Emerging through the portal, Megumi and her comrades left the miserable world of humans behind to return to whence they came, victorious as always; the demiplane upon which they dwelled was indeed a magnificent place; an entire dimension willed into being by the incalculable magical powers of the Masked Man, it was said that it had been done over seven days, each day he wove another aspect of the demiplane into existence, until at last he had created a plane worthy of any god -- and his followers, the true disciples of magic.
Upon the first day, he wove the dimension together into a cohesive if unstable form; when the morn of the second day came he shaped the earth, ground and cliffs that now adorned the landscape, forming the foundation of a world to be; and then upon the third day did he imprint upon his world his own sense of beauty, by conjuring his own form of flora, all made to flatter his personal sense of style.
Alien-looking trees stretched towards the black sky, their thick branches adorned with a myriad of gorgeous indigo flowers with black centers, their appearance were something extraordinary to behold, and Megumi found them particularly charming. Despite how they looked, they were far from decorative, and had an important role to play for the Coven; for they had been created such that when someone ate their fruit, and were of sufficient magical talent, their powers and reiryoku would be greatly enhanced for a time. On the other hand, if the one eating it was found lacking, the tree would take root within their spirit and burst out of their body to replicate itself. For its sinister nature and dark color, it had been named Duskbloom by some within the Coven.
Megumi herself had once eaten of the fruit, and by surviving that ordeal she had proven herself worthy of the Sorcerers respect; and a worthy candidate for the position of Mage.
Finally, after what seemed like a while, the members of the coven reached the top of a large cliff overlooking a road down into a crag; down in which lied their home -- a fantastical edo-style castle surrounded by three mighty Kidō Cannons fit to obliterate entire planes of existence if the Coven wished it. It was the crown of the Masked Man's work -- a palace the like which had scarcely ever been seen in myth or reality, fit to house an entire country, it had been told --- erected entirely through the use of magic. So humongous was the castle that while inside, most had to resort to teleportation to move about inside it in an efficient manner.
It had a simple name, despite its overwhelming grandeur and ambitious appearance -- simply, Our Home. It might have looked otherworldly, even surreal to a potential outsider, but to Jurō Henkō it was magnificent - and comforting.
The wizened mage was still fairly agitated after the recent ordeal. True, he was proficient in the art of Kidō, he could use it to destroy the enemies of the Coven, or to summon temporary allies to act in his stead. However, in the end he was more of a scholar than a fighter, and the chaotic battle had left an impression upon him. He sighed heavily.
"Well, we have accomplished our goal", he spoke, then cleared his throat before he continued. "But the amount of... complications exceeded my expectations. The fact that the Gotei 13 dared interfere with our plans worries me. Their growing boldness may put the success of our future missions in jeopardy."
Arata, who stood behind his two comrades, relayed a brief bout of laughter at his teammate's words. "Worry? If anything, their involvement showed just how much they fear an unknown enemy. And they will fear us." the mage proclaimed, holding up the container which concealed the extracted soul fragment; the target of their excursion into the living world. "It won't be long before the world that our leader has envisioned... that we have envisioned for so long, will come to fruition. We take our first steps toward the new world, Megumi-san, Jurō-san." he continued, addressing them before taking his steps further out, stepping before them as he stared out onto the castle in the distance.
It took naught but a couple minutes for the trio to find themselves at the gateway at the end of the long road. However, they seemed to continue walking even as they came close to the massive gate. No signal was conducted to open the door nor was any attempt made by these three to force it open from the outside. Rather, as they walked, a brief flash of light overtook them once they got close enough to the gate, causing them to vanish from the outside. And within an instant, they reappeared in a candlelit room; the main foyer of the castle adjacent to the entrance. It seemed as though the door was not meant to be physically opened but rather was enchanted to simply allow the proper residents of the castle entrance. Within the room, two individuals dressed in tattered beige robes, metal cuffs shackled around their wrists yet still allowing for free movement, who bowed their heads in reverence as the trio mages as they approached them. They were the mageless, who served as attendants — no, slaves would be the more accurate term for them — for the members of the Coven.
"Welcome home, Master Arata. Master Jūro. Mistress Megumi." spoke one of the two mageless.
