yeah, I think so. So the field is a part of our minds as well and something that we control. It follows me where I go to and marks my territory, huh? So it’s Kino then.”

    “Kino?”

    “It’s my new word for the Illusion Field,” he said cheerful once again proud of coming up with something on the spot. However, the truth be told he had been thinking about it before when he was thinking about the Kasou-ryoku power. “You’re so complicated with your Greek. It should be simple and easy to say. It means about the same thing, but is Japanese.”

    “Must you constantly come up with Japanese counterparts to our long tradition?” said Ayumi becoming exasperated with how amused Yuki seemed by his new word. ‘Is he going to keep doing this to me? He’s walking all over our pride.’ She fought back the growing vein that was bulging on her head. Ayumi took a breath and turned her piercing gaze on Yuki. “If you have that much time then why don’t you put that energy to use? Create an Illusion Field.”

    Yuki stepped back a little surprised that Ayumi wanted him to make a Kino so soon. He did not know how to do it and watching Ayumi do it did not provide any answers. “Make a Kino? But I don’t know how.”

    “Then shut up and listen.” Ayumi stepped forward to Yuki releasing her field as she moved closer to him. “This is all in your mind, for this to work you must clear your mind and focus only on one thing, your field. Remove all stray thoughts or images in your head. Clear out all of the fantasies and dreams. If you have anything in your mind you’ll become distracted and lose focus.”

    “Clear my mind? I don’t know…” Yuki closed his eyes after seeing the demanding eyes of Ayumi, that were like a teacher standing over your shoulder wanting to see that you could do the work that was just taught and would not leave until they saw proof. The last image of Ayumi in Yuki’s mind left him unnerved and he could not concentrate correctly. There were too many thoughts and fears running through his mind. ‘I don’t know if that is even possible for me to do. Even when I was holding back all of the ideas to keep from accidentally triggering it I was still thinking of things. It’s impossible for me to remove everything from my mind there’s too many things. I can’t do it!’ He opened his eyes having begun to sweat from the distress that was blanketing him. “…I can’t…” Yuki looked up at Ayumi to see what her reaction would be to his failure.

    ‘Not surprised. I’d be more surprised if he had been able to do it. He might have a great potential, but there is no refinement to his mind.’ Ayumi closed her eyes as though she was thinking, but her blank expression left no clues to the reality. The room had become eerie during her peaceful break as though it seemed to know and became prepared for what was going to be happening soon.

    Yuki stood waiting on what Ayumi would do next. He was hoping for a piece of wisdom that might give him a helpful hint to being able to clear his mind. However, as he waited longer he became uneasy by the change in mood of the environment. He did not know what it meant, but there was something strange, that he was certain of. Yuki took a step forward to reach out for Ayumi stretching his hand out, but stop mid-motion when she snapped her eyes open. “Ayumi?” The look in her eyes was different from before and he did not know what it meant, but there was a chill that went down his spine.

    The air in the room became cold quickly turning Yuki’s breath visible. This prelude was the only warning that Yuki had before Ayumi charged blue shortly after turning the area around her to snow. A cloud wrapped around her from the vapors in the air and spun tightly concealing her from view. Yuki’s heart began to pound as his body knew before his mind what was coming. A sword’s blade appeared from the clouds dispersing it in a swing as Ayumi charged forward at Yuki transformed into her battle clothes. “Ayumi, what’s the meaning of this?!”

    To be continued…
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  17. #17
    The Quiet One Shift Andromeda's Avatar
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    The space between them was disappearing quickly. There was no more time for him to being asking questions, for she was not letting him have another moment. The blade of the sword had nearly reached striking distance eliminating any remaining time that he thought that he might have had. Yuki jumped out of the way rolling to the ground just in time to only have the ends of his hair clipped.

    Ayumi came to a stop from her strike with her sword held down from the swing. She looked over her shoulder towards Yuki as he came to rest on one knee. Yuki stared at her trying to decipher the meaning of her sudden attack on him, but all there was present was the desire to kill. He saw only cold emotionless eyes set on him with a single purpose. “Ayumi… What’s going on? You nearly took my head off!”

    She stood back up turning to face Yuki with her sword held at her side. “If you can’t control your power I will force it out until you learn.” Ayumi raised up her sword bringing the point to bear on Yuki bridging the distance.

    Chapter 16 Learning by Error

    Yuki could not believe what he was hearing from her right now. ‘This is like in those stories. The hero is pushed to the edge to realize their power by their master. But this isn’t a story!’ He pushed himself up off his knee to stand and face Ayumi. His legs were shaking knowing that he was in danger. ‘But still the master only made it look real. She wouldn’t really hurt me. It wouldn’t help her.’ The efforts to calm his nerves down was slowly beginning to work as he stopped shaking.

    Ayumi pulled her sword back entering into a charging stance. “You’ve stop shaking in fear. You need fear if you expect learn!” She charged towards Yuki swinging her sword again at him in an arc at his chest.

    ‘She’s not going to hit me. Just need to keep on my toes and watch her.’ Yuki managed to dodge the swing of Ayumi’s, but stumbled finding that the reach was deeper than he was expecting. He slid back on his shoes from his evade staring back at Ayumi questioningly. However, he had no time to think as Ayumi was on the attack again. ‘Keep moving and I’ll be safe. She’s not going to hit me.’ Another swing from Ayumi was avoided with a thrust followed up before Yuki saw it. He fell back hearing the ripping of his clothes in his ear as he hit the ground.

    Yuki winced in pain from the impact of the ground underneath the snow of Ayumi’s field. The snow had not been enough for him to be cushioned. ‘She nearly cut me with that last attack. But she didn’t.’ He felt more certain about what was happening now. However, he was not given more than a moment of rest as Ayumi came at him with even fiercer attacks making Yuki roll through the snow just to keep going. ‘The attacks are getting more accurate.’ Yuki continued to roll on the ground until he was far enough away to get back to his feet. He could confirm his suspicions from his clothes that had several more cuts left in them. While he was examining himself Ayumi did not skip a beat of her offensive taking him off guard.

    The sword cut through his right sleeve and into his skin drawing up blood soaking into the cloth. Yuki yelped in pain and surprise stumbling backwards from step to step away from Ayumi. He felt how deep she had cut him with her blade. It left his entire arm feeling numb and difficult to move. His left hand clutched the wound tightly streaming more blood over his fingers unable to hold back the bleeding. Yuki looked down at his arm and back at Ayumi still in shock that she cut him so severely. ‘This isn’t how it’s supposed to go.’ He caught the glow of her blade in his eyes as she raised it up with his blood dripping from the tip staring him down. “What are you doing? You nearly took my arm off! This is going too far, Ayumi!”

    “Not yet. You need to learn.”

    “Learn? All you’re doing is making me bleed!”

    “That’s because you aren’t afraid yet. You think I won’t hurt you because I’m supposed to be training you. You couldn’t be more wrong. I’ll do whatever it takes to make you learn and right you need to remember fear to draw out your power.” Ayumi tightly held the hilt of the sword stepping forward a step to tense the air.

    “You can’t be serious! You’ll kill me!”

    “If I must. This is the real world, not some story of yours. This is the fastest way for results. I can heal any injures you sustain.”

    ‘She’s serious!’ Yuki’s mind froze on Ayumi’s words not understanding until now how determined she was to make him use his power. It was immediately afterwards that he felt the shaking in his legs resume once more. The shaking was beyond his control as his body became re-familiarized with fear. The cold stare of death from his opponent was something that he wanted to forget, but she was forcing it on him with a feeling that his body would never forget. Yuki attempted to get his arms to move, but found them just as immobilized as his legs. ‘…I-I can’t move…’ He stared at Ayumi seeing what her next move was going to be.

    Ayumi stepped forward slowly narrowing her eyes at the changes that were happening to Yuki. “That’s the feeling. Fear me and call on your power!” She was no longer holding back her strike and leapt back into the attack coming for Yuki.

    Yuki could see her coming, but he could do nothing about it. He was left paralyzed by his own fear and inability to protect himself. His left hand was still clamped on his wound unwilling to let go. ‘Ayumi’s…she’s…would she?’ The sword slid across his left upper arm and shoulder cutting nearly as deep as before flowing blood from his new wound. Yuki stumbled backwards again biting his teeth against the pain. ‘She’ll kill me at this rate!’ He had found strength in his legs finally and turned away trying to get away from her as fast as he could.

    The room was large enough for the two of them to give chase, but never to run away or hide. It was not that big to provide safety for Yuki. He managed to evade the next series of swings from Ayumi, but not without having his clothes cut up more. Where ever he went blood dripped from his arms into the snow field following him as he fled through the room. Yet he was running out of strength in his legs. Each of her strikes was coming closer to him and he could not keep up the pace much longer. A sign of his failing was when he tripped up his feet falling into the snow forced to roll out of the way.

    He scrambled to his feet unable to use his arms and nearly fell down again in the process. ‘I can’t get hit again…’ Yuki mustered up strength in his legs to hold together long enough to get him away managing to avoid getting slashed in the back. He came to rest against the wall of the room breathing heavily from fatigue. He tried to keep his eyes up watching Ayumi, who was still not giving him rest or a chance to recover. There was not a moment for him to pause with Ayumi coming at him thrusting her sword at him, but he could not move in time taking the blade in his ribs. Yuki coughed up blood feeling the copper metallic taste in his mouth that drew up fear to his mind.

    Ayumi retracted her blade and spun around connecting her leg with his shoulder dropping him to the ground. She held her weapon at her side walking towards him seeing the twisting uncontrollable fear in his eyes. ‘Still not yet…either he’s stubborn or still doesn’t think I’ll kill him somewhere deep inside…’ The snow advanced on Yuki as she came closer to him drawing the dark aura behind her. ‘…he must use it soon or this will kill him…’

    Yuki rolled over in the snow unable to get up off his back feeling the fatigue in the body reaching his limit. ‘…am I going to die here? I want to save myself, but I don’t know how! Please…’ He pushed against his weakened arms pressing even more blood from him as he felt waves of pain snapping over his body. Yuki could sit up to see Ayumi still pressing on, but unable to do anything.

    ‘…should be soon…just a little more…’ Ayumi raised her sword up behind her letting it hide behind her back as a sheath for it materialized from the particles in the air taking hold of the sword for her. She clasped her hands together creating a spark of light that surrounded her hands drawing on sudden bits of energy in the air. The energy gathered together as her hands separated forming into an orb of blue energy. Light from the energy painted the snow and Ayumi pale blue as she manipulated it in her hands. She pulled her hands back with the sphere becoming larger than her hands. The energy reached critical mass for her and she grabbed it in her hands pulling it back to her before thrusting it forward providing the necessary momentum to reach the target, Yuki.

    For Yuki, there was a mix of awe and fear at the sight of Ayumi charging up an energy attack (gathering up is more accurate). The amount of emotional brew he might have had disappeared quickly when his brain processed that it was coming after him. ‘…got to move…not enough time…’ He had barely got to his feet when the energy sphere hit him in his stomach exploding on impact. The force of the energy cut in arcs of lacerations along his clothes and skin. Blood sprayed up from the explosion coating the snow. Yuki was sent backwards from the force hitting the wood floor and sliding along its polished surface. “Ugh…I…” Yuki could not feel his body anymore. His clothes were in pieces barely hanging together by pieces of threads left with numerous rips. ‘I can’t move…Ayumi’s going to…’

    Ayumi leapt into the air coming towards him drawing up the snow around him to keep him in place. She grabbed her sheathed sword from her back pulling it free preparing for her final strike. ‘This is it…’

    ‘This is it... she’s going to kill me now… All because I can’t use my power…’ Yuki closed his eyes recalling images of the maid, samurai and fairy that he had made without thinking. Their existence frustrated him knowing that he had the power and was using it. He was simply unable to reach it. It was there for him to use, but he did not understand it. ‘I came here to learn how to use it. I need this if I’m to protect myself and my family. I need to know! I can’t die yet!’ Yuki screamed in despair to the ceiling.

    A reaction had occurred in Yuki sending out waves from his body nearly instantly changing the entire room into grass and rocks. All around Yuki’s body large rocks came around him protecting him from Ayumi’s attack leaving her to step back. ‘…finally…’ She came to a landing on the ground finding that the majority of her field was completely over taken by the raw power of Yuki. The walls of the room, even the idea of it being a room, were gone left with nothing, but a field of grass and rocks. “I guess I’ll have to find a way to strengthen the array. He’s far more powerful than a standard anti-Meso Prosecho array can restrain. I guess this is to be expected of the King’s Power.” She approached the rocks that protected Yuki from attacks and passed through them forcing her field through his own. “The lesson is over. You need to turn it off.” In the back of her mind she was calculating the wide spread affects that this could be having on the neighborhood.

    Yuki was breathing heavily looking like a scared child desperate to defend himself and keep away anyone that threatened his peace. “Stay away!” His mind was actively working on its own throwing up rocks to halt Ayumi’s march to Yuki. There was panic racing through him finding that none of it was working against her. “Don’t come any closer!” She continued towards him, though it seemed to be getting harder for her to press through the layers of rocks.

    Ayumi narrowed her eyes from the strain that was being put on her to forcibly enter his defenses. The barriers were unskilled, but that was made up by sheer amounts of power. ‘I need to reach him to stop this. I can’t believe how much natural talent he has. I can barely…I might need to…’ She had hit the last of the barriers and the closest to him. It was proving to be nearly impassible for her, but pressed her hand into the rock with it glowing brightly fighting her presence. ‘Even focusing all my strength around me to increase the density is barely enough.’

    “Leave me alone! I don’t want to be hurt anymore!” Yuki’s mind continued to pump into his field acting as his steward to his life. He could not move his body or fight what was happening to him. The world was blank to him.

    Her hand was forced out of the rock barrier leaving her unable to break through to him. She was running out of quick ideas that would not cause more problems than solve. ‘I’ve got to reach him. Break his concentration somehow. I just need a little more.’ Ayumi pressed her hands against the barrier again ready to break the rocks down when she had done enough. “Yuki! Can you hear me? Yuki!”

    “Don’t come near me!”

    “Yuki! …You… Yuki…” Ayumi paused seeing that she was not making any progress and at a loss. She changed her tone back to her school and public persona hoping that it might hit a cord with him. “Yuki? Are you in there? I can’t see you!”

    “…Ayumi…”

    “I tripped and hurt myself. Can you let me see you? Yuki?”

    “…Ayumi? I…”

    ‘That’s it. There’s enough interference for me to break through.’ Ayumi forced her hands in again seeing the waves of light from the barrier flashing in protest, but no longer able to hold her back. “Yuki!” she said continued to speak to him keeping up the disruption. Her entire body put weight against the barrier feeling the struggle to keep something so large out. Every time that she would speak to him a little more of her was let free to go in. Once she had reached the other side she found Yuki unconscious on the ground speaking to her unknowingly. ‘This is going to be harder than I thought. I can’t knock out someone already unconscious.’ Ayumi went to his side keep her softer persona speaking to him. She lifted him up into her arms letting his back rest against her body holding him tightly. “Yuki… I’m here for you. You’re safe now. You don’t need to be afraid anymore.”

    The soft voice from Ayumi eased Yuki’s mind washing away the pain and wrinkles on his face. A calmed expression showed through the fog of fear in Yuki. “…Mo…ther…” The barriers came down quickly returning the room back to the original shape and the neighborhood above as well. All of the people staring in disbelieve turned their confusion away and went back to their normal lives.

    Yuki had eventually woken up on the hardwood floor looking around the room no longer certain where he was or what was happening. The last thing he remembered was the fight between Ayumi and him, rather the attack by her. However, he could not see her anywhere in the room. When he looked down at himself he saw that he was no longer bleeding, though his clothes were worse for wear. He jumped up in surprise at how ragged they looked. “My clothes! They’re all torn and destroyed. How am I going to explain this to Momoko?!”

    While he was panicking about his clothes Ayumi heard the noise that was being created and walked down the stairs to the underground room. The steps appeared and disappeared into the ceiling from her entrance. “You always make a racket.” She approached Yuki with her arms cross staring at him with no look in particular.

    “Ayumi! My wounds are gone, but look at my shirt!”

    “Yeah, I healed you up. Would you have preferred that left you to dead, but fixed your shirt?”

    “Well no…but this is supposed to be a secret. What do I say to my sister?”

    Ayumi looked away talking to herself. “I didn’t, because I can’t fix clothes. Sewing is not my expertise.”

    “What did you say?” he said leaning in with a questioning look.

    “N-Nothing.” She pulled her hands out in front presenting him with a fresh shirt that was clearly not his, but it was whole unlike his own. “Here. Take this.”

    “Oh! Thanks, Ayumi!” Yuki pulled at his shirt to take it off, but found that it fell off on its own. It had been held together by merely being on him that the stress was too much for it. “Heh…Ooops…” he said laughing sheepishly at the sight. The left over pieces were quickly removed from his body and he took the new shirt in hand. He pulled it on over his head finding it to be a little tight, but it managed to fit him (a little too well actually). Yuki looked down at the red shirt with the English word “Fancy” written on it. “Umm…Ayumi?”

    “Yes?”

    “Is this one of your shirts?”

    “Of course, I don’t own boy’s clothing.”

    Yuki tried to smile and nod not saying anything more to her about it. ‘I must look like one of the weird male pop bands. How can she wear this? It’s so tight.’

    “Well it’s almost midnight. You should be getting some sleep for class tomorrow.” Ayumi started back to the center of the room calling for the stairs to slide back down for them.

    “What?!” shouted Yuki panicking running over to Ayumi quickly. “Did you say midnight?” Ayumi nodded to confirm her last statement for him. “Momoko’ll kill me anyway for being late!” When the stairs were just hitting the floor Yuki sped on past Ayumi making it back up to her house. He rushed for the doorway not certain what direction that it was in looking in every hall and room. Yuki came to the living room where he saw his sister sipping tea. “Momoko, hey! Momoko?! What’re you doing here?”

    Momoko politely set her tea cup back on the table before she stood up to face her brother. “What am I doing here? What’re you doing here? I come home to find that you’re still not home and Jun and Ken aren’t in bed!” She stood over him casting a heavy shadow over Yuki making him stutter profusely.

    “M-Momoko I-I can explain!”

    “I don’t need to hear it! I already talked to Ayumi!”

    “What?! You did?” Yuki saw Ayumi walking into the living room looking as innocent and polite as she ever did. It was enough to make him fall over if he was not being yelled stiff.

    “I’m sorry I didn’t call you sooner, but I couldn’t reach anyone,” Ayumi said extremely apologetically nearly coming to tears.

    Yuki was about to shatter from the act that she was playing, but Momoko turned around smiling to her reassuringly. “Don’t worry about it. I’m glad to know he is safe. Though he looks in pretty good shape for being beaten up by street thugs again, apart from the…shirt…” She stared back at Yuki inspecting him, specifically the shirt that he was wearing.

    “Oh, the shirt is one of mine. I’m sorry again, but it got damaged so I gave it to him. Please forgive me!”

    “Don’t worry about it. Well I think my brother’s caused you enough trouble. Say good night to her.” Momoko grabbed Yuki up dragging him out of her house after he said his meek words. She pulled him back to their house and sent him upstairs after another yelling about responsibility and not fighting with punks. Yuki was not certain if he should have felt like he got away with what he did or not. He did not question the matter and went to sleep not feeling any better at controlling his powers.

    The morning came for him uneventful and a little late, but nothing strange happened to him when he woke up. He left his house for school leaving behind Jun and Ken in time. He was able to relax on his way to school, but stopped when he got to the gates. “Where’s Saki? I don’t think she had practice…”

    To be continued…
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  18. #18
    The Quiet One Shift Andromeda's Avatar
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    The school felt busier than usual in spite of missing someone. Students were talking between each other as they walked into the school stopping at the shoe locker taking pause. Girls were running their hands their hair or tidying the mess up from the windy morning. The boys were talking about the latest show or magazine. Some were busily pushing through trying to make morning meetings with the student council. However, when Yuki stepped into the school it did not feel crowded to him and a nagging feeling at his side made him think Saki was next to him the entire time.

    Yuki left the shoe lockers once he was finished and went straight to class. He managed to ignore the bullies in the hall that were looking at him strangely. The classroom was still filling with students in his homeroom, but the more important matter for him was answered. ‘She’s not here either.’ He looked around a second time to be certain and still found nothing.

    Hiroshi had been standing around at the window watching the students coming in when he noticed Yuki with a pensive expression. He walked over to his desk from the window. “Hey, Yuki! You look like you got something on your mind.”

    “Hmm…huh?” Yuki tilted up from his chair seeing Hiroshi was standing next to him. “Hey, Hiroshi!”

    Chapter 17 All Short One

    Hiroshi was not going to let it end simply at the greeting like the distant Yuki seemed to be thinking. “What’s wrong?”

    Yuki pulled out his books from his school bag and flipped through some papers. “I didn’t see Saki this morning.”

    “Yeah, neither have I,” said Hiroshi looking around the classroom for a second look to make sure that she had not suddenly appeared on them. “There’s still a few minutes before class begins.”

    “I know, but it’s not like Saki to be late and she didn’t say anything about practice this morning.”

    “Saki’s a big girl, Yuki. She can handle herself, a lot better than you can.”

    A heavy iron plate fell on Yuki’s shoulders and head from the insult as he tried to shake it off. It was no mystery that Saki was strong and that Yuki was helpless when it came to a fight. “Thanks…Hiroshi.”

    “Hey, sorry man. It’s not your fault that you’re bad at sports and fail in P.E.” Another iron plate fell on Yuki quickly followed up by a third nearly pressing him to the floor. The tired exasperated looked from Yuki was enough to stop Hiroshi joking, though he was already satisfied with how far he went. “I’m just saying. You’ve got nothing to worry about. If she ran into trouble she can take carry of them. Besides, she’s probably just sick and staying home.”

    Yuki let the weight go from him and straightened up to look back at Hiroshi. ‘He’s probably right. Don’t know why I’m so worried about it.’ He put a smile back on his face to reassure Hiroshi that he was feeling better. “Thanks Hiroshi. I guess I’m so used to having Saki nearby that it’s weird when she’s not.”

    The front door of their classroom slid open allowing Ms. Kuniyoshi to enter walking to the front of the class. The class representative called on class to come to order and rise for the teacher. Hiroshi gave an understanding nod to him before rushing off to his seat hoping not to have the attention. “All be seated,” the class rep said. Ms. Kuniyoshi began taking role for the class with peace restored.

    Yuki dragged his eyes forward to see that Saki’s seat was still empty. ‘Where are you Saki?’ Class for everyone went on without Saki, it was only Yuki that seemed to think to the contrary. However, he tried to push it to the back of his mind and focus on his class. He had expected to see her just simply appear sometime during homeroom late and get yelled at by Ms. Kuniyoshi again, but that did not happen. Saki never appeared the entire day at school.

    After school ended Yuki left with Hiroshi, who insisted on going with him, to visit Saki’s home to learn what had happened to her. Ms. Kuniyoshi had no answer for them other than she was reported as sick for the day. Yuki wanted to know what had happened and needed to put aside the weird feeling that he had in his stomach. It was an unexplainable nagging that never went away during class for him no matter how much reassurance that he had. The feeling was pounding even stronger inside him now that he was getting closer to the apartment building.

    He remembered playing with Saki in her home when they were younger and his parents were still alive. Back then his parents and Saki’s parents were close friends and so he was introduction to Saki because of them. She was much different of a person back then having longer hair than now and kinder attitude. She would get into trouble, but would not be able to protect herself. Time had a greater affect on their lives than he realized.

    It had been more than a year since the last time he visited Saki and her parents were not very understanding of him being there. He had still been in middle school then and Saki was his only friend at the time that had not abandoned him. ‘Saki…something’s off about this and I don’t know why.’

    The five story apartment building stood before Hiroshi and Yuki as they gave moment for pause before going to the front door. When they came to the main hall and the stairs in front of them Hiroshi turned to Yuki. “Where is their apartment?”

    “It’s on the fourth floor room 403.” Yuki started up the stairs alone with Hiroshi looking at his back in a little disbelief. They had walked from school to Saki’s apartment building (which really isn’t a long distance from the school) and now it was three sets of stairs to reach their floor. Hiroshi let out a fatigued sigh and went up the stairs catching up to Yuki before he made it to the second floor.

    The apartment building was old from the exterior and it was even clearer the age of the building from the inside. There was no elevator in the building or at least one that worked. All of the walls were lined with cracks or plastered over and painted cracks poorly maintained. The main stairs ran through the middle of the building with a narrow set on the opposite ends that all would groan under weight of any person no matter the size. It was from the reconstruction era of Japan after the war when everything was built up quickly and the building was showing it’s age under an owner that did not have a very caring eye for it. However, the building might have been old and falling apart in appearance, but it managed to be sturdy.

    Yuki and Hiroshi made it to the fourth floor and while Yuki walked forward without much concern to his safety Hiroshi hung to the edges where the wood did not make as much noise. He was slower in reaching the room leaving Yuki to stare confused at him as he eventually reach the door to Saki’s apartment. On the door it was clearly labeled ‘403’ in a rusting metal with splintering wood for the door itself.

    Yuki straightened up beginning to feel nervous about meeting the Furukawas again after the last time that he visited. They had been on good terms since he was young, but a rift developed between them after his father died. He was not certain how welcomed he would be at their door. Saki’s mother no longer approved of Saki spending time with Yuki making it difficult for her to do anything outside of school with him. It left him to take care in the time that they did have. Yuki gave a firm knock to the door and stepped back waiting to see what was going to happen next.

    Hiroshi looked back to Yuki, who was now further from door than Hiroshi, wondering why the sudden change in courage. “You look a little pale, Yuki. Like you expect something to grab you when the door opens.” He stepped over to Yuki’s side coming between the door and him placing his hand on Yuki’s shoulder looking for an answer. “Yuki?”

    “N-No, nothing’s wrong. I’m just b-being p-polite.” He tried to give a comforting smile to show that he was not nervous, but it was a futile effort when his arm was shaking.

    Hiroshi was not convinced by Yuki and put his other hand on Yuki as well not letting this go. “Polite? Then why are you shaking?”

    “I’m giving them room. Don’t want to crowd the door, right? And I’m not shaking.”

    “Hello?” said a voice from behind Hiroshi as well as obstructed by him. Hiroshi turned his head over his shoulder while still holding on to Yuki a little surprised that someone answered the door. It was a middle aged woman with longer still black hair tied back that was dry, but kept. When Yuki came in sight to Saki’s mother her curious and open express quickly disappeared for a narrowed almost angry one. “What do you want? Thought I told you never to come back here. I don’t care how much my daughter tells me that you’ve changed.”

    Hiroshi was unable to say anything taken back by the woman’s sudden assault on Yuki. Yuki placed his hand on Hiroshi’s arm gently giving him steady smile as though he knew what he was doing before stepping around. “I’m sorry for breaking my promise to you, Mrs. Furukawa. I needed to ask you if Saki was feeling alright. She didn’t show up for class today and I was worried.”

    Saki’s mother was quiet after Yuki stopped speaking as though she was considering whether she would say anything to him. “Yeah, she’s sick. Now leave before I call the police.” She closed the door behind her sharply on Yuki kicking his hair back from the force. The door was enough to tell him that he was not welcome and should not press his luck any further to get information.

    Yuki walked away from her apartment making it down the stairs and to the street before Hiroshi caught up to him bringing him to a stop. He grabbed Yuki by his arm preventing him from continuing on. “What was that all about?”

    The past that was shared between Yuki and the Furukawas was a long one and something that Yuki generally avoided thinking about. It was in his past along with everything else that was no longer a part of him. He was a different person back then and there were many things that he did that he regretted now. The Furukawas were one of them. Yuki was not certain if he was ready to tell someone about what he was truly like before high school. All of his new friends knew nothing of his middle school life and the troubles that followed him. ‘I guess it was eventually going to happen. If it was to be anyone Hiroshi should be the one to know.’

    He turned around to face Hiroshi directly making it clear to Hiroshi that he was not going to be trying to run away. Hiroshi let his arm go free. Yuki changed his cheerful expression to a serious narrowed one staring back at Hiroshi. “How much do you know about me before high school?”

    Hiroshi had to think about the question, but quickly knew that he had nothing. “Just that you and Saki are close friends from back then. You’ve never said anything about your past.”

    “Saki is a childhood friend and I used to go to their apartment frequently when I was younger. However, I…” Yuki hesitated on the memories that were coming back to him. The time was painful for him as he looked back at a side that he wished not look at. It was before his mother had died. He had become distant from most of his friends as they could no longer stand to be around him any longer. His personality had been getting violent and almost unstable at times worsening the further after his father’s death time went. ‘Saki had been the only one that stuck by me back then. None of my friends could deal with me any longer. I had arguments with all of them driving them away. They all knew that I had lost my father, but friendship is only so strong. They left me alone and all I could do was fight more. But Saki was at my side. She never left me even when…’

    It was the fall a year and half ago and the school day had just ended. The air was cool with a strong breeze blowing through the school grounds. Their middle school was further away forcing them to travel for more than half an hour to reach their neighborhood. Yuki was in a sour mood, but he was always in a sour mood usually because a fight (which he usually started). Saki was walking along side him looking cheerful enjoying the fall air.

    “Hey Yuki?” Saki said running up ahead of him and turning around to face him.

    “What?” Yuki said shortly in a rough tone with his uniform looking dirty from a fight.

    “Want to go here and get a snack for the walk back?” She pointed to the convention store behind her that they regularly passed by on their walk each day. It was a normal stop for them when they were hungry and take a break or rather when Saki wanted to take a break. Yuki would never bring it up.

    “I guess.” He dug his hands into his pockets walking a little stiff annoyed by the stop. He stayed outside letting Saki go inside to shop for him. Saki knew what he would like to eat that he did not need to be with her. Yuki stepped away from store for a moment to stare up at the sky out of the overhang of the building.

    The atmosphere around the street suddenly changed when three boys in school uniforms from his school appeared, their jackets of their uniform let open showing off their undershirt. The three boys marched towards Yuki with vengeance in their eyes. The two following up the middle one were tightening their fists looking ready to start something immediately. “You Hayashi?” the middle boy said coming just outside of punching distance.

    Yuki turned his tilted back head over to look at who was speaking to him with an unimpressed look in his eyes. “What you weaklings want?” He had put his focus back towards the clouds quickly losing interest in a bunch of babies that could barely swing at him.

    “Weaklings?!” the boy on the left shouted only being held back by the boy in the middle.

    “You beat up my brother pretty good. I’m here to make you answer for it!”

    Yuki no longer gave them acknowledge of his eyes and spoke to the sky. “And you think ganging up on me will make your revenge come true? I’m already in a foul mood and I don’t like weak babies staring at me. Leave my sight before I feel like changing my mind.” The boy on the right was unable to handle being talked down to by Yuki and charged around the middle. He threw his fist wildly at Yuki striking him across the cheek with great surprise and shock to the boy. However, the punch did little other than to darken Yuki’s face and bring his focus down upon the student. Yuki pulled back and released his fist quickly putting it through the boy, who otherwise looked like a model student that got decent grades. The boy was flattened on the ground immediately with a bloodied lip and deeply bruised nose. “I’m more than willing to make the cement drink your blood.”

    The boy on the left began to shaking seeing his friend dropped without hesitation or a chance to fight back. He was considering running away seeing that his chances for coming out alive narrowing. The middle boy charged forward to Yuki in a rage of anger planning his revenge. However, the boy was unable to place a punch on Yuki as Yuki spun around landing his leg in the side of his ribs knocking the wind out of him. Yuki followed it up by sharp fist to the side of the face laying the kid out with a painful groan to cement and blood dripping from the cut.

    Yuki turned to the boy that was shaking trying to back away not wanting to fight anymore. He began to walk over to the student flexing his hand to loosen it up. Saki came out of the store with two plastic wrapped buns in hand looking around for Yuki, who was no longer against the doorframe. “Hey Yuki! I got our snacks!” She turned to the grunting from the two boys on the ground and saw Yuki moving towards a defenseless student that was panicking trying to back away.

    “I-I-I d-don’t want any trouble! Let me go, please!” the boy said backing away.

    “Too late. You three started this.”

    Saki dropped the snacks and ran towards Yuki hoping to stop him before he hurt another. “Yuki! No…!”

    Yuki’s fist was already up in swinging motion when Saki started running and the boy backing away. He was determined to break something on the boy for being too cowardly to even back up his friends. It was cowards that he hated more than weaklings. His fist flashed by on target to the boy’s face, but Saki stepped in the way the last second and he could not pull back in time. The punch collided with Saki’s cheek and jaw making an awful noise on impact streaming blood through the air splashed against the boy’s face that she just protected.

    Saki collapsed to the ground not moving with her eyes empty of light. Yuki dropped to her side immediately shocked at what had happened. ‘I hit Saki…she stepped in my way…’ The boy fled when he realized that he was spared his life leaving his friends behind. “Saki! Can you hear me? Saki! Wake up!” For all of the shaking and shouting that he did she would not wake for him. He did not know what to do for her deciding to carry her back to her home. When he brought her unconscious back to her mother there were too many questions for him answer and screaming panic. Her mother was not able to hold back in front of Yuki.

    “My daughter is hurt because of you! All you do is pick fights. You’ll never be able to do anything else! How can your father above even look at you?! Never go near my daughter ever again! If you so much as touch her I’ll call the police! I knew I shouldn’t have ever let you into this family! Get out of my home!”

    Yuki stepped away constantly getting pressed out by Saki’s mother. He could not say anything back to the tirade that he was assaulted with and knew that she was correct. When the yelling came to an end he simply stepped away. “You won’t see me again.”

    Yuki stood up from the spot that he had been resting at for his story. He looked back at Hiroshi who seemed stunned by the revelation from Yuki. The release of the tale did not bring any comfort to his heart. He was not sure what he had been expecting to happen from sharing it with another. There was no forgiveness that he could expect from relating it to Hiroshi. “I’m sorry you had to hear that.”

    Hiroshi snapped out of his glazed over appearance and turned towards Yuki. He was still taking everything that he in, but he felt like he had to say something before the moment was lost. ‘But what do you say to something like that? I still can’t believe it.’ He placed his gaze on Yuki trying to find a connection or an answer. “Wow… Yuki, I’m not sure what to say. It’s a little hard to believe. You being some angry punk beating up people.”

    “I’ll understand if you don’t want to be friends…”

    “Hey, wait! Sorry, I didn’t mean it like that. I mean the Yuki I know is a hyper happy guy that has a little too vivid of an imagination and a little crazy about your manga. That’s the Yuki I know and who’s my friend. The other Yuki is the past. He’s not you anymore, right?”

    “Uh…yeah…”

    “So, then there are you! It’s in the past. Don’t worry about then. You found out that Saki was just sick. So nothing to worry about. Let’s go home!” Hiroshi slung his arm around Yuki’s neck and started to drag him down the street giving him a rough time. ‘Hard to imagine him hurting anyone…’

    “Alright…”

    Yuki and Hiroshi walked down the street starting to come near to the intersection that led to his house. The two were joking and laughing forgetting about what was talked about before. However, as they made it around the corner of the street a dark figure stood in front of them. The shadow swayed back and forth in the shade of the tree coming towards the two. They nervously stepped backwards uncertain what was happening until the person came out of the darkness into the sunlight. A dirty and messy Saki in her school uniform collapsed in the road in front of them.

    “Saki!” Yuki said rushing to her side.

    To be continued…
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  19. #19
    The Quiet One Shift Andromeda's Avatar
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    “Saki!” Yuki shouted rushing over to Saki’s collapsed body. A million questions ran through his head trying to understand what was wrong with her. ‘I thought she was at home… What’s she doing here? What’s wrong with Saki? Why did she collapse?’ He grabbed her up from the street letting her rest against him in a seated position. “Can you hear me, Saki?”

    Chapter 18 – The Broken Watch

    Hiroshi felt the flood of emotions and panic wash over him. He tried to keep himself in control, but he had never seen Saki in such a state before. It had looked like she was in a fight and badly lost it with the bruises and dirt that covered her. Even her clothes were ripped from something or someone. ‘What did she get herself into? If they did this to Saki…’ He placed his hand on Yuki’s shoulder to grab his attention away from Saki for a moment. “Yuki, we should get her out of her to rest.”

    “Yeah…you’re right.”

    “I’ll help you…” Hiroshi started to move to the other side of Saki to give Yuki aid, but found that his assistance was not needed. Yuki had already put his arms under her legs and back lifting her up in his arms holding her close to his chest. Hiroshi stood with his mouth agape watching Yuki walk away from him hardly missing a motion. “I guess you don’t need my help.” It took Hiroshi a moment to catch his mind up that he was being left behind by Yuki to hurry to his side. ‘I guess he’s stronger than he looks. Maybe there’s more truth to that story than I gave him credit for.’ When he reached Yuki’s side he looked over to him seeking an answer. “Where are you going? Her apartment is behind us.”

    “I can’t take her to her mother looking like this.”

    “But she’ll figure it out eventually. Saki’s missing right now.”

    “All the more reason to find out what happened before her mother does find out. My house is just up the street. She’ll be safe there.” Yuki guided Hiroshi to his house trying to keep his mind focused and far from fearful thoughts that tried to explain what happened to Saki. He did not want to consider what it was or jump to conclusions (although he had already jumped too many before even touching Saki).

    From further down the street Ayumi came walking towards the two of them. She had already changed out of her school uniform into a simple red dress. When she saw Yuki carrying someone in his arms she hastened her pace to reach them before they made it to the threshold. “Is everything alright, Yuki? Is that Saki?!” She ran around Hiroshi meeting up with Yuki at the doorway looking down at Saki. “What happened to her?”

    Yuki turned his head away trying to hide the rising emotions of regret, failure and anger away from her. “I don’t know…”

    Hiroshi caught up to Ayumi and pulled her away from Yuki letting him have room. “It’ll be alright. Saki’s strong.” He held her back at her shoulders keeping her close to him feeling her struggling against him.

    The pounding that Yuki slammed against the door was finally answered in slow fashion by his younger brother, Jun. It only took him a split second to change from a blank expression to a panicked one that was quickly melting into uselessness. Jun ran away a moment later disappearing into the house leaving the three to sweat embarrassed. Yuki shook off his stalled disbelief and pushed through into the house quickly making his way to the living room. He knelt down to ease Saki on to the couch letting her lay straight with her head resting against a pillow. “Saki… I-I…”

    Hiroshi and Ayumi stepped into the living room keeping a safe distance away not certain to do. Yuki turned back to them coming to meet eyes with Ayumi and piercing through her mask trying to see if she would be able to help. None of them knew what was wrong with Saki and even less about what needed to be done. Yuki stood up walking away from them looking up the stairs. “Ken! Where are you, Ken?” A few more shouts finally revealed Ken behind him coming from the back of the house.

    “What’s all the shouting about?”

    “I need you to show Hiroshi where the blankets are and bring one back.” Yuki looked over to his friend with eyes that said he needed his help. Hiroshi silently agreed and followed behind Ken up the stairs. Yuki turned back to Ayumi now that he was alone with her. “Can you do anything to help her?”

    “You’re over reacting. You need to calm down and relax.”

    “Can you or can’t you?”

    “Probably, but you can’t always be dependent on my power or your power.”

    Yuki was fighting back the urge to shout at Ayumi knowing that it would only cause more troubles. He had to do this quickly before they came back. “…I don’t care… What good is having the power if you don’t use when it’s needed?! Saki’s hurt. She needs help!” He grabbed Ayumi’s arms trying to plead with her. Saki needed him now. He had been barely holding back everything in a dam that he felt was going to break at any moment. The last time he could do nothing for her and regretted it. He was not going to allow that to happen again. “Please…”

    “…Fine…” Ayumi removed her arms from Yuki and walked over to Saki’s side. The unconscious girl looked peaceful through all of the beating that she had taken. Ayumi closed her eyes and concentrated quickly to provide a fast aid to her that would be as quiet as possible. A soft faint almost invisible blue glow came around her that faded away immediately drawn in thin threads on to Saki’s body seeking out any injury to mend. ‘Most of what she has are just surface bruises, nothing deep. There’s not much I can do aside from push along the natural healing process.’

    Yuki watched over Ayumi’s shoulder holding his hands together squeezing them tightly. ‘Saki… please be alright…’ The tap of feet and whining boards from up stairs grew louder as Ken and Hiroshi drew to the steps. Yuki placed his hand on Ayumi shoulder alerting her to their presence. “They’re coming back,” he said under his breath.

    The faint light that Ayumi was emanating from her disappeared shattered to vapor. She stood up regaining her usual face that was heavily wrinkled in worry. She stepped away letting Hiroshi hand over the blanket to Yuki. Once Saki was covered up and allowed to rest they retreated to the kitchen to keep an ear out for when Saki would wake. Yuki sent his brother back to search for Jun to make sure that he was alright. When Ken was gone Yuki turned to his friends who both had uncertain faces. “What should we do? I’m worried about Saki, but…”

    Hiroshi could see that Yuki was starting to lose it for how much he had been holding it together. “Hey man. It’ll be alright. Like I said before Saki’s strong. A little rest and she’ll be up kicking me into the pavement.”

    Yuki choked on a laugh at Hiroshi’s joke breaking in a smile that felt painful. “Yeah…”

    “Do you know what happened to her?” said Ayumi stepping into the conversation making the two boys realize that she was out of the loop. She had not been brought up to speed and the way that Yuki was acting she was not certain if he was overreacting.

    Hiroshi stepped in seeing that Yuki was not able to respond. “We don’t much. We found her barely walking in the street before she collapsed. What you see is how we found her.”

    “Saki…what can we…” Ayumi voice began to break up with the bubbling emotions rising up pushing tears. She tried to wipe them away quickly, but could not work fast enough to keep them at bay.

    The stream of tears from Ayumi made Hiroshi panic a little not wanting to have the girl crying, but also not knowing what he could do. ‘Great…first Yuki and now Ayumi… Yuki just better not start crying…’ Hiroshi tried to give a reassuring hand to Ayumi, but caught out of the corner of his eye that Yuki was starting to lose it. He let out a long sigh and pulled out chairs for the two of them to sit down. Hiroshi stepped out of the kitchen becoming a little embarrassed by the scene developing (especially since Ayumi was faking it).

    In the living room it was quieter, though Saki’s presence made the room feel heavy. Hiroshi took an uncomfortable seat in the end chair that gave him a view of Saki. “Can’t believe this happened to you… You’re always charging in beating up bullies for Yuki. And now you’re lying here…” Hiroshi dug his face into his legs as he drew up closer.

    “…Yu…ki…” said a strained voice from Saki’s lips. Her body started to move slightly and her eyes flicker open.

    The low groans and sounds from Saki caught up to Hiroshi pulling his head up and turning to Saki. When he confirmed that he was not dreaming it he turned to the kitchen. “Yuki! Saki’s awake!” Saki was already trying to sit up, but a pained bite across her lips pulled Hiroshi back. “Hey, don’t over do it. Just lie down.”

    “Yuki…”

    “Saki?” Yuki said from the edge of the living room before he sprinted over to her side dropping to the floor to meet with her eyes. “Saki! I-I…” Emotions of relief and joy overcame his words choking them before they could get out. He reached out his hand resting it on her hand needing to have the contact to remove any thought he could be dreaming. “Saki…”

    Hiroshi stepped in between the two seeing that Yuki was too buried in his feelings to be able to talk properly. “I think what he’s wanting to say is ‘how are you feeling?’”

    “Where am I?” Saki said trying to look around from her position, but finding it too difficult to move. She tried to pull back away from all of the faces that she was getting in front of her becoming unnerved by the attention.

    “You’re in my house,” Yuki said.

    Saki was feeling a little better and broached the effort to sit up. This time her body did not protest as painfully for her, but it put Yuki on edge. She gave him a comforting smile to ease his concern that she could read so easily.

    “Easy. You were banged up pretty good,” Hiroshi said trying to give his aid to Saki where he could.

    “What am I doing in your house?” she said once she was sitting up in the couch with the blanket on her lap. She was getting looks from the others and feeling like she was an invalid. It was a helpless feeling that she did not like.

    Yuki, Hiroshi and Ayumi turned their heads to each other in silent stares as though they were communicating to each other without words. When they finished their telepathy Yuki leaned in having become the elected leader. “Well we were sort of hoping that you could tell us. We found you down the street barely standing before you collapsed in front of us. We brought you back here so that you could rest.” At the end of Yuki’s words they lean in a little towards Saki awaiting an answer to the mystery.

    Saki pulled back from the ganging up that she was receiving from her friends coming to a loss at their reactions. Her mind was still catching up to what was happening to her immediately that she had not thought about why she was in the state that she was. “I collapsed? Outside…” Various images caught in the filters of her mind were slowly piecing together events. ‘What was it… I was…’ Saki tried to go back to the start when it happened. “I was… doing something… important I think…” The gears were turning in her head, but it was slow dragging their feet along as though they did not want to be let outside for everyone to see. Saki pressed her palm against her forehead pushing through her hair straining at the edge of her memories.

    “Important? What were you doing?” Hiroshi said pressing her.

    Having Hiroshi in her face made her angry almost instantly. She threw her other hand out hitting him on the top of his head with her fist. “Stupid, I’m trying to remember. So shut up!”

    The assault was enough to quiet Hiroshi and turn him a little blue while Yuki and Ayumi stared on sweating in embarrassment. “Guess she’s feeling better…” he said under his breath.

    “Did it have anything to do with why you were late to class yesterday?” Yuki said hoping that it would help trigger something for Saki.

    ‘Yesterday… Hitomi!’ A light in her mind had just turned on revealing how all of the pieces fit together for her. All of the events from the other day came back to her so quickly that she was overwhelmed with the memories. Saki took a heavy breath propping herself with her hand against the couch as she played through the images that became memories.

    “Saki!? Are you alright?” Yuki said quickly coming to her aid placing his hand on her hand looking up at her unable to hold back the wrinkled panic that was enveloping him. “You should lie down.”

    Saki pulled herself back up having caught her breath and leaned against the couch. “No… I just remembered it too quickly. I’ll be fine.”

    “So you know what happened?”

    Saki evened out the blanket on her lap before she began her story. “After school I was with Hitomi, from track. She was worried about a friend of hers who had gotten sick. She wanted me to go with her to Takako’s house…” Her mind went back to the day before walking through the steps that lead up to what happened. It was the only way she could sort and process everything that was hitting her at once.

    A minute later of waiting a reply over the speaker came. “Yes? We aren’t interested in anything you’re selling.” The voice was deep and old with a little crack in the speech. It made the two girls step back expecting that they would see someone rather than a voice.

    “U-Uh…I’m sorry,” Hitomi said finding the courage to speak while Saki kept a placid face trying to look like she belonged. “We aren’t selling anything. We’re classmates of Takako.”

    “I see. Well Miss Takako is not here currently.”

    Hitomi looked back at Saki as though she was expecting an answer to explain what she was just told. It was plainly clear to her that the instant glance at Saki told her that she had no answers. She turned back to the speaker. “What? But we were told that she was sick. We have her assignments for her.”

    “You may leave her things in the box. I’ll inform her of your visit. Thank you.” The voice ended and a clicking sound that seemed to tell them silently to leave.

    “What does this mean? The school says she’s sick and her family says she’s out.” Hitomi looked back at Saki wanting something from her this time. She was at a loss as to what was going on, but there was something being hidden by someone.

    Saki had no more of a clue to what was going on than Hitomi, but it had been made clear to them that someone was lying. She did not know why they were doing it, but this was not going to be as simple as she thought anymore. ‘What’s going on?’ However, it was clear to her that it was going to be impossible, short of breaking into the grounds, of getting anything more from her family or even confirming if she was home or not. She turned away from the gate walking back into the street still pensive over the contradiction.

    Hitomi rushed over to Saki’s side when she saw that she was no longer near. The worry was still heavily plastered on her face unwilling or unable to be pulled away. The mystery that they faced only made it more difficult for Hitomi to be brought to ease. “What should we do, Saki? None of this makes sense. Saki?”

    Saki had become cornered again through her thinking and Hitomi was not going to let her go until she gave some sort of answer, hopefully the right one. Unfortunately, there were no answers that she had come up with. The facts were too few to work with and they were cut off at every chance. They were left with little to nothing. ‘If only there was some way or someone that would listen and be able to get the answers for us. Heh…if it was that easy I wouldn’t be out here. Wait…that might be it…’ Saki knew someone that she could talk to that would get an answer for her that she could press for more than just a simple line. “We can talk to my dad. He’s a teacher at the school. So he should be able to get some answers for us.”

    “Really? He’d help us?” A hopeful shine came across Hitomi from Saki offer. It seemed to brighten everything up in her features.

    Saki nodded back to her. “Yup! It’s probably too late to find him at school, but I’ll talk to him when I get home. Alright?” The delay did not sit well with Hitomi and Saki picked up on it immediately. She thought quickly grabbing up her hands to console her. “I’ll call you after I talk to him. It’ll be alright.”

    “Thank you, Saki. I’m sorry I’m causing you so much trouble.”

    “It’s fine. Now let’s get back to the station before it gets too dark.” Saki started taking Hitomi along with her away from Takako’s house until she walked completely on her own. They slowly made their way through the narrow streets keeping the train station in their view as a marker. Saki was glad that Hitomi had calmed down, but feared what sort of answers she would get from her father.