Megumi regarded the mageless cooly, not deigning to acknowledge their presence. She simply walked right past them and moved towards a floating blue sphere by the end of the hall; touching it, Megumi felt the all-too-familiar inrush of air and magic as her form was sucked up into a magical gateway, which moved the sorceress to the main chamber of the castle.
Sorcerers were creatures of power, decadence and ambition; and the main chamber mirrored this, being made in the likeness of a japanese throne room, with symbols of power lining the walls alongside magical artifacts. As she stepped into view, the masses of mages parted to clear a straight path to an extravagant throne adorned with golden feathers, forged into the likeness of those of peacocks and further beset with jewels of many kinds. Upon this gaudy object sat the leader of the Coven; dressed in a billowing robe of dark blue silk that covered a large portion of the floor at his feet. He was powerfully buildt from what little one could see of his physique, but the most distinguishing trait was the mask he always wore; few among the Coven knew what he looked like.
Formerly of a noble clan as she was, Megumi guessed at its meaning -- it was a tool of power like any other, by wearing a mask he ensured he would always have the upper hand in any discourse. It also served to distance him from his subordinates, making his reputation of being a god all the more believable. It was because of this habit that the man had received his epithet; The Masked Man.
He rose from his throne as he always did in order to greet his people, in five slow steps he closed the distance between them and looked at her directly, before speaking in a soft tone. "Alas, my brave children have returned to the unviolable sanctity of Our Home; I expect you all bear good tidings? If not, don't fret, there will be time to correct any loose ends."
"Fortunately, we have succeeded, Grandmaster", replied Jurō, who always felt that any title without "grand" in it would be insufficient to express his respect toward the man, and followed with a polite bow. "In that we have acquired the Soul Fragments... not without some complications, that is. The Shinigami appeared, and while they were too late to hinder us in any meaningful way, they did not hesitate to fight. Whether they acted hastily or were aware of the circumstances is a major concern, in my humble opinion."
Ever fascinated with the concept of change, Henkō was particularly sensitive to such turns of events. In addition, he knew from experience that plans, multi-stage, far-reaching and carefully thought-out as they were, tended to fall apart quickly when confronted with reality. To immediately consider any potential problems and adapt accordingly would only benefit the Coven in the long run. And, thankfully, he could rely on people far greater than him to solve such issues easily.
The usually boastful Arata seemed to have an air of humbleness about him when facing the Grandmaster of the Coven himself. Even he, with all the pride in his power, could not help but lower his head when facing the leader. Without uttering a word quite yet, the flamboyant individual took a step closer toward the Coven's leader and without missing a beat, lowered his body and got onto his right knee with his head lowered. A traditional bow, showing his respect to the superior entity that stood before him. Subsequently so, he rose his hands which held the container of the Soul Fragment they procured from the skirmish with the humans and Shinigami. A jar, no bigger than perhaps any average man's skull, emitting a faint glow from its centre. Arata held it upwards, almost as if offering it in tribute to the Masked Man.
"We managed to obtain one of the fragments, sire. But the efforts of those loathsome Shinigami rats caused us to forgo acquirement of the second fragment. They seem to be sending Lieutenants now. We counted, I believe... four or five in total. Though they are an ultimately inferior breed, with your pardon, it does not seem as though we can afford to take them any lightly. They continue to spit upon their betters." Arata explained while holding out the container to his leader.
"How perplexing." The voice seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere at once.
"You mages are so quick to belittle those you believe inferior . . . yet look how quickly you bend the knee groveling at the feet of another, as the mageless do for you. Such irony . . ." The space off to the side suddenly shifts inward as though it were sucked into a void, and then--- a dark foreboding presence fills the chamber.
He didn't emerge from the distortion, rather it was as if he simply slipped into their perception as though he had been there all along. Disconcerting? Perhaps, but then again Auryx Bandheer was the disconcerting type. An Arrancar bearing the form of some cliched hero straight out of a teenage fantasy book, he is as insufferable as that damned mouth of his. And speak of the hollow!
"Am I not among the elite of the infamous Coven?" He continued, striding forward. "But you stand there, prostrating yourself, doubt poisoning your words, as if the interference of those lacking in the supposed greatness of magic . . . actually pose a threat." He questioned incredulously. "Tsk, tsk, tsk. Perhaps I should ally myself with the Shinigami then, by all accounts ---yours--- at least their balls have dropped."