    Hitomi began to get ahead of Saki until she suddenly tripped over something that sent her to the ground roughly. She had managed to catch herself before it was too serious, but her palms were bruised. Saki rushed over to Hitomi’s side to help her up. “What did I hit?”

    “Probably just a crack.”

    “I think my leg’s caught...” Hitomi looked up at Saki and then back down to see what was holding her leg in place. There was a thick vine that had become tangled around her ankle. “My leg won’t…come free…” She pulled on her leg to break free, but the vine was stubborn. Saki helped her, but still did not make any progress. Saki went to the source and grabbed the vine trying to break it, but it grew spontaneously wrapping around her arm.

    “My arm! It’s too strong…”

    “Saki!” Hitomi screamed as more vines came up from the ground wrapped around Hitomi tying her to the ground. Fear and panic were quickly setting in for her trying to reach for Saki for help, but her free arm was immediately grabbed by the vines and pulled back.

    “Hitomi! Agh!” Saki was caught up in the vines just as quickly, but managed to break her arm free snapping the vines. However, her victory was short as several even thicker vines than before grabbed her and tied her down to the street tightly. As she struggled to get free a purple flower grew from the vine around her neck. The flower bud grew to nearly half the size of her face before it stopped. It slowly opened itself facing towards her releasing pollen into her face that caused her to cough and feel lightheaded. “Hitomi…”

    Before Saki lost consciousness she caught a shadowed figure staring down at her with a familiar circular badge shining on their left shoulder.

    To be continued…
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  20. #20
    The Quiet One Shift Andromeda's Avatar
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    “You saved me, Yuki! Thank you!” a young Saki said to a young Yuki in the middle of a park playground. There were three slightly older boys, a year older, laying in the grass bruised and slightly blooded from an altercation with Yuki. Saki had tears in her eyes and covered in dirt from behind thrown around by the boys.

    Yuki was grinning partly with pride and partly embarrassed by the praise. He patted Saki trying to comfort her and keep her from crying. “I promise…”

    The fog around Saki’s head began to clear making her start to sense her surroundings. She attempted to budge from wherever she was laying, but everything felt stiff to her. All of her body was barely responding to her unwilling to move to her requests. Saki was forced to stay on the hard cold floor that she slowly began to feel with her senses warming up and returning to her. It left her with a deep solitude that she had not remembered for a long time. The old forgotten feelings were coming over her slow crawling uncertainty and concern for the unknown. She hated those emotions and had tried to leave them behind her in the past along with the little girl.

    ‘I promise…’ said the little boy Yuki, ‘I promise that I will always protect you. So you don’t have to cry anymore.’

    ‘Yuki…’ Saki thought not certain why memories of her past were suddenly being recalled by her.

    Chapter 19 – Forgotten Child

    The room was beginning to become clear to Saki as her vision returned to focus. She was able see where she was finally no longer in a void of confusion. The cement floor that she was laying on stretched out for the entire room that was hardly even a room when she examined it. It looked like she was warehouse or some large storage facility that there was only one room, but it was the entire structure. Around her, there were iron bars that were meant as a prison or jail cell for her, but she was not the only one to be in the warehouse. As she searched the modestly empty space (there were only a few crates and machines laying around) she saw other cells like hers lined along the wall and in another row across from her. There seemed to be too many for her count clearly, but at least twenty or more. Most of the cells seemed to be empty, but there was a variety of people young, adult and old left to wait until their fate was decided. “What is this place? Who are all these people?”

    Saki took a chance to move again starting to get the feeling back into her legs enough that she had confidences in standing this time. Her legs were slow to move for her as though she had never used them before, but after a moment they remembered and quickly turned. As she began to stand up her head quickly lost balance feeling light. She fell back against the iron bars as she tried to recover herself causing an uneasy rattling through the bars that echoed through the room alerting the others to the new resident. However, Saki was not about to give up and used the pain in her back to force herself back up. The bruises along her skin were pushed off and her legs slapped the ground firmly planting in defiance. A determined expression rolled across Saki’s face as she cautiously walked, rather dragged, herself over to the edge of the cell that was connected to the next.

    “Hello?” Saki called out to the person that was her neighbor. When she looked closely she recognized that they were wearing a girl’s school uniform from Monou High School. Upon seeing this Saki pressed against the bars trying to see better. “Hello? Can you hear me?”

    There was a slight movement from the girl, but Saki kept trying to get her attention. Eventually, the girl turned over revealing to be bruised and battered as though she had been dragged behind a car through the dirt. “Who’s there?”

    “Excuse me… Huh… You go to Monou High School right?”

    “Yeah?” The girl’s hair covered most of her face preventing her from being recognized.

    Saki gave a sigh of relief to know that there was someone that she might know that was in the same situation as her. She had not been able to find Hitomi in her search making this the first person that might be able to help her out. “That’s good.”

    “No! No!” The girl had suddenly backed away pushing herself across the floor with her hands into the opposite corner of the cell away from Saki. “Please! No more! I’ll do…anything…please…” The girl tried to bury her face in her legs making herself as small as possible. She could not look at Saki for more than second before she had ran away. Her entire body was shaking against the bars making the bolts rattle. “Please…no…”

    “But I…” Saki stretched out her arm through the bars knowing that it could not reach, but hoped that she could calm her down. When she saw that it was only making matters worse for her she drew back looking down pensive. ‘She so scared of something… what happened to her? Was it that dark shadow I saw before?’ Saki walked away letting the girl have peace from her. The room was staring back at her with many soulless eyes that did not seem to have a light of hope in them. They looked like they were just waiting to accept their end and were no longer living, but simply existing in their bodies. ‘What’s going on? Why am I here?’ All the room felt like it was quietly screaming that slowly drained away the chance of escape and built chains around each person.

    A sound of something being unlocked far to the distance bounced through the warehouse alerting everyone breaking them into muddled crackle of fear. Saki watched the people crawl into the corners of their cells away from the door as much as possible. The door far at the end of the warehouse opened complaining to be oiled. Out of the entrance two shadowed figures appeared to block the light that was being cast.

    ‘Everyone’s terrified… who is this person?’ Saki stared from the middle of her cell as the dark figure came closer into the pathway between the two rows of cells. As they approached it became clear to Saki that one was being carried or dragged along when they were unable to keep up with the leading figure. When the large figure finally came into a pool of light that illuminated their face Saki tried to trap her gasp of surprise from seeing what was coming towards her.

    The figure that had to be a man from the shape of his body masked his face away behind a twist of vines and flowers. The moving plants wrapped around his head leaving only small slits for eyes. Along his shoulders the vines thinned out undulating along his body draped each with a life of their own slowly migrating over the surface of a white shirt and pants. A thick vine wrapped around the man’s left arm extending behind him covering up the other almost beyond recognition.

    Saki could only manage to catch small amounts of the person exposed through the vine that tightly held on. It was in continual movement over the person’s body changing every few seconds what she could see. She stared on trying not to look at the man hoping to know who the person was. ‘That’s our school uniform!’ Saki had seen enough that put it together for her, but she had still not been able to see the person’s face. ‘Hitomi!’ she thought nearly shouting when she saw the vines move away from her face long enough to be seen. Saki rushed to edge of her cell, still several cells away from Hitomi, pressing against the bars trying to see if she was hurt. Once Hitomi was within reach of Saki she stretched out her arm through the bars trying to get to the unconscious Hitomi. “Hitomi! Can you hear me?”

    Her actions drew the attention of the man that was dragging her through the floor. He turned his hand towards her and stretched out his fingers letting vines suddenly grow from down his arm towards Saki. She drew back, but not in time to avoid all of the vines that were grabbing at her. The plants took her by the arms tying them together and picking her up by the waist. Saki futilely struggled against the thick vines until they threw her against the back of the cell releasing to fall to the ground. Battered and bruised more Saki could barely move feeling fuzzy from the impact. “Hitomi…”

    The man continued on dragging Hitomi behind him with her unable to keep up the pace. When he came to an empty cell the vines opened the door for him and those holding her tossed her inside unceremoniously. She slid without resistance across the cement coming to a stop after faint ripping of cloth was heard. All that left her lips was a dull cough as though she was not awake. The cell door closed behind and the man left the warehouse.

    Saki dragged herself across the floor to the cell bars that were closer to Hitomi. She struggled lifting her head up to see Hitomi, but she felt a little better seeing that Hitomi was still breathing. ‘She looks so drained. What did he do to her? Did he do this to all of them? What is with those vines…its like he can control them…’ Saki’s eyes had opened wide when her thoughts finally came together piecing the images of the assassin that attacked Yuki in the school yard and the man with the vines. ‘Their clothes are the same and that circle emblem on their shoulder too. Then he is like that assassin. Why is he not going after Yuki? Is he preparing since the other one lost?’ The questions that were spinning in her head made her feel weak again suddenly. She dropped her head to the floor no longer able to keep the strength up. ‘…Yuki…’

    ‘Back then it was different. I was so helpless that I couldn’t do anything to protect myself from the bullies. They always seemed to pick on me for the stupidest reasons. It was usually because I was different looking than they were. My father is Japanese, but my mother is American. Children can find anything to fight about.’

    “Are you hurt Saki?” Yuki, age six, said after he beat up the bullies, age seven. He helped Saki stand back up and returned her toy back to her that the other boys had taken.

    “Thank you, Yuki! I’m fine.” Saki turned around after nodding to Yuki and walked back to her sister, age five. “Here, Noriko. Yuki got back your doll!” She bent over showing it to Noriko who had been crying the entire time. Saki wiped away her tears when she stopped seeing it in front of her.

    ‘I had tried to get her doll back from the bullies, but they were older than me. All I had was my mouth and it easily got me into trouble. But Yuki protected me as he did every time I got into trouble. Ever since we first met he was always standing between them and me so I didn’t get hurt. I never understood until later why he did it.’

    As the sun went down they finished playing and stood up having been free to play without interruption. Saki and Noriko began walking back to their apartment with Yuki following alongside them. He walked with them to the fork in the street and then turned with them. Saki quickly came to a stop staring at him confused. “Did you forget, your house is up there, Yuki.”

    “I want go home with you!”

    “Is it okay?”

    “Yeah, mom and dad are too busy with Jun.” Yuki walked up nonchalantly to encourage them to go ahead with him. Saki was not going to argue as she was happy with the idea of spending more time with Yuki.

    ‘He seemed happy then, but he would be looking for the next fight. Yet he only would when one of his friends was in trouble. Even though he seemed angry underneath it was only ever in defense that he fought. It was just me to start, but then others. As he grew we all looked to him to save us from our troubles, especially me. I ran to him, but things had to change.’

    “Wow Yuki, you really saved me!” a friend of Yuki’s said.

    “It’s alright. They were punks,” Yuki, age ten, said back to his friend. He ran his hands deep into his pockets and marched off away from the elementary school. His face was slightly red painting his rough angled face an almost rosy hue.

    “Yuki! You heading home?” Saki, age ten, said as she rushed out of the school grounds with her long hair blowing behind her catching in her face a little. Once she had caught up to him she pulled the strains of hair out of her face letting them settle back.

    “Yea…”

    “You should really stop picking so many fights, Yuki.”

    “Whatever…”

    “Yuki!” Saki narrowed his eyes in frustration knowing that he was ready for a fight and just needed a reason. Several older boys from the neighboring middle school stood in the sidewalk block their path. Saki stopped becoming hesitant from the looming glares that were etched across their faces. It was clear that they were looking for trouble and Yuki continued on past them as though they were not even in his way. Saki did not know what to think becoming almost embarrassed.

    “Hey! You’re that tough kid from Nayoi aren’tcha?” The boys were coming frustrated for being ignored by Yuki. “Hey, I’m talking to you!” Yuki continued down the sidewalk not even twitching. “You can’t ignore me!” The boy charged from the group with him going after Yuki with his fist held out. The fist had hit Yuki hard in the back of his head knocking him to the ground forcing his schoolbag to fly into the air. “Huh? Not so tough?” The boy kicked Yuki in the ribs getting a painful groan from him that seemed to draw out great pleasure for the middle school student.

    ‘He had been getting worse in his fighting, but would simply brush off those that were looking to fight him. If they came to him wanting to fight he just ignored them. He would go so far as to let them hit him and look like he didn’t care. I never understood. Yet if someone was in trouble he never hesitated a second carrying a grin the entire time.’

    Saki tried to run through to help Yuki, but she was stopped by the other boys. “Yuki!” The boys grabbed her arms holding to back as she flailed struggling against them. “Help me, Yuki!” she said coming to tears. The words made it to his ears as he lay on the ground and his eyes snapped open wide. The boy’s leg that was going for another swing was suddenly brought to a stop by Yuki’s hand. Saki smiled in relief to see that he was not hurt.

    ‘I wasn’t in any real danger, but I knew if I said something he would fight back. I couldn’t let him just take it. It was then that I realized… I knew that it was me…’

    All of the boys laid across the sidewalk bloodied and sore, but more wounded in pride for having been beaten by an elementary student. Yuki walked over to Saki helping her up from the ground where she had watched it all happened staring in surprise. She looked up at Yuki feeling sad suddenly. “Why?”

    “I promised you. I would never let anyone make you cry.”

    ‘I knew that he would use me for his fights and I would use him to protect me. I couldn’t let that continue. I promised myself that day I would become stronger so that he didn’t have to protect me. So that he would be able to stop his fighting and I wouldn’t need to be saved. I promised myself that I wouldn’t need to be protected.’

    “What?! Are you sure dear?” Saki’s mother said shocked by Saki out of the blue announcement.

    Saki stared up at her mother determined and not willing to back down from what she had decided. “Yes! I want to learn martial arts!”

    ‘I was determined and mom tried many times to change my mind. But I was going to learn how to protect myself. I cut my long hair that I was so proud of and confirmed my resolve that night that I would change. I began taking classes when I was ten. Later I took up track in middle school and I still practice at the dojo today all so Yuki no longer has to fight. He can stay the way he is now.’

    Saki opened her eyes feeling the strength returning back to her body. The pain across her back spiked with needles, but she bit through it to stand up. She did not have the luxury of lying on the ground while she was locked away.

    From the far side of the warehouse wall the door unlocked and opened. The man covered in plants appeared once more walking down the aisle of cells. He came to stop in front of Saki’s cell staring at her with a hollow glow from the darkness behind the vines that covered his eyes.

    Saki stared back the man not fearing what she was seeing having a better understanding now of what he was. There was some uncertainty still in her, but she was ready. ‘I don’t need you to keep that promise anymore. I can stand on my own. Yuki.’

    To be continued…
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  21. #21
    The Quiet One Shift Andromeda's Avatar
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    ‘…Yuki…’ Saki stepped forward towards the man showing that she was not afraid of him and willing to go with him unchallenged. She had questions of her own that she needed to discover and cooperating with him could get her closer. ‘I have to get Hitomi out of this…’ When the cell door opened and the vines came to grab Saki she stepped forward letting them wrap around her arm and waist. She was not as covered in plants as Hitomi had been making her believe that there was a degree of respect that she was being given for her attitude. Saki walked out of the cell on her leash that she had been granted and stood next to him waiting for him to move.

    The man closed the cell door and began walking down the aisle followed up by Saki a moment later. All of the others trapped held back half trying to keep from sight and half puzzled by Saki’s reactions. ‘…I’ll come back for you…’

    Chapter 20 – Waking the Courage

    The heavy steel door at the far end of the warehouse that had only been heard and barely seen stood before them ajar waiting. The man of vines pulled the door open giving Saki the lead for the moment. He followed behind her bringing the door to a tight close and placing the thick locking mechanism into place.

    The room behind the door was bright from an exposed bulb hanging from the ceiling by only the electrical wiring. It was accompanied by several other bulbs attached at the walls of the room painting all of the surfaces in a bleached white. The amount of light made it difficult to see details or judge the scale of the room. At the center of the room, there were two chairs. One of the chairs had straps at the arm rest and back of the chair as well as where the legs would lay. The other was a simple metal chair that was just out of the main pool of light from the ceiling.

    Saki looked back towards the door out of the corner of her eye when the echoing noise of the door behind her pounded against the wall. She tried to look around the room in the short moments that she had, but it proved to be futile. ‘It looks like an interrogation with all of the lights and the chair. It’s making it so hot…’

    The man passed by her, keeping the vines wrapped around her, going to the chair that would be meant for Saki. He arranged the straps attached to the chair getting it prepared for use. Once it was readied the vines pulled on Saki forcing her to walk towards the chair. The intention was made clear before by the appearance. Saki had cooperated so far that she was not going to start disobeying even though there was a heavy uncertainty weighing on her shoulders. ‘What’s he planning?’ She sat down in the chair allowing him to tie her down, but she was curious know the purpose if it was going to be an interrogation.

    He released the vines from Saki when he was finished with her. Afterwards, the man walked over to the second chair sitting down staring through the void of the black gaps in the vines at Saki. A minute in silence passed before a light shined between them turning into form. Out of the ground came a rectangular box that slowly morphed into a rounded smoothed surface that attached itself with a bolted leg to the cement ground. The still changing form soon became a monitor screen and panel with several holes along the back pointing towards Saki. There was a semi-organic appearance in the strange object that was made from plastic and metal.

    The man leaned forward placing his hands on the panel that lit up upon his contact glowing from beneath. In front of him a static filled screen shined in his face awaiting an image. His fingers tapped across the panel making a series of low noises before a final louder beep could be heard that signaled an accepted task. Out of the holes came wires with a life of their own flying towards Saki setting her off guard. The wires expanded at the end into flat circles that attached themselves to Saki’s forehead and face.

    ‘What’s going on? What’s he going to do to me?’ Saki did not feel any pain from the wires, but the strange sense that something was about to happen that carried a black dread. She heard beeping sounds from out of the thick light that surrounded her preventing her from seeing. The uncertainty that she had grew to fill her entire body weighing her down and making her start to sweat. ‘I can handle this…’

    The static on the monitor warped for a moment and cycled starting to warm up in preparation. The final commands were input into the machine by the man. The screen sharply snapped to an image of Saki along with data and vitals running across the bottom. A jolt from the machine sparked through into Saki shaking her body and widening her eyes suddenly as she felt like a needle was being stabbing into her eye. The stabbing pain pierced through scrapping along her mind making her pull and turn in the straps trying to get the through the pain. ‘It feels…like…something is…invading me…I can’t…stop it…’

    The first wave of pain came to a stop giving Saki a moment to breath. She leaned against her bindings panting heavily trying to recover herself knowing that it would not be the end. ‘What was that? What is he doing to me?’ Saki could feel the sweat over her body soaking into her cloths. It had only been a few seconds, but it was the most excruciating pain she had ever felt before. ‘I feel it returning…’ Saki grounded her teeth together making them whine under the pressure and drip blood. The next wave was like dozens of needles all stabbing into her from different sides probing deeper into her brain and twisting uncaring through each corner ripping up everything as it passed. She tried to hold back her voice, but the pain was overcoming her threshold to withstand.

    On the monitor were displayed grainy images to the man that poorly lit his eyes that hid behind the vines. Each of the images did not last for long, but showed a young Yuki playing as well as Saki’s mother. There were pictures of a classroom filled with elementary students. An annoyed twist in the vines rolled across his face as he began to manipulate the panel. The images began to gray and blurred suddenly rapidly changing.

    Striking pain racked through her head pushing deeper fighting against Saki’s weakening resolve. The surge that struck her broke the last efforts she had to hold back in silence her suffering bringing tears and screams. ‘I can’t…take this…my head is…being pulled apart…’ Saki tried to pull at the chair to get free from the invasion, but it was too strong for her. It was too much for she to endure anymore. It had to stop or she would die.

    The images on the screen slowed down once more becoming clearer showing an older Yuki and classroom from her high school. The monitor flipped through images still searching out something into the depths of Saki’s mind reaching closer to the present. It was becoming clear that the subject was weakening making it easier to scan, but not much time remained. The monitor went through pictures quickly still hunting down what it was ordered. Then everything came to a stop suddenly sitting on image that had Yuki and Ayumi walking in a school hall together.

    All of the pain came to an abrupt end for Saki as she was able to drop back in the chair slumped over with the straps being the only thing keeping her from falling over. ‘Is it over? I can’t feel…anything…’ Saki tried to pull herself together, but nothing was moving for her. She could not even feel the sweat that was thinly coating her entire skin. Every nerve ending on her body was raw and ringing. It was as though static was flowing through her. ‘I-I…Hitomi…’

    The man stood up from his chair letting the monitor and everything with it retract and disappear into the ground. He stepped over to the chair that held Saki beginning to undo the straps on her. His vines were surrounding her waiting until she was free to be taken away. When the last strap on her Saki’s leg was being loosened Saki focused in eyes and summoned her body back together. Her leg ripped through the strap, already nearly freed, striking the man in the chest knocking him back. Saki stood up on the chair using it for height, since it was anchor to the ground by bolts, launching herself with her knee up connecting it with the man’s chest up to his chin. He fell backwards over his chair to the ground with the vines laying still. ‘He’s still awake… got to hurry…’

    Saki came to a landing on the floor rolling into the wall not having planned after throwing everything she had left into her leg. It had been enough to momentarily stun the man, but she knew from Yuki and his fight that the power remains until they are dead or unconscious. ‘Anything? This light is too bright…’ Saki pulled herself up while she scanned the room trying to get a better view, but still only seeing the bleached walls. She ran her hands over the walls feeling out for anything that she could find until she discover glass. Saki ran over picking up the metal chair that the man had been using and threw it at the glass scattering it.

    The hole breathed fresh cool air into the humid room and giving her an exit. Saki climbed up without a second thought getting halfway through the window before her leg was grabbed by a vine from the man starting to act. ‘No! I got to get out!’ Saki struggled against the plant that was tightly wrapped around her ankle pulling at her. Her waist that was on the window seal pressed against the broken glass tearing into her school uniform. Saki braced her arms against the outside wall putting all of her weight against the leg feeling it start to stretch slightly like it would pop out on her. She bit through the pain knowing it was paling in comparison to what she had already been through. The struggle gained Saki more ground getting her body almost out of the window. On the ground out of the corner of her eye a shard of glass that she broke was in reach of her.

    She lowered her arm down fighting against the strain on her to reach the glass. Her fingers rolled over the edge bringing it a little closer to her grasp. A bit more stretching was all Saki needed as her fingers quickly picked up the shard. Saki bent up to the window getting the glass against the vine that was holding on to her and cut through it using it like a knife quickly dropping her to the grass. Out of the window countless vines suddenly appear grasping out for her. Saki rolled across the grass getting up to her feet and running away from the warehouse as fast as her legs could take her.

    The man pulled the vines back from the window looking out from the hole watching her disappear into the street. There seemed to be a satisfied and uncaring noise coming out of him as he turned away and walked to the door to the main warehouse.

    “And I ran until I heard the train and got on it taking it back here. I was trying to get to your house, Yuki. I needed to tell you what had happened.” Saki leaned back against the couch becoming a little tired from her story. The memories of what happened to her still were fresh and familiar. Her body still was singing from the attack by that man.

    Hiroshi coughed to himself and stood up stretching his legs out. “Well that was quite the tale. All little weird, but sounds like a serial kidnapper to me.”

    “Oh dear…” Ayumi said leaning in on Saki with tearing up eyes as though she was able to feel the pain that she was feeling. “You’re so strong, Saki… I don’t know if I could have been so brave.”

    Saki and Yuki stared at Ayumi sweating in embarrassment before snapping back to normal when Ayumi looked back confused at them. “You should get some rest, Saki,” Yuki said.

    Saki looked down at Yuki catching his hand balling up into a fist. ‘He’s going to go…’ She tried to put on a simple smile for everyone.

    Yuki stood up from the front of the couch looking around the living room for something. He stepped around everyone leaving them a little puzzled as his mind turned. A pad of paper on the shelf on the wall disappeared into his hand and he returned to Saki’s side. “Do you remember where the warehouse is?”

    “Yuki?!” Hiroshi said in shock thinking what the others were soon thinking as well. “You can’t be thinking that you-“

    “No…” Yuki said with a narrowed face stopping Hiroshi in mid-sentence. He fought against his hand from breaking the pencil that he was holding. Yuki smoothed out his face and looked back to Hiroshi with a smile. “You think I’m going to go try to get that guy that kidnapped and hurt Saki, right? I wouldn’t stand a chance against a criminal like that. I’m too weak to do anything directly. But I can still call the police and give them directions. It’s the least that I can do. Right, Saki?” Yuki looked down at her keeping his gentle smile.

    She had seen that smile before and it would have calmed her. However, she could see past it in the shaking of his hands. ‘He’s fighting it. He’s going to go. It’s another assassin after him.’ Saki smiled back at him nodding in agreement. “Right, Yuki. Hitomi’s still there. She needs to be rescued along with all of those other people.”

    Yuki nodded back to her and took down what Saki could remember of the location of the warehouse. It was not exact, but it would be enough. He put the pencil on the table and stood up. “Thanks. I got it. I’ll give the police a call now.” Yuki walked away from the center of the room, but stopped turning back to everyone. “Hiroshi?”

    “Yes?”

    “We don’t have enough in the first aid kit to treat all of the injures that Saki has. Could you run down to the store and get some more supplies? Ayumi, can you watch Saki?”

    Hiroshi stared at Yuki for a moment in silence and then nodded back to him. “Alright. I’ll be back as fast as I can!”

    Ayumi agreed to Yuki’s request allowing Yuki to go into the kitchen. Hiroshi rushed to the front door and left the house running down the store. Once Saki had lain back down, Ayumi walked into the kitchen catching Yuki tearing the paper out of the pad and shoving it in his pocket. “You coming?” Yuki said to Ayumi as though he was expecting to her.

    “Yeah. I’m not going to let you face an assassin alone in your state.”

    “Figured you say something like that.” He smiled back to her feeling the burning in his hands growing stronger. Yuki walked back into the living room staring at Saki sleeping on the couch. He burned the image into his mind to keep as a reminder. ‘I’ll make him pay for doing this to her.’ Yuki walked to the front door where he was greeted by Jun along with Ken at the top of the stairs. Jun clung on to Yuki’s school uniform with a concerned expression plainly planted on his face. “Don’t worry, Jun. I’m just going out to the store to get things for Saki. Can you keep an eye on her for me?”

    Jun narrowed his eyes as though he did not agree with what Yuki was doing. His small hands pulled tighter on Yuki’s clothes wrinkling them.

    Yuki knelt down looking Jun in the eyes directly. “Hey…it’s alright. You don’t need to worry.” He could see that Jun was still not willing to let him go. Jun was speaking to him and Yuki knew he was against him leaving the house. “Jun, please. I need you to watch Saki for me. This is important to me. You understand? I need you to do this for me, okay?”

    Jun was fighting the conflict that was beset in his mind and voice. However, Jun let go of Yuki looking down at the floor.

    “Thank you, Jun. I’ll be going now. Watch Saki for me.” Jun nodded to Yuki not keeping eye contact with him. Yuki stood up as Ayumi opened the door for them. He waved to his brothers and walked outside closing the door behind him.

    Saki laid on the couch with her eyes closed with a cross frown on her face hearing Yuki leaving. “Yuki you idiot…” she said softly.

    Ayumi waited for Yuki in the street. When he met her she turned looking down to the city that was visible from the hill of the road in the neighborhood. “Ready?”

    “Yeah… I’ll make him suffer for hurting Saki! This is supposed to be between him and me. He’s dragging in innocent people that have nothing to do with this. I can’t forgive him for that.”

    To be continued…
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  22. #22
    The Quiet One Shift Andromeda's Avatar
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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 no longer was 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 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 a little 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 dirty 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, that 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 stepped 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 the cracks in the snow grew from the weakening that she creating 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 approached 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 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 narrow 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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  23. #23
    The Quiet One Shift Andromeda's Avatar
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    “Saki?!” Yuki shouted as he rushed to Saki’s side, but was stopped in his tracks by Saki’s arm thrust outward.

    Saki looked behind her while she faced forward so that Yuki could see her face. “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. The pain in her arms was slowly getting to her, but she had someone to protect. ‘Hitomi…Yuki… I’m sorry, Hiroshi.’ Saki felt her leg muscles tighten and flex on her preparing for her to spring forward, already warmed up from the sprinting that she had to get back to the warehouse. A burst from her feet sprung her into the combat that Ayumi was already engaged with the man of vines.

    Chapter 22 – My Brother’s Keeper

    “Ugh… I can’t believe that Saki.” Hiroshi shook his head trying to throw off the fuzzy feeling that was hanging around him. He laid on the couch taking in his surroundings as he could still vividly remember the last seconds before he was unconscious.

    Saki seemed to have accepted her position listening to Hiroshi, but it was only feint by her to get him within reach and off guard. When Hiroshi went for the bag of supplies to grab something out for Saki she had her fist already prepared. Her punch was faster than Hiroshi remembered planted deep inside his stomach before he could even get a word out. The impact forced all of the air out of him instantly and drew his eyes wide as they became pale. He collapsed over her shoulder his slightly drooling mouth stuck against the back of the couch. “Sorry, but this is something I must do.”

    She stood up placing Hiroshi on the couch in her stead. A look down in silence was all she had to spare knowing that her time was short. The room was empty, but at the stairs was Jun staring in mute knowing simply that there was nothing stopping her. Saki ran pass him catching the glimpse from his eye as though he was telling her to protect Yuki. She gave him a gentle smile as she did not miss a step and flung the door open disappearing into the street just as fast.

    Hiroshi looked around already know that Saki had to be gone, but needing to know for himself. “Always running on impulse. Got to be the one putting your life in danger.” He let out a heavy sigh as he saw Jun walk around the couch in front of him staring at him blankly. There was little being said between the two, but they both seemed to sitting in the same pool of emotions. “Why don’t you sit down here and we wait for them.” Jun gave a content nod to Hiroshi and sat a comfortable distance apart from him. ‘Man… I thought it was the women that were supposed to be sitting at home for the men to return. This is so screwed up. Just come back safely Saki.’ Hiroshi rubbed his stomach still feeling sore from the hit and then it hit him. “Argh! She’s been holding back this entire time!”

    “Saki!” Yuki tried to move his body, but it would not budge for him as though it seemed to know something that he did not. He could not stand seeing Saki out there getting hurt because of him. Yet there was nothing that he had been able to do to change it. It was like this for him all the time. ‘Why can’t I move? She can’t fight this sort of person. He’s not normal. Move legs! Saki’s going to get killed out there!’

    Ayumi pulled her focus back on the assassin after the sudden arrival of Saki to protect Yuki. She cut away the vines that were getting in her way with an annoyed expression on her face like this was not worth her time and was causing her too much trouble. The sword tightened in her hands glowing off the light behind her as she readied her assault.

    Saki did not wait for any word from Ayumi as she charged straight for the man without any consideration for her safety. She put up her arms to take a couple vines that were coming at her spraying blood into the air as she pushed on to her target. Nothing was stopping her as vines attempted to take hold of her, but missed getting a hold. The speed of a sprinter was given her an advantage that the assassin was not expecting from Saki. Closer to the man more vines came up to stop her slicing at her clothes trying to put up a wall to stop her.

    Ayumi extended her snow up freezing the vines in place giving Saki a hurdle to jump over as she landed on her hands using her built up momentum and strength in her arms to throw her herself into the air feet first towards the man. All the vines grasped at the air as she sailed through landing her feet directly in the chest of the man forcing him to cough pushing all of the air out of him. Stunned for the moment, Ayumi took her opening and followed up as Saki was coming to a rough landing in the snow. The sword in Ayumi’s hands hung down against the snow as she charged forward drawing it up in an arc. A flash of the blade against the assassin ripped through knocking the man backwards.

    Saki returned to her feet, ignoring the tears to her school uniform, staring down the assassin not certain if it was over not. Ayumi leapt back after finishing her attack seeing that the vines had broken free from her ice and threatened to attack if she pressed a kill. ‘Not dead yet… And his vines seem to have a mind of their own. Explains a few things.’ The moment to breathe was coldly welcomed by Ayumi as she turned to Saki next to her. “What do you think you’re doing and attacking so recklessly too?”

    Heavy breathing from Saki had held back her words as she caught herself and brought her body’s rhythm back under control. “Can we debate this after we defeat him?” Saki pulled her hands up sliding herself into offensive stance ready to strike at the slightest movement. All of her training at the dojo she attended was going to be put to the test for her against this enemy.

    “What do you mean ‘we’? This one’s mine. You don’t stand a chance against someone like this. You’ll only get in my way.” Ayumi caught the change in demeanor from Saki seeing the serious look in her eyes. ‘There’s no convincing her.’ A sigh came out of Ayumi’s mouth as she looked down at the ground that was covered in snow with the remains of plants still held in the man’s mind. She lowered her off hand to her side as the snow pushed aside revealing a narrow length of ice. The ice rose up until it came into contact with her hand. Her hand grasped the end of the ice breaking it free from the ground and whipped in sharply through the air causing the blank pole of ice to morph into a simple sword. “Well if you’re going to be here take this. It’s lighter than a metal one, but about as strong and sharp. It shouldn’t slow down your movements.” Ayumi tossed the ice sword over to Saki being caught quickly. “Just don’t leave the snow or it’ll disappear.”

    Saki gave Ayumi a short smile and nod in understanding. She looked down at the sword seeing partly through the opaque blade. It was cool, but not freezing to her hand nor did it even melt. She had never felt ice like this before, but quickly remembered how easy it was for Ayumi to defy the natural laws of the world within her space.

    They were both drawn towards to the shade where the man began to move again with the vines surrounding around him putting up a net like barrier. Out of the darkness came a smooth nearly sweet and kind voice that seemed amused. “Well you’ve come back for your revenge? This should be interesting.” The man stepped forward bringing the plants with him reaching the edge of the light. A green light suddenly burst from him altering all of the ground around him into a green field of grass and vines with flowers interspersed throughout. The field collided with Ayumi’s snow melting and shifting fighting over dominance.

    The barrier around him dropped away with the vines returning into the ground whispering in wait. The man revealed himself to be surprisingly handsome behind the vines taking the two back a step. He had a fair face and soft light blue eyes that matched with his voice that made him appear younger than he truly was. Medium brown hair finished off his young appearance kept short and close to his face accenting his shape. His white uniform was gone replaced by loose green pants that were wrapped at the ankles with red tape. A matching green short trench coat cut off just a little after the thighs before the knees split the cloth into four lengths covering around him except for the middle section in front of him. The coat was buttoned half way up with a long strip of material wrapping around from the right side of the coat over and behind snapping into place at his back. Underneath his coat was a red tank top kept neatly in place. A red sash tied in around his coat at the waist keeping all of the excess from being free. Along his right sleeve there were several red strips wrapped matching in color for the bordering that went around the coat.

    “Getting serious now?” Ayumi said narrowing her eyes not certain how much of a change this would be now that he had pulled out his full power.

    “Yes. It seems that I must, now that it is two on one,” he said with a pleasant smile on his face. He grabbed a vine that was slithering along his shoulder and ripped in two taking the length of it. The two girls moved slightly adjusting their stances defensively uncertain by the act. “So cautious.” In his hand the vine appeared to wither and die turning brown thinning out. It slowly turned leathery in texture until it became a whip that he coiled up in his hand. “Shall we?” He turned himself a little adjusting his stance with the whip staying further away.

    ‘He’s enjoying this…’ Saki thought to herself as she resumed her previous stance. Out of the corner of her eye she monitored Ayumi’s movements planning to time her actions in step. She knew that Ayumi was right when it came to this fight being out of her reach, but this was important. There was no turning back for her.

    The man’s vines lunged forward out of the ground at the both of them with his hands giving orders to increase their reaction time. Ayumi and Saki leapt out of the way to evade only to be immediately countered with more plants changing direction almost instantly. A flash of light and the two landing on the ground little off signaling the drop of the pieces of plants in the snow. Saki used her legs strength to get into striking distance while Ayumi worked to slow the progress of the plants with her ice. The man brought up the whip in his hand that suddenly was gleaming like a razor slashing at the ice sword in Saki’s hand. The blade was snapped off without challenge as the whip followed through sliding through the cloth on her shoulder and skin as well throwing blood up.

    Saki rolled out of the way quickly seeing that her attacked failed and looked questioningly at the sword. The blade suddenly restored its lost shape growing out to return to its normal length. She turned her head over her shoulder catching Ayumi gaze.

    “Don’t you know? The further away from the owner the weaker it becomes and the closer to me the stronger my own. That sword will never do you any good at this distance.”

    “We’ll see.”

    Ayumi pushed closer breaking the vines away held frozen in ice. She cut away a strike of vines trying to make ground towards the man, but blocked again by plants growing up. Some flowers were suddenly growing with the vines making her cautious. Buds popped up on the vines as well opening into small flowers of red and orange. It was only moments before needles launched from the opened buds that Ayumi reacted raising up snow to take the hits.

    Yuki watched from the back with his fingers biting into his palms frustrated with his inability to help. From his view he could see Saki getting hurt because of him repeatedly getting cut and wounded for him. He knew that she was losing blood and had to be losing her strength, but there was nothing that he could do. ‘Why can’t I help her at a time like this? Aren’t I supposed gain strength from seeing her hurt? Aren’t I supposed to find my power and save her? Why?’

    He dropped to the ground pounding his fists against the cement ignoring the pain. ‘I want to help! Saki needs me! I need to do something!’ Yuki coughed feeling a pain stabbing at him from the wounded sounds of Saki echoing through him. She was visible to him even if he did not look at her. It was clear to him what was happening and every injury she took cut deeper in him. ‘Saki! Please… Saki…’

    Saki tried to evade the swing of the whip, but her legs were slowing down. She held up the sword hoping that it would take some of the impact away from the whip before it sliced into her. The amount of small cuts she had taken was adding up draining away her life through the blood that dripping and soaked into her clothes.

    The sword held against the whip this time as it spun around the blade catching both of them a little off guard. However, while Saki was still trying to understand the man seemed to know almost immediately. “Focusing on this sword now too, Ayumi? Divide your attention too much...”

    Ayumi dropped to the ground throwing her fists into the snow producing a shockwave in the snow altering the entire nearby state into ice throwing around blades and daggers of ice shards ripping the plants that stood before her and continuing through to the man imbedding into a secondary barrier of plants. “You talk too much,” Ayumi said standing up from her attack. “Start fighting and stop with these games.”

    “Did I wound your pride?” The barrier lowered spinning quickly around him suddenly changing its state sounding almost like a saw blade as the edges became narrow and razor in form. “Very well. If you wish for me be serious it is your funeral.” The whip in his hand changed again on Saki growing barbs of metal from the twisted and tightly wrapped leather. It pulled at her sword until it disappeared for a split second causing the whip to fall away before it re-materialized.

    Saki stepped away, but only one foot as she felt the air coming off of the spinning vines behind her that she was being trapped inside by the man. ‘So many of these things are beyond me, but I’ve got to focus on what I know and can do. However, Ayumi keeps baiting him into being serious. I don’t know how much more of this I can take.’ She clinched her hands around the hilt of the sword tightly using its stability for her own to give a foundation as she stared down the assassin. Blood continued to slowly pour down her arms wetting her hands and the green ground underneath.

    Out of the spinning vines came hundreds of needles that Ayumi blocked with her ice wall. However, the attack was not over as dozen of vines launched at her shattering the wall she erected and knocking her back as more needles were released. ‘The strikes are faster and sharper than before… My usual tricks aren’t going to stop him anymore. Will I have to…’ Ayumi bit through the pain as needles dug into her skin and thick vines ripped through her clothes drawing blood.

    Saki was suddenly feeling the sword melt in her warm hands as though the state of the water had just changed. However, she did not have a chance to question it as the barbed whip came at her shattering the blade into dust and hit her across her chest and back as it wrapped her around. The metal barbs dug into her skin forcing her to grind her teeth together just to bear with the pain. Her pain did not cease as the man sadistically pulled the whip back tearing through her flesh and clothes ripping her skin open spraying blood over the ivy under her as she collapsed screaming.

    “Saki!” Yuki shouted snapping back his head hearing her screaming through the barrier. He did not know what happened to her, but seeing Ayumi laying on her back bleeding into the snow gave him enough of an idea. “Saki!” His fingers dug in his palms drawing blood as his eyes widened and pupil shrank in fear and anger. ‘I’ve got to do something now! Saki’s in pain! Saki!’ Yuki’s eyes suddenly flashed for a moment before fading away as he pounded the ground again having not received the power that he needed to save them.

    Ayumi was struck again with vines before she could pull up defenses piercing her as Saki screamed from repeated attacks. ‘Damn… he’s poisoned the tips of his plants too. I can’t feel my body anymore.’ Her field was weakening; she could feel his field encroaching on her strengthening his attacks each time. Everything was dragging for her as she attempted to pull away from the next assault only to fail and receive even more vines through her body. She bit through the pain as her lips tasted blood from internal injuries she was taking.

    In the distance it seemed like Saki had grown quiet no longer visible over the spinning vines that protected and launched attacks for the man. Another wave of vines came after Ayumi to finish her off. The plants flashed at her leaving Yuki screaming for her knowing that she could not take anymore. The strikes hit with snow being kicked up clouding everything around Ayumi.

    Seconds ticked by as the snow cloud hung in the air around where Ayumi was collapsed. When the cloud finally cleared the vines were stuck in the ground, but Ayumi was standing on her feet having evaded the strike. Yuki blinked in shock and relief to see that she was looking better suddenly. Ayumi was cutting away the plants with her sword starting to move towards the man with determination in her eye.

    “Yuki…” Saki said weakly as she was being ripped apart by the whip feeling her life draining away. All of her clothes were soaked and barely hanging together. The barbed whip lashed out going for her throat to end it. A dull pinging rang out as the whip came towards Saki revealing the sword in her hand having returned. Saki narrowed her eyes suddenly restoring her spirit.

    The assassin stepped back having been unbalanced by the strange resurgence of the two girls. He scanned Ayumi and Saki trying to find his answer, but was drawn away from either of them. His vision became centered on the boy on the ground away from them all. “I see. I understand now.” The man looked back at the two seeing the wounds that they had sustained mending themselves and restore vitality back to them. “I thought he was just dead weight, but you kept him back there on purpose. He’s healing your wounds for support.”

    Ayumi continued forward throwing her ice around to break through the vines that were being sent at her and cutting away what did not get stopped. ‘I wish I could say that I planned it. Unfortunately, that is not case. He’s useless still. You give him too much credit.’

    “Yuki…” Saki looked over at him through all of the plants that were between them. She knew that the assassin was talking about Yuki and that her new strength had come from him. ‘If only I was stronger I could keep my promise. Yuki…’

    “Saki!” said middle school aged Yuki as he greeted her in the street coming out of the school running. He had a cheerful and excited look on his face like one that had never know tragedy or lose.

    Saki turned back not expecting to see Yuki and not having even heard a single word from him for more than a month since his mother had died. He had been like someone that was just simply existing and no longer attached to the world. However, that day something changed in him. ‘Everyone had noticed that day how different he had become. No one knew what to make of it. He was going up to students trying to be friendly with them while they ran in fear expecting him to hurt them. Yuki was not the same person that they all knew and I didn’t understand what that meant until then.’

    The two walked back making it to the convenience store where they took a break to get snacks. Saki offered to go inside as she always did and Yuki stayed out looking like he was daydreaming. She picked out two wrapped snacks and handed to them to lady at the front counter when she heard the glass rattle suddenly taking all of the customers by surprise. “Yuki! He’s fighting again!” Saki ran out of the store as the store owner shouted to her about her money. “Yuki!” she shouted reflectively expecting to see him dropping a student into the dirt. “Stop…” However, when she looked at the reality Yuki was a mess against the glass with a bloody lip and looking half out. There were four boys with wicked grins across their lips pounding their feet into Yuki.

    Saki stood there for moment unable to believe what she was seeing. It had not sunk in to her yet. ‘I didn’t know how to react. Here he was getting the stuffing beat out of him and all I could do was just stand there in surprise. But I couldn’t let them just pick on him like that. He had protected me so many times and I swore to myself I would be strong enough to protect myself. So I stepped in.’ Saki spun her leg around knocking out two of the boys immediately with neither of them expecting it. The other two boys backed away in shock not certain what had just happened. “What do you think you’re doing picking on him like that? If you’re going touch him you’re going to have to go through me!”

    “Since when does Hayashi have girls fight for him?”

    “Since now!” Saki said running her fist through the boy that spoke up knocking him flat sending the remaining boy running. She walked over to Yuki putting out a hand to help him up. “Don’t worry, Yuki. For now on I’ll protect you. You won’t have to fight anymore. I promise that I’ll make sure you don’t have to use your fists anymore. Okay?”

    Saki focused her eyes on the assassin before her. ‘I made that promise to him. I’ve got to keep it so he doesn’t have to fight anymore.’ The assassin was having troubles keeping back Ayumi who was throwing everything at him and ripping into the spinning barrier. None of his attacks were getting through and every time that she barely got cut it healed almost immediately due to Yuki. Saki used the distraction to charge at the man throwing her sword at him as vines reflexively stopped it from piercing. However, Saki was not ending the attack as she used the sword as a ledge to jump off for a back flip that connected her feet into the man’s face knocking him off balance. Many of the vines became alerted to the attack and drew in breaking the barrier as Ayumi shattered his remaining defenses.

    Saki landed on the ground and shrank sliding to the ground as vines slashed at her. She extended her legs out spinning her body around to hit them into his legs knocking him even more off balance. Once her legs cleared she pushed herself up on her hands bringing her legs up to wrap around his neck as vines scrambled in to keep up with her. She could feel them slowing her down and pulling at her, but she had just enough strength left. “Ayumi!” Saki shouted as she pulled on her legs to take the man off his feet and throw him at Ayumi with all her remaining strength. Saki collapsed to the ground burying in plants that tightly wrapped around her.

    Ayumi was already prepared throwing up ice spikes from her field that dug into the assassin piercing him in several locations on his body quickly dripping blood from his mouth. The life in his eyes was starting to fade as the plants and field vanished into the air.

    Yuki leapt up to his feet running in to the both of them suddenly finding his strength. “Saki!” he screamed as he ran to her body that lay unmoving on the ground in the snow of Ayumi.

    To be continued…
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  24. #24
    The Quiet One Shift Andromeda's Avatar
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    Ayumi walked over to the dying assassin looking down at his bleeding corpse with her sword up ready to finish him off. The man did not seem to have any fear or surprise, but more peaceful in spite of having lost.

    “They already know. There will be…no hiding any longer.”

    “You told them where to find him before we arrived. I won’t let them kill him.” A painful laugh came from the man until Ayumi ended his life with the sword through his heart. The assassin quickly stopped soon afterwards as the blood continued to pour into the snow. Ayumi dropped her field and collapsed to one knee panting heavily to get her breath. “He pushed me to my limits…”

    “Ayumi?!” Yuki shouted in surprise as he was lifting up Saki to check on her. He looked back at Saki and again at Ayumi not certain what he should do with the two girls. “Saki? Are you…” He did not know what happened to Saki after the vines had grabbed her. He hoped that he fears were just being exaggerated and she would open her eyes, but she remained motionless. “Saki… please…”

    Saki still features held firm against Yuki’s pleads, but it was all shattered by a brief coughing. Yuki lifted Saki up so that she was sitting to give her a more comfortable position. “Yuki…” She coughed again feeling out her body that was quickly returning back to her. The pain that she was feeling across her muscles drained away with all of the wounds that she took from the spiked and bladed plants last desperate attack. “Yuki…”

    Chapter 23 – Pieces that Remain

    “Saki! You’re alive!”

    “Yes… somehow…” Saki said looking at herself still not having believed that she went up against one of the assassins and survived. It was not as though she thought she was going to die in the fight either. The fight had to be done and she knew that, but with everything that happened she was not useless. She had been able to keep her promise to Yuki. ‘My promise remains, Yuki. I’m glad.’

    “You’re an idiot…” Ayumi said walking over to the two of them appearing perfectly healthy, but it was clear from her eyes and words that she was completely fatigued.

    Saki grinned sheepishly at Ayumi knowing that it was the truth. “Sorry. You feeling alright? You look fine, but you sound terrible.”

    Ayumi dropped to the ground roughly as though she had been barely holding herself up the entire time. “My body may be perfect due to Yuki’s field, but no amount of healing can restore mental energies that spent during the use of Meso Prosecho.” She hung her head down still drawing up long breaths like she had run for miles at her hardest.

    “Meso Prosecho? Yuki’s field?” Saki said looking confused by the entry of new terms that she had not heard.

    Yuki looked over at Ayumi concerned because he had never seen her look so fatigued before from using her power. He turned back chiming in for an answer. “She’s talking about the Kasou-ryoku.” The answer that Yuki gave still eluded Saki making him step back further while Ayumi twitched in annoyance. “It’s the name of the power that we have.”

    “And your field?”

    “Dunno, my field isn’t up. So I don’t know what Ayumi’s talking about.”

    “Idiot…” Ayumi said painfully having her previous statement directed at the both of them and not just Saki. She was not completely surprised by the lack of attention that Yuki had. “You have a field on right now, Yuki. You just didn’t realize it.”

    “Huh? When?” he said looking around at the ground searching for signs of a field, but still not seeing anything apart from the cement floor.

    “During the fight, you activated it. There were no visible signs of it, but the affects could be seen. You created a healing field that provided high-speed restoration. That was how we were able to keep fighting after all of those injures.” Ayumi paused for a moment to breathe again not feeling any better and knowing it would not change for some time. “Even now it is still on, that’s why neither of us have any wounds.”