"Within every Shinigami there exists a spark of greatness, after all, how many of our number were formerly among their ranks? They might be innocent lambs lead astray by poor education, or the illusion that anything except for magic can earn them a place in the world, inferior however? Well, I say not."
The Masked Man didn't even turn to face Auryx as he spoke; behind his mask he was ever inscrutable in his motives, thoughts or intentions. His subordinates could only hazard a guess at what he was thinking, as could his enemies; in this manner the mask served its purpose. Graciously he accepted the offered soul fragment from Arata. Without taking it out of his jar he began to whisper words of power as runic symbols etched themselves into the container of their own volition; binding it with powerful magic and gradually changing its appearance and texture to that of a large stone, smooth beyond natural laws and black as coal.
"Nevertheless, the Shinigami have interfered with our affairs, and that neccessitates a response - its about time that we set our plans into motion. The need to hide and gather our strength is long since past."
A piercing green light began to seep into the room from the masked mans figure; it warped and altered space around the castle before it expanded outwards into the outer reaches of the demiplane. The spell in question was one forbidden by Soul Society, the spell Kukanten'I; and he was about to use it in ways that had its banned in the first place.
With a show of effort, even for someone as powerful as the Masked Man; he moved the entirety of their demiplane into the Human World, and superimposed it over the city of Amagasaki in Japan, with the Castle set in the very center of the city, as a result, those within the center of Amagasaki simply ceased to exist in that moment; as their lives and the immediately surrounding area gave way to the the Coven's castle. It was a foreboding sight, to see the immense structure amidst ordinary buildings, and in a world which was not its own.
Humans who attempted to explore this new phenomenon were erased where they stood as soon as they crossed its borders. The levels of panic this would inspire in the local populace was unimaginable; and the horrors had just begun, for soon the world from whence the Coven came would seep into the real world even more, and claim thousands upon thousands of lives in the process as the Coven's goal to remake the world in their image truly began.
Flies in a Bottle
Michiyo could not help but feel an intense sensation of unease as she retread the well-worn path that led to the old Hōnara high school. It had only been a day and a half since the attack from the Kidō-wielding Shinigami had taken them all by surprise. Their adversaries had vanished into the sky, apparently satisfied after inflicting indescribable damage, but Michiyo had known then that their world had been irreversibly altered. And whatever had happened in Amagasaki proved it.
The unnatural stillness that had gripped Ikeda two days earlier had been disturbed by the brooding, fermented gray sky. An uneasy, warm wind from the seafront carried the sent of bitter salt, like heavy sweat, all the way up the mountain slope. Along with something else. Sweet yet acrid at the same time, it was the sensation that something altogether “other” was there, and it was the sensation of approaching death.
Another storm was crawling in.
Even though there was no one else on the path, Michiyo found herself glancing over her shoulder, to see if she had been followed. The sun, hidden somewhere behind the ghostly screen of clouds, was just beginning to set, and the shadows of the surrounding woods were stretched thin and dark blue.
The school, with its innocuous concrete walls, greeted her as always, unaffected by the passage of time. In response, she straightened her shoulders, smoothed her furrowed brow, and marched up to the front doors as she always did. Two could play at being unfazed, and she was determined to show her determination to the other members of Xstence.
At least put on a brave face for it, ol’ Michi. Ossu. She told herself under her breath.
The meeting would begin in ten minutes. While a debriefing after such a major battle was perhaps to be expected, this meeting was unusual in that Tetsuo had called in all members of Xstence: those from his college days who were spread out across Japan, and even the international associates who had been introduced to the organization through Kouhaku’s business negotiations. Still, their total numbers were pitiful, and their strength further compromised by the questionable loyalty of Xstence’s “fringe members.”
A case in point, as Michiyo stepped around the wall of rubble that blocked the entryway and allowed her eyes to adjust to the darkness of the school’s interior, she saw a lanky, unfamiliar figure leaning against the wall, and narrowed her eyes.
“You must be Maeno-san,” she started.
“What are you, a psychic?” came the sardonic reply. Kyang-jae pushed himself upright and shoved his hands into the pockets of his jackets. The scent of cologne and cigarettes wafted over, and Michiyo wrinkled her nose. “How did you know who I was?” he asked.