    “That’s was Yuki?” Saki said finally piecing everything together slowly. The whole idea of their powers still made her mind hurt to think about the paradox that it created, but accepting it for what she saw was simple enough. “Then all of that…” She looked down at her arms and body remembering the wounds that she had taken.

    “What are you talking about, Ayumi?”

    “You really are dumb…”

    “How do I turn it off if I don’t know it’s on?” Yuki said looking around himself like he was searching for a light switch that would just change his field. He started to panic a little not certain what he was supposed to do if he could not turn it off.

    “Well Ayumi? What do you suggest?” Saki said as she stood up feeling better, though still tired. It was a strange feeling for her that her muscles understood that they had been burned to exhaustion and yet thanks to Yuki they were in perfect condition. The whole experience did leave her a little hungry though.

    Ayumi could not stand up on her own still and watching Yuki freaking out was only making her feel even more tired. “Just give him a good hit to the head. That’ll work.”

    “You sure?” said Saki staring down at Ayumi a little surprised by the simplest solution. She was half expecting it to be a long drawn out effort on Yuki’s part that only he could do alone. The scene of Yuki internally boiling in panic and confusion expressed outward made Saki sweat. She could not question a simple answer and tightened up her fist. Yuki was still unaware of his surroundings after Ayumi’s words giving Saki plenty of time. “Sorry, Yuki…” Saki swung her arm out catching Yuki off guard and laying him out on the floor. “Did that work, Ayumi?”

    “Probably…”

    “What do you mean? Don’t you know? Can’t you sense if it is on still?”

    Ayumi became a little frustrated by the assumption that people around her made. “As I told Yuki before, you need to stop thinking about this like the fiction you read. I can’t sense anything, none of it can be detected except through what is visibly shown. Yuki had no visible signs, so being off will look and feel the same as being on. But he is unconscious so unless his mind really wants to keep the field up it is gone now.”

    “How are you?” Saki knelt down to offer a hand for support for Ayumi seeing the shape that she was in. She was taken aback by how much their power exerted on their body. If she had not taken any injures she would no doubt still be in the same condition. ‘She must have used everything she had in the last attack after everything she was throwing at him before. If that wasn’t the strongest assassin then…’

    “I think I already said,” Ayumi said sharply, “That hasn’t changed.”

    “Don’t have to be a jerk about it… I’m just being polite.” Saki pulled up Ayumi to her feet even without her acceptance. She started to walk with Ayumi over to Yuki, but became distracted by the assassin nearby that lay dead. Saki had thought back to when they were fighting. All of her kicks had connected and felt like they hurt the man, yet he was using his power at the time. “Ayumi… During the fight with this man. I noticed that I was hurting with just physical attacks. Does your powers make your body stronger or better?”

    “No, that is one of the limitations of our power. We can’t alter, change or improve our bodies. So we are just as mortal as you. That’s why its important to have a solid defense. Because if they’re sloppy even someone like you can kill one of us just as easily a normal human being.”

    Saki twitched her eye at the last few words that came from Ayumi. “Sounds like you’re insulting me…”

    “Perhaps…”

    Their eyes turned away from the assassin to Yuki sleeping peacefully on the ground. “So even he is vulnerable…” Saki narrowed her eyes as she stared at him starting to become concerned about the fragile nature of his life. ‘I thought because he had this power he was stronger somehow now… But he is just the same. I’ll have to keep our promise even more so now.’

    Saki looked over at the cells seeing that there were still some people staying in them even though they were wide open. She had not had the time to look at the cells when she arrived, but she had assumed that she would find everyone still trapped. The state that things were left in confused her, but not for long as she looked for Hitomi. There were only a few people left, but as she got closer the cell that Hitomi had been in was still holding someone. “Hitomi!” The person did not move, but it was clear that it was a school uniform from their school. “Hitomi?”

    When they were outside of the cell door Saki let Ayumi rest against the bars while she went inside for Hitomi. Saki knelt beside the girl pulling her shoulder back to get a view of her face to confirm her belief. “Hitomi…” she said as the hair on her face fell back clearing away a dirty and bruised face. Hitomi was still out from the ordeal that she had to endure. Saki knew how painful it was and what she must have gone through during it. “Hitomi?” Shaking her was not helping, but Saki did not know what else to try to wake her. ‘I can’t carry everyone out of here.’

    There was some slow movement out of Hitomi after all Saki’s efforts. Eventually, Hitomi opened her eyes looking up at Saki a little confused. She jerked back suddenly as though she had seen something that frightened her.

    “Hitomi! It’s alright. It’s safe now.” Saki lost control of Hitomi as she fled out of her arms to the corner of the cell. She rushed after Hitomi grabbing her and bringing her close to her so that she knew that she was not alone. “You don’t have to be afraid anymore.”

    “S-S-Saki…”

    “Yeah, it’s me, Saki!” Saki let Hitomi have some room after she had calmed down. Hitomi looked around the warehouse taking in everything still wrinkled in uncertainty. “The bad man is gone.”

    “The vines? Vines…” Hitomi started to panic again from the images that were being summoned up on her mind making Saki grab her once more. “So many… Get out! Stop!”

    “Hitomi! It’s over! Hitomi!” Saki was regretting saying anything now with the state that she was in. She did not know why she had managed to get through without the side effects everyone else had. Saki wanted to cry seeing Hitomi acting like that beyond her control. There was nothing that she could do to bring her to ease. “Hitomi…”

    While Saki fell against the bars being trapped by her failure Hitomi sank deeper into the madness that enveloped her. The screaming had persisted for minutes and pounding until Hitomi exhausted herself and collapsed to the ground panting no longer able to keep focus. Her mind began to drift away and other thoughts came to the surface. “Saki…Takako… S-Saki…we have to… find Takako.”

    The words pulled Saki back to reality coming to Hitomi’s side to listen. She had all but forgotten the whole reason that they had first set out the other day. “Takako, that’s right. We were looking for her. Hitomi…”

    “Find…her…”

    Saki looked around the warehouse quickly seeing other cells with people still in them. She was not certain if any of them were Takako, but it might get Hitomi to move away from her troubles. “She might be here still. Let’s look. Okay?” It did not take much to lift Hitomi back up to her feet now that she had a goal in mind. The thought seemed to be a driving force for her and gave her the energy that she needed to move forward. “Will you be fine here, Ayumi?” She had forgotten that she had left Ayumi by the cell with a rather annoyed look on her face.

    “Yeah…find your friend.”

    Hitomi did not seem to need as much help walking as Saki thought as she slipped out of her hands. She staggered a little down the aisle, but carried her feet onward to a cell that was close by with the girl that Saki had tried to speak to before. The girl was rolled up against the cell muttering something under her breath. “Takako…”

    “Is that Takako?” Saki said trying to remember what she looked like. She had only seen her a few times and the girl was so badly changed by the whole experience it was impossible for Saki to know. However, Hitomi seemed to be certain walking into the cell over to Takako.

    “Takako… It’s me, Hitomi from track.”

    “Leave me… No more… …plants…” The girl was not responding to anything from Hitomi. She did not even look up leaving her hair to cover over her entire face and hang over her knees.

    Hitomi fell to the ground next to the girl starting to cry as she put her arms around her. “Takako…” She had set her head against Takako’s trying to comfort her.

    As Saki watched she felt like she was seeing herself over again. She could not look any more and stepped out searching through the room for others that needed help. There were only four others that were left in the cells for Saki to help. When she woke them from their trance like state they were able to regain themselves. They were disoriented, but able to walk on their own. She offered to help them and guide them out into town, but they declined. The cells were empty for all but Hitomi and Takako with Ayumi resting against the bars.

    Saki walked over to give Ayumi support before returning to Hitomi. “Hitomi… Can you two move? We should get out of here before the police do show up.” She got a momentary glance from her leaving her questioning what action Hitomi was going to take. However, Hitomi moved from her seat next to Takako and began to work with her to lift Takako up off the floor.

    “Time to go,” Hitomi said softly to Takako as they moved together with Takako doing the motions of walking without actively acknowledging it. Saki was satisfied now and took Ayumi out of the aisle nearly stumbling over the still body of Yuki.

    The two girls looked at each other for a moment and then both kicked him in the side. It was enough to make him cough and stir back awake. Yuki raised himself up looking thoroughly confused by his current position. The pain from when Saki hit him came screaming back to him as he grabbed for the bruise on his head. “You hit me!”

    “It was the only way!”

    Yuki twisted his mouth a little like he was pouting and frustrated knowing that he had done the same thing to himself as a way to stop his imagination. He caught Hitomi out of the corner of his eye around Saki and Ayumi becoming curious to whom she was. “Who are they?”

    “That’s Hitomi and Takako I was telling you about earlier.”

    “So you were able to find them. I’m glad. Yuki went around on the other side of Ayumi helping her walk with Saki. “Let’s go home.” Hitomi followed them up with Takako slowly leaving the warehouse behind. The five students made their way back to the train station letting Hitomi taking Takako home while Yuki and Saki tended to Ayumi. The two girls did not ask about what happened, but it left an uneasy air between them on the way back.

    Hiroshi was staring at the three of them from the moment that they walked into the house. Jun had been pleased to see that Yuki was safe and Ken joined him as well. They were clinging to their brother while they all sat on the couch. “What are you going to do about cloths?” Yuki said from the couch looking over at Saki’s new fashion.

    “What do you mean…” Saki said as she looked down at her uniform that was barely hanging together. The damage that was done to it left her exposed with only her bra to still keep her covered completely. Most of her skirt had managed to stay together. However, she quickly became embarrassed turned red in the face thinking about how long she had been like it. She grabbed up the blanket from the back of the couch and held it around her tightly. “Stop staring!”

    “Hey, you’re the one that left after decking me,” Hiroshi said showing a surprising amount of bravery in front of Saki. “It’s your own fault.”

    “Don’t make me come over there…”

    “Think you can hit while keeping yourself covered.”

    Yuki could not help but laugh starting to feel better about the whole thing. He smiled seeing that it all worked out in the end and Saki returned safely. The concerns of more assassins did not enter his mind, but there was one thing that he should have been fearing. Momoko was entering the house coming back from her full-time job at the bookstore to see all of his friends in the living room.

    To be continued…
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  25. #25
    The Quiet One Shift Andromeda's Avatar
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    The jungles of Yuglaovia were not a place for man to be trespassing, but he did not know fear. The stories of the man eating plants that grew out of the trees and hanged like vines did not even make an impression on him. Wild beasts that had not been seen by the eyes of humans for thousands or millions of years were only further enticement for him. As for the ancient ruins where the rumored Yugla people were said to still inhabit due to their god granting them immortally to protect it from anyone that dared to plunder the riches, they were simply an adventure waiting to happen.

    However, even all that being said he still had to deal with getting there first. The jungle air and normal plants stood in their way before any of the real dangers would even begin. It was a deep jungle and there was still time before the risks were going to appear. At least that is what everyone thought. He remained alert, but his companions were too relaxed. They were warned to be ready for anything and never let their guard done, but their confidence was their undoing. The man carrying their supplies disappeared first and no one even knew until the native aiding them called their attention to it. Unfortunately, they were too late and the native was gone to a trap that left him bleeding out from dozens of holes.

    He was angry and saddened by the loss of two people already, but there was the hint of excitement tempting him on his edge of his tongue like a sweet perfume. The woman explorer looking for her first adventure and historical find was the next to fall to quicksand. He lunged for her trying to save her before she was completely out of reach of him. The others grabbed on to his legs keeping him from sinking in as well.

    She tried to reach for him, but only continued to sink deeper as she struggled more. “Yuki!” she shouted to him as her hands were just out of reach of his.

    Chapter 24 – The Watcher

    “I’ll save you, Sarah!” Yuki shouted standing up from his chair in his Japanese History class.

    Ms. Kuniyoshi broke her chalk on the blackboard as Yuki disrupted her class. She turned around immediately flinging the jagged end at Yuki like an arrow hitting him square in the forehead knocking him off his feet and backwards into Ayumi sending her to the floor with him on top. “How many times do I have to tell you to stop sleeping in class, Mr. Hayashi!” The other students in the class continued to laugh at him for his daydreaming.

    Both Ayumi and Yuki were lying on the floor for a minute dazed and swirling neither not certain what had happened. Slowly, Ayumi came back finding Yuki laying on him becoming flush and panicking. She tried to get free from Yuki, but his weight was too much for her weak body to move. “Yuki!” she said softly at first and then raising in volume when she saw it was not getting through to him.

    Yuki snapped out of his confusion and pushed himself up not realizing that he was on Ayumi. ‘There’s something soft under…me…’ He looked down expecting to find the tiled floor, but saw that it was Ayumi instead. “Ayumi! I-I…”

    Ayumi became alerted and extremely embarrassed discovering a new found strength to throw her fist up at Yuki sending him flying across the room against the wall narrowly missing the windows. When she came back to her reality she looked down at her hand and then over at Yuki. “Oh no! Yuki!” She ran over to the now unconscious Yuki shaking him and apologizing to him. All the while, the teacher was cracking her chalk over the board grinding it into a fine powder trying to control her anger.

    The entertainment for the morning was over and lunch had come. Yuki found his way back to his seat after everything that had happened and they were all working on getting together for going outside for lunch to enjoy the late spring air. Hiroshi grabbed Yuki by the back the neck with his arm slung over him as they went into the hall. “So who’s Sarah?” he said giving Yuki a playful grin.

    “What are you talking about?”

    “Who were you dreaming about in class? Some beautiful babe, huh?”

    “W-What… Wait! Hiroshi, it’s not-“

    “Yuki’s not like you,” Saki said appearing in front of the two of them staring Hiroshi like she was ready to punch him. Hiroshi turned a little pale and squeezed on Yuki reflexively as he was being threatened by Saki’s presence.

    “Can you believe him? He acts like a clown in class and looks like nothing happened now,” said Katsumi, one of Yumi’s friends. She was standing next to Yumi staring down the hall from the front door of the class watching Yuki and his loud friends leave. Katsumi had long black hair with straight cut bangs just above her eyes and sat one seat out of the way of Yuki’s airborne stunt in the classroom.

    “You should stay away from him, Yumi,” said Kaede on the other side of Yumi nodding in agreement with Katsumi. Kaede sat at the front of the class next to the class representative and had shorter black hair held close to her neck and face.

    Yumi shyly looked between her two friends trying to think of what she was going to say. She had known them since middle school and they were fortunate to have gotten into the same class. It made life for her much easier in a new school to know that she had friends nearby. “He’s not a bad person…”

    “But he’s always causing trouble in class and sleeping,” Katsumi said not certain why Yumi was standing up for him.

    “Besides, you’ve heard the rumors haven’t you?” Kaede said hoping that she could change her friend’s mind.

    “What rumors?” said Yumi confused by what Kaede suddenly said. However, she had to admit that she knew nothing of Yuki’s past before coming to the school and it had her curious.

    They were interrupted by a small group of female students breaking through them charging on mass to the other end of the hallway having been tipped off. Near the end of the hall, where the school widened into classroom on both sides, a young man walked through with a commanding presence that pulled away some of the girls with love struck eyes. The girls that broke through were a part of the ‘Official’ fan club. The upperclassman came to stop in front of Yumi and her two friends looking directly at Yumi.

    “Brother…” Yumi said softly as she looked up at him not certain why he had come up to the first year halls.

    “President Yori Mizuno!” Kaede said a little surprised that the most popular male student in all of the school was standing next to her.

    “Yumi…” he said pausing for a moment trying to ignore all of the attention that he was drawing for being seen. Yori was the student council president and well known by all of the female student body without even needing an introduction. His short medium to dark brown hair and warm light brown eyes made for a perfect match against his tall and well… (he was a good looking boy and we’ll leave it at that). He had a very soft and charming appearance that he tried not to portray, but it seem unavoidable for him. It made him unusually charismatic and one of the more successful presidents in the recent school history. When he ran for president all of his competition nearly disappeared knowing by his mere presence that he would win. “Are you free for lunch today?”

    “Huh? Uh…I was…” Yumi looked at both of her friends, who she was planning on spending the lunch time with today. However, Yori was in front of her and she did not want to disappoint him anymore than her friends.

    “No, it’s alright, Yumi,” Kaede said seeing the expression that was coming over her.

    Yori picked up on it quickly stepping in for them. “I’m sorry for interrupting you. You had plans with your friends. We can have lunch another time.” He politely bowed to the three of them and departed quickly making the fan girls draw away in waves.

    “Yumi?”

    “Yori…” Yumi stared at the ground confused by her brother’s sudden appearance. ‘He had something he wanted to talk about… But what?’ Her friends were starting to stare at her with worry. She turned to the two of them trying to give a pleasant smile. “I’m sorry.”

    Lunch for Yuki was never boring when Hiroshi and Saki were around him. He had a pleasant smile on his face not looking like he had a care in the world. The truth was he was distracted again with daydreams and slowly eating his food. He stared at the clouds that were slowly moving through the sky picturing what they could be in his mind. They started out simple being only animals like a rabbit or a dog or a dragon, but quickly changed into a spaceship and giant robot.

    Ayumi had been quietly eating watching the others acting crazy and trying not to stand out noticed Yuki. She had caught the look in his eye having seen it before and then across from them out of sight of most of the students in the grass a modestly sized dragon suddenly appeared. Her eyes went wide for a moment and then narrowed as she knew what was happening. ‘He’s not concentrating… the idiot!’ Ayumi was quick to expand her field out to blend in with the grass and remove it from sight of everyone when it changed into skeleton warrior. The physical image that he was summoning seemed to be changing so fast that she was not able to react to it in time to keep it under control.

    “Hey you hear something?” Tatsuya said looking over to Hiroshi holding his food that he was about to eat back down to look around. However, there was, naturally, nothing for him to find but the normal grass field to track field.

    “Huh? What you telling about?”

    Ayumi jumped up in surprise sending her mostly empty container of food for lunch flying through the air landing on Yuki’s face. Yuki fell back in surprise slamming his head into the ground roughly dazing him. “Yuki! I’m so sorry!” Ayumi dropped over to his side picking him up and shaking him to hopeful get through to him. She darted her eye around to his friends that were pulled in and then to the field. ‘It’s all gone now and they don’t seem to have seen anything.’ While she was getting Yuki back to normal as he came around her eye caught someone in the distance looking at them. ‘Did they see something?’

    “Ayumi?” Yuki said slowly not certain why she was so close to him. He leaned back trying to get some room from her until she was startled back away to her original seat in the group.

    “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to spill my lunch on you. Are you feeling okay?” she said trying to keep down the red that was bleeding into her face. The embarrassed look was not lost on the others that had sly and mischievous looks in their eyes. Her eyes looked over her shoulder trying to find the person she saw a moment before, but they were nowhere in sight. ‘Disappeared… Who were they?’

    Hiroshi leaned into the center that everyone made looking at Ayumi. “You seem to be getting pretty close to our friend Yuki a lot lately.”

    “Huh? N-No-no I haven’t!”

    Tatsuya grinned to himself seeing Hiroshi having some fun teasing Ayumi. “Like during class this morning.”

    “Wha?! No, that was an accident!”

    Hiroshi laughed a little seeing the innocent girl trying to deny the accusations. “Yeah! You sure you didn’t throw your lunch just now to be close to him?”

    “N-No! Why would I? That’s ridiculous!”

    “Is it?”

    “Stop teasing her already, Hiroshi…” Saki said leaning in on the two boys with a glare that they were all too familiar with now.

    Hiroshi and Tatsuya were immediate in their ceasing and stared down at their food. Yuki tried to smile it all off and look like he was not involved even though both Ayumi and Saki were staring him at him now as well. “What?”

    “Idiot!” the two girls said in unison.

    After school was over, they were all walking out of the school together for once. Saki did not have practice today and Hiroshi’s club activities were on other days. Yuki was very happy to be able to spend some time with his friends and even Momoko was going to be home early today to be able to take care of Ken and Jun. It seemed like everything was lining up perfectly for him to have an afternoon with his friends.

    As they walked out of the school grounds to the sidewalk along the school they were all stopped by a shout towards Yuki. “Yuki I challenge you!” the voice said, but no one had any time to react as a fist was already flying through the air towards Yuki’s face in a flash. Ayumi and Saki caught it a moment before knowing that Yuki was going to be flattened in an instant by the sudden attacker.

    “Yuki!” the both shouted trying to get to him and knowing that they would be too late.

    The flash ended and the arm of the boy was held straight out in front of Yuki, but he was not on the ground. It was the opposite; he was standing his ground with his own hand up having blocked it with his palm. There was a moment on Yuki’s face where he looked different. It caught Ayumi and Saki off guard not certain what to make of what just happened. Yuki changed immediately afterwards back lowering his hand as the stranger pulled back. “Is that… you? Seiji!” Yuki leapt forward grabbing on to Seiji’s waist making him spin around.

    Ayumi narrowed her eyes in the moments of happiness from Yuki. ‘For an instant he had the look of a wild animal… What was that? I’ve never seen Yuki look like that before.’ She held back to the outside of the group still trying to sort through what she had seen a moment ago.

    Saki had nearly the same expression on her face that Ayumi did, but for a different reason. ‘No… It can’t be surfacing. All of the fighting that he’s been forced to do lately... Is it bringing it back to the surface? For a moment it was like the old Yuki was back.’ She was quick in changing her look at Seiji stepped closer to her. “Hey, Seiji…”

    “Saki…”

    “What are you doing here, Seiji?” Saki words had gone cold in front of Seiji like his mere presence was offending her.

    “Yeah! I haven’t seen you in like a year, Seiji! What have you been doing?” Yuki was almost clinging on to Seiji with the excitement of an eight year old getting a present. It left all of his friends staring still in shock by the whole thing.

    None of them knew what to make of the very tall stranger from another school, judging by his white and black uniform. Seiji stood much taller than Yuki or anyone else around and had his shoulder length dark brown hair tied back in a short pony tail. His uniform jacket was left open with the dress shirt underneath showing. He had a wild look in his light brown eyes while his face seemed to have a calm stoic appearance.

    Hiroshi was the first to recover himself and step around on the other side keeping his distance from Saki. “Judging from Yuki, you seem to know each other. Did you go to the same middle school together?”

    “No, if you can believe it. We’re old friends. Though I haven’t been in touch for quite some time.” Seiji seemed to gain a softer expression and a smile like he was recalling fond memories. It still was leaving everyone a little confused.

    “What’s with the fist then?”

    “Oh that? It’s just something between us.”

    “Yeah, Seiji likes to kid around like that. Sorry for the scare guys.” Yuki stood up on his own looking a little embarrassed about what had happened before. Seiji apologized for his misunderstanding earlier smoothing out things, but the uncertainty did not leave the air. Saki remained staring cautiously at Seiji the entire time that they were talking.

    “I was actually hoping to catch up on old time with Yuki, but I didn’t mean to interrupt you and your friends.”

    “Interrupt, you nearly dropped Yuki to the ground with your interruption,” Saki said glaring at Seiji not giving him an inch.

    Seiji rubbed the back of his head trying to brush it off. “I said I was sorry already, Saki. Old habits.”

    In the warehouse with cells a darkened figure walked around examining the scene. The figure knelt down to the ground rubbing their hand over the surface. Their eyes scanned the room once more before standing up. “As they suspected. He’s dead. Your death was not for nothing though. We know where to look now. It is only a matter of time.”

    To be continued…
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  26. #26
    The Quiet One Shift Andromeda's Avatar
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    “Old habits?” Saki said thinly not believing the reason behind Seiji. She never trusted him before when he spent time with Yuki. She was certain that he was part of the negative influences on Yuki that pushed him further during the more violent days for him. If Seiji remained nearby Yuki she was afraid that Yuki would start changing. “What do you want?”

    Yuki remained hanging on to Seiji, though his cheerful expression dropped a little from seeing Saki scowling eyes at the two of them. Seiji seemed to hold his calm demeanor in front of Saki not fearing her like the others normally would when her ‘Yuki Protection Meter’ was running (hovering around a shaky three). “I told you before I’m hoping to catch up on old times with Yuki. I’m not planning on stealing him away from all of his friends.”

    It was clear to everyone watching that Saki was not convinced of anything that he had said. The only one that was still a little oblivious was Yuki to the situation, but it was quickly catching up for him as well with the emotions wearing off. “Don’t you trust Seiji, Saki? We’ve know him since middle school.” Yuki stepped away from Seiji going over to Saki to get her to change her mind. He grabbed on to her hands look up at her hoping to melt the doubt away. “Besides, he’s a Shinto Priest. How can you not trust that?”

    “Shinto Priest?!” they all said in equal shock thinking that he was some school bully or something less than holy.

    “Yuki! I thought I told you keep that to yourself. You’ll ruin my image!” Seiji said stepping in alarmed by Yuki’s loose lips. Though he started to sweat as he turned to see the shocked expression on Yuki’s friends.

    Chapter 25 – Not so Divine

    “Are you really?” Ayumi said becoming a little excited by the thought as the others were slowly letting it all process still.

    Saki stepped in between Seiji and Ayumi looking over at her. “Yes, he is, but that doesn’t mean anything.”

    “Aw… Come on, Saki.” Yuki tried one last time to get Saki to see his side including sorrowful eyes to add to the pressure, but it did not work. She grabbed Yuki by the arm and dragged him along the sidewalk to get him away from everyone, but Yuki pulled back. “Saki!”

    “Come Yuki. You don’t need to stay any longer.” Saki continued to pull on Yuki taking him further away, but it was becoming more difficult now that Yuki was struggling. She had to get him away from Seiji before anything happened. ‘I can’t risk it. I won’t let you turn him back.’ Saki narrowed her face in determination taking over the fight that Yuki was putting up. “He’s been gone for more than a year. That’s not a friend for you.”

    “No, Saki!” Yuki snapped his hand free coming to a stop sliding back a step from Saki a little in shock of the way that she was acting. He had not known her to be like this ever. ‘Why is she acting so strangely?’ At first he understood why, since he knew that she was never fond of Seiji even during middle school when Seiji and him were very close. However, this was beyond what she had done before. “What’s the matter with you, Saki? Seiji’s a friend.”

    Saki eyes widened almost immediately at the rejection, even though she should not have been surprised it was difficult for her not to react. “But Yuki! He’s… How can…” She tried to grab from Yuki once more, but he stepped back before she had a chance to even get close to him. “Yuki?”

    “I’m staying.”

    The others that were near Seiji could see the drama that was starting to build up and changed their eyes towards Saki. They could see that Saki was beginning to lose it before she ran away around the corner of the block. All of them politely bowed to Seiji before going after Saki at a loss to what was happening anymore between Yuki and her. Hiroshi tried to bring Yuki, but he was determined to stay behind with Seiji.

    Seiji stepped forward with a long face stopping at Yuki’s side looking down at him. He could tell that it was troubling Yuki the way that Saki was acting. “Hey, don’t worry about it Yuki. Saki’s never liked me very much. Don’t let it get to you.” He placed his hand on Yuki’s shoulder for reassurance.

    “But still… She shouldn’t have said that to you.”

    “I’ve heard much worse. It’s fine.”

    “I’m sorry, Seiji.”

    “Hey, don’t apologize to me. That’s not like the Yuki I know.”

    “The Yuki you know is gone…” Yuki stepped forward from Seiji’s reach keeping his back to him. He was certainly happy to see Seiji again, but Seiji was a part of his past that he buried away. It made Yuki a little apprehensive knowing that someone from his past was with him. However, he could not turn his back on a friend no matter what.

    “I know…” Seiji walked around to the side of Yuki staring forward with him. “Well as much as I like the gloomy air this should be pleasant time. Where you want to go?” Yuki looked over at Seiji a little surprised to be hearing those words from him.

    Hiroshi and Ayumi, followed distantly by Tatsuya and Kazuhiro, were chasing after Saki, who was being difficult to catch due to her natural talents. “I thought… sprinters… were only supposed… to be… good at short… distances…” He was a little surprised that the frail Ayumi was keeping up with him, but Hiroshi was hardly an athlete.

    “Do you… know… what’s wrong… with Saki?” Ayumi asked between breaths trying desperately to keep up with Hiroshi. She knew only what had happened between Saki and Yuki and barely knew anyone still. It was her hope that Hiroshi might be more clued in to the reason for Saki running away.

    “No… idea…” Hiroshi kept his eyes on Saki waiting for the moment that she would stop, even though it seemed like it they would cross the entire city before that was going to happen. His wish came sooner than he expected when Saki bumped into someone at the corner of the sidewalk and fell down. They were still far behind, but it gave them the time to close the gap between them. He was afraid that she would start running again before they reached her, but she seemed unable or unwilling to stand up anymore. When Hiroshi finally was standing next to her, he was bent over nearly collapsing to the cement panting heavily for air to get back into his lungs. Ayumi came up besides Saki dropping to her knees almost immediately like her muscles were already well beyond their endurance. “…Yuki…” Saki said softly barely able to be heard by either of them.

    Once he had recovered enough to speak without pausing Hiroshi leaned in to Saki trying to get a better look at her. He was surprised to see such emotions painted so deeply into her face for someone that was always so tough. “Saki, what’s going on? Why did you run away?”

    Saki remained quiet with her head held down while Ayumi move to help Hiroshi. “Saki? You can talk to us. If you don’t want to say it to Yuki.” It did not seem like much was getting through to her, but Yuki’s name widened her eyes once more like it was a trigger within her. Saki stood up and tried to start running, but Hiroshi was able to grab a hold of her arm and then get in front of her to keep her from leaving. “Saki…” Ayumi became a little distant seeing the way that Saki was reacting to her.

    Hiroshi felt the weight of Saki on him, though it was less like she was trying to knock him down and closer to needing the support to stay on her feet. He pulled Saki back by the shoulders and arms away from him to look at her. The empty almost soulless eyes made Hiroshi question more closely what was going on. It only continued to make him confused by what was spinning around in Saki’s mind. ‘Did Yuki’s words wound her that seriously?’ Hiroshi looked over to Ayumi for some help, but saw that she was becoming affected by the mood pouring out from Saki. “Why don’t we go over there and take a break,” said Hiroshi pointing at the restaurant that they were across the street from due to all of their running. “Everyone could use some rest.”

    “Yeah, definitely,” Tatsuya said finally making it to them followed up by Kazuhiro. Under Hiroshi order’s they helped get Ayumi moving again and took Saki inside sitting down at two wide booths that could seat all five of them. The waitress took their order before any of them started to speak (helps though when everyone is on edge and completely lacking any idea of what to say). Once they had ordered Hiroshi seemed to have found his backbone again and looked over at Saki who was sharing a booth with Ayumi.

    “So Saki, you going to let us in on who Seiji is and why he’s got you so upset?” Tatsuya and Kazuhiro both looked over at Hiroshi’s brave move and left uncertain about how Saki would end up reacting to Hiroshi. They knew Saki to be more violent and willing to throw her fists than talk about personal things, but today was much different for her.

    Saki remained quiet still for some time. It was not until their drinks and food arrived that Saki even looked up from the staring at the table. ‘What’s the matter with you, Saki? Seiji’s a friend.’ Yuki’s voice echoed in her mind stunning her again as it had before. She gripped her hands together tightly as they rested against her skirt. ‘I’m staying.’ The events from before were repeatedly playing through her mind. “…Yuki…”

    “Saki?” Hiroshi said coming to an abrupt pause as he tried to reach over the table, but Ayumi got to her first.

    Ayumi slapped her hand over Saki’s face hard (relatively speaking) shocking everyone at the table thinking that she had been out of it the entire time. “Get a hold of yourself, Saki! This isn’t like you to be depressed like this! Snap out of it!”

    “Ayumi… I-I…” Saki said holding her hand against her red stinging cheek while staring at Ayumi a little shocked, but finally back in reality. All of the thoughts on Yuki had been shattered and she finally realized that she was in a restaurant as she looked around.

    Ayumi glared back at Saki making sure that Saki was really awake this time. The change in demeanor from Ayumi had the boys at a loss for words thinking that the shy and weak little girl would not have had the courage to do something to Saki. “Yuki’s allowed to do what he wants, Saki. You can’t be protecting him his entire life.”

    Saki turned away staring at the window thinking that she saw Yuki for a moment. “I know… I know, but that Seiji…”

    “He seems a little strange, but he is a Shinto Priest right?” Hiroshi said stepping into the conversation now that Saki was finally awake. He had plenty of questions for her and hoped that she would be in the mood to answer them.

    She turned back to look at them and nodded to confirm Hiroshi’s question. “Yes, he is, but that’s not the problem.”

    “Then what is it, Saki?” said Ayumi working with Hiroshi to pull at Saki until she would speak willingly.

    “What is it between you and Seiji and Yuki? What happened in middle school?”

    “Middle school? That was more just a time. Seiji didn’t even attend our school.” Saki began to think on the memories from those times to remember what had happened.

    Hiroshi became curious already knowing some of the pieces of Yuki past first hand from Yuki, but it still left a lot of blanks in his past. There was still so much that he did not know about someone that he considered a close friend. “How did they meet if they didn’t go to the same school?”

    Saki tried to think back, but there were unfortunately things that she did not know about Yuki. “I don’t know how they met. I just know that one day Seiji began showing up out front of our school when Yuki and I would be leaving. You already know about what Yuki was like back then, right?” She looked at Hiroshi and Ayumi knowing that after what had happened with the last assassin that some of Yuki’s darker secrets of his past were reveal to them. There was a fair amount of explaining that had been done to keep Hiroshi off of them.

    Hiroshi gave her a nod as did Ayumi, but Tatsuya and Kazuhiro looked complete lost. They had not been involved and it seemed that Hiroshi was not one to go around spreading secrets about Yuki that were best not remembered. “Well it’s easy enough to say that Yuki was different back then. They were very similar back then. I remember always thinking that when I saw them together. They seemed to be at peace when they were hanging out.”

    “So you’re saying that Seiji like to fight?”

    Saki nodded to him as her mind flashed through images. “Seiji seemed to be looking for a fight and for a while Yuki and Seiji always beat each other up. But it never seemed to matter who won or lost. They just wanted to take a swing. Not exactly the qualities that make for a priest-in-training.”

    “I see…” Hiroshi said as though he was pondering something to himself. “I think I’m starting to understand.” His friends seemed to be lost still and trying to take in what Saki was saying. Hiroshi could read the feelings on Saki face to know what she had to be thinking. “So they always fought during middle school?”

    “No. Something happened during the last semester of the first year that changed things for them. They stopped fighting each other, but I would see them fighting others together.”

    ‘So there are things that even Saki doesn’t seem to know. Yuki…you’ve got quite the sorted past.’ Hiroshi looked over at Ayumi for a moment to see how she was taking the story. Ayumi had a concerned expression, but otherwise seemed to be dealing a lot better than his friends. He was a little embarrassed for them, but turned back to Saki. “For two that seemed to get along so well together, what changed a year ago?” The moment that he asked the question there was a suddenly retreated look in Saki that made him confused. ‘What happened that Saki is reacting so?’

    Saki turned away and Ayumi was quick to react as well as though she remembered something. The girls both acted guilty knowing the significance of that time for Yuki. Hiroshi pressed them both for an answer, but only got resistance from them. “That was when…” Saki softly said making eye contact with Hiroshi once more. “Yuki changed from how he used to be to how he is now. Ever since Yuki’s acted like how he is now. Seiji slowly stopped showing up until he stopped completely. It’s been a year now since and I don’t know what he is thinking.”

    Yuki and Seiji finished their long walk arriving in front of a long series of steps that stood before a large torii that acted as the gateway into the Shinto shrine that lay above on the top of the hill. It was a long walk, but it brought back memories to Yuki from the times that he would race Seiji to the top. When they reached the top Yuki stood in place staring around at the shrine grounds to see if anything had changed. It had been a year, but it still looked the same as he always remembered.

    Seiji’s family, the Tsuji family, was a long line of priest and priestess that kept the shrine in their family for generations. The Tsuji Shrine was of great pride to them drawing back connections to the emperors of the past before their decline. They were now more groundskeepers at times than Shinto Priests, even though they focused on their training just as much. For their family keeping the line going and maintaining the shrine was all a part of their duties and one that Seiji would eventually inherit.

    “Yuki!?!” a young boy’s voice said from a distant unseen corner of the grounds. The shout was followed up by an old voice scolding the other. Then out of the side of a small detached structure from the main shrine a young boy popped out running towards Yuki. “It is you!”

    “Shoji?” Yuki questioned for a moment almost not recognizing him for how much he had been growing. Shoji leapt up into the air before coming into a collision path with Yuki knocking him down to the stone tiles nearly sending him down the stairs. “You’ve…gotten bigger…”

    “Hey Yuki, it’s been so long since you visited. Did you bring him, brother?” Shoji said looking up from Yuki, who he was sitting on at this point, towards Seiji. “Is this what you meant the other day about ‘Finding what you had lost?’”

    Seiji twitched his eyebrow and then turned away not wanting to answer the childish question. “I just bumped into him and we found our way back here.”

    Shoji looked a little disappointed, but quickly got over the lack of an answer. He stared back down at Yuki with wide-eyed excitement. “Hey, you got any new moves you can show me? Seiji won’t teach me anymore.”

    Yuki eyes went wide for a moment with realization and then lowered. He stared within at the dark shadowed figure that lurked at him with glowing red eyes waiting for the moment. “Afraid, I don’t. Sorry.”

    “Aw, but you’ve got to have-”

    “Shoji, let Yuki go,” Seiji said as he went down to pick up Shoji. Shoji pulled away starting to pout in front of Seiji making him a little frustrated. “If you do, I’ll…show you something.”

    “Really?!” Shoji said standing up immediately tilting his hand back to look up at Seiji. Seiji reluctantly nodded back to him as he ran off back around the wall he had appeared from. Seiji looked down at Yuki offering him a hand up.

    “So what did you want to talk about?” Yuki knew just as well as anyone that Seiji would not have appeared randomly after a year just on a whim. There was something deeper that was bothering Seiji that he needed to get to the bottom of.

    To be continued…
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  27. #27
    The Quiet One Shift Andromeda's Avatar
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    The top of the hill that the Tsuji Shrine sat on suddenly was darkened by passing clouds covering up the sun. A silent breeze wheeled through the ground holding off the tension that was coming to a slow boil. It left the two old friends staring at each other with a knowing look that was weighing and sorting through thoughts.

    Seiji took a step forward breaking the standoff that was between them. He had a long pensive expression that seemed to be unnatural for him. It was that aura that was making it easy for Yuki to read him. Seiji resumed walking in front of him towards the stairs of the main shrine. The wood of the shrine was well polished with a reflection of the surroundings bouncing in it as Seiji stepped on the old boards. He was followed up by Yuki not long after and made their way to the back of the shrine around the outside. A small groan from the back steps was let go as Seiji took a seat. Yuki leaned up against the supporting pillar of wood looking down. “So… Yuki… The past year?”

    Chapter 26 – The Echoes of Nothing

    “Huh?” Yuki said looking up a little trying to understand where Seiji was headed. There were still no answers for Yuki to the reason of Seiji’s appearance or purpose. It was making him increasingly curious, especially since he did not remember Seiji acting like this before when they were close friends.

    Silence poured in again for a moment as Seiji searched for his words that continued to slip through his fingers. “What I mean… How has the year been for you?” Seiji tried to paint a friendly and happy face on, but failed in the attempt.

    Yuki slipped from the pillar in surprise, but eventually righted himself back up. “Wha?!”

    “Well I haven’t seen you in a while. What have you been doing?” Seiji was starting to act like Yuki was being the strange one for acting so off balanced by the question as though it was an unbelievable thing to consider.

    The near matter-of-fact attitude continued to puzzle Yuki as he stared at his friend. He slowly pulled himself back and blinked once to smooth out his disjointed feeling. “Well I’ve been going to school and started high school.”

    Seiji lowered his eyes a little annoyed by the easy answer. “Yeah, I know that. Besides school.”

    “I uh…” Yuki tried to think about what he had been doing, but found it all pretty ordinary and uneventful, besides one thing. ‘I can’t tell him that I’m an heir to some strange land that I’ve never seen and have powers that defy nature. And that I’m being hunting by an evil group of people trying to take control forcibly from the rightful ruler.’ The gears turned in Yuki’s head trying to come up with anything that worked no matter how small. “I ate Takuyaki!”

    It was Seiji this time that lost his grip and fell down the stairs landing on his back upside down staring in disbelief and utter confusion at the response. Seiji recovered quickly and leapt up to the stairs glaring back at Yuki for giving such a ridiculous answer to him. “What sort of answer is that?! I didn’t ask about what you ate!”

    “Well I did!” Yuki said leaning in trying to re-enforce that he was being honest, even though it was a random answer.

    Seiji grabbed Yuki up by the collar of his uniform and stared at him for a minute without words. Then when he seemed like he was going to punch Yuki he let him down and changed his expression. “If it was a year ago you’d never would have even said a word. Guess that’ll do.” Seiji stepped down off the stairs into the grounds behind the shrine leaving a foot on one stone tile each.

    Yuki pulled down his jacket to straighten it out and made it down a couple steps. “I may not remember everything from then anymore, but you know I’m not the same. Was this a test or something, Seiji?”

    “A test? No, I know without a test… I guess I-“

    “Yuki!” Shoji yelled from the shrine as he threw open the doors on their skids without concern. The young boy leapt on Yuki’s back hugging him tightly as Yuki had early to Seiji. “I’m all finished with my training. So we can play, Yuki!”

    “Shoji! You’re going to hurt, Yuki!” Seiji said rushing to Yuki’s aid to pull off his hyper-active little brother. He struggled with Shoji a little, but eventually managed to pull him off sharply with a fist to his head.

    Shoji looked up at Seiji rubbing his head holding back a tear in his eye. “What you do that for? Yuki’s strong.”

    “Well I…”

    “It’s fine,” said Yuki patting Shoji on the head. ‘Seiji’s acting strange. I wonder what is eating him?’ He wanted to go over to Seiji and talk straight with him, but that seemed to be impossible. It was rare for them to talk serious from what he could remember and there seemed to be something in front of Seiji holding him back. He had not seen his friend in a while, but he was not like the friend that he remembered.

    A creaking of the boards signaled another visitor to the back of the shrine. It was the grandfather of Shoji and Seiji and the head of the Tsuji family. He was the one that taught the ways of the priesthood and held the line of tradition before him. As to be expected, he wore the standard vestments of the Shinto priests without compromising for any of the modernism that was slowly trying to seep into their world. In his age, he was almost completely bald with only a ring of hair around the base of his head that hung close to his very wrinkled and dotted head. However, in spite of his appearances, he had the fierceness of anyone half his age and refused to acknowledge age as a weakness. “Seiji, you missed your training again. At this rate, your brother will pass you.”

    “That’s fine. I’ve told you countless times, I don’t care about any of that. Why can’t you leave me alone!” Seiji turned away from his grandfather starting to have anger shaking his arms.

    “But it’s fun!” Shoji ran from Yuki over to Seiji grabbing his hand to keep him from leaving. It was an all too common argument for them. “Please. You’re much better than I am.”

    Seiji ripped free his hand and started to walk from the shrine towards the protected woods below. “I told you. I don’t want your tradition!”

    “Watch your tongue, boy!” his grandfather snapped from the shrine staring down at Seiji, who only paused for a moment before he continued walking away. Seiji was out of sight before long down the stairs not wanting to be followed as everyone already knew. Their grandfather turned to Yuki looking at him through his deep set eyes and dry lips speaking coldly to the high school student. “I thought you might have changed him in the past. I thought you might drive him back to where he was meant to be, but I was wrong. You were only a negative influence that encourages his rebellious side. I see that hasn’t changed.” Once he was done berating Yuki he turned back and entered the shrine fading into the shadows.

    Shoji looked down the path and up at his grandfather before to Yuki. It was painted heavy on the young kid’s face how confused he was now. He did not know who to follow and wanted to go with both while knowing that it was completely impossible. “Yuki…”

    “I’m sorry, Shoji.” Yuki was beginning to feel out of place now that the only reason he was at the shrine disappeared. He wanted to leave, but he could not leave Shoji like he was. However, the words that he should say were not coming to him.

    “Grandfather and brother always fight like this. Why?” Shoji collapsed to his knees on the tile with Yuki quickly rushing to his side. He pulled tightly on Yuki’s clothes in his confusion.

    Yuki thought back to his family for a moment hearing the echoing of his sister yelling at him. ‘Maybe that’s why we got along so well then. We were so similar then.’ He stared into Shoji’s face wishing to find the answers that he needed, but still coming up short. This was not something that he was very good at. “I think they’ll always fight because of who they are, Shoji. But don’t think this is your fault. If you keep trying and don’t give up… Your feelings will make it through.”

    Shoji wiped away his tears, but still had an uncertain questioning look for Yuki. “My feelings will make it through if I don’t give up?”

    He nodded with a smile to Shoji to assure him. “I promise.”

    “Really?!” Shoji seemed to return back to his cheerful self. He jumped up and hugged Yuki quickly before running off down the stairs in the direction that Seiji had left.

    The grounds were empty once more leaving Yuki standing in the wind that blew through. The silence made him awkward and knew that he had already over stayed. He slowly made his way to the front of the shrine to put him back on his path. ‘If you don’t give up huh?’ Yuki stared down at his hand still confused about his power that was locked inside him. ‘I guess I should listen to my own advice.’

    Seiji sat on a rock a little off the path of stairs that sink into the forest behind the shrine. The shrine was surrounded in a modern city and the last bastion of the old ways was held trapped on all sides by the skyscrapers and highways. It was only held at bay by the small forest and hill that the shrine sat upon for protection. Most just saw it as a city park that was allowed to run wild within a boundary, but for Seiji it was his only escape from everything. ‘I finally managed to actually talk to him again after everything and I can’t say anything to him. Then grandfather has to go and screw things up, making it impossible. I bet Yuki’s already left and my chance as well. Since when was I such a coward?’

    The rustling of leaves nearby went unnoticed by Seiji as he sat with his hands around his the sides of his head. Shoji was standing in front of him without saying a word for minutes just watching his brother and wondering what was going on in his thoughts. It took him that time to get up the courage to speak to his older brother and reach out his hand to touch his arm. “Seiji?”

    “Shoji!” Seiji said pulling back his head and body in surprise. “How did you find me?”

    Shoji smiled back at him. “You always go to the same place after you fight with grandfather, but I’ve never told him.”

    “…I see…”

    “Please, let’s go back!”

    “Shoji…” Seiji’s face darkened a little thinking about what he would have to face back at home. It was still too early for him to return. The shaking had not stopped for him. “…sorry, Shoji, but I’m not going back yet.” He flexed his hand at his side letting it breathe, but it was still vibrating in anger.

    Shoji held his head down hearing his brother’s reply, but raised his head back up hearing Yuki’s words echo through him. ‘If you keep trying and don’t give up… Your feelings will make it through.’ He narrowed his eyes a little in determination staring at his reluctant brother. “If I don’t give up… If I keep trying…” he said softly, but it pulled Seiji back towards him confused. “You said you’d show me something, Seiji!”

    “Huh?”

    “Before, you said you’d show me.”

    “But…”

    Shoji grabbed on to Seiji’s arm pulling at his shoulder with him to get him to stand up. “I won’t give up!” said Shoji staring unwavering at Seiji as he tried to pull away. Whether it was his words or his little brother neither mattered at that moment when he stood up and walked away with Shoji back up the stairs.

    The restaurant had become busy and they had spent their time talking for long enough. Hiroshi and his friends left at the door to go home or whatever they normally did after school. Saki and Ayumi cautiously looked at each other in front of the building as though they were acting like strangers figuring their way home. After several minutes of almost blank stares they turned towards the street seeing the busy evening traffic.

    “So… Ready to go?” said Saki deciding to start up the conversation.

    “…Yeah…”

    Saki turned in the direction that they needed to go and began walking knowing that Ayumi would catch up on her own pace. Her mind was filled with worries still thinking about Yuki and Seiji being together. She knew that she should trust Yuki to be alright and that he would not get into any fights, but knowing their history she could not help herself. Most of the thoughts were started anew after they left the restaurant where they had managed to be suppressed through the chatting. However, Saki was now bombarded with every fear that she had. She wanted to know what Seiji’s motive was for suddenly appearing after school after leaving with hardly a goodbye last time. They had little in common besides fighting leaving Saki to return to her fears repeatedly. ‘Wish I knew what they were doing now.’

    While they walked in silence Ayumi watched Saki’s reaction and gears visibly turning. The way that Saki was acting made it pretty clear to Ayumi that she was concerned for Yuki (anyone passing by could tell). Ayumi kept her cheerful persona on the busy street, but spoke with her deeper voice towards Saki. “What sort of person is this Seiji?”

    It took a moment for the words to sink into Saki and even longer for it to even connect with her. There had to be further prodding from Ayumi before Saki looked towards her to make contact. “Seiji? Well like I said before Yuki and him would get into fights a lot.”

    “You mentioned being a Shinto priest-in-training, I assume that supposed to mean something. I’m not versed in all of your culture yet.” There was a lot that Ayumi was still studying about the world outside of her homeland, since it was generally ignored and not taught in schools. She had been learning as much as she could, but her cover story of being from America helped to smooth out most of her mistakes.

    “Oh right, I forgot you aren’t from around here. Let’s see, I guess in a simple way Shinto priests are sort like umm…really…good people? I guess that isn’t clear either. Um… They are divine practitioners that follow some sort of code or guidelines I guess. Does that help any?”