Michiyo smiled, as sweetly as any old flower shop owner could, and said, “Oh, we old folk have our ways.” But she stared evenly at him, and there was steel in her eyes. The message was clear: Michiyo was not someone to be crossed, especially by some upstart Hong Kong wannnabe punk.
“But where are my manners,” she continued as Kyang-jae subconsciously shrank back from her stern gaze, “Michiyo Tanaka. I own an Ikebana shop in Hōnara. Feel free to stop by sometime, Maeno-san.”
“Nice to meet you,” he mumbled, and jabbed his thumb at the empty hallway behind him. “Is this the way to the meeting?”
At least he gets to the point. She thought sourly as she nodded. “It is, this way then.” Michiyo ignored Kyang-jae’s slouch and the echoing clack of his shoes as they continued deeper into the belly of the building. She had heard more than she needed to about Kyang-jae from Tetsuo and Kōhaku, and knew he was not one to be trusted. She also wondered why Tetsuo had allowed him to join Xstence to begin with. He was obviously involved with some “criminal outfit,” she hmphed. And then she noted somberly that it showed how desperate Xstence truly was.
“So you’re from Hong Kong?” she asked as she pulled open the rusted metal door that led to the basement, and winced as it screeched on its hinges. She knew Tetsuo wanted to keep the place looking as abandoned as possible, for “security purposes,” but he could at least consider some grease, she thought.
“Sure. That’s where I was last holed up, anyway.” Kyang-jae said. She could tell he was nervous by the subtly heightened level of his Reiatsu, and didn’t blame him, as she felt the same way.
They reached the basement and opened another door, apparently to a broom closet or a boiler room, but this time it didn’t screech. Instead, it silently revealed a huge underground chamber. The room was well-lit, with a deceptively high ceiling supported by even rows of concrete pillars. While air ducts, wires, and various pipes and beams crisscrossed the ceiling at random, the rest of the room was bare and open, with smooth, white paneled walls and black rubber tile flooring. This was Xstence’s most secure haven, designed by Tetsuo, a fellow engineering student, and financed by the Morimoto conglomerate. It had been built to withstand the force of an aerial bomb drop from both outside and within, serving as a vault and a training room at the same time.
Kyang-jae whistled, and the sound echoed across the open space.
“Now this is impressive... Is there a reason why it looks like the Matrix?”
Michiyo ignored him, and they descended the short flight of stairs to ground level. In one corner of the room there was a martial arts mat surrounded by a few punching bags, along with lockers containing various pieces of training equipment, including a ping-pong table. Sealed off from the main room, there was also a small sound booth where computers that monitored every corner of the building were set up. “Command Central,” Tetsuo had called it, even though no one ever actively manned the booth. Finally, there was a minimal TV and couch “lounge” wedged against a small kitchen (Michiyo had insisted that there be a kitchen), which was surrounded by a thick half-length plexi-glass wall. Meant, presumably, to protect the area from any “training accidents.”
“Nice. So where’s the bar?” Kyang-jae commented. And again, Michiyo ignored him.
“There’s coffee over there. Make yourself at home,” Michiyo told him without any shred of welcome in her tone, “After all, you’re going to be here a while.”
Kyang-jae froze for a moment, glancing uneasily at the room which entrapped him, but then quickly used her invitation as an excuse to escape from under her supervision. As he scuttled off, Michiyo was reminded of a cockroach. Good riddance. She glowered.
“So you’ve met Kyang-jae,” Testuo said as he returned from the kitchen, having just poured himself a glass of water.
“Hmph, if you ask me, someone needs to tell that boy to—” Michiyo stopped when she saw Tetsuo. He looked horrible, and she told him so.
“You look horrible,” she stated flatly.
Tetsuo’s hair stood out as though he had just stuck his finger into a socket (which he might have), he had deep shadows under his eyes, and the bandages around his forearms did little to mask the ugly burns and bruises that served as clear reminders of his battle with the Shinigami. Michiyo had not seen him since she had dropped him off at the hospital, and she wished he had stayed there.
“You should sit down,” she suggested gently. Tetsuo shook his head, then grimaced as though he had a migraine and obeyed her, sinking heavily into one of the chairs that flocked the folding table “board room” he had set up for the meeting.
The TV on the wall in the couch corner was tuned to a local news station, and a broadcast of the ongoing military lock-down in Amagasaki carried over in the silence.
“The radioactive zone continues to widen from the fall-out, and authorities are advising citizens to remain indoors. Some have even been forced to relocate...”
“Idiots,” Kyang-jae sneered as he made his way towards the table. “How exactly do you call that,” he gestured to the dark spot on the screen that represented Amagasaki’s center, “A‘nuclear meltdown?’”
Michiyo watched the news for a moment before closing her eyes. To the Fullbringers, what the cameras captured was an image of their worst nightmare. Their enemies had returned. The black eves of the hulking mass of what appeared to be an Edo-era castle could be seen vaguely through the dark haze at the center of Amagasaki. Over 50,000 people missing. It was a national crisis. And from Tetsuo’s dark expression, she knew she shared her own suspicion: Ikeda would soon be in danger itself, if it were not already. They had no idea what their adversaries’ true intentions might be, but they could be certain that the obvious intrusion was a threat. The Shinigami who had told them the known details regarding the Coven did not need to explain the gravity of their current situation. It was obvious.
“Evidentially, normal humans just think it looks like a non-descript ‘black mass of energy.’” Tetsuo explained, somewhat detachedly. “But whatever it is, it means war.” He set the glass of water on the table in front of him, and while the action seemed controlled, Michiyo noticed a flash of blue as electricity surged across the surface of the water. The glass cracked at the lip.
“Well,” she began, “What’s our first step?”
Tetsuo looked at the surrounding members who had arrived. “The first thing,” he began, “Is to remain calm.” He explained what had occurred during the battle to those who had not witnessed the event, sparing no details. “Our next step,” he continued, “Is to survive. I won’t try to put things lightly for you all: We are now facing an enemy who most likely vastly outnumbers us… and they possess the power to obliterate a city. This leaves us with two options. We can either mount a potentially suicidal defense, or we can retreat.” He paused, then added, “At this stage, any support we may receive from the Shinigami is unpredictable: Sporadic at best, non-existent at worst. Thus, it would be safer to assume that we are now alone.” Tetsuo glanced at each grim face.
"We could probe at it maybe?", came a suggestion followed by the light brush of a door against its frame. Kōhaku and Emi had arrived, the white haired man requiring some support to have gotten this far. By the way Emi held him, and the way she looked off it didn't seem like she had much investment in the situation, but the expression on her face told a different story. She was bad at hiding it, as those who'd come to know her were aware. There was a twinge of remorse to her features, both for arriving to the scene so late as she had, and for making Kōhaku's situation worse.
"I spent all day seeing people be blown apart for being nothing more than bystanders, and I gotta say, I'm kinda itching for some payback", given what he had witnessed in the earlier conflict, and from what very little he had gleaned from the newsfeed on the television and scattered fragments on the way here, Kōhaku had come to doubt that this "Edo-style castle" was the genuine article. It had its features to be sure, but would his Fullbring blow through it as easily as it did the old walls of ancient castle cities? It was something to test, assuming they could get close, anyway.
"Less talk, more sit down", Emi interjected, wanting to get Kōhaku out of her arms for a bit.
"Aw, but, I gotta sing Momo's paean, he gets cranky if I don't", the white-haired young man joked in response. The atmosphere was grim enough, and jokes, as poor as they might have been, were Kōhaku's forte when it came to lighting the mood. Though haggered as his breathing happened to be, he wasn't sure he could really commit to the ideal of actually singing his friend's praises. Maybe a short ditty would do, he thought.
"I could drop you", whatever regrets she held from before were gone in the moment, truly Emi was quick to irritate.
"Hehehe- Please, don't", Morimoto laughed it off, playfully giving his retort as weak as it was as a means of deterrence. The two eventually shuffled through the room, finding an open seat of Kōhaku to rest in. He slumped into it immediately, weeks of fatigue wearing itself upon his features as soon as he had.
Emi was quick to leave him alone after that, making herself scarce by way of escaping towards the kitchen. "Makin' tea, you idiots want any?"