    Saki was sweating a little from her stumbling through her explanation, but it ended up getting the point across to her. “I see. Hmm…”

    “Why you ask?” Saki said finding Ayumi’s curiosity in Seiji to be a little sudden if not strange. Ayumi struck her as a person that did not do anything without purpose and if it was concerning Seiji she wanted to know.

    Ayumi paused in her response leaving Saki staring her until it started to bother her. “I’ve seen him before today I’m fairly certain. I think I’ve seen him watching us from the edge of the school.” They turned into their neighborhood taking to the road now rather than the sidewalk that was soon to end.

    “What?!” Saki came to an immediate stop in the road after she finished speaking. Whether Ayumi meant it or not increased fears were blazing through her mind trying to understand what he was up to watching them. “For how long?”

    “Since I’ve been attending your school and I suspect even longer. At first I thought he was an assassin, but he never made a move so I waited. I guess he was waiting for a chance to meet with Yuki.” Ayumi could see that Saki was spinning into overload on thoughts and hoped that she might be able to temper some of it with more rational logic. Unfortunately, it did not seem to be working on Saki as she walked ahead of Ayumi beginning to ignore Ayumi lost in her world of growing concerns.

    Saki did not remember walking the rest of the way home or even opening the door to her room. She just simply ended up there when she finally snapped out of her trance. ‘He’s been watching us, Yuki… Has he been planning this the entire time? What’s he up to? This wasn’t random… Yuki…’ Saki collapsed on her bed rolling over on her side dropping her arm over her pillow that she drew in against her.

    Seiji made good on his promise with Shoji to show him something, which saw a Shinto technique that Shoji had been increased in, but their grandfather refused to teach him yet. When their grandfather found them in the back practicing Shoji got scolded as well as Seiji. However, Seiji had managed to smooth things over with his grandfather a little due to Shoji pressuring, but it was not going to be something that was fixed over night. He knew how his grandfather was about tradition and Seiji hated the whole idea. Those opposites were not going to be changed, but he could at least put on a good face for his little brother. It made dinner go a little better without being ganged up by his father too about his lack of progress in his training.

    The shrine was huge, but walking the halls Seiji always felt like he was being choked at each step. He walked out onto the back porch around the shrine leaning at the wood railing looking up at the stars that began to appear in the sky through the heavy city lights. ‘Yuki… I’ll try again tomorrow… I can’t just keep watching you from a distance…’

    To be continued…
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  28. #28
    The Quiet One Shift Andromeda's Avatar
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    Yuki had made it back to his house without incident, though Momoko was staring at him like she was ready to knock him through a wall for being so late. She ran through a usual recycling of her old material that he had heard before. Once she was done with him a plate of food was thrown at him and things returned to normal.

    It had been a week since Momoko had found his friends in their living looking like they had been through a warzone, minus the injures. She had not blown up on them like Yuki was expecting, but she was being polite in front of all of his friends. The yelling and scolding happened afterwards with Yuki taking the full force of a worried sister’s frustration and a situation she could not understand.

    When he had the time to spare he would visit with Ayumi for their training sessions, but he had not been making any progress. All she was doing was trying to cram countless years of exercises and knowledge into him as quickly as possible like she was on a deadline. It was no different for Yuki tonight either. They were in her underground training room that had looked more or less the same as the first time, though she insisted that it was not the same. Yuki was tired and exhausted from the mind exercises that she was making him do with none of them producing the results that she wanted.

    Chapter 27 – Against Logic

    “I can’t do anymore…” he said wiping away the sweat on his face holding a pencil in his hand. Yuki stood up throwing what was in his hands at the feet of Ayumi. “It’s too much for me!”

    Ayumi clearly angered by Yuki refusal picked up the book and pencil in her right hand balling it in a fist staring down Yuki. “It just a Sudoku! It’s not that hard!” She tried to push it back into his hands for him complete, but he pushed it back against her.

    “I don’t even understand why you want me to do them! It’s not help me any!”

    Ayumi threw the book and pencil across the room spinning around hitting Yuki with the back of her leg in his neck. The force sent him sliding across the floor roughly coming to a stop. She marched over to him pulling Yuki up by his shirt and threw him even further until he landed against the wall at the end of the room.

    Yuki staggered to his feet trying to get his bearings while Ayumi closed the distance quickly. “Why are you attacking me now!?”

    “Maybe I can knock some sense into you!” she said unable to hold back her frustration that Yuki had pushed her to now. Teaching was not her forte and she had even less patience for someone that was unwilling to listen without mocking everything of their traditions.

    “That makes even less sense than the stupid puzzles!”

    “The stupid puzzles as you call them are important!”

    “How?!”

    “To test your mental capacity and flexibility. Logic problems like this require you to store information and remember it while you work the problem and sort through the facts. This is an important task that you have to master for your training.” Ayumi’s face was only inches away from Yuki in their staring contest with both of them showing angry veins popping from their foreheads.

    “But what does that have to do with the Kasou-ryoku?!”

    “Stop calling it that…” Ayumi said lowly under her breath only causing her eyes to narrow more. The annoyance that she was feeling was starting to change to the desire to cause pain. However, she managed to pull herself back finally realizing the composure that she had lost. She smoothed out her dress and stepped back away from Yuki. A long drawn out breath returned her features to the blank cold expression that Yuki was too familiar with. She turned around quickly looking like she was going to walk away, but her leg was extended in the turn catching Yuki pulling him off the wall and throwing him back to the chair that he was sitting in before.

    Ayumi walked towards Yuki as he recovered himself. She came to a stop a few steps short of him and stared down at him. “I’ll explain why this is important. So listen closely since this is a very important component to our powers. The way our powers work require us to know what we want and to remember it. If you aren’t thinking about it, it no longer exists. The subconscious can’t be relied upon to hold everything. Our powers work in the conscious section of our minds and everything in the field is maintained by that. Up until now you’ve been activating it subconsciously and that’s worked, but it was only simple things. Such as your unwieldy and pointlessly large sword and ostentatious fantasy armor from when your power first awakened.”

    “Hey!” Yuki said taking offense to her degrading his fashion choice when he had fought the assassin in his home.

    “It should be practical and allow for movement.”

    “And where as a kimono is practical?” said Yuki commenting on Ayumi’s own clothes that she wears during her activated state.

    The assault on her wardrobe made the smooth features of her face crack a little and twitch, but she held herself with a redirect. “They were simple and only a couple things. So the subconscious can keep it, but that has its limit and as such you haven’t done much more than that. If you have fifty objects in a field they are only present because you are thinking about each and everyone one. If you can’t, then they will disappear. Like this sword.” Ayumi had summoned up her field and was holding her sword that she used to fight with in her hand. “This is only here because I’m thinking about it, once I stop thinking about it, it will vanish. That is why it is important to retain information. A Meso Prosecho user’s worth is judged heavily on how many objects that they can maintain in their field at one time and still be able to function.”

    The field suddenly grew several swords from the field to demonstrate her point and then disappeared. While she had her field up she decided to bring up another matter that important as well. “On the subject of remembering things, you need to understand another important part to our power. It is the Agros Nomos or Field Law.”

    Yuki was already staring at her confused when she made an immediate translation for him. “Field Law?”

    “Yes, when you see the area of influence that someone creates there are certain laws that are created at the same time. Before a field is created you first have to decide how you want the area to function. For you this has been a subconscious matter based on what you needed, but for a skilled user they can actively set how it will function. This allows the ability to defy the natural laws, because our powers project a field that can reject and overwrite any hardcoded law that exists. This can allow for the creation of anything including your fantasies that you read. However, it is important to remember that once the field is created you can’t change the laws. You have to shut down the field and rebuild it to change the laws. So if you did not remember to allow for the air density to be altered so you can walk in the air, it won’t be possible.”

    Yuki’s head was starting to spin around making him wobble with his eyes losing focus. He was hearing so many words and explanations that they were going in and out of his mind too quickly to understand. “Air density… Law… Fields… Subconscious…” Yuki did not realize how complex a power the Kasou-ryoku truly was and now that he was getting a taste of it being able to control it seemed even further out of reach for him.

    Ayumi gave an aspirated sighed to Yuki’s reactions and took pause to rethink her approach. “In simpler terms, each field has rules you make that allow for the powers you want to have in a given situation, but you can’t break the rules or change them. So if you want new rules you have to start over. So plan ahead.” She stared at Yuki with an almost demanding look of expectation. “Understand?”

    He raised his hand up to his head scratching and rubbing through his hair as he was trying to process it all. “I guess so. So you’re saying that if I have magic, but want to do energy attacks I can’t unless I restart? That seems pretty lame. Why can’t it be flexible?”

    “The fields we create go against nature itself, changing its properties is not that simple. It’s not possible to maintain a stable field, it’ll collapse.” The entire idea was very abstract and she knew it, but if Yuki was going to improve or grow he would need to understand what his power can do. This was all about control and focus which was not necessary at the beginning. However, Ayumi was running out of time and the assassins would be coming for Yuki at an even greater rate now that they knew where to find him. She did not have the luxury to wait until he could fully summon his field reliably before progressing on. All of this normally followed an order, but it was screwed up due to their situation.

    Ayumi looked over towards Yuki to know where he was at in taking all of the information in. “There is one more thing I should tell you now when speaking about making laws. It’s about yourself.”

    Yuki had been looking at the ground finally understanding at some level what Ayumi had been getting at with her long explanation. When he thought about it the whole thing made a lot more sense than just being a random generator of fictional things. However, he tilted his head over to Ayumi seeing a very serious expression in her eyes. “Me? What do you mean?”

    “Our powers can’t be used to change ourselves. We can’t make ourselves stronger, heal faster or immortal.”

    “Huh? But how is that so since it is I seen you use energy attacks and its possible to use magic and such. Doesn’t that change us?”

    “We are normal human being even during that. It is all external and not internal. The powers are created from the will of our mind. But that is not what I wanted to remind you about. We are normal human beings with only our physical abilities to protect us. So it is important to always protect yourself from the enemy, because even a normal human with a gun could kill you if you don’t have defenses.”

    The mortality of his own life had already been called several times for him, but he had never thought about how he changed with his field being active. “So even with the Kino…” He pulled up his hands staring at them trying to take it in and thinking about every time that Ayumi had fought. Each time she went into battle she was risking her life as an average girl. “…Ayumi…” Yuki’s mind went to something that Ayumi just mentioned. “But if that is the case then we—“

    Ayumi knew what he was thinking before he needed finish. “It’s not possible. On weaker opponents maybe, but someone of equal or greater mental strength it won’t work. The bullet would just be neutralized against their field and they’d have a bruise at best. You would have to be at point blank range for it to have a chance and it is harder to dampen a large object than a smaller one. That’s why much of this is done in melee combat.” She knew that his idea was the not the first time someone thought of it, but they had found it to be unreliable from experience. It would have to be real to have any chance and a good opponent would have lightning reflexes for defense. “I told so that you would understand the reality. You’re head is too wrapped in fantasy to see clearly. This is the real world.”

    “I know! I know! I… know…” Yuki turned away walking until his leg’s shaking made it impossible for him to move. It was something that he always forgot about. Nothing seemed to be real. This world of his was nothing like the real world. It was closer to a fantasy than being real, but it was reality for him. Ayumi kept yelling at him about facing it, but he would brush it aside so easily. ‘I thought that… if I just got better everything would work out… I don’t know if I thought it would make me invincible or something, but I never considered…’

    Outside of Ayumi’s house standing at the top of a tree blanketed by the darkness of night and only a silhouette from the moon to outline was a figure of a man. A deep voice lowly echoed in the air to themselves. “They’re together… This will be a problem. They must be separated first…” Once their position had been confirmed the figure leapt from the tree to the roof of the nearby house and disappeared into the night.

    Lunch came as quickly as could be expected, the morning was exhausting on Saki and Ayumi having to cover again for Yuki’s errant mind. He had ended up creating a small patch of grass around his feet and made some of the walls begin to warp into jelly-like substance. Neither of them knew what was going through his head at the time, but they had plenty of time to talk while Yuki was in the nurse’s office.

    Ayumi and Saki had come up with an excuse for Yuki’s passing out in the middle of class. The nurse did not seemed to be convinced due to the bruise that was on his head, but Ayumi and Saki happened to be very convincing. Yuki threw up the covers of the nurse’s bed that he had been resting in for a while. He rubbed his head still feeling sore from the impact as he stood up pulling his jacket off the rack. His dress shirt had been unbuttoned during the examination and he had to button it back up.

    Ayumi and Saki waited outside of the office while Yuki got ready. For Ayumi, she was lost in thought while Saki was a little distant until she noticed Ayumi. “Something wrong? Is it about his powers?”

    “Huh?” Ayumi said snapping back to reality and turning to look over at Saki. It took her minute to really hear what she had said. “No, I don’t remember him being so physically fit.”

    Saki slipped from the wall and fell to the ground painfully from Ayumi seemingly random reply. It took her a moment to get herself standing and jumped over at Ayumi. “What?! Why are you thinking about that?” Her breathing was not calming down for Saki leading to her almost panting in front of Ayumi becoming a little red in her face. ‘What’s going through her head? This isn’t the sort of thing I’d expect her to be thinking about.’

    Ayumi did not understand Saki’s reaction to her comment remaining serious and matter-of-fact the entire time. “During the exam I noticed that Yuki had a lot of muscle definition, which seemed contrary to his poor athletic performance and personality.”

    The fact that Ayumi seemed to be almost analyzing the situation managed to temper Ayumi mood, but it also changed it from embarrassment and panic to confusion and stuttering. “Wha-wha-what?!” Saki took a breath to attempt to recollect her and then speak again still a little out of breath. “There’s a reason for that… Until a year ago Yuki fought nearly every day and when he was younger he took lessons in martial arts, but I think his violent tendency got him kicked out. While he may have not used those muscles a year isn’t going to completely make years of training disappear.” Saki held her head low thinking about it.

    “I see.” Ayumi could understand what Saki was saying and it was something that should have thought of, but it was easy to forget when looking at the way Yuki acted.

    The nurse’s office door opened suddenly bringing the two girls to a stop as Yuki exited the room. He turned to look at the two of them still rubbing his head. “You know how much that hurt?” Yuki glared at the two of them knowing without question that it was one of them that ended up hitting him. It did not matter to him that it was the fastest solution. The pain he had to deal with afterwards lasted. “I’m going to have brain damage after all of this!” Yuki marched off down the hall before he could be lectured by Ayumi for not controlling his powers properly.

    Ayumi and Saki ran after him, but for them it seemed to be a lot harder than they thought to catch him. They had almost lost him in the school when they were about to catch up to him on the grounds of the school. However, Yuki came to a sudden stop at the school entrance. Saki was brought to a sharp halt as well with Ayumi stopping only out of confusion. “Seiji…” Saki said slowly.

    “Hey Seiji!” Yuki said cheerfully masking up his surprise in seeing him appear at his school. “What you doing here aren’t you in class?”

    Seiji raised his hand trying to act pleasant as well for Yuki. “Hey Yuki! Yeah, but didn’t feel like it today.” He approached close to Yuki catching out of the corner of his eye the stares of Saki piercing him.

    “Ditching again huh?” he said feeling a little sense of nostalgia coming over him.

    “You up for ditching. This time we won’t get interrupted.”

    Yuki stared up at Seiji trying to get a read on his face. It was true that they had not been able to get to the matter that was bothering Seiji the last night. It had been bugging Yuki what was wrong with Seiji and this could be his only chance. ‘Ms. Kuniyoshi probably still thinks I’m ill. I want to know what’s wrong with Seiji.’ Yuki gave Seiji a firm nod and stepped forward to the entrance to leave with Seiji.

    Saki resisted her urge to go after him as he disappeared with Seiji. While Yuki had acted like nothing happened the day before during class it was still weighing on her. ‘What should I do?’

    Hiroshi from inside the door standing against the wall looking out of the open doorway watched everything. He had seen Yuki run by expecting to have lunch with him, but had kept going. When he saw Saki and Ayumi following him he became curious and followed. “Seiji again… Something from Yuki’s past...” Hiroshi waited until Saki and Ayumi had left before he moved away to the entrance of the school. There would be ground that would have to be made up, but he had questions and a feeling that he could not let go. “Yuki’s a friend and I want to know more. Though I guess me tailing him is not very trusting, huh?”

    Yuki and Seiji walked without saying much to each other as they went into the shopping district of the city. The silence was awkward, but Yuki was waiting for Seiji to make a move rather than force him. However, their peace was broken by an echoing voice from a dark alley connected to the sidewalk they were on. “Yuki Hayashi, I’ve come for you!”

    To be continued…
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  29. #29
    The Quiet One Shift Andromeda's Avatar
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    “Yuki Hayashi, I’ve come for you!” There was no body with the voice that echoed through the alley. It halted Yuki instantly paralyzing his entire body. The voice was unfamiliar to him, but the tone and feeling he got from the words made him realize who the person was without needing to see them.

    He turned his head slowly trying to look down the alley to find the owner of the voice, but there was nothing. ‘They found me… Ayumi said they would be coming with stronger assassins even more frequently.’ Yuki looked over at Seiji, who had a confused look on his face. He had hoped that this would not have happened when he was with someone. He did not want to have someone else hurt because of him. ‘Ayumi’s not here and I have to protect Seiji, somehow… Can I do it?’

    Seiji was not about to let someone try to frighten them with sinister sounding voice. He charged down the alley running in the direction that he believed the voice to have come from. ‘Who is this guy? Why’s he after Yuki?’ The alley continued with a winding pattern going deeper behind the buildings further out of sight of the people passing by. ‘Is he someone with a grudge against Yuki from before?’

    Yuki had tried to grab for Seiji when he ran off into the alley, but he had not been fast enough. Now he was chasing down Seiji through the alley hoping that he got to him before the assassin did. He remembered the assassin that attacked his family. ‘They’ll take down anyone in their way regardless of their involvement or knowledge. I can’t let that happen!’ He pressed his legs for more speed to bring Seiji within sight, but not before they were both blinded by light from the alley opening up. The alley had suddenly changed into a wide gap with several narrow passages out leaving plenty of room to maneuver around.

    “What?! He’s…” Yuki and Seiji said together as they were finally able to see once more with the light clearing away. When their eyes adjusted and could see a large figure stood before them towering over Yuki and Seiji for sheer volume of size. “He’s huge!”

    Chapter 28 – Shattering Earth

    ‘It’s them!’ Yuki barely had any doubts, but he still had to see to know if he was right. The uniform that he had seen on the previous assassins that Ayumi said was their military uniform was all the confirmation that he needed. However, Yuki did not know how he was going to deal with someone so large.

    Once the initial shock of seeing the man was passed, they were able to take it all in. The man was massive in size being much wider than either of them and taller than Yuki himself, but Seiji still stood the over the man. However, Seiji was lean in comparison to the amount of muscles that were being shown through on the arms and chest of the draped cloth that ran over both shoulders rather than just one like the others. The familiar circular crest that appear on their shoulders could be seen on the man with a single blue bar and four uncolored bars, different from the red bars that he had seen before. His clothes were almost tight on the man making it clear to the overall size of the man. The assassin had a simple short spiky haircut of blonde hair with light brown eyes with a wide face that was nearly buried in muscles. If it was not for the muscles he would have passed for normal.

    The man stepped forward looking like he was ready to attack without any more words to them. Yuki and Seiji took a step back still trying to figure out what was going to happen next. Tension grew in the air as Yuki began to sweat knowing that he was going to have to fight again since Ayumi was not present. ‘Seiji can’t fight him. I have to get him away from here!’ Yuki went to grab Seiji’s arm to pull him back, but he was stunned when Seiji stepped in front of Yuki standing between the assassin and him. “Seiji! What are you doing? You’ve got to run!”

    Yuki ran to Seiji to get around him, but Seiji put out his arm stopping before Yuki could get the chance. Yuki pressed against Seiji’s arm trying to plead with him to run. ‘What’s with Yuki, why’s he so scared of this guy? He’s got strange clothes and is big, but size isn’t everything.’

    “No, Seiji! You can’t take him! Run away! Seiji!”

    “Yuki!” Seiji shouted back making Yuki close his mouth and snap up quickly like he had been scolded by a parent. “Just stand back and let me handle this, Yuki.” Seiji stepped forward leaving Yuki behind to come face to face with the behemoth of a man. Even though Seiji had a height advantage over him it still felt like he was smaller than his opponent.

    Yuki rushed forward a few steps towards Seiji still hoping that he could convince Seiji from his decision. “Seiji… Please, you have to get away!”

    Seiji turned his head a little to look back at Yuki. “Then who would fight him?” Yuki was unable to answer Seiji’s question, but it was clear that there was confusion in him. “I’ve known, Yuki. I’ve known for a while.”

    “What are you talking about, Seiji?”

    “You’re different now. I know that. I’ve been trying to find a way to talk to you about it for a while, but I’m no good at these things. You can’t fight anymore. I understand that. So I’ll return the debt I owe now and for here on. I’ll fight in your place, Yuki.” Seiji turned to look back at the large man with an eager look in his eyes like he was waiting to fight. “You’re a polite one, aren’tcha?”

    “You done talking?” the man said like he was at the edge of his patience.

    Seiji gave him a grin to show that he was ready for the fight. It felt like his muscles were on fire burning with excitement for a fight that he was uncertain of the outcome. “Yeah! Ready whenever—“ Seiji was interrupted in his words by heavy fist into his face that knocked the saliva out of him and cut a little blood from his lip sending Seiji to the ground with his eyes wide.

    “Seiji!” Yuki began to run towards him, but stopped.

    “Yuki!” He coughed a little taken by surprise with power behind the fist, but he pushed himself back up. Seiji was not about to let Yuki get involved in this fight. ‘Yuki’s no longer that sort of person. I’ve accepted that and now I have to hold myself to that!’ He brushed away the blood that was dripped from his bruised and cut lip to stand even with the man once more. ‘He’s faster than I’d thought for his size. This’ll be harder than I thought… but now that I know…’

    Another fist flew through the air for Seiji’s face again in a flash. Yuki was left uncertain what happened to Seiji for the moments that passed, but Seiji leapt backwards after having evaded the fist narrowly. The man seemed to be a little surprised, but continued on the offensive taking swings at Seiji as he dodged out of the way. Seiji kept watching the man’s movements trying to read him, but found that nothing was get through. In the moments of swings Seiji had been trying to counterattack the man, but the thick muscles proved too difficult to penetrate. Even when he had tried a strike inside, the man’s defenses were solid bringing in the other arm to block. ‘I can’t get through… This guy’s built like a tank… But I’ll find away because… because…’

    ‘Yuki… I might not have known you for a long time, but you’re about the closest person I could call a friend. Though I guess in those days it might have been difficult to be seen that way. We always fought with each other. I eagerly left my school early just to run over and catch you as you were leaving. We exchanged fists so many times I learned what it was like to have a bruise on every part of the body. But things changed…’ Seiji, thirteen years old, was running down the street as he did every afternoon to make his usual match with Yuki. However, as he was running a large arm reached out from the shadows knocking him to the sidewalk painfully.

    “What the—,“ Seiji said rubbing the back of his head before he looked up to see a hand grabbing him by his uniform and dragging him into the alley. The older student threw him up against the wall of the building knocking him back to his senses. Seiji rammed his knee into the kid’s stomach getting him off of him and letting Seiji get his defenses back.

    ‘I thought that he was just someone that I beat up before and could handle. I had always managed to win no matter who, except for Yuki. I’d never met someone as strong as him. I never thought that I would meet someone else who could beat me. But I did…’ The last punch seemed to drain everything that Seiji had left in him. He was lying on the damp alley concrete getting his face pressed into the ground by the kid standing over him. Seiji had fought well, but not well enough. There was nothing that he could do and he did not even know who it was that beating him so badly.

    ‘Then Yuki showed up seeing me getting the life beat out of me. When I asked him later he said he had just been walking by and heard it. But it didn’t matter to me if he came by accident or not.’ Yuki stood in the alley casting a darkened figure in the light trying to break through the alley. The student turned to look at Yuki a little confused by the second person. He left Seiji and ran charging at Yuki expecting to take him down just as easily. ‘Yuki put him down so fast I didn’t know what to think.’

    “Just going to keep bleeding on the ground?” Yuki said offering Seiji a hand to stand back up. Seiji gave Yuki a narrowed glare and then a smirk as he took the hand. Yuki gave him a shoulder for support and walked him back to the shrine to rest.

    ‘Yuki protected me that day. No one else had done that. I had always beaten down anyone that got in my way. I didn’t know what to think, but I had decided that night that Yuki was not someone I would swing my fists at anymore. He helped me and so I would stand at his side. So from then on we fought together back to back against anyone that came at us. We had plenty of enemies, but we stood against it all.’