“I’d actually love a cup,” Abraham casually replied as he stepped into the door of the area, “And, if you don’t mind of course, Eleonore would love a cup as well.” He smiled at the dumbfounded expression glued upon their visages. There were approximately eight individuals at this meeting, ten if you counted himself and Eleonore. It was almost surprising; but he had to remember that this was not an international organization. Not like his own.
Immediately, the leader stepped forward. “Who the hell are you, and how did you get in? You’re not authori—"
“Hold your horses,” Abraham interrupted. If his physical traits didn’t reveal his foreign nature, it would be his accent as he struggled to pronounce the syllables correctly, yet, to any native the general gist of his sentences would be discernable. Abraham was still not quite fluent in Japanese. He could understand it nigh perfectly, for that was nothing more than general memorization, but he had not truly grasped how to pronounce some of the letters correctly. That was simply a matter of practice that he didn’t have, nor did he truly care to partake in.
“I have your authorization right here.” He whipped out one of their own pagers.
A disturbed silence filled the room. “You shouldn’t have that. Who gave that to you?” Tetsuo examined.
“I’m good friends with one of your members. He told me about the meeting and everything. He even lent me his pager,” Abraham lied. “But, we’re getting off point,” he continued. “The tea, at this very moment, is the MOST important thing.”
“Stop playing games with us,” another one of the members interjected. “What are you doing here?”
Abraham could feel the tension in the room. He was certain Eleonore could too. Though, with all the tension, and despite being outnumbered, he held no fear. He was quite confident in his own capabilities should a fight needlessly break out. But, even still, it was not a fight he desired.
“Okay, okay.” Abraham put his hands up in the air akin to an individual surrendering, as a means of signifying peace. “I’m a representative of Stunde, an organization of Quincy, a group of individuals I’m certain that you’re aware of. Eleonore,” he said, referring to the woman beside him, “And myself, Abraham, were both sent here to speak directly with you about the events that just occurred revolving the abduction of one of your members.”
He smiled and turned towards Eleonore. "Did I miss anything important?"
Glancing at the eight humans in front of her, Eleonore let out a bored yawn as she stretched her arms above her head and carefully leant against a wall, not wanting anything potentially disgusting to stick to her thin bodysuit of a uniform.
“Of course you’d be worrying ‘bout the fucking tea instead of the mission,” Eleonore muttered as she shot Abraham a filthy look and crossed her arms in disdain, “I swear, Bamshad would have had a damn field day with you.”
She turned her head to look at the eight humans in front of her, scrunching her nose at them as she briefly let her eyes dance over the accommodations in the ruins of this… school they used for headquarters. The environment was atrocious and she was fairly sure she had seen a rat or two scurrying through the hallways that she and Abraham had stalked down to find this little ragtag of misfits. Oh well, at least the leader was handsome enough.
“We’re here because you morons apparently can’t get your shit together,” Eleonore spoke blandly as she looked at each and every one of Xstence’s members, eyes lingering a moment longer to stare intensely at Momohara, “Now, kiddies, do yourselves a solid and don’t get in our way when the grownups here are working.”
The Stunde. Tetsuo's eyes narrowed, and his hands clenched into fists at his sides. He had heard of the powerful Quincy organization, but that did not answer the question of why they were here. Was it a trap? What are they planning. He thought darkly.
"Wait, you mean you needed that pager to get in?" Kyang-jae asked, referring to the device in Abraham's hand. He shrugged. "At least I got some cash off the guy I pawned it to." Tetsuo gave him a death glare, and he cleared his throat uncomfortably.
"No one was abducted," Tetsuo corrected, wishing to downplay Kōhaku's capture. "And even if one of us had been, my question is why the hell would it matter to you?" He was sizing up the two Quincy, gauging what level of power they might hold, and trying to think of how Xstence could best attack them should their dialogue turn violent. Calculations were blurring through his mind as he continued, "I don't mean to sound insulting, but your race and ours haven't exactly been on good terms in the past. So why approach us now?"
"Besides," Michiyo weighed in, "You two haven't given us a very good reason for us to trust you now, have you? Hmph."
"Four cups, extra asshole", said Emi offhandedly in the background as she went about her business in the kitchen, only passively taking in the banter from the Quincy.
"Lovely company you lot keep," Eleonore drawled as she followed the retreating figure for a brief moment before returning her attention to the people in front of her.
“Oh, none of that Eleonore”, Abraham lectured. He turned to Emi and smiled, “Thank you for the tea, darling.” Without haste, he redirected his attention back to the figures before him.
“Listen, we’re not here to start any trouble. Stunde is an organization dedicated to helping and dealing with threats here on Earth. We live to protect the people. You, regardless of your race, are no different.”
He looked towards Tetsuo. “We’re here, because, not only do we want to help your organization, but our own is in dire trouble. The Coven has targeted our members as well, and on our own, we simply don’t stand a chance. That is why we’re here.”
"You're asking us for help?" Tetsuo asked, incredulous. "If you haven't noticed," he said, gesturing to the other Fullbringers, "We don't exactly have much to offer." The anger in his voice was barely checked as he glowered at the Quincy.
"Tetsuo," Michiyo started, saying more than simply his name. Whatever she meant seemed to have an affect on him, however, and he sighed.
"You already seem to know what happened to us," he began again, "Has the Coven attacked the Stunde as well?" He addressed the Quincy in English, assuming that would be the easier language to communicate in.
"They have... inconvenienced us," Eleonore replied in English as well, a sly smirk crawling onto her face as she focused on Tetsuo and licked her lower lip, "Fuckers appeared out of nowhere and wrecked our things. Obviously you are too stumped to take care of this yourselves and we need some extra muscle. Win for everyone."
"So we're in the same boat", spoke Kōhaku through a weighted sigh, a breath of relief through his ongoing struggle with a body wracked with injuries. Though Eleonore had given Xstence a much more negative spin than they'd appreciate, collectively, Kōhaku took it in such a way as to treat the Stunde as being in the exact same situation. A subtle, if not somewhat passive form of retaliation. But also one he didn't plan on giving the present company much time to think on.
"You'll have to forgive Momo-chan, he's a little guarded, but he's a leader, its what he's gotta be, right? He has to force himself to take every lick, every hit, so he feels what we feel -- He's probably in rougher shape than I am right now", to drive the point home, Kōhaku stood up in what was a painfully slow few moments that made it abundantly clear just how bad things were. The distinct feeling for his cohorts however, was more grim than it was an hour ago. He was getting worse. All the more reason then, for Emi to duck down behind the currently boiling kettle so she didn't have to watch.
"Anyway, the gist is you have Quincy and all the resources that entails, we've got Fullbringers, and a bit of pull with regular society, breaking bread together's gotta be beneficial for everyone, right?", A slight gasp here and there, but Kōhaku was quick to make a point in favour of optimism and hedging the bets of both sides.
"Yes, that's exactly what the gist it," Abraham quickly interjected, hoping to do so before Eleonore could make a smart ass retort. In the last five minutes, Abraham had thought they had finally started to get somewhere, in part thanks to the efforts of the previous member. He would personally have to thank him later.
"In fact, we have devised a plan to truly bring these villains to light, and it involves the attack of their homeworld, Amagasaki."
Tetsuo had immediately noticed Kōhaku’s shortness of breath as he had spoke, and a deep, unsettling fear settled upon his mind. There was the gradually increasing sense that something was wrong. But then, Kōhaku was still standing, wasn’t he?
An image of a Shinigami plunging skeletal fingers into the center of his friend’s chest flashed through Tetsuo’s mind, and he quickly shoved such thoughts aside.
Abraham’s statement served to distract him from his worry entirely. Tetsuo’s eyes widened in shock before he frowned, more deeply than before. But before he could respond, Kyang-jae broke in with his own thoughts on the matter.
“What, are you fucking insane?” the half-Korean practically spat. Cold sweat glistened off the side of his temples, however, betraying his own unease. “You expect us to take those freaks on at their own base of operations?” he jabbed his thumb towards the TV screen. “Not to mention, there’s no guarantee that whatever’s wiping out the city won’t obliterate us too.” Kyang-jae looked around at the other Fullbringers. “I don’t know about these guys, but I sure as hell won’t risk my neck on a suicide mission.”
“What did you have in mind?” Tetsuo asked instead. And this time, there was something else on his mind than simply the survival of Xstence. If the Quincy were offering a means to do so, then he would take his chances... for revenge.