    Seiji evaded another close call from the assassin and attempted a daring move to counter straight for the man’s face. He had read enough of his moves to get a feel for his style, but it was still a risk that could back fire with him being completely exposed if it failed. ‘Yuki… we’re friends and we look out for each other. You never needed help before, but I will pay back the debt I owe you today!’ He pushed around the long thick arm of the man in the motion of swing and used the size for leverage to get inside the man’s defenses. Seiji spun around with his free arm going straight for the chest knowing that it would be blocked and followed up immediately with a rotation on his body getting his leg extended to launch straight at the man’s head. The moments paused for Seiji as he saw his leg connect and suppress his excitement so that he follow through, but the man grabbed his arm and swung him around throwing him free into the wall.

    “Seiji!” Yuki shouted from a distance seeing him painfully slammed into the wall. He had been forced to watch Seiji fight his battle barely getting by on physical strength alone. ‘Why can’t I use my power? Why does it keep failing me when I need it the most!?’ While the fight had been going on for Seiji Yuki had been standing alone trying to focus on his Kasou-ryoku. Yet each time he tried the attempt failed to produce anything for him.

    Now with his defenses broken, Seiji was struck again knocking the wind out of him nearly making him pass out from the impact. ‘Yuki… I can’t give up for him.’ The assassin turned away seeing Seiji lying on the ground unable to move anymore. He began walking towards Yuki the real target of his intent. “I’m…” However, Seiji was not finished and was too stubborn to give in. Seiji slid back, up to his feet with his vision starting to blur and his legs shaking from the last hit he took. Over the assassin’s shoulders Seiji’s smirking look of determination stared down the man until he turned back to look at Seiji.

    “That’s enough Seiji! You don’t have to fight anymore!” Yuki said trying to plead with him to just accept his defeat.

    Seiji could see the large shadow being cast over with the intention on putting him down for good. “Yuki… it’s alright. Fighting is all I’m good for and all I’ve ever known. Let me do this for you.”

    “Seiji!” Yuki was forced to watch his friend get pummeled by the assassin dropping blood with every strike. Seiji was refusing to fall even though Yuki knew that he could not be able to take anymore or even defend himself. The assassin raised up a final arm to put Seiji down through his defiant grins. “Seiji!” Yuki screamed as he began to run to Seiji in the seconds before the fist came down. In the brief moments before Yuki could see the grin still on Seiji’s face.

    Seiji was laid out on the ground with blood dropped everywhere around him from everything that he had took from the man. Yuki came in to Seiji’s side grabbing up his unconscious body screaming his name hoping that it would wake him up.

    ‘Seiji… We fought so many times. I hadn’t seen anyone more stubborn before that I had fought. I never knew why you stuck around me when everyone else abandoned me. It didn’t seem to matter to you how many times I beat you up, you just came for more. And then you started fighting with me. You enjoyed fighting as much as I did then.’ Yuki stared down at the Seiji trying to keep from crying knowing that it would not do anything and Seiji would not want it. ‘Seiji…I changed and you disappeared… but you still even now… Why can’t I do anything?! Why must I keep watching my friends get hurt!? Why?!’

    Yuki let Seiji rest on the ground and stood up looking at the assassin holding tears along the edge of his eyes. He blinked once to clear away the blur and narrowed his features. ‘I can still fight without my powers, even if it has been a long time… I can’t worry about promises when my friends are being hurt. I hope you can forgive me…’

    “So you done mourn—,“ said the assassin before he was cut off by a sudden quick strike from Yuki with his knee straight to the chest. Yuki flipped backwards before the man had closed his hold around him. The assassin did not appear to be phased by the hit and stepped forward bringing a heavy swing down on the Yuki in a flash. Once it was over the man saw that he had missed Yuki again, now standing several steps away from him.

    Yuki lowered into an offensive stance with his arms out in front ready to move at a moment’s chance. “I’ve seen your moves already from your fight with Seiji. This isn’t going to be the same fight!” Yuki charged in seeing a flinch in the man’s movements as a sign of attack. He evaded the swing and appeared on the other side of the flash with a wild look in his eye as he threw everything he could into a punch in the man’s stomach.

    The assassin stepped back a half of a step from the blow, but seemed larger unaffected still. Yuki pulled back seeing that it was only a feint by him to get Yuki to drop his guard with his arms coming in to grab for him. He was able to retreat to a safe distance as he shook his hand feeling the sting from the impact. ‘It was like I was hitting steel…’

    The next attack came in taking Yuki to the defensive for several strung together attacks that he had not seen previously. The spinning backhand took him off guard forcing him to block and jump to make the weight behind it send him back without knocking him down like it would had he been standing still. Yuki slid to the ground ignoring the stinging bruises on sides of his forearms from the man’s assault. ‘I still have it… I thought being buried would have dulled it, but I can’t let it control me… I’m fighting for someone and not myself… Seiji…’

    “Seems I won’t settle this without Meso Prosecho,” the behemoth said as he began to glow brown issuing forth waves from his feet. Dust, dirt and debris from the unkempt alley was kicked up and blown away at the man’s Kino expanded to Yuki and beyond. When the dust had settled the man stood looking unchanged, but a little larger, if it was actually possible. Surrounding the man all of the concrete had been changed to rock or earth like something from a desert mountainside. The earth Kino was affecting all of the building’s walls as well turning to solid stone with distant echoes of people screaming. “Pull out yours and let’s settle this!”

    ‘I would if I could already, but I can’t. What am I going to do? He doesn’t look any different and aside from the rocks everywhere.’

    Yuki was suddenly reminded of something that Ayumi had told him the night before as he stared down the hulking mass. ‘We are normal human beings with only our physical abilities to protect us. So it is important to always protect yourself from the enemy, because even a normal human with a gun could kill you if you don’t have defenses.’

    ‘Even with his powers he’s still as vulnerable as before. So I might be able to take him depending on what powers he has now.’ Yuki returned to his previous attacking stance waiting on a move from the assassin. He was not willing to go blindly into the lion’s den not knowing how sharp his fangs were.

    “You think you can beat me without your Meso Prosecho?” The man charged towards Yuki taking a swing at him that seemed to be a little slower than before. Yuki was able to dodge it, but the man followed through with his other fist with Yuki already against the wall from the last. He was able to evade it, but the man’s fist continued on pounding into the stone wall of the building making it crack and crater a little.

    Yuki rolled out of the way when he evaded, but was assaulted from a hail of stones that he had to protect himself against. When the storm cleared Yuki stared in shock at the crater that was left in building from the man’s strike. ‘What’s going on? How can he have that sort of strength? Ayumi said it’s not possible to increase strength, but then how did he leave that crater!?’ Yuki narrowed his shocked eyes seeing that the man was still slowly recovering and took the chance to strike while he was wide open. He threw his body into the punch aimed straight for the man’s face hearing a crack from the impact. Yuki was pleased hearing that he got through the defenses and struck a blow, but he suddenly felt a sharp pain through his entire hand. He jumped back holding his hand to look at it seeing it bloodied and bruised almost unable to move without it hurting. ‘What?! I know I hit him, but… Damn!! My hand! It’s like I was hitting stone! I think it might be broken…’

    The assassin stood towering over Yuki looking down at him. “You see the difference now? Now use your Meso Prosecho before I grow tired of humoring you.”

    Yuki stood up and ripped open his school uniform pulling his dress shirt free. He torn a long strip from his dress shirt and wrapped it around his broken hand. When he was finished he stared back at the assassin giving him his silent answer.

    “I see…” The man threw his fist again with Yuki dodging it, but surprised Yuki when his knee came up in mid-movement knocking the wind out of Yuki and spraying saliva. The assassin grabbed Yuki by the leg and swung him around against the building walls as they changed in form to spiked points of rock that pierced through his back and chest dripping blood in lines on the wall. When the pounding was finished the assassin threw Yuki back towards Seiji.

    Yuki slid roughly along the ground with his uniform being torn to shreds until he came to a stop against Seiji. He coughed as he tried to get to his feet seeing Seiji lying behind him. ‘I’ve got to protect him. He protected me! I wish we could have fought side by side again! Seiji!’ Dust was suddenly kicked up around Yuki as he began to glow green pulsing waves from his body as he looked around in surprise. The waves pushed back the stone cracking it as grass pierced through blowing a wide field of grasslands over all of the ground, but leaving the buildings as they were.

    Yuki stood up with a determined look in his eyes as he had thick metal armor surrounding him and a massive sword stuck in the ground at his side. He picked it up feeling its light weight, but sharp blade that shined in the sun over head. “I’ll protect Seiji with my life!”

    “I thought that my line, Yuki,” Seiji said from behind him standing up.

    “Seiji?” Yuki said in surprise as he turned to look at his friend, but stepped back when he saw that he was no longer wearing his school uniform. Seiji was in the traditional robes of a Shinto Priest that Yuki had seen Seiji’s grandfather wearing all the time. “Seiji?!”

    To be continued…
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  30. #30
    The Quiet One Shift Andromeda's Avatar
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    A wind crawled its way through the alley blowing through the field of grass that used to be a typical alley corner. For the moment everything was still, the confusion in the air left everyone holding their positions. In the edge of the widened alley was the massive assassin with barely any of his earth field still holding against Yuki’s field. Set in the middle staring at each other, Yuki in armor with sword stood a few steps away from Seiji that had just rose up donning Shinto Priest robes for reasons that neither understood.

    Yuki took a step back and blinked several times checking his eyes to see if they were playing games on him. Seiji had not yet been clued into his change being more focused on being conscious once more. He did not know what Yuki’s problem was, but he stepped forward to get around Yuki. “What’s with that look Yuki? We’ve got an enemy to defeat.”

    “Huh…right!” Yuki gripped on his sword tightly and stepped forward next to Seiji. He had seen what this man was capable of already and just being back on his feet Seiji would still not be a match for him. Yuki’s hand was still killing him with a throbbing biting pain that was only being held back by adrenaline. “Let me handle this, Seiji. You can stay back this time!” Yuki charged forward running pulling his sword up free from his shoulder ready to swing downward.

    Seiji tried to reach out for Yuki taken aback by him suddenly being willing to fight. ‘What’s gotten into him? And what with all of this grass?’

    The assassin was taking a defensive stance to be cautious with Yuki finally having released his Kasou-ryoku and coming full in charge at him. Yuki leapt up into the air holding the sword high to give extra force coming down on the man. The sword’s blade caught with the man’s forearms sparking off of the skin as Yuki came to a rest trying to force his sword down. However, he became halted and as he looked closer he noticed that he was not making cuts or wounds on the man’s arms. They were holding back his blade. The man’s arms broke outward from the block pushing Yuki back making him retreat a few steps in front of Seiji.

    Seiji watched finally letting some of the scene set in for him after he began to catch himself up. He found himself having difficulty moving while Yuki continued to leap in time and time again not managing to achieve anything but expending energy. ‘What’s going on with Yuki? What’s with the sword? And the huge guy, he’s built like a rock unmoved by any of Yuki’s attacks. What’s going on?’ Yuki was suddenly knocked back sliding along the grass with his sword dug into the dirt tearing up grass as he went along. “Well can’t think about it now.”

    Chapter 29 – Dropout Priest

    “Tough as stone…” Yuki said panting from one knee holding on to his sword a few steps behind Seiji. He thought back to the last strike that he made visualizing the man’s arm. ‘It was cracked when I hit him. Is he really built out of stone? Is that possible?’

    “Can you stand?” Seiji said offering a hand to Yuki.

    Yuki grabbed on to Seiji and stood back up on his feet ripping his sword out of the ground and hefting it on his shoulder once more. “Thanks.”

    “Let me take a whack at him, Yuki,” Seiji said as he felt a little different inside that he could not explain. He just knew that he had a chance against this guy for some reason. None of it made any sense, but he was not about to turn down a chance to go toe to toe again.

    “Wait, Seiji! His defenses are too strong. I don’t know if it’ll make sense, but I think he actually has rocks on his skin protecting him. My sword can barely crack it.”

    Seiji did not question Yuki and simply accepted what he was told. However, being told that had not changed his instinct that was telling him he had to go. “I can’t explain it, but I know I can win.”

    When Yuki looked over at Seiji he could tell that it was not just the wild eagerly tasting blood that was glowing behind his eyes anymore. There was something else that had confidence in what he said and belief in his words. Yuki could not argue with what he saw. “Fine, but know I’ve got your back.”

    Seiji nodded to Yuki grinning to him and turned to look down at the enemy that stood as an unassailable tower. He pounded his feet against the earth getting boost to his sprint as he charged towards the man feeling lighter on his feet than ever before. ‘What is this feeling?’ As Seiji came into range of the man he threw out a fist, but Seiji dodged it taking a step to the side and rather than throwing a punch his hand extended out launching papers from his long sleeves of the robe. ‘He’s coming again!’

    Another fist from the other arm came in forcing Seiji to roll away to safety, but found that he was being attacked by more than just an arm now. Out of the man’s fist came spikes of stone and rock flying at him. Out of instinct Seiji dropped to one knee and slammed his hand against the grass and dirt. The daggers of earth struck at and around him breaking up grass and earth making a cloud around Seiji. “Seiji!” Yuki screaming running a few steps to Seiji until he saw the dust cloud fade away.

    Around him a light blue barrier in the form of a dome surrounded him keeping him safe from the attack leaving the rest of the attack to hit harmlessly to the dirt around him. Seiji stood up breaking the barrier and charged again throwing out his hand again avoiding blows from the man. One time he had to block the man’s fist with his own hand pressing his entire body down from the impact and dragging his feet through the grass creating two trenches. As Seiji stood up shaking off his hand burnt paper ash fell to the ground. ‘This is so weird.’ Seiji moved in continuing his patterns of evading and throwing with the man. ‘It’s like I act on reflex only with no thought.’ He flipped over the man landing behind him placing his palm to the earth before jumping again in time. ‘What am I doing?’ The moment he landed his hand touched the ground and rolled himself out of the crushing assault of the man.

    The man seemed to be growing impatience with his attacks at the repeated avoiding by Seiji. When Seiji jumped back he crossed is arms producing large spikes from his elbows that broke free propelling towards Seiji. There was no time for a barrier as Seiji waved his arm in an arc in front of him producing a series of papers in a line following his hand. The moment later the spikes collided with the paper mutually disintegrating on impact. Yet the assault was not finished as more spears of earth were launched at Seiji each getting taking out by a paper as Seiji produced more making a wall between them.

    A minute was bought for him as he brought his hands together. He interlaced his fingers together with the right hand’s index and middle finger held straight as he began to mutter something. As the last of the papers floating in front of Seiji were taken out five pillars of light burst up around the man showing papers at their base. On the ground light weaved the earth connecting each pillar in a circle as the pillars bent inwards hitting the man. A moment later all of the papers that Seiji had stuck to the man’s body suddenly began to glow brightly. “Yuki! Go now!”

    “Right!” Yuki jumped into action bringing both hands to the hilt of his sword charging at the man. There was plenty of time for the man to put up his defenses with his impenetrable arms overlapped in front to stop the sword again. Yuki cried out with his voice in his charge bringing everything he had down into the sword as he pulled it down. The blade hit the assassin’s arms stopping for a moment before cracks all over traced from the impact up his muscular forearms. The sword dug in deeper shattering the earthen armor that protected the man and drawing up blood as the blade finished its arc along the man’s chest and shoulder with his arms knocked away bleeding.

    Yuki came to rest in front of the bleeding assassin that lay on the ground unable to move from the injuries. The sword came to rest imbedded into the ground with Yuki panting. The wild look from before was breaking through him as he had been attacking, but he blinked to bring himself out of the trance. ‘Did I… Did I?’ As Yuki looked closer the man was still breathing strong, but would not be able to move for some time. The wounds were deep, but fortunately, not life threatening.

    Seiji walked up to Yuki patting him on the shoulder to get his attention was from the fight. “We won…”

    “Yeah…” Yuki turned away from the scene and looked at Seiji staring down at him. It was then that his curiosity kicked in changing his expression again to confusion. “What’s with the clothes, Seiji? I though you hated…”

    “Huh?” Seiji said nearly as confused as Yuki looked, but Yuki pointed at the clothes to direct his eye down. When Seiji gave into Yuki questioning and looked his eyes widen in shock making him jump back. “What am I wearing these stupid clothes for?!” Seiji began to pull at them checking to see if it is was real and where his school clothes had gone. It was sadly very real and very missing.

    “That’s what I’m asking. When you woke up you were wearing them. I didn’t say much then because we had other matters.” Yuki’s mind ran through the events that led up trying to figure out what had happen since it was becoming very clear to him that Seiji was in the dark. “And what’s with those papers? They look like charms or something.”

    Seiji was not able to keep up with everything that Yuki was saying still trying to deal with the clothes. ‘Why didn’t I notice this before? And what’s Yuki talking about paper charms?’ It required Yuki to grab Seiji’s hand and show him what it was that he was holding the entire time.

    “You were throwing them around all over the place like out of a manga I read. It was pretty cool.”

    “Huh? Wait…these are Ofuda, talismans that we use at the shrine. But why do I have them?” Seiji attempted to replay what he was doing before, but it was all a blur to him now. All he could remember from when he was fighting was a sense that he knew what had to be done without needing to understand. It was all reflexive like he had done it before and just knew without needing to concentrate. ‘What happened to me? Why can’t I remember what happened? What’s this strange feeling I have? What’s going on?’

    Yuki had a ton of questions left, but he suddenly knew that he should not be sticking around any longer than necessary. Unfortunately, he was still in a problem. ‘I can’t turn it off again. Damn…wish I knew how to work this.’ Yuki walked over to Seiji trying to look as serious as he could. “Hey Seiji, I need a favor.”

    “Wha—“

    “We probably should stick around any longer, but I need you to whack me in the head hard.”

    “Huh? Why?!”

    “I’ll explain later, just hurry!”

    Seiji did not understand what Yuki was getting, but the dead serious look in his eyes told Seiji that it was important. He took a moment and pulled back his arm tightly letting it go flying through Yuki and dropping him flat on the alley concrete once more. All of the grass, sword, armor and everything faded away before Yuki touched the ground. “Not sure I understand, but this is getting complicated,” he said looking around at the alley seeing the few areas of damage that were sustained to the environment from the fighting. However, Seiji could not dawdle too long and with Yuki unconscious it made his task harder now. ‘If this was just to get a free ride I’m going to…’ Seiji bent down and lifted up Yuki up over shoulder and began slowly walking away trying not to stand out as much as it appeared.

    On top of the four story building looking down at the alley stood a thin figure that had been watching the fight unfold. Over the shoulder of the individual lay a dead body, another assassin by the judging of the clothes. The figure jumped over the ledge and slowly descended to the ground landing in snow. A wind blew through the alley and the clouds pealed back casting light on Ayumi standing up. “Still too soft,” she said as she approached the injured assassin that was left by Yuki. She held up her sword gleaming in the sunlight before plunging it into the assassin’s heart putting an end to the man’s life.

    She spun around letting the field and everything of hers disappear with the wind walking away. ‘Though I’ve never seen Meso Prosecho applied in this manner… Is this the power of the King? Or is this something unique to Yuki?’ Ayumi knew what happened, but it was beyond what she could have expected from Yuki at his level. She did not even know such a thing was even possible with their power. The strength and degree of Yuki’s power continued to surprise her even if it was still terribly unrefined. ‘If he can control his power nothing…’ Before she left she turned to look back at the body of the assassin watching it fade away as every piece of living matter disintegrated leaving nothing but broken concrete and buildings behind. Ayumi had plenty to ponder leaving her to walk back to school before she was missed greatly.

    Her distraction left her to leaving the onlooker unnoticed still watching from a distance stunned at what they had seen. They had been unable to move during the fight that they had witness. It was, of course, beyond anything that they had ever seen in their lives before. The sheer sight of the unknown was enough to paralyze every muscle in their body, but what’s more was the fact that it was Yuki, someone that they knew. “What’s just happened?” Hiroshi said finally managing to crack his stone face to speak.

    He walked into the alley that was empty apart from the broken ground. ‘What is Yuki? And Ayumi? Even Seiji… I don’t understand what going on!’ Hiroshi’s mind did not even register that there had been someone dead where stepped until cracked masonry fell down snapping him out of his trance. He looked down at where Yuki’s sword had come to a stop and where Ayumi’s pierced the man’s heart. “He’s dead…Ayumi killed him! What have I gotten myself into?! Yuki!”

    “Huh?” Yuki said turning suddenly in response to his name being called. He sat on a large semi-flat stone in the back of the shrine that Seiji had carried him back to. Yuki was not sure if he was welcomed by their grandfather, but he did not seem to be area and Seiji was staring at him with the intention of getting answers from Yuki.

    “Don’t ‘huh’ me, Yuki! You seem to know what’s going and who that guy was.” Seiji leaned in on Yuki if it would help get him the answers that he needed from Yuki. They had left the alley so quickly after defeating that strange guy that Seiji did not have any time for answers. Everything that he had seen had plenty of time to finally pour into him on his walk back. ‘What was that strange power? How could I do such things? It’s not possible, it like something from a movie. It can’t be real!’ He needed answers from Yuki.

    Yuki swallowed slowly knowing that this was coming. He knew that he was going to have to explain it when Seiji refused to run away. It was inevitable now. “Well I’m not sure where to start, it kinda complicated.”

    “Let’s start with that guy that attacked you. He seemed to be out for more than just a few drops of your blood.”

    “He’s someone from where I was born and he wanted to kill me because I’m the rightful heir to their dead leader.”

    Seiji pulled back and took a step back before pacing around the dirt. This was not an answer that he was expecting. ‘I thought it was just a gang fight or something, but this…’ He rubbed his hand through his hair not finding the answer as thorough or complete as he would have liked. “If what you say is true and you’re the heir, why do they want you dead?”

    “I’m not clear on their plans or details myself, but if I’m dead there won’t be an heir anymore and the rebelling faction that wants me dead can take power for themselves.”

    “Where is this place that you’re supposed to be from?”

    Yuki thought and looked around holding his index finger up along the side of his face sliding it along his jaw line as he thought back. “You know…I don’t know! I’ve never asked!”

    “What?!” Seiji said falling over to the ground. He jumped back up to his feet and leaned in to Yuki who seemed to be taking the realization a little too well. “How can you say it so simply?! If you’re telling the truth, it’s your homeland! It’s your place of birth. It’s important!”

    “Huh? I guess… Never really thought about it that much,” Yuki said plainly still not letting it sink in. “I’ve focused on the assassins and my power that I never really gave it thought. I don’t even know if I want to go, though I don’t know how Ayumi will take that.” He nearly laughed to himself as he could picture the berating that he would take from Ayumi for so casually talking about such matters.

    Seiji was left quite stunned by the whole scene from Yuki. ‘He takes it all so nonchalantly, like it’s not a worry for him.’ He closed up his mouth and readjusted his form trying to make things a little more serious. “Who’s Ayumi?”

    “Oh, I probably shouldn’t have mentioned her, huh? She’s the one that told me about this. She’s protected me from the assassins and trains me in using my power so I can control it.”

    “What is this power you’re talking about?”

    “It’s the Kasou-ryoku, it’s a power that I have as well as the assassins. Um…how do I explain it? I wish that I could control it to show you. I guess the short of it is that it is a power that makes anything that I can think up real.”

    ‘Makes anything real…’ It was a hard thing to think possible and if Yuki had told him before that fight he had that sort of power he would have laughed at him. Yet, Seiji knew that he could not simply shrug it off as Yuki’s new personality and the quirks he had. It was impossible, but Yuki was being completely serious and honest with Seiji. This much he knew. “I see…and what about me. You do that too?”

    “I dunno, I guess that would only make sense. That’s pretty cool I gave you real Shinto powers, huh?!”

    “Cool?!” Seiji said grabbed Yuki up by the collar of his uniform. “How could you think what you did to me was cool?! You shamed me by making me into one of them! You’re lucky that no one saw me. It’ll ruin my image!”

    Yuki flailed his arms about panicking from Seiji’s anger. He knew that Seiji hated everything about the training that he had been forced to take when he was younger. But Yuki changed in expression when he heard Seiji. “Image?”

    “Yeah, I’ve got an image to keep and I’d never live it down it folks started seeing me going around in some priest robes. I’d lose all respect!”

    “You’re worried about that?” Yuki said grinning to himself before he started laughing uncontrollably, while still being held up by Seiji.

    Seiji’s veins in his forehead began to pop pulsing in frustration and anger that Yuki would be laughing at him. He pulled tighter on Yuki’s collar making Yuki start to cough while he was laughing, but still it did not stop him. Seiji dropped Yuki back to the ground and turned away becoming frustrated with him.

    Ayumi walked up the street coming to pass by Yuki’s house on the way to her own. Out of the corner of her eye she caught the figure of someone suspicious that was clearly not trying to disguise themselves. She turned to face them already knowing who they would be. ‘Another so soon... They aren’t messing around…’ Ayumi began to walk towards them. “Waiting for someone?”

    To be continued…
    Curious? There's no limits but your own imagination.
